We all require entertainment. After a rigorous day, what is more soothing than a show that thoroughly contracts your attention? A partition from the daily stresses of life. Something to gaze upon, and briefly settle, and meditate on our passions. It is 2022. Almost 2023. Here are 10 of the best shows to stream I would recommend, at this moment. I will admit my bias. I am a fan of fantasy shows, grounded in the prosaic concerns we all deal with on a daily basis.
Why streaming? Easy. They are producing some of the best shows you can watch in this golden age of content. The original series the streamers are producing often stretch the boundaries of content as well as production.
Rings of Power
A show of beautiful imagery. Of soul, of imagination. There are multifarious narratives to engage in. Nori, a Harfoot, predecessor to a Hobbit, helping a wayward star-borne wizard finding his purpose, his goodness. Elevating him to his full stature, a halfling in service to a star.
There is Galadriel, the Lady of Light, assessing the darkness within her. In search of Sauron, the Prince of Deception, she discovers her center, mediating between extreme power and benevolence.
There is Elrond and Durin. One, an Elf, fair as the sky basked in sunlight. The other, a Dwarf, full of fire and flint, brimstone, and iron. Yet, the diametrically opposed elements somehow bond in friendship, a refreshing reminder that differences do not always divide.
Then, there are the Rings themselves. Crafted in Eregion, by Celebrimbor, ores of power to preserve the immortal Elves or Eldar, whose lives are fading in Middle Earth.
Available on Amazon Prime, the Rings of Power is a show graced with wonder, with reflection and well worth the view.
House of the Dragon
From HBO Max, House of Dragon is the precursor to Game of Thrones, when House Targaryen, Valyrians graced with the capacity to shepherd dragons, was at the peak of its power in Westeros. It is a story of familial strife, of opposite convictions, of hunger for power that breeds dragon breath. Fire and flame.
It is a story of the fall of House Targaryen, who in their hubris, tore their family apart.
Rhaenrya Targaryen, the Realm’s Delight, is a heroine seeking to announce herself, to fly above the status of any female Targaryen before her. Owner of Syrax, a yellow-scaled dragon, she is named by the ailing Viserys as the heir to Westoros, in an atavistic time where a female had never been crowned in the line of succession. She becomes the Princess of Dragonstone, the heir to the Iron Throne.
Viserys unexpectedly produces several new male heirs, however, with a new wife, Alicent of House Hightower, after his first wife, Queen Aemma of House Arryn, expires.
Alicent is the offspring of Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, a scheming steward in service to the interests of the Hightower line. In an act of unfealty, he seeks to unseat House Targaryen and Rhaenrya’s claim to the throne, by betrothing his daughter to Viserys in the hopes of producing a male heir, bound to the Hightower bloodline, in a patriarchal society keen for one.
It will have several additional seasons, but Season 1 ends in the “Dance of Dragons”. Tune in to understand what that exactly entails.
The Boys – 10 of the Best Shows to Stream
An interesting show, strangely modeled around superheroes but it’s construct is a critique on celebrity culture. Why do we worship celebrities, their images? They are often worse than ourselves, bent on accumulation of additional influence, without an authentic regard for helping people.
The Boys posits these questions. A ribald tribe of no-names fights, led by Billy Butcher, against the icons of popular culture, exposing their malfeasance and self-idolatry. Homelander, who is essentially the likes of Superman employed by the profiteering Vought Corporation, serves as the antagonist. Leader of “The Seven,” fellow superheroes, Homelander serves as a self-seeking, indulgent, leader, weaponizing his powers to wield his influence ruthlessly over mere mortals.
It is a gaudy show, bespectacled in numerous explicit scenes, but is as compelling a viewing experience as you could imagine; especially if you’re drawn to stories woven around superheroes.
Remember the Karate Kid film series from the 80s? Well, Cobra Kai is set 34 years after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament from the original film. Both Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their roles from that original movie. In case you are not familiar with Zabka, he plays Johnny Lawrence, who was the final match for Ralph Macchio’s character in the All-Valley Karate Tournament.
Now that the setting is clear, the story revolves around the reopening of the Cobra Kai dojo by Johnny. If you remember, that is the dojo Johnny studied at under his controlling stepfather who ran the facility. So, now that you have that under your belt, Johnny reopens the dojo, which attracts a group of bullied outcasts that want to learn how to defend themselves. Sound familiar?
In this series, Johnny is the Mr. Myagi figure, sort of, and Ralph Macchio is again, Daniel LaRusso, but is now a successful businessman that owns a car dealership. The two reengage in their rivalry form boyhood as Johnny’s best student, his estranged son and LaRusso’s daughter all become intertwined in a relationship that eventually draws the two together again. Once that happens, let the fireworks begin.
