Since the pandemic started, my screen time has nearly doubled – especially at night and on weekends. From Hulu to Netflix, Quibi, IGTV, and – of course – YouTube, the entertainment industry has upped its game. If you’re like me, I’m constantly on the hunt for new options, so I thought it might be fun to share some of our favorite streaming shows and YouTube channels. Some days I’m in the mood for a comedy, good old-fashioned rom com, or a solid drama. This list of our favorites encompasses them all! Happy watching!
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Our Favorite Streaming Shows
We just finished this miniseries a couple days ago. This show is SO good. Both Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington are absolute forces. Set in the late 90s, this miniseries deals with so many issues that many communities struggle with to this day: race, socioeconomic status, marriage, friendships, parenthood, and more. Plus, it follow the trajectories of both the parents and high school-aged students, so it’s easy to identify on many levels.
If you like a dark drama with phenomenal acting, look no further. We’ve watched Ozark since it first debuted, and we binged the third season in less than a week (easy to do, since it aligned with Chicago’s stay-at-home order). This show follows a family as they start a new life in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. They moved not by choice, but rather because the father (Jason Bateman) had his hand forced by a drug cartel for whom he launders money. Soon enough his wife (Laura Linney), children, and everyone around him become intertwined in the drama that entails.
I am such a Sandra Oh fan. She was the reason that I was hooked on the first few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I first remember her as the principal in The Princess Diaries (lol), and she was amazing in Sideways. Moreover, I am so appreciative of how she champions Asian actors and actresses. In her Golden Globe winning performance, Sandra plays an MI6 operative whose life become completely intertwined with a female assassin (Jodie Comer – she won an Emmy for her role). Set mostly in London with scenes throughout Europe, this show has the perfect balance of suspense, action, humor, and drama.
We just started watching this new-ish miniseries. This one stars Octavia Spencer and Tiffany Haddish as Spencer plays the first female self-made millionaire. It follows the rise of Madam C.J. Walker at the turn of the century, as she develops a hair care and beauty empire while navigating the hostilities of society. We’re about three or four episodes in, and I’ve loved it so far!
Ah, The Good Place. I streamed the first season about a year ago, and tried to convince Bob to watch it ever since. He finally took the time to do so and quickly regretted not having started it sooner! This hilarious comedy follows Kristen Bell as she navigates the afterlife, where nothing is what she had ever expected. The lightning-quick humor and social commentary make this show incredibly unique. Plus, it’s widely known that Bell and her co-star Ted Danson were super close friends during filming. Their real-life bond makes The Good Place that much more fun to watch.
Where do I start?! The fashion! The writing! The acting! Gah – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is SO good! If you don’t believe me, perhaps the show and cast’s slew of Golden Globes, Primetime Emmys, and Screen Actors Guild Awards might do it for you. Set in the late 50s and early 60s (my favorite era for fashion), the show follows Midge Maisel (perfectly played by Rachel Brosnahan of House of Cards fame) as she navigates a quarter life crisis. She embarks on a journey to become a stand-up comedian, much to the chagrin of her husband and family. Maisel’s razor sharp wit and the show’s fast-paced dialogue makes it one of the best shows I’ve seen in years.
Not going to lie, I was hesitant about this one. Not because of the acting (who doesn’t love John Krasinski?!) but rather because I’m not the biggest fan of violent shows. Thankfully, this one errs more on the side of suspense and espionage than it does on the basic shoot-em-up and gore of similar shows. Plus, the international settings make it that much more thrilling.
I love that you know exactly what you’re getting with this one. The title says it all! In the the talk show he created, Jerry Seinfeld has been driving around fellow comedians and actors since 2012. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone. I love that each episode is about 20 minutes or so (easy to binge). Bob loves that Jerry chooses and drives a different car in each episode (always to fit the personality of his guest). From Alec Baldwin to Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Martin, Jim Gaffigan and even Barack Obama, the list of guests is impressive to say the least!
A current revival of a groundbreaking show. Originally a Bravo series in the early 2000s, the new cast is now viewable on Netflix. The energy of the five hosts and the home, kitchen, and personal makeovers of the guests make this one endlessly entertaining. Plus, most episodes tug at your heart strings without being gratuitously sappy.
Talk about a production budget! This historical drama follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II, and the opulence of the scenes is matched only by the incredible acting of each and every character. Plus, I love how they cast different actors and actresses who play the lead roles based on the era depicted. The series is impeccably engaging, superbly written, and endlessly entertaining.
We watched this dark comedy last year on a whim and absolutely loved it. With season two just around the corner, now is the perfect time to binge it from the start. The show follows Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as they navigate a unique and new friendship after the hit-and-run murder of Applegate’s character’s husband. There are plenty of twists, and the humor is so quick and smart!
