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The Streaming Canon

An exhaustive guide to everything streaming has to offer, from Dad Movies to bad reality TV, from rom-coms to Michael Bay–style explosions

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We get it. Sports are suspended; movie theaters are closed; you really shouldn’t be going outside if you don’t have to. With all that in mind, it’s basically an act of civil justice to stay inside and stream movies and TV shows. But scrolling the never-ending homepages of Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now can feel debilitating—choice can be paralyzing—which is why The Ringer has created this: The Streaming Canon, a master list of both TV and movie recommendations, sorted into various categories. The world is upside-down, and there’s not much we can do about it other than stay inside. At least now you have hundreds of hours of stuff to watch.


The Movies

Michael Bay Was Here

6 Underground

Streaming on Netflix

Watch the first 15 minutes of 6 Underground—in which Ryan Reynolds, Dave Franco, Adria Arjona, and a few of other unbelievably attractive people steal from a gangster, pull off absurd stunts in varying levels of slow motion, get flicked off by a nun, and reduce the streets of Florence to shambles—and you’ll understand: This is what it looks like when there’s no one around to tell Michael Bay “no.” The 113 minutes that follow are confirmation of that, in the greatest, most delirious way possible. —Andrew Gruttadaro

After watching, listen to this:


Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame

Streaming on Disney+

This two-part epic masterfully weaves together dozens of major characters and backstories without detracting from the main story line or shifting the focus too far away from its greatest attraction: the Mad Titan, Thanos. Infinity War provides our first real look at the big purple thumb of a villain whom Marvel had teased since The Avengers in 2012, and he quickly proves himself to be the studio’s most compelling antagonist to date. Even if you, understandably, don’t want to withstand the many hours that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer, this is a double feature that stands up on its own. —Daniel Chin

After watching, read this: The Avengers: Endgame Exit Survey

Or listen to this:


Dad Movies

In the Heart of the Sea

Available to rent for $2.99 on Amazon Prime

In the Heart of the Sea is by no means a great movie, but it’s fascinating in spite of its flaws because the material director Ron Howard is working with is so good. (As Chris Ryan so eloquently said: The sea is dope.) The movie is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s nonfiction book of the same name, about a bunch of Nantucket whalers who get stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after a whale attacks and destroys their ship. (Yes, this tale inspired Moby Dick.) And while the film peaks with the requisite whale attack, it’s hard not to admire the rigor that went into the shoot. Look at how they starved Thor! In the Heart of the Sea might not be great, but it’s still terrific dad material and will instantly throw you into a whaling-themed Wikipedia wormhole. I promise that’s a lot more fun than it sounds. —Miles Surrey

After watching, read this: An Encyclopedic Guide to the “Humans vs. the Elements” Genre in Film and TV

Goodfellas

Streaming on Netflix

If for whatever reason you watched The Irishman and missed out on Martin Scorsese’s other gangster epic, Goodfellas has conveniently just returned to Netflix. (Mean Streets also slaps, but sadly isn’t streaming for free anywhere.) It’s a fascinating film to rewatch post-Irishman and to see how the two movies are in conversation with one another, as one of the best directors on the planet examines his own legacy. Or, if you’re going into Goodfellas for the first time, it just happens to be a really good movie, and you can find out why everyone freaks out about the Copacabana shot. Also, if you’ve always been utterly perplexed by the surreal, self-serious tone of those Ray Liotta tequila commercials, Goodfellas can help explain why they exist. —Surrey

After watching, read this: The Unreasonable Brilliance of Joe Pesci

Triple Frontier

Streaming on Netflix

Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund walk into a Brazilian drug lord’s compound to steal some money, and shit hits the fan. That should be enough to sell Triple Frontier, the most overt “let’s make a Dad Movie” of Netflix’s original programming slate. The film is both exactly what you’d expect—the gang is getting back together—and full of surprises. Need more convincing? The first 10 minutes alone have Hunnam deliver an absurd monologue in which he describes choking someone out in the cereal aisle of a Publix as being the “price of being a warrior,” and Isaac heading to a gunfight on a helicopter blasting Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” If Netflix knew what was good for them, we’d be getting Quadruple Frontier in 2021. —Surrey

After watching, read this: Which Triple Frontier Guy Are You?

Or listen to this:

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Streaming on Netflix

There isn’t a more quintessential dad movie than Raiders of the Lost Ark. You’ve got Harrison Ford at his peak thirst-inducing playing an iconic character imbued with his blasé attitude—except when it comes to snakes—and Steven Spielberg cementing himself as one of America’s most exciting and enterprising filmmakers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, even if you haven’t seen the movie. While watching, though, keep a couple things in mind: The movie’s production was absolute hell, from the cast coming down with dysentary to—and this is sadly true—poor John Rhys-Davies having dysentery and cholera at the same time and nearly dying. —Surrey

After watching, read this: Digging Into the Cinematic Archaeology of the Indiana Jones Movies

Or listen to this:


Moneyball

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

You cannot convince me as a red-blooded American female that there’s a better way to bond with your father than by watching a movie about America’s pastime starring America’s heartthrob. Watching Moneyball is like watching Sully, but better. It takes an annoyingly dense subject (the intricacies of modern professional baseball) and makes it tolerable by adding humor (Jonah Hill!), heart (underdogs! A father-daughter relationship!), and a whole lot of Brad Pitt (two hours, people!). —Amelia Wedemeyer

After watching, listen to this:


People Talking in Rooms

All the President’s Men

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

Things I find comforting: competent people saying clever William Goldman lines while bringing down mass conspiracies, and young Robert Redford wearing immaculate corduroy suits while getting yelled at by Jason Robards. Also, there are some useful phone and conference call tips in this one, if you’re rusty. —Amanda Dobbins

After watching, listen to this:


Apollo 13

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

OK, so one of the rooms here is in space—but the lunar module is technically a dwelling, and (spoiler alert, though how did you miss this?) Tom Hanks and his crew don’t really interact with the moon in the way you’d expect. Meanwhile, many grown-ups in short-sleeved button downs are in Houston solving problems. To paraphrase Ed Harris as flight director Gene Kranz, it’s NASA’s finest movie hour. —Dobbins

After watching, read this: Who Would Be in Your Space Movie Dream Team?

Period Pieces Mostly Starring Keira Knightley

Pride & Prejudice

Available to rent for $3.99 on iTunes

There is much debate to be had about the merits of Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel versus the BBC series adaptation. Choose a side wisely. As for me? I prefer the movie, with its lush cinematography, peak Keira Knightley, and utterly sublime casting of Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. Watch this, and Tom Wambsgans will make so much more sense to you. —Gruttadaro

After watching, read this: That Mr. Darcy Portrait Is Fine

Atonement

Available to rent for $3.99 on iTunes

The second movie in Joe Wright’s “Three Greatest Novels” trilogy, which also happens to be his personal Keira Knightley trilogy. If you haven’t read the 2001 Ian McEwan novel and are at all interested in the novel as a form, start with the book; it’s a modern masterpiece and also one of the single most devastating experiences of my reading life. If you’ve only got two hours, then the movie version has a green dress, library sex, and a one-take Dunkirk scene filmed a decade before Dunkirk or 1917. Protect your hearts. —Dobbins

Anna Karenina

Streaming on Netflix

If you’re in the mood for a wintery drama, watch Joe Wright’s bizarrely beautiful adaptation of Anna Karenina. Keira Knightley in gorgeous costumes? Check! Visuals more in line with a trippy night at the opera than any period drama you’ve ever seen? Check! An extremely far-fetched plot in which someone leaves Jude Law for Aaron Taylor-Johnson? Check! It’s weirder than I can prepare you for, a solid hour too long, and I can’t recommend it enough. —Kate Halliwell

After watching, read this: Revisiting the 2013 Academy Awards

Colette

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

The usual hallmarks of a Keira Knightley drama are turned on their heads in Colette, largely for the best. Her usual period-appropriate gowns are replaced with stylish suits; her love interests transform from boring men to cross-dressing, independent women. I’ll be honest, I never got to Colette when it was in theaters, and only in the past few weeks did I finally check it out. It’s the perfect streaming product—warm, escapist, and slightly more LGBTQ-friendly than we’ve come to expect from today’s period fare. —Halliwell

