Depending on the number of real-life housewives involved, it can be all too easy to lose focus while watching television. Because some shows require your full attention, focus, and engagement in order to be enjoyable, this is a good thing. Even when you’re snoozing on the couch, your brain will be active thanks to the following 11 shows.
1. Mental Samurai (2019-)
Contestants will face a series of questions that test their knowledge and mental acuity while being physically moved by a mammoth robot capsule named AVA when the series premieres on April 2.
2. Jeopardy! (1964-)
Prior to the term “smart TV,” Alex Trebek and his colleagues helped popularize the term. Weekly, viewers are challenged to shout out the correct answer before the contestants can buzz in. Jeopardy!, now in its 36th season, is still the gold standard for game shows that make you participate in the action.
3. Brain Games (2011-)
This series, originally hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and now narrated by Keegan-Michael Key, examines the various ways our brain can fool us. It features celebrities demonstrating everything from faulty memory details to lie detection.
4. Cosmos (1980, 2014, 2020-)
A sprawling exploration of space, time, evolution, and humanity’s place in it all can be found in the original 1980 Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey series hosted by Carl Sagan and the updated version hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Cosmos: Possible Worlds, the show’s latest incarnation, is currently airing.
5. NOVA (1974-)
PBS’s NOVA, which has been on the air since 1974, provides a wide-ranging look at science and scientists’ efforts to better understand the world around us. Tales about dinosaurs’ demise and Stonehenge’s mysteries abound.
6. Outrageous Acts of Science (2013-)
Are you a logical thinker who relies on facts? People who push the boundaries of what is possible fascinate you. These boundary-busting scientists are highlighted in Outrageous Science Acts. Whether or not underwater jetpacks are effective is an open question. Do people really build cars that can climb rocks? Find out by tuning in.
7. MythBusters (2003-)
Popular scientific and cultural theories were tested by hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage for 14 seasons. A can of baked goods popping open in a hot car and Alcatraz’s escape were two of the many myths Hyneman and Savage attempted to disprove.
8. QI (2003-Present)
It’s refreshing to see a British series that encourages contestants to answer questions incorrectly if they have to in order to keep the show lively and entertaining for viewers. A new letter of the alphabet is chosen for each season of the show. It doesn’t matter how many incorrect answers you get; they still teach you something.
9. How It’s Made (2001-)
In How It’s Made, everyday objects like jeans and braille typewriters get an up-close look at their manufacturing processes.
10. Explained (2018-)
Everything from cryptocurrency to K-pop is covered in this two-season primer. The best part is that each episode clocks in at less than 25 minutes. It’s a fast-paced introduction to current events.
11. Brainchild (2018)
Science is explained in an easy-to-understand way in this Netflix series that covers topics like gravity, memory, social media, and more. If you’re a grown-up, don’t worry—you’ll get something out of it.