Let me tell you about the Paradox of Choice. Popularized by Barry Schwartz, it’s the theory that a glut of options doesn’t lead to a better user experience — actually, it leads to indecision or dissatisfaction. Humans like choice, but we don’t like too much choice, and the pleasure derived from making a selection is adversely affected by an increase in options. Think about going to the Cheesecake Factory and thumbing through their book-sized menu until it feels like life has lost its meaning. Think about being in a grocery store, stressed over the number of different versions of romaine lettuce. Or, think about opening a streaming application.
Netflix alone plans to have around 700 pieces of original programming by the end of 2018. Seven hundred! That’s not even counting Hulu or Amazon’s output, or the fact that all three of those streaming sites host tons of content they didn’t originally produce. Really, there are too many shows and too many movies available to stream, and not nearly enough time on this Earth to see all of them. Picking the right thing to watch can be an intimidating task.
Because we too have lost literal hours of life scrolling through Netflix, we’ve made this handy guide to March streaming options to speed up the process: a collection of shows and movies on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime and what specifically makes each one worth checking out. We’ll have something for everyone, from classics featuring famous actors to uncomfortably timely dystopian dramas. Let’s get started.
What’s New to Streaming in March
A selected list of movies and TV shows that The Ringer is excited about.
The Square (coming to Hulu on March 1)
K. Austin Collins: This being a movie about the art world and the upper crust, it’s in some ways a movie about Östlund himself. Yet the director somehow manages not to get caught under his own microscope. I walked away from the movie both times thinking, “So, then, what about this movie?” He’s a good enough director to distract you from that for most of the movie’s two-hour-and-22-minute runtime, however. Some of the movie’s scenes are too thrillingly tense not to like.
Listen to an interview with director Ruben Östlund here.
1984 (coming to Amazon Prime on March 1)
Rob Harvilla: These are extraordinary and divisive times; it is natural that we would gravitate toward history’s most extraordinary and divisive fiction. To revisit [the book] 1984 as a guide to modern living is a wild overcompensation. As a list of action items, it’s frankly pretty worthless. But the degree of overlap is debatable, so we might as well debate it while we can.
xXx (coming to Amazon Prime on March 1)
Andrew Gruttadaro: This movie is for the group of people who watched other action movies and exclaimed, “THIS ISN’T EXTREME ENOUGH, BRO!” xXx is what would happen if Mission: Impossible and the X Games had sex. Xander Cage (A-plus name) does everything Ethan Hunt or Jason Bourne would do, just more EXTREME and with more bravado — because that’s what we all needed in 2002. Vin Diesel snowboards, skateboards, dirt bikes, and base jumps. The opening scene is Xander (he also goes by just “X”) exacting revenge on a politician who tried to ban rap music. God, it’s so good.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (Letterman’s interview with Malala Yousafzai premieres on Netflix on March 9)
Alison Herman: The days of “Stupid Pet Tricks” and even “Top-Ten Lists” are long past. My Next Guest is no rebel’s attack on the establishment; Netflix is not the offscreen bogeyman to My Next Guest that NBC and its gray-suited executives were to Late Night, one token joke aside. The template is simple, designed to emphasize the parity between Letterman and his über-famous guests like Obama and subsequent invitee George Clooney. There’s no desk, and no Paul Shaffer–fronted band; just two chairs, facing one another on a bare-bones New York stage.
Power Rangers (coming to Hulu on March 9)
Justin Charity: Power Rangers is the rare case where I’m thankful that the studio already has a 50-year plan with six sequels and 10 spinoffs (approximately) in development already. This first movie is pretty restrained in the character development and emotional beats it sets out to hit. There are a few cute hints at potential love stories, but in this first chapter, the movie invests all its emotional resolve in forging the core squad. It’s a painstakingly adorable movie about friendship and teamwork. For now, that’s all it needs to be.
Santa Clarita Diet (Season 2 premieres on Netflix on March 23)
Herman: Santa Clarita Diet is a comedy, black as the sludge that now runs through Sheila’s veins. But Santa Clarita’s central comic mechanism is the same as any number of McMansion-set satires before it: maximum contrast between the repressive, mild-mannered niceties of life in a homeowners’ association and its complete, disruptive, expulsive opposite. Santa Clarita bridges the chasm with moments of head-turning banality, like when Sheila asks Joel to get toilet paper on his way back from a crime scene. Something cataclysmic has happened to the Hammonds, and yet they’re able to subsume it into the mundanity that governs the rest of their lives in mere days. It’s Desperate Housewives with the paranormal, Weeds with gore, Edward Scissorhands with an R rating.
For a full list of everything hitting Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime in March, click here.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up, here a few movies and TV shows that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
The Looming Tower (on Hulu)
Michael Baumann: Through three episodes, it seems that The Looming Tower’s overriding message is that internecine departmental conflicts within the American counterterrorism community allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen. That’s not news. That’s not controversial. And even if it were, what does relitigating that drama get us now?
Dark (on Netflix)
Micah Peters: You aren’t necessarily after one person or thing in Dark; the mystery is in how this particular universe works. There is no Lovecraftian horror hugging the cave walls, swallowing time. Dark is more about the banality of evil — how personal desires bump up against Being A Good Person, and the woeful cycle that self-interest and neglect creates. People are the monsters here, in other words.
