Here's what we've loved, binged, hate-watched, rerunned, and 'shipped in the two-plus years since the Stream Queens journey began. Check out what we're watching these days over on Instagram, and feel free to follow along.
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The Affair began with a summer dalliance between unhappily married Brooklyn dad Noah Solloway (The Wire's Dominic West) and grieving Montauk townie Allison Bailey (Ruth Wilson, in a Golden Globe-winning role). The format is a unique one, as the action of each episode is split into two parts, the first from Noah's perspective, and the second from Allison's POV. Seeing the same series of events replayed sheds a pretty fascinating light on stark variances in perception. Season 2 expanded to include the point of view of Noah's estranged wife Helen (Maura Tierney) and Allison's ex Cole (Pacey Witter himself, Joshua Jackson). Oh, and also there's a murder mystery. Season 3 finds both Noah and Allison attempting to get their lives back on track in the aftermath of the last five years.
One of the most underrated dramas on television during its six year run, the final season of the '80s Soviet spy caper begins with a three-year time jump propelling the Jennings family fully into the Gorbachev era. Elizabeth, now a solo spy, is increasingly run-down with her myriad of assignments. Her former partner in crime Phillip is now out of the game, living a mundane American life trying to keep the travel agency afloat (spoiler alert: the Internet is coming). Paige, no longer a self-righteous Pastor Tim devotee, is learning the ABCs of alien covert ops under her mother's wing. FBI neighbor Stan has moved on from the Soviet detail, but the reemergence of an old ally may draw him back out. With the Jennings story coming to a rapid close, will their identities finally be exposed?
Simba himself Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino aka 1/2 of Troy and Abed in the Morning), debuted his brainchild Atlanta on FX in 2016. Broad strokes, here's the plot: Ernest "Earn" Marks, a recent Princeton drop-out, moves back home to Atlanta, purposeless and cash-strapped, until he discovers his cousin Alfred has released a popular mix tape under the name Paper Boi, and the two set out to navigate the latter's burgeoning rap career. But here's the thing: it's not really about the plot. Atlanta vacillates in rhythm, form, even point of view. Earn, our main character, will be left out of entire episodes in favor of an airing of Paper Boi's appearance on a BET-esque cable talk show roundtable, complete with commercials. Glover & co. are changing our expectations of what half-hour television can be, and we are all in.
The Bachelor & The Bachelorette
Buckle up, streamers, because Chris Harrison and co. are back with the latest parade of "aspiring dolphin trainers" and "free spirits" in H&M's finest evening wear, all vying for the heart of last season's most appealing reject. Who wouldn't want to humiliate themselves in front of millions? Each season brings its own unique blend of manufactured drama, as the show only continues to grow in popularity and profile nearly 20 years into its run. With its bloated 2-hour run-time every Monday (and sometimes Tuesday!), if you're not watching The Bachelor with one eye on your Twitter feed, you're doing it wrong.
Bachelor in Paradise
Unlike the faux-sincerity and navel gazing of its feeder franchise, Bachelor in Paradise is an entirely different animal. The premise is simple enough: send the cast-offs and rejects from the last few Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons on a 3-week Mexican vacation, allowing them to binge drink the days away in search of "love." The air quotes are much more deeply felt in this spinoff series, as the contesticles have such a limited window of time and a bevy of potential h̶o̶o̶k̶-̶u̶p̶s̶ husbands to choose from, rather than a single object of affection. Oh, the tears, the delusions, the Bartender! Everyone needs their reality TV vice, and this is ours. Best watched with your Twitter feed up and your expectations low.
Better Call Saul
Well, streamers, we finally did it. After years of denial, we are officially on the Breaking Bad bandwagon. While ultimately we can appreciate the well-constructed narrative, impeccable acting, and importance as an icon of the Golden Age of TV, the saga of Walter White just isn't an all-timer in our book (don't @ us). However, the BB universe is rich enough to sustain this spin-off, the backstory of shady attorney Saul Goodman, née Jimmy McGill, and more interestingly Mike Ehrmantraut, the right-hand man and fixer of Breaking Bad baddie Gus. With at least one tolerable and textured female character (we love you, Kim!) Saul is a step ahead of its predecessor, or er, sequel, and elder law isn't as boring as you might suspect.
