Paramount+ came to the streaming game later than its competitors, but it’s quickly become a heavy hitter. With properties like MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central, CBS, and the entire Star Trek franchise, Paramount+’s library of shows is a bottomless chasm with something for everyone — exactly what we TV-obsessed couch-freaks have been waiting for.
For all those hoping to drown in television, to never have to come up for air in between binges, we’ve put together a list of the best shows Paramount+ has to offer, in no particular order. Don’t worry, this is only scratching the surface!
1. Freaks and Geeks
One of the biggest television tragedies of the last 25 years is the unceremonious canceling of this near-perfect show created by Paul Feig (the head of the Marvel-verse) and executive produced by Judd Apatow. A coming-of-age teen comedy, Freaks and Geeks follows Lindsay Weir (a young and angsty Linda Cardellini in her first major role) as she and her classmates navigate the ups and downs of being a high schooler in the ‘80s, from their first sips of alcohol to their last mathlete competitions.
The cast is unbelievable — seriously, this show launched the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Busy Phillips, and Samm Levine — and the stories are profoundly relatable. Funny, grounded, and sweet, Freaks and Geeks is easily one of the best series of the last 50 years and widely accepted as one of the most accurate screen depictions of the American high school experience. While it suffered on NBC due to scheduling blunders and lack of network support, the world of streaming has helped this lovable gem reach the cult status it deserves.
Though technically a prequel, you don’t need to watch Paramount’s massive hit Yellowstone to appreciate this sweeping new Paramount+ original. 1883 is a massive undertaking, making headlines for its unprecedented budget ($10 million an episode!) and scale of production. Luckily, Paramount’s big investment has paid off. 1883 is a scenic, moody drama about the Dutton family’s journey west from Fort Worth to Oregon. Elisa Dutton (Isabel May) is our protagonist, narrating over the ruminative shots of the sun setting over endless plains, vibrating with hope for a trek the show warns us will only bring doom. Rattlesnakes, bandits, covered wagon accidents — 1883 depicts the brutal, stark reality of the real Oregon Trail.
Sam Elliot is perfectly cast as the hardened covered wagon boss — his mustache has never been more fitting — and LaMonica Garrett is magnetic in an exciting role that promises to undo decades of Black cowboy erasure. As Elisa’s parents, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s comfort on horseback and in Stetsons help them fit right in alongside the veteran cast. While the jury is still out on whether the show will handle the often-violent conflicts between settlers and Native Americans in a nuanced and responsible way, for now, this is a modern, ruminative Western whose gorgeous landscape is just as important as its affecting human drama.
3. Key & Peele
This is sketch comedy done right. Though Jordan Peele might be better known today for piercing thrillers like Get Out, and Keegan-Michael Key has been cast in what seems like every comedy movie since 2018, the two launched their careers together with this beloved Comedy Central sketch show from 2012. Almost every bit in Key & Peele is a hit, from a substitute teacher who truly cannot pronounce his white students’ names to two friends bragging about standing up to their wives. Key & Peele adeptly tackle complex topics like race relations and low-stakes inconveniences like social faux pas with the same balance of intelligence and silliness. Their comedy is smart, fast, and fun — and will live on forever thanks to the “Sweating Jordan Peele” meme.
4. Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
Two great shows set in the same fascinating universe! Avatar: The Last Airbender introduces us to a world in which people can harness the powers of the four elements — air, water, earth, and fire — through a power called “bending.” There, we meet the young and earnest Aang, the last airbender, who hopes to put a stop to the Fire Nation’s aggressive invasions outside of their borders. Though tackling big topics like indoctrination and totalitarianism, this Nickelodeon show remains cheerful thanks to the optimism of Aang and his friends.
The story continues decades later in The Legend of Korra with a slightly more mature tone. The world has changed. The people need a leader and are hoping to find it in Korra, a young woman with the potential to bend all four elements. Korra, on the other hand, is just trying to get her temper under control! The continuation retains the spark of the original series (get ready to see a few familiar faces!), but its compelling plot twists, 1940s-style narration, and talented vocal cast assure its status as a winning series in its own right. — K.G.*
Many decades before Ted Danson stole the show as a devilishly handsome silver fox on The Good Place, he spiced up primetime as Sam Malone, a former pro baseball player who drank his career away, only to find himself the proprietor of a charming neighborhood watering hole where everybody, well, you know. Sam spends his days and nights slinging drinks alongside his former coach, Coach; fiery cocktail waitress Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman); and erudite fish-out-of-water Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), a new cocktail waitress with whom he spends several seasons flirting in between flings. The witty banter, guest stars, and celeb appearances, as well as an overall cozy vibe between Sam and his regulars (Cliff, Norm, and, yes, Frasier and Lilith) make Cheers a timeless classic. And don’t forget about baby-faced Woody Harrelson, who joined as a main character in the fourth season. — Jenni Miller *
6. Star Trek: The Next Generation
One of Paramount+’s biggest draws is its monopoly on Star Trek, and they know it. With a host of new Star Trek shows, Paramount is not sleeping at the wheel. Of its new releases, Star Trek: Discovery is action-packed like the Chris Pine Trek films; Star Trek: Prodigy is a beautifully animated kids show; and Star Trek: Picard is a masterful return to form. There have been so many Star Trek shows and movies since the ‘60s, it’s impossible to pick just one to recommend, but this list is unfortunately finite so we’ll suggest a show that’s both archetypal of the Trek genre and solidly bingeable for modern audiences: Star Trek: The Next Generation.
