As someone whose job it is to read and write about entertainment news all day long (yes, it is the best job in the world), I have to watch a lot of content. I’m talking beyond the basic Netflix, Peacock, Amazon. There’s also Disney+, HBO Max, Showtime…and there still aren’t enough hours in the day to squeeze in everything from Hulu!
The point is, like it or not, there are a ton of options out there when it comes to streaming TV shows—so much so that choosing new content to watch might seem a little daunting. Fortunately, I can help.
While lots of original, brand-new shows debut every week, there are also plenty of bingeable, must-watch options already sitting right under our noses. From Hacks to FBoy Island (yes, seriously), here are 8 incredible TV shows you should cue up right now.
Don’t let the ridiculous name fool you (and yes, it’s just as embarrassing to say out loud to your friends as you’d imagine). The new-ish series on Apple TV+ is an absolute must-watch for anyone who loves music, musicals or, ya know, just laughing out loud.
Couple Melissa (SNL’s Cecily Strong) and Josh (Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key) get lost in a forest and somehow find themselves stuck inside an old-timey musical set in the bizarre town of Schmigadoon (sound anything like Brigadoon, musical theater lovers?). What ensues is a clever and very very funny send-up of all of our favorite classic musicals, from The Music Man to Carousel to The King and I. Each episode is packed with powerhouse musical performances from my favorite singing stars: Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Krakowski and Alan Cumming, to name a few.
One major warning: These songs will be stuck in your head and they do have silly titles such as “Corn Puddin’”.
2. The Other Two
When I started the pilot episode for The Other Two on HBO, I seriously had no idea that I was about to sit and binge 8 episodes. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
This clever comedy has the same awkward humor of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Comeback, but with a fun and fresh storyline I haven’t seen before. Essentially, a brother and sister duo (played by Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke) don’t know what to do with their lives when their 13-year-old brother skyrockets to stardom with a viral music video called ‘Marry U at Recess’.
Each episode finds the pair in uncomfortable situations as they try to discover some semblance of success in their own lives while struggling with the fact that their baby brother is becoming rich and famous. Oh, and Molly Shannon brilliantly plays their mother in a role that is both slap-your-knee funny (no surprise there) and heartbreaking.
Seriously, jump on board The Other Two train before your friends do (cause isn’t it nice to be the first one to know about one of the funniest shows on TV?). Bonus: There are already two seasons, but only recently has the series really begun to pick up traction.
3. FBoy Island
Before you roll your eyes (and before I lose all credibility here), let me 100% acknowledge that the concept behind this show is absurd. Three women go to a tropical island to find love. While there, they encounter 24 men—12 of whom are nice guys trying to find a soul mate and 12 of whom are ‘fboys’ who are there to seduce the women in order to win money. I get it. The description makes it sound like HBO Max has run out of ideas for dating shows (though the same argument could’ve been made during last year’s 12 Dates of Christmas). But while this is ‘guilty pleasure’ TV, it’s good guilty pleasure TV.
Unlike The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise, and (to a certain extent) Too Hot to Handle, this “dating” show is extremely, extremely self aware. Comedian and host Nikki Glaser is so good at simultaneously getting to the core of where the women’s hearts are and mocking the men for their over-the-top displays of testosterone and childish behavior.
It’s just as easy to get sucked into the show as it is for Bachelor in Paradise, but I felt less bad about myself while watching it, both because it felt like the contestants were in on the joke, and it really is interesting to watch as the women discover who the real fboys are. Plus, ya know, everyone is gorgeous to look at, so that’s fun.
4. Ted Lasso
Let me start by saying I am not a fan of sports or sports shows. (I know I know, Friday Night Lights should be on my future binge list, but if I end up watching, it’ll only be to get me some Connie Britton magic.) So I was certainly hesitant to give Ted Lasso—a show about an American football coach trying to save a British football (AKA soccer) team—any sort of try. But I’m so freaking glad I did.
This show is beyond funny. The jokes are fast, furious and often extremely subtle. And Jason Sudeikis, who plays the titular role, injects every moment with such heart and earnestness that I actually ended up caring a great deal about the characters (which never happened with shows like 30 Rock or Happy Endings, both which I also loved).
And most importantly, it isn’t really a sports show. Soccer may provide the backdrop, but it’s an ensemble of extremely talented actors and comedians that make this an unmissable series. Don’t believe me? Well, there has to be some reason nearly every main and supporting actor is nominated for a 2021 Emmy.
