20 Best TV Shows (And Movies!) To Watch On Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime & HBO During Winter 2020

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20 Best TV Shows (And Movies!) To Watch On Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime & HBO During Winter 2020
Entertainment And News

Remember when we'd sit in silent judgement of a person who was a little too into television? As if sitting at home watching TV meant you're a loser, or, better yet, you're so unattractive that your only lover is the TV screen? We certainly have changed since then, haven't we?

Every time someone says something like, "I hate Netflix... they don't have anything good," I think to myself, "Then you haven't looked." Because the truth is, between Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Amazing Prime, there's plenty of choices for the best movies and TV shows. 

There's a glut of absolutely fantastic programming available to us now. If you can't find something to watch, you are spoiled beyond recognition, because there's always something to watch.

I've gone pretty nuts this winter, and I'd more than likely be certifiable if it weren't for my winter excursion into television. This is what I've seen: some good, some not so good, and some excellent and even life-changing.

When it comes to the best TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO, these 20 shows and movies are just what you need for your winter entertainment.

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1. Chance on Hulu

Getting to watch the glorious Hugh Laurie do anything is a treat, but to watch him play a doctor, again, is like having a second chance at House. He's not quite House, but not too far from it either. This is a slow-burn crime-drama, and the transformation of the lead character is steady but clever.

Chance is about a forensic psychologist (Eldon Chance) who falls for one of his patients and ends up in a very dark, dangerous web of deceit. Actor Ethan Suplee makes a very impressive warrior/antique furniture restorer who teaches and inspires Dr. Chance to work on his own warrior skills. This young actor has really created a unique and meaningful character in his portrayal of D. It has a great cast including Clarke Peters, Gretchen Mol and Paul Adelstein.

2. You on Netflix

I, like everyone else who might watch You, decided to do it because of Gossip Girl, and though Dan Humphrey was the worst character on the show, it seemed fit to envision his as a murderer, which is what I'd heard the show was about. My daughter was enjoying it, and I overheard bits that sounded truly terrifying and psycho. I was curious, and an instant binge-session began.

Penn Badgely is an oddity. At once he appears as handsome, elite, and in the next he's depraved, skanky, vile, a repulsive turn-off. He, however, is the focal point of You, and "You" are his object of interest — a dangerous thing to be. And, honestly, it's got the same kind of savvy as Gossip Girl with its NYC vibe.

This show is dark — way darker than you might have signed on for, but if you love psycho-thriller like Hannibal, you'll love You.

3. The Outsider on HBO

That is some weird stuff going on over there on The Outsider. Dark in tone and darker in subject, one really has to wonder why Stephen King is always writing about kids who get killed. That's no spoiler — that's how it starts.

Something has invaded this town and its families. An invisible thing is undermining and possessing people, who are all being led on a chase for the... monster? There's a bit of gore in this series, as we await what it is that bears the title name, The Outsider. What or who is the outsider?

It takes patience to watch this darkly filmed, blue-green toned series, but it really convinces you that you have to find out what's going to happen to all these miserable people, and holy smokes they sure are miserable.

4. Avenue 5 on HBO

Who knew we could want it so goofy, and yet one round of Avenue 5, the silliest show on HBO right now, lets us know just how badly we want good old stupid comedy. Hugh Laurie plays the Captain of an enormous spaceship, carrying thousands of passengers for an extended voyage around the cosmos. There are a few catches to come, but what first seems to be silly and maybe not worth continuing with if it weren't for Hugh Laurie, turns out to be something almost as wholesome as Star Trek, which it reminds me of.

Avenue 5 brings up meaningful questions, such as: is the poop on a space ship that's carrying thousands of humans for several years let out into space? Stay tuned and you'll also find out what happens when people die. Silly laughs, feels very 1970s, memorable characters and episode names.

5. What We Do in the Shadows on Hulu

Knowing that Jermaine Clement wasn't in it made me pause before diving into this most hilarious mockumentary series; however, and to my surprise, What We Do in the Shadows is just as nutty and gothic as the movie it's based on.

Imagine a bunch of ancient vampires all having to deal with life on Staten Island. I'd like to say there's a premise or a plot, but it's basically just a faux reality TV show that follows the trials and tribulations of a few really strange, awkward, homely old vampires through their nightly experiences.

It's so funny, but the humor is specific; you have to enjoy ethnic humor. Very tongue in cheek, so much more than teeth on neck.

