It used to be broadcast television set the standard for shows to watch with a lot of fanfare with the Fall release of their shows. Then cable channels came along and started to release their own lineup of television shows, often taking on subject matter that was taboo for broadcasters or that expanded the boundaries of the subject matter presented. Now, there are video streaming services that are producing original series that, again, are stretching the boundaries of both content as well as a production. There is certainly a great deal to choose from when contemplating what to watch, so here is our list of 15 of the best shows to stream.
If you are a fan of Star Wars, you’ll love the Mandalorian. Set after the fall of the Empire and before the First Order, The Mandalorian follows the story of bounty hunter, Din Djarin, as his story intertwines with the Child or Baby Yoda, who exhibits a strong natural ability with the Force.
The Mandalorian is hired to find the Child by an ex-imperial scientist. Fearing for the Child’s fate with the scientist, the Mandalorian acts as its protector from the former Imperials as well as other bounty hunters, risking his life and his compatriots to keep the Child safe.
Produced for digital channel BBC Three in cooperation with Amazon Studios, the first season aired in 2016. Both popular and critically acclaimed, Feabag’s second season aired on in 2019. The story is set in London and is based on Phoebe Waller-Bridge one-woman comedy show, first performed in 2013. Waller-Bridge in face assumes the title role of Fleabag, a flamboyant, angry and confused young woman in London trying to cope with life and tragedy at the same time.
The show is both witty and oftentimes heartbreaking as you follow Fleabag her life and relationships that, in many instances, end in rejection and grief. Waller-Bridge and the rest of the cast are outstanding.
Master of None – 15 of the Best Shows to Stream
The series debuted on Netlix on November 6, 2015 with its second season released on May 12, 2017. Master of None is a comedy-drama and follows the life of Dev Shah, a 30-year old actor in New York. Shah is played by Aziz Ansari, who also created the series. The series has won numerous awards, including three Emmys and a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series that went to Aziz Ansari.
A period drama set in London around 1760. The series is a semi-historical look at life in London during that time-period, especially for women trying to survive. Harlots is based upon The Covent Ladies by British historian, Hailie Rubenhold, and adapted for television by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini. The show focuses on the conflict between brothel owners. Margaret Wells played by Samantha Morton, and Lydia Quigley played by Lesley Manville.
The confrontation starts when Wells, a former worker for Quigley, decides to move her brothel to Greek Street in Soho to take advantage of the more upscale clientele. Well, guess who is on Greek Street already. Yeah, Quigley. The rest makes for great drama through the three seasons.
Ghostwriter is a lot of fun to watch. More of a children’s show but there is more than enough there to keep adults interested. Released in 2019 on Apple TV+, the series follows four kids as they try to uncover the mystery behind the haunting of a neighborhood bookstore by a ghost who is releasing fictional characters into the real world.
Like I said, it is a lot of fun and the four main characters played by Isaac Arellanes, Amadi Chapata, Hannah Levinson and Justin Sanchez are enjoyable to watch as they try to unravel the haunting of their neighborhood.
Cobra Kai – 15 of the Best Shows to Stream
Remember the Karate Kid film series from the 80s? Well, Cobra Kai is set 34 years after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament from the original film. Both Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their roles from that original movie. In case you are not familiar with Zabka, he plays Johnny Lawrence, who was the final match for Ralph Macchio’s character in the All-Valley Karate Tournament.
Now that the setting is clear, the story revolves around the reopening of the Cobra Kai dojo by Johnny. If you remember, that is the dojo Johnny studied at under his controlling step-father who ran the facility. So, now that you have that under your belt, Johnny reopens the dojo, which attracts a group of bullied outcasts that want to learn how to defend themselves. Sound familiar?
In this series, Johnny is the Mr. Myagi figure, sort of, and Ralph Macchio is again, Daniel LaRusso, but is now a successful businessman that owns a car dealership. The two reengage in their rivalry form boyhood as Johnny’s best student, his estranged son and LaRusso’s daughter all become intertwined in a relationship that eventually draws the two together again. Once that happens, let the fireworks begin.
If you’re looking for a well thought out science fiction thriller with a smart storyline, good character development and, of course, great special effects, then welcome to The Expanse. Available on Amazon Prime, The Expanse is based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey, perhaps that is why it is so good. It is set 200 years in the future. Mars is colonized as is the asteroid belt as well as moons around Saturn and Jupiter.
There is kind of a space cold war between the three largest powers: The United Nations of Earth and its colonized moon; the Martian Congressional Republic of Mars; and the Outer Planet Alliance (OPA), which consists of the belt and the colonized moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Against that setting, the story revolves around a plot to weaponize alien bio-technology and the resulting fall out from its use to try to tip the balance of power amongst the three factions.
The story is told from the lens of its primary characters: James Holden (Strephen Strait), the first officer of an ice freighter and this crew – Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tripper), Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) and Amos Burton (Wes Chatham; Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), a belt born police detective; and Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a United Nations Security Council member. Through their intertwined stories, they must stop the proliferation of the alien bio technology and, in doing so, save humanity from the threat and itself. Good stuff!
There are multiple layers to Feel Good, a comedy-drama that is on one layer, the story of a recovering drug addict; on another layer, a love story; and on yet on another layer, a coming-out story. Feel Good is the story of Mae, played by series creator Mae Martin, a struggling comedian that meets George (Charlotte Ritchie) after one of her shows.
Mae and George fall in love – the love story. During the development of their relationship, George learns of Mae’s addiction and her struggle through her journey to become sober – the recovering drug addict. The couple must deal with that aspect of their relationship as well as George’s reluctance to reveal her love for Mae to her family and friends – the coming-out story.