With Sir Patrick Steward at the helm of the USS Enterprise as the unflappable Captain Jean-Luc Picard, this Star Trek series finds more gravitas and emotional heft than the original series. As this crew of scientists and engineers explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before, they also delve deeply into the human condition. Episodes that seem to be about new aliens or technology slowly reveal themselves to be ruminations of profound philosophical questions (the episode-long courtroom debate about the legal personhood of artificial intelligence being a prime example). This investigation into what it means to be human is standard to every Star Trek iteration, but is at its most deft with Next Generation. Be sure to give it about a season and half — or until Commander Riker grows a beard — to hit its stride.
7. RuPaul’s Drag Race
It’s hard to remember a world before RuPaul brought drag into America’s living room with this effervescent show that melds creative competitions with performances and behind-the-scenes revelations, in addition to a fabulous stable of judges and guest stars. It made RuPaul a media mogul and turned its winning drag queens into household names, along with inspiring international spin-offs and Drag Race All-Stars. While there has been some controversy around Drag Race and its creator over the years, not to mention some of its contestants, it’s impossible to deny its imprint on the cultural landscape. — J.M.*
Following the life of 11-year-old Doug Funnie (voice acting legend Billy West) after he moves to a new town, Doug is a beloved cartoon for a reason. It’s goofy but grounded, with accessible story lines and lovable characters. While Doug’s adventures range from the simple (helping his neighbor) to fantastic (investigating a town monster myth), he’s usually also trying to impress his friend and crush, Patty Mayonnaise — a voice most will recognize as Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman) from Orange is the New Black. Loaded with silly, fantastical interludes featuring Doug’s alter-ego Quail Man or his Snoopy-like dog Porkchop, Doug absolutely stands the test of time. Perhaps that’s because it’s been in the hands of both of the animation behemoths of the 1990s: Doug premiered on Nickelodeon, but was acquired by Disney in its fifth season. — K.G.*
This is a show about an insufferable, middle-aged radio psychiatrist pathologically unable to take his own advice. He is pompous, illogical, and far too critical of the parade of women who bafflingly agree to date him. Frasier does not sound like a universally beloved comedy with heart, wit, and a lot of fun — but reader, it is! It’s an amazing sitcom. There’s magic in this cadre of characters, from Frasier’s down-to-earth father’s insightful mocking of his impossibly snobby sons, to his brother Niles’ (the iconic David Hyde Pierce) paralyzing crush on the eccentric Daphne (Jane Leeves at her absolute best).
This is not a show to watch if you’re looking for character development and personal growth. This is the show to watch if you want to see Frasier and Niles insist on throwing yet another elaborate dinner party, though all evidence points to their complete inability to do so without catastrophe. And best of all? Frasier has 11 seasons, so you don’t have to stop watching for months if you don’t want to!
10. The Good Fight
Though it’s a sequel to the CBS legal drama The Good Wife, there’s no need to do a marathon before starting The Good Fight. This spin-off stands firmly on its own two feet. In fact, The Good Fight has been so successful that many consider it superior to its predecessor. Christine Baranski is Diane Lockhart, Chicago’s top litigator. Immediately after announcing her well-deserved retirement, a financial scandal involving her investment banker depletes her savings and endangers the career of her goddaughter (Rose Leslie). Uh oh — looks like Diane has no choice but to get back in the game!
The Good Fight is a smart, engaging procedural drama that deftly puts nuanced topics like racial and social politics front and center. Supported by a cast that features heavy hitters like Audra MacDonald, Delroy Lindo, Paul Guilfoyle, and Bernadette Peters, Fight brings a fresh take and a clear point-of-view to the classic courtroom series format.
11. Everybody Hates Chris
Inspired by Chris Rock’s childhood, Everybody Hates Chris is a lovable sitcom for the whole family. After his family moves to Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, the young Chris has to learn to survive in his new school all the while taking care of his younger siblings and helping out his parents where he can. This is a lighthearted portrait of a type of family that does not often get the spotlight, one where the parents each have multiple jobs and the kids have to go to schools in distant neighborhoods to get an actual education. Because of this, Everybody Hates Chris is doing more work than your regular, run-of-the-mill sitcom. On top of everyday family squabbles, it highlights serious social issues, and it does so with a smile and a laugh. It’s smart, thought-provoking, and playful — everything you want from a comedy.
Asterisks (*) indicate the entry comes from another Mashable streaming list.