Are you a film buff who has never seen a “Star Wars” movie? A TV enthusiast who never got around to “Breaking Bad”? This list, compiled without judgment and in no particular order, is for you. We scoured streaming services for shows and films so iconic, you might not publicly admit you missed out on them.
Have fun enjoying a pop culture phenomenon (or two) for the first time!
“Star Wars” (1977): George Lucas’ saga about a galaxy far, far away is available to stream in full. The most passionate fans recommend starting with the original trilogy (“Episode IV: A New Hope,” “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”), followed by the less-beloved prequels (“Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” “Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” From there, you can tuck into the third trilogy, two anthologies, a fan-favorite animated series and “The Mandalorian,” but first things first, young Padawan. (Disney Plus)
“Seinfeld” (1989): This sitcom, from Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, remains a classic more than three decades after its debut – not too bad for “a show about nothing.” Be sure to watch it while eating a big salad. (Hulu)
“Pulp Fiction” (1994): And here you thought “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was peak Quentin Tarantino. (Hulu)
“Friends” (1994): If you can get past the unrealistically attainable Manhattan apartments and (as with most ’90s sitcoms) jokes that haven’t aged particularly well, you’re in for a fun and memorable binge. And you’ll finally understand all those “We were on a break” references. (HBO Max)
“The Sopranos” (1999): The late James Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for playing introspective mobster Tony Soprano on this HBO drama, which helped usher in the prestige TV era. (HBO)
“Veep” (2012): Julia Louis- Dreyfus is Selina Meyer, a vice president who just can’t catch a break in this occasionally all-too-real political satire. (HBO)
“Living Single” (1993): “Living Single,” about a group of young Black professionals living in absurdly spacious New York housing, was “Friends” before “Friends” was “Friends.” And when it comes to representation onscreen, “Living Single’s” impact might be even bigger. (Hulu)
“Martin” (1992): The popularity of this ’90s sitcom was perfectly captured in a scene from Ryan Murphy’s acclaimed “American Crime Story” installment, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” in which the sequestered jury was torn between watching “Seinfeld” and Martin Lawrence’s eponymous series. (BET Plus)
“Jaws” (1975): Face your fears and watch the blockbuster that made Steven Spielberg a household name. (Streams on HBO)
“The West Wing” (1999): Creator Aaron Sorkin promotes Martin Sheen from chief of staff (in “The American President,” that is) to POTUS in this beloved drama about an idealistic White House administration working toward the greater good. (Netflix)
“ER” (1994): This medical drama marked the breakout of so many talented actors: George Clooney, Maura Tierney, Eriq La Salle, Noah Wyle and Julianna Margulies among them. It’s an obvious forebear to another iconic medical drama, “Grey’s Anatomy,” which streams on Netflix. (Hulu)
“Mad Men” (2007): This acclaimed, Emmy-winning period drama follows dapper advertising exec Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his Madison Avenue colleagues, played by an ensemble including Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, John Slattery and Christina Hendricks. (AMC Plus and Amazon Prime)
“Stranger Things” (2016): If you were in the Upside Down when Netflix’s massively popular sci-fi horror premiered, you can catch up ahead of the show’s Season 4 premiere, which has been pushed back due to coronavirus production delays. (Netflix)
“E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982): “Stranger Things” owes a lot to this Spielberg classic about a boy and his alien BFF. (Freeform and Hulu + Live TV)
“Star Trek” (1966): The “Star Trek” universe is vast and spans decades. For the uninitiated, there is no better place to start than Gene Roddenberry’s original series, which follows the Enterprise crew led by the brazen Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and set the franchise’s groundbreaking tone on diversity and inclusiveness. From there, you can tackle the spinoffs – “The Next Generation,” “Voyager,” “Deep Space Nine” and the less popular “Enterprise” – and the original films, followed by a trio of more recent spinoffs: “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Picard” and the animated “Lower Decks.” And that’s not even counting the more recent film reboots, which are available to stream on various other services. (CBS All Access; the first five shows also are available on Netflix)
“This Is Us” (2016): Dan Fogelman’s multigenerational family drama is centered on the loss of a beloved patriarch and the values he taught those he loved so deeply. (Hulu and Peacock)
“Casablanca” (1942): A classic among classics. Here’s looking at you, kid. (HBO Max)
“The Simpsons” (1989): Over its three-decades-and-counting run, Matt Groening’s animated comedy has predicted Donald Trump’s presidency, the horrors of auto-correct and several Super Bowl outcomes. Maybe we should all watch it. (Disney Plus)
“Breaking Bad” (2008): Even if you missed Bryan Cranston as a mild-mannered high school teacher turned drug kingpin, you’ve undoubtedly heard the name Walter White: Vince Gilligan’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning drama was just that popular. (Netflix)
“The Office” (2005): You know a sitcom is iconic when it gets sampled on the Grammys’ album of the year – 15 years after the show came out. One quick spoiler alert borrowed from our friend Pam: “Every so often, Jim dies of boredom.” (On Netflix until 2021, when it will move to Peacock)
“Girlfriends” (2000): Fans of this beloved sitcom, starring “Blackish’s” Tracee Ellis Ross, rejoiced when it became available to stream in September. Issa Rae has cited the show (along with “Living Single” and others) as inspiration for her HBO dramedy “Insecure,” which counts “Girlfriends” alum Prentice Penny as its showrunner. (Netflix)
“Sex and the City” (1998): Explore love and sex in Manhattan (and very occasionally, the outer boroughs) through the eyes and newspaper column musings of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw. (Streams on HBO)
“Do the Right Thing” (1989): Watch Spike Lee’s still-relevant classic about exploding racial tensions on a hot day in Brooklyn. Be prepared to be incensed over the director’s Oscars snub. (Showtime)
“Goodfellas” (1990): When it comes to mafia films, Martin Scorsese’s crime drama is perhaps second only to “The Godfather” (which is only available to buy or rent online). “Goodfellas” earned Joe Pesci an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and honestly, his most memorable scene is alone worth the price of admission. (Sling)
“Citizen Kane” (1941): Discover the meaning of “Rosebud” by watching Orson Welles’s classic feature debut. (HBO Max)
“Marvel Cinematic Universe” (2008): Test your stamina and start with “Iron Man,” working your way up to “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Depending on your level of dedication, you just might be all caught up for the twice-postponed release of “Black Widow,” which is set to open in May after being moved around the schedule because of the pandemic. (Disney Plus)
“The Fresh Prince” (1990): With a drama reboot in the works, it’s high time you watch Will Smith’s breakout role, you know, while you’re “chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool” on the couch. (HBO Max)
“Game of Thrones” (2011): David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s eight-season take on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series became a ratings and water-cooler bonanza. Winter is coming, so it’s the perfect time to visit Westeros. (HBO)
“Chappelle’s Show” (2003): As comedian Dave Chappelle noted during his post-election “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig, his brilliant (and famously short-lived) Comedy Central show is now available on not one but two streaming services. (Netflix and HBO Max)
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.