Remember back in December when we were all still clinging to the hope that 2021 might be a respite from the chaos of 2020? Now that those hopes are all good and dashed, the only thing that remains for certain is that we’re going to be watching a lot of TV this year.

The question is: what TV? Most of us can’t afford to buy every streaming service, and even if we could, there are only so many hours in the day. Just the other day I was lamenting to myself, “Why, oh why, isn’t there an article on the internet to explain the best streaming services and advantages and disadvantages of each?” Then I remembered what my job is, and here we are.

Below is a list of the best streaming services, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Best Overall Streaming Service

HBO Max

$14.99 per month, $69.99 for six months, or free for HBO subscribers.

Advantages:

Honestly, most of this service is an advantage. Not only do you get access to a deep library of quality movies, but you also get HBO’s entire TV catalogue, which includes critical darlings like “Deadwood,” “Watchmen,” “Sex & The City” and “Chernobyl” (there’s also “Game of Thrones” but at this point nobody cares). Oh: and they recently scored “The West Wing” as well, if you want to escape to a fantasy land where governments make sense.

Disadvantages:

This service is pricy, as in the priciest service on this list. $15 per month adds up fast, and since there are so many options for so much cheaper, anyone who isn’t an outright cinephile or TV snob should probably keep scrolling.

$14.99 / month - hbomax.com

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Best Budget Streaming Service

Netflix

$8.99 for basic, $13.99 for Standard, and $17.99 for premium

Advantages:

When it comes to the diversity of options, you simply can’t beat the Netflix library. Even after losing The West Wing and The Office to HBO Max and Peacock respectively, it still has a constantly rotating smorgasbord of classics like “Superbad,” “Casino Royale,” “Quigley Down Under,” “Sherlock Holmes,” and “Django Unchained” – and that’s without mentioning the Netflix original hits like “Stranger Things” and “Tiger King.”

The reality that every other streaming service has to contend with is that Netflix, for now, is the default streaming service and therefore the most likely to have the shows that become the topic of watercooler conversations.

Disadvantages:

The way I see it, Netflix has two big disadvantages. First, their big hit shows tend to fall apart in later seasons – look no further than “Stranger Things,” which has re-packaged the exact same story with slightly older actors three times now. And second, between losing their biggest shows and finding themselves up against new heavyweights like Disney+ and HBO Max, it’s likely that they’re going to take a few more content hits before the year is over. Only time will tell.

Netflix - Netflix

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Best Niche Streaming Service

Shudder

$5.99 per month or $56.99 per year.

Advantages:

If you’re a horror fan, there are certain itches that mainstream stuff can’t scratch, and Shudder’s the proverbial extended wooden scratcher-thing with a hand on the end. Only scary, of course.

Its library includes horror classics like “Re-Animator,” cult hits like “The Exorcist III,” and engaging originals like “Daniel Isn’t Real,” which stars Miles Robbins (son of Tim Robbins) and Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Disadvantages:

Not only is this just horror, it’s just horror for horror fans. There’s a very specific person who wants to watch “The Color of out Space,” an HP Lovecraft (“The Call of Cthulhu) adaptation directed by Richard Stanley (“The Island of Dr. Mureau”) and starring Nicholas Cage (...memes, mostly). If you’re not that person, this service has no use for you.

But if you are that person, then woohoo doggy.

Shudder - Shudder

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Best Bundle Streaming Service Plan

Disney+/ESPN/Hulu

$12.99 per month

Advantages:

Disney+ and Hulu Plus are both great options on their own, but it's the combination of Disney+’s original programming (which is about to get an injection of Marvel and Star Wars flavored steroids) with Hulu’s crazy movie library and ESPN that makes this a true slam dunk.

Disadvantages:

The appeal is a bit tenuous. Professional sports, Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney are probably the four biggest things to watch on TV – but if even one of those four things doesn’t appeal to you, then you might be better off going with a different bundle. Hulu’s movie library is great, but it’s simply not as deep as HBO Max’s nor as diverse as Netflix’s.

STEP 1 OF 3 - disneyplus.com

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