Hand-to-Hand Combat

All of the John Wicks

Available to rent on Amazon Prime; John Wick 3 streaming on HBO Now

The only bad thing about watching the three (and counting) films in the John Wick franchise is accepting that an adorable puppy has to be killed by Theon Greyjoy. But one harrowing moment sets up what might genuinely be the most consistently great action franchise ever made—a delirious combination of well-choreographed fight sequences, bizarre world-building that implies everyone on Earth is an assassin in hiding, and an arcane currency system holding it all together. Yes, a puppy had to die. But Keanu Reeves’s Baba Yaga gets revenge against the people responsible and the system writ large one glorious, improbable headshot at a time. The John Wick movies are art of the highest order. —Surrey

After watching, read this: The John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum Exit Survey

Or listen to this:


The Night Comes for Us

Streaming on Netflix

It’s hard to know whether Netflix spending billions a year on original programming is a form of organized chaos or just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks—probably both?—but I’m thrilled the streamer used some of their resources to make The Night Comes for Us. Frankly, I have no idea why, but I suppose “cool-looking martial arts plus all the blood from The Shining elevator” appeals to enough people to satisfy the all-knowing algorithm. Also, why look a gift horse in the mouth? The Night Comes for Us is, to put it mildly, an acquired taste—it would not be hyperbole to say it’s one of the goriest action movies I’ve ever seen. But if the thought of the two stars from The Raid (Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim) waging Triad warfare by means of killing people with things like cow femurs, meat hooks, and billiards balls is your idea of a good time, I can’t recommend it enough. —Surrey

After watching, read this: The Winners and Losers of Netflix’s The Night Comes for Us

Triple Threat

Streaming on Netflix

That Guys” are a Hollywood staple and a continued source of admiration for people at this website, but within that broad framework there are also some That Guy subcategories worth pointing out. Take Triple Threat. It’s got a murderers’ row of Action Movie That Guys—Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White—who convene for a bland collection of action movie tropes. There’s a team of mercenaries, people seeking revenge for slain family, lots of double-crossing, all the usual beats—the film would’ve saved a lot of time just getting straight to all the fighting. But Triple Threat is nevertheless enjoyable for the meta-nature of its enterprise: What really matters is getting all these martial arts performers in one movie and letting them cook. —Surrey

Upgrade

Streaming on HBO Now

You may have seen director Leigh Whannell’s name more frequently of late—he directed last month’s hit reboot The Invisible Man, which slaps—but don’t miss his first feature, 2018’s Upgrade, a slick, stylish sci-fi romp about a man seeking revenge for his wife’s murder with the help of a supercomputer chip embedded into his nervous system. There’s only a couple of fight scenes in Upgrade, but they’re high value, as our hero Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) turns over control of his body to Stem (the computer chip) in order to fend off attackers. Whannell has a lot of fun with these scenes, implementing robotic camera-tracking moves to accentuate Marshall-Green’s impressive physical performance. —Mose Bergmann

After watching, read this: Upgrade Is Like Taken Mixed With RoboCop Mixed With Ex Machina

Or this: The Top 10 Action Movies of 2018

Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2

Streaming on Netflix

Violent action movies are for women, too! That’s what I learned after watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 for the first time about a year ago. While others may say that Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus, I would argue that the Kill Bill films are just as violent, but so much better in terms of overall plot. Seriously, try watching the first without immediately streaming the second. You can’t—the story is that engrossing. —Wedemeyer

After watching, read this: The Best Quentin Tarantino Scenes Ever

Or listen to this:


Cartoons for Adults (or Kids, but Adults Still Watch)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Streaming on Netflix

The best film in the Spider-Man franchise, Spider-Verse is part action story, part philosophy lesson, and all heart. Featuring animation that makes viewers feel like they stepped into a comic book, the story is based around Miles Morales, a talented but wayward teenager who is bit by a radioactive spider, giving him skills on par with Spider-Man himself. Following an unfortunate mishap, however, we find out that we may be dealing with a case of Spider-Men—and Spider-Women, and even a Spider-Ham. By pulling in an array of different comic book versions of the famous character, the movie creates one of the richest superhero universes to ever appear on screen—and delivers enough humor to keep even the most comic-averse viewers in its world. —Justin Sayles

herAfter watching, read this: Into the Spider-Verse Is a Perfect Spider-Man Movie

Frozen 2

Streaming on Disney+

The story of Frozen 2 goes like this: Once upon a time there was a princess named Elsa who had magical powers. One night a voice called out to her, so she followed it to a magical forest. Back in the real world, a dad leaned back in his chair and shut his eyes for a couple hours knowing full well that his child thought he was a king for getting Frozen 2 several months before it was originally supposed to come out. Little did the child know that the real hero of this story was multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate, the Walt Disney Company, who found it in their hearts to release 2019’s most popular kids movie early on Disney+.

Dad had no intention of revealing Disney’s good deeds in hopes that he could claim them as his own. How very wicked. Also there was a water horse. The end. —Jason Gallagher

Robin Hood

Streaming on Disney+

I watched this movie over and over as a kid, somehow enthralled by a story about taxes and religious warfare and archery. But I hadn’t seen it in, oh, 30 years until I noticed it on Disney+ while desperately trying to entertain my housebound children. And oo-de-lally, it’s great! The evil thumb-sucking Prince John is the original Prince Joffrey. The vibe is, successfully, modeled after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a true kiddie buddy flick. The redistributionist message is the right one for our times. And Robin Hood is a total fox, or so I’ve been told. —Katie Baker

21st-Century Problems

Hot Rod

Streaming on Crackle

An arrested-development 20-something (Andy Samberg’s Rod Kimble) struggles to grow up, find his place, and leave his mark in a field (being a stuntman) whose cultural relevance has long since peaked. He wages war against an older generation that looks down on him (Ian McShane’s Frank, who won’t respect Rod until Rod can best him in combat). He walks the tricky line between pursuing new relationships (love interest Isla Fisher) and honoring old ones (“stunt crew” pals Bill Hader, Danny McBride, and Jorma Taccone). All the angst of a great contemporary coming-of-age story, skewed dramatically and served with “cool beans.”Dan Devine

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Streaming on Netflix

Even though I knew what this movie was about — Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is burgled; enter Elijah Wood high-jinks, drug-addict petty thieves, 21st-century ennui — I could not, for the life of me, keep its title straight. Was it like the Futurama meme? Were there aliens involved? Turns out it’s a line from “This World Is Not My Home,” a traditional gospel song that plays toward the end of the movie. And finally, the film’s confusing title — a cheery refrain begging for death — coalesced for me and captured the film as well: levity in darkness, sunshine where it shouldn’t be. —Kjerstin Johnson

Clear Eyes Full Hearts

Raging Bull

Streaming on Netflix

Perhaps none of Martin Scorsese’s antiheroes are as repulsive yet fully formed as real-life boxer Jake LaMotta. Featuring Robert De Niro in his most physically transformative role (and Joe Pesci in one of his best), Raging Bull is an unflinching look at the onetime champ’s broken life. Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing makes the in-ring scenes feel as pulverizing as anything we’ve ever seen in a boxing film, but the true violence occurs outside of the arena, where LaMotta is a jealous, abusive lover and a menace to everyone in his orbit. Originally thought to be Scorcese’s swan song, the film was a commercial failure at the time of its release, but has gone on to be recognized as one of American cinema’s greatest products. It’s a sports film that elevates itself beyond sports—a vital look at the human condition that isn’t always easy to watch. —Sayles

After watching, read this: The Five Stages of Scorsese

Kingpin

Streaming on Crackle

The Farrelly brothers’ second movie is the lowest-grossing thing they’ve produced and directed. (Live-action, anyway; shouts to Osmosis Jones.) It’s also a near-perfect lowbrow comedy: a bawdy little miracle about bowling, grifting, the road, the Amish, scumbags, families, and redemption. There’s a good Randy Quaid performance, a great Woody Harrelson performance, and an all-time iconic Bill Murray performance as Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken, a Pete WeberJoe Namath mash-up whose every movement, line reading, and hair journey still kill two decades later. An impeccable choice when you’re Munsoned out there—and aren’t we all, right now—and need a lizard-brain laugh. —Devine

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Streaming on Amazon Prime

“The protagonist is the antagonist,” explained writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo on The Big Picture podcast, and never have I heard a better description of (a) being human and (b) going for a jog. Colaizzo’s debut film is a tribute to the joys and pains of both, taking all the expected elements of a “sports movie” and infusing them with details that would be at home in an episode of Broad City (and, briefly, Parasite?!). Colaizzo wrote the script about a former roommate of his who uncharacteristically got into distance running, and the movie is like the best kind of roommate: generous and blunt, smart but undemanding. Those same qualities make it not only the platonic ideal of a streamable film, but also a surprisingly inspirational one. —Baker