Big Little Lies
Based on Liane Moriarty's bestselling novel of the same name, Big Little Lies centers around the privileged families of Monterrey, California, each struggling to project success and happiness and mask turmoil within. The show reveals its central mystery right off the bat - someone has been killed at the school trivia night. In police interviews, a Greek chorus of nebbish parents traces the troubles back to kindergarten orientation day. Young single mother Jane (Shalienne Woodley), new to Monterrey, is taken under the wing of PTA queen bee Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and her quiet friend Celeste (Nicole Kidman). As Jane struggles to leave her past behind for a new start, Madeline is dealing with her ex-husband and his new yogi wife (Zoe Kravitz) having a child in the same class as her daughter. Meanwhile, Celeste's seemingly perfect existence is showing cracks as her husband shows increased volatility.
YAS QUEEN. Comedy Central originally aired five outrageous seasons of blunts, Bevers and Bed Bath & Beyond, courtesy of our favorite brazen outer borough babes. UCB vets Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer created and star in Broad City as fictionalized versions of their younger selves: Abbi is a cleaner at an Equinox-Soul Cyle hybrid called Soulstice, and Ilana sometimes shows up to her sales job at Groupon-esque Deals, Deals, Deals. Hannibal Burress and Paul Downs slay (as Ilana's sex friend and Abbi's boss, a Soulstice trainer), but the girl power on display here is undeniable. #FeministHeroes
Now in its somehow god-when-did-we-get-this-old season, the MTV stalwart trudges onward, introducing new faces, presumably from Are You the One? and whatever other god-awful dating shows the network is producing these days, in addition to calling in the international squad from MTV UK. These newbies will soon learn what we all know to be true: they must contend with lifetime cast members and "champions" like CT, Cara Maria, and Johnny "Human Cockroach" Bananas. As the challenges get more difficult, the new cast members seem to be breathing life into the network's OG franchise, and the raucous Brits bring the drama we all deserve.
Before delving into the 2016 revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, catch the first seven seasons in the lives of our favorite caffeine-addled mother-daughter duo. The set-up: Lorelei Gilmore gave up her privileged, WASP-y life when she gave birth to daughter Rory at age 16. Now a teenager, Rory lives in a whimsical small town full of colorful characters, including her mother. However, in order to afford Rory's prep-school tuition, the duo will have to reconcile with the elder Gilmores, steely Emily and somber Richard. Tune in for Lorelei's will-they, won't-they flirtation with diner-owner Luke Danes, Rory's struggle to fit in at Chilton, and small town hijinks.
After six seasons as "a voice of a generation," Hannah Horvath & her loose circle of angsty, entitled millennials return to wrap up their statement on modern life as mid-2010s Brooklynites. Marnie (Allison Williams) is still navigating her divorce from Desi and emotionally abusing Ray (Alex Karpovsky), a curmudgeonly standout for the show's entire run. Shosh has finally snagged a millennial-approved job at a branding agency. Elijah is trying to "fuck his way to the middle" of Broadway and Jessa is eating yogurt naked so, same as it ever was. The show often found its strongest footing in its bottle episodes: Season 2's "One Man's Trash" with Patrick Wilson, Season 5's melancholic "Panic in Central Park," and the final season's "American Bitch," in which The Americans' Matthew Rhys shines as a famous author accused of lechery. These bottle episodes often play more like 30-minute indie shorts, meditating on issues such as consent, wealth, power dynamics, and perception, and remind us of the series' emotional heft.