And with the second season airing now, there’s luckily plenty of Ted and company for you to binge.
It goes without saying that Jean Smart is a national treasure, so it should be zero surprise that this HBO Max show starring Smart as an “is-she-washed-up-or-just-stuck-in-her-ways?” stand-up comic is one of the best things on TV. In the show, Smart takes on a new assistant, played by the wonderfully dry Hannah Einbinder, and naturally conflict, comedy and chaos ensue.
What I love about this show is how real it is, despite it being a comedy. Each episode is packed with deep, heartfelt (and heartbreaking) moments that draw you in in a major way. It’s fascinating to watch Smart’s Vegas-headlining comedian struggle with evolving at this stage in her career. And it’s equally as captivating (and frustrating) to see how she and Einbinder have faced immense challenges in a male-dominated industry simply because of their gender.
I worried that this clever and witty series might be short-lived, given that it doesn’t exactly scream “mainstream”. But fortunately, HBO Max did the right thing and it’ll be returning for season two.
6. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
For most in the LGBTQ+ and ally community, it makes sense that RuPaul’s cash-cow reality series would make this list. But if for some reason you have yet to encounter this fabulous and fun show, please please do give it a watch.
The show follows a group of drag queens, brought together to perform a series of challenges and rock a plethora of runway looks, all in an effort to win the crown and walk away with $100,000. And the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars just finished up on Paramount+ with an exciting and explosive finale episode.
While Drag Race is extremely formulaic like any other reality competition show, the over-the-top, heart-of-gold queens keep this franchise from feeling even remotely stale. There’s fabulous hair, incredible lip syncs and more puns than you can shake a [insert sex toy reference] at. And even more exciting, there are thirteen seasons of regular Drag Race you can binge, plus the All Stars franchise, plus international franchises like Drag Race U.K. and even the less-than-stellar-but-still-better-than-Top-Chef-again Christmas special.
At the end of the day, the show carries an extremely positive message summed up best by RuPaul herself: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?” Amen.
7. The Nanny
Yes, yes, I do mean the Fran Drescher classic, The Nanny.
The complete series is now streaming on HBO Max so I decided to give it a little revisit for the first time since I watched it on TV as a kid. And I can’t believe I forgot just how funny the show is. Seriously. Watching Drescher as the annoyingly charming (or charmingly annoying?) Fran Fine is likely observing a masterclass in comedy. From her timing to her looks to camera to her slapstick, Drescher is bringing near-Lucille-Ball level genius to what might otherwise be a “meh” show. She is a joy to watch, navigating self-made dramatics with style and flair.
Which brings me to my second favorite thing about the show: the fashion. I had no idea as a child that Drescher was wearing top designers in literally every single episode. What I thought were inappropriate, over-the-top outfits were fresh off the runway from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Perry Ellis. Don’t believe me? There’s an Instagram account devoted to calling out which fashion designers Fran was wearing in each episode.
And last but not least, the show holds up—for the most part. Without question, there are off-color and inappropriate jokes that would never fly on television today (as is the case with more recent shows like The Office and 30 Rock). That said, the series really was ahead of its time. The characters’ embrace of LGBT causes, plus the self awareness of a character who simultaneously advocates for women being more independent and tries to nail down a husband at all costs, is a recipe for surprisingly progressive (for the ‘90s) TV viewing.
While StartUp may have debuted back in 2016 on Crackle (yes, I had to Google it as well), it has now found a huge new audience since being added to Netflix. In fact, the thriller/drama skyrocketed to the top of their top ten list back in May—which was more than enough to convince me to give it a shot.
According to Netflix’s own description, “An attempt to launder stolen money finances a cryptocurrency that put entrepreneurs in business with a corrupt FBI agent and a Miami gang.” So yeah, it’s a complicated show (one that I keep struggling to explain in my own words, even though that’s what I do for a living). But it’s this complexity that makes the series so interesting, bringing together several main characters, who never would have encountered one another during normal circumstances, in a fast-paced and dangerous scheme to get rich (and stay alive).
And if you need a little more convincing, the lead actor is none other than Adam Brody of The O.C. fame. But unlike the whiny, but adorable Seth Cohen, Brody’s new character balances both grit and fear quite well, without losing his signature wit of course.
Warning: The show is not for the faint of heart. But it is action-packed and it is really really good.