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8 amazing shows we still can’t stream in Canada and what to watch instead

Streaming platforms offer thousands of hours of television, but great shows still fall through the digital cracks. Here’s how to avoid FOMO.

Updated

Competition on the streaming market is fierce. Whichever service you choose to subscribe to is likely to come with an overwhelming amount of content. Even Amazon, which offers a small content library compared to other big name providers, has an impressive collection of both original and licensed TV shows. Binge-watching them all would take months at least, and with new content constantly hitting streaming platforms, it’s safe to assume we won’t run out of series to obsess over anytime soon. That’s why it’s so frustrating to discover that one of your favorite shows is nowhere to be streamed.

Yet it’s understandable that streaming platforms can’t offer every show ever made. Licensing deals are complicated and often expire. Netflix made a name for itself by buying basically anything networks were willing to sell to them. Eventually, said networks realized this might not be the smartest way to go, since a huge chunk of viewers prefer to stream on their own terms, without having to wait a week between episodes or sit through commercial breaks. That’s why more networks and studios are currently looking into launching their own streaming apps. It also explains why platforms like Netflix are investing heavily in producing original content.

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Unfortunately, this also means that some TV shows can end up missing from all streaming services, regardless of how popular or critically acclaimed they are. If that’s the case, you have two options. One: you purchase the series from digital retailers or on DVD. Two: you wait patiently for the show to make it to a streaming service and watch something else in the meantime to overcome FOMO (fear of missing out).

If you choose the latter, we have some suggestions that will help. Here are some of the best series currently not available on streaming platforms in Canada, along with recommendations of what to watch instead.

Top 8 shows not available to stream in Canada (and what to watch instead)

  1. The Simpsons (watch Bob’s Burgers instead)
  2. Portlandia (watch Parks and Recreation instead)
  3. You’re the Worst (watch Love instead)
  4. Freaks and Geeks (watch Everything Sucks! instead)
  5. M*A*S*H (watch Seinfeld instead)
  6. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (watch Arrested Development instead)
  7. Scrubs (watch Friends instead)
  8. 24 (watch Homeland instead)

1. The Simpsons (1989)


If you haven’t lived under a rock for the last 20-plus years, you’re likely familiar with both the long-running animated series and the fact that it’s not available to stream in Canada currently. The Simpsons follows Homer and his dysfunctional family, as well as a wide array of supporting characters. It’s iconic, it’s fun, it’s bonkers. Too bad we have to rely on TV listings to get our fix.

Cast:

  • Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson
  • Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson
  • Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson
  • Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson
What to watch instead:

Bob’s Burgers (2011)


Bob Belcher runs a restaurant with help from his loving wife and their three children, despite the fact that he is constantly in danger of going out of business. Mostly hilarious, Bob’s Burgers is a strange and sweet show, with a big focus on characters. Alternatively, maybe Family Guy is more up your alley?

Cast:

  • H. Jon Benjamin as Bob Belcher
  • John Roberts as Linda Belcher
  • Kristen Schaal as Louise Belcher
  • Dan Mintz as Tina Belcher

2. Portlandia (2011)


This absurdist series pokes fun at Portland and its eccentric, laid-back inhabitants. The show, starring comedic duo Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, has never been hugely successful but managed to gather a loyal cult following during its eight-season run. It portrays hipster culture through well-crafted comedy sketches, continually challenging and surprising fans with its playful nature. It’s a tad niche, sure, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

Cast:

  • Fred Armisen as various characters
  • Carrie Brownstein as various characters
  • Jonathan Krisel as various characters
  • Kyle MacLachlan as Mayor
What to watch instead:

Parks and Recreation (2009)


Another show with a (larger) cult following, Parks and Recreation is both heartfelt and hilarious. With a brilliant ensemble cast, the series follows a group of employees from the Parks and Recreation Department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana. It’s a mockumentary, so expect a lot of dry humour and awkwardness, all part of the show’s charm. Stream it on Amazon Prime Video. Or, if sketch comedy is more your thing, try Inside Amy Schumer, available on CraveTV.

