I know you’re looking for a new binge, and I can’t recommend Jericho Creek enough. Now, it starts off slow, and it takes some time to find its footing, but when you’re halfway through season five, everything clicks and it is truly one of the best shows on television.
Can you skip the first four seasons? I mean, you could. But then you’d be missing out on the journey. You’d lose all character development and personal growth that can only be experienced by watching eighty episodes of plodding television where oblivious characters remain oblivious for years before finally having a profound and overdue demonstration of true self-awareness.
It’s that sort of long-term investment that ultimately makes the show worthwhile. My fiancé Kyle recommended it to me when we were first dating, and boy am I glad that I stuck with it. It really pays off. Otherwise, I’d be in a worse place at the end of an extended time commitment, and that would just be sad.
Jericho Creek starts off as a police procedural, very much a “case of the week” drama where said cases typically telegraph the killer from early on (spoiler: it’s the recognizable character actor), and idiot characters make stupid choices purely to keep the plot moving. The show was very much a Castle knockoff that only survived due to the leads’ chemistry. I always liked Castle; Kyle found it to be formulaic schlock.
Season three is aggressively mediocre even though they attempted to make it a prestige drama by bringing in Esai Morales and Patricia Clarkson for a True Detective-style mystery with a split timeline. These great actors were wasted on the unnecessarily dark and moody material. Kyle and I argued about whether the show’s de facto ambition made it worse or better. After many “spirited” debates, we never came to a consensus on that one.
There are some rare glimmers of promise, like the bottle episode where Lieutenant Yang gets locked in the casino. I think it’s a bit pretentious (like the “Fly” episode of Breaking Bad), but Kyle finds it to be brilliant and often brings it up at dinner parties. It’s one of his top three conversation starters, along with his rants about Radiohead’s appeal and Medicare For All.
The network canceled the series after season three due to low ratings and universally terrible reviews, only for Hulu to pick it up and attempt to This Is Us the hell out of it by giving Diana a storyline where she becomes the guardian of her pregnant teenage half-sister. It was a desperate plea for relevance, like adopting a dog for the sake of saving a relationship.
Two cancelations should be a sign that this show simply is not meant to be. Time to cut bait and play the field. There are plenty of other shows that you haven’t explored while you’ve wasted all these years on the tiresome Jericho Creek. But then Netflix rescues the series, and something bizarre happens, something even more bizarre than Lt. Yang being the same serial killer he was investigating.
The show becomes very, very watchable.
The cases are simple but fun. The characters are relaxed and confident, and you even start to enjoy Sydney and Morgan’s banter, which used to be cringe-worthy but now seems charming. There are even inside jokes about past mistakes, repurposing old bits of heavy-handed dialogue as new, self-referential punchlines. And you’re overcome by a strange thought: Is this show legitimately good?
You realize that you’ve formed an emotional bond with these characters. You’ve been on this journey, suffering along with them for half a decade, and that’s why their growth really resonates. Even something as simple as “acting like a real human being” feels like a monumental, shared accomplishment.
So despite four years of spinning wheels and fights in the writers’ room and appearances on the AV Club’s “Who the Hell Gave this the Green Light?” year-end list, the people behind Jericho Creek somehow got their act together. And as I realized this, a vindicated Kyle nodded at me with that smile that I’ve grown to tolerate and almost adore.
Having found its sweet spot, the show feels like an old friend or a cozy sweater, making it perfect for staying in on Saturday, ordering takeout, and binging three episodes before heading off to bed. Classic date night right there. And it’s so much easier to hit “Next Episode” rather than trying to find something new.
I can’t wait for you to start watching. But please don’t start at the good season. It’s better this way. And once you’re all caught up, we’ll have so much to discuss. Kyle and I can have you over for dinner some night. To be honest, it would be good to change up our routine. Adding a new character would make things more interesting around here. Oh! You can also meet our new puppy, Jericho! Kyle picked the name.