The time has come once again for Americans to give thanks for all they have, be it scarce (like time) or plentiful (like all the television content, produced Stateside and abroad, currently pumped into our homes via broadband). And while we wouldn’t begrudge anyone their long weekend Stranger Things marathons or their annual rewatch of “The One Where Ross Got High,” The A.V. Club also knows that the wealth of streaming options can sometimes make your eyes feel bigger than your stomach. Here, for your holiday enjoyment, are some choice cuts trimmed from a bird that seems to get bigger and bigger every year.
A piping-hot batch of recent streaming premieres, because TV never takes a holiday.
Hulu just released the first three episodes of this Marvel show about kids who learn their parents are supervillains. Early reviews—including our own—have been very positive, saying this series is “even better than fans could have hoped for.” [Alex McLevy]
A posse of trusty Western standbys—an isolated frontier setting, an unlikely band of saviors, a fiery villain with a seemingly contradictory moral code—is rounded up in a limited series with a thoroughbred pedigree (created by Logan and Out Of Sight screenwriter Scott Frank, and executive-produced by Steven Soderbergh) and a cast (including Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, Sam Waterston, Merritt Wever, and Scoot McNairy) that could almost put The Magnificent Seven to shame. [Erik Adams]
While Seeso favorites Take My Wife and Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ are still looking for a new home, this Paul Reiser-created throwback was waved over to Hulu’s couch. There’s… Johnny follows Andy Klavin (David Hoffman), a fresh-off-the-bus hayseed who winds up with a thankless job at one of the most enviable spots in showbiz circa 1972: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. [Erik Adams]
On Thanksgiving, the first Spike Lee joint becomes the first Spike Lee Netflix series, updating the story of Nola Darling for 2017: delving deeper into the character of Nola (played here by DeWanda Wise); tackling gentrification in her Fort Greene stomping grounds; and subbing in a Hamilton alum (Anthony Ramos) as Mars Blackmon, the role originated by Lee in the big-screen version. [Erik Adams]
For those with more hectic over-the-river, through-the-woods plans, or anyone just looking to whet their appetite for heartier viewing, these limited-run series, short-lived favorites, and web shows can be squeezed in between courses.
Over The Garden Wall (Hulu)
In this animated miniseries, Brothers Wirt and Greg traverse a surreal, almost wintry forest as they try to find their way home, aided by a talking bluebird and other bizarre characters like Christopher Lloyd’s Woodsman and Tim Curry’s Auntie Whispers. Each of these 10 poetically palatable episodes is only 12 minutes long, meaning you can fit Over The Garden Wall in anywhere, like on the tablet to keep the kids quiet while they’re waiting for pumpkin pie. [Gwen Ihnat]
The Tick (2001) (Amazon)
In 2017, Amazon revived the Big Blue Bug Of Justice for our current era of blockbuster Avengers and dour Superfriends. While you wait for the new Tick’s first season to pick back up in February, take a gander at his original live-action incarnation, in nine slice-of-life, “Seinfeld with superheroes” anti-adventures starring the man who was born to wear the antennae (at least until Peter Serafinowicz came along), Patrick Warburton. [Erik Adams]
The perfect rapid-fire binge for those fleeting moments in between the oven timer going off, this addictive webseries about a woman and her gay bestie entering their 40s delivers sharp comedy in six-minute increments. With plenty of drugs, sex, and acerbic wit, it’s about growing older—but not necessarily growing up. [Alex McLevy]
Like seeing your old Sunny Day Real Estate posters, Chewing Gum’s cringe comedy will make you feel like a teen again. Tracey Gordon’s (Michaela Coel) quest for sex is raucous and heartwarming, and probably better off viewed after everyone at the kids’ table is in bed. This two-season binge clocks in at just six hours, but if you’re hungry for more, Coel recently announced plans for a third outing. [Danette Chavez]
Like a Jello-O mold dotted with fresh fruit, here are some TV confections that both kids and adults can enjoy.
From Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken, this colorful animated series concerns a boarding house for the made-up playmates of kids too old to hang out with manic blue shape-shifters and human-sized rabbit aristocrats. Foster’s boasts a heart as big and many-chambered as its eponymous setting and (appropriately) some of the most imaginative character designs in Cartoon Network history. [Erik Adams]
Two helpings of Anne Of Green Gables adaptations came our way in 2017. In this spring’s Anne With An E, Netflix offered a somewhat darker interpretation of the beloved L.M. Montgomery series, juxtaposing Anne’s bleak background with her new life at Green Gables. The Good Stars, meanwhile, is more closely aligned with the sweet but plucky original—the roughest patch involves a botched pie. But both the series and TV movie still center on a precocious redhead. You can already partake of Anne With An E on Netflix, and The Good Stars debuts November 23 at 8 p.m. Eastern on PBS. [Danette Chavez]
There’s a tinge of dystopian cruelty to this playroom riff on Shark Tank, in which the hopes of toy inventors and designers are dashed for the amusement of an at-home audience. But that’s undercut by the panelists doing the dashing, a rotating battery of honest-to-a-fault kids including the moppet who became an internet sensation by saying “apparently” a bunch of times on the local news. [Erik Adams]
Missing the caring chaos of your own clan? Or seeking one that’ll make your own look saner by comparison? There’s plenty of family to go around.