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6. Castle Rock on Hulu

What a snore on season 2. Yes, I was really happy to know that I'd get to see the earlier life and times of Annie Wilson, the world's greatest fan, but it's just taking too dang long to get anywhere. I admire the choices the lead actress makes (Lizzy Caplan), but there's just so much of that big-eyed lunatic stare.

I get that she's trying to do a mini-Kathy Bates imitation, but the storyline just isn't holding up for me. Now, the first season with Bill Skarsgard was fantastic. Also slow and grueling, but at least there was some supernatural terror to it. Season 2 is trying too hard to be Misery's Beginning, and it could be great, it's just... not.

7. Into the Dark on Hulu

Bravo to any media experience that brings in the Twilight Zone style of storytelling. Into the Dark hits and misses, but mostly hits. I would say that the storytelling is a bit naive, as is the filmmaking in this. 

It's as if they're going for a Black Mirror/Twilight Zone vibe, and that's actually a pretty lofty standard to aspire to. Dark tales told, mostly murderous, somewhat kooky, very corny, but good. 

8. Room 104 on HBO

This is one that everyone passes up simply because word of mouth never went viral. Room 104 is one of those things you find when you're seriously out of things to watch, and bored of all the choices before you. It's a chance you take, and if you happen to dig David Lynch or Twilight Zone, or old fashioned horror short stories, this will definitely appeal to you.

Every episode takes place in Room 104, and after a while, you start to feel the accumulation of events that have taken place in this one motel room. Fabulous episodes to watch out for: "Night Shift," "Crossroads" and "The Specimen Collector," which are the last three episodes of season 2.

No huge name actors in this, but it's got a nice, underground feel to it. It wants to be cheap, and that makes a great backdrop for the nastiness that occurs in Room 104.

9. Emergence on Hulu

I just can't stay away from AI! Artificial Intelligence is the topic of the future, and it's gaining traction right now. Emergence is the story of one such artificially intelligent little girl, who is really a fleshly computer. She's rescued from a car accident by a nurturing female cop who takes her in, not knowing she's an actual robot.

Naturally, as expected, this causes a meltdown over at the robot maker's crib, and what starts out as a really cool cop drama turns into a tech-based event that is reminiscent of Fringe. This is a great series and all the actors in it are phenomenal. If you like the idea of humans eventually becoming "hubots," then this one is for you.

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10. Manifest on Hulu

Why did I even get into this? Because I just came off a LOST bender and was hungering, thirsting, dying for more of the same. I found Manifest, which has definite similarities: an aircraft takes off and returns five years later. All passengers were assumed dead until one day, voila! They all return, and all those who loved them are pretty darned confused.

Not to mention that the survivors are now scrutinized by the world for whatever took place during those five years, none of which is recalled by the flight members. Each survivor gets "a call" which leads them to some version of saving somebody's life. The world wonders what makes these people so miraculous, and we, the viewers, are still wondering as well. How very, very LOST of them to not explain what's going on.

Still, it's worth watching. I love it.

11. The Good Place on Netflix or Hulu

It's cute, it's kooky, and it's filler space for when you need something lightweight and non-committal to get into. I was riveted at first, and then it became background noise for whatever else I was doing. For me, it's hard to resist anything that deals with life after death in a humorous way, and The Good Place is where it all takes place.

I'm not the biggest fan of this show, but I do think it's worth watching. This is the kind of series that helps with the stress of life; it's lightweight, goofy and completely fictional. The jokes are average and the acting is campy. It's a nice departure from watching CNN all day and night.

12. Marriage Story (Netflix movie)

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson star in this amazing, warm, realistic movie about getting a divorce. Done before? Oh, hell yeah, but not with these actors. It's this kind of thing that's going to nail Adam Driver into the Actor's Hall of Fame.

He's deep, sensitive, and so in character that it's nearly impossible to imagine him as Kylo Ren. But the winning scene is when he's singing at the end, in a piano bar. Wow, who knew Driver was meant for this kind of thing? He'd find a place in a Broadway musical in a New York minute, he's so good.

13. Pose on Netflix

If you haven't watched Pose, then you are out of touch. This is one of the best things ever to hit Netflix — and it's not just drag and laughs, it's a very heartfelt and emotional piece.

Pose takes us into the world of the Ballroom Houses. This show is both historical and fictional, and gives us a real life look at who lives and works in the Houses, how Houses are made, and what goes in once you're in ballroom culture.

Billy Porter makes this show so human and dear, and performances by Dominique Jackson, who plays Elektra Abundance, are the kind we remember for a lifetime. This show is gorgeous, sad, enlightened, radical and needs to go on forever!

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14. What/If on Netflix

Creepy time. Another with no word of mouth. Another that you just have to stumble upon in order to see. Renee Zelweger plays a woman of extreme wealth and power. She's able to make things happen, but, of course, she prefers to control these things and bring the lives of others in. You know, for thrills.

She sets up challenges for her "victims," plays on their selfishness and greed, and gives them the choice to do something terribly awful for a whole lot of money... or deal with the consequences of whatever comes next. It's a control freak series with a great wrap up at the end. I completely recommend it.

15. Ares on Netflix

Holy smokes, I have no idea what this is trying to be, but it's got one thing going for it: it's glorious to look at. I'm one of those people who never really warmed to CGI. If I see a monster on TV, I automatically see the green screen, the computer grids, the whole fake shebang. Some love it; some, like me, hate it.

Ares is a CGI interior design masterpiece that, I believe, has something to do with some elite school for elite and brilliant students. It's like The Magicians with very little plot. Oh yeah, there's a dark thing in the cellar and everyone's afraid of it. I think it's name is Ares. Outside of that, it's pretty to look at.

16. Messiah on Netflix

If you're into watching supersonically gorgeous men play biblical-type messiah figures, then look no further — your gorgeous man of the year is right here, and his name is Mehdi Dehbi. He never really gives his character's name away but after walking on water and having enough charisma to charm the pants off a few countries, we start to take his middle eastern, long-haired, wraith-like appearance seriously.

Ah, yes, it must be the J man... or is it? Messiah never answers your questions, and you're left with a lot of them. It's intriguing and the main question comes up: What if a charming dude who looks like Jesus Christ shows up at the right time in the right place and says he's the Messiah? What do we do?

17. The Stranger on Netflix

Richard Armitage leads the cast in this brilliant series. Nothing is as it seems in this dramatic thriller. Without giving away the plot, as this is rich in plot and intelligence, I can tell you there's murder, mayhem, lies and surprises galore.

In fact, there are such good surprises that it's nearly impossible to review this series. Think: Broadchurch. Mystery and shock. The cast is sublime and Stephen Rea (Interview with a Vampire, V for Vendetta) is in it, which makes everything in the world a little bit better.

18. Dead to Me on Netflix

Funnier than I expected. I went it thinking, "Oh god, it's going to be another mediocre death-oriented fantasy series" but it was no such thing. In fact, it was quite entertaining.

We've got deception, murder, conspiracy and bitter rivalry all delivered to us by Christina Appelgate and Linda Cardellini as the lead actors. It's the story of friendship and adversity, survival and humor. It's not anything like you think, and it's well worth the viewing.

19. A Fall From Grace (Netflix movie)

Tyler Perry means yes, yes, yes. And A Fall From Grace is a yes to me, though I know it didn't go over well with many. Personally, I like the dark weird sets, and the confusion. I also admired the acting a whole lot, with Crystal R. Fox, Cicely Tyson and Phylicia Rashad doing some fine work here.

It has that touch of Tyler Perry terror to it, perhaps without even meaning to, but it's a thoughtful piece that stirs up one's own sense of what is precious, what is fragile, and how we deal with tragic events. Worth the watch.

20. Midsommar on Amazon Prime (movie)

Nothing in the world screams, "Don't Ever Go To Sweden" like this film. I mean, the Swedish board of tourism should do damage control after releasing this to the public. OK, it's slow, it's a little dull, and it's overwhelmingly dreadful. We know something really sick is coming, we can feel it through the first five hours (well, make that first hour but it feels like five).

Just when you know something awful is going to happen, Midsommar out-tops itself in dread and horrifying anticipation as we are taken to a scene where an orgy is taking place inside a barn (never a good place for an orgy, if you ask me). No, I haven't told you the plot because my mind has been permanently damaged by that scene and I forget what else happened. Midsommar is the most disturbing film, along the lines of Hereditary.

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Ruby Miranda is a New Yorker who learned astrology, I Ching and all types of cartomancy and numerology from her crazy, gypsy mother. She currently writes for a wide range of esoteric publications.

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