23 Best TV Shows Similar to Westworld
AppleTV+’s new crime drama compellingly juggles issues of race, internal politics, and family dynamics.
Criminal Record drips with a sinister sense of foreboding in the first episode’s cold opening. Daniel Hegarty (Peter Capaldi), a high-ranking cop moonlighting as a car service driver, guides an age-mismatched couple to their destination, trying to play nice with them. The man of the lovers obnoxiously probes Hegarty for gruesome tales. In reply, the detective briefly indulges them before trailing off. To bring things to a close, he declares he’s seen far worse than what he’s described, and more often besides.
Nothing more happens. We never see the couple again. Presumably, Hegarty got them where they were going without anything further of interest occurring. Still, the scene bristles and pulses with danger. One can easily imagine Hegarty arresting them both. Or, worse, revealing his corruption and killing them both. Criminal Record isn’t that kind of show, as it turns out. However, the series smartly sets its tone in those early moments. No matter what it shows the audience after that, it’s impossible to shake the sense that this aging cop, played by Capaldi as somehow both spry and fragile, could be a ticking time bomb. Continue Reading →
Jul i Blodfjell
When you’re done watching the usual stuff, consider one of these very bizarre attempts at holiday cheer.
When AMC released their holiday programming lineup this year, it seemed like an attempt at a joke: in addition to a handful of aging comedies that have nothing to do with Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter), like Uncle Buck and Caddyshack, the now-ubiquitous Elf was scheduled to air no less than sixteen times in thirty days, and that wasn’t counting the December 2nd “anniversary celebration” marathon. Second to Elf was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, scheduled to air twelve times. Filling out the remaining time not occupied by Elf or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was woeful C-tier fare nobody enjoyed the first time around, like Christmas With the Kranks and Fred Claus.
In the era of streaming, finding Christmas entertainment now requires keeping track of who has the rights to show what special or movie at any given time. Gone are the days of CBS airing A Charlie Brown Christmas every year for decades: now it's under the sole domain of Apple TV+. Its former companion How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available only on Peacock, and all manner of Muppet-related programming is exclusive to Disney+. If the pickings aren’t slim, then they’re disbursed like so much reindeer feed across multiple platforms. Continue Reading →
In 1983, a group of crooks broke into a vault at the Heathrow International Trading Estate in London, patrolled by Brink’s Mat security conglomeration. The Brinks company was already famous for a famous robbery, one that was carried out in the '50s in the North End in Boston, an incident that turned into a charmingly strange movie by William Friedkin in 1978. Continue Reading →
When Christoph Waltz is at his best playing a villain in films like Inglorious Basterds, he presents as gentle and almost naively sweet before revealing an endless capacity for cruelty. At his worst, as with his Blofeld, he presents as all menace and violence and ends up with the effectiveness of a kitten. The former is delightful to behold; the latter can crash an entire film. Unfortunately, The Consultant forces Waltz to be the menacing kitten. Continue Reading →
What is it about living through cataclysmic times that makes us crave apocalyptic entertainment? Are we just clinging to the hope that humanity gets plucky and figures shit out before it’s too late? AMC’s new sci-fi adventure Moonhaven, an uneven but…well, plucky creation of Peter Ocko tries to answer just that. Set some 200 years in the future, Moonhaven shows humanity at two very divergent stages. While things like climate change, war, famine, and plagues continue to rage on unchecked on the Earth, it’s forever Opposite Day on the Moon, where a small chunk of humanity has been living under the protective eye of IO, an artificial intelligence tasked with helping those people fix Earth, somehow. Continue Reading →
The one thing that no one can deny is Stranger Things Season 4 remains aggressively itself right up to the end. Its final two episodes, feature-length films onto themselves, serve everything that one could enjoy about the first seven episodes with a side of everything that frustrates and annoys. The good news is that the bad bits remain a side dish, not the main course. The better news is that ratio tips even further in favor of what’s enjoyable. Continue Reading →