If your family gathering isn’t offering enough drama or warmth, tuck into this autobiographical sitcom from Chris Rock. Rock’s fictionalized self is played by Tyler James Williams in a breakout performance; in the roles of Rock’s flawed parents, Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold set new standards for a TV dad and mom. But as put-upon as the eponymous character might be, Everybody Hates Chris is groundbreaking for its portrayal of a black family whose lives aren’t just defined by their struggles. [Danette Chavez]
A family affair through and through, this biting, fish-out-of-water satire—in which the mega-rich Roses fall on hard times and are forced to move to the backwater ’burg they once bought as a joke—was created by the father-and-son team of Eugene and Dan Levy. The immaculate Catherine O’Hara—here playing Rose matriarch Moira, a fading soap star—has played alongside the elder Levy for so many years, she might as well be family. [Erik Adams]
This Is Us (Hulu)
The conversation is either going to turn to this or The Good Doctor, and at least with this one, you can speculate about how Jack Pearson dies. [Erik Adams]
Before the best-of lists start dropping, get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with the finest TV 2017 has had to offer.
The Good Place (season one on Netflix, season two on Hulu)
If you haven’t started watching The Good Place, don’t read anything about The Good Place before jumping in. In fact, stop reading this and just go watch The Good Place, a thoughtful, fantastical, fantastically funny show about how it’s never too late to try your hand at being a better person that fits snugly within Mike Schur’s sitcom canon. [Erik Adams]
The Leftovers (HBO Go, HBO Now)
Not just a best of 2017, but a real contender for one of the great TV series of the modern era. The Leftovers is dark, philosophical, full of existential anguish, and as mysterious as Twin Peaks—oh, and funny as hell. What could’ve been a real slog manages to transcend normal descriptors, becoming a must-see meditation on life, loss, and Justin Theroux’s abs. [Alex McLevy]
Alias Grace (Netflix)
If you’re searching for higher-minded vacation viewing—something along the lines of The Handmaid’s Tale mixed with Downton Abbey—don’t miss this adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace. Based on an actual murder case in 1840s Canada, the enthralling series tells the story of impoverished Irish immigrant Grace Marks, who was convicted along with a fellow house servant of murdering their employers. You’ll speed through these six episodes as you try to ascertain Grace’s degree of guilt. [Gwen Ihnat]
Lady Dynamite (Netflix)
Maria Bamford’s absurd comedy avoids the sophomore slump while venturing into domesticity in its second season. The onscreen Maria is now living with Scott in a mostly blissful arrangement that still turns up plenty of complications: trust and money issues, a raccoon problem, and the dreaded work-life balance. Despite the reduced episode order (a conscious move by Bamford), Lady Dynamite remains as funny and tightly constructed as ever. [Danette Chavez]
Comedies whose progressive bent could start an argument, but are so well-made they’re likelier to stir up laughs.
Brown Girls (OpenTV)
This Emmy-nominated webseries from Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey (not to be confused with the 2017 TV movie of the same title) wears its inclusivity and heart on its sleeve. Nabila Hossain and Sonia Denis play the eponymous brown girls in this ribald and cutting comedy that reminds everyone that millennials aren’t all self-absorbed Brooklynites (they contain multitudes, and sometimes live on Chicago’s North Side). Under Bailey’s direction, the Second City has never looked better, browner, or queerer. [Danette Chavez]
Please Like Me (Hulu)
Josh Thomas anchors this sweet, short-lived dramedy as the endearingly gawky Josh, a young gay man who’s as directionless as he is lovelorn. It’s not Please Like Me’s storylines that are groundbreaking, but its low stakes—there’s no burden of representation here, just a universal story about a group of queer and straight friends looking for love. [Danette Chavez]
Queer Latinx warlocks and their bitchy Caucasian familiar take on grad school, romance, and murderous homophobes in this eminently watchable webseries from Ricardo Gamboa. Brujos often plays like a clever genre exercise, scuffing up the veneer of a twentysomething comedy with supernatural elements and queer theory. It combines the quippy tone of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with the more adult nature of Preacher, but yields something wholly original. [Danette Chavez]
Grace And Frankie (Netflix)
A kind of Golden Girls for the new millennium, Grace And Frankie explores what comes after marriage, children, and retirement. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are the eponymous pair, two friends who grudgingly depend on one another after their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) leave them—for each other. This sex-positive comedy is raunchier than any after-school special, but at times, just as earnest. That is, until the vibrators start going off. [Danette Chavez]
You’ve tranquilized yourself with a rich, hearty meal and generously poured drinks. Now for dessert: TV to match your placid (or plastered) state.