Cast:

  • Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
  • Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer
  • Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate
  • Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson

3. You’re the Worst (2014)


You’re the Worst is an anti-rom-com featuring very dysfunctional people. They’re arrogant, narcissistic, selfish and mean. Yet, despite their shortcomings, you can’t help but root for their tumultuous relationship. Funny and sharp, the series doesn’t shy away from tackling important issues like mental illness, for which it has been praised by critics and fans alike. It’s a brilliant and daring show and we’d be remiss not to recommend it as the quintessential dating comedy for the modern age. Unfortunately, you’ll have to purchase it if you want to bask in its glory.

Cast:

  • Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler
  • Kether Donohue as Lindsay Jillian
  • Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly
  • Desmin Borges as Edgar Quintero
What to watch instead:

Love (2016)


Love doesn’t quite reach the high bar You’re the Worst sets for anti-rom-coms, but it’s an honest and funny look at building a realistic relationship in today’s fast-moving world. Thanks to two charismatic leads and a solid script, the show gets better with every season, eventually making viewers fall head over heels for the protagonists, just as they come to terms with their mutual attraction.

Cast:

  • Gillian Jacobs as Mickey Dobbs
  • Paul Rust as Gus Cruikshank
  • Claudia O’Doherty as Bertie Bauer
  • Briga Heelan as Heidi

4. Freaks and Geeks (1999)


Freaks and Geeks is the little show that could. The teen dramedy is still talked about 18 years after its debut, and for good reason. It boasts an impressive cast and offers an honest portrayal of high school life in the 80s. Moreover, it’s touching and nostalgic, but never sappy. The series may have been unceremoniously axed after only one season, but it lives on, currently holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Cast:

  • James Franco as Daniel Desario
  • Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir
  • Seth Rogen as Ken Miller
  • Jason Segel as Nick Andopolis
What to watch instead:

Everything Sucks! (2018)


Another show cancelled after only one season, Everything Sucks! shares a similar premise. This time we follow a group of teenagers as they experience high school in the 90s, one growing pain at a time. The series is far from perfect, but it certainly has its moments, including a touching and well-crafted coming out arc. Stream it on Netflix. Alternatively, if dry humour and high school shenanigans are your things, you can also give Daria a try, which is available on CraveTV.

Cast:

  • Peyton Kennedy as Kate Messner
  • Sydney Sweeney as Emaline
  • Elijah Stevenson as Oliver
  • Rio Mangini as McQuaid

5. M*A*S*H (1972)


M*A*S*H is the kind of show that doesn’t quite work on paper. A dark comedy following the personnel at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War? But thanks to a formidable cast and great writing, it became one of the highest-rated shows in US television history. Part gritty sitcom, part meditation on the futility of war, M*A*S*H never disappointed, securing a well-deserved spot on any serious “best series of all time” type of list.

Cast:

  • Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce
  • Loretta Swit as Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan
  • Gary Burghoff as Radar O’Reilly
  • Jamie Farr as Corporal Maxwell Q. “Max” Klinger
What to watch instead:

Seinfeld (1989)


Just as iconic, Seinfeld revolutionized television. It gave viewers a show about nothing, with flawed yet oddly endearing characters. Hugely popular and critically acclaimed, the sitcom stands the test of time, proving just as hilarious today.

Cast:

  • Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes
  • Jason Alexander as George Steinbrenner
  • Michael Richards as Kramer

6. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)


Unpredictable and often ridiculous, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the dark comedy you didn’t know was missing from your life. Think of it as Seinfeld on steroids. The show follows a group of friends who own a bar and get into all sorts of trouble. You might not want to be buddies with them in real life, but they’re fun to watch on TV. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is offensive and disturbingly funny. In other words, the perfect weekend binge, as long as you’re willing to purchase it.

Cast:

  • Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds
  • Charlie Day as Charlie Kelly
  • Rob McElhenney as Mac
  • Kaitlin Olson as Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds
What to watch instead:

Arrested Development (2003)


The verdict is in: the Bluths are TV’s best dysfunctional family. Arrested Development is absurd and hilarious, with tons of dark humour and running gags. Its ensemble cast has great chemistry, the writing is sharp and the plotlines are bizarre in the best possible way.

