Back in my day, Christmas was a dead zone for television, with options being the 342nd viewing of A Christmas Story or some other holiday programming on repeat. You kids these days have it good! This week’s set of picks for the best shows and movies to watch doesn’t just look like every other week, IT LOOKS BETTER. COVID is a horrible, awful thing, but the shutdown of theaters means that two major blockbusters — Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 and Pixar’s Soul — will be free to watch at home (provided you subscribe to the right streaming services). Additionally, Netflix knows winter break is the perfect time for a binge and is releasing one of its biggest dramas of the year in Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton. And wouldn’t you know? One of my favorite comedies returns as well. A merry Christmas, indeed.
Our list of editors’ picks for the week of Dec. 20-26 is below, but if this isn’t enough and you’re looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, sign up for our free, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox. You can also look at our massive collection of recommendations, or our list of suggestions of what to watch next based on shows you already like.
Monday and Tuesday (season finale!) at 8/7c on ABC
Tayshia Adams’ totally ordinary, very normal, in no way unusual journey to find true love comes to a close this week with a two-night Bachelorette finale on Monday and Tuesday. She’s narrowed down the field to just three men after a weird season, in which she came in from the Bachelorette bullpen to take over for starting Bachelorette Clare Crawley, who left the show once she met her one true love after spending like a few hours with him. Tayshia may be the most deserving, normal bachelorette in the show’s history, so let’s watch her squirm through alternating fits of elation and heartbreak through the final two episodes before being pressured to accept a marriage proposal from a guy she’s never seen outside of the resort they’re all quarantining in. The Bachelorette is the weirdest show on television.
The Midnight Sky
Wednesday on Netflix
Well humans, you’ve done it again. The Earth is an uninhabitable mess in this science-fiction drama from a grizzly George Clooney, who plays a scientist in the Arctic who must warn a team of astronauts in space that the planet isn’t worth coming back to. Everyone’s just trying to survive, man, except the fate of the human race may depend on the astronauts finding another place to land, so they have even more pressure to make it to tomorrow. The movie is bleak, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. This looks like Gravity mixed with a post-apocalyptic film.
Wonder Woman 1984
Friday on HBO Max
Yeah, you wanted to see this on the big screen with a couple hundred other screaming fans, but things happened and now it’s coming out on Christmas Day and you don’t even have to put on pants to watch it. The anticipated sequel to the 2017 film sees Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) take on Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) during the Cold War, and it’s already getting mostly positive reviews (but also a few bad ones). This is the first of Warner Bros.’ big movies trying out simultaneous theatrical and home releases on HBO Max; even if you aren’t interested in Wonder Woman 1984, you’ll want to see how it performs, as it could dictate the way we see movies forever.
Friday on Disney+
Instead of putting a Christmas present under the tree for your kid, why not just turn on the TV and tell them you got them a personal screening of Pixar’s latest movie Soul? Yeah, they want a PlayStation 5, but do they really deserve it? Ehhhh. This is supposed to be a good movie, one of Pixar’s best ever. What does a PlayStation 5 have? Slightly better graphics than the PlayStation 4 they already have. Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t going to be any better on a PS5. Watch Soul.
Series premiere Friday on Netflix
The first fruit of Shonda Rhimes’ massive Netflix development deal drops on Christmas, with her protégé Chris Van Dusen at the helm of a spicy adaptation of Julia Quinn’s bestselling romance novel series. The period piece follows Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) through her first season out in London society and her rollercoaster journey of falling in love with a reluctant duke (Rege-Jean Page). It also introduces us to the rest of the Bridgerton siblings and their immediate social circle as the elusive Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) mysteriously catalogs gossip for her anonymous column. Phew! It’s Pride and Prejudice meets Gossip Girl and Scandal in the most delicious way possible. Heads up — though the art for the series may make it look like a demure Christmas binge, Shonda and Co. stay true to the spirit of the source material, and things get very steamy (read: butts) as you get further into the season. -Megan Vick
Season 9 premieres Saturday on Hulu
Canada’s well known for its feel-good comedies like Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience, in which characters grow and learn lessons about life through their experiences with each other. Letterkenny is not that. The cult comedy about a small Canadian town full of hicks, tweakers, hockey players, burly natives, and not much else is mostly conversations about genitalia, drinking, fighting, and whatever else goes on inside the minds of these crazy Canucks, but don’t let the subject matter fool you. Letterkenny is one of the smartest shows around, with rapid-fire dialogue and wordplay that’s essentially Shakespeare on speedballs. You’ll be quoting this show nonstop to your friends after one episode.
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