From the wilds of Scandinavia comes the video wallpaper that mesmerized a nation: The Norwegian phenomenon known as “Sakte-tv”—or, in English, “slow television.” Watch wool go from sheep to sweater in “National Knitting Night.” Thrill to the seven-hour terminus-to-terminus trek of “Train Ride Bergen To Oslo.” And, for the truly tired and/or resilient, three separate programs devoted to burning native woods, none coming in shorter than two hours. And if you make it through all of that, treat your insomnia with slow TV’s Canadian ancestor Night Walk. [Erik Adams]
For those whose preferred turkey is brown, distilled, and “Wild,” the vintage game-show archivists at Buzzr have compiled Match Game matchups that will [blank] Amazon Prime members right into Friday morning. [Erik Adams]
Take your happy little trees and happy little clouds two ways in these compendiums of relaxation from The Joy Of Painting. [Erik Adams]
It’s the show that thinks for you! What better way to come down from your foggy food coma than by having clever people explain clever ideas in a simple and accessible way? [Alex McLevy]
It’s not just watching cute animals roam around being adorable, people. It’s watching cute baby animals roam around being adorable! Requiring nothing more than you sitting there taking in the adorable li’l creatures, it’s a show tailor-made for mindless vegetating. [Alex McLevy]
The kitchen competition otherwise known as The Great British Bake-Off is a guaranteed nerve-soother even on days that don’t involve the preparation of heaping gobs of food; as a bonus, the most recent season added to Netflix is the fond farewell to original-recipe GBBO, chronicling Sue, Mel, and Mary’s final hours in the baking tent.
Indulgent nighttime soaps for capitalism’s favorite day of the year.
Yes, it starts out as a humdrum 90210 issue-of-the-week spin-off, but once professional soap-opera shit-stirrer Heather Locklear enters the mix, things amp up significantly. Plus with the chokers, babydoll dresses, excessive neon, Jake and his motorcycle, and wedding-dress fights in the swimming pool, it doesn’t get much more ’90s than this. [Gwen Ihnat]
Just as the flannel-wrapped softies of Nirvana and Pearl Jam would give way to more outwardly heart-on-sleeve Pacific Northwest sounds of Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse, so too would the furrowed brows of West Beverly Hills High School give way to a more sensitive class of teen dreams. The haves of Newport Beach—and their adopted have-not son, Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie)—were no less immune to physical altercations, substance abuse, and double crosses, but they approached these perils with a pop-culture-damaged wink and a Barsuk Records-issued song in their hearts. [Erik Adams]
You shouldn’t leave your home to see late capitalism infect people, leading to brawls over designer goods or appliances. Instead, watch the rich attack each other in this gaudy ’80s soap. Part King Lear and part Peyton Place, Dynasty centers on a familial struggle for power; only instead of fighting for the remote, the shoulder-padded members of the Carrington family are duking it out over control of an oil empire. [Danette Chavez]
You’ve tested your waistband. Now test the seat of your pants with these epic binges, many of which you’ll need to complete on the other side of the four-day weekend.
11 seasons of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (Netflix)
It’s last call at Paddy’s, on Netflix, at least: The first 11 seasons of It’s Always Sunny leave the service on December 9. For the time being, you can still watch the complete run—including Glenn Howerton’s season-12 swan song—on Hulu. [Erik Adams]
Although Halloween was the show’s holiday of choice, this is just as good a time as any to indulge in Roseanne. It might actually be the best time, since many of us have the day off, if not a long weekend, to barrel through this classic sitcom. The Conners, led by Roseanne and Dan (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman), weren’t quite as polished as their TV contemporaries, but ultimately no less loving or tightly knit. If this isn’t your first time in Lanford, dig through Amazon’s coffers to revisit the Becky switch, the pot stash, and “Chicken Hearts.” [Danette Chavez]
13 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix)
In its current state, Grey’s Anatomy is a bit of an unholy mess, so why not travel back to the show’s glory days? The first 13 soapy seasons are available on Netflix, where you can revisit Mere, George, Cristina, Izzie, and Alex as fresh-faced interns, trying to figure out which surgical specialty to focus on and which hot attending to sleep with. Just try to forget about the fact that Derek is eventually going to get smashed by a truck, and that Lexie and Mark should stay away from planes. [Gwen Ihnat]
11 seasons of Cheers (Netflix, Hulu, and CBS All Access)
One of the greatest sitcoms of all time is available on multiple streaming sites. If you’re going to attempt a massive days-long binge, choosing the endearing and amiable Boston bar where everybody knows your name is surely the best way to pass the time. If you’ve never seen it, it’s finally time to learn where the “Sam and Diane” will-they/won’t-they reference first started. And hey—by the end you’ll be a regular! [Alex McLevy]
Here’s a good argument for avoiding all of the festivities this year: Every Star Trek series is streaming in full on CBS All Access. At more than 700 hours, there’s obviously no way you’re going to make it from the Original Series through the first half of Discovery—but you can try. Or, just show a little discernment and focus on the voyages of the Enterprise-D or the surprisingly exciting day-to-day operations of a space station, or journey back to where it all began. [Danette Chavez]
And for this last recommendation, we’re going to need a suggestion for an improvised comedy show that was a big hit in the U.K. prior to this long-running U.S. iteration, which eventually became a feeder program for CBS’s roster of daytime game shows. [Erik Adams]