Television is our society’s greatest vanishing act, allowing us to be so fully immersed in other worlds that reality literally melts away. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing should be left up the suits in Washington to decide (actually, please no), but as for now we’ll take our television in the usual heaping doses. But wait, it can be used for a good thing? Right? Hell yes, it can be a good thing, a great thing even. We’ve taken to Netflix to find seven great science TV shows to enlighten your viewing experience. If you’re gonna binge things (and let’s be honest, we all do), why not learn something from it at the same time? Here, we have the triumphant return of a childhood hero, a pop culture icon waxing poetic about the universe and more nature than you can shake your fist at. Take a load off, and enjoy.
1. Bill Nye, The Science Guy
Didn’t we all love the days where our middle school science teacher would wheel in that TV on the stand? “Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!” we would cry. Well, now you can relive those glorious, carefree days. The best part? It still holds up. The graphics and all that are nothing special, but nothing is more powerful than sweet, sweet nostalgia. Not even bad graphics or heinous ‘90s haircuts.
2. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Neil deGrasse Tyson brings Carl Sagan’s lovechild Cosmos back with an urgent and earnest new tone, plunging head-first into the heady topics of space, time and our place in the universe. Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper Neil deGrasse Tyson show without the typical flair for humor and whimsy that Tyson is known for. There’s also an excellent animated element to this series, spearheaded by none other than the endlessly irreverent Seth MacFarlane.
3. Planet Earth
Planet Earth is the reason that HDTV exists. The stunning blues, vivid greens and sweeping cinematography provide an incredibly fresh look at our planet. It’s all of the great things about being outside without the hassle of actually being outside. How lovely. Here, we have the soothing vocal talents of David Attenborough forming stories out of nature’s bounty; but if you can find Sigourney Weaver’s version, you’re in for a real treat.
LIfe is David Attenborough’s other nature project, where he travels the world showcasing the wondrous creatures that populate our planet. With Life, Attenborough is able to get more in-depth with the wildlife on screen, and dedicates each episode to a certain classification of animals, while also hopping across the world in each episode. There’s plenty of eye-popping color and an abundance of some really incredible closeups. Personally, I can’t imagine getting that close to snakes.
5. White Rabbit Project
What happens when Jamie and Adam leave MythBusters? Well the surprisingly likeable, leftover crew do their own thing. White Rabbit Project has Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci and Kari Byron reunite for a new show, where they pretty much do the exact same thing. Here, they tackle heists, jailbreaks, superpowers and scam artists through different experiments and tests. Basically it’s MythBusters, just revamped and renamed. It’s easy to miss Jamie and Adam, but it still works without them.
6. Bill Nye Saves the World
Bill Nye is back, and he’s better than ever in his new series. Here, he tackles more “adult” and current issues, and even manages to bring a few special guests along the way. It’s refreshing to see Bill back in his natural habitat as a sort of TV host, right where he belongs. Plus, how weird is it that kids in middle school now get to see Bill Nye on Netflix, and not on that tiny TV?
7. Moving Art
Moving Art sets itself apart from programs like Planet Earth and Life by completely refusing to use any sort of narration to tell a story. Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg films landscapes, seascapes and wildlife with a camera that’s always in motion. The use of music and moving images is cinematic enough on it’s own that we don’t necessarily need a soothing narration to provide the story. Our imagination is better anyway.
Pete Mercer writes for Paste and he could watch hours and hours of nature shows. Find him on Twitter to tell how to better spend his time.