The Handmaid's Tale
Based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of the same name, Hulu threw its hat into the prestige original programming ring with The Handmaid's Tale. Set in a dystopian future where a religious cult has overtaken the United States, infertility runs rampant, and those women able to conceive are forced into slavery as handmaids for powerful families. The story focuses on one handmaid Offred (literally "Of Fred"), played by Elizabeth Moss, and her service to the Commander (Joseph Fiennes). What's most jarring about Handmaid's Tale isn't the sex slaves, or the look into the authoritarian world they inhabit (though the "ceremony" is incredibly disturbing); rather, it's Offred's flashbacks of her former life that truly give you chills. In the stark contrast between her present situation with her past - laughing and blowing off college assignments, taking her daughter to the aquarium, flirting with a cute guy at a food truck - she's showing us, "I was once like you." We tapped out after the first season, as the heavy-handedness of the series made it kind of a belabored drag, but it soldiers on as an award favorite for the streaming service.
Based on Issa Rae's web series, The Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl, she kicks off in 207 in full format on HBO. Rae's Issa (loosely based on herself), feels like the token person of color at her job (a youth-oriented non-profit "We Got Y'all"), unappreciated and unacknowledged at home by her stay-at-home boyfriend Lawrence, and awkward in everyday situations. Rae is completely charming, particularly during her impromptu raps to her reflection, psyching herself up in front of the mirror ("Is you Khaleesi? Or is you...that other bitch? Whose name I don't remember.") The most refreshing surprise of Insecure? The focus on Issa's friendship with Molly, a lawyer who seems confident at work, but cannot escape feeling incomplete in her personal life without a man. Their very real and touching relationship seems to be the secret heart of the series.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
10:00 PM. On a Wednesday. Paddy's Pub. "The Gang Is Back." And seemingly show no signs of slowing up. Everyone's favorite sociopaths return each year for another round of hijinks, and Season 12 opens with a pretty big swing: "The Gang Turns Black." After a screening of The Wiz during an electrical storm, the Gang is transported into the bodies of black people. Not only must the Gang adjust to life as African Americans, but they are also trapped in a musical. Mac's attempt to find the "lesson" in their predicament is reminiscent of the show's 2005 pilot, "The Gang Gets Racist," and the show's musical moments have always been some of their strongest (just try to get "Dayman" out of your head). However the gimmick ultimately lands, McElhenney & Co. prove that twelve years in, they're still not playing it safe.
Airing for a scant three seasons from 2014-17, The Leftovers was one of the most interesting shows on television. In its third and final season, Damon Lindelof's drama managed to strike the perfect balance between fantasy, with a fatalistic society still grappling with the aftermath of the Sudden Departure, and the timeless realism of people simply struggling to make sense of their lives. After 2% of the world's population disappeared without a trace one fateful October day, those left behind cope in a myriad of self-destructive ways, from strong repression to nihilistic cults. Come for the meditation on the meaning of life, stay for shirtless Justin Thoreaux.
FX's first foray into the Marvel Universe, Legion introduces David Haller (Dan Stevens), a paranoid schizophrenic being treated at a mental hospital. After the arrival of love interest Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) and an unexplained catastrophe, Haller finds himself in a highly guarded government facility, monitored by those who recognize his power as a mutant. After Syd orchestrates a jailbreak, Haller must contend with the nature of his reality and the power in his abilities. The 67-minute pilot is rather jarring, especially to those unfamiliar with the X-Men canon; lots of Terrence Malick-esque jump cuts and flashbacks, no cohesive backstory, and interludes into Haller's paranoid mind. Showrunner and FX darling Noah Hawley (Fargo) has introduced an exhilarating world, tempered by an unreliable narrator in Haller. Marvel has never been our bag, so we didn't end up giving Legion a shot beyond the dizzying first season, though it is expected to wrap up the sage with the forthcoming season three.
