Paramount+ got into streaming later than its rivals, but it’s quickly become a big player. With properties like MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central, CBS, and the entire Star Trek franchise, Paramount+’s library of shows is a bottomless pit with something for everyone — just what we TV-obsessed couch-freaks have been waiting for.
We’ve put together a list of the best Paramount+ shows, in no particular order, for people who want to watch so much TV that they never have to stop and catch their breath. Don’t worry, this isn’t even the beginning!
10. The Good Fight
Even though it’s a follow-up to the CBS legal drama The Good Wife, you don’t have to watch every episode of The Good Wife before you start The Good Fight. This spin-off is strong enough to stand on its own.
In fact, The Good Fight has been so popular that many people think it is better than the show it replaced. Diane Lockhart, the best lawyer in Chicago, is played by Christine Baranski.
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Right after she announced her well-deserved retirement, her investment banker got caught up in a financial scandal that wiped out her savings and put her goddaughter’s career in danger (Rose Leslie). Oh no, it looks like Diane has to get back into the game.
This show is about a middle-aged radio psychiatrist who is impossible to stand and can’t follow his own advice. He is rude, doesn’t make sense, and is way too harsh on the women who date him for some reason.
Frasier doesn’t sound like the kind of comedy that everyone loves because it has heart, wit, and a lot of fun, but it is! It’s a great comedy show.
There’s magic in this group of characters, from Frasier’s down-to-earth father making fun of his impossibly snobby sons to his brother Niles’ (the legendary David Hyde Pierce) crippling crush on the eccentric Daphne (Jane Leeves at her absolute best).
This is not a show to watch if you want to see your favourite characters grow and change. This is the show to watch if you want to see Frasier and Niles keep trying to throw another fancy dinner party, even though everything points to the fact that they can’t do it without something going wrong.
And the best part? Frasier has 11 seasons, so if you don’t want to, you don’t have to stop watching for months!
Doug is a popular cartoon for a reason. It tells the story of 11-year-old Doug Funnie, whose voice is done by the great Billy West after he moves to a new town.
It’s silly, but the stories and characters are easy to follow and like. Doug’s adventures range from simple (like helping his neighbour) to crazy (like looking into a town monster myth), but he’s always trying to impress his friend and crush, Patty Mayonnaise.
Whose voice most people will recognise as Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman) from Orange Is the New Black. Doug stands the test of time because it is full of silly, fantastical scenes with Doug’s alter ego Quail Man or his dog Porkchop, who looks like Snoopy.
Maybe that’s because it was made by two of the biggest animation companies of the 1990s: Doug began on Nickelodeon, but in its fifth season, Disney bought it. — K.G.*
7. RuPaul’s Drag Race
It’s hard to remember a time before RuPaul brought drag into America’s living rooms with this lively show that mixes creative competitions, performances, and behind-the-scenes reveals with a great group of judges and guest stars.
It made RuPaul a media mogul and made the winning drag queens well-known. It also led to international spin-offs and the Drag Race All-Stars.
Even though Drag Race, its creator, and some of its contestants have been at the centre of some controversy over the years, it’s impossible to deny that the show has left its mark on culture. — J.M.*
6. Star Trek: The Next Generation
They know that the fact that they own Star Trek is one of their biggest draws. With a bunch of new Star Trek shows, Paramount isn’t snoozing. Star Trek: Discovery is like the Chris Pine Trek movies in that it is full of action.
Star Trek: Prodigy is a beautifully animated kids’ show, and Star Trek: Picard is a masterful return to form. Since the 1960s, there have been so many Star Trek shows and movies that it’s hard to pick just one to recommend.
However, this list is limited, so we’ll go with Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is both a classic Trek show and a good one to watch all at once.
With Sir Patrick Steward as the unflappable Captain Jean-Luc Picard at the helm of the USS Enterprise, this Star Trek series has more depth and emotional weight than the first one.
As this group of scientists and engineers explores strange new worlds, looks for new life and new civilizations, and boldly goes where no one has gone before, they also dig deep into the human condition.
Episodes that seem to be about new aliens or technology often turn out to be deep philosophical discussions (the episode-long courtroom debate about the legal personhood of artificial intelligence being a prime example).
