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The 15 Best Shows On Every Network Right Now: HBO, Showtime, Hulu, And Netflix

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The Best TV the Networks Have To Offer Us Right Now

Call it the New Golden Age of TV, or simply call it something worthwhile to do at night. Whatever name it finally gets, it comes down to this: TV is good these days.

Not only that, there's plenty of it, and though Netflix gets all the attention, let's not forget that there's more than Netflix and chill — there TV networks and streaming services like Hulu, HBO, Showtime... feature films, series, specials, documentaries... stuff only certain people like, and stuff only other people like.

What's real is this: TV-watching is a great pastime, and if you still can't find anything to watch at this point in the game, you seriously don't have your TV on.

We're not just talking about good ol' standards or classics we've been watching for years; we're talking original productions, created for the network itself. We're talking thoughtful, mindful, enlightened writing. We're talking heady, revealing plots and top notch actors giving us the roles of their lifetimes. Let's just say that the bar has been raised so high now in the world of television entertainment, and the supremely talented have risen to the occasion.

I don't love everything, and while I may be the only person on earth who loves Bird Box but hates Stranger Things, I'm open to just about anything, if I find it above par, well-written and acted. There's so much great TV out there, right now.

Here are a couple of quick reviews for the best TV shows we can find on several of the great networks.

RELATED: The 15 Best Shows And Movies On Amazon Prime Right Now


1. The Affair (series)

After season 3 left me a bit disinterested and beaten down, I was hesitant to proceed, and yet I plunged back into those Fiona Apple-scented waters once again, only to find myself riveted to the screen. Whatever they did to lose our interest in the boring season 3, they made up for in season 4.

I haven't found myself thinking, contemplating or investigating the meaning of life like this since watching Six Feet Under many years ago. This season takes on so much, and, yes, while it's tedious to watch the same couples having sex again and again, they're finally doing more than having sex; they're thinking, dying, having cancer, growing.

This season brings thoughtful plot lines that we can all relate to, not to mention true tears and incredibly thought-provoking self-reflection.

2. The Loudest Voice (mini series)

If Russell Crowe doesn't get every Emmy in the book, then rig the vote and get him elected! Truthfully, his performance as Fox News creator, Roger Ailes, is frightening. Crowe finally has his accent down — no more Aussie-tinged bad Brooklyn accents.

The man did his homework. His portrayal of Ailes is one of a massive brut, a misogynistic bully of a monster who terrorizes anyone who doesn't go along with him. It's in the character that we come to realize how such a thing as Trump got to be president. Roger Ailes and Fox News made him.

Crowe is masterpiece material here, though his portrayal of Ailes is a far cry from his Oscar-winning character, Maximus the Gladiator.

3. City on a Hill (series)

I've made it a point to watch anything Kevin Bacon does. Why? Because not only is he a great actor, he chooses well. And even though he tends to play cops a lot, his cops are always part of a very different kind of story. See The Following if you really want to experience Bacon in a Hannibal-like scenario of weirdness.

City on a Hill has Bacon, once again, as a cop, though his "Jackie" is quite the slime ball. How do you make a slime cop into an interesting, fascinating and somewhat sympathetic character? You hire Kevin Bacon to bring the nuance, style, flair and ultimate personality.


4. The Handmaid's Tale (series)

This show requires patience. It's slow, frustrating, teasing, and an ultimate set-up. There is one constant thought that goes on while watching, and that is, "When are they going to rebel already?"

If you've ever doubted male entitlement and ultra-misogyny before, you will probably be more offended than you ever thought possible after watching only one episode. This show is incendiary, and if there has ever been a call out to women to rise up against the patriarchy, oh, girl, this is the show.

This anti-Utopian vision of color-coded females who are made into breeding slaves at the hands of men is enough to put misandry on the map, permanently.

5. Border (movie)

It's not every day that you get to experience a film like this, nor is it every day that you get to see Trolls having sex in the woods, and, yes, this is the weird and wonderful story of two other kinds of beings — namely, Trolls. Oh, they pass as humans... somewhat, but when Trolls find each other, things take a turn.

Seems Trolls have feelings too, and histories, and family tragedies. Not only that, they fall in love and experience heartbreak and torment as well. If you want to see a once in a lifetime type of film, then please make time for Border. It's special and it's worth watching.

6. The Riches (series)

It's an older show, one that was cancelled right before the ending was written due to the Writer's Strike of Several Years Ago. To see this show up in Hulu's recommended list was shocking, and it was something that pleased me so much that I can't wait to watch this again, ending or not. (Spoiler: There is no ending, it just stops mid-second season. Should you watch this anyway? Oh my God, yes.)

One doesn't realize the scope of Eddie Izzard's talent until one witnesses the many, many things he can do, and as Mr. Rich, the patriarch of a Traveler Family of con artists and thieves, he's spectacular. He and his family of con artists make their way around the country, fooling people, usurping others, stealing here and there, and living the very high life... accidentally.

This show is brilliant, hilarious, entertaining and a crying shame that it has no real ending...but worth watching anyway!

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7. Big Little Lies (series)

I'd have to say that the follow up season was a bit slow and somewhat dull and anti-climactic; however, there is absolutely nothing negative one can say about Meryl Streep's performance as the passive-aggressive monster mother-in-law to Nicole Kidman's character.

Wow, Streep manages to control her eyes in such a way that you honestly believe she's one zillion percent malicious, underneath her victimized, poor-little-me attitude. She's hateful and amazing.

Laura Dern is over the top; a parody of the screeching rich woman who's been wronged. Zoe Kravitz is good but dull as dull gets, and Kidman is, as always, great, though it's distracting to look at her face. Too much botox? Strange contact lenses? I'll never know.

