By Michael Madeira
Two weeks can feel like forever when you’re locked in your room. Teachers may advocate for catching up on reading, but we all know that you’re just going to watch TV. Therein lies the big question: what are you going to watch? And more importantly, where?
It feels like every day, more and more streaming services are popping up or renaming themselves, so which one is right for you? There are several factors to take into account when choosing one: price, selection and usability.
Let’s start with Netflix, the oldest on this list, and the one most of you probably already have. The cheapest Netflix plan is $8.99 a month. Netflix has a great variety of shows and movies with no particular niche, but they add and drop things frequently, so you may not want to wait to watch something because it may not be there next month. Netflix has one of the best user interfaces and is the easiest to understand. Your queue is one of the first items you see and can always be accessed through the main menu across all devices. Netflix has many big-name shows and movies you may already know about, but some of my personal recommendations are “Blown Away,” “Terrace House” and “The Good Place.”
HBO Max is one of the newer services on this list, but its selection truly gives it the upper hand. However, it is somewhat pricey, given the cheapest option is $14.99 a month. The user interface leaves much to be desired for such a high price point, your queue can be somewhat tricky to find and the queue they show on the main page isn’t your full queue (its only some of what you’ve saved). The selection is somewhat broad, but given HBO has deals with Studio Ghibli, DC, Crunchyroll, Sesame Workshop, TCM, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, they have a strong leaning. Some recommendations are “Spirited Away,” “Lovecraft County” and “Over the Garden Wall.”
Prime Video feels often forgotten but really shouldn’t be, given its surprisingly good selection. Much like Netflix, its selection is widely varied, and helped by the fact that if a movie or show isn’t free, it may be free with ads or available for renting. The cheapest price for Prime Video is $8.99 a month, but is also included with Amazon Prime, so you may have it already and not even know it. The user interface is passable. It’s easy to find things and your queue is easily available, but it leaves something to be desired aesthetically. Some top picks for Prime are “Midsommar,” “Orphan Black” and “Knives Out.”
Hulu is the cheapest on the list for students if you’re willing to put up with ads. Students can get Hulu for $1.99 if you sign in with your student account. Hulu’s presentation is quite nice, but it can be difficult to sift through. Some things to watch on Hulu are “Flavor of Love,” “How It’s Made” and “Golden Girls.”
Disney Plus is another service most of you are probably already familiar with. The cheapest option is $6.99 a month, which is on the lower side. The selection is somewhat self-evident. The UI is nice, but can be difficult to find things if you don’t specifically search for it, and the collections can sometimes make it difficult to get to full series like “The Simpsons.” Most of you know the highly popular things on Disney Plus, so I will only highlight the lesser-known ones: “Prop Culture,” “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” and “Eddie the Eagle.”
If you’re a horror fan, Shudder is a great go-to, especially for its low cost of $5.99. The selection is quite limited, but like Netflix, they rotate options. The UI is one of the worst on this list, but it is easily overcome. Some of my favorites on Shudder currently are “The Taking of Deborah Logan,” “The Evil Eye” and “Color Out of Space.”
Peacock is a free with ads, so if you don’t mind said ads and have no money to spend, it’s a good option. Much like Disney Plus, most things under the NBC umbrella are on Peacock. The UI is very sleek, but the usability is less so. “Face Off,” “30 Rock” and “Battlestar Galactica” are some free options that will fill a lot of time.
Finally, if none of these services interest you, here are some honorable mentions: Crunchyroll, Apple TV, VRV, CBS All Access, Showtime and YouTube Premium.