After watching, listen to this:


Gruesome Deaths

28 Days Later...

Streaming on Hulu

Danny Boyle’s 2002 postapocalyptic nightmare is a crucial entry in the “fast zombie” canon, and the funniest venue for Pepsi product placement imaginable, and a very chilling vision of turn-of-the-millennium London practicing a very extreme sort of social distancing. And when a drop of blood lands directly in a kindly dude’s eye, look the fuck out. —Rob Harvilla

After watching, read this: The Razor-Sharp Guilt Trips of Alex Garland’s Science Fiction

Train to Busan

Streaming on Netflix

This 2016 South Korean juggernaut is like Snowpiercer crossed with The Raid, a fast-zombie bacchanal with surprisingly vivid characters (Ma Dong-seok, playing the soulful roughneck leading the charge here, is unbelievable) that gets both surprisingly weepy and unsurprisingly brutal. Best cinematic deployment of a baseball team since The Warriors. —Rob Harvilla

Green Room

Streaming on Netflix

If you’ve ever been in a band, you’ve had a bad gig. But if you’re reading this, you’ve never had one like the Ain’t Rights. The small-time punk rock band is cash-strapped while in the midst of a Pacific Northwest tour and takes a gig at a Nazi bar near Portland. Despite starting the show with a Dead Kennedys’ cover, their set goes relatively well. The real problems begin, however, when they discover something grisly in the titular green room. After that, the band suddenly becomes less concerned about their next gig and more worried about their survival. Starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, and Patrick Stewart (as a Nazi bar owner), Green Room is a grindhouse-style gore fest that never insults your intelligence. —Sayles

After watching, read this: A Trekkie and a Punk

One Last Job

The Town

Streaming on HBO Now

There’s a sense of dread that hangs over Ben Affleck’s best film as a director, and it’s not because of the audacity of the big heist, in which a band of thieves tries to knock off Fenway Park. It’s because these characters are trapped by their circumstances. They’re an insular pack that shuns outsiders; Affleck’s Doug MacRay wants nothing more than to escape his Charlestown enclave, but leaving can seem more daunting than robbing an armoured truck in broad daylight. Packed with exhilarating action sequences and the most believable Massachusetts accents you’ve heard on screen, The Town is a perfect Boston movie, and a heist movie that’s worth rewatching over and over. —Sayles

After watching, listen to this:


American Animals

Streaming on HBO Now

Of course American Animals is fun and cool, but it’s also unlike any other heist movie because the fictionalized retelling of this real-world theft of a rare book is periodically interrupted by interviews with the actual guys who did the job. The result is uniquely enthralling and tense, trading the escapist Ocean’s 11–style glamor of the genre for the feeling of being on the ground with real people. Evan Peters is unbelievably good in this. Go watch it. —Michael Baumann

After watching, listen to this:

In Bruges

Available to rent for $3.99 on YouTube

I wish Hollywood would carve out a special category for crime comedies like it did for romantic comedies, and make Colin Farrell the face of it. In Bruges is a British crime-com featuring Farrell in another “bad guy, but with feelings” role, and also starring the very underappreciated Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. It’s about a hitman (Farrell) with a conscience who screws up so badly on his first job that it’s also his last, forcing him and his partner (Gleeson) to hide out in Bruges, Belgium. —Haley O’Shaughnessy

Just A24 Movies

Hereditary

Streaming on Amazon Prime

One of the most harrowing movies of the past decade, Ari Aster’s Hereditary is at its core an exploration of grief. After an unspeakable tragedy, the Graham family is visited by a number of horrors, including a few of the paranormal variety. Mother Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is hit particularly hard as she looks for whatever coping mechanism she can find. Eventually, she discovers that everything isn’t quite what it seems—and that the pain she’s experiencing may have been unavoidable all along. Hereditary can scare you, and it can gross you out, but it leaves its most vicious marks psychologically. —Sayles

After watching, read this: A Review of the Hereditary Wikipedia Page, by Someone Who Is Too Afraid to See Hereditary

Or listen to this:

First Reformed

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Much has been made of throughline between First Reformed’s Rev. Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) and Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, for which First Reformed director Paul Schrader wrote the script. Both men are left disaffected by the state of their worlds, and both are willing to go to violent lengths to express that. But where Bickle mostly directs his rage at the small-town pimps and scum that populate his New York City, the small-town pastor Toller wants to take aim at the corporations that are killing the planet and the religious organizations they are in bed with. First Reformed is a deeply moving film about the descent of man whose faith has forsaken him. Can anything—or anyone—save him before it’s too late? —Sayles

After watching, read this: First Reformed Is One of the Best Films of the Year

Or listen to this:


Spring Breakers

Streaming on Netflix

Marvel at the enormous quantity of germs being exchanged by nubile college students during this, the most palatable and straightforward Harmony Korine project, for what little that’s worth. The hottest topic of 2012, Spring Breakers—which drops Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Harmony’s wife Rachel Korine (mostly in bikinis) into a neon-noir crime flick that pits James Franco (in cornrows) against Gucci Mane (in the nude)—is lurid and titillating in an impressively nauseating way. And given all the fluids exchanged, it’s extra transgressive now. —Harvilla

Good Time

Streaming on Netflix

I consider this stressful heist movie to be fully part of the Uncut Gems cinematic universe, and indeed, Good Time was written, shot, and released as a detour from the many-years-long marathon that was the Uncut Gems production. The lore behind Good Time is weird and unconventional: Robert Pattinson, having seen a lone publicity still of an earlier Safdies movie and wanting to reframe his reputation as The Twilight Guy, reached out to the filmmakers, with whom he immediately vibed. One of them, Benny Safdie, plays a difficult and key role in the film, while another actor, Buddy Duress, was a once-and-future Rikers inmate whose journals provided inspiration for elements of the film. You’ll never look at an amusement park (or Jennifer Jason Leigh) the same way again. —Baker

After watching, read this: Good Time Is an Instant Classic New York City Movie

Or listen to this:


Ex Machina

Streaming on Netflix

Ex Machina strips away all the absurdity and over-the-top action that other robot-centered stories tend to gravitate toward in order to focus on what’s at the heart of the sci-fi genre: artificial intelligence. The 2015 film only really features three characters, all confined to the same location at a research facility far removed from the rest of human civilization. Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) is the brilliant, egotistical CEO of a massive internet company who’s created Ava (Alicia Vikander), a robot that’s advanced enough to almost pass as a human. The film follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at Nathan’s company, as he conducts a Turing Test in order to explore just how human Ava really is. Though it may lack explosions, Ex Machina is one of the most compelling, realistic, and therefore scariest AI-centered films to date. —Chin

After watching, read this: Alex Garland Leaves Nothing Behind

What She’s Having

Set It Up

Streaming on Netflix

Before Netflix got in the habit of churning out rom-coms seemingly every week, there was Set It Up, one of the proto-Netflix romantic comedies. It stars two bright, compelling young stars (Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch); it features a supreme rom-com premise (to make their jobs easier, these two personal assistants must make their bosses fall in love with each other); and it’s just self-aware enough to be funny but not snobbish. A total delight of a movie. —Gruttadaro

After watching, read this: Ranking all of the Setups in Set It Up

You’ve Got Mail

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

A film in which two people fall in love indoors by communicating online and way farther away from each other than the CDC-regulated six feet. How delightful. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have the best chemistry in rom-com history—rivaled only by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, or Julia Roberts and whomever, literally an egg—making You’ve Got Mail a lasting love story. Even the plot, although technologically outdated (Ryan and Hanks meet in an AOL chatroom), is surprisingly timeless. —O’Shaughnessy

Plus One

Streaming on Hulu

Wherein Jack Quaid (fine, tolerable) and PEN15 starlet Maya Erskine (wow, incredible) fall in love, sloppily, over the course of several ostensibly platonic wedding dates. Low key, low stakes, high reward, and arguably the best rom-com of 2019, non-Netflix edition. All of which is to say it gets funnier the drunker she gets. —Harvilla

The Wedding Singer

Available to buy on Amazon Prime

Adam Sandler’s Netflix era likely barred his chances of being nominated for an Oscar for Uncut Gems, but it’s also caused us to forget what a sufficient rom-com lead he morphed into in the late ’90s. The Wedding Singer is Sandler’s warmest, most charming movie. It’s also really freaking funny, and it has an incredible soundtrack full of ’80s classics. —Gruttadaro

