‘Dexter’, ‘Yellowjackets’ and other great shows to binge on Showtime

When it comes to premium TV networks, Showtime is very underrated. It doesn’t quite have the prestige of HBO or the niche interest of smaller networks, but it does produce some of television’s brightest hidden gems.

yellow jackets is a buzzy puzzle box drama (pun intended) that had everyone speculate on teenage cannibalism. Joke is a dramatic masterpiece with a “legends only” level cast, and Dexter is a massive 2000s phenom with such a loyal fandom that the show was revived for a chance to lose new blood.

You can only watch a limited number of great shows in Showtime’s convenient 30-day free trial. So here are 10 great shows that make an ongoing Showtime subscription worth it.

1.yellow jackets

Wisayak High School’s girls’ soccer team decides how to help their injured coach after a plane crash.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/showtime

yellow jackets creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson deliver drama as good as gold in their darkly comedic survival thriller. Told across two timelines, this harrowing tale of an elite women’s soccer team struggling to get home after a plane crash, then struggling to cope with what it took 25 years later, is the kind of TV you don’t want to sleep on.

Week by week, yellow jackets fans have been pulled down a rabbit hole of maybe supernatural…maybe human…maybe both (!) terror. It’s so satisfying that you’ll be on constant alert to avoid spoilers. Spectacularly written characters provide a magnetic anchor to this crazy story, which is brought to life by a stellar cast that includes Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, Samantha Hanratty and Ella Purel. — Alison Foreman, entertainment reporter

Where to watch: yellow jackets is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

2. Joke

We totally adore Showtime’s dark comedy about children’s TV host Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), who tries to course-correct after the death of his young son. With Jeff as the protagonist, his unbridled imagination seeps into every part of his life, imbuing the most painfully real moments with phantasmagoria and humor. There’s no reason why a musical number about donating a kidney to your ex’s new lover should work. But on Joke it’s pure art – complete with puppets. —Proma Khosla, Senior Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch: Joke is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

3. Dexter / Dexter: new blood

A middle-aged man questions a woman while brandishing a bloody knife in a photo of "Dexter."

Parenting is tough, even for Dexter! Especially for Dexter…
Credit: Dana Starbard/showtime

Michael C. Hall was quite popular as funeral director David Fisher on HBO Six feet Under ground (2001 to 2005). But the captivating actor rose to venerable status as a television titan when he took over the helm of Showtime’s Dexter in 2006.

Love him or hate him, medical examiner-turned-serial-killer Dexter Morgan is an icon of small-screen storytelling, not to mention the role Hall was born to play. Dexter’s tortured double life as Miami PD blood spatter expert and “The Bay Harbor Butcher” spanned eight jaw-dropping seasons before ending with a whimper. Fortunately, Dexter got the finale he deserved when Hall reprized the role in 2021 for Dexter: New blood. It’s a bumpy (and time-consuming) binge to embark on, but every second is worth getting to the revival, which features some of the best episodes in the show’s history. — A F

Where to watch: Dexter is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu. Dexter: new blood is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

4. Shameless

An old man sits in a bar with a beer;  William H. Macy in "Shameless."

William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher in ‘Shameless’.
Credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to regain the magic of watching Shameless unfold during its ten years of existence. Watching the Gallagher family grow from season to season has been a particularly special experience that binge-watching simply cannot recreate. But as with an old family album, it’s never too late to reminisce about the sum total of life’s experiences. Set in Chicago’s South End, this family-friendly dramedy offers the full range of emotions that growing up and getting old can provide. With funny side and shameless pain, Shameless offers a family that you will always be welcome. — A F

Where to watch: Shameless is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

5. The L-Word / The L-Word: Generation Q

Four women standing in a house interior on "The L word: Generation Q."

(LR): Katherine Moennig as Shane, Jamie Clayton as Tess, Leisha Hailey as Alice and Leo Sheng as Micah in “The L Word: Generation Q.”
Credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME.

From 2004 to 2009, The word I dazzled fans with its gripping — and, for its time, groundbreaking — drama series about a group of lesbian friends living in Los Angeles. In 2019, Showtime brought back the beloved title with The L word: Generation Q, which features a more modern set of characters but shares the same caliber of juicy storylines as the original. Stars Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moennig and Leisha Hailey return, alongside newcomers Arienne Mandi, Sepideh Moafi, Leo Sheng, Jacqueline Toboni and Rosanny Zayas. It’s a ridiculously fun watch that continues the series’ legacy by increasing LGBTQ visibility through a metropolitan lens. — A F

Where to watch: The word I is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu. The L word: Generation Q is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

6. The good lord bird

Ethan Hawke received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for his role as historic abolitionist John Brown in this moving series. Far from being a direct retelling of history, The good lord bird is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by James McBride, which transforms the true story of John Brown into a gripping and sensational work of historical fiction. The good lord bird follows the story of a recent escapee from slavery (Joshua Caleb Johnson), who joins Brown’s crew of radical abolitionist soldiers as they conspire with Harriet Tubman (Zainab Jah) to lead the fateful raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 – one of the most important causing incidents that led to the Civil War. —A

Where to watch: The good lord bird is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

seven. Billions

Two men and a woman in a prestigious conference room, a photo from Showtime "Billions."

Don’t get between Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and his mission.
Credit: Jeff Neumann/showtime

Created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin, Billions can be boiled down to a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between US attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and unscrupulous hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Card castle market like this Billions could run and Succession could win a medal in the 100 meters. Speaking of Card castle, Corey Stoll takes over as the reigning villain in Season 6, which premiered in 2022. Neither Colleagues, Allies, Family. nor Rhoades’ wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff), is spared in this twisted tactical drama. —package

Where to watch: Billions is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

8. dreadful penny

John Logan’s gothic drama premiered in 2014, on the heels of the true blood a time when audiences and producers craved adult supernatural stories. After losing his daughter, Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) is on a mission to restore his family, with the help of Vanessa (Eva Green) and Ethan (Josh Hartnett). Together they face monsters and spirits from beyond our world, starting with the one created by a certain Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway). The magnetic cast includes Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray (this Dorian Gray), as well as Billie Piper, Helen McCrory, Patti LuPone and many more. —package

Where to watch: dreadful penny is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

9. Become a God in Central Florida

Become a God in Central Florida is a searing and darkly funny satire that debunks American prosperity myths that multilevel marketing companies rely on to ensnare new victims. Kirsten Dunst stars as Krystal Stubbs, a minimum wage worker at a Florida water park whose husband (Alexander Skarsgård) is obsessed with a get-rich-quick scheme called FAM. When her plans fall apart, Krystal inherits a stockpile of unsold goods and uses it to fuel a purposeful journey to the top of the FAM hierarchy, where she can either get rich or get revenge. —A

Where to watch: Become a God in Central Florida is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

ten. The Chi

Four teenagers meet in the hallway between classes in an image of "The Chi."

A chance encounter connects young people on Chicago’s South Side on Showtime’s “The Chi.”
Credit: Matt Dinerstein/showtime

Lena Waithe’s drama about intersecting lives on Chicago’s South Side will draw you in and keep you hooked. His debut has been compared to Thread, characterized by intertwined histories and specificity of place. A rotating cast of actors includes Alex R. Hibbert, Jason Mitchell, Jacob Latimore, Tiffany Boone and many more, many of whom grew up with their characters during pivotal years. The pilot pulls these disparate threads together, but they will forever be linked. —package

Where to watch: The Chi is streaming now on Showtime and via Amazon or Hulu.

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