One spoiler alert here: the end, where they're all walking into the police station? They'd never do that. I don't buy that ending at all.

8. Boy Erased (movie)

Here's a good one no one would ever see unless you were cruising the networks for some goody. Another Russell Crowe film, with Nicole Kidman again... and this one is all about conversion therapy. You know, the crap Evangelicals try to pass off as real help for their children when their children are homosexuals.

This movie shows it all and it's horrifying. Crowe and Kidman raise a son. He's gay, they try to convert him and it doesn't work. So, the son, who turns out to be a great writer, blabs it all to The New York Times where it's printed, noted and made famous. Once again, the expression comes to mind: Never screw a writer.

9. Gentleman Jack (series)

It's 1832, you're born to a merchant family in Yorkshire, England, you've got an incredible head for business... and you're a lesbian. Anne Lister, the character portrayed by the rather handsome actress, Suranne Jones, takes charge in this role, and the derogatory name, Gentleman Jack, while sort of cool and slick, refers to what lesbians were called back then.

Anne lives up to the fantasy by wearing the most incredible outfits, mainly male attire, and seducing many women, all of whom fall for her like leaves from a tree on an Autumn day. She walks briskly through town, commands respect, and gets it, though she still can't prevent her own heart from breaking when it comes to love and romance.

10. Succession (series)

I have not watched this in its entirely as of yet, but so far, I'm completely riveted to the screen. There's something about the choices Brian Cox makes when it comes to the projects he works on that lets everyone know it's going to be tough, abrasive and sensitive. This actor sets the tone as the head of a global media family, and "ruthless" is their modus operandi.

It's a deep story about family ties, family resentments, power plays and expectations. It's a pressure-filled tale of angst and personal power, and it's all about the performances here. I can't wait to dig into the episodes I have not yet seen.


11. Black Mirror (series)

Okay, thanks for the three big episodes, Black Mirror. Is this the future of the TV series, with only three episodes per season, especially after this particular series grabbed us all up and decided to own us all forever? Fine, be that way.

What do we have this time around? Well, it was worth the wait and the complaining. It was worth it to see the first episode of the new season, "Striking Vipers." Anything to do with video games makes me leave the room, and this one was all about video games and becoming utterly absorbed in them.

"Striking Vipers" is about two straight men who meet as male and female characters in a virtual reality game. They have sex in the game, fall in love and become conflicted about their sexuality (both are married men). They meet in real life, kiss (to see if anything could indeed be aroused), and realize they can only love each other as characters in the game, where, they eventually wish to live permanently, because fantasy is better than reality. 

It's a statement on love and how we choose to love people based on standard, programmed human behavior. The other two episodes? I think they were there, and there was something with Miley Cyrus (whom I do like), but I have to admit, it was super-boring.

12. How to Get Away with Murder (series)

This is where Netflix reigns supreme. You might not have seen this brilliant series on regular network TV; many of us have drifted strictly to Netflix for our television viewing. Don't miss this one, folks.

Let's put it this way: Five seasons of Annalise Keating, which means something like 75 episodes of having the honor and privilege of watching Viola Davis act. This show goes deep into the world of law and proves that if there is one truly diabolical profession to have, it's in being a prosecuting attorney.

Do they always get away with murder? You'll have to watch to find out.

13. Ali Wong, Baby Cobra (stand up comedy show)

Let's just put it this way: she's about as raw and vulgar as it can possibly get, and you will more than likely end up peeing in your pants watching her in action. Pregnant and relentless, this tiny person with the big ol' belly seems to be absolutely fearless when it comes to saying the raunchiest things possible.

She knows she's getting to you, making you feel a bit uncomfortable, but she never relents; she's the kind of comedienne that really pushes buttons, and as a feminist, she's dead serious when it comes to naming names and pointing fingers. This girl knows what she's doing, and I suspect we're going to be seeing her for years and years to come.

14. The Family (documentary mini series)

If you've ever wondered about the Evangelical push behind the government, your answer is can be found in this series. This is an eye-opening reveal here, and it's as insidious as it is powerful.

How it works is as such: There is no Bible, there is only Jesus. The Family, comprised of men only, have removed what they need from the Bible: the words of Jesus, and they follow His words only. In order to spread the word of Jesus, they need powerful leaders to do this work, so this family of Evangelical men seek out potential leaders in the form of politicians. The point? To spread the word of Jesus on a grand scale.

This, of course, is pure arrogance; however, there is no politician of great power out there today who isn't in cahoots with The Family. Oh, the ways of Jesus may be about love and peace, but for The Family, it's His way or the Highway, and if little things like murder, bribe, conspiracy or another religion gets in the way of the Holy Agenda, then it gets mowed over.

This is great stuff, this series, and makes for good companion watching after one sees The Loudest Voice on Showtime.

15. Dear White People (series)

My daughter had this on and I asked her if it was any good, and she said it was excellent, so I gave it a go. She's right, it's excellent. And as you may have guessed, it's quite impactful and on point. It's not the berating session you might imagine; white people might actually learn from such a show if they're open to it.

This is a series that shows real life situations, how these situations work against black and brown people, and how the system is continuously rigged for the benefit of white people. It's not harsh or judgmental, it's a comedy with wit, and it's poignant enough for the viewer to walk away enlightened and curious. Total recovery with this one, folks.

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Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an essayist and a journalist, she can be read in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, YourTango, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, More Magazine, XOJane, MyDaily and The Stir. Her art books ‘Beauty’, ‘Antler Velvet’, and 'Mads Mikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor' are all available on Amazon.

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