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

Kate Hudson plays Andie Anderson, a writer for Composure magazine who decides to write an article on how to keep a man by experimenting with all the wrong things to do. Matthew McConaughey plays Ben Barry, who bet his boss that he could make any woman fall in love with him in 10 days. I kind of hate myself for loving this movie after writing those two sentences, but I promise How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days has it all: a Carly Simon rendition, a Knicks loss, a Knicks win (!!!), a love fern, and Hudson and McConaughey making out in his parents’ bathroom. —O’Shaughnessy

This Really Happened

Three Identical Strangers

Streaming on Hulu

Three Identical Strangers is a hard documentary to sell because it’s full of rewarding surprises you won’t see coming. Let’s stick with the basic logline: When a young man goes to college, he’s weirded out by everyone acting like they already know him. Turns out, that’s because he has an identical twin whom he was separated from at birth who went to the school the previous semester. Oh, scratch that—once the story hits the local newspaper, it turns out they’re actually triplets. Most of Three Identical Strangers deals with the fallout of this revelation, which sees the three men get national exposure before things get surprisingly dark. Suffice to say, the documentary unfurls a tale so wild, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a meticulous work of fiction. But it’s not. —Surrey

After watching, read this: We Are Living Through a Documentary Boom

The Paradise Lost Trilogy

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Two decades before Adnan Syed and Steven Avery, there were the West Memphis Three. The three-part documentary follows the story of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr., three teens convicted of the 1993 killings of three young kids in rural Arkansas. Through the trilogy, directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky spent more than 15 years covering the trials and subsequent appeals, the pain brought on by the murders, and the so-called Satanic Panic of the ’80s and ’90s. Were Echols and his cohorts guilty of these heinous acts, or were they victims themselves, misserved by a world that had already cast them out? —Sayles

Tickled

Streaming on Hulu

I have yet to see a documentary overdeliver on its promise of “the most shocking twist ever” like the 2016 film Tickled did. What starts as an innocent investigation into the seemingly quirky world of “professional tickling” soon spirals into something much darker, taking you from industrial L.A. to rural Michigan to the high rises of Wall Street. As director/investigator David Farrier tries to figure out what’s going on with these strange tickling videos, he stumbles into a much more sinister story of exploitation, online harassment, and what happens when the rich have endless wealth and a rotten moral core. —Johnson

The TV Shows

Shows With So Many Episodes You’ll Never Finish

Love Island

Streaming on Hulu

Collecting a group of reckless, shameless, wildly horny Brits and isolating them in a house in Spain, Love Island is reality TV on steroids. But the premise isn’t the only bonkers thing about the show: Love Island barely adheres to a set of rules, instead shifting boundaries and guidelines so that it’s contestants are never on solid ground. It’s a genuine social experiment, an argument that the UK has leapt the US in the Reality TV Arms Race, and a factory for weird slang. But most importantly, each season is about 40 episodes—now’s the time to dig in. —Gruttadaro

After watching, read this: The Love Island Dictionary

Survivor

Streaming on Hulu

How do you jump into a 40-season show if you’ve never watched before? Pearl Islands and China are the no-brainer seasons to start with. The former is a total old-school season, the latter adds some twists that become Survivor staples—both feature some of the best characters and story in the series’ history. David vs. Goliath and Cagayan will get you caught up on how modern Survivor works, with all the twists and lightning-fast gameplay that are a hallmark of recent seasons. Once you’re familiar with the show, that’s when it’s time to circle back to Borneo to see how it all started. —Riley McAtee

After watching, read this: How Survivor Got Its Groove Back

Shark Tank

Streaming on Hulu

Because of Shark Tank, I can walk into any farmers market, try a sample of someone’s plant-based tamales, and tell the vendor that this is an interesting product. But therein lies the problem.

Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun DUN DUN.

This tamale is a product, not a business. And unfortunately it’s just not investable at this time— at least not via straight equity. Perhaps I’d do a royalty deal until I recoup 1.5 times my investment, but that would have to be contingent on us getting into a big-box retailer. I suppose I’d do that deal but they’d have to say yes right this second!

Then my wife turns to me and says we don’t have that kind of money and likely never will. And it’s all because of Shark Tank! —Gallagher

After watching, read this: The Definitive Ranking of Sharks

Game of Thrones

Streaming on HBO Now

Don’t let the sour taste of seasons 7 and 8 spoil the rest of the saga. At its best—and for the first six seasons, Thrones was often at its best—the show combined elements of historical drama and fantasy epic, realpolitik and magic, and spread across a vast range of well-developed characters and geographies. If you’re reading The Ringer, chances are you don’t need any convincing about this show. So turn on some classic early Thrones; rejoin Arya, Tyrion, and friends; and escape into a world with, well, a whole different set of problems. —Zach Kram

While watching, listen to this: Binge Mode

Jeopardy!

Streaming on Hulu

I love watching Jeopardy! reruns on Netflix because it makes me feel productive. I’m either learning, winning, or hearing Alex Trebek pronounce “Beyoncé.” —O’Shaughnessy

After watching, read this: Big Bets and a Fast Buzzer: The Secret Sauce of James Holzhauer’s Jeopardy! Success

Naruto

Streaming on Netflix

Two hundred and twenty episodes of Naruto comprise Part 1 of the anime adaptation of Masashi Kishimoto’s manga series. If you include Part 2, Naruto: Shippûden, that tacks on another 500 episodes for a total of 720. If you’re going in as a first-timer, know that a large chunk of these episodes are “filler” episodes that don’t really matter to the larger plot of the series. Instead, head into Naruto with a filler guide handy. Getting into a show with this many episodes is daunting, Sisyphean almost, but Naruto is extremely watchable due to its lead character’s never-ending determination. And on top of the many badass fight scenes and in-depth lore surrounding chakras and jutsus, Naruto is frequently straight-up inspiring and uplifting. —Bergmann

Crime Solvers

The Night Of

Streaming on HBO Now

You’d be hard pressed to find a better pilot in recent American television history than The Night Of’s “The Beach.” In it, we meet Pakistani American 20-something Nasir “Naz” Khan (Riz Ahmed), who starts out the series just wanting to party but ends its first episode accused of a crime he possibly didn’t commit. Through its eight episodes, the show explores Naz’s case and the cultural and political issues that hang over it. Ahmed and John Turturro, who plays Naz’s lawyer in a role originally intended for James Gandolfini, are both stellar, and the writing and direction reveal there is more to the story than a simple whodunnit. Airing for just one season, The Night Of is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in 21st-century crime stories. —Sayles

After watching, read this: The Night Of Was Like Life

Collateral

Streaming on Netflix

The rare detective show defined by its acts of humanity rather than cruelty, Collateral is a lone flower growing out of the abandoned lot full of weeds that is contemporary crime television. And you’re talking to someone who really loves the weeds. Carey Mulligan plays a pregnant, former Olympic pole-vaulter turned DCI (seriously), working the homicide of a pizza deliveryperson in Southwest London. She uncovers something of a conspiracy, one that touches the British government, military, and members of a shadowy human-trafficking ring. Collateral is at once compact (four episodes!) and sprawling (pretty much every societal ill comes up at least once in this show) series, with Mulligan putting in one of my favorite on-screen cop performances. —Chris Ryan

After watching, read this: Collateral Is Essential—and Timely—TV

24

Streaming on Hulu

Every season of 24 spans a full day, so watching it makes time fly by! It’s also worth it because of Jack Bauer—former federal agent, member of L.A.’s Counter Terrorist Unit, heavy breather, saver of days, and leather jacket enthusiast. Bauer is so dedicated to saving the day—literally—that he doesn’t ever eat or drink or pee. Ever. If that doesn’t hook you, watch for President David Palmer, played by Dennis Haysbert, who is wonderful because he is competent. —O’Shaughnessy

Mindhunter

Streaming on Netflix

What we talk about when we talk about murder. David Fincher’s two-season psychological thriller is about language. Wait, don’t go anywhere yet: It’s Fincher; it’s sumptuous, at times terrifying, always gripping, and completely consuming. The show tells the story of how the concept of the serial killer went from a whisper in the late 1970s to a scream with the sensational coverage of the Atlanta Child Murders in the early 1980s. Fincher interrogates ideas around how language creates meaning in our society, partially through a series of interrogation of convicted killers, who share their … thoughts with a trio of FBI agents. This is the best crime show of the last 10 years and I don’t think it’s particularly close. —Ryan

After watching, read this: The Mindhunter Exit Survey

Or watch this:

