For last month's May the Source Be With You column, I gave you some ways to become less overwhelmed by the sheer staggering number of podcasts and tips to cut through the noise and find the ones you actually want to enjoy. It's even harder when trying to parse what to watch on streaming services, as not only are new things being added every day, but the already voluminous amount of content is now shifting between the streamers on a monthly basis. For the first time ever, HBO Original Series are now available on Netflix! It's the Wild West out here.
While I don't have a login to every single streamer, I do have most of them, and am constantly bombarded with too many options for things to watch. While finding genuinely great content on all the services is mostly trial and error, it's also easy to act like Netflix and the rest are just filled with garbage, which isn't quite accurate either. With that said, here are a few solid options to dig through on most of the streaming services.
The real find on Amazon Prime are the originals. "The Boys" is unlike any superhero movie/series ever made with its unique blend of unpredictable mayhem and operatic drama, "Good Omens" is one of the best literary adaptations of all time and "Fleabag" is still legitimately one of the greatest shows ever made. As much as I'm not a fan of Jeff Bezos, Amazon has such insane, Scrooge McDuck levels of money that they take chances on interesting filmmakers that no one else would. Check out Boots Riley's visionary new series "I'm a Virgo" and tell me I'm wrong.
The real treat on Hulu is all the shows from FX. Whether it's the brand-new limited series spinoff "Justified: City Primeval," the endlessly hysterical "What We Do in the Shadows," the mind-bending lunacy of "Legion" or the groundbreaking innovation of "Atlanta," FX continuously deconstructs what we can even expect from a weekly television show. Just go to the FX section of Hulu and pick a show at random and you're unlikely to be disappointed.
It's super fun to watch the 75 years' worth of professional wrestling in this streamer; obviously, but the real joy I've discovered is the library of NBC shows from the 1970s and '80s. Watching classic episodes of "Columbo" and then new episodes of Natasha Lyonne's "Pokerface" is an absolute blast because it shows you that no matter how much things change across the decades, even more stays exactly the same. It also shows that there should always be a gravelly voiced detective haplessly stumbling across murders on our televisions.
Apple is kinda the quietly great streamer that doesn't get enough credit. It has three of the best currently running sci-fi series with "Invasion," "Foundation" and "Silo," easily the most gripping spy thriller with "Slow Horses," my current favorite show on TV, period, with "Severance" and the sweetest and most life-affirming show no one's watching with "The Big Door Prize." Apple carefully curates the shows it produces and it's easy to tell that they care way more about quality than quantity. That's the lesson most of these streaming services could learn: we don't need lots of bad and mediocre shows, we just need a few great ones. Apple gets it.
It's so weird to me that, of all the streamers, Max is the one flailing so badly in public, because, honestly, it probably has the strongest catalogue of content. This is the home of HBO shows including "Succession," "House of the Dragon," and "The Wire" as well as the spot for HGTV, Discovery, Food Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network and Studio Ghibli. What other service can you go to and watch either "The Sopranos" or "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?" So many choices!
I know everyone has been watching "Suits" on Netflix lately and it's genuinely surprising how funny and intelligent the show actually is, despite its Meghan Markle-enhanced popularity. If you've already managed to push through all eight seasons of the show and are looking for something similar, I would suggest "The Recruit," which follows a rookie lawyer for the CIA who gets in way over his head. It's breezy and unpredictable, while also taking the time to create interesting and dynamic characters. It has already been renewed for a second season, so check out this one before Netflix dumps another batch of episodes out with no fanfare.
For hardcore film nerds like myself, The Criterion Channel is a bottomless well of cinematic treasures. From Kurusawa to Corman, this streaming service treats film like the art form it actually is. The rabbit hole I'm into right now is the Hal Hartley retrospective. Hartley had a huge influence on me as a teenager in shaping my love of independent film, and having access to all 13 of his features and 17 of his shorts is a priceless resource for me. Start with his film "Surviving Desire" and go from there.
I love Disney+ mostly because it has every single episode ever of "The Simpsons," but I keep the service for the nearly 100 years of old Disney movies. You really never know when you're gonna need to watch "The Apple Dumpling Gang," "The Black Cauldron" or "Treasure Planet," so it's good to have access to its entire library 24 hours a day. That's just smart thinking.
While Paramount+ has a great library of classic and modern Paramount films, the reason I use the service is because it has the exclusive rights to all things "Star Trek," including "Strange New Worlds" which is the best new "Star Trek" series since maybe "The Next Generation." Also, the P+ original series "Evil" is the best paranormal investigation thriller since "The X-Files." Just sayin.