The fourth season of this Golden Globe and Emmy nominated series just debuted, and I can’t wait to catch up. Set in modern day LA, Insecure follows Issa (perfectly portrayed by Issa Rae) and her friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) as they navigate life in their late 20s in SoCal. Even though their careers and romantic relationship paths are completely divergent, they both try to work through relationships, friendships, and adulthood as best anyone can. Any young Gen X-er or Millennial can quickly relate to so many of the show’s situations. Best of all, the writing, acting, and pace of the show are all phenomenal.
Another one Bob had to convince me to try (see reasoning in my Jack Ryan description above). Thankfully, I’ve been a Claire Danes fan since My So-Called Life and Romeo and Juliet. In this series, Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA operative who navigates terrorism both domestic and abroad, all while dealing with her often-times crippling bi-polar disorder. If you’re looking for suspense and action alongside an inimitable plot line, look no further.
If you were to ask me, “what show is the exact opposite of Homeland?” I think Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt would have to be the winner. If you like 30 Rock, then you’ll love the irreverent, did-they-just-say-what-I-think-they-said humor of this show (also created by Tina Fey). The plot line is incredulous yet hilarious: Ellie Kemper’s title character starts her life over in Brooklyn after escaping an Indiana cult – led by Jon Hamm. It’s unlike any other show I’ve seen, and I loved it!
Inspired by the New York Times column of the same title, this mini series examines the lives (and loves) of a host of different characters. Each episode/vignette shares stories that are all poignant and thought-provoking. Best of all, the acting by an all-star cast is a tour de force. Each episode is less than 40 minutes, so it’s another easy one to binge, lol.
I had no idea what to think when we started watching this competition show on New Year’s Day. Regardless, we quickly became hooked! It’s equal parts Big Brother and Catfish (and perfectly addictive). The show follows various players who are all isolated in individual units of the same apartment building. They can only communicate via “The Circle,” a made-for-TV social media platform that allows them to interact with each other while navigating various competitions. New people join The Circle after the current players vote each other out. Since nobody is interacting in real life, many of the players are able to portray themselves as something their not.
This is one I haven’t seen myself, but Bob watched the first couple seasons during various flights last year. The show has plenty of violence and a lot of blood (hence why I’ve steered clear). If that doesn’t bother you, then give it a try! I do find the premise fascinating. Set in a dystopian future, a western-themed amusement park (called “Westworld”) is created and filled with human-like androids. For those who can afford it, people can visit Westworld and play out any scenario they’d like. The androids are programmed to not harm the guests, but they’re so lifelike that it’s often hard to know who’s real and who isn’t.
The premise of this show is creepy, but it’s totally worth a binge. This psychological thriller stars Penn Badgley who plays Joe. Set in New York, his character obsesses over and stalks a woman until he finds a way to put himself in situations to meet and ultimately date her. Given that he has a few screws loose, things don’t go so smoothly with her (and most people around him). The show employs a lot of voice-over narrative by Joe, so the viewer starts seeing everything from his twisted perspective.
All-star cast? Check. Beautifully set in Monterey, California? Check. A well-executed series based in an incredibly popular book? Check. More awards and recognition than a pee-wee baseball tournament? Check. Big Little Lies follows the lives of five women (played by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz), many of whom are and become friends). Each of their backgrounds and situation are completely different, yet they offer each other support along the way. The first season was so wildly popular, that they created a second (and brought in none other than Meryl Streep). While the first season ends at the same place the book does, the second examines what happens after the traumatic conclusion of the first.
One of Bob and my favorite new shows of recent memory. What sets Succession apart is that there’s no real protagonist. It follows the modern day life of the Roy family, headed by a ruthless patriarch (and founder of a global media empire). It feels like a behind the scenes look at the 0.1% where nobody has any redeeming qualities. In short, the father’s failing health and age now requires that someone take the reigns of the company. Unfortunately, none of his children have the same mindset and perspective as he does with regards to the future of the media company, so he’s in a family battle for control. The show is SO good and worth adding to the top of your must-watch list.
Another show about the 0.1% of society, yet this one is light and bright. Downton Abbey follows the lives of the Crawley family and their sprawling estate in the English countryside. Set in the teens and twenties of the previous century, this British drama is a treat for the eyes. It depicts the highs and lows of the both the family, and the staff of Downton Abbey as they endure the first World War, the recovery, the Great Depression, and how English aristocracy evolved in the early 1900s. The show’s six seasons were so successful that they also made a full-blown Downton Abbey movie which picked up where the series finale left off.
In writing this, I am realizing that Reese Witherspoon has done a seamless job of transitioning from movies to television. The Morning Show stars Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston (who won a SAG for her performance) alongside Steve Carell and Billy Crudup. Loosely based on the Matt Lauer scandal of 2017, the show follows Aniston’s character (the original co-host) as she navigates a new era of the show with Witherspoon’s character playing the newbie. Aniston’s performance is incredible (and nothing like Rachel Green). Plus, the production quality is remarkable.