The stakes become life-threatening at times, over karate contests. But it is nevertheless a fun show.
A new season was recently released on Netflix of “The Crown,” a show about Queen Elizabeth’s travails as a monarch of a country often in tempestuous times. She’s steady, firm, unrelenting, a symbol of British resilience. Her family is often contrary to her fastidious devotion to being a steadfast Head of State, wailing, complaining, absenting their acknowledgement of their immense privilege.
There is, additionally, an interesting portrayal of Princess Diana. Radiant, but upset with her husband’s lack of fidelity. She hearkens to new pastures, as does her husband.
The Mandalorian – 10 of the Best Shows to Stream
This may be an antiquated suggestion, yet I’d still suggest viewing it! Set after the fall of the Empire and before the First Order, The Mandalorian follows the story of bounty hunter, Din Djarin, a wandering warrior. Destined to his mask, his duty, exiled from his home. He happens upon a baby green youngster, who’s nomenclature is later revealed, Grogu. Grogu shares a similarity in appearance with Yoda and is colloquially referred to by fans as “Baby Yoda.”
Grogu is small, unsteady, but when provoked, can wield powers that shake fortunes. The Mandalorian is drawn to Grogu, protects the precocious youngster, and becomes his home, his adoptive parent. It’s a beautiful story, placed in the Star Wars universe.
A story indulging childhood passion. Did you play “Dungeons of Dragons” with your friends in middle school? Engage in imaginations of fantasy, devising lore to accommodate your curiosity? Stranger Things has multiple dimensions to it.
One, a boy named Will Byers, is abducted by a strange, mythical beast. Its origins are unknown, but after freeing itself from a government laboratory, prowls the forests and streets of a fictional small town, Hawkins, in Indiana.
Two, a girl named Eleven. Stolen from her mother at birth, she is ruthlessly subjected to experimentation in the aforementioned government laboratory due to her psychic powers. She also escapes and finds solace and refuge in the comfort of a friend, Mike.
Three, Joyce Byers, portrayed by Winona Ryder, who desperately seeks for her son, and eventually discovers his residing place after being abducted.
It is a strange story, with numerous threads.
Are you interested in family strife? In conglomerates of power, and the ramifications of their influence? If so, I’d recommend “Succession,” a story about a dysfunctional family battling for a presumed seat of power while their patriarch is struggling with his health.
Logan Roy, father of the Roy clan, and media mogul, suffers a dramatic stroke. His progeny, his children, sword over a contest for their ascension. One, Kendall, is the presumed heir, but has a cocaine habit that prevents his succession. Another, Roman, is a character that could have existed in a Boccaccio novel, or in an ode to Dionysius, heedless, undirected, intrigued by revelry. Shiv is her father’s daughter, a ruthless, unrelenting, sister, grasping for the throne, but neglected.
It is a story condensed in drama.
Obi-Wan Kenobi- 10 of the Best Shows to Stream
Obi-Wan didn’t receive astonishing reviews. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Set before Star Wars: A New Hope, it centers around Obi-Wan Kenobi, estranged from the world on Tattoine, while protecting Luke Skywalker, is called upon to protect Leia, Anakin Skywalker’s additional progeny, who is kidnapped by the Galactic Empire, to draw Kenobi out of hiding. It leads to a confrontation with his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, now named Darth Vader, in a lightsaber duel.
He meets the challenge with aplomb, while creating a charming relationship with Leia. It is an underrated show, in my estimation. I will, with certitude, assert that it will pull your heartstrings.
If you’re looking for a well thought out science fiction thriller with a smart storyline, good character development and, of course, great special effects, then welcome to The Expanse. Available on Amazon Prime, The Expanse is based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey, perhaps that is why it is so good. It is set 200 years in the future. Mars is colonized as is the asteroid belt as well as moons around Saturn and Jupiter.
There is kind of a space cold war between the three largest powers: The United Nations of Earth and its colonized moon; the Martian Congressional Republic of Mars; and the Outer Planet Alliance (OPA), which consists of the belt and the colonized moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Against that setting, the story revolves around a plot to weaponize alien biotechnology and the resulting fall out from its use to try to tip the balance of power amongst the three factions.
The story is told from the lens of its primary characters: James Holden, the first officer of an ice freighter and this crew – Naomi Nagata, Alex Kamal and Amos Burton; Josephus Mille, a belt born police detective; and Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a United Nations Security Council member. Through their intertwined stories, they must stop the proliferation of the alien biotechnology and, in doing so, save humanity from the threat and itself. Good stuff!