Aaron Barnhart is Primetimer's Senior Editor and the author of The Primetimer Guide to Streaming TV.
Ten years ago I walked away from the television beat. After 15 years at the Kansas City Star and thousands of bylines, I felt like I had seen it all and said it all. And then came the revolution.
The Streaming TV revolution has upended the old order, forever changing both how and what we watch on our screens. It’s been an exhilarating time — and a frustrating one as well. There’s more well-done television being produced than ever... so much, in fact, that even the most ambitious viewer is often overwhelmed. If you’ve ever spent half an hour scrolling for something to watch, then you know the tyranny of choice is real.
When I returned to writing about TV to help launch Primetimer three years ago, it was with the promise that we would put an end to that unsatisfying experience. We would aim to build a resource that helped viewers get to their next great watch with as little friction as possible.
More than a year in the making, The Primetimer Guide to Streaming TV is the first book of its kind: a complete handbook to getting what you want in an age of endless entertainment. If you remember the satisfaction of finding something to watch in Leonard Maltin’s or Roger Ebert’s annual movie guides, you’ll love sifting through our succinct reviews of more than 1,000 recommended shows.
If you have a favorite show or genre, we’ve got pages of curated lists for you. And if you’ve been hesitant to “cut the cord,” to ditch your overpriced cable or satellite subscription and go all-in with Streaming TV, we’ll walk you through step-by-step.
Maybe the boldest decision we made when planning our guide to Streaming TV was deciding to publish an old-fashioned video guide, suitable for placing next to the remote (or in the loo). Let’s face it, if apps were any good at recommending what to watch, millions of us wouldn’t be doing that scroll-scroll-scroll thing on our TVs every night. Meanwhile, book reading is more popular than ever, so publishers must be doing something right.
The editors of Primetimer helped me choose the 1,000+ shows in The Primetimer Guide to Streaming TV. Most of these shows have debuted in the past five years. Most got high marks from critics and/or viewers. And most quickly vanished from sight, replaced by the next set of heavily promoted shiny objects. We’ve organized them alphabetically, so you can look up a show instantly. Our reviews are concise and designed to help you decide quickly whether a certain show is right for you.
One of the most frequent comments we’ve heard from our early readers is, “I opened it to some random page and found something I wanted to watch.” That’s because The Primetimer Guide to Streaming TV is put together by humans, not computers. Netflix’s algorithm won’t tell you what’s good on Hulu, and Amazon’s app won’t suggest that long-forgotten series on Peacock.
Computers love assigning five-star ratings to things, but won’t tell you why. At Primetimer, thousands of our readers participate in TV show forums, commenting on episodes and telling us what they liked and didn’t like. We’ve pulled hundreds of their best insights for our reviews, because no one knows the kind of viewer that will love a show better than someone who already does.
The most fun we had with this guide was creating the section with all the lists. Most of the shows in our guide are curated into lists with names that make it easy to locate your kind of show: Play-Nice Reality Competitions, Female-Driven Slice-of-Life Comedies, Excellent Use of Musical Numbers, Landmark Performances in Drama, True-Crime WTF... you get the idea. Looking for a quick watch? Then turn right to our section “One Night Only,” for more than 200 streaming suggestions sorted by genre.
And then there’s the section titled “If You Liked That, You’ll Like This.” Were you a huge fan of the NBC show The Blacklist? Want six more obsessions like The Blacklist? We’ve got them, along with similar lists for dozens of other popular shows including Ozark, Mare of Easttown and Schitt’s Creek.
As I've been interviewed out on our press tour for The Primetimer Guide to Streaming TV, the topic everyone seems to want to talk about is cord-cutting. Tens of millions of us have cancelled our cable and satellite subscriptions, but there are millions more sitting on the fence, either because of FOMO or “change is hard.” We’ve been there, and we get it.
That’s why we’ve included a comprehensive chapter on cutting the cord in our guide. We’ll walk you through the process step by step. Going all-in with Streaming TV can save you a lot of money, and if you do it right you'll actually have a better viewing experience than with traditional Pay TV.
But don’t take my word for it. There’s an extra-long preview of The Primetimer Guide to Streaming TV on the book’s official website, including the cord-cutting guide. I invite you to download and read it. There are also links on the site that make it easy to purchase the guide at the most popular book retailers. Of course, you can also order it through your local bookseller. We’re thrilled to release this guide into the world, and look forward to your feedback as we prepare the next edition.
Aaron Barnhart has written about television since 1994, including 15 years as TV critic for the Kansas City Star.
TOPICS: TV Books