Homecoming Trailer

(Welcome to Small-Screen Stream, a feature where we share the best television shows streaming and where you can watch them.)

We’re in that weird time of year where things have gotten cold, dark, and frankly pretty miserable outside, which welcomes the idea of long TV binges on the couch. We’re also — luckily — living in a time when that’s never been more feasible, as streaming services across the board are punching up their TV catalogues, seemingly preparing their patrons for the long, cold winter ahead. That’s bad news for our vitamin D levels, but good news for our eyeballs and sanity.

For this week’s Small-Screen Stream, I compiled a list of a few new original series, some great programs that just hit streaming, a few things you should definitely catch up on, and a healthy serving of comfort TV for the nights when you just want to turn your brain off and relax. Think of it like hot cocoa in the form of visual pleasure.

Homecoming, Season 1

Where To Watch: Amazon Prime

Created By: Eli Horowitz, Micah Bloomberg

Starring: Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James, Sissy Spacek

Julia Roberts stars in this adaptation of a popular podcast of the same name, about a mysterious testing facility for veterans that may or may not be what it seems. I honestly don’t want to give a single thing away about this series, which unfolds in perfect 30-minute dollops, a maze of intrigue and oddities, and one that’s chocked full of genre nods. Roberts has never been better than she is here, as Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. Again, to say more is to give away the show’s labyrinthine mystery. But trust me on this one: The payoff is worth the slow burn.

Dietland, Season 1

Where To Watch: Hulu

Created By: Marti Noxon

Starring: Joy Nash, Julianna Margulies, Tamara Tunie, Robin Weigert

Marti Noxon just signed a massive deal with Netflix, which is great for her, but sadly comes after the cancellation of this AMC series. Based on a book of the same name by Sarai Walker, Dietland tells the story of Alicia “Plum” Kettle (Nash), an overweight ghostwriter for a popular beauty site, Daisy Chain. Plum longs to be thin like the Daisy Chain girls and her bitter editor Kitty Montomgery (Margulies), and plans to get gastric bypass to bring her there. But before her surgery, she’s roped into a world of feminism, terrorism, and rebellion against the impossible beauty and sexual standards imposed on women.

The show is kind of tricky to pull off, and it flounders here and there, but it deserved a second season to flesh out all of the amazing characters and webs it was spinning. Unfortunately, it’ll never get that chance, but at least it can live on Hulu for now, working its peculiar magic on new viewers. I’ll miss this strange show.

Making a Murderer, Part 2

Where To Watch: Netflix

Created By: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos

You’re probably familiar with the case. Who isn’t? I won’t do much to rehash the first season of this extremely popular Netflix true crime series, except to say it follows a bizarre murder case in Wisconsin, involving a family, some possibly wrong convictions, and the potential flubs of the local police and prosecuting teams. The second season was released last month, in an attempt to explore the convictions of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach. It’s fascinating to watch this story play out, and to see Ricciardi and Demos’ obsession with the case span more than one timeline in its sprawl. If they keep it going, the series could wind up like the West Memphis Three’s Paradise Lost films; an ongoing epic about the mishandling of small-town Americana murder cases.

The Deuce, Seasons 1-2

Where To Watch: HBO Now

Created By: George Pelecanos, David Simon

Starring: James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Chris Bauer, Gary Carr

Pay no attention to its silly name. HBO’s The Deuce is legit. I was initially turned off by the idea of James Franco, who plays twins in the show, but if you’re in my same boat, worry not; Franco is the least interesting part of this story about New York City in the 1970s, when porn was newly legal and drugs were invading the streets. The women are the real lure of The Deuce. Maggie Gyllenhaal is fantastic as Candy, a Times Square sex worker who works her way up in the newly fledgling porn industry. Also fantastic are The Leftovers’ Emily Meade as Lori and Dominique Fishback as Darlene, two young sex workers who also work the system. The second season wraps up this week, and the show will return next years for its third — and final — outing. Now’s a great time to catch up.

Jeopardy!, Collections 1-2

Where To Watch: Netflix

Created By: Merv Griffin

Starring: Alex Trebek

See what I mean about comfort food TV? There’s not much to say in this blurb about Jeopardy!, a show so foundational to the American TV screen that I’m sure the second you read the word, the theme music popped into your head. Netflix recently added two collections of the series, which is the perfect thing to pop on while you eat dinner or lure to sleep. Bonus points: You’ll learn something new every time.

Room 104, Seasons 1-2

Where To Watch: HBO Now

Created By: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass

Do the Duplass brothers ever sleep? The hard-working team have seemingly dozens of projects to juggle at once, and they do them all deftly and impressively. This HBO anthology series is clever as hell: Set in a New York motel, every episode is a different tale about the people who pass through the eponymous room. (Think Bad Times at the El Royale: The TV Series.) The show delves into different genres, and features an impressive lineup of guest stars: Orlando Jones, James Van Der Beek, Mae Whitman, Nat Wolff, Philip Baker Hall, Rainn Wilson. The show also works as a great exercise for up-and-coming filmmakers, which according to Mark Duplass, was part of its conception. The second season just started, so I highly recommend catching up, especially if that HBO Now subscription is burning a hole in your pocket.

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