Streaming platforms offer thousands of hours of television, but great shows still fall through the digital cracks. Here’s how to avoid FOMO.
Competition on the streaming market is fierce. Whichever service you choose to subscribe to comes with an overwhelming amount of content. Even Amazon, which offers the smallest content library of the bunch, 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 expire. Netflix made a name for itself by buying basically anything networks were willing to sell to them. Eventually, said networks realised 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.
Unfortunately, this also means that TV shows can end up suspiciously 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, along with recommendations of what to watch instead.
1. New Girl (2011)
Currently airing its last season, New Girl follows a group of friends as they navigate adulthood in goofy and endearing ways. It started with a focus on Zoey Deschanel’s adorkable Jess only to evolve into a fun ensemble show with everyone getting their moment in the spotlight. Part rom-com, part hangout show, New Girl is quirky, heartfelt and deeply relatable. Too bad it’s not available to stream just yet.
- Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day
- Jake Johnson as Nick Miller
- Max Greenfield as Schmidt
- Hannah Simone as Cece Parekh
What to watch instead: How I Met Your Mother (2005)
Despite ending with a polarising finale a few years ago, the impact of How I Met Your Mother on pop culture is undeniable. Thanks to a powerful ensemble cast and smart storytelling, the series is all about how you have to go over a few bumps to become the person you need to be when meeting the love of your life. With a nice balance of silliness and emotion, HIMYM remains one of the best comedies of its era, with all its iconic slap bets, Robin Sparkles performances and two-minute dates.
- Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson
- Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby
- Cobie Smulders as Robin Scherbatsky
- Alyson Hannigan as Lily Aldrin
2. 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.
- H. Jon Benjamin as Bob Belcher
- John Roberts as Linda Belcher
- Kristen Schaal as Louise Belcher
- Dan Mintz as Tina Belcher
What to watch instead: 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 The Simpsons, which follows Homer and his dysfunctional family, as well as a wide array of supporting characters. It’s iconic, it’s fun, it’s bonkers. You can stream the episodes on Fox (available through FirstMediaX, a streaming service provided by the cable TV provider First Media, although it is currently the most expensive streaming option). Alternatively, maybe Family Guy is more up your alley?
- Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson
- Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson
- Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson
- Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson
- Stream The Simpsons on Fox (available on FirstMediaX)
- Stream Family Guy on Netflix Indonesia
3. 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.
- 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.
- Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
- Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer
- Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate
- Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson
- Stream it on Amazon Prime Video
4. 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.
- 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.
- Gillian Jacobs as Mickey Dobbs
- Paul Rust as Gus Cruikshan
- Claudia O’Doherty as Bertie
- Briga Heelan as Heidi McAuliffe
5. 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.
- James Franco as Daniel Desario
- Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Wier
- 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 Indonesia.
- Peyton Kennedy as Kate Messner
- Sydney Sweeney as Emaline
- Elijah Stevenson as Oliver
- Rio Mangini as McQuaid
6. 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.
- Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce
- Loretta Swit as Margaret Houlihan
- Gary Burghoff as Radar O’Rilley
- Jamie Farr as Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger
What to watch instead: Full House (1987)
Situated in the city of San Francisco, the American sitcom television show Full House tells the everyday life story of Danny Tanner, who has been a single parent since his wife Pam died. Raising his three daughters, D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle, he has some help from his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis and his best friend Joey Gladstone.
- Bob Saget as Danny Tanner
- John Stamos as Jesse Katsopolis
- Dave Coulier as Joey Gladstone
- Candace Cameron Bure as D.J. Tanner
7. Cheers (1982)
Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows you name. That’s the premise behind this successful sitcom following a recovering alcoholic who just happens to be a bartender, as well as his oddball customers. It remains a comedy classic that still brings on the laughs, even more than 30 years after it first premiered.
- Ted Danson as Sam Malone
- Shelley Long as Diane Chambers
- Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli
- George Wendt as Norm Peterson
What to watch instead: Frasier (1993)
A Cheers spin-off, Frasier follows the title character as he returns to Seattle, reconnects with his family, and hosts a radio show where he offers advice. Just as successful as the original, Frasier is witty and heartfelt. The best part? The series follows several broken individuals as they develop meaningful relationships over the course of eleven seasons. Stream the show on iflix.
- Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane
- David Hyde Pierce as Niles Crane
- John Mahoney as Martin Crane
- Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon
- Stream it on iflix
8. Fringe (2008)
Fringe took its time to build a loyal audience. The show’s first season is a textbook procedural, with a small team investigating strange and seemingly impossible events. From season two onward, however, the series becomes bigger and better, updating its “case of the week” structure to incorporate parallel universes and larger-than-life storytelling. Both thrilling and terrifying, Fringe dazzles with intriguing twists and impressive character development. It also stars Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham, one of the most complex heroines to ever grace the small screen.
- Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
- Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
- John Noble as Walter Bishop
- Jasika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth
What to watch instead: Grey’s Anatomy (2005)
Heart-wrenching deaths, memorable characters, epic romances and thoughtful social commentary – Grey’s Anatomy delivers all this and more. The series follows a group of doctors working at a Seattle hospital and chronicles both their personal and professional lives.
- Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey
- Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd
- Justin Chambers as Alex Karev
- Jessica Capshaw as Arizona Robbins
9. The X-Files (1993)
Before we had Fringe there was The X-Files, the iconic procedural following two agents investigating unexplained things. Mulder and Scully are complex and fascinating – so much so that the characters were brought back for a revival series.
- Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
- David Duchovny as Fox Mulder
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
- William B. Davis as The Cigarette-Smoking Man
What to watch instead: Scandal (2012)
Scandal has all the juicy twists and turns you’d expect from a political show, with a solid dose of melodrama. It’s created by the same people behind Grey’s Anatomy, so expect steamy hook-ups and fast-paced dialogue. Plus, it recently wrapped up its final season, so you can binge it all in one go on iflix. Alternatively, if medical dramas are more your thing, try House, M.D. It’s also on iflix.
- Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
- Tony Goldwyn as President Fitzgerald Grant
- Katie Lowes as Quinn Perkins
- Bellamy Young as Mellie Grant
- Stream it on iflix
10. 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.
- Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds
- Charlie Day as Charlie Kelly
- Rob McElhenney as Mac McDonald
- Kaitlin Olson as Deandra Reynolds
What to watch instead: Modern Family (2009)
An American sitcom television series that offers an honest, often-hilarious perspective of the wonderfully large and blended family of the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan. Sometimes warm, sometimes twisted.
- Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy
- Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett
- Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker
11. 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.
- 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.
- Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green
- Courteney Cox as Monica Geller
- Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing
- Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
12. 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.
- 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.
- Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
- Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson
- Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn
- Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody