Entertainment

Top movies and popular TV shows to watch and binge online in 2021 – including comedy

Jonny Yates January 14, 2021
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Schitt's Creek

Schitt's Creek concludes with season 6. (PopTV)

There’s nothing better than discovering a new series and finding out it has multiple seasons to binge.

If the latest lockdown announcement in the UK is making you wonder what to do with more free time, then it might be time to get stuck into a new show or have a movie marathon.

After saving the day during previous lockdowns with shows like Tiger King and The Queen’s Gambit, streaming services are still here to relieve you of any boredom and keep you distracted from real-life events for a bit.

Below we’ve listed some classic and new series and films you can binge throughout lockdown.

Broad City

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson in Broad City
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson star in Broad City. (YouTube/Broad City)

Need some light relief to forget what’s going on in the world for half an hour? Then look no further than Broad City.

Developed from a web series of the same name, the show is based on star’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s real life relationship and their attempts to make it in New York.

The show manages to make the most mundane daily events hysterical thanks to the two lead’s performances. It follows Ilana, who regularly attempts to avoid working as much as possible while relentlessly pursuing a hedonistic lifestyle, and Abbi who tries to make a career as an illustrator, often getting sidetracked into Ilana’s schemes.

All five seasons of Broad City are now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington star in Little Fires Everywhere. (YouTube/Little Fires Everywhere)

You might have missed the release of Little Fires Everywhere in May last year, if you did then lucky you because you get to watch this addictive drama for the first time.

It stars two icons Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington who play mothers from different social and economic backgrounds that have opposing ideas when it comes to raising their kids.

The series is based on the novel of the same name and explores the weight of secrets, the nature of identity, motherhood and the consequences of following the rules.

It’s available to stream all at once on Amazon Prime Video.

This Is Us

Milo Ventimiglia stars in This is Us
Milo Ventimiglia stars in This is Us. (YouTube/This is Us)

If you give This Is Us a search on Twitter you’ll find most people saying the same thing – it’s a proper tearjerker.

The series follows three siblings Kevin, Kate and Randall and their parents Jack and Rebecca Pearson, mainly taking place in the present and flashing back to show the family’s past as they deal with marriage, parenting, grief and loss.

There is currently five seasons, each with 18 episodes at around 40 minutes each, so there’s plenty to get through during lockdown. The cast features some familiar faces including Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz and Alexandra Breckenridge.

It also comes from the writers and directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love which stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, so if you were a fan of that film then you’ll enjoy This Is Us.

The entire series is available to exclusively stream on Amazon Prime. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The cast of 20th Century Fox’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Photo by Getty Images/Online USA)

If there’s one show about impending doom, the ‘Big Bad’, death and destruction that you don’t mind watching during a global pandemic it should be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The iconic 90s series which follows the Scooby Gang as they battle against vampires, demons and other forces of darkness, is still hugely popular despite ending almost 18 years ago.

Throughout the show viewers were introduced to now fan favourites including vampires Spike and Drusilla, series five antagonist and god Glory, lovable queen bee Cordelia, an actual likeable lead character in Buffy and her best friend and witch Willow.

All seven series are available to stream for free on Channel 4’s app All 4. Or if you’re an Amazon Prime member you can start streaming it on Prime Video through your Fire TV Stick.

Parks and Recreation

Amy Poehler stars in Parks and Recreation
Amy Poehler stars in Parks and Recreation. (YouTube/Parks and Recreation)

Perhaps at one point Parks and Recreation was one of the most popular shows for memes and reaction gifs on social media, so if you haven’t seen the show before you’ll definitely recognise scenes from it.

The mockumentary style show centres around Leslie Knope, played by the amazing Amy Poehler who’s ultimate goal is to become president of the United States. She’s joined by an impressive cast that features Aubrey Plaza, Billy Eichner, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones as well as cameo appearances from the likes of Michelle Obama and president-elect Joe Biden.

There’s seven series to get through with 126 episodes all together, so plenty to watch during lockdown.

The entire collection is currently available on Prime Video and will arrive on Netflix on February 1, likely switching from one service to the other.

Sylvie’s Love

Sylvie's Love premiers on Amazon Prime Video
Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha star in Sylvie’s Love. (YouTube/Sylvie’s Love)

If you’re looking for something brand new then Sylvie’s Love recently premiered on Amazon Prime Video.

The film which embraces old-fashioned romance movies while celebrating black love stars Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha as Sylvie and Robert.

Set in 1950’s Harlem, Sylvie Parker meets aspiring saxophonist, Robert in her father’s record shop and the pair start a romantic relationship that transcends changing times, geography and professional success.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member then you can stream the film now on Prime Video. If you’re not then you can sign up for a free 30-day trial here.

Moesha

Brandy stars in Moesha
Brandy stars as the title character in Moesha. (YouTube/Moesha)

Brandy stars as the title character in this hit 90s show which has recently been released in its entirety on Netflix, opening up to new and old audiences.

The show deals with issues that are still relevant today including race relations, gender prejudice and inequality as well as personal issues many teenagers have to face in their day-to-day lives from loss of a parent, drug use and sexuality.

There’s plenty to get through during lockdown as the series is made up of six seasons and 127 episodes, plus it also stars icon and original Dreamgirl Sheryl Lee Ralph as Moesha’s step mother.

Also recently added to Netflix are other 90s favourites Sister Sister and Girlfriends, with the entire boxsets ready to stream once you’re finished with Moesha.

To watch all of these classic shows go to Netflix.

Real Housewives

A scene from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
A scene from one of the many dramatic dinner parties on Real Housewives. (YouTube/Bravo)

Where to start with the Real Housewives franchise? There’s so many to choose from but some of most popular versions are Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New York and Potomac and the most recent version Salt Lake City.