This question of what it means to be human is asked in every Star Trek show, but Next Generation does it best. Give it about an entire season and a half, or until Commander Riker grows a beard, to get going.
Before Ted Danson stole the show as a devilishly handsome old man on A Good Place, he made primetime interesting as Sam Malone, a former pro baseball player who drank his career away and ended up owning a charming neighbourhood watering hole where everyone, well, you know.
Sam spends his days and nights serving drinks with 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 flirts between flings for several seasons.
Cheers is a timeless classic because of the witty banter, guest stars, and celebrity appearances, as well as the cosy atmosphere between Sam and his regulars (Cliff, Norm, and, yes, Frasier and Lilith). Don’t forget about Woody Harrelson, who joined as a main character in the fourth season when he was still a baby-faced kid. — Jenni Miller *
4. Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
Two great shows that take place in the same interesting world! Avatar: The Last Airbender shows us a world where people can use a power called “bending” to control the powers of air, water, earth, and fire.
There, we meet Aang, the Last Airbender, who is young and sincere and wants to stop the Fire Nation from attacking other countries.
Even though this Nickelodeon show talks about serious things like brainwashing and totalitarianism, it stays happy because Aang and his friends are always upbeat.
In The Legend of Korra, which takes place a few decades later, the story is told in a slightly more mature way. Things have changed. The people need a leader, and they hope that Korra, a young woman who can bend all four elements, will be that leader.
On the other hand, Korra is just trying to keep her temper in check! The continuation keeps the spark of the original series (you’ll see some familiar faces! ), but its twisty plot, 1940s-style narration, and talented voice cast make it a winner on its own. — K.G.*
3. Key & Peele
This is good sketch comedy. Even though Jordan Peele is better known now for scary movies like “Get Out” and Keegan-Michael Key seems to be in every comedy movie made since 2018, they both got their start on this popular Comedy Central sketch show in 2012.
Almost every joke in Key & Peele is a hit, from a substitute teacher who really can’t say the names of his white students to two friends who brag about standing up to their wives.
Key & Peele are good at balancing intelligence and silliness when they talk about serious things like race relations and silly things like a social faux pas. Their comedy is smart, quick, and fun, and thanks to the “Sweating Jordan Peele” meme, it will live on forever.
Even though this new Paramount+ original is a prequel, you don’t have to see Paramount’s huge hit Yellowstone to enjoy it. 1883 is a huge project, with a budget of $10 million per episode and a scale of production that has never been seen before.
The big bet that Paramount made has paid off. 1883 is a drama about the Dutton family’s trip from Fort Worth to Oregon. It is set in beautiful, moody places. Elisa Dutton, played by Isabel May, is the main character.
She tells the story as the sun sets over endless plains, giving us hope for a journey that the show warns us will only end in death. Rattlesnakes, robbers, and accidents with covered waggons: 1883 shows how harsh and dangerous the real Oregon Trail was.
Sam Elliot’s moustache has never been a better fit for his role as the tough boss of a covered waggon, and LaMonica Garrett’s role as a Black cowboy, which is an exciting one, is sure to erase decades of erasure of Black cowboys.
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill fit right in as Elisa’s parents because they are comfortable on horses and in Stetsons.
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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, but for now, this is a modern, thoughtful Western with a beautiful landscape and heartbreaking human drama.
1. Freaks and Geeks
This nearly perfect show, created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) and executive produced by Judd Apatow, was abruptly cancelled. This is one of the worst things to happen on TV in the last 25 years.
In Freaks and Geeks, a comedy about teens coming of age, we follow Lindsay Weir (played by a young and angsty Linda Cardellini in her first major role) and her friends as they go through the ups and downs of high school in the 1980s, from their first taste of alcohol to their last mathletes.
The cast is amazing—I mean, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, John Francis Daley, Martin Starr, Busy Philipps, and Samm Levine all got their start on this show—and the stories are very real. Freaks and Geeks is one of the best TV shows of the last 50 years.
It’s funny, realistic, and sweet, and most people agree that it shows the American high school experience as it really is. It didn’t do well on NBC because of scheduling mistakes and a lack of network support, but the world of streaming has helped this charming show become a cult favourite.