Fictional “historical” characters are celebrated over several U.S. holidays—Christmas, Easter, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, President’s Day, etc. Meanwhile, the very real creators of life, moms, receive only one annual nod: Mother’s Day.

It’s a “floating” holiday, at that. So fucking lame.

Fortunately, there’s television, the great equalizer. TV is where moms get their proper due, much more so than in movies (the best-ever film about “motherhood” is 1983’s Mr. Mom—let that patriarchal shit sink in).

Here are seven streaming TV series that showcase wildly different mothers at their best, worst and straight-up weirdest. And no, forwarding this article to your mom’s Hotmail doesn’t count as a Mother’s Day gift.


 

Better Things (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

Is Pamela Adlon’s Better Things a comedy or a drama? Yes to both. Adlon herself simply says it’s an “incredible feelings show,” which fits like a fresh pair of spanx. It’s also about motherhood; Better Things will make you laugh, cry and scream along with single mom Sam (Adlon) and her three daughters, the most complex kids on TV. Above all, Better Things is capital-A Art.


Workin’ Moms (Season 1 on Netflix)

Like Schitt’s Creek and Letterkenny, dark-com Workin’ Moms is covertly Canadian. The struggles of these Toronto mothers (including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Catherine Reitman, Workin’ Moms’ creator), unfortunately, are universal: post-partum depression, workplace sexism, inconvenient lactation, and everything else men deny. Too real, but still funny.


Jane the Virgin (Seasons 1–4 on Netflix)

In this gringo-ized 2014–19 CW telenovela, engaged 23-year-old virgin Jane (Gina Rodriguez) is inadvertently inseminated with a sperm sample meant for another patient—even worse, the sample is from her handsome boss crush! Jane the Virgin is ridiculous, fizzy fun that detours into “The Feels” seamlessly. Best of all, Christian groups lost their shit over Jane before it even aired.


Odd Mom Out (Seasons 1–3 on Vudu)

Momzillas author Jill Kargman stars as a manically exaggerated version of herself in this 2015–17 comedy about uber-rich Manhattan mothers, the smartest series Bravo ever produced. Naturally, Odd Mom Out was canceled to make room for more Real Housewives dreck, but at least Kargman and scene-stealing Abby Elliott cranked out 30 near-perfect episodes.


I’m Sorry (Season 1 on Netflix)

Andrea Savage’s all-about-me comedy doesn’t care to differentiate itself from other Comics Play Themselves half-hours—it’s all about the jokes. I’m Sorry, referring to mom/comedy writer “Andrea’s” tendency to say the most hilariously wrong things, is a white wine spritzer of a sitcom: not too heavy, not too sweet, nice buzz. MVP: Bemused “husband” Tom Everett Scott.


Good Girls (Season 1 on Hulu and Netflix)

Three straight-arrow suburban moms (Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman) turn to robbery to pay the bills—and, more importantly, score some thrills. Soon, they’re in too deep (in every sense) with a local money launderer, and the crimes and bodies start piling up. Good Girls plays like Breaking Bad meets, well, Workin’ Moms, but the dead-solid cast sells it perfectly.


SMILF (Season 1 on Vudu)

The “S” in SMILF stands for “Single”; you probably know the rest. Twenty-something mom Bridgette (Frankie Shaw) juggles parenting, an acting career and relationships in Los Angeles. Alongside the mom stuff, SMILF indulges in all kinds of raw sex and drugs (it’s a Showtime series, after all), but “Bridge” remains a fiercely devoted parent who’ll gladly discuss her vagina.

I’m a Spotify Premium subscriber because I don’t want ads interrupting my stream of the 16 new Oh Sees albums released last week. Thanks to my exorbitant SLUG salary, it’s a small luxury I can easily afford. Please clap.

In March, Spotify added another perk to Premium membership: a free Hulu subscription. Sure, it’s the basic ad-supported version of Hulu, but so what? There’s plenty of cool shit on the streaming service, including every Seinfeld ever (spoiler: it doesn’t hold up) and much-buzzed-about originals like The Handmaid’s Tale (the feel-good hit of the Trumpy the Clown era).

Here are eight more lesser-hyped, original Hulu series that you may or may not be aware of. Also, after you spring for the Spotify Premium upgrade, give my band Magda Vega a listen—10 million more streams, and we’ll make enough in royalties to buy a case of PBR.


 

Shrill (Season 1 on Hulu)

Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant stars as Annie, an insecure, full-figured young woman toiling away at a Portland newspaper—the death of print is the least of her problems. Fed up with everyone trying to “fix” her, Annie decides to stop apologizing and just be herself. The results are as human as they are funny. Shrill is short, sweet and one of the best comedies of 2019.

 

 


Hard Sun (Season 1 on Hulu)

In British import Hard Sun, London detectives Hicks (Jim Sturgess) and Renko (Agnyess Deyn) stumble upon government evidence that Earth will suffer a solar extinction event in five years—I know; I wish it were sooner, too. Despite the sci-fi twist, Hard Sun is a gritty Brit cop drama (it’s from Luther creator Neil Cross) that’s deeper than it seems—and waaay violent.

 

 

 


 

 

Future Man (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

An average janitor (Josh Hutcherson) who’s an above-average video gamer is recruited by future warriors to save the world—turns out that the game he just beat was a recruitment tool (rejoice, e-nerds). Imagine Back to the Future if Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (the producers) applied their sick, stoned imaginations to it, or Ready Player One if it didn’t suck.

