Max is back on top: Here’s what’s worth streaming in February 2024

by user



It’s become tiresome to hear ever-more-common complaints that between price hikes, consolidation and fewer shows, streaming has basically become cable.

It has not. It’s not going to. For consumers, streaming is still cheaper than cable and offers wildly more choices. However, some of February’s most anticipated streaming offerings just happen to be cable and network shows (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Abbott Elementary” and “Shōgun,” for starters), so score one for traditional TV, which isn’t dead yet.

More: ‘On Watch’ podcast: Why streaming is changing, and what you can do about it

It’s true that streaming prices have soared, though, making things a bit more challenging for consumers. That’s where a strategy of churning — that is, adding and dropping services month to month — comes in. It takes some planning, but pays off in monthly savings, since there’s no use paying for a service you hardly watch anymore. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month.

Also read: Can I still get Netflix with T-Mobile? Does Verizon still come with Disney+? Your guide to streaming bundles.

Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget — rating the major services as “play,” “pause” or “stop,” similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold or sell — and picks the best shows to help you make your monthly decisions.

Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in February 2024, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee:

Max ($9.99 a month with ads, $15.99 with no ads, or $19.99 ‘Ultimate’ with no ads)

After a dismal few months and despite the best efforts of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery
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Max is about to remind viewers that HBO still exists, and it’s still worth watching.

After a more than two-decade run, Larry David is back for the 12th and final season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (Feb. 4). Details are scarce, but expect the usual amount of cringe and misanthropy. While the show has lost a bit of its comedic fastball in recent seasons (come on, the guy’s 76), it’s still pret-taay, pret-taay good.

“Tokyo Vice” (Feb. 8), the slick and stylish crime drama about an American reporter (Ansel Elgort) digging into the Tokyo underworld, returns for its second season. I remember quite liking most of the first season, which ran in 2022, but hating the finale for reasons I can’t quite remember. Could it be that too many plot threads were left unresolved while the series’ renewal was very much in doubt? Hmm, regardless, a second season will likely assuage those worries, and as long as it still features harried reporters, gruff cops and yakuza gangsters, I’ll still be watching.

Also read: Warner Bros. Discovery could be leaving billions of dollars on the table, analyst says in downgrade

Max also has “Chasing Flavor” (Feb. 1), a new food and travel show from chef Carla Hall; a new season of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (Feb. 18), which is always an essential way to start the week; Season 2 of the animated “Clone High” (Feb. 1); and “Dicks: The Musical” (Feb. 2), an adaptation of the purposefully weird two-man stage show that’s basically a grownup twist on “The Parent Trap,” starring Aaron Jackson, Josh Sharp, Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally.

Max’s Bleacher Report sports tier also has a full slate of NBA and NHL games, including the NBA All-Star Game (Feb. 18).

Get current: After premiering in January, “True Detective: Night Country” has proven to be a worthy installment to the anthology crime series that debuted a decade ago. New showrunner Issa López has cooked up a compelling blend of gritty drama (thanks largely to stars Jodie Foster, Kali Reis and John Hawkes) and supernatural creepiness, dropping tantalizing hints of links to Carcosa, the Yellow King and other unsettling mysteries from Season 1. The six-episode series wraps Feb. 18, so there’s plenty of time to catch up.

Who’s Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers. And now, unscripted-TV fans too, with its slew of Discovery shows.

Play, pause or stop? Play. “True Detective,” “Curb” and “Last Week Tonight” are all top-notch, and there’s a deep library behind them.

Netflix ($6.99 a month for basic with ads, $15.49 standard with no ads, $22.99 premium with no ads)

Before there was FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham,” there was Netflix’s “Sunderland ‘Til I Die,” a gripping and heartbreaking docuseries about a storied English soccer club and its long-suffering fans, now languishing in a lower league after years of bitter relegations. “Sunderland” returns for its third season Feb. 13, and saying much more would be a spoiler. But count on it being terrific. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s a great explainer of why sports can matter so much to a community.

