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9 amazing shows we still can’t stream in New Zealand 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 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 continually hitting streaming platforms, it’s safe to assume we won’t run out of series to obsess over anytime soon. However, it’s so frustrating to discover that one of your favourite shows is nowhere to be streamed.

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 anything networks were willing to sell to them. Eventually, said networks realised this might not be the smartest way to go, as a huge percentage of viewers prefer to stream on their terms, without having to wait a week between episodes or sit through commercial breaks. So, more networks and studios are currently looking into launching streaming apps. It also explains why platforms like Netflix are investing heavily in producing original content.



The Simpsons (1989)

If you haven’t lived under a rock for the last 25-plus years, you’re likely familiar with both the long-running animated series and the fact that it’s not available to stream in New Zealand. The Simpsons follows Homer and his dysfunctional family, as well as a wide array of supporting characters. It’s iconic; it’s fun, and 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:


Family Guy (1999)

Created by and starring Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy is an American animated sitcom that has been on air for almost 20 years and has won a multitude of awards. Centred on the Griffins and their human-like, talking dog, Brian (also voiced by Seth MacFarlane), it is set in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island. As well as its regular cast, Family Guy often has other well-known actors playing supporting roles, for example, Drew Barrymore, Rob Lowe and Ryan Reynolds. Politically incorrect and somewhat perverse, Family Guy’s humour is a parody of American culture.

Cast

  • Seth MacFarlane as Peter Griffin and Stewie Griffin
  • Alex Borstein as Lois Griffin
  • Seth Green as Chris Griffin
  • Mila Kunis as Meg Griffin

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 plays various characters
  • Carrie Brownstein plays various characters
  • Kyle MacLachlan as The Mayor
  • Jeff Goldblum as Alan

What to watch instead:


Parks and Recreation (2009)

Another show with a substantial 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 Lightbox.

Cast

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


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? However, 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 Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce
  • Loretta Swit as Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan
  • Gary Burghoff as Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly
  • Jamie Farr as Cpl. Maxwell Q Klinger

What to watch instead:


Seinfeld (1989)

Just as iconic, Seinfeld revolutionised 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 to be just as hilarious today.

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


Cheers (1982)

Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name. That’s the premise behind this successful sitcom following a recovering alcoholic who happens to be a bartender, as well as his oddball staff and customers. It remains a comedy classic that still brings on the laughs, more than 30 years after it first premiered.

Cast
  • Ted Danson as Sam Malone
  • Shelley Long as Diane Chambers
  • Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe
  • 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 throughout 11 seasons.

Cast
  • Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane
  • David Hyde Pierce as Niles Crane
  • John Mahoney as Martin Crane
  • Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon
  • Stream it on YouTube Premium


Scandal (2012)

Scandal has all the delicious 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 hookups and fast-paced dialogue.

Cast
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Tony Goldwyn as Fitzgerald Grant
Katie Lowes as Quinn Perkins
Bellamy Young as Mellie Grant

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. The long-running medical drama isn’t without its fans in New Zealand, so you can catch it on TVNZ on Demand.

Cast:
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey
Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd
Justin Chambers as Alex Karev
Sara Ramirez as Callie Torres


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. However, from season two onward, 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.

Cast
  • Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
  • Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
  • John Noble as Walter Bishop
  • Jasika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth

What to watch instead:


The Mentalist (2008)

The Mentalist, aka Patrick Jane, is a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI). However, Jane is not a law official. Instead he uses the talent he gained as a fake psychic to help the CBI solve murders. Jane’s real motivation for working with the CBI is to track down a serial killer known as Red John, who brutally murdered his wife and daughter.

Cast
  • Simon Baker as Patrick Jane
  • Robin Tunney as Teresa Lisbon
  • Tim Kang as Kimball Cho
  • Owain Yeoman as Wayne Rigsby


30 Rock (2006)

30 Rock focuses on Liz Lemon, chief writer on a live comedy show. The sketches bear more than a passing resemblance to the antics behind the stage at Saturday Night Live. When the newly appointed network president insists Liz hire psychologically unstable film star Tracy Jordan, complications arise. This appointment is much to the chagrin of the current leading lady, Jenna Maroney, who is somewhat neurotic and happens to be Liz’s best friend. As Liz tries to fulfil her own dreams, she has to balance everyone’s egos on the show.

Cast
  • Tina Fey as Liz Lemon
  • Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy
  • Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan
  • Jane Krakowsky as Jenna Maroney

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 fantastic chemistry, the writing is sharp, and the plotlines bizarre in the best possible way.

Cast
  • Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth
  • Will Arnett as Gob Bluth
  • Portia de Rossi as Lindsey Bluth Funke
  • Michael Cera as George-Michael Bluth


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 voice-overs 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
  • Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
  • Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani
  • Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing
  • David Schwimmer as Ross Geller


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. Crazily 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
  • Carlos Bernard as Tony Almeida

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

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Service Simultaneous streams Max. video quality Monthly fee Free Trial Period
Disney+
Disney+
On-demand streaming
4
4K/UHD
$9.99/month
N/A
Get Disney+. Watch new and classic TV and Movies from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and 21st Century Fox from one streaming service.
Acorn TV
Acorn TV
On-demand streaming
1
HD
$7.99/month
7 days
Acorn TV offers British TV shows on-demand.
CuriosityStream
CuriosityStream
On-demand streaming
Multiple
4K/UHD
US $2.99/month
N/A
Access to thousand of documentaries, from nature, to lifestyle and technology. Note: Price given in US dollars.
iwonder
iwonder
On-demand streaming
1
HD
$6.99/month
30 days
Prime Video
Prime Video
On-demand streaming
3
SD
$5.99/month
7 days
Start your 7-day free trial and get access to exclusive Amazon Originals plus thousands of other popular movies and TV shows.
Neon TV and Movies
Neon TV and Movies
On-demand streaming
2
SD
$13.95/month
14 days
Netflix Basic
Netflix Basic
On-demand streaming
1
SD
$11.99/month
N/A
Netflix Standard
Netflix Standard
On-demand streaming
2
HD
$16.99/month
N/A
Netflix Premium
Netflix Premium
On-demand streaming
4
4K/UHD
$21.99/month
N/A
TVNZ On Demand
TVNZ On Demand
On-demand streaming
1
HD
No subscription
N/A
Sky Sport Now Week Pass
Sky Sport Now Week Pass
Sports
1
HD
$19.99/week
N/A
ThreeNow
ThreeNow
On-demand streaming
1
SD
No subscription
Sky Sport Now Month Pass
Sky Sport Now Month Pass
Sports
1
HD
$49.99/month
N/A
Sky Sport Now 12 Month Pass
Sky Sport Now 12 Month Pass
Sports
1
HD
$39.99/month
N/A
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