 

 


 

Deadbeat (Seasons 1–3 on Hulu)

Deadbeat is an old, old, old-school Hulu original: It debuted all the way back on 2014! Tyler Labine stars as Pac, a slacker-slob medium who helps spirits move on … when he gets around to it. With the help of his drug dealer, Roofie (Brandon T. Jackson), Pac fucks with “fake” medium Camomile White (Cat Deeley)—spooky hilarity ensues. Don’t think about it too hard

 

 


 

 

Shut Eye (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

On a medium note: Charlie (Jeffrey Donovan) is a “fortune teller” con-man desperate to escape Los Angeles’ gypsy mafia and start his own racket. But then his clairvoyant visions become real, inspiring him to give up the grifter life. Naturally, his mob boss (Isabella Rossellini) doesn’t see eye-to-third-eye with him. Odd that Shut Eye couldn’t predict its own cancellation. 

 

 

 


 

 

Difficult People (Seasons 1–3 on Hulu)

What’s your tolerance level for Billy Eichner? You might reconsider after checking out Difficult People, wherein he and Julie Klausner play self-absorbed New Yorkers who hate everything and everyone but each other. The pair’s comic interplay sings like an off-Broadway production they’d adore, but also wouldn’t cross town to see. DP MVP: James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros.).

 

 

 



 

The Hotwives (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

It seems impossible to parody The Real Housewives, the TV franchise that helps you understand an anti-American terrorist’s point of view. However! Hulu’s 2014–15 series The Hotwives (of Orlando; later of Las Vegas) nailed it, thanks to a ridiculously funny cast (including Andrea Savage, Casey Wilson, and Kristen Schaal) and a grand total of zero reality-TV fucks given.

 

 


 

 

UnReal (Seasons 1–4 on Hulu)

On the darker side of reality TV, UnReal dramatizes the behind-the-scenes machinations of a Bachelor-style dating show, with only a few exaggerations (Drugs! Depression! Murder!) and one hard truth (reality shows are 110 percent bullshit). Showrunners Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) are as emotionally wrecked as they are ruthless, and UnReal is too real.

Back in my day, comic-book stories stayed on comic-book pages. Yes, there were Batman movies—the best still being 1997’s Batman & Robin, naysayers be damned—but superheroes were mostly relegated to print. A live-action Hulk could fucking not be done.

I’m still right on that one, but the rest of the Marvel, DC, and other comic-brand universes are now inescapable on all the screens, all the time. TV has been more prolific and creative with its adaptations—Netflix (Marvel) and The CW (DC), in particular. You already know about those, so they won’t be covered here.

Instead, here are 10 comics-based TV series ranging from “Hey, I’ve heard of that!” to “Huh?” status to stream while you’re waiting for Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Aquaman v. Magic Mike: Dawn of Thrust-Us.


Deadly Class (Season 1 on Syfy.com and Syfy app)

Based on the eponymous Image Comics series, Deadly Class is an ’80s-set action-snarker about a secret academy that trains good-looking teens to kill elegantly—“Harry Potter Assassin School” will do. Deadly Class is smart enough to go toe-to-knife-tipped-toe with Syfy cousin The Magicians, but with a gonzo-goth edge all its own and a killer, Reagan-era soundtrack.

Blade: The Series

(Season 1 on CW Seed)

The original 1998 Blade was the first “real” Marvel movie, effectively wiping away the foul/fowl aftertaste of ’80s bomb Howard the Duck. To replace vampire hunter Wesley Snipes, 2006’s Blade: The Series cast Onyx rapper Sticky Fingaz and cranked out 13 solid-to-superb episodes before cancelation by Spike TV. Netflix’s gritty Daredevil and Luke Cage owe this Blade.

Painkiller Jane (Season 1 on Hoopla, Tubi and Roku Channel)

A ’90s Event/Icon Comics title that became a 2005 TV movie and a 2007 Syfy series, Painkiller Jane (Kristanna Loken) is The Punisher and Wolverine wrapped into an Instagram model. She’s a vigilante crime-fighter with brutal combat skills and an indestructible body (though Jane can still feel pain). It’s a A forgotten series that’s soon to be a Marvel flick starring Jessica Chastain.

Black Scorpion (Season 1 on Prime Video)

Moving backwards, ridiculous 2001 Syfy series Black Scorpion, which was preceded by a couple of equally ridiculous movies in the ’90s, was a TV show that later became a less-ridiculous comic book. The series, starring Michelle Lintel as barely leather-clad vigilante Black Scorpion, is ’60s Batman camp crossed with softcore fetish porn—kinky superhero cosplayers take note.

Preacher (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu)

A disillusioned drunk of a small-town Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper and his gravity-defying hair) suddenly has the power to bend people’s will—so he sets out to find God with his trigger-happy ex, Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Irish vampire bud Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) in tow. The Vertigo comic Preacher is fantastically, mind-fuckingly weird; TV Preacher doesn’t disappoint.

Lucifer
(Seasons 1-3 on Netflix)

Another hell-larious Vertigo import, Fox-to-Netflix series Lucifer follows the exploits of a “retired” Devil (Tom Ellis) opening an L.A. nightclub and helping local police solve crimes—it helps if you don’t think about it too hard. Despite its cop-show trappings, Lucifer mixes devilish comedy and heavy drama seamlessly, and Ellis plays the best Satan since South Park’s.

Mutant X (Seasons 1-3 on Roku Channel)

A year after X-Men cracked the superhero code in 2000, Marvel and Canada produced a blatant rip-off, er, “unrelated property,” syndicated TV series Mutant X. Super-powered beings who look great in leather—what’s the deal with all the leather, anyway?—fight evil and search for fellow mutants while avoiding government capture and 20th Century Fox lawsuits.

The Gifted
(Seasons 1-2 on Hulu)

A better, more legal TV take on X-Men arrived in 2017 with Fox’s The Gifted, which focuses on younger mutants struggling to control their powers and a normie society that’s determined to snuff them out. The Gifted only dabbles in action and flash, focusing more on characters like Polaris (Emma Dumont) who get little play in the X-Men screen universe.

Legion
(Seasons 1-2 on Hulu)

Showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, the TV version) took an already-surreal Marvel Comics X-Men series about the psychologically damaged mutant son of Charles Xavier (Dan Stevens) and turned it into a Pink Floyd acid trip of a TV show. Yet somehow, it’s the most intimate and heartbreaking corner of X-World. Legion is the ultimate cure for superhero burnout.

Night Man
(Seasons 1-2 on Roku Channel)

No, not the enemy of the Day Man from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—this Night Man is a Malibu Comics character who got his own TV series that lasted for two stupid years in the ’90s. Jazz saxophonist Johnny Domino (Matt McColm) is struck by lightning and suddenly has the power to “hear” evil—like Daredevil, but with shitty musical taste. So bad it’s … still bad.

Did you miss Dryuary, the annual self-imposed month of abstaining from alcohol? Yeah, me, too—hard.

Entering the New Year sober is an admirable, if misguided, practice. The best way to assess the upcoming 12 months of floating adrift on a shit barge in an ocean of uncertainty is with a drink or two in hand. Make mine a double vodka with a melatonin chaser.

February, aka “Sobruary” (still workshopping a “sober” title), is a far better month in which to eschew the booze. For one, it’s shorter; secondly, it’s not as long. Don’t try to tell me that liquor affects cognition, you no-drinkin’ squares.

In that spirit, here are eight series that deal with the concept of sobriety to stream in February while sucking down shaky tumblers of club soda.


Flaked (Seasons 1–2 on Netflix)

In underappreciated 201617 Netflix series Flaked, allegedly recovering alcoholic and Venice Beach knockabout Chip (Will Arnett) chugs wine from a “kombacha” jug, lies to his A.A. compatriots and sleeps with clueless women half his age— redemption is only a Pavement song away. Bonus: Flaked was apparently filmed entirely through an exquisite sunset Instagram filter.


Mom
(Seasons 1–6 on
Hulu)

As much as TV critics hated Flaked, they love CBS sitcom Mom—probably because of the non-sociopathic characters, so predictable.

Despite its hacky laugh-tracked setting, Mom (which stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney as formerly estranged, newly sober daughter and mother, respectively) tackles dark material, addiction and beyond, consistently hilariously. It’s also dirty as fuck.

Loudermilk (Seasons 1–2 on DirecTV Now)

Sam Loudermilk (Ron Livingston) is a former alcoholic and, even worse, former rock critic, who’s prone to rants against modern culture and rumpled flannel shirts. He also runs a recovery group and lives with two sketchy ex-addicts (Will Sasso and Anja Savcic). Sounds like a downer, but Loudermilk is sneakily funny and smart, with dashes of heart and of High Fidelity music nerdiness.

Maron (Seasons 1–4 on Netflix)

Speaking of cranky, opinionated Gen-Xers with substance-abuse pasts, here’s Maron. Marc Maron’s 2013–16 series is an exaggerated version of his daily life as a comic, podcaster and sober societal pariah—kind of a west coast Curb Your Enthusiasm. Until the dark fourth and final season, that is, when “Marc” relapses spectacularly. Still, it’s easier to watch in retrospect than Louie.

 

Recovery Road (Season 1 on Freeform.com and Freeform app)

At this point, you may be thinking, “What’s with all the olds? Aren’t there any rehab shows about teens?” Here’s one for you, Braxxton: 2016’s Recovery Road about vodka-swigging high-schooler Maddie (Jessica Sula) being forced to do 90 days in a sober living facility. Sula is captivating, and Recovery Road’s writing mostly transcends the usual teen-soap angst. Yep, insta-canceled.

Shameless (Seasons 1–8 on Netflix)

In its early seasons, one of the funniest aspects of America’s Greatest TV Family is their comically casual alcoholism (they’re Irish in the south side of Chicago; it’s sorta-science). It catches up to a few members of the Gallagher clan later as they bottom out and attempt to clean up, making for some heartbreaking drama between the laughs. Shameless USA blows away the U.K. original—fight me.

Intervention (Seasons 1–10 on Hulu; Seasons 1–19 on AETV.com and A&E app)

Sure, it’s exploitative as hell—how else could Intervention last nearly 20 seasons? Families confronting loved ones about their booze-and-drug problems is a natural fit for reality TV, but Intervention also covers addictions to food, gambling, plastic surgery, sex, video games and even exercise. A&E has an evil knack for producing, ahem, addictive reality shows; Intervention is the best/worst of them all.

