Netflix and Disney+ aren’t the only game in town when it comes to streaming services in Canada. There is also CraveTV, which has many great shows that are well worth your time. While it may be nowhere near the top of the mountain when it comes to streaming services in the Great White North, CraveTV seems to be holding its own against the juggernaut that is Netflix. In fact, CraveTV is even taking a page from the streaming giant and is now producing its own original content – some of which is terrific. Here is a list of 10 shows that make CraveTV worth having, even if you just want to use your free trial to binge through these excellent series.
Let’s start off with a true classic TV show – Cheers. This series, which spans 271 episodes, is one of the best situation comedies ever produced, and well worth discovering for the first time or revisiting after many years. The show, which revolves around bartender Sam Malone and his patrons of the Cheers bar in Boston is funny, warm, insightful and charming. The writing on this series is particularly great and it is amazing how fresh Cheers feels nearly 25 years after it went off the air. Few new shows today can match Cheers in terms of its sharp writing, comedy timing, and the ensemble cast. All of the elements fuse together so well, it is no wonder that Cheers remains the place “where everybody knows your name.”
9. Orphan Black
Orphan Black is a cult TV show that has a huge following. About a woman who discovers she is a clone, and the conspiracy behind the cloning, Orphan Black offers some truly riveting science fiction. Add in the fact that the clones are being systematically killed off and you’ve got the plot point that leads to a lot of action. And Orphan Black is worth watching for the performance of lead actress Tatiana Maslany alone, who plays the multiple identical clones, each with different and distinct personalities. Not surprising that the actress has won numerous awards for her work on the show. With 5 seasons and 50 episodes produced to date, there is plenty of super addictive content to stream here.
8. The Affair
The Affair is a show that puts a new twist on an old concept of an extramarital affair. This program, which has won heaps of critical praise, explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship on the multiple people involved. In the show, Dominic West (Noah) plays a New York City schoolteacher and budding novelist with a wife of twenty years and four children who ends up having an affair with Ruth Wilson (Alison), who plays a young waitress and wife from Montauk, New York, who is trying to piece her life back together in the wake of a tragedy. The story covers familiar turf, but in a provocative nature that has the added twist of being told from multiple different perspectives of various characters, including the jilted wife. Later seasons also show the story from the point of view of Noah and Alison’s former partners, as they struggle to rebuild their own lives.
7. Ray Donovan
Ray Donovan is a show you need to start watching – immediately. Liev Schreiber plays the title character, a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in Los Angeles who prides himself on can making anyone’s problems disappear. Anyone’s problems but his own. As you might suspect, Ray has a turbulent family life and can’t seem to keep his own loved ones on the straight and narrow. A descendant in tone and spirit of The Sopranos, Ray Donovan has all the messy emotional baggage you would expect from this type of series, along with plenty of sex and violence. It is a gritty and touching show that is perfect for binge-watching. Compelling, compelling stuff. And the series is already up eight seasons and 82 episodes, so you better catch up!
6. OJ: Made in America
If there has been a better documentary than OJ: Made in America made in the past decade, we haven’t seen it. This documentary from ESPN is nothing short of electrifying. Over five parts and almost eight riveting hours, this documentary analyzes infinite detail the cultural, political, racial, and sporting circumstances that made O.J. Simpson into the person he is today. Obviously, the documentary is focused on the murder of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole and the fallout from the so-called “Trial of the Century.” Using footage and information not previously available, and pieced together from hundreds of interviews, this documentary creates an intimate portrait of the Hall of Fame football player who became the pariah of American society. This documentary is so gripping that we doubt you’ll be able to stop watching once you start.
5. The Wire
One of the great things about CraveTV is that it carries the best of the vintage HBO series. Chief among them is The Wire, widely regarded as one of the greatest television shows of all time. Over five seasons, The Wire completely dissects the drug culture in urban America – in this case, the action takes place in the City of Baltimore. It’s a realistic look at anyone and everyone who is culpable in society when it comes to the drug trade – from the police and drug dealers to the addicts, organized crime, local politicians, schools, media, and parents. The Wire provides a 360-degree look at drugs from all possible angles and it proves to be a tour de force. The writing on this show is so far above anything else on television currently, or during the past 20 years. This show is timeless.
4. Sex and the City
What can we say about Sex and the City that hasn’t already been said a billion times? This is a show that continues to retain its fun and charm more than a decade after it went off HBO. Two movies later, and the ladies of Sex and the City are still mesmerizing on the small screen. And on CraveTV you can find every single episode of this show – all 94 episodes spanning six seasons. If you want to understand the sexes better, or just have a great laugh, then you want to binge Sex and the City. Interestingly, this series still doesn’t seem dated despite debuting in 1998. And while television has moved forward a lot in the past 20 years, Sex and the City continues to be as outrageous and over the top as ever. The antics of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her friends never seem to get old.
3. The Jinx
Another great documentary worth streaming is the 2015 HBO miniseries called The Jinx. The documentary is about accused murderer Robert Durst, who gave a series of interviews about his life to film director Andrew Jarecki, who had previously made a feature film about Durst’s life called All Good Things, starring actor Ryan Gosling. The Jinx gained widespread exposure when Robert Durst was arrested by police on first-degree murder charges the day before the documentary’s finale aired. Specifically, the series investigates the unsolved 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathie, the 2000 execution-style killing of writer Susan Berman, and the 2001 death and dismemberment of Durst’s neighbor Morris Black – with Robert Durst himself giving some truly compelling information and testimonials. So much so that he got himself arrested in the process. True crime documentaries don’t get any better than this one.
2. The Newsroom
Another great series from HBO that is available on CraveTV is The Newsroom, created by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network). This show, which was canceled prematurely (in our opinion) after only 25 episodes, stars Jeff Daniels as a news anchor who grapples with changes to the media, society, and even his personal life. What makes this show great is the supporting cast, which also includes Emily Mortimer, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, and Sam Waterston. The Newsroom proves to be a good jumping-off point into examining current issues in society and how social media is impacting all of us, not to mention the sensationalism of news and media in general. While this series never attracted a huge audience while it was originally airing, it is still smartly written, thought-provoking, and well worth your time.
Letterkenny is a CraveTV original series and one of the best television shows available today. Light on plot but big on characterizations, Letterkenny is about a bunch of farmers, hockey players, and small-town misfits in rural Canada. The humor comes from the pitch-perfect dialogue and comic timing. The key to Letterkenny’s humor is in the dialogue. The way the characters on the show talk to one another and interact is super hilarious. The rapid-fire conversations between the hockey players, who often break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience, is an extra treat. But the whole show feels fresh and original. Full of memorable one-liners and catchphrases, Letterkenny is literally unforgettable. Once you watch this show, all other comedies on TV feel light and less funny. “Fore check, back check, pay check, bro!” Definitely spend some time watching Letterkenny.