Although this blog covers a lot of broadcast and cable TV shows, those that air exclusively via streaming have been a notable blind spot for some time. Whether it be by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or some other provider, which streaming-exclusive series are your favorites to binge?
M. Enois Duarte
I’ve never been a very heavy TV watcher, but when a series catches my fancy, I’m glued to the boob tube like a fly on you-know-what. And since I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since its early years, the company has been my go-to for streaming, providing some of the best content available.
Of late, I’m addicted to ‘Black Mirror‘, an anthology series from the UK that originally started for broadcast television in 2011 with two three-episode seasons and a Christmas special. However, the program was optioned by Netflix a couple years ago for twelve episodes broken into two seasons, making it an exclusive to the company. I love the sci-fi show’s dark, satirical themes told in standalone episodes that remind me of ‘The Twilight Zone’, or at least something Rod Serling would be doing if he were alive today. Some are more disturbing and twisted than others, but each feels like an individual short film touching on contemporary society’s love affair with advanced technology, one that seemingly brings us closer together while also creating a more distant, apathetic and indifferent civilization. I can’t wait for the fourth season!
I also want to point out that I love shows that undermine or dissect the very genre they’re partaking in. Worthy of honorable mentions are Judd Apatow’s ‘Love‘ and Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage‘. The latter adds a blaxploitation feel that makes the series all the more awesome and addictive.
As a huge fan of what Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling have done on the big screen (‘The Sound of My Voice’ and ‘The East’), I was excited when their latest collaboration quickly dropped onto Netflix without any advance warning. During the Christmas break, I watched all eight episodes of ‘The OA‘ over a three-day period. Without the limitations of cinema (runtime, etc.) or even standard television (some episodes run an hour, while one episode runs just 30 minutes), they’e able to write a story that unfolds in a perfect and brilliant way.
The story starts with a long-missing girl (Marling) finally coming home after a failed suicide attempt. Her adoptive parents are in shock, but not only because she finally returned. More shocking is the fact that she has been blind for 20+ years, but returns home with her sight restored. Acting like a person suffering the trauma of abduction and abuse, she doesn’t talk about where she’s been – at least, not to her parents. Instead, she makes five new friends and slowly tells them her story and her secret.
The less you know about this Netflix original series, the better. I went in blind and definitely recommend that you do the same. The first season would be a wonderful standalone, but we’re lucky that Netflix green-lit a second season shortly after the first debuted.
Hulu, Amazon and Netflix all have impressive exclusive series, especially the latter two. In fact, with Amazon and Netflix jumping in early on the HDR bandwagon (in both HDR10 & Dolby Vision), their good series are practically essential. Of these, Amazon’s ‘The Grand Tour‘ is the easy standout. The exotic locales and expensive cars are stunning and really blow away the visuals of the long-running ‘Top Gear’ series. The two-part dune buggy episode is demo material, and it is not alone.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Cursed with a “physical or die” collector’s mentality, I’ll confess to being late to the streaming party. I’ve watched more of Netflix’s series on Blu-ray than I’ve watched on Netflix itself. My streaming has largely been limited to not-so-exclusive shows like ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’, ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and ‘The Great British Baking Show’ with my wife. I’m slowly coming around, especially now that I have a shiny new 65″ OLED and have so many alluring options to stream in UHD.
For a Roundtable like this, I’d rather write about a series I’ve only watched on a streaming service rather than caught on Blu-ray months later. That doesn’t leave me with all that lengthy a list to choose from at the moment, but I bet I’d be champing at the bit to write about ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘ even if I were some kind of grizzled Netflix veteran. True to its title, ‘Kimmy’ never loses its bright-eyed cheer (at least not for long!) even in the most trying of circumstances. I can’t get enough of the way its unhinged sliver of the world collides with the otherwise quasi-normal planet around it.
As silly and ridiculous as ‘Kimmy’ can get, the series is completely committed to its central characters (love interests, not so much) and has a heck of a heart thumping underneath it all. Its earworm musical numbers get lodged in my head for weeks at a time. Like ‘Community’ and ‘Arrested Development’ before it, I’m also a sucker for the running gags and mythology it’s amassed over the past few seasons. There’s just not another series on my radar these days that makes me laugh this hard, this consistently. I’d be counting down the days to season 4 if I had any clue how many days there are to count, exactly.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with ‘Patriot‘ on Amazon streaming. Reading the plot summary would tell you that it’s an espionage drama about a CIA operative (Michael Dorman) who suffered a nervous breakdown but gets pulled back into field work by his spymaster father (Terry O’Quinn) on a mission to hinder the Iranian nuclear weapons program – which might perhaps sound like ‘Homeland’ by way of a Jason Bourne movie. Although that’s sort-of accurate, the show is also a wicked dark comedy loaded with delightfully weird character work (Dorman’s hero regularly writes the classified details of his missions into folk songs he performs at cafés and on the street) and hilarious plot turns. Kurtwood Smith has a prominent role as the hardass boss that Dorman reports to as part of his cover working at an industrial piping company – a job he has zero idea how to do. The tone of the show strikes a very delicate balance between legitimate intrigue and suspense to goofy comedy, and somehow pulls it off. I can’t wait for Season 2.
Tell us about your favorite streaming-exclusive TV shows in the Comments.