Paste Power Ranking: The 5 Best TV Shows on Right Now, from Pursuit of Love to Dr. Death

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<i>Paste</i> Power Ranking: The 5 Best TV Shows on Right Now, from <i>Pursuit of Love</i> to <i>Dr. Death</i>

It’s been almost five months since a new streaming service launched, can you believe it? What a peaceful time. Still, there are a lot of ways to watch a lot of content, and once again in our Power Rankings streaming dominates the conversation. Only one series (Kevin Can F—k Himself) is airing on a traditional cable network, and even then, you can access it on streaming via AMC+ (which… yeah, we know).

Our picks below run the streaming gamut, so no matter which services you subscribe to, there should be at least one thing we can recommend for you to watch this week.

The rules for the Power Rankings are simple: Any current series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available the previous week (ending Sunday) —or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks. The voting panel is composed of Paste Editors and TV writers with a pretty broad range of tastes.

Honorable Mention: I Think You Should Leave (Netflix), Kevin Can F—k Himself (AMC), Never Have I Ever (Netflix), The White Lotus (HBO), This Way Up (Hulu)

5. Dr. Death

Network: Peacock
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: A terrifyingly true story crime story.

Watch on Peacock

Whatever you think you know about the medical field will be upended by the new Peacock series Dr. Death. And that after watching these eight episodes, you may never want to go to the doctor again. The limited series is more unnerving than any horror movie.

Dr. Death follows the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson), a Dallas neurosurgeon who horrendously botched surgeries, leaving his patients heinously maimed or, in a few cases, dead. Among his transgressions: he sliced vocal cords, left sponges inside people’s bodies, cut into muscles and nerves instead of bone. Wanting to cover their own you-know-whats, his employers passed him on from hospital to hospital with letters of recommendations carefully crafted by their legal departments. Finally, two doctors—neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater)—made it their personal mission to stop him.

The writing, directing, and performances combine to make a taunt eight hours of TV, one that you will most likely quickly binge your way through. You’ll also be left with the unsettling knowledge that this is a true story, that this could and probably will happen again. That it could happen to you. You might even be inspired to suddenly start eating right, getting your eight hours of sleep every night, and making sure to drink water and exercise regularly…. —Amy Amatangelo [Full Review]

4. The Pursuit of Love

Network: Amazon Prime
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: Just delightful.

Watch on Amazon Prime

For a show premised on the messiness of romance, the gossipy chatter surrounding The Pursuit of Love dwarfed the buzz of its release. Sensationalized photos of the married Dominic West embracing his much younger co-star Lily James in Rome lit up British tabloids, leading to one of the most bizarre celebrity PR maneuvers in recent memory: West returning to his Irish estate and longtime wife, Catherine FitzGerald, then issuing a joint response on his affair to the press by handwritten letter. The message, which they left nestled into the greenery of their ornate garden, was simple: “Our marriage is strong. We are still very much together. Thank you.”

In many ways, the external drama around the miniseries mimics the drama within it. Based on the novel by Nancy Mitford and adapted and directed by Emily Mortimer, Amazon’s The Pursuit of Love centers on two cousins, Linda Radlett (Lily James) and Fanny (Emily Beecham) who both try to find self-fulfillment in their lives through relationships with men—but take wildly different approaches on achieving this goal. Linda flits from marriage to marriage, indulging in affairs at her whimsy. Her life appears to pulse with glamour, scandal, and self indulgence to outside observers. Meanwhile, Fanny’s safer and more thoughtful approach to love appears to result in more stability; a quiet marriage to an Oxford academic who cares for her—but only at first blush.

There’s a real sadness that permeates both characters; a real anger at the constriction of pre-war British gender roles both Linda and Fanny must play. But like the letter from Dominic West and his wife in real life, both Linda and Fanny’s relationships become most interesting through what both of them try to convince themselves of: each other, their lovers, and the rest of the world regarding their happiness and relative stability. It’s a woman’s plight, albeit couched within the upper class. So often each character seems desperate for anyone to believe in their choices. It’s not hard to see the whole series as the two foils penning individual notes to the viewer: “My marriage is strong. I am still very much holding it together. Thank you.” By the end, maybe we can actually believe them. —Katherine Smith [Full Review]

3. Schmigadoon!

Network: Apple TV+
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week: Featuring the best tap-dancing sequence of the show so far!

Watch Now

In this six episode series from executive producer Lorne Michaels, Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) are two New York doctors who embark on a camping trip designed to bring them closer together. They get lost along the way and find themselves stranded in the town of Schmigadoon! Despite their continued efforts, they are unable to leave until they find true love. Turns out, that means that Melissa and Josh aren’t as in love as they (particularly Melissa) thought they were.

The series manages to be simultaneously an adoring homage to the genre and a spot-on satire of it; every trope is lovingly upended, every plot difficulty laid bare. (Let’s be honest, women didn’t fare too well in the classic musicals. I mean there is a “what can you do but love him?” song about an abusive husband in Carousel.) Melissa explains the reproductive system in a little ditty that’s very similar to “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music. “Why are they laughing? Nothing even remotely funny just happened?” Josh wonders at the end of one number. There’s references to “color-blind casting” and at the start of a dream ballet, Melissa exclaims, “We’re not having a dream ballet. They’re annoying and stupid and slow everything down.” Will you enjoy the show if you’ve never seen a musical and have no context for what’s being spoofed? Maybe. But this truly is a series for Broadway fans. —Amy Amatangelo [Full Review ]

2. Ted Lasso

Network: Apple TV+
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week: It just makes us happy.

Watch Now

The success of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, with its emphasis on kindness, positivity, and respect, probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. A comedy about an American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who takes a job as the manager of a struggling English Premier League team was the perfect escape from the global pandemic that had forced us inside, fostered uncertainty, and fed our collective anxiety. But it also slipped into the TV space that had previously been occupied by heartwarming shows like Schitt’s Creek and Parks and Recreation, two comedies that similarly dealt in overwhelming kindness and left lasting impressions on viewers who’d grown weary of the darkness of the antihero age, or who needed a break from everyday life.

In Season 2, the series has doubled down on what works—Ted’s ability to lead, Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) strength, Keeley’s (Juno Temple) PR acumen, and Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) keen insight into the team—while also finding new and fun ways to explore characters like Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Jamie (Phil Dunster). Basically, Ted Lasso as a whole remains a delightful and quirky comedy that highlights the best of humanity, revealing how kindness and humility can be a conduit to happiness and success. It’s still the show we all needed last year, but