Netflix
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also has the live-action adaptation of the beloved anime series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (Feb. 22), which hopefully will be better than the flop 2018 live-action movie; a new season of the popular racing docuseries “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” (Feb. 23); and the standup comedy special “Taylor Tomlinson: Have It All” (Feb. 13). Feb. 14 brings, appropriately enough, Season 6 of the reality dating series “Love Is Blind” and the rom-com movie “Players,” starring Gina Rodriguez and Damon Wayans Jr.

Also on the way are all eight seasons of the Tony Shalhoub-led mystery series “Monk” (Feb. 5), the first four seasons of the goofball cop sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Feb. 26), and all three seasons of “Warrior” (Feb. 15), the critically acclaimed yet underwatched 1870s-era martial-arts drama that’s bounced between Cinemax and Max.

Get current: After debuting in 2022 on Max, “The Tourist” (Feb. 29) moves to Netflix for its second season. In Season 1, Jamie Dornan starred as an amnesiac desperately searching the Australian outback to piece together his life while figuring out why people were trying to kill him. The new season picks up with him and his one friend, a cop played by Danielle Macdonald, now in Ireland and caught between two very dangerous families. It’s a pulpy, violent and darkly funny ride, and Season 1 is now on Netflix, so there’s plenty of time to binge before the new season drops.

Also worth checking out: Action fans should dig “The Brothers Sun,” which dropped in January. Starring Justin Chien as a Taiwan mob enforcer who travels to L.A. to protect his mother (Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh) and clueless brother (Sam Li) from assassins, it’s a mostly fun ride, filled with fantastically choreographed fight scenes. Yeoh doesn’t get much to do until the last few episodes, and the tone is wildly uneven as it tries to balance family comedy amid blood-soaked action, but it’s perfectly entertaining if you don’t think about it too much.

Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzzworthy original shows and movies.

Play, pause or stop? Play. When you get Netflix, you’re paying for bulk, and there’s something there for everyone.

Hulu ($7.99 a month with ads, or $17.99 with no ads)

Seven years after “Feud: Bette and Joan” debuted, Ryan Murphy’s anthology series returns with its second installment, “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans” (Feb. 1, a day after it first airs on FX). Directed by Gus Van Sant and with a stellar cast that includes Naomi Watts, Diane Lane, Chloë Sevigny, Calista Flockhart, Demi Moore and Tom Hollander, the miniseries tells the real-life story of how Truman Capote betrayed friendships and blew up Manhattan’s high society with a scandalous article that ended up ruining his career.

Amy Schumer is also back on Hulu with Season 2 of her pseudo-autobiographical dramedy “Life & Beth” (Feb. 16), as Beth, traumatized by a history of failed relationships, starts thinking about marriage with a quirky farmer (Michael Cera). The end of the month will bring FX’s highly anticipated new adaptation of the epic miniseries “Shōgun” (Feb. 27), based on James Clavell’s sprawling 1975 novel about political intrigue and warfare in 1600s Japan, and a shipwrecked English sailor who could shift the balance of power. The 10-episode miniseries stars Anna Sawai (“Monarch: Legacy of Monsters”), Hiroyuki Sanada (“The Last Samurai”) and Cosmo Jarvis (“Persuasion”). It’s always dangerous to judge a series by its trailer, but the trailer is very good.

Also read: Hulu starts cracking down on password sharing

Meanwhile, after the Hollywood strikes disrupted the fall TV season, a host of popular ABC series are finally returning in February, including “Abbott Elementary” and “The Connors” (both Feb. 8); “American Idol” (Feb. 19); and “The Good Doctor,” “The Rookie” and “Will Trent” (all Feb. 21).

Who’s Hulu for? TV lovers. There’s a deep library for those who want older TV series and next-day streaming of many current network and cable shows.

Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. The biggest concern is that the best bet — “Shōgun” — won’t premiere until the end of the month, so March or April could make more sense if you subscribe strategically. Either way, the cheaper, ad-supported plan is still the way to go. Hulu has a lot of good stuff, but not $18 a month worth of goodness.

Apple TV+ ($9.99 a month)

It’s a fairly subdued month for Apple
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with top billing going to new episodes every week of the WWII miniseries “Masters of the Air.” While the CGI-heavy aerial battles are spectacular — effectively capturing the claustrophobic horror of being trapped in a freezing tin can 25,000 feet high while people are shooting at you — the ground scenes have so far been fairly generic, and the characters lack the depth of its decades-old predecessor, “Band of Brothers.” It’s still a worthy watch, though perhaps not worth a subscription all on its own.

The big additions for February are “The New Look” (Feb. 14), an historical drama series about iconic designers Christian Dior (Ben Mendelsohn) and Coco Chanel (Juliette Binoche), who launched the modern fashion industry in the 1940s, and how their lives were affected during the Nazi occupation of Paris; “Constellation” (Feb. 21), starring Noomi Rapace as an astronaut and mother who returns to Earth to find that things things are not quite right; and the sports documentaries “The Dynasty: New England Patriots” (Feb. 16) and “Messi’s World Cup: The Rise of a Legend” (Feb. 21).

There are also new episodes of the British cop drama “Criminal Record” (finale Feb. 21).

Who’s Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone — although it’s getting there.

Play, pause or stop? Pause. There’s decent stuff this month, but to justify the value you’d really have to dig into Apple’s library (as I say every month, catch up with “Slow Horses” if you haven’t already).

Amazon’s Prime Video ($14.99 a month with ads, $8.99 without Prime membership, both +$2.99 to avoid ads)

One note to start: Prime Video added commercials to its shows and movies Jan. 29, and you’ll need to pay an additional $2.99 a month to restore ad-free viewing. It’s not a game-changer since most people get Prime Video bundled with the shopping and shipping benefits, but feel free to be annoyed.

On a more positive note, Prime Video finally has the long-gestating series reboot of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (Feb. 2), starring Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) and Maya Erskine (“Pen15”) as spies posing as a married couple, only to find themselves bonding for real when they realize they can only trust each other. It’s a lot of fun, the chemistry between Glover and Erskine is electric, and there’s a surprising amount of heart — aside from the title, it doesn’t share much with the 2005 Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie movie, it’s more along the lines of “The Americans,” which is in no way a bad thing.

Amazon’s
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streaming service also has the art-world rom-com movie “Upgraded” (Feb. 9), starring Camila Mendes (“Riverdale”); Jennifer Lopez’s bonkers-looking musical film “This Is Me… Now: A Love Story” (Feb. 16); and a solid crop of 2023 movies, including the raunchy high-school fight-club comedy “Bottoms” (Feb. 13), Will Ferrell’s R-rated animated lost-dog comedy “Strays” (Feb. 6) and Seth Rogen’s animated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” (Feb. 21).

Who’s Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.

Play, pause or stop? Stop. “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is worth a watch, but maybe wait for a month when you can get more bang for your buck.

Disney+ ($7.99 a month with ads, $13.99 with no ads)

February will see the premiere of the third and final season of the animated “Star Wars” spinoff “The Bad Batch” (Feb. 21), about the adventures of a team of misfit clone soldiers. Expect appearances from fan favorites such as Emperor Palpatine, bounty hunters Fennec Shand and Cad Bane, and Sith assassin Asajj Ventress.

Disney also has “Genius: MLK/X” (Feb. 2), the new installment in the NatGeo anthology series, which details the struggles of the civil rights movement from the perspectives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Malcolm X (Aaron Pierre); “Iwájú” (Feb. 28), an animated coming-of-age series set in futuristic Lagos, Nigeria; Season 2 of the animated “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” (Feb. 3); and the streaming premiere of “The Marvels” (Feb. 7).

Who’s Disney+ for? Families with kids, hardcore “Star Wars” and Marvel fans. For people not in those groups, Disney’s 
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  library can be lacking.