The series is well done and the characters are believable, fun and a little quirky.
Ramy – 15 of the Best Shows to Stream
Ramy is powerful series that takes a critical look at the dichotomy between life as a first generation millennial Muslim from Egypt living in a New Jersey neighborhood where he is trying to fit in and his parents who are promoting faith and strict morality. It’s a fascinating look at a situation that many young American Muslims face. The series stars Ramy Youssef as the protagonist, Ramy Hassan. The characters in this show are smartly developed and compellingly portrayed by the cast.
High School Musical: The Musical – The Series
The premise of the series is more than appealing – take the fictional high school where the original High School Musical films were shot and stage a musical production based on the movies with the instructor being a former background cast member/character from the movies. Sounds intriguing? Of course, but these types of mockumentaries can go horribly wrong; however, Disney pulls it off in this original series appearing on Disney +.
The series focuses on the arrival of Miss Jenn, played by Kate Reinders, at the fictional Salt Lake City high school, East High School, where the original High School Musical movies were filmed. Miss Jenn was a cast member on the films and starts her career as the drama teacher at East High School. Her first project is to stage a performance of High School Musical: The Musical. And that is where the fun begins as the student cast is formed and the shows revolve around the production and the cast members relationships.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet
You would think a comedy about the video gaming industry from the minds of Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz from It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia would be an irreverent look at the companies who create these games and the people who play them. Instead, we do get a comedy, and it is really funny, that explores the work relationships within a video game company that has created a hit game called “Mytthic Quest”.
The character development and storylines within Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet are smartly done and believable. That may be the influence of Ubisoft, the video game company that gave us the Assassin’s Creed franchise and more, who assisted on the development of Mythic Quest. Still, the stories within the series are all McElhenney, Day and Ganz. This isn’t another Sunny in Philadelphia but Mythic Quest holds its own and delivers in good comedic fashion.
Impulse – 15 of the Best Shows to Stream
What happens when an insecure, withdrawn 16-year old loner, Henrietta (Henry) Coles, played by Maddie Hasson, discovers she has the ability to teleport and move objects with her mind but she can’t control it as it is triggered by emotional reactions. You get Carrie meets Jumper but with a lot more depth between the interactions of the primary characters in the story.
Impulse spans two seasons on YouTube and revolves around the violent encounter Henry has high school’s basketball team captain and star, Clay Boone, played by Tanner Stine, while in his truck. Boone is in the middle of trying to rape Henry when she has a seizure that triggers her ability to teleport. During the teleportation process, Boone’s truck is crushed leaving his legs paralyzed. The rest of the story centers on Henry’s conflicting feelings of guilt and anger over the incident as well as her quest to learn how to control her abilities.
When Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski, had his first book published about “witcher”, Geralt of Rivia titled The Last Wish, I don’t think he envisioned the character and the fantasy universe he inhabits would spawn eight books, three video games, a Polish film (The Hexer), a Polish television series called The Hexer, a graphic novel and a Netflix series, The Witcher. But it did and, if you like fantasy, you’ll love The Witcher.
The Netflix series does a good job of marrying Sapkowski’s storylines with those found in the video game. What you get is the White Wolf, Geralt of Rivia, played by convincely by Superman actor, Henry Cavill, as the witcher, a monster hunger with supernatural abilities as he becomes intertwined in war and conquest, political intrigue, and his quest to save and protect Ciri, played by Freya Allan, the princess of Cintra, from a variety of perils, including spies from Nilfgaard, sorcerers and more.
Mixed into this are encounters with monsters, dryads, powerful sorceresses, Yennefer, played by Anya Chalotra, and Triss Marigold, played by Anna Shaffer. The series is fun to watch, especially if you’re familiar with books or video games, and features superbly choreographed sword fights and great special effects. Everything you could want from a fantasy series.
If you like animation, you’ll love Undone. This isn’t really animation for animation’s sake but the use of rotoscoping animation as an integral part of the storyline. It is the first animated series for Amazon and, based on the results of Undone, shouldn’t be the last. The story as well as the animation is fantastic.
Undone tells the story of Alma, whose voice is done by Rosa Salazar, who suffers a near fatal car accident after running a red light. There are numerous events that lead up to the crash – the death of Alma’s father, Jacob; a breakup with her boyfriend, Sam; and an argument with her sister, Becca, over her engagement. However, just before the car accident, Alma does have a vision of her father.
That’s where the series gets really interesting. Alma discovers she has a new relationship with time and uses that to go back into different periods of her life to discover what exactly happened to her father the night he died. The rotoscoping is used beautifully to reflect Alma’s state of mind during her episodes when she transitions to different timelines. And you’re really left wondering whether Alma has an existential ability or is she suffering from mental illness as a result of her accident. You can form your own conclusion by watching the series.
Difficult People – 15 of the Best Shows to Stream
Meet Julie Kessler, played by series creator Julia Klausner, and Billy Epstein, played by Billy Eichner. Two struggling comedians living in New York City that have a difficult time dealing with people – they hate them. However, when dealing with each other, they can put aside their bitterness toward other people so they can commiserate with each other about their collective misery.
The series is hilarious as Julie and Billy bounce in and out of failed relationships and failed career endeavors, which tends to fuel their bitterness. While they are struggling, their friends always seem to be thriving, finding love and success, which only serves to further frustrate Julie and Billy.
There are numerous plot lines within the series that really make it a great show to watch. One is when Billy and Julie come up with a scheme to sell bottled library fountain water or when they change menu prices for children’s meals to the adult rates at a café where Billy works. Each show has a little bit different spin to it and it isn’t very difficult to binge watch your way through this series.