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Labor Day weekend TV: Five shows to (quickly!) binge-watch before fall

🕐 3 min read

Yes, “fall TV” is a fading concept since networks and streaming companies roll out tons of programming year-round. However, for those who still keep a TV calendar, Labor Day weekend kicks off a brief, glorious dead zone between when summer shows wrap up and fall shows debut.

Here are five new easily bingeable and buzzy shows that you may have missed the first time around — and some debut their second seasons very soon:

– “Empire” (Fox)

Where to watch: Fox is running a marathon of Season 1 on Labor Day that starts at noon and airs through 11 p.m. Also: iTunes, Hulu Plus, Amazon and On Demand.

No. of episodes: 12

When Season 1 aired: Spring 2015

Premise: Musical drama starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as exes who also happen to run a massive hip-hop… empire. We could tell you everything that happens with their dysfunctional family, but you probably wouldn’t believe it.

Why watch? Seriously, to see everything that happens with their dysfunctional family and business. Added bonus: The music is great. Plus, it shattered ratings records earlier this year by becoming the first show to ever grow in the ratings every single week until the finale, which racked up 21 million viewers. Everyone’s going to be talking about it once Season 2 debuts Sept. 23, and Henson is a front-runner for the Emmy for best actress in a drama.

– “Catastrophe” (Amazon)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, though you can watch the first episode for free.

No. of episodes: 6

When Season 1 aired: Released June 19

Premise: Dark comedy about a Boston advertising executive (Rob Delaney) who hooks up with an Irish woman (Sharon Horgan) on a business trip in London. She gets pregnant; he moves in with her; complications (in every sense of the word) quickly ensue.

Why watch? At least once a week this summer, someone asked me “Are you watching ‘Catastrophe?'” Finally, on a recent weeknight, I caved — and was immediately hooked. The best part is each episode is only about 25 minutes. That means it takes less than three hours to watch an entire show in that new, fascinating genre of romantic comedies about imperfect people who actually don’t have hearts of gold.

– “Mr. Robot” (USA)

Where to watch: On Demand, iTunes

No. of episodes: 10

When Season 1 aired: Summer 2015

Premise: Drama centered on a vigilante hacker (Rami Malek) who gets involved in an underground hacking group with a mysterious leader (Christian Slater).

Why watch? It was the unexpected breakout hit of the summer (Christian Slater, no longer a show-killer!) and was just renewed for a second season. Critics love it. The series finale just aired this past week, so if you watch now, there’s a better chance of not running into spoilers. And there are some twists.

– “You’re the Worst” (FX)

Where to watch: Hulu, On Demand, iTunes

No. of episodes: 10

When Season 1 aired: Summer 2014

Premise: Comedy about two permanently single, selfish, late-20/early 30-somethings Gretchen and Jimmy (Aya Cash and Chris Geere) who hook up at a wedding and then attempt a “real” relationship.

Why watch? Even though it sounds like a “Catastrophe”-type rom-com, the program evolved into more of an ensemble series. The writing is sharp, and supporting characters Edgar (Desmin Borges, who plays Jimmy’s war-vet best friend) and Lindsay (Kether Donohue, who plays Gretchen’s unhappily married best friend) slowly steal the show.

– “UnREAL” (Lifetime)

Where to watch: iTunes

No. of episodes: 10

When Season 1 aired: Spring 2015

Premise: An embattled reality TV producer (Shiri Appleby) goes back to work on a dating competition show that led to her humiliating public breakdown — but is quickly swept right back into the dark and mysterious world of reality television.

Why watch? To finally shut up everyone who asks if you’ve seen “UnREAL” yet? Really, dig into this absorbing series that explores what actually goes on during the disturbing, manipulative behind-the-scenes of shows like “The Bachelor.” Sure, the creators (one a former “Bachelor” producer) have assured everyone it’s all fiction, but you know there are elements of real life. And honestly, anything Chris Harrison hates this much is definitely worth watching.

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