Critics Pick 8 TV Shows to Binge-Watch Over Thanksgiving With Family

3:27 PM 11/19/2018

by Daniel Fienberg and Tim Goodman

They're easy to find streaming or OnDemand and, with one or two exceptions, they're fine for all ages.

The Good Place Better Things Succession - Publicity - H 2018
Colleen Hayes/NBC; Bonnie Osborne/FX; Peter Kramer/HBO

You know the drill. Thanksgiving means turkey, family and the desperate need to escape family — or at least the desire to find activities the family can engage in as a quiet, unified group.

Rather than observing the ritual of listing things we're giving thanks for, The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critics areoffering an assortment of (more or less) recent shows that you can watch with all of your parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They're easy to find streaming or OnDemand and, with one or two exceptions, they're fine for all ages. Or some ages.

  • America To Me (Starz)

    Steve James' 10-part documentary series is available in its entirety OnDemand and it probably won't engage your younger family members, but if you send the kids off to watch Coco or Moana for the 50th time, it’s perfect viewing for the kind of family that wants to have provocative conversations without resorting to the kind of Trump-centric chatter that could lead to mashed potato-flinging. America To Me has all of the elements of a John Hughes movie or an underdog sports saga like Friday Night Lights, with the added benefit of instigating back-and-forths about race and class and gender and equity and equality, about the American city and about what we teach our kids and how we might be failing the next generation. It's hilarious, infuriating, heartbreaking and endlessly inspiring. - Daniel Fienberg

  • The A Word (Amazon Prime)

    In 2017, I ranked this beautifully done series No. 2 out of 46 for the year and No. 6 out of 38 in 2016, so you should sit the family down for both seasons (only six episodes each), as the second only grows exponentially in all facets, building on the story strands of season one. This British series, filmed in the remote Lake District, is about a married couple, Alison (Morven Christie) and Paul (Lee Ingleby), coming to terms with the fact that their young son, Joe (Max Vento), is autistic. Funny, touching and nuanced, with a spectacularly great soundtrack, it's about how extended family (particularly Christopher Eccleston as Joe's grandfather) and the village at large provide a support system for Joe and his parents. Originally on Sundance TV. - Tim Goodman

  • Better Things (Hulu)

    A perfect pick for a different sort of family. Series creator, writer, sometimes director and star Pamela Adlon does a magnificent job of showing what it's like to be a single mother raising three very different girls and tending to her own, wildly different mother, while also trying to find her own happiness. Funny, raw and insightful as it tackles all kinds of issues. From FX. - T.G.

  • Everybody Hates Chris (Hulu)

    You can stream all four seasons of this hilarious and underrated coming-of-age story inspired and narrated by Chris Rock. Tyler James Williams nails his role as Chris while Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold completely nail what it's like to be parents trying to do their best and switching off with the good cop/bad cop thing. The running gag of Chris's dad knowing exactly how much everything costs and how much is being wasted never gets old. Originally on UPN and then The CW. - T.G.

  • The Good Place (Netflix/Hulu)

    It's the funniest comedy on network television and you could make a very convincing argument that it's the best on all of television. It's certainly the smartest. It's not often that America gets schooled in philosophy while also laughing uproariously — the visual jokes are as good as the ones that spring from the verbal gymnastics that mark each interaction. Watch as many episodes as possible. From NBC. - T.G.

  • One Day at a Time (Netflix)

    For years, ABC has had the best family comedies on TV, but a few of the network's stalwarts have taken a small dip this year, so those craving a multigenerational family sitcom should look to Netflix's update of the Norman Lear multi-cam chestnut. Sure, it may be a little too "progressive" for some of your cousins, but it's a very funny show with a huge heart and, in these trying times, surely the thing that can bring people of all ages together is the greatness of Rita Moreno. - D.F.

  • Succession (HBO)

    OK, fine. HBO's pitch-black corporate comedy probably isn't for all ages. In fact, you want to be very careful who you treat to this foul-mouthed treasure. However, after a few hours pulling out your hair feeling like your own family is the worst, most-twisted assemblage of people to ever share the same DNA, it might be gratifying to watch the backstabbing Roy clan to realize things could always be entertainingly worse. Succession gets bonus points for an all-time classic Thanksgiving episode that features the pleasures of James Cromwell and Brian Cox acting to-to-toe. - D.F.

  • Superstore (Hulu)

    Before you make plans to go out to some big box store to brave the madness of Black Friday, spend a few hours on Hulu catching up with this NBC gem that has stealthily become probably the second best comedy on broadcast TV (after The Good Place, which — see my colleague Tim’s recommendation above— you're more than welcome to watch over Thanksgiving as well). Not only is the show a loving and cutting look at the employees of a fictional big box store — Ben Feldman, America Ferrera, Lauren Ash, Nico Santos, Nichole Bloom and Mark McKinney lead a great ensemble — but you may gain new empathy for the minimum wage employees you're about to knock over in your quest for a slightly discounted 4K TV. - D.F.