Previous seasons of Netflix’s Ozark followed Martin and Wendy Byrde’s (Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) quest to survive death and prove their family’s worth to the cartel and their violent rivals. Now, in the fourth and final season, the Byrdes must figure out if they can survive without their dark, criminal lives. They sacrificed a lot to get to the top—but what would they sacrifice to stay there? Thanks to this ask and its answers, Ozark Season 4 Part 1 is slow-burn suspense at its finest, with the Byrde’s maneuvering to stay on top, no matter the personal costs. Continue Reading →
There’s a song that was popular in the aughts with the lyric “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” and it feels like the most fitting description of The Expanse. It’s a show that has changed identities more times than Sidney Bristow and managed to retain a strong, cohesive narrative, with this season bringing its final arc full circle. Not to the proto-molecule, but to the struggle of the Belters to get their fair shake from Earth and Mars, something Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) dreamed of in the very first episode, something Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman) lived and died for. Continue Reading →
Star Trek: Discovery
Plenty of Star Trek shows hit their stride in season four. The timing makes sense. After four years together, the cast and crew have all had time to jell. The writers have had long enough to hone the show’s voice and course correct for any missteps. And there’s still enough mileage left in the original premise and characters to take them to interesting places. Continue Reading →
One of Us Is Lying
There has been something of a teen thriller renaissance of late. Shows like Cruel Summer, The Wilds, Panic, and Outer Banks have mined the teen streaming audience to deliver stories that all had at least something about them worth watching. Joining the fold this week is Peacock’s One of Us Is Lying, an adaptation of the Karen McManus book of the same name. Continue Reading →
Master of None
After a four-year absence, Master of None returns to Netflix with a new tone and new focus, but it still grapples with the same emotional beats of the first two seasons. This time around, creator Aziz Ansari focuses his efforts behind the camera, only appearing in two brief cameos in season three’s five-episode arc. Instead, all of the action is focused on Denise (Lena Waithe) and her partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie), who are rusticating in a cottagecore fantasy that not even TikTok could call sustainable. Rather than the buzz of traffic and the cramped quarters of the city, we see Denise and Alicia’s relationship develop against the bucolic splendor of open fields and towering trees. Continue Reading →
At The Spool, generally, we try to keep the work front and center. We try to center the work, not ourselves. I say all of that here as a preface because I am both a therapist and a therapy client. I’m reviewing In Treatment as a fictional dramatic work, but I’m also honest enough to acknowledge that framing and guiding some of my opinions will be my own experiences and, while I hesitate to use the term, expertise. Continue Reading →
The Handmaid's Tale
In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to say this: I’m not a big fan of The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s something about a show that is so unrelentingly grim—without even the occasional glimmers of light—that just makes me feel like I’ve been ground down into a salty meat paste. This is why I checked out of Game of Thrones before I even knew the words “Red Wedding,” because I couldn’t bear to watch Sansa Stark beaten, humiliated, and tortured anymore. So while I can say that Handmaid’s has strong writing and still boasts some of the most gorgeous photography of any show out there, I still don’t enjoy it. Can anyone say they actually enjoy it? And when did the incessant castigation of women become primetime entertainment? Continue Reading →
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Six weeks after her father Mitch’s (Peter Gallagher) death and funeral, Zoey (Jane Levy) emerges from her self-imposed exile, spurred on by Mo (Alex Newell). In her disconnect from the world, things have changed. Joan (Lauren Graham) is on her way to greener pastures. Leif (Michael Thomas Grant) has done his best to run the fourth floor in her absence, resulting in a fraternity-like atmosphere with Tobin (Kapil Talwalkar) as the unofficial lead “brogrammer.” Her dueling love interests Simon (John Clarence Stewart) and Max (Skylar Astin) have become friends. Life moved on while she sat out and recovered. Or tried to recover, anyway. Continue Reading →