Crime Starters

Narcos

Streaming on Netflix

Since 2015, Narcos has not-so-quietly (it’s one of Netflix’s most popular originals) been rolling out a historical retelling of the Drug War. You can quibble with whether or not it’s always 100 percent accurate, but there’s no denying its sense of authenticity and place. If you’re stuck on the sheer enormity of the “Watching Narcos” project, don’t sweat it—it’s actually three shows across five seasons. The first two are essentially a cat-and-mouse thriller covering the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar in Medellín; the third season (and my favorite) is an almost stand-alone quasi-espionage tale set in the early ’90s about the consolidation and undoing of the Cali Cartel. The most recent two-season arc, Narcos: Mexico, is a Western Godfather, chronicling the pursuit of Mexican trafficker and cartel leader, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. —Ryan

After watching, read this: The Genius Pulp Nonfiction of Narcos

ZeroZeroZero

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Narcos on ’shrooms. This is a slightly trippy, totally engrossing new show, courtesy of Mauricio Katz (who wrote on The Bridge and Maniac) and Stefano Sollima (director of Sicario: Day of the Soldado) and based on the book of the same name about the global cocaine trade, by Roberto Saviano, author of the landmark account of the Italian Camorra. ZeroZeroZero is a triptych tale about Buyers (a Mexican cartel), Sellers (the Italian mafia), and Brokers (the Lynwoods, a New Orleans family who runs a shipping business) involved in a massive cocaine deal, but damn if this doesn’t veer into near-psychedelic territory, with a haunting score by Mogwai, a terrifying performance by Harold Torres as a Mexican special forces officer on a mission from God, and a turn by English actress Andrea Riseborough as Emma Lynwood, who could best be described as Michael Corleone in Rachel Comey pants. —Ryan

After watching, read this: Stefano Sollima on Bringing Italian Crime Stories to Life on TV

You Will Get Hungry

Chopped

Streaming on Hulu

Maybe you’re hungry for some competition. (Four chefs enter, three chefs leave with nothing more than a dirty apron.) Maybe you fancy yourself a bit of a talent in the kitchen and want to play along in your living room. (Sure, I could turn that spinach-and-cheese lasagna into a delicious dessert!) Maybe you just want to see otherwise talented chefs have no idea what to make of the basket ingredients. (Lasagna for dessert?!) Whatever brings you to the chopping block, you’ll enjoy the 30-odd minutes it takes to get to that final cloche. —Jack McCluskey

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

Streaming on Hulu

You say you want mindless TV, well, there’s nothing more deliciously mindless than watching Guy Fieri traverse the country in a red Camaro, discovering everything from gourmet hole-in-the-wall spots to dingy diners. Fieri can make a regular-ass sandwich look and sound like fine dining. The tone of his “That’s killer, brother,” is the same, whether he’s biting down on a grilled cheese you could make at home or some tamales he found in suburban Indianapolis. And the whole time, you’re somehow entranced, able to tune out and tune back in without missing a beat. It’s TV magic. Plus, there are so many episodes, that in a month, you’re going to be referring to your own kitchen as FlavorTown. —Paolo Uggetti

After watching, read this: A Unified Theory of Guy Fieri, the Guy From Smash Mouth, and the Guy From Insane Clown Posse

The Great British Baking Show

Streaming on Netflix

There is nothing more delightful than British people baking beneath a tent in the bucolic countryside. Nothing. And that’s nearly the entirety of The Great British Baking Show, which also features extremely likable contestants, little-to-no drama, a guy whose actual name is Paul Hollywood, and, of course, mouth-watering baked goods made with love, care, and friendship. If you want a break from the back-stabbing and bickering of regular competition shows—and who doesn’t?—seven “collections” of The Great British Baking Show are waiting for you on Netflix. —Wedemeyer

After watching, read this: I Hate the Hollywood Handshake

Or this: The Least Edible Desserts on The Great British Baking Show

There’s No Way They Can Afford That Apartment

Sex and the City

Streaming on HBO Now

Almost everyone has seen a few episodes of HBO’s iconic rom-com, but if you haven’t watched the pioneering six-season series from start to finish, don’t let a passing familiarity with its characters, catchphrases, and plot lines prevent you from enjoying the full Sex and the City experience. My wife and I indulged for the first time this year, and despite occasionally cringeworthy lines and dated communications customs—Carrie refuses to use email, and people answer their phones—the show was far enough ahead it doesn’t seem out of step today. In the 22 years since the series premiered, some of the guest actors who were no-names in the ’90s have ascended to stardom, which makes certain episodes more amusing now. Sure, it’s harder to buy Carrie and Samantha as besties and weekly brunch buds when you know that Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall are sworn enemies, but scrutinizing them for signs of simmering resentment only adds to the sport. —Ben Lindbergh

After watching, read this: A Tribute to Sex and the City, the Early Years

Or this: A Brief, Strange Trip Through the New York of Sex and the City

It’s Like a Comedy but Sad

Lovesick

Streaming on Netflix

This is supposed to be a hilarious comedy about a bunch of hot Londoners screwing their way through their 20s, a comedy so ribald it was originally called Scrotal Recall. And yes, there are antics and escapades and multiple episodes about being on drugs at inappropriate moments (one of which is made all the funnier because Chernobyl’s Paul Ritter guest-stars as a middle-aged bon vivant). But it’s also a positively heart-rending commentary on loneliness and self-deception that can have you curled up in a ball sobbing only 20 minutes after an extended discussion of something called “Dutch mudflaps.” Watch this only if there’s someone in your household whom you feel safe hugging. —Baumann

After watching, read this: Lovesick Is the Future of Romantic Comedies

Man Seeking Woman

Streaming on Hulu

Dating is hard, and growing up is scary. Man Seeking Woman, the three-season FX series created by Simon Rich, takes those fears and anxieties and manifests them into reality. Going on a blind date is intimidating because your date could be a literal goblin, meeting your partner’s ex is tough because they could be a phallic, tentacular Japanese ooze monster. These are some of the scenarios Man Seeking Woman’s Josh (Jay Baruchel) lives through. Part of the appeal is seeing just how imaginative each episode is, but it’s the heart hidden within each plot that makes it all work. —Bergmann

After watching, read this: The Ringer’s Irrational No. 1 TV Episodes of the Century

The Comeback

Streaming on HBO Now

The Office? Meh. Curb Your Enthusiasm? Big whoop. If you really think you can handle cringe comedy, test your stamina with The Comeback, a two-season Lisa Kudrow showstopper in which Kudrow plays Valerie Cherish, a middle-aged actress who’s ready for her … comeback. The ensuing highs, and lows, and super-duper lows as Valerie chases the spotlight and the harsh realities of Hollywood will make you bury your head under a sofa cushion from—alternately—laughing, screaming, and feeling second-hand shame. The series also proves that not only was Kudrow the most talented Friends actor by a 100 miles, she’s also a national treasure. —Johnson

You’re the Worst

Streaming on Hulu

Thanks to the newly launched FX on Hulu, the tale of Jimmy and Gretchen is finally available to shotgun in its entirety. The show is as sharp a dissection of Silver Lake hipster bums (a music industry publicist and a novelist with vague plans for a movie adaptation walk into a midcentury modern home...) as it is a rom-com, building out its cast of idiots and assholes with an eye for self-absorption. Even if you don’t live within spitting distance of Sunset Junction, You’re the Worst is an oddly reassuring study in how even the most misanthropic of us can still find love—the question is just whether they can sustain it. —Alison Herman

After watching, read this: You’re the Worst Uses the Whole Deck

Or listen to this:


Please Like Me

Streaming on Hulu

Please Like Me is the breakout for Josh Thomas, an Australian wunderkind who’s matured into a consistently insightful source of empathetic dramedies. Like Girls, it’s an autobiographical series Thomas started at the eye-popping age of 25, and like Fleabag, it’s an emotionally adept vehicle for its auteur’s bittersweet observations of the human spirit. The Please Like Me version of Thomas comes out in the pilot episode to his then-girlfriend. He soon settles into a comfortable rhythm of caring for his bipolar mother, placating his remarried father, and living out his typically hapless and underemployed 20s in the meantime. Please Like Me isn’t the most eventful show, but the small moments add up to an impactful whole. Also, watch out for soon-to-be superstar Hannah Gadsby in a supporting role. —Herman