Celebrity Rehab Season 5

Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew (Seasons 1–6 on Amazon and iTunes)

At least seven subjects of 200812 reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew are no longer abusing alcohol or drugs—because they’re dead, so … success? While Celebrity Rehab’s collective results are a mixed bag, the show did at least provide new insights into the recovery process. On the downside, it also extended the 15 fame minutes of Shifty Shellshock and Crazy Town. For shame, Dr. Drew.

Barack Obama was sworn in as president. The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, passed away. The second-greatest film in cinematic history, Crank 2: High Voltage, was released. Now-decade-old 2009 was an auspicious as fuck year.

That’s not even counting SLUG turning 20, which means 2019 is the year it hits 30, aka barren and unwanted in Utah. Congratulations, and sorry.

TV had a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good 2009, as well. Here are nine iconic-to-obscure shows that debuted 10 years ago to stream while pondering what the hell you’ve done with your life.


Parks & Recreation (Seasons 1–7 on Prime Video and Hulu)

Community—which also premiered on NBC in 2009—may carry more cred with smug culture nerds, but Parks & Recreation is as warm and timeless as a Li’l Sebastian snuggie. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the rest of Pawnee, Indiana’s finest created a bottomless pit of quotable memes over 125 perfect episodes, which are best enjoyed with a chilled tumbler of Snake Juice.

Archer (Seasons 1–8 on Hulu)

There’s no tighter animation voice cast than that of Archer—though star H. Jon Benjamin’s other cartoon, Bob’s Burgers, is close. As international superspy Sterling Archer, HJB has swaggered/drunkenly stumbled through the hilariously profane and shit-talking series with no lessons learned, except for maybe phrasing (wait, are we still doing that?). Better than Bond.

The League (Seasons 1–7 on Hulu)

Fantasy football leagues are monumentally stupid—and addictively bonding. The League illustrated this over seven hysterical seasons following a group of pals who’ll stop at nothing to win The Shiva, the league’s trophy. Sportsball knowledge isn’t required; The League is all about pranks, one-upsmanship and brazenly un-P.C. insult tsunamis. Could not be made in 2019.

Dollhouse (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

An underground company rents out the services of persona-imprinted “Dolls” whose brains are wiped clean after every escort/mission … or are they? Creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku never quite found a clear path for Dollhouse, but it’s fun to watch them sell complex identity sci-fi on TV nearly a decade before Westworld. Somebody give Dushku a new show, now.

Eastbound & Down (Seasons 1–4 on HBO Go)

Washout former Major League Baseball pitcher Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) plots a comeback on the diamond—rules, logic and fashion be damned (could the roots of #MAGA be traced to E&D?). Eastbound & Down rides on the glorious mullet of Kenny Fucking Powers (full name), whose narcissistic journey back to glory is as quasi-inspiring as it is profanely funny.

Nurse Jackie (Seasons 1–7 on Netflix)

During the heyday of the male antihero (think Breaking Bad, Californication, Rescue Me, et al), ex-Sopranos star Edie Falco came out of nowhere as a pill-popping, adulterating, morally ambiguous New York City nurse spinning more sketchy webs than Tony Soprano. It’s a tense drama, but Nurse Jackie also delivers laughs (thanks to breakout co-star Merritt Wever).

Hung (Seasons 1–3 on Prime Video and HBO Go)

Down-and-out high-school basketball coach Ray (Thomas Jane) needs a second job—fortunately, what he lacks in luck (his ex-wife is Anne Heche; ’nuff said), he makes up for in dick. Soon, well-endowed male escort Ray and his pimpstress, Tanya (Jane Adams), are in business, and Hung turns out to be a surprisingly heartwarming comedy—with mucho banging, of course.

United States of Tara (Seasons 1–3 on Hulu)

Writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) took a swing at TV with 2009 Showtime dramedy United States of Tara, starring international treasure Toni Collette. Tara (Collette) is a suburban mom with dissociative identity disorder, a condition that leaves her randomly switching between four wildly different personalities. One of the kids: future Captain Marvel Brie Larsen.

Party Down (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

It’s a cult favorite today, but comedy Party Down—about a group of nobody L.A. actors and writers (including Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott and Jane Lynch) working for a catering biz—was an initial fail. Starz, the “Is Pepsi OK?” of cable, canceled Party Down after 20 episodes, but it holds up far better today than its polar Hollywood opposite, Entourage. Seriously—fuck Entourage.

Who doesn’t like Christmas? OK, let me rephrase that: Who doesn’t like Christmas as experienced with a steady, carefully—and in some states, legally—maintained buzz throughout the final weeks of the year? Your mumbled approval is noted.

Christmas TV shows and movies are an industry unto themselves. What other holiday has so much content churned out in its name? Until the inevitable establishment of Handsome White Jesus Day under decree of President Pence (so, spring-ish), Christmas is the “King of All Media.”

Here are eight oddities in a holly-jolly ocean of Christmas programming to stream over the next few weeks of jingle hell:


Happy! (Season 1 on Netflix, Syfy.com and Syfy app)

Based on the Image comic, Happy! follows ex-cop-turned-alcoholic-assassin Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) and Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a blue cartoon unicorn who needs his help rescuing a little girl kidnapped by … Santa Claus. Violence, insanity and a gonzo-command performance from Meloni ensue. Oh, and it’s by the creators of Crank!

