The Best Streaming Service Shows to Binge Watch Right Now

Story posted January 27, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Jimmy Lu, Colton Pleslusky.

TV and movie streaming has been a pretty big thing for some time now but has arguably exploded over the past year. Along with streaming’s rise in popularity, the services themselves have also produced their own independent content, and plenty of it has been excellent. Today, Jimmy Lu and Colton Pleslusky of the CommRadio arts and entertainment department take a look at four of the best shows to binge watch now.

“The Haunting of Hill House/Bly Manor” (Netflix)

Created and directed by Mike Flanagan, “The Haunting of Hill House” follows the Crain family, which experiences paranormal activities at the Hill House that continue to haunt them in the present day.

The plot jumps back and forth between the past and the present; each episode dives deeper into different characters and tells the story from each of their perspectives. The narratives are intertwined into a web of mysteries that spreads across 10 episodes, and the show contains some of the best horror plot twists and cinematography of the past few years.

Episode 5 and 6 are being hailed as the two standouts of the first season; episode 5 has the biggest plot twist, and episode 6 contains many one-take scenes that last 17 minutes long. It is truly an ambitious horror masterpiece with a family drama at its core—both chilling and satisfying to watch.

Season 2 of the show, “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” tells a different story with mostly the same cast and crew. Both seasons have been praised for their story, directing and cinematography by many critics, including the king of horror himself Stephen King, as well as director Quentin Tarantino.  —Jimmy Lu

“The Boys” (Amazon Prime)

It’s hard to make a superhero show nowadays without being compared to big names such as DC or Marvel, but that’s exactly what “The Boys” did.

“The Boys” strays away from the typical superhero genre and presents a violently delightful bloodfest with many social commentaries that poke fun at the superhero trope.

“The Boys” is set in a world full of superheroes but with a twist; these corrupted superheroes can get away with almost anything without paying the consequences: murder, rape, drugs, you name it—that is, until a group of vigilantes decide to take on these superhumans.

The assembled cast is also one of the highlights of the show. Each actor gives an incredible performance, specifically Antony Starr as the egotistical maniac Homelander and Karl Urban as the charismatic anti-hero Billy Butcher. 

“The Boys” utilizes its R rating very well by going to extreme measures to address various social topics, from the abuse of power, to sexual assault, to literal Nazism. “The Boys” pulls no punches when it comes to pushing the limit for a superhero show, and the result is wildly entertaining dark comedy.  —Jimmy Lu

“Russian Doll” (Netflix)

At first glance, “Russian Doll” may seem like another “Groundhog Day” movie where the main character is trapped in a time loop. But the show proves that there are still new ideas to be explored in this genre.

“Russian Doll” was created by comedic star Amy Poehler, Leslie Headland and Natasha Lyonne, who also plays the main character Nadia.

The story follows Nadia as she keeps living the same night on her 36th birthday, the time loop resetting each time she dies.

“Russian Doll” quickly proves that it is a genre-bending show that contains elements of drama, mystery and dark comedy. The show uses the time loop movie trope to discuss more serious topics, such as internalized trauma, addiction and mental illness.

Lyonne’s performance is often hilarious but also very touching at times. Her ability to shift the tone in different scenes not only shows the range of her acting but elevates “Russian Doll” as a whole.

“Russian Doll” is a complex show that is hard to define, but it still has enough twists and turns to keep the audience engaged while telling a story that is both exhilarating and profoundly emotional.  —Jimmy Lu

“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)

The TV show that has taken the world by storm, “The Mandalorian” is the first Disney+ “Star Wars” series of many and has certainly set a high bar.

Featuring a brand new character from the fan-favorite Mandalorian people, “The Mandalorian” has fulfilled what many fans have been searching for.

The Mando, whose actual name is Din Djarin, is played by Pedro Pascal—and he does a fantastic job. Having to wear a helmet throughout the entire show limits an actor’s abilities to use body language and move in general. But this is something Pascal excels at, and it adds depth to the character he portrays.

Mando himself is compelling, developing from a character who really only cares about his next target at the show's start to seemingly accumulating a bit of a family thanks to his dedication to Grogu (Baby Yoda).

Season 1 gave fans a ride with its action and adventure following Mando and his allies, but season 2 truly kicks things up a notch with the addition of fan-favorite characters, including the return of the legendary Boba Fett (who will be getting his own show next fall following his setup in “The Mandalorian”).

One of the best parts of the show is the experimentation with many themes. It is, at its core, a space western. But “The Mandalorian” has proved that it can be so much more, delving into themes as far out as Feudal Japan in the samurai vibes of the episode “The Jedi.”

For “Star Wars” fans and casual viewers alike, “The Mandalorian” is certainly a show to check out.  —Colton Pleslusky

 

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jfl5603@psu.edu.

Colton Pleslusky is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email csp5289@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu's photo

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu

Senior / Telecommunications

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior from Taiwan majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a contributing writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department. If you’d like to contact him, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Colton Pleslusky's photo

Colton Pleslusky

Junior / Telecommunications

Colton S. Pleslusky is a junior from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a director and writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department as well as a co-host for the This is the Way Weekly podcast. He is a co-host for the Nittany Record Club alongside David Fortunato and Jade Campos. He is the arts and entertainment anchor for PSN News. To contact him, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).