It's Free Trial Season!

What to watch in those days of ultimate flexibility.

“So much content,” my friend Madelyn and I like to say after we recommend something to each other and put it on our respective watchlists. So much content. It can be overwhelming to deal with. That’s part of why I started Weekend Again?—to provide some hopefully helpful recommendations for wading through all of it.

Today, I’m focusing on what you can watch with that precious free trial you can get from streaming services, since it’s actually very useful to sample a bunch when deciding what you want to commit to. I’ll try to contain this to things you can only see on that specified streaming service, and I’ll stick to things you can reasonably watch in about a week (though some of these free trials are longer — you can explore from then on!).

What are the best TV brands? - Reviewed Televisions

Netflix: one month free trial. Watch Ozark (30 1-hour episodes) for some Breaking Bad-esque drug cartel/money laundering scheming or Mindhunter (20 1-hour episodes) for a based-on-real-life look at who catches serial killers. If you’d prefer something lighter, I recommend The Crown (30 1-hour episodes); I’m not a monarchist by any stretch, but I really enjoyed this in-depth, character-focused series. Cleanse your palate with Salt Fat Acid Heat (4 1-hour episodes), a documentary-style series about the four elements that go into good cooking; it’s both informative and soothing. Finish up with the charming rom-com Always Be My Maybe (1hr 42m).

Hulu: 30-day free trial. Somehow, half of my past newsletters have been about or mentioned Hulu’s exclusive content, so I’ll point you in that direction: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2h 1m), The Handmaid’s Tale (36 1-hour episodes) and Little Fires Everywhere (8 1-hour episodes).

HBO GO: 7-day free trial. First, watch the funny stuff, like: Insecure (26 half-hour episodes), in which a young woman mostly bumbles through life in the most relatable ways; or The Young Pope (10 1-hour episodes), where Jude Law most decidedly does not bumble through anything. Watchmen (9 1-hour episodes) isn’t easy viewing, but it is so worth it by the end, as is The Plot Against America (6 1-hour episodes); both are set in alternate histories and are thoroughly engrossing. This is an extremely heavy pick (and maybe too relevant?), but I watched The Leftovers (26 1-hour episodes) over a three-day period and was extremely happy with the writing and performances. (I have no idea what HBO Max is going to look like, this is just about HBO GO.)

Disney+: 7-day free trial. I’ll admit that I got the free trial to watch The Mandalorian (8 1-hour episodes), because a) Baby Yoda and b) Pedro Pascal; it was actually pretty damn good. Then I rewatched some of the stand-alone Marvel movies that I love, because you can’t find them anywhere else (thanks, Disney): Captain America: The First Avenger (2h 5m); Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2h 17m); Captain America: Civil War (2h 29m); Thor: Ragnarok (2h 11m); and Captain Marvel (2h 5m). If you something upbeat and nostalgic, might I recommend Aladdin (1h 33m; this is the 1992 animated one, do not make the mistake I did and watch the new one) or Monsters, Inc. (1h 32m).

Apple TV+: 7-day free trial. I just started my free trial of this because of Defending Jacob (3 1-hour episodes, more to be released soon) because I love Michelle Dockery. I’m also planning on watching The Morning Show (10 1-hour episodes) and Dickinson (10 1-hour episodes), thanks to Madelyn’s recommendations. :-)

CBS All Access: one-month free trial. I haven’t yet started a free trial, but if/when I do, I’m making a beeline for The Twilight Zone (10 1-hour episodes; this is the one by Jordan Peele); Star Trek: Discovery (19 1-hour episodes); and Star Trek: Picard (10 1-hour episodes).

Hypothetically, this list could take you through early summer if you stagger your free trials. Just saying.

Enjoy your free streaming time, friends, and stay safe, sane and healthy.