The highly anticipated The Walking Dead spin-off The Ones Who Live, starring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, and Netflix’s highly anticipated live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender will debut in February, while Curb Your Enthusiasm, Genius, and Halo are among the shows returning for new seasons. Here are eight streaming shows you should catch up on before they kick off new seasons.
What it is: An anthology series focuses on untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. Genius: MLK/X premieres Thursday, February 1.
Why you should watch it: Geoffrey Rush, Antonio Banderas, and Cynthia Erivo played Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Aretha Franklin in the first three installments of the biographical anthology series; in other words, there are some riveting performances to behold here. Exploring the legacies of each icon – digging into the good and the bad – the program delivers an engaging show that educates as much as it entertains.
Commitment: Approx. 26 hours (for seasons 1-3)
What it is: Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays a version of himself on the improvised series. He faces a constant barrage of life’s little annoyances, which in David’s sometimes well-meaning but terminally fumbling hands don’t tend to stay small for very long. Episodes frequently center on his ignorance of or disregard for well-established social conventions and expectations, as well as his insistence that others adhere to rules of which only he seems to be aware. Developed from a 1999 one-hour special on HBO that was envisioned as a one-time project, the series premiered in October 2000. The 12th and final season premieres Thursday, February 4.
Why you should watch it: Throughout its first 11 seasons, Curb Your Enthusiasm has created a plethora of memorable moments and catch phrases, while a slew of impressive guest stars have butted heads with David. The Seinfeld reunion season is reason enough to tune in. Some may call it “cringe comedy,” but after two decades of Larry David’s grumpy brilliance it’s clear that his impact on the genre will remain long after the series ends.
Commitment: Approx. 73 hours (for seasons 1-11)
What it is: Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced super-soldier, defends humanity from the alien Covenant in the 26th century. Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8.
Why you should watch it: Pablo Schreiber elevates the sometimes derivative plotting to bring a sense of empathy and humanity to the iconic video game character.
Commitment: Approx. 7 hours (for season 1)
What it is: Samantha, a cheerful freelance journalist, and Jay, an up-and-coming chef from the city, throw both caution and money to the wind when they decide to convert a huge run-down country estate they inherited into a bed and breakfast – only to find it’s inhabited by the many spirits of deceased residents. The departed souls are a close-knit, eclectic group that includes a saucy Prohibition-era lounge singer, a pompous 1700’s Militiaman, a ’60s hippie fond of hallucinogens and an overly upbeat ’80s scout troop leader. If the spirits were anxious about the commotion a renovation and B&B will create in their home, it’s nothing compared to when they realize Samantha is the first live person who can see and hear them. Season 3 premieres Thursday, February 15.
Why you should watch it: If you’re looking for a low stakes comedy series that’s filled with solid performances and is surprisingly heartwarming, Ghosts is the show for you.
Commitment: Approx. 15 hours (for seasons 1-2)
What it is: Beth’s life would look pretty great on paper. She’s impressive to everyone she grew up with. She makes a good living as a wine distributor. She’s in a long term relationship with a successful guy and lives in Manhattan. When a sudden incident forces Beth to engage with her past, her life changes forever. Through flashbacks to her teen self, Beth starts to learn how she became who she is and who she wants to become. We’ll go on her journey towards building a bigger, bolder and more authentic life, learning to express herself and living in an intentional way. This trip down memory lane is a strong source of trauma, comedy, and moving forward. Season 2 premieres Friday, February 16.
Why you should watch it: Amy Schumer pivots from her signature comedy stylings to bring to life a passion project that finds her character facing the struggles of adulthood. The laughs are still there, but what makes this a show worth digging into is the vulnerable authenticity in which Schumer (who plays Beth) tackles each struggle she faces.
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for season 1)
What it is: The world is divided into four nations – the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads – each represented by a natural element for which the nation is named. Benders have the ability to control and manipulate the element from their nation. Only the Avatar is the master of all four elements. The ruthless Fire Nation wants to conquer the world, but the only bender who has enough power, the Avatar, has disappeared… until now. His tribe soon discovers that Aang is the long-lost Avatar. Now Katara and Sokka must safeguard Aang on his journey to master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation. Netflix’s live-action remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender premieres Thursday, February 22.
Why you should watch it: It’s a magical animated series that never talks down to its audience. Comedy, adventure, and mythology mix together perfectly in this fun Emmy-winning series.
Commitment: Approx. 23 hours (for season 1)
What it is: Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the months and years that follow a zombie apocalypse. A group of survivors travel in search of safety and security, constantly on the move in search of a secure home. But the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and they soon discover that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them. A new spin-off series focusing on the characters of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, premieres Sunday, February 25.
Why you should watch it: The Walking Dead changed television. Before the series premiered, the idea of zombies on TV was unheard of. Not only did the series bring the undead to the small screen in a variety of gruesome ways, it brought to life the iconic characters from Kirkman’s comic. The series catapulted Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus to superstar status, made Danai Gurira a household name, and launched the Emmy-winning career of Steven Yeun. And those are four of the many talented performers who graced the post-apocalyptic series. Through all the program’s highs and lows, The Walking Dead stands as a landmark of genre storytelling on television.
Commitment: Approx. 162 hours (for seasons 1-11)
What it is: A man wakes up in the Australian Outback with no recollection of who he is, and he must try to piece together his memory as merciless figures from his past pursue him. The Tourist premieres Thursday, February 29.
Why you should watch it: Funny and suspenseful, Jamie Dornan steps away from his Outlander adventures to immerse himself in a grounded and grisly mystery that never disappoints.
Where to watch: Netflix (subscription, season 1)
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours (for season 1)
Thumbnail image by Gene Page/AMC.