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Thanksgiving Is Shaping Up to Be Streaming TV's 4th of July

The MCU and the Fab Four lead a deluge of hotly anticipated shows headed our way for Turkey Day.
  • Photos: ABC, Netflix, Disney+
    Photos: ABC, Netflix, Disney+

    For decades, the TV calendar was something you could literally set your watch by. The new shows all premiered in September, the seasons ended in May, some shows were added as mid-season replacements, and the summer months (as well as parts of December and January) were left to reruns. Those days, of course, are a thing of a past, replaced by brave new world of the streaming TV calendar, which stretches across 12 months and 365 days, with new shows premiering at literally any time, in any season, forever. But recently some structure to the madness has begun to emerge as Thanksgiving week shapes up to be the biggest streaming week of the year, with the various platforms reserving some of their biggest hitters for a time when people are home and stuffed with turkey and pie and looking to veg out on their couches and watch something on streaming TV. In many ways, the coming Thanksgiving TV onslaught feels like what the 4th of July weekend used to be for movies: a bonanza of big, blockbuster entertainment.

    In order to get all of the heavy-hitter shows up on the platforms ahead of the long Thanksgiving weekend, the onslaught actually kicks off a week early, with Netflix dropping the second season of last year's tabloid sensation Tiger King on Wednesday November 17th. Whether or not anyone actually needed a second season of Tiger King, the fact remains that it's probably the biggest gun Netflix has in their arsenal, and they're deploying it just in time for us to take a break from brining that turkey to watch the adventures of Joe Exotic in prison and Carole Baskin on Dancing with the Stars — or whatever it is that the show's second season will cover (the streamer is keeping details tightly under wraps).

    The Friday before Thanksgiving brings us Amazon's big gun for the holiday week: the epic fantasy adenture The Wheel of Time. Based on the acclaimed series of novels by Robert Jordan, the series stars Rosamund Pike as a woman of magic who must lead a group of five young people on a treacherous journey in the hopes that one of them is the chosen one. Mystical prophecies! Magic! Big, scary pig monsters! The first three episodes drop on Prime Video on November 19th, with new episodes releasing weekly until Christmas.

    That same Friday, Netflix is premiering its own highly anticipated genre series: Cowboy Bebop. A live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime series from the late 1990s. John Cho leads the cast as one of a ragtag group of bounty hunters traipsing across the solar system in a futuristic adventure. The original series is a staple of Japanese anime, so expectations on this one are high, as is the ceiling on how big a deal this could be if the show is a success. If Thanksgiving revelers are looking for a season to get obsessed with over the holiday, this could be the thing.

    The biggest series debut of the holiday will no doubt be Hawkeye, the latest Marvel TV property to premiere on Disney+. All due respect to What If…?, but we haven't had a ton to talk about from the D+ Marvel end of things since Loki wrapped its season in July. While that series — as well as WandaVision — opened the door to the multiverse, Hawkeye appears to have more Earthbound adventures in mind. The series finds Clint Barton in New York City over the holiday season — yes, Hawkeye is a Christmas show — where he meets Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a Hawkeye superfan who will end up becoming an important part of the MCU. The first two episodes drop Thanksgiving eve, with a weekly release pattern commencing the following week. Previous MCU series like WandaVision and Loki premiered with just one episode, so even this double dip seems to acknowledge that Thanksgiving weekend is no time to make viewers reach for that remote sooner than they have to.

    November 24 isn't just being ceded to Hawkeye, though. While it's definitely the biggest dog in the yard, the other streamers are counterprogramming it pretty well. Netflix, of course, has a show — don't they always? — the fourth season of Selling Sunset, so if Marvel adventuring isn't your thing, perhaps you'd be into mean and glamorous blondes trying to sell real estate and destroy each other in Los Angeles? Paramount+ is premiering the highly anticipated next season of The Real World: Homecoming, this time reuniting the cast (well, most of the cast) of its second, L.A.-set season. The first season of Homecoming was an early hit for Paramount+, and the second season has a ton of promise, with even more combustible personalities and a bunch of old grievances to be aired. And, for its part, Peacock is premiering the second season of its shockingly good Saved by the Bell reboot on the 24th as well, meaning that by the time you've gotten sick of your family members, you'll have so much TV to escape to.

    And that's not even getting into the Thanksgiving Day premiere of Disney+'s The Beatles: Get Back, the three-part documentary — directed by The Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson — covering the making of The Beatles' final studio album, Let It Be, in 1970. The three parts of Get Back will premiere on three consecutive days, meaning Thanksgiving Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Apple is basically programming the soundtrack to your food coma.

    The Schedule

    For better planning purposes, here's what we're getting ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, and when we're getting it. Remember to say grace before watching.

    Wednesday, November 17

    Tiger King, season 2, full season. (Netflix)

    Friday, November 19

    The Wheel of Time, season 1, three episodes (Amazon Prime Video)

    Cowboy Bebop, season 1, full season (Netflix)

    Wednesday, November 24

    Hawkeye, season 1, two episodes (Disney+)

    The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles, premiere episode (Paramount+)

    Saved by the Bell, season 2, full season (Peacock)

    Selling Sunset, season 4, full season (Netflix)

    Thursday, November 25 (Thanksgiving)

    The Beatles: Get Back, episode 1 (Disney+)

    Friday, November 26

    The Beatles: Get Back, episode 2 (Disney+)

    Saturday, November 27

    The Beatles: Get Back, episode 3 (Disney+)

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Thanksgiving, The Beatles: Get Back, Cowboy Bebop, Hawkeye, The Real World Homecoming, Saved by the Bell, Selling Sunset, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, The Wheel of Time