Take your pick but you’ll have finished at least two by the end of lockdown because following the lives of these dramatic, rich women is so addictive and you’ll definitely be invested in every part of it. Also it’s quite a nice escape to watch people go on exotic holidays and dinner parties during a global pandemic, it makes life feel a little ‘normal’ for an hour.

All of the Real Housewives franchises are available on Hayu. The streaming service costs £4.99 per month and you can sign up for a free 30-day trial.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can add the Hayu channel to your subscription and stream it through the same devices you use to watch Prime Video.

Are You the One?

Are You the One? season eight
Are You the One? season eight features a sexually fluid cast. (YouTube/Are You the One?)

If you want to pass some time in lockdown bingeing reality TV then Are You The One? is perfect.

There are eight seasons of this dating programme which airs on MTV. But the most recent one, season eight, features a cast of sexually fluid contestants who have no gender limitations on their potential perfect matches.

The premise of the show sees the producers match a group of people into pairs via a matchmaking algorithm. Then while living together the contestants try to identify all of these ‘perfect matches’ and if they succeed the entire group shares a prize of up to $1 million.

It’s available to stream on NowTV. You can sign up for a seven-day free pass and then pay £9.99 per month and watch other big shows from HBO, Sky Atlantic and more.

Kath and Kim

Kath & Kim is a campy, cult favourite Australian comedy that follows the lives of a suburban mother and daughter going about their daily lives.

It stars show creators Jane Turner and Gina Riley as Kath Day-Knight and Kim Craig who are joined by an amazing ensemble of characters including their husbands Kel Knight and Brett Craig and Kim’s second best friend, the accident-prone Sharon.

The series is notable for its outrageous fashion and coining popular phrases like “look at moy” (look at me) and “it’s noice, different and unusual” as well as its commentary on pop culture and class in Australia.

There are four seasons in total plus two movie specials, with a number of guest stars including Kylie Minogue, Eric Bana, Shane Warne and Michael Buble to name a few.

The entire series is available to stream on Netflix.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Viola Davis as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Viola Davis as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (David Lee/Netflix)

Viola Davis stars as the hugely influential, bisexual blues singer Ma Rainey in this film adaption of the play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The film was released on Netflix in December last year and has since received critical acclaim, particularly for the performances of Davis and her co-star Chadwick Boseman, in his final film role.

It’s set in 1927 Chicago as tensions and temperatures rise at a music study where the fiery and fearless Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session. She battles with her manager, Irvin, and the producer, Sturdivant but the legendary artist knows the power of her voice and makes sure that she calls the shots.

The film is exclusively available to stream on Netflix.

Schitt’s Creek

Schitt's Creek
Schitt’s Creek concludes with season 6. (PopTV)

Schitt’s Creek has been one of the most talked about shows on social media, with word-of-mouth and its move to Netflix partly to thank for its growing success and audience.

But the genius behind the show is father and son Eugene and Dan Levy, who came up with the idea of the show when imaging a rich and famous family losing all of their money and having to relocate from their mansions to, in this case, a motel in a tiny, run-down town.

The series starts off as the Rose family move to Schitt’s Creek, a town which Johnny bought for his son David as a joke birthday gift in 1991. The family of four, which also includes Moira (played by Catherine O’Hara) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) have to adapt to their new life and neighbours.

The show concluded with its sixth season last year and went on to sweep the Emmys, with each of the four main stars picking up an award for their performances for the first time.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch the show yet then make this lockdown the time to as you’ll fall in love with the diverse and hilarious cast, storylines and Moira’s wigs.

All six seasons of Schitt’s Creek are available to stream on Netflix.

Bridgerton

Bridgerton Jonathan Bailey
Jonathan Bailey in Netflix’s Bridgerton. (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2020)

Bridgerton is Netflix’s latest most-talked about series which follows the lives of the wealthy in Regency era England.

The series combines Downton Abbey with Gossip Girl, as an unseen character named Lady Whistledown writes a regular scandalous society newsletter that comments on the lives of high society families, including the debutantes who are being presented at court.

It’s produced by Shonda Rhimes and is particularly significant for featuring Black actors in period drama roles, which is rarely, if ever, seen – as well as touching on gay storylines with Sir Henry Granville, a friend of Benedict Bridgerton, while starring openly gay actor Jonathan Bailey.

The eight-part series is now available to stream on Netflix.

Before Stonewall

Before Stonewall, 2019 documentary

This Emmy-Award winning documentary looks at stories of LGBT+ communities past. It explores the fascinating and unforgettable history of homosexuality in America, from 1920s Harlem to World War II as well as the witch hunts of the McCarthy era, before ending at the Stonewall Inn on one summer night.

It’s one of a number of LGBT+ films and documentaries available on the BFI Player including Are You Proud?, I Am Divine, Theo and Hugo and Weekend.

You can sign up to BFI Player with a free seven-day trial and then pay £4.99 per month.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can add the BFI Player channel to your subscription and stream it through the same devices you use to watch Prime Video.

Utopia

Utopia is on Amazon Prime Video
Utopia is adapted from the British series of the same name. (YouTube/Utopia)

To finish up, how about a sci-fi drama that focuses on the end of the world?

If you’re the type of person who enjoys scary conspiracy theories during a global pandemic then this eight-part series is ideal.

Utopia follows a group of young adults that are fans of the same comic book, Utopia. They come together after they realise the conspiracy in the comic, which foretells the demise of humanity and the world is real.

The series is adapted from the acclaimed British series of the same name by Gillian Flynn, best known for Gone Girl and Sharp Objects.

It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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Related topics: Amazon Prime, Bridgerton, Broad City, buffy the vampire slayer, Kath and Kim, netflix, Parks and Recreation, Real Housewives, Schitt’s Creek

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