You’ve got free time to kill, and you want to spend these rare moments with a TV show, but you’ve got a ton of options on a handful of streaming platforms. In an era when keeping up with contemporary TV is beginning to feel more and more like homework, it’s about time there was a cheat sheet.
HuffPost’s Streamline is a go-to source for what to watch online right now. It includes recommendations for scripted TV shows, both live-action and animated, chosen by writers who watch countless series and have an eye on what other critics are ecstatic about this minute.
The weekly list values newness to promote shows that might not be on your radar yet. On the navigation bar above, you can choose specific recommendations for series streaming on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. The main list below also includes shows that you can stream online with a cable package (such as programs on HBO, Showtime and FX Networks).
The idea: Come to Streamline before you accidentally waste your time with a bad show. Wait a minute to save a minute.
For the weekend of Nov. 18, “Lady Dynamite” tops the list, followed by fellow Netflix show “Alias Grace.” For more on those shows check out the Netflix Streamline.
The biggest streaming news this week was Amazon acquiring the rights to adapt “The Lord of the Rings” books into television shows. The company reportedly spent around $200 million and will likely spend $100 million to $150 million on each season. The Amazon Streamline list gets into this more, but the deal finally gives Amazon a television property that could meaningfully drive sales of their other products, such as the books and merchandise associated with the show.
Amazon also announced that they are looking to make a free version of their Amazon Prime video content that will be ad-supported. Although they’d like everyone to sign up for their Prime service, allowing a show like “LOTR” to be “free” will likely help them acquire new customers they never would have gotten in the first place.
Sports Illustrated announced that they would try to build their own streaming service and charge $4.99 a month. The service will have content like sports movies, documentaries, talk shows and swimsuit ... content. That seems like a high price to pay when services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have far more content and are just a few dollars more. The publication has been struggling to adapt their business model as print advertising continues to decline. This seems like a last-ditch effort, honestly.
Hulu’s big news this week was that it cancelled the beloved but niche “Difficult People.” More on this at the Hulu Streamline, but that show was a treasure and will be missed. Thankfully this is a month with tons of great new comedy.
“Back” and “Search Party” join the list this week. Both are hilarious and well worth seeking out despite being on small streaming services. For “Back,” you’ll need a Sundance Now subscription, while “Search Party” is on the TBS website and will require a cable subscription. Also, “Search Party” doesn’t debut until Sunday, but the first season is still currently available to stream.
Meanwhile, “Lady Dynamite” is on the top spot this week as more praise rolls in for its second season. It’s so inventive and like nothing else on right now while also being super funny.
This next show does not normally fit our guidelines for recommendation given it isn’t scripted, but the recent “Nathan For You” season finale is so special it needed to be highlighted.
The premise of “Nathan For You” is typically that comedian Nathan Fielder poses as a reality show host who gives small businesses advice to gain more revenue. This typically involves Fielder suggesting outlandish ideas that seem just crazy enough to work and then mining comedy out of the real-life people’s reactions when the scheme fails.
The recent finale broke away from the premise of the show to present what is essentially a two-hour movie about broken dreams and trying to find a lost love from decades ago. It’s both beautiful and hilarious. As this is the finale for a niche show, it’s likely that arguably one of the best movies of the year will essentially go unnoticed, but Streamline can’t recommend enough that you check it out.
Filmmaker Errol Morris (“The Thin Blue Line,” “The Fog of War”) agrees:
The concluding episode of Nathan For You (season 4) is unfathomably great. (Now, I'm going to business school.)
— errolmorris (@errolmorris) November 13, 2017
Watch the finale on the Comedy Central website.
Good luck this week, and we hope this helps.
Season 2 Release: Nov. 10, 2017
Season 1 Release: Nov. 3, 2017
Season 1 Release: Nov. 16, 2017
Season 2 Finale: Dec. 3, 2017
Season 1 Finale: TBD
Season 1 Release: Oct. 13, 2017
Season 1 Release: Sept. 15, 2017
Season 3 Finale: TBD
Season 2 Finale: TBD
Season 3 Finale: TBD
A note on methodology:
Streamline recommendations do not include reality shows, game shows, awards shows, news shows and other shows that aren’t streaming online.
Along with HuffPost’s own “research” (watching countless hours of TV), Streamline opinions are informed by critical reviews from publications like The New York Times, Vulture, The A.V. Club, The Ringer and Collider, and aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Twitter is also providing HuffPost with data on the most tweeted-about streaming shows on its platform.
Shows can appear on the main list for two months after their most recent season’s final episode. Shows that debut all episodes at once will also be eligible for only two months.
If broadcast shows want a chance at showing up on the main list, they should make their episodes easily available to stream.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.