After watching, read this: Please Like Me Updates the Hangout Comedy

Total Nonsense

I Think You Should Leave

Streaming on Netflix

Tim Robinson’s cherry-bomb-blast sketch show is the perfect comedy series for this unmanageable moment—extreme, sometimes unsettling, and so utterly devoted to ridiculousness that it allows/forces you to discard the day-to-day and embrace every last preposterous premise. Robinson and his coconspirators apply Method-level commitment to baby beauty pageants, parodies of Johnny Cash lore and local lawyer commercials, airplane vengeance, and more, perpetually pushing the bit toward total absurdity. I’m not sure I Think You Should Leave is driving at any grand unifying truth. If it is, though, it’s definitely doing it in a car with a great steering wheel. —Devine

After watching, read this: I Think You Should Leave Is the TV Show of the Year

Letterkenny

Streaming on Hulu

The first time I saw a trailer for Letterkenny I had no idea what the hell was going on or what the show was about, and that feeling persisted almost to the end of Season 1. But once you get comfortable with the extremely specific vernacular of this Seinfeld-but-for-Canadian-farmers program, it gets inside your head and stays there like nothing else on TV. —Baumann

“I Don’t Own a TV” TV

The Sopranos

Streaming on HBO Now

It’s been two decades since Tony and his ducks waddled into our lives, and in the intervening years, much has been written about how The Sopranos changed television forever. But for all its stodgy “prestige television” acclaim, the series remains just as entertaining today as the day it aired—and in some ways, more so. Watching in 2020, the show plays like a comedy (revisit Season 4 episode “The Weight” if you need a refresher), but some of its overarching themes—depression, the role of family in one’s life, the debates over nature versus nature—hit even harder than they did when The Sopranos aired. If you’re a newbie, now is the perfect time to dive into the series. But, with a prequel film due later this year, there’s also no better time to get reacquainted with the family. —Sayles

After watching, read this: Ten Years Later, the Sopranos Finale Is Still Revolutionary

Or this: Members Only: SopranosCon and the Enduring Afterlife of Tony Soprano

Twin Peaks

Streaming on Netflix

In need of a soothing distraction from the woes of the world? Watch Twin Peaks. Want a harrowing reflection of human nature’s dark, rotting heart? Watch Twin Peaks. Duality is core to David Lynch’s creepy, quirky, utterly unique gift to network television, which characteristically came about 25 years before its time. (Fortunately, Lynch got the chance to give an encore down the road; more on that later.) Twin Peaks iconography is so widespread it’s almost grown divorced from the show itself: Coffee! Cherry pie! Diane! “Wrapped in plastic”! But Lynch’s surreal creations, soundtracked by Angelo Badalamenti’s yearning synths, remain timeless. The director famously dreamed up the red-curtained Black Lodge while resting on the hood of a hot car. It hasn’t left our collective subconscious since. —Herman

After watching, read this: David Lynch’s Heartbreaking Gift to Laura Palmer

Arrested Development

Streaming on Netflix

The Fox comedy was a minor hit when it debuted in 2003. But by the time the network canceled it in 2006, the series had become something of a cult classic thanks to its highly bingeable DVDs. Arrested Development found new life in 2013 when Netflix revived the show to bolster the streamer’s original content bona fides. While the two newer seasons don’t add much, the original three remain eminently rewatchable. I’m sure there are dozens of you who haven’t indulged yourself in the story of the Bluth family, but that’s OK—the series is due to get a few hop-ons. —Sayles

Network Shows That Aired Before You Were Born

Murder, She Wrote

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Angela Lansbury plays Jessica B. Fletcher, a late-in-life mystery writer who, on an episodic basis, finds herself in the throes of actual murder investigations. She then proceeds to solve each and every murder mystery, inevitably outlining how the killer did it—to the killer’s face. Why is every detective so eager to let an old lady solve crimes for them? Wouldn’t these murderers try to kill Jessica at the end of every episode? And doesn’t it eventually become suspicious that this woman is on the scene for literally hundreds of deaths? How dare you concern yourself with such matters of reality. —Gruttadaro

Golden Girls

Streaming on Hulu

You most certainly know what Golden Girls is, but if you haven’t sat down and actually watched it, you’re missing an American classic. Golden Girls doesn’t have any of the stale dialog or predictable humor often associated with sitcoms of yore. Instead, you’ll fall in love with the four women at 6151 Richmond Street, laugh at the wit still alive in every episode, and be surprised at how forward-thinking the sitcom was for its time. It’s the perfect comfort show when days are dark. And the outfits are divine! —Johnson

The West Wing

Streaming on Netflix

Aaron Sorkin’s post-Clinton utopia was recognized as liberal wishful thinking at the time, and there’s an early-2000s Democratic Party vibe here that may not be reassuring. But as a workplace-as-family drama, it’s a classic, and as a feat of television-making—they made 22 of these a year!—it’s remarkable. If you’ve got time for only one season, make it Season 2. —Dobbins

After watching, listen to this:


Or this:

I Don’t Stream TV, I SCREAM TV

Vanderpump Rules

Streaming on Hulu

One of the most compelling character arcs in the history of entertainment belongs to Anakin Skywalker because of his constant inner battle between the light and the dark.

I shit you not when I say that these are the same reasons I’ve binged every season of Vanderpump Rules over the last few months. The arcs on the show are amazing. Can Stassi really be a good friend? Is Kristen really evil? Will James Kennedy ever stop drinking? Are Tom and Tom ready to become real business people? And most importantly, is Jax really going to be a committed husband? Or are all these people destined to drink, backstab, cheat, and scream about pasta forever? This is the Game of Thrones of reality TV. The Mona Lisa of extremely messy art. Shakespeare couldn’t write “I’m the number one guy in this group.” Are you kidding? I forget about The Bachelor after watching this show. And football. And sobriety. —Gallagher

After watching, read this: The iPhone Is the True Star of Vanderpump Rules

Burning Love

Available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon Prime

Fans of dating shows like The Bachelor know there’s an inherent stupidity to it. Burning Love takes that stupidity and amps it up to the max. Some of the contestants in Burning Love’s first season include Annie, the schoolteacher with a heart of gold; Haley, the party animal who literally never wears pants; and Tamara, who has a monkey heart. Featuring a who’s who of indie comedy darlings, Erica Oyama’s short-lived parody series is a supremely silly sendup of the ABC series, and worth a watch if you were let down by Peter’s season or if you are in the mood for some Wet Hot American Summer–style silliness. —Bergmann

Love Is Blind

Streaming on Netflix

It was already bizarre to watch dozens of strangers attempt to fall in love while isolated in windowless pods, unable to see other people and carefully pairing snack foods with their mood of the moment. It’s utterly surreal to watch “the experiment” unfold now, as we boot up Netflix from our own respective pods around the globe. While the Love Is Blind cast might not be paragons of best behavior, there’s something heartening, particularly now, about blazing through 11 episodes’ (don’t skip the reunion!) worth of reminders that human beings are capable of connecting in myriad unconventional ways, whether or not they’re in the same room with each other. —Mallory Rubin

After watching, listen to this:


Or read this: Love Is Blind Doesn’t Exactly Ask Whether Love Is Blind

The International Bachelor/ettes

Streaming on The Bachelor Archive

ABC has postponed production of The Bachelorette because of COVID-19, so if you want your rose ceremonies, debates about the right and wrong reasons, and knockoff Chris Harrisons, you’ll have to venture overseas. Fortunately, international Bachelor(ette) can be better than the original: It’s the show you know but with endearing accents, incomprehensible idioms, more varied leads, equally outrageous contestants, and slight tweaks to a formula that often feels stale after almost 40 combined domestic seasons. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and South Africa all host their own Bachelor(ette) variants, and 25 seasons from the five locales—not counting spinoffs—are streamable for free at Bachelor Archive. Start sightseeing (and judging) now. —Lindbergh

After watching, read this: The Many Joys of Watching the International Bachelor

Internet Stuff

Gourmet Makes

Streaming on YouTube

”And now for my favorite part: reading the ingredients!” So goes one of the many in-jokes now familiar to fans of Claire Saffitz, the pastry chef, former Bon Appetit editor, and current host of the brand’s Gourmet Makes, a YouTube show that’s exactly what it sounds like: Saffitz reverse-engineering her way to a new-and-improved version of classic processed foods, from Oreos to Bagel Bites. As episodes have stretched from 10 minutes to almost an hour, Gourmet Makes has developed a trademark set of steps on Saffitz’s path to victory: overconfidence; obstacles, often in the form of tempered chocolate; and, finally, innovation. There’s an optimism to Gourmet Makes that makes it a soothing watch in trying times. Claire always figures it out in the end, and to get there, she gets by with a little help from her friends: goofball Brad Leone, methodical Chris Morocco, and other supportive staffers. The point isn’t to teach subscribers how to replicate Saffitz’s exploits, but to marvel at them without any pressure to head to the kitchen yourself. —Herman