This Netflix series was sadly short-lived (just two seasons), but it’s worth your time. The main cast of six (including Keegan-Michael Kay and Colbie Smulders ) play friends from college (naturally) who are all maneuvering through life in their early 40s. Given they’ve all known each other for more then two decades, the trials and tribulations of their friendships and romantic connections force them into difficult (and hilarious) situations. I personally loved the comedy elements that Fred Savage brought to the show!
To be honest, this is one we need to start over, lol! We started watching it after my brother got us a Disney+ subscription as a gift. Bob and I love a great sci-fi film, and we’ve seen most of the modern Star Wars features in the theater, so we’re well-versed in the story line. Unfortunately, we started this series late in the evening and fell asleep somewhere between episodes three and four, so we got a little lost, lol. I did really like what I remember though (and Baby Yoda)! This plot follows a new bounty hunter character, and it’s set between the arc of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
This four-part dramatic mini-series is a gripping examination of an Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and one young woman’s efforts to escape the only life she’s known. I appreciate how the show took respectful care to properly showcase the traditions of the religious sect. Plus, a good portion of the dialogue is in Yiddish. It’s a powerful, yet hopeful story. It reminded me of One of Us, which is a real-life documentary of people trying to leave the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
If you haven’t heard of this one, I don’t know what to say (lol). This 10-part sports documentary is a deep dive into the Chicago Bulls 1997-98 season and and even closer look at the career of Michael Jordan. As someone who grew up in the Chicago suburbs during this era, it brings back so many great memories. Plus, it’s so fascinating to learn more about the inner workings of professional basketball team. Lastly, I just read that The Last Dance just overtook Tiger King as the most in-demand documentary in the world!
Our Favorite YouTube Channels
2020 has been the year of YouTube for me. Yes, I’m late to the train! However, I’ve been really loving the content that’s coming out from various publishers.
These former Buzzfeed employees left to form their own production company. Genius. I LOVE what they’re doing. In short, these four 20-something LA guys “try” things, and their creativity and senses of humor make every video worth watching. Best of all, the episodes are something that Bob and I enjoy watching together. We’ve even talked about doing an entire blog post dedicated to our Try Guy episodes ranked in order. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing this!
It’s no secret I’m a HUGE fan of hot sauce. Hot Ones has become extremely popular show thanks to its unique format of celebrities being interviewed over hot wings. The wings get progressively “hotter” as the interview goes on. The host, Sean, is from the Chicagoland area, and he’s an exceptional interviewer. His research and questions often shock the guests. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the show, actually. We still quote things from the Paul Rudd episode (it’s iconic). “Look at us not.” “Who would’ve thought?” “Not me!” Also, better point – does Paul Rudd ever age?
This husband and wife duo (along with their adorable son, Moon) need a prime time show! From DIY art projects to complete room transformations, their interior design videos offer up fantastic inspiration and design advice. Plus, they’re so relatable and fun to watch! Their episodes are always a mood-lifter.
Casey is a one of the OG vloggers on YouTube. He has a background in filmmaking, so all of his videos have a very unique and engaging eye. Casey’s use of camera angles and editing are unlike anything I’ve ever seen (and have been mimicked by countless other vloggers over the years). He’s a world-traveler, entrepreneur, and New Yorker-turned-Cali guy. Both Bob and I are always creatively inspired after watching his videos.
Remember earlier when I said, “who doesn’t love John Krasinski?!” Well, Some Good News proves this remains an unanswerable question. At the onset of most Americans staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, John decided to launch a YouTube channel dedicated to good news and heart-warming stories of everyday people around the country. Plus, he pulls out his Rolodex in order to get virtual guest appearance (um, the entire cast of Hamilton? Wow!).
I love an inside look into celebrity homes and their interior design choices. Maybe it’s because we are neck-deep into the decor choices of our own home? Regardless, AD navigates this series beautifully, and I love tuning in. I especially love Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s chic NYC apartment and Mark Ronson’s quirky LA pad.
You might have seen this interior design firm’s recent partnership with Target or their McGee & Co. home line, but did you know Shea McGee also has a robust YouTube channel? While I admittedly prefer plenty of colors and patterns in my own home, her bright, clean, minimal/farmhouse aesthetic is so lovely to watch. From design tips, to home tours and the current creation of her own home, there are plenty of episodes to binge!
I watch a LOT of beauty YouTube videos, but I’ve been especially loving Michele Wang. First off, this Las Vegas-based creator uploads A LOT of videos. It’s nice to have something new to watch (plus, love someone who works hard to upload). She’s extremely knowledgeable about formulas and products, and I trust her opinion. Michele also tends to focus on luxury brands and prestige skincare/cosmetic items, so you get a sense of what’s truly worth the extra cost.