Cast:

  • Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth
  • Will Arnett as Gob Bluth
  • Portia de Rossi as Lindsay Bluth
  • Michael Cera as George Michael Bluth

7. Scrubs (2001)


Scrubs offers a compelling look at what it’s like to work for a hospital, delivering a balanced mix of comedy and drama. Emotionally honest and always eager to embrace its goofy side, the show is a celebration of friendship and humanity. It makes viewers laugh hard and cry even harder, relying heavily on voiceovers and fantasy sequences. All in all, it’s the best kind of odd.

Cast:

  • Zach Braff as J.D.
  • Sarah Chalke as Elliot Reid
  • Donald Faison as Christopher Turk
  • John C. McGinley as Perry Cox
What to watch instead:

Friends (1994)


Regardless of how much time has passed since your last binge-watch, these six friends will always be there for you. The beloved sitcom is still going strong thanks to relatable characters and the undeniable chemistry between the main cast.

Cast:

  • Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green
  • Courteney Cox as Monica Geller
  • Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing
  • Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay

8. 24 (2001)


The premise of this action-packed show is its main selling point: each episode follows an hour of agent Jack Bauer’s efforts to save his country from foreign and domestic enemies. Smart and riveting, 24 also spoils viewers with nuanced performances and sharp dialogue. Crazy addictive, it’s not recommended for the faint of heart.

Cast:

  • Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O’Brian
  • Elisha Cuthbert as Kim Bauer
  • Kim Raver as Audrey Raines
What to watch instead:

Homeland (2011)


Stylish and provocative, Homeland does everything a spy thriller needs to do, including keeping viewers on the edge of their seat. It’s fast-paced and complex, offering plenty of adrenaline and a compelling main character brilliantly portrayed by Claire Danes.

Cast:

  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
  • Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson
  • Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn
  • Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody

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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Price p/month or equivalent Free trial? Service Simultaneous streams 4K/UHD?
Disney+
Disney+ [CA]
CA$8.99
7 Days
On-demand streaming
4
Yes
Prime Video
Prime Video [CA]
CA$5.99
1 month
On-demand streaming
3
Yes
Residents of Quebec aren't eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime
hayu
hayu [CA]
CA$5.99
30 days
On-demand streaming
1
No
Fubo TV Canadian Basic
Fubo TV [CA]
CA$15.99
7 days
On-demand streaming
2
Yes
fuboTV offers sports streaming for Canadians as well as Cloud DVR recording for live events and options for additional packages.
Curiositystream
CuriosityStream [CA]
US$2.99
No
On-demand streaming
Yes
Yes
YouTube Premium
YouTube Premium [CA]
CA$11.99
1 month
On-demand streaming
1
Select titles
Crave + Movies + HBO package
Crave + HBO [CA]
CA$19.98
1-month
On-demand streaming
2
No
Includes hit movies and current HBO seasons, as well as six live streaming channels (Crave 1, Crave 2, Crave 3, Crave 4, HBO Canada, HBO Canada 2)
Crave
Crave [CA]
CA$9.99
1-month
On-demand streaming
2
No
Gives you access to Crave originals, past seasons of HBO shows, Showtime series, and a limited number of Family and Kids titles.
Acorn TV
Acorn TV [CA]
US$4.99
7 days
On-demand streaming
1
No
Acorn TV offers British TV shows on-demand.
CBS All Access
CBS All Access [CA]
US$5.99
1-month
On-demand streaming
2
No
Shudder
Shudder [CA]
US$4.99
7 days
On-demand streaming
1
No
Shudder is a screaming service dedicated totally to contemporary and classic horror flicks.
Netflix Basic
Netflix Basic [CA]
CA$9.99
No
On-demand streaming
1
No
Netflix Standard
Netflix Standard [CA]
CA$13.99
No
On-demand streaming
2
No
Netflix Premium
Netflix Premium [CA]
CA$16.99
No
On-demand streaming
4
Yes
SundanceNow
Sundance Now [CA]
US$6.99
7 days
On-demand streaming
1
No
Club Illico
Club Illico [CA]
CA$9.99
No
On-demand streaming
1
No
Club Illico offers French TV shows and movies for a French-Canadian audience.
YouTube Premium Family Plan
YouTube Premium Family Plan [CA]
CA$17.99
1 month
On-demand streaming
6
Select titles
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