Stuffed yet? Don’t worry, if Thanksgiving doesn’t fill you up, November’s streaming lineup will.
The month is ridiculously stacked, with Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop,” Disney’s “Hawkeye,” Hulu’s “The Great,” Apple’s “The Shrink Next Door,” Amazon’s “The Wheel of Time” and Paramount+’s “Mayor of Kingstown” — and we haven’t even gotten to HBO Max yet. Spoiler alert: You’re probably going to want to splurge a bit on your monthly streaming spending.
Each month, this column rates the major streaming services as a “play,” “pause” or “stop,” similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold and sell, and picks the best content to help you make your monthly decisions.
As we’ve previously mentioned, consumers can take full advantage of cord-cutting though a churn-and-return strategy — that’s adding and dropping streaming services each month — and all it takes is good planning. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of a month. Also keep an eye out for lower-priced tiers, limited-time discounts, free trials and cost-saving bundles. There are a lot of offers out there, but the deals don’t last forever.
Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in November 2021, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee.
Netflix ($7.99 a month for basic, $13.99 standard or $17.99 premium)
has one of the year’s most anticipated series on the way, along with a slew of new seasons of returning favorites.
The most anticipated of the bunch is undoubtedly “Cowboy Bebop” (Nov. 19), the long awaited live-action adaptation of the beloved 1998 Japanese anime series. John Cho stars as the leader of a group of sharply dressed intergalactic bounty hunters in the genre-busting sci-fi/noir/Western series. Live-action anime reboots can be challenging (see: the cringe-worthy “Ghost in the Shell” movie), but hopes are high that this 10-episode version can pull off a stylish and clever new take. A bonus: All 26 episodes of the original “Cowboy Bebop” moved to Netflix on Oct. 21, for those who need a pre-binge.
Netflix also has the third and final season of “Narcos: Mexico” (Nov. 5), set in the drug wars of the 1990s as the Arellano Félix brothers, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and others moved to fill the power vacuum left by the arrest of kingpin Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo; Season 5 of the raunchy yet sweet animated pubescent comedy “Big Mouth” (Nov. 5); Season 2 of the Mexican-American family comedy “Gentefied” (Nov. 10); and the saga of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin continues in a follow-up to the pandemic smash-hit docuseries, with “Tiger King 2” (Nov. 17), though it’s frankly unclear how much of that story there is left to tell. Meanwhile, Part 2 of Kevin Smith’s “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” (Nov. 23) drops, and Netflix will try to repeat the success of “Squid Game” with “Hellhound” (Nov. 19), a Korean supernatural drama directed by Yeon Sang-ho (“Train to Busan”).
There are also some major movies, including the Western shoot-em-up “The Harder They Fall” (Nov. 3), starring Idris Elba, Regina King and Jonathan Majors in a star-studded and violently stylish revenge tale; “Red Notice” (Nov. 12), an international crime thriller — reportedly Netflix’s most expensive movie ever — starring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Godot and Dwayne Johnson (expect plenty of smirks and explosions); and “tick tick…BOOM” (Nov. 19), an autobiographical musical about Jonathan Larsen, the creator of “Rent,” starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
There are also a ton of cheesy holiday movies coming, but you can be trusted to find those on your own.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. One again, there’s so much to choose from that Netflix remains a must-have, offering something for literally everyone. (Also, if you’re one of the 17 people on the planet who haven’t watched “Squid Game” yet, do so. If the violence is off-putting, then look at it as a parable about late-stage capitalism as a life-or-death, zero-sum game.)
HBO Max ($9.99 a month with ads, $14.99 without ads)
HBO Max has a lot on tap for November, but it’ll be its Sunday-night lineup (“Succession,” “Insecure,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”) that will be worth the subscription price.
The biggest new series is “The Sex Lives of College Girls” (Nov. 18), a comedy from producers Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble about four college-freshmen roommates navigating classes, relationships and life away from their parents’ prying eyes.
There’s also the second half of Season 1 of the disappointing and boring “Gossip Girl” reboot (date TBA); a “Head of the Class” reboot (Nov. 4), featuring Robin Givens as a grown-up Darlene; Season 2 of “South Side” (Nov. 11), the appealing comedy series about a pair of Chicago friends/entrepreneurs that’s hopping over from Comedy Central; and “Kamikaze” (Nov. 14), an award-winning Danish drama about a young woman trying to rediscover herself after tragedy, as Max tries to branch out to a more global audience. Just in time for hitting the slopes, Max also has the documentary “Dear Rider” (Nov. 9), about snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton. And don’t forget about “Love Life” (Oct. 28), the charming rom-com anthology series that changes out leads in Season 2 to William Jackson Harper (“The Good Place”).
But the low-key best show of the month may be Season 2 of one of 2020’s biggest surprises: “How to With John Wilson,” which returns Nov. 26. The hilarious and moving docuseries almost defies description (like, it’s a gently humorous observational documentary that evolves — or devolves — into intimate and bizarre profiles?). Anyway, it’s excellent and like nothing else on TV. Check it out.
There’s also “King Richard” (Nov. 19), a biopic starring Will Smith as Richard Williams — father of Venus and Serena — chronicling his unstoppable drive to make his young daughters the best tennis players in the world. That’ll stream for 31 days, starting the same day it hits theaters, but only for subscribers on the ad-free plan. The spectacular sci-fi epic “Dune” will also still be available to stream through Nov. 21.
Who’s HBO Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers.
Play, pause or stop? Play. The November shows (while good) are almost irrelevant, because the ongoing series — “Succession,” “Insecure” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — are that essential.
Disney+ ($7.99 a month)
After a fairly sparse few months, Disney+ is back with some promising non-kiddie content in November.
“Hawkeye” (Nov. 24) marks the return of Marvel’s live-action spinoff shows. The holiday-themed, six-episode limited series stars Jeremy Renner as the most boring Avenger (sorry, but it’s true) and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, his apparent successor, with the two teaming up to… well, it’s unclear — fight bad guys and get home in time for Christmas, or something like that (the Disney anti-plot-spoiler machine is strong with this one). Anyway, the trailer looks like a lot of fun.
also has a Thanksgiving treat for the olds: “The Beatles: Get Back,” a three-part documentary dropping over three days starting on Thanksgiving (so Nov. 25, 26 and 27). Directed by Peter Jackson, the doc covers the making of the 1970 album “Let It Be,” featuring interviews and a treasure trove of previously unseen audio and video…