Lovesick was picked up by Netflix in 2015, after airing its first season on British TV under the title Scrotal Recall. The UK title was a bit less subtle, as the comedy focuses on 20-something Dylan (Johnny Flynn) and his chlamydia diagnosis. Dylan is forced to contact all of his previous partners, and thus the format of the show is established, with each episode focused on a particular escapade. The structure is refreshing, even if it does become difficult to reconstruct the narrative timeline chronologically. Though Dylan suffers from Peter Pan syndrome in his relationships, it's his friendships with caddish Luke (Daniel Ings) and practical beauty Evie (Antonia Thomas) that are the real heart of the series. Flynn gives us major young Charlie Hunan vibes, and you'll be 'shipping Dylan and Evie in no time.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Though Mrs. Maisel, from Gilmore Girls creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, premiered in November of 2016 on Amazon, we've watched the series all the way through at least 3 additional times since then. When Midge Maisel, a rich housewife in the 1950s Upper West Side, is abandoned by her husband, she stumbles backwards into a career in stand-up comedy. Charming and inventive, with powerhouse performances from leading lady Rachel Brosnahan, and Alex Borstein as Midge's curmudgeonly manager, Maisel has the fast-paced cadence of Gilmore in a completely fresh setting. We can't recommend the series highly enough.
We know what you're thinking. USA Network? Home of Burn Notice, Suits, and Royal Pains? No, trust us, this is a show you need to be watching and we have hard evidence to back us up. Lonely hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) falls under the influence of the charismatic Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) and an Anonymous-style group of like-minded hackers called fsociety intent on equalizing our stratified society and the rigged game by taking down the world's biggest conglomerate, the conveniently named Evil Corp. But as Elliot falls deeper into the fsociety rabbit role, you'll start to question his reliability as a narrator, and if things really are as they seem.
We've been trying to get people on board with this show for YEARS. It's like The Mentalist, but good! Charming ne'er-do-well Sean Spencer (James Roday), trained his entire life in the powers of observation by his policeman father (Corbin Bernstein, in a delightful array of Hawaiian shirts), finds his calling in duping the Santa Barbara PD into believing that his knack for solving crimes is due to his *psychic abilities.* He brings his longtime BFF, the uptight pharmaceutical salesman Gus (Dulè Hill) along for the ride. Sean & Gus are comedy gold as a duo, and the show was vastly under appreciated in its time. The show really relies on the mystery of the week format, but really shines in the Mr. Yin/Mr. Yang episodes, a serial killer thread that starts in season 3. And finally, since its removal from Netflix a few years ago, all episodes finally have a streaming platform again on Prime Video. So, Gus, don’t be the last of the international playboys! (You'll get it later).
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Baudelaire orphans, adapted from Lemony Snicket's massively popular young adult series, are subjected dire dilemmas at the hands of the dastardly Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), who stalks the orphans to every alliterative destination, full go daring disguises, musical numbers, and a few audience-winking asides. Largely a faithful adaptation, the series maintains the quirky humor of the novels, and the addition of several ludicrous characters as the series progresses, like Lucy Punch as Olaf's girlfriend and Nathan Fillion as Jacques Snicket, keeps the familiar formula of Baudelaire misfortune from becoming too stale. Throughout the series, each new location is played in two parts, conveniently dividing the seasons into digestible mini-movies mirroring the book series. Stay tuned for tantalizing revelations about the mysteries of VFD, the Snickets, Lemony's beloved Beatrice, and the real nature of the elder Baudelaire's work. Look away...
The Duffer Brothers 8-episode ode to Spielbergian '80s nostalgia with a sci-fi flair (think ET, Close Encounters, The Goonies) became the sleeper hit of summer 2016, and has since blossomed into a tentpole original for Netflix. After the disapperance of 11-year old Will Byers in sleepy small-town Hawkins, Indiana, his harried mother (Winona Ryder), the local sheriff (David Harbour), haunted by the death of his own child, and Will's nerdy and loyal trio of friends start to wonder if something strange is going on. Meanwhile, a Department of Energy facility, shrouded in mystery, loses one of it's test subjects, a young girl called Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) with strange powers of her own.
