If you’ve watched a lot less TV lately, join the club. A new analysis reveals the hours people spent streaming television in April were down 40 percent from the same time last year, when lockdown orders kept millions worldwide away from indoor gyms, theme parks, movie theaters, and vacation spots.
But you may still want to beat the heat and wind down after long summer days, and finding binge-worthy TV options can be a challenge. Here are five new TV series you may want to try. (While most are suitable for pre-teens and up, note the content ratings.)
1. Ted Lasso, Season Two (Apple TV Plus, TV-MA)
It may seem a comedy cliché at first glance: an American football coach who knows nothing of English football takes over a Premier League soccer team. But imagine if the wild antics of lovable characters from “The Office” and “Scrubs” played out on an athletic field, fronted by a charismatic comic (Jason Sudeikis) who pushes ridiculous optimism to new heights. From there, “Ted Lasso” morphs into a surprisingly multi-layered story of ambition, regrets, teamwork, and moving past disappointment.
Enthusiastic word-of-mouth gave this comedy massive buzz last year — renewed by the Peabody Award it just won last week. But the uninitiated always find themselves asking: “Where do you watch it again?”
It’s the only wide-appeal hit for Apple TV Plus, although millions got a free year trial by buying an Apple device. If anyone can turn around that nascent platform, count on the coach who bakes special biscuits and dances his heart out.
2. Race to the Center of the Earth (Disney Plus, TV-PG)
With global travel back on the agenda, adventurers seeking inspiration may enjoy competition-reality series “Race to the Center of the Earth,” with its seven-episode first season now streaming. In collaboration with National Geographic, producers of “The Amazing Race” present a contest that shows how well teams of three can beat harsh natural environments.
Each team runs a different continent-wide course, all converging at one central location in the finale. On one hand, it’s odd not to have rival teams interacting until the end. But it allows more varied physical challenges and locales, cutting out the usual jockeying for airport cabs seen on reality TV. From perilous climbs above the tree line to grueling river rapids and desert hikes, teams of friends and co-workers are pushed to their limits.
3. Only Murders in the Building (Hulu, TV-14)
Comedy stars Steve Martin and Martin Short have uncanny rapport, ever since they appeared together in “The Three Amigos,” Short’s 1986 debut. More recently, they’ve joined each other on world tours featuring Martin’s banjo plucking and Short’s outrageous schtick. Now they reteam for a 10-part dramedy series promising thrills and some laughs with co-star Selena Gomez, plus cameos including Tina Fey, Sting, and Nathan Lane.
When a fellow tenant in their Upper West Side New York City apartment building dies, the three leads suspect foul play — especially because they’re obsessed with true-crime dramas. Collaborating on a podcast to track the clues they find, they’re soon swept up in a whodunit mystery.
4. The Chosen, Season Two (Free App, TV-PG)
This week, The Atlantic discovered “The Chosen” — more than two years after it premiered — bringing new attention to the Christianity-inspired series. Supported by more than 125,000 people who’ve invested more than $20 million to produce it entirely outside the Hollywood system, the dramatic serial has continually surprised with its emotionally resonant take on pivotal first-century religious conflicts. The biggest shocker is that actor performances (by mostly unknowns), writing, and production values hold up to top binge-worthy dramas.
When Jesus and his band of disciples enter Jerusalem, Roman and temple authorities begin to take notice. Followers question his paradigm-challenging teachings and his focus on society’s outcasts, while changed lives attest to the truth of his claims.
Grounded in historical research with some narrative speculation for dramatic purposes, “The Chosen” has amassed more than 100 million views in 248 nations worldwide via a free mobile app and other channels. As fan support continues, producers plan to deliver seven seasons.
5. Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney Plus, TV-PG)
Disney’s franchise-driven plan to dominate global entertainment hasn’t gone perfectly for its Marvel TV entries. Reality-bending superhero drama “WandaVision” closed out with a paint-by-numbers finale, while “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” grappled with big issues but failed to pay off its moral stakes in the end. Perhaps time-traveling “Loki” will stick the landing.
Yet Disney excels with its ever-expanding “Star Wars” TV universe, chiefly architected by story guru Dave Filoni over the past 13 years. Families who watch “The Mandalorian” quickly realized how much that big-budget show builds on preceding animated series.
Although “The Clone Wars” wrapped up last year after seven seasons, now “The Bad Batch” continues with heroic missions of a misfit crew of enhanced clones. While some episodes hew closely to genre tropes, it’s been building to some surprises — including hints for upcoming live-action series “The Book of Boba Fett” and other spin-offs to come.