Christmas Evil (Movie on Tubi)

While 1974’s Black Christmas is the original holiday horror flick, 1980’s Christmas Evil took the Kringle carnage to a whole other cult level. A beleaguered toy factory worker (Brandon MaggartFiona Apple’s dad!) has a psychotic break, dons a Santa suit and starts slashing all the way. It was anointed by John Waters as “the greatest Christmas movie ever,” so there.

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus (Movie on YouTube)

In this 1959 Mexican import (which you’ve probably seen heckled on Mystery Science Theater 3000), Santa Claus lives in a space castle with wizards and gods, lording over a child-labor toy sweatshop. Then he has to save Christmas by battling Satan, who’s had enough of Santa’s shit. Santa Claus is tequila-spiked nightmare nog—watch with the kids!

 

 

 

 

The Hebrew Hammer (Movie on Amazon Prime and Tubi)

The Hebrew Hammer (Adam Goldberg), who defends the local Jewish community while dressed like a Hassidic pimp, faces his nastiest villain: Damian, the evil son of Santa Claus, who’s out to destroy Hanukah and Kwanzaa, leaving only Christmas. Upon release in 2003, The Hebrew Hammer promoted holiday unity by offending Jews and Christians equally.

 

 

 

 

A Snow Globe Christmas (Movie on Amazon Prime and Tubi)

Alicia Witt stars as a single, workaholic TV exec who produces holiday movies (how meta) who just doesn’t believe, you guys! When she’s knocked unconscious by a snow globe, she wakes up in the idyllic snow-globe town with a husband, kids and, natch, a guardian angel. Will she go back to her manless/childless TV-exec life? Did she … produce this movie?

 

 

 

 

 

Holly’s Holiday (Movie on Hulu and Tubi)

A big-city advertising exec (Claire Coffee) develops a strange attraction to a holiday window mannequin. When she’s knocked unconscious by a falling icicle, her psychosis redlines, and the handsome dummy comes to her as a real, if personality-free, dude. It’s an only-slightly-creepy Christmas miracle! Executive ladies: Please wear helmets around the holidays.

 

 

 

 

’R Xmas (Movie on YouTube and iTunes)

Drea de Matteo and Ice-T have spent years on TV (she on The Sopranos; he on Law & Order: SVU), but both shined in Abel Ferrara’s 2001 crime flick ’R Xmas. Matteo plays the ballsy wife of a heroin dealer, held for ransom by Ice-T’s thugs. She has to make the money drop and get her kid a sold-out doll by Christmas. It’s like Jingle All the Way, with smack.

 

 

 

 

 

Santa With Muscles (Movie on YouTube)

While hiding out from the cops in a mall-Santa suit (just go with it), a millionaire bodybuilder (Hulk Hogan) hits his head and wakes up believing he really is Claus. Meanwhile, an evil scientist (Ed Begley Jr.) plots to shut down an orphanage in order to grab magic crystals (yep). Spoiler: Santamania saves the day. You’re intrigued, admit it.

Barry

Admit it: You’re dreading the same-old home-for-the-holidays, family Thanksgiving dinner with the same old question, “How’s your job going?” To which you’ll have to mumble the same-old answer between bites of turkey and slugs of Wild Turkey discretely hidden in a Coke Zero can: “You mean my soul-sucking 9-to-eternity corporate Power-Pointed hellscape? Fan-damn-tastic, you MAGA-hatted motherfuckers!”

Now, imagine how cool it would be if you could reply with, “Actually, I’ve embarked upon an exciting new career path as a contract assassin—as you can clearly tell by my white tuxedo and Bentley parked out front. Pass the cranberry sauce?”

Movies tend to paint the life of a hitman as glamorous—TV, not so much. Here are seven killer-for-hire series to stream over turkey sandwiches and 101-proof sodas:


Barry (Season 1 on HBO Now)

Ex-Saturday Night Live square peg Bill Hader struck dramedy gold in the 2018 debut season of Barry, wherein he plays a skilled but disillusioned hitman who discovers his “calling” to be an actor while infiltrating a middling improv-comedy troupe (aren’t they all?). Barry’s sweetly absurd to brutally bloody shifts are masterful, as is Hader’s performance.

 

 

 

 


Killing Eve (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes)

Like Hader, longtime ensemble player Sandra Oh blew away all dramatic preconceptions in 2018’s Killing Eve. As brilliant MI5 agent Eve, she’s left alone to pursue her “crazy” theory that a European serial assassin is a woman, and soon develops a mutual obsession with daft fashionista executioner Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Smart, twisty and utterly unexpected.

 

 

 

 


Mr. Inbetween (Season 1 on FX Now)

Good year for assassins: Australian import Mr. Inbetween premiered quietly in late September 2018, starring unlikely leading man (and show creator) Scott Ryan as blue-collar killer Ray Shoesmith. He’s a blunt object of a man who does dirty deeds for shady characters, like a trailer-park Ray Donovan—but he’s also a sympathetic family man. A short but addictive series.