Play, pause or stop? Stop, unless your kids will go ballistic. There are some interesting additions, but nothing substantial enough.

Paramount+ ($5.99 a month with ads, $11.99 a month with Showtime and no ads)

Paramount+ will livestream this little thing called the Super Bowl (Feb. 11), along with four hours of pregame coverage, for you cord-cutting sports fans (or fans of spectacle in general).

There’s also Season 2 of the forgettable sci-fi action series “Halo” (Feb. 8), adapted from the hit videogame; the Grammy Awards (Feb. 4); “Past Lives” (Feb. 2), an Oscar nominee for best picture; and a bunch of CBS shows, including “Tracker” (Feb. 11) and new seasons of “Ghosts” and “Young Sheldon” (both Feb. 15). It’s also worth noting that Paramount+ streams “The Daily Show” on demand a day after it airs on cable, and Jon Stewart is returning to host every Monday starting Feb. 12.

Sports-wise, there’s golf from the scenic Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Feb. 3-4), the return of UEFA Champions League play, and a full slate of college basketball ahead of March Madness.

Also worth checking out: Need some laughs? “@fter Midnight,” a reboot of Comedy Central’s “@midnight,” which ran from 2013-’17, premiered on CBS in mid-January, and it’s been a pleasant surprise. Taylor Tomlinson (who also has a Netflix standup special dropping this month) is a comfortable and affable presence hosting a panel of comedians, which changes daily, to crack jokes about social media and pop culture. The bleeps sometimes get in the way (damn network standards) and it’s overly long (it should be a half hour, but someone who regularly writes an overly long streaming column probably shouldn’t throw stones), but the show is still snappy, breezy and consistently fun. Note that it doesn’t start until 12:37 a.m., so streaming it the next day is actually the best way to go for most viewers.

Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen X cord-cutters who miss live sports and familiar Paramount Global 
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 broadcast and cable shows.

Play, pause or stop? Stop. Unless you need to watch the Super Bowl and none of your friends are hosting a party, there’s nothing essential.

Peacock ($5.99 a month with ads, or $11.99 with no ads)

Peacock’s biggest addition is the streaming premiere of this year’s Oscar favorite “Oppenheimer” (Feb. 16). It’ll drop a little over a month after Peacock’s exclusive NFL playoff game between the Chiefs and Dolphins, meaning if you signed up just to watch that game, you’ll need to re-subscribe to watch “Oppenheimer.” And yes, that’s totally on purpose.

“Vigil,” a murder mystery set on a British nuclear submarine, was one of Peacock’s best and most under-the-radar — err, sonar? — series, and it’s back for a second season Feb. 15. The action is more landlocked in the new six-episode season, as Suranne Jones (“Gentleman Jack”) and Rose Leslie (“Game of Thrones”) play detectives investigating a series of murders at an airbase in Scotland.

There’s also the hip-hop documentary “Kings From Queens: The Run DMC Story” (Feb. 1); the racy reality series “Couple to Throuple” (Feb. 8), which is exactly what it sounds like; the prison-break movie “Bosco” (Feb. 2); and new episodes of the hit reality-competition show “The Traitors.” There are also fresh weekly episodes of network and cable hits such as “Chicago Fire,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Vanderpump Rules” and the “Real Housewives” franchises.

On the sports side, Peacock has a full slate of English Premier League soccer, Six Nations rugby and Big Ten college basketball.

Who’s Peacock for? Live sports and next-day shows from Comcast’s
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 NBCUniversal are the main draw, but there’s a good library of shows and movies. Also, if you’re a Comcast cable subscriber, look into its Xfinity Rewards program — you may qualify for a free Peacock subscription.

Play, pause or stop? Stop. If you haven’t seen “Oppenheimer” yet, then it could be worth a subscription, but nothing else screams “must-watch.”

Need more? Catch up on previous months’ picks at What’s Worth Streaming.



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