After watching, listen to this:


Binging With Babish

Streaming on YouTube

I love Bon Appetit’s Gourmet Test Kitchen, but sometimes I just want to watch someone use a kitchen with all the creativity and imagination an elementary-aged child would have. In Binging With Babish, Andrew Rea makes food that you’ve seen in movies and television, and it often results in ridiculousness. You get everything from Krabby Patties to a burrito with every meat. There’s comfort food, there’s comfort television, and then there’s … this. —McAtee

On Cinema at the Cinema

Streaming on YouTube

How do you like your comedy shows? Because if it’s turned all the way up, you have to watch On Cinema at the Cinema—perhaps my favorite piece of entertainment of the last decade. It’s Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington using a basic movie-review show as a vessel to deliver the most insane soap opera ever told. In its 11 seasons, these film critics have given us several failed marraiges, a failed EDM festival, child birth, child death, third-degree burns, a mass murder trial, and a documentary about Heidecker’s run for district attorney of San Bernadino county. This show is batshit. I give it five bags of popcorn … and a little smiley face :-). —Gallagher

The Voice

Compilations on YouTube

I stopped watching The Voice after the first season, but there’s nothing I find more addictive on YouTube than going down rabbit holes of the show’s blind audition compilations. I’m a total mark for the not-being-able-to-see trope in reality shows. It’s like Love Is Blind, but good and a lot less compromising. The variety and dearth of videos is absurd: Do you want to watch the best Ed Sheeran auditions on The Voice? There’s a video of the top 10. The most surprising covers? That too. Do you want to watch the fastest chair turns? There’s a video for that. Do you want to watch a cute kid from the Philippines sing Maroon 5? The best part about The Voice on YouTube is discovering that every country has a version of it, and let me tell you, it was not surprising to find out that the United States version of the show is by far one of the more boring ones. But how could you, person who is used to hearing Adam Levine and Blake Shelton argue, know this? Well, now you do. —Uggetti

Cartoons for Adults (or Kids, but Adults Still Watch)

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 1 available to buy for $29.99 on Amazon Prime

Part of the genius of Avatar is that, from the very beginning, the finish line is in sight. Every episode opens with a title sequence that serves as a chilling reminder of how the world came to be controlled by the evil, fascist Fire Nation, and what our hero, the avatar Aang, must overcome to save it. For a show that aired on Nickelodeon and was created mostly for kids, this creates an interesting paradox, a constant reminder of the real danger and darkness in the world of Avatar. That isn’t to say that the show isn’t also hilarious, beautiful, and touchingjust that it dares to go there. —Bergmann

Vinland Saga

Streaming on Amazon Prime

There’s no getting around it. Regardless of how difficult the story was to resolve, or how much time and money went into doing so, or how nice Nikolaj Coster-Waldau thinks we should be to everyone involved because they did their absolute damnedest, the last season of Game of Thrones sucked. If you’d like more broadswords and vassals and pitched struggles between warring factions, though, there’s always Vinland Saga. It’s a battle anime that takes place during the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain. The elevator pitch: Imagine that Arya had stuck with the Brotherhood Without Banners purely out of spite and taught herself all the acrobatic murder moves, but her list was only one name long. And also Arya’s a boy, named Thorfinn. —Micah Peters

South Park

Streaming on Hulu

I recently binged a few seasons of South Park. While the laughs certainly held up, I didn’t realize just how much of a time capsule this show is. In its 23 seasons, South Park has managed to provide commentary on the following topics, at their peak moments of relevance: Obama’s election night, Family Guy, the rise of Facebook, High School Musical, purity rings, Somali pirates, The Jersey Shore, The Human Centipede, the Tea Party, Gossip Girl, Guitar Hero, Y2K, the Tiger Woods scandal, World of Warcraft, Kanye West, Paris Hilton, The Passion of the Christ. And that’s just a partial list. If you aren’t easily offended, I highly recommend watching the most crass history book ever. —Gallagher

After watching, listen to this:


Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Streaming on Disney+

If you’re going through Baby Yoda withdrawal and have exhausted all of your Rise of Skywalker takes, rest assured, a Dreadnought’s worth of Star Wars still awaits on a streaming service not so far, far away. The Clone Wars’ long-awaited seventh season is currently unfolding on a weekly basis, but before you soak up the precious droplets of new story, catch up on the prior six seasons. The 120-plus episodes flesh out the essential period between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, presenting the most fully realized Anakin Skywalker to date, introducing a vital Star Wars hero in Ahsoka Tano, and reminding us that Obi-Wan’s cheekbones are as dangerous as any lightsaber. And guess what? When you catch up on Clone Wars Star Wars Rebels awaits. May the binge be with you. —Rubin

After watching, listen to this:


The Boondocks

Episodes available to rent on iTunes

Aaron McGruder’s cartoon—which follows Huey Freeman (whipsmart beyond his 10 years), his younger brother Riley (a punk), and their grandad (doing his best)—started as a comic strip and turned into a cartoon in 2005, running for four seasons on Adult Swim. Fifteen years later, its commentaries on race, pop culture, and politics still resonate, for better and for worse (it’s also very funny). The cast is stellar, featuring Regina King (the range!) as well as the late John Witherspoon and Charlie Murphy, and a host cameos, from Samuel L. Jackson to Lil Wayne. Plus you’ll be all up to date for the reboot, scheduled for later this year on HBO Max. —Johnson

Young at Heart

Derry Girls

Streaming on Netflix

A comedy about five wains (that means kids)—Erin, Clare, Michelle, Orla, and James—and their eccentric relatives in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in the 1990s. The kids attend an all-girls Catholic school (yes, even poor James); the parents banter incessantly while never seeming to work. There’s a baby who shows up every now and again, all cute and innocent, but is otherwise hardly ever mentioned. This show is incredibly funny, patently ridiculous, and, at times, unexpectedly moving. And if that wasn’t already enough to convince you to check it out, the accents are amazing. —McCluskey

I Am Not Okay With This

Streaming on Netflix

I Am Not Okay With This is an entertaining binge; it may not add much to its laundry list of creative forebears, but it doesn’t conjure them only to remind us of what we could simply be rewatching instead, either. Not until after one has shotgunned all seven chapters in a single afternoon does the nagging suspicion set in that the future will only see more shows like it—that companies like Netflix have so mastered consumer preferences that they can survive on infinite iterations of themselves. —Herman

After watching, read this: You’ll Love I Am Not Okay With This—Netflix Is Sure of It

My Mad Fat Diary

Streaming on Hulu

I cannot write enough good things about My Mad Fat Diary, a British teen dramedy centered on suburban teen Rae, played by the fantastic Sharon Rooney (HIRE HER, HOLLYWOOD). It’s a show about the familiar struggles of adolescence as well as heavier topics like mental health, all of which are explored with relatable humor and the right amount of tact. Also, I would like to note that before you all fell in love with Jodie Comer on Killing Eve, I fell in love with her as Rae’s selfish best friend, Chloe, on MMFD. So there. —Wedemeyer

This Really Happened

The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst

Streaming on HBO Now

The Peak True Crime Era hasn’t exactly been known for its endings. Making a Murderer arrived at no real conclusions, while Sarah Koenig fumbled her way through the final episode of Serial Season 1, which could never deliver what listeners had hoped for. This makes sense—most of these shows are built around ongoing or cold cases, and in the case of documentaries like Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes or Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, we know by and large how the story ends. The Jinx, however, stands apart for its gripping ending, which aired just as a real-life arrest came in a long dormant case. The series also benefited from having its subject, eccentric real estate scion Robert Durst, sit down for multiple interviews with series producers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling. It’s at once horrifying and enthralling, and you certainly won’t forget how it wraps up. —Sayles

After watching, read this: Murder, We Wrote

Chernobyl

Streaming on HBO Now

If Craig Mazin isn’t writing the coronavirus miniseries for HBO in five years I’ll be disappointed. Chernobyl is the definitive drama about a humanitarian disaster—and, ultimately, how humans can overcome the worst crises. It’s far from light, distracting TV, but you’ll leave it feeling a bit better. —McAtee

After watching, read this: Chernobyl Isn’t a Story About an Accident—It’s a Story About Endless Impact

Or listen to this:


Three Wives, One Husband

Streaming on Netflix

I’ve consumed a fair amount of material about plural marriages in my day, but I return to this one again and again. Part of it is that the series was put together by a British documentary crew, lending it a sort of gracefully inquisitive, anthropological feel. The documentary crew spent the better part of a year with their subjects, and the result is a vivid intimacy: It’s oddly comforting to know that even religious fundamentalists who live with their double digits of children in houses blasted into the side of a remote cliff can get really pissy over mundane household matters, just like us. Some of the best parts of Big Love, the HBO dramedy that I find myself randomly pining over more than any other—my kingdom to see Nicki as a latter-day influencer!—were the little juxtapositions between religious fundamentalism and modern life, and Three Wives, One Husband has plenty of that IRL, like the live-laugh-love polygamist mom who wears athleisure and is training to be a nurse, or the patriarch trying to buy Valentine’s gifts for all of his wives in front of a dubious, normie cashier. —Baker

Gentleman Jack

Streaming on HBO Now

Gentleman Jack, a coproduction of BBC One and HBO, combines the former’s affinity for period pieces with the latter’s fondness for steamy sex. Set in 1830s England, the series stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, a real-life lesbian landowner and industrialist whose explicit, coded diaries were decrypted long after her death. The first season follows Anne’s attempts to rehabilitate shabby Shibden Hall while looking for love without running afoul of the era’s restrictive romantic mores. Shot in Shibden itself, as well as in the verdant West Yorkshire countryside, Gentleman Jack looks convincingly Victorian, but its tone and protagonist are refreshingly modern. —Lindbergh

Middlebrow Foreign Language Series

Dark

Streaming on Netflix

I always hated time travel. Then I watched Dark. This German-language apocalyptic thriller leans into the paradoxes—and its protagonists’ attempts to escape them. It’s part conspiracy-fueled mystery and part mind-bending science fiction, all wrapped in a bow of suffocating fatalism. The show’s third and final season has already been shot and is expected to hit Netflix this summer, but truth is, we may already know the ending—Dark has been telling us that beginnings and endings are the same thing since the series, well, began. —McAtee

After watching, read this: Are You Afraid of Netflix’s Dark? Don’t Be.

Or listen to this:


Occupied

Streaming on Netflix

In Occupied, the Norwegians develop a clean power source and stop exporting fossil fuels in order to stave off climate change. At least, until a joint Russian-EU invasion persuades them to turn the taps back on. This premise sounded a little nuts to me at first, but then I considered that it’s really just a Nordic version of … oh I’m sorry, former assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams appears to be at my door with a squad of right-wing partisans carrying surplus American weapons. Looks like I have to tell him about social distancing, I’ll just be a moment … —Baumann

Kingdom

Streaming on Netflix

Swords, battles, kings and queens, zombies. All familiar territory in the era of Peak TV, and on paper, the Korean series Kingdom could be boiled down to Game of Thrones meets The Walking Dead. However, Kingdom stands on its own, featuring some truly impressive set pieces and solid performances all around, as well as a subplot featuring political scheming that recalls early Thrones. Plus, as a treat, there are a lot of zombies, and a lot of truly fun, scary, B-movie moments. —Bergmann

Trapped

Streaming on Amazon Prime

The first season of Trapped is a murder mystery set in a small Icelandic community, cut off from the mainland by bad weather. Without help from Reykjavík, the remote town’s three-person police force has to handle the crisis caused by a mutilated corpse pulled from the sea. The resulting intrigue revolves around crooked local politicians, international traffickers, and long-buried bitterness that bubbles to the surface. In the midst of the storm, no one can stray far from their houses without getting frostbite or being buried in a snowdrift, which makes this the perfect show to watch when you’re cooped up inside. The scenery is striking, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is mesmerizing as a soft-spoken chief of police who’s built like a bear, and Icelandic accents are ASMR. —Lindbergh

Deutschland 83

Streaming on Hulu

I discovered this show because I thought any TV series from the Sundance Channel—home to Top of the Lake, another quarantine must-watch—had to be good, and I wasn’t disappointed. The miniseries takes place during the Cold War in East and West Berlin. Martin Rauch, a 24-year-old in the East, is conscripted against his will to be a spy in the West. Young, wet behind the ears, and naive enough to still be human inside (unlike some of his Soviet-backed bosses), Martin is torn between loyalty and his loved ones, all while trying to conceal a hidden identity he never wanted in the first place. Oh, and if he messes up the world could plunge into nuclear war. —Johnson

Itaewon Class

Streaming on Netflix

It’s the K-Drama currently taking global audiences by storm, thanks to a winning mix of star power, compelling characters, a great soundtrack, and progressive story lines. Starring Parasite alum Park Seo-Joon, Itaewon Class follows an ex-con attempting to start his own pub in South Korea’s bustling Itaewon District and also features the inclusion of a fully realized, well-written transgender character. If you, like me, haven’t felt like K-Dramas were your thing in the past, start with this one. It’ll make a convert of anyone. —Halliwell

My Brilliant Friend

Streaming on HBO Now

Whether or not you’ve read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels—a four-book series following two best friends from Naples over multiple decades—this miniseries on HBO will draw you in. The first season is adapted from the first novel, and traces how Elena and her beautiful, brilliant friend Lila meet and then navigate their poor village together, up against poverty, entrenched misogyny, and violence both at home and on the streets. The class strife of their town is alive in every interpersonal interaction—the smallest moments can make you feel the weight of the world. And as the two girls reach adolescence, the stakes only get higher. —Johnson

After watching, read this: How to (or How Not to) Adapt a Novel in 2018

Film Twitter, but Make It Television

Twin Peaks: The Return

Streaming on Hulu

David Lynch hasn’t made a feature film for more than a decade, and the longer we’re deprived of his surreal sensibilities, the more the existence of Twin Peaks: The Return feels like a minor miracle. Showtime gave the auteur free reign for 18 episodes that provoked nostalgia while providing the most discomforting and unforgettable television experience—probably ever. There’s no way to overstate the cacophony of “Episode 8,” or the bone-deep chill you’ll feel in the series finale when a character asks, “What year is this?” As the world plunges further into chaos, the scariest thing about revisiting Twin Peaks: The Return is that it might start to make sense. —Surrey

After watching, read this: Twin Peaks: The Return Pushed Past the Limits of Nostalgia

Or this: The Best TV Shows of 2017

Hannibal

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Starring the most artful tableaux of dead bodies to ever appear on broadcast TV, Hannibal both adheres to network conventions and lies entirely outside them. On the one hand, it’s a serial killer procedural; on the other, the serial killer in question is Hannibal Lecter, his style is more Hieronymus Bosch than Son of Sam, and creator Bryan Fuller steered carefully clear of crime fiction’s ickier clichés. This is a show heavy on homoerotic tension between Hannibal and his patient/muse/soul mate Will Graham, light on sexual assault and—believe it or not—gratuitous violence. Wings made out of skin and mushrooms growing on corpses are images too beautiful to be truly disturbing. —Herman

Sense8

Streaming on Netflix

The Wachowski sisters’ work has always been inclusive, ambitious, and outright bonkers, and Sense8 is perhaps the height of this combination. It’s a diverse, joyful, and often confounding look at eight different people from all walks of life who are thrust together under supernatural circumstances (the less you know going in, the better). It’s a great binge, and just so, so satisfyingly weird. —Halliwell

The New/Young Pope

Streaming on HBO Now

Would anyone have guessed the closest successor to Twin Peaks would be two shows about eccentric pontiffs? On the surface, The Young Pope—and its equally terrific sequel series, The New Pope—might look like Vatican House of Cards, but that framework slowly gives way to a surreal and sacrilegious odyssey exploring faith, loneliness, and the power of love. Writer-director Paolo Sorrentino is one of television’s most gifted visual artists; his style flowing through the halls of the Vatican is a heavenly occurrence. Not since The Talented Mr. Ripley has a filmmaker weaponized Jude Law’s good looks as much as Sorrentino. These shows are absolutely divine; it’d be a sin if you don’t watch them on HBO. —Surrey

After watching, read this: The Young Pope Character Power Rankings

Too Old to Die Young

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Too Old to Die Young is a difficult series to recommend—it’s painfully slow and extremely violent, and Miles Teller spits more than he speaks. But the show holds the distinction of being a singular viewing experience, more akin to a bloody art installation than anything resembling television. Creator Nicolas Winding Refn likes to (somewhat playfully) flex that his movies are masterpieces—please don’t encourage him, but Too Old to Die Young is a small-screen masterpiece that will stand the test of time. Assuming anyone else actually watches it. —Surrey

After watching, read this: Notes From a Too Old to Die Young Completist

An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated the setting of 6 Underground.

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