 

 

 

 


The Americans (Seasons 1–6 on Amazon Prime)

Maybe you’ve heard of this one: Russian spies Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) are embedded in 1980s Washington D.C., posing as a married couple by day and pulling off hits (and a dazzling array of wigs) by night. The Americans gets deeper and darker from there, and its 2013–18 run cemented its rep as one of TV’s greats. Sound familiar now?

 

 

 

 


Nikita (Seasons 1–4 on Netflix)

The CW’s 2010–13 Nikita was different from ’90s cable series La Femme Nikita in that it wasn’t a broody slog—and even more unlike the various Nikita movies in that it didn’t suck. Junkie-turned-assassin Nikita is hell-bent on destroying Division, the shadow government agency that made her, and star Maggie Q sells the action and the pathos with smoldering ferocity.

 

 

 

 


Good Behavior (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

Grifter Letty Dobesh (Michelle Dockery, miles from Downton Abbey) is fresh out of prison and low on prospects when she hooks up with a hottie hitman (Juan Diego Botto) who’ll obviously derail her already shaky plans for getting straight. Good Behavior is a Southern-fried crime noir that doesn’t always play out as expected, and Dockery and Botto are a magnetic Bonnie & Clyde.

 

 

 

 


Cleaners (Seasons 1–2 on Sony Crackle)

Obscure 2013–14 series Cleaners takes ’90s Quentin Tarantino rip-off films, says “hold my vodka-soda,” and vacuum-packs every QT cliché into a tight, sexploitation-lite series. Hitwomen Veronica (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Roxie (Emily Osment) are crossed by their boss (Gina Gershon); gunplay, squealing tires and snark ensue. No overthinking allowed.

Metalocalypse

After Zeptember comes Rocktober—not, repeat, not, Trucktober or any other “-tober” extrapolation. Those are consume/market-mind-control operations perpetuated by the Deep State government (aka the alien lizard people who run the planet). If you listened to my short-wave radio show, you’d know this already.

Anyway, the scripted rock n’ roll TV series has been attempted many a time, but few ever crack the two-season mark—which makes sense because rock then goes on for an interminable amount time just devolves into “progressive” or “jam” (both also evil creations of the lizard people)—no one needs that.

Here are 11 rock n’ roll series to stream in honor of Rocktober.


Metalocalypse

Metalocalypse (Seasons 1–4 on Amazon and iTunes)

One of the rare, if not only, exceptions to the two-season rule. Brendon Small’s Metalocalypse thrashed on Adult Swim from 2006 t0 2013, chronicling the exploits of death metal superstars Dethklok. The band members may be morons, but they rule the world and throw down insanely brutal grooves that concert attendees only occasionally survive. The heaviest show ever.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu)

Denis Leary’s 2015–16 comedy, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, is the Spinal Tap–esque tale of The Heathens, a notoriously volatile ’90s rock band who released their debut album and broke up on the same day. Twenty-odd years later, they reform with the help of Leary’s young rocker daughter (Elizabeth Gillies); egomaniacal hilarity ensues. SDRR isn’t a thinker, but it is rock n’ roll.

Vinyl (Season 1 on HBO Go and Amazon)

One-season wonder Vinyl presented a skewed dramatization of New York’s ’70s rock scene that didn’t quite nail the take—even with Martin Scorsese, Terrance Winter and Mick Jagger producing, it wasn’t excessive enough. It’s still a fun ride, though, with faux New York Dolls and Velvet Underground stand-ins and glimpses of the Boogie Nights greatness that could have been.

Flight of the Conchords (Seasons 1-2 on HBO Go and Amazon)

After 22 perfect episodes between 2007–09, New Zealanders Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie quit their loosely autobiographical HBO series Flight of the Conchords because writing music and comedy was too much work—what do you people expect of a musical comedy duo? Kanye West could only dream of creating a jam like “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros.”

Garfunkel & Oates (Season 1 on Amazon)

Comedy duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci’s 2014 IFC series, Garfunkel & Oates, was sold short on arrival as a “female Flight of the Conchords,” which doesn’t do it justice. G&O is also dirty AF, not to mention educational: “The Loophole” teaches young girls that anal sex is cool with Jesus, while “Weed Card” should be an anthem for medical marijuana. Women ahead of their time.

Roadies (Season 1 on Amazon)

It should have worked: Cameron Crowe’s (Almost Famous) 2016 tribute to the rock n’ roll lifestyle of touring starred Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Luis Guzmán and Imogen Poots, featured drop-ins by Eddie Vedder, Lindsey Buckingham, Jim James and Gary Clarke Jr.—and it all … went nowhere. Roadies mostly corrected its rom-com vs. rock course over 10 episodes, but it was then too late.

The Get Down

The Get Down (Seasons 1-2 on Netflix)

While not as much of a mess as Vinyl, Baz Luhrmann’s 2016–17 musical history tour The Get Down is about the rise of hip-hop in the ’70s, which still suffers from being a bit much (because Baz Luhrmann). After a bloated debut episode, it gets waaay better and redeems itself over 10 subsequent hours, and the music is undeniably fantastic. I lament the coulda-been ’80s season.

Major Lazer (Season 1 on Hulu)

Major Lazer—a gonzo cartoon series that’s a mash-up of ’80s-style animation (think He-Man and G.I Joe), superhero culture, hip-hop and electronic dance music—that premiered on the then-obscure FXX’s even-more-obscure late-night ADHD animation block in 2015. Like the musical group it’s vaguely based on, Major Lazer is best experienced on quality drugs for maximum euphoria.