Everything Sucks! (on Netflix)
Miles Surrey: It’s nothing you haven’t seen before if you’ve watched shows like Freaks and Geeks or Degrassi, but Everything Sucks! delivers an earnest message about learning how to be comfortable in your own skin that most people can relate to — even if they didn’t go to high school in the ’90s. And most important: The episodes are mercifully short. Everything Sucks! routinely clocks in at around 23 minutes; the longest episodes hit 27 minutes (which is more like 25, since the end credits that Netflix pushes you to skip through are just about two minutes). If you skip those two-minute end credits each time, watching the entire season takes less than four hours.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (on Amazon Prime)
Herman: Ultimately, Mrs. Maisel isn’t a story about the mechanics or world of stand-up, and thank God for that; the world has long since internalized those lessons from a dozen other shows. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is about the self-actualization that comes with finding your voice and a means to share it at the same time. I get the sense [Amy] Sherman-Palladino can relate. Maisel’s mastermind may have locked down her voice long ago, but the show feels like a new phase that allows her to share it on a bigger and more accommodating stage than ever before. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a coming-out party for Amy Sherman-Palladino in the age of streaming, and it is glorious to watch.
Wormwood (on Netflix)
Collins: What you sit with for the 240 minutes of the documentary is, ultimately, the impossibility of answering any of these questions. That’s in part because the subject is so much more vast than it initially appears to be. “Wormwood,” tweeted [Wormwood creator Errol] Morris recently, “is about the cost of denying the truth — the cost to Eric Olson, the cost to his family, and the cost to the entire country.” This is a deeply American story, rife with a homegrown brand of paranoia, and all the more pointed for arriving at a time in our history when distrust in the government, and in the media’s ability to expose it, couldn’t be higher.
A Ghost Story (on Amazon Prime)
Adam Nayman: The Möbius-strip elegance with which A Ghost Story eventually ties itself off reveals [director David] Lowery to be as much an engineer as a conjurer, although he does permit himself a bit of magician’s pride in the last shot, which all but calls for a “ta-da!” and a final bow. And after this gently dazzling magic trick of a movie, he deserves to take one.
A small collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path, for when you’re in a certain kind of mood.
What to Watch If You’re Feeling Some Cyberpunk: Duncan Jones’s Mute (streaming on Netflix) is a lot of things at once. It inexplicably shares a cinematic universe with Jones’s 2009 film, Moon; its main character shreds his vocal cords in an Amish boating accident and cannot speak, hence the name; and Paul Rudd plays “Cactus” Bill, a surgeon with a porn ’stache. It all comes together for a movie that is objectively bad, but compulsively watchable, in a way the best So Bad, It’s Good movies are. — Surrey
What to Watch if You Wanna Remember What It Was Like to Be a Teen in the Mid-2000s: In The O.C. (streaming on Hulu), a boy from the wrong side of tracks is adopted by a wealthy family from Orange County, California, where he learns about rich-people problems (financial fraud, real estate disasters, gun fights at beach parties) and falls in love with a legendarily mercurial girl. Soundtracked by Jeff Beck’s “Hallelujah” and every other song you put on a mix CD in 2004 — what more could you ask for? — Gruttadaro
What to Watch If You’re Looking for Formulaic Fun: Rob Thomas’s procedural dramedy iZombie (streaming on Netflix) tries to stay fresh by assigning its brain-eating, crime-solving protagonist the personality traits of a new murder victim each week. Its adherence to a rigid episode structure undercuts that surface-level variety, but its well-acted, likable characters and pop-culture-reference-laden dialogue make it worth a leisurely look. — Ben Lindbergh
What To Watch If You Want to Be Suspicious of Both Your Self-Sufficiency and the Future: Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (streaming on Netflix) is a Werner Herzog documentary that came out in 2016, and it is about the internet, or more specifically how humans are enabled by the internet, using it both for and against each other. It’s alternately fascinating and existentially terrifying, and it’s only 98 minutes long. I also watched it less than 24 hours after seeing Annihilation, and that turned out to be a rash decision. — Peters
What to Watch If You Love Sci-Fi But Can’t Handle Another Bleak Dystopia: What I can tell you about Syfy’s The Expanse (the first two seasons are on Amazon Prime, with the third season premiering in April) is that midway through most episodes, I have the following conscious thought: This is exciting. There is grim intergalactic peril aplenty, but also a sophisticatedly silly undertone of Millennial Falcon aplomb, as a ragtag gang of likable rogues bop around space vying to prevent a catastrophic war between Earth and Mars. — Harvilla
What to Watch If You Need to Be Reminded That Even Bullies Can Have a Soft Spot: There are a lot of great cooking shows on TV, but precious few programs that show you notoriously grouchy people operating with curiously kitten-like tenderness. MasterChef Junior (streaming on Hulu), a show that brings the country’s “best young home cooks” from ages 9–13 together to compete in the MasterChef kitchen with humbling expertise, presents the famously prickly Gordon Ramsay not as a tyrant but as a confidant and coach; Ramsay’s comparative kindness is disarming, but it’s the warmth of the child competitors themselves that makes MasterChef Junior such a treat. — Hannah Giorgis