With the success of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, watching TV shows online has for many become the norm rather than the exception. We can even stretch it as far as reiterating Netflix’s own prediction that internet TV will ‘eventually replace the linear TV experience’. Netflix currently has more than 65.55 million subscribers, with their international expansion being the biggest driver at the moment (subscribers outside of the U.S. even doubled within the last year!).
And Netflix’s growth doesn’t seem to end anytime soon. More and more people are buying smart TVs (with integrated internet) or watch TV on mobile devices. Netflix is also involved in the production of their own TV series, which have all turned out to be quite the success (just casually name-dropping Orange is the New Black and Better Call Saul here). However, there’s many TV channels and movie studios that are withholding the rights to their shows and films and this leaves some fundamental gaps in the libraries of online streaming services. Besides that, physical media still have a better visual and audio quality than the TV shows you stream (fact!) and won’t hopefully disappear just yet. Let’s take a look at 6 of the biggest TV shows that are still not on Netflix and probably won’t be for a while.
Let’s start with the greatest current TV show of them all, Game of Thrones. We’re not really sure if it needs any introduction, but just in case you’ve lived under a rock for the last 4 years, the fantasy drama is set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, and follows the rivalries and romances between several noble houses in the battle for the Iron Throne. The show is based on the books by George R. R. Martin and must have the biggest fan base ever with 8.1 million (!) viewers who recently watched season 5’s final episode, breaking HBO’s record.
Game of Thrones is perhaps the most famous example of a show you’ve been desperately trying to find online only to be disappointed. Yes, it’s available on Sky On Demand in the UK, but you’ll struggle to find it elsewhere. HBO refuses to license the rights to its TV shows and has recently launched its own rival streaming service, HBO NOW, that’s unfortunately only accessible in the U.S. You can luckily buy the Game of Thrones series here in case you’ve missed out.
The Walking Dead is the second major show on which Netflix UK is missing the boat due to licensing issues. It seems like American viewers are again a bit luckier.
The Walking Dead is AMC’s acclaimed horror drama show, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. Rick Grimes, portrayed by Andrew Lincoln, wakes up from a coma in a new, dystopian world ruled by zombies. Not knowing what happened to the rest of his family, he teams up with the only other living beings he comes across in order to survive. But who can he trust and who can he better avoid?
AMC claims that season 4 had about 28 million viewers per episode, including streams and re-runs, which makes it the most watched TV show of the moment.
An all-time classic for all indie kids who grew up in the early 00s, The O.C. was taken off Netflix for reasons we haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s a shame, because we’re sure its quirky music and boy/girl, girl/girl drama has shaped many of teenager’s personal tastes back in the day. The show follows troubled kid Ryan, who moves in with the Cohen family in Orange County, California. He befriends their geeky son Seth, his beautiful but tormented neighbour Marissa and her spoiled best friend Summer.
Although it seems impossible to find The O.C. online, you can luckily still buy it here, so Ryan and Marissa’s quarrels aren’t completely lost yet on today’s youth.
Freaks and Geeks
Another 00s high-school cult classic that wasn’t invited to sit at the cool table of Netflix shows. The hilariously poignant teen comedy drama was recently revived by Netflix U.S., but why is the UK still lagging behind?
Freaks and Geeks follows the ups and downs in the lives of good-girl-turned-rebel Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and her nerdy brother Sam (John Francis Daly) at an American school during the early 80s. The show explores the usual curve of teenage angst also portrayed in other high school dramas, but does this in a way that’s painfully relatable (how my fellow geeks can relate to that harrowing match of dodgeball in the pilot episode!), never shallow and always hilarious.
What makes this show even more worth watching is that you’ll recognise a younger James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel as Lindsay’s new outsider friends, and you can enjoy plenty of guest appearances from future stars such as Lizzy Caplan, Jason Schwartzman and Shia LaBeouf. If you like That 70s Show and My So-Called Life, you’ll surely be a fan!
True Detective is another HBO show that is withheld from Netflix’s streaming service and probably will be for the foreseeable future. The reason why you should still do your best to watch it is because it’s so incredibly clever and detailed, packed with numerous symbols and references, and relying heavily on character development. Just like recent successful series like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, it’s a slow burner, a show that isn’t centered on one spectacular event after the other, but gets better and better with an ever-evolving plot, sharp dialogues and characters you’ll get to know more and more each episode.
Every season introduces us to a new cast and includes some A-list celebrities. Season 1 features Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two homicide detectives who are chasing a serial killer, whilst season 2 interweaves the narratives of career criminal Frank (Vince Vaughn) and three different police officers (Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch) researching a ghastly crime scene. True Detective was nominated for numerous TV awards, including a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy Award, and is extended to a third season that’ll be coming out next year.
The Wire is another one of those slow burners in which story is king. In fact, The Wire may well be the king of storytelling! The show was broadcasted on HBO between 2002 and 2008 and revolves around the city of Baltimore and its dysfunctional institutions. Each season focuses on a different institution (e.g. the city government, criminal drug trade or the print media) and introduces us to a whole new range of characters. None of these characters are central, some of them are killed off pretty soon in, but they all help to shape the story and the city they move around in. The Wire succeeds in building its own little world that reflects the complexity of urban life, which adds up to a sense of realism. No major actors are used and characters are truthfully based on real-life people in Baltimore. Don’t think of it as a mere police drama though, it addresses some of the major issues in American society and its plot is so gripping it’s called the greatest ever television drama by newspapers such as The Guardian and The Telegraph. A pretty big deal!
The Wire isn’t available to stream on Netflix yet. To buy it online, click here.