Dead Last (Season 1 on YouTube)

In 2001, The WB (known these days as The CW) launched and aborted a supernatural-comedy series about a struggling bar band who stumbled upon the power to talk to ghosts—and then help them cross over from this realm. Yeah. Still, Dead Last’s Scooby-Doo charm and dark humor (the band doesn’t give a shit about the ghosts—they just wanna rock) is worth a YouTube binge.

Z Rock (Seasons 1–2 on Hoopla)

One of the more “WTF?” series in IFC’s “WTF?” history, 2008’s Z Rock followed the fictionalized hijinx of real-life Brooklyn power trio, ZO2. By night, they were aspiring rock stars; by day, they were a children’s party band. ZO2 were apparently connected, with guests like Dave Navarro, Dee Snider, Gilbert Gottfried, Steel Panther and dozens more making hilarious cameos. But still, WTF?

Yacht Rock (Season 1 on YouTube)

In the mid-2000s, hipsters and music snobs alike were held rapt by Yacht Rock, a 12-episode mockumentary tribute to ’70s/’80s SoCal, soft rock. Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, Toto, The Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, The Eagles, and even Van Halen are recreated (intentionally terribly) here. Despite the grainy 2005 resolution, Yacht Rock is still vitally important. Just ask Weezer.

The back-to-school time of year is special to people—not me but, you know, other people. The kind of people who still have high-school graduation tassels hanging from their rearview mirrors, or still refer to their college ball teams as “we” and “us,” or whine incessantly about still-not-paid-off student loans.

Essentially, the kind of people who cause me to ponder the potential real-life benefits of The Purge.

But just because school and those who love school suck doesn’t mean that there’s no value in school-based TV shows. Here are nine—well, eight plus one dishonorable mention—series to stream in the spirit of back to school:


Daria (Seasons 1–5 on Hulu)

Everything from the dissonant opening chords of theme song “You’re Standing on My Neck” to news-show-within-the-show Sick, Sad World still feels fresh-ish, as perpetually unimpressed high-schooler Daria Morgandorffer sighed for our myriad D-U-M-B sins. With smart social observations and sharp execution (if not great animation), the 1997–2002 MTV series remains the school-daze gold standard.

 

 

 

 


Clone High (Season 1 on iTunes and Google Play)

Another inspired—but quickly canceled—MTV production, 2002–03’s Clone High satirized teen dramas though the animated angst of the young clones of Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra and John F. Kennedy. In particular, Clone High played like a better-written take on Dawson’s Creek. Unfortunately, India really didn’t appreciate the show’s depiction of Mahatma Gandhi, and MTV nixed a second season.

 

 


Bad Teacher (Season 1 on Crackle)

For reasons known to no one, CBS produced a TV version of the 2011 Cameron Diaz film Bad Teacher in 2014—and then gave up on it after three episodes. Too bad, because Diaz replacement Ari Graynor (currently of Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here) was a far more appealing lead as a dumped trophy wife forced into elementary-school work, and this Bad Teacher was more often funnier than the movie.

 

 

 


Teachers (Seasons 1–3 on Amazon and iTunes)

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why is there no all-female Super Troopers set in an elementary school?” you’re just fucked-up enough to appreciate Teachers, a cult comedy that’s been flying under the radar on cable since 2016. Six-woman improv troupe The Katydids (their first names are all variations on “Katherine”) take Broad City’s vanity-free pursuit of way-inappropriate laughs to another, gonzo level.

 

 

 


Freaks & Geeks (Season 1 on Netflix)

Journalism law states that any article about school-set TV shows must include 1999–2000 NBC series Freaks & Geeks (and occasionally producer, Judd Apatow’s follow-up, Undeclared). In a single, revered season, F&G played like an 18-hour indie flick that captured early-’80s adolescence perfectly, and launched the careers of Seth Rogan, Linda Cardellini and countless others (including Dave Franco’s brother).

 

 


21 Jump Street (Seasons 1–5 on Amazon)

The Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill movies are funny, but they’re nothing compared to the hilarity of watching the original 1987–91 Fox cop drama and knowing that Johnny Depp & Co. were taking this shit dead seriously. Sure, 21 Jump Street addressed teen issues from AIDS to alcoholism, set to a killer soundtrack, but the undercover high-schooler shtick was stoopid from the—wait for it—jump.

 

 

 


My So-Called Life (Season 1 on Hulu)

The 1994–95 series that gave the world Claire Danes and, for better or worse, Jared Leto only lasted for 19 episodes, but My So-Called Life (a sooo ’90s title) took on teen issues like no show before it. MSCL treated teenagers like humans, didn’t portray adults as buzzkills, and offered story perspectives from all, an approach that subliminally influenced everything from The West Wing to (!) The O.C.

 

 

 


Riverdale (Seasons 1–2 on Netflix)

Without warning, The CW’s Gossip Girl–meets–Twin Peaks Archie Comics mutation, Riverdale, arrived in 2017 as a ridiculous, ready-to-rumble romp. The gang’s all here: a ripped-but-sensitive Archie, a broody Jughead, a jittery Betty, and a smarter-than-the-room Veronica, throwing shade and pop-culture references with hyperbolic glee (not Glee—those kids wouldn’t stand a chance at Riverdale High).

 

 

 


Saved By the Bell (Seasons 1–5 on Hulu)

Funny or Die’s referential web series Zack Morris is Trash doesn’t go far enough: Everybody on Saved By the Bell is trash. The wrongly beloved 1989–93 series introduced the misogynistic hellscape of Bayside High, where Zack harasses, dupes and manipulates teachers and classmates—and, most horrifically in hindsight, his female “friends.” No one acted, so all are to blame—including you, Gen X.

 

 

 


 

Due South

We all have friends—mostly on Facebook, the whiniest of all social-media platforms—who have been threatening to “move to Canada!” for almost two years now. They haven’t, they won’t, and they’re certainly not going to shut up aboot it.

Too bad, because Canada has far more to offer than brutal hockey, legal weed and free healthcare: they also have some damned fine TV in the Great White North. Some of it can even be viewed down here in the Formerly Great and Still Mostly White South—in fact, you may already be watching some Canuck shows and not be aware of it. The moose’s nose in the tent, eh.

Crack a Molson and stream these eight Canadian TV series while you’re filling out your passport application!


Letterkenny (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

Neckless redneck Wayne (series creator Jared Keeso), his buds and cavalcade of characters fight, drink and generally laze about in Canada hick town Letterkenny, trading verbally dense rants and takedowns with the hyper-speed virtuosity of an Eddie Van Halen solo (or, to keep it Canadian, Alex Lifeson). Letterkenny is like a flannel-shirted meld of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and a live-action South Park, but also wholly original and a decidedly love-it-or-hate-it donnybrook.

 

 


Trailer Park Boys (Seasons 1–12 on Netflix)

Speaking of hating it, I couldn’t stand Trailer Park Boys at first and nearly avoided Letterkenny due to comparisons. Now … well, I’m not completely sold, but the long-running series does have its charms. The mockumentary about a group of Nova Scotia trailer-park fuckups and their perpetually doomed moneymaking schemes strikes a consistent balance of hilarity and cringe, but, should you find yourself relating to any of these characters, discontinue watching immediately.

 

 

 

 


Schitt’s Creek (Seasons 1–3 on Netflix)

Attention: Schitt’s Creek is not a Netflix original, nor is it even ’Merican. Like Arrested Development à la Canada, Schitt’s Creek pits dumb ex-wealthy folk against small-town rubes for ridiculously funny results: Broke Johnnie and Moira Rose (SCTV comedy treasures Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, respectively) are forced to live in a hotel in the dump town of Schitt’s Creek, which they once purchased as a joke. More so than Arrested D, Schitt’s Creek is also a stealth heart-warmer.

 

 


Orphan Black (Seasons 1–5 on Amazon)

Attention: Cult sci-fi series Orphan Black isn’t British—it’s another Canadian production. A small-time criminal (Tatiana Maslany) assumes the identity of a dead police detective she eerily resembles, only to learn she’s a clone and that there are more cloned versions of herself out there. Then it gets crazy. Orphan Black plays outside of its genre as an engrossing, personal drama, and Maslany’s performance—multiple distinct performances, to be exact—is stunning.

 

 


Mary Kills People (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)

Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas has starred in U.S. series like Wonderfalls and Hannibal, but Mary Kills People is the first to fully realize her oddly chilly-sexy potential. Dr. Mary Harris (Dhavernas) kills people—specifically, those who are terminally ill and want to go out on their own terms. Her secret Angel of Death gig spills over into her life, echoing dark-side classics like Weeds and Dexter. Dhavernas’ complex Mary is a near equal to Nancy Botwin and Dexter Morgan.

 

 

 


Due South (Seasons 1–4 on Amazon)

Due South

The setup for 1994–99 crime dramedy Due South was weird, even in the decade that spawned Cop Rock. Canadian Mountie Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) relocates to Chicago with his trusty sidekick Diefenbaker (a deaf wolf-dog hybrid) to find his father’s murderer, and solves cases-of-the-week with a local detective. Gross’ cartoonish good-guy routine delivers the laughs, but Due South also had a dark underbelly in line with grittier-era cop dramas like Wiseguy—and it still holds up.

 

 

 


The Kids in the Hall (Seasons 1–5 on Amazon)

Along with American series Mr. Show with Bob & David, Canada’s The Kids in the Hall defined subversive sketch comedy in the late ’80s and early ’90s, leaning heavier in the surreal, cross-dressing direction of Monty Python. KITH featured five equally-brilliant improvisers, all of whom still show up regularly in movies and TV today, including Scott Thompson—a rare, openly gay comic at the time, who owned it to full effect. See also: The Kids’ 1996 cult-classic flick, Brain Candy.

 

 

 

 


SCTV (Seasons 1–6 on Amazon)

An offshoot of Toronto’s Second City sketch-comedy troupe, SCTV was a quiet contemporary of the original (read: dangerous) Saturday Night Live. It launched in 1976 in Canadian and U.S. TV syndication. SCTV was on fire in the early ’80s as SNL was flaming out, making stars of John Candy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and the aforementioned Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, eventually creating 135 episodes of all-killer/little-filler comedy anarchy. See also: 1986 uber-Canadian SCTV spin-off movie Strange Brew—the Citizen Kane of beer-and-donuts conspiracy thrillers.