The Night Of
Another worthy addition to HBO's prestige drama catalogue, the 8-episode limited series became a critical darling upon its original airing in 2016. After "borrowing" his father's cab in Queens to attend a party in Manhattan, Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), upstanding college student and son of hard-working Pakistani immigrants, finds himself on a chaotic adventure with mystery manic pixie Andrea (Sofia Black D'Elia). But when Nasir wakes up disoriented in her West Village brownstone to a mutilated corpse, he makes a series of decisions that lead to him sitting in Rikers awaiting trial for murder. "No fee until you're free" precinct-lurking lawyer John Stone (John Tuturro) represents the defendent as the series seeks less to learn who murdered Andrea, and more to explore the ripple effect of a crime on the wider community, the agony of the accused, and the flawed court and prison system.
What began as a crucially acclaimed Emmys darling for Amazon's nascent original programming slate back in 2014, the series was rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct and abusive behavior from star Jeffrey Tambour on set, and ultimately suspended production amidst the scandal. Despite the oft-faced dilemma of our modern age of how if even if, one can separate an artist from their art, Transparent is an important and seldom seen journey of transition and its wider affects on a family and community. While the narcissistic antiheroes in the Pfefferman family continually make destructive, selfish decisions, the characters are rich, complex, unlikeable, and raw. The strongest moments came from flashbacks from the Pfefferman family archives, especially the 1930s emigration from Berlin to Los Angeles. The forthcoming ahem, musical, special, sans Tambour, will serve as the final word on the family drama.
Much of modern television owes a debt to the original Twin Peaks. In a picturesque small lumber town in Washington, the lifeless body of popular teenager Laura Palmer washes up on the shore, iconically wrapped in plastic. FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives in town to investigate, and he discovers something more sinister and strange simmering beneath the surface. Known for its macabre humor, and ultimately Lynch's maddening disinterest in answering the question all of America wanted to know: "Who killed Laura Palmer?" After 26 years, Lynch brought his cult classic series back to the small screen, with 18 episodes airing as Twin Peaks: The Return, on Showtime. Wildly experimental and ultimately unsatisfying, we would only recommend the "reboot" (an extremely loose application of that word in this instance) for the true Lynch-heads among us.
Veep, the tale of scheming politico Selina Mayer, played to unmatched perfection by comedy legend JLD, ran on HBO for seven seasons full of hilariously profane insults and stunning levels of political incompetence. Seemingly appropriate for a show about the presidency, Veep was at its strongest for its first four seasons, though it remained sharp throughout its run, re-calibrating several times over as Mayer's political fortunes crested and waned. Each character in the veep's orbit was carefully drawn and deliciously filthy, with their foibles and naked ambition barely concealed underneath the surface. It will leave you unsure whether to laugh or cry at the current state of US political affairs.
Equal parts Jurassic Park and Magnificent Seven, Westworld centers around a theme park of the same name, where sophisticated, humanoid robots assume the roles of cowboy, gunslinger, madam, and girl next door to satisfy the whims of visitors seeking an unforgettable vacation living in their own Wild West fantasy. Behind the scenes, enigmatic genius creator Anthony Hopkins seeks to make the "hosts" more and more lifelike, with potentially disastrous consequences. Overly convoluted, desperately courting the keyboard warriors of Reddit to dissect its many twisted plot threads, the second season did little to redeem the issues of the first. However, season three seems primed for a re-set into more futuristic territory, with Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul joining the ensemble.
Wild, Wild Country
Netflix's latest addition to their "true crime" library, Wild, Wild Country is a measured, well-considered documentary about Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh, and his cult of followers who established their own incorporated commune in a sleepy, rural Oregon town in the 1980s. Sensationalized in the media as a "sex cult," what was actually going on in Rajneeshpurim was far more compelling - and far stranger. The doc varies its narration from surviving members of the social experiment and local Oregonians, whose way of life was threatened by the presence of Bhagwan & Co., most notably the magnetic, sadistic, brilliant Ma Annd Sheela, the guru's "personal assistant. Directors Maclain and Chapman Way never linger too long with either party, cutting away just before you're ready to take sides. Get ready for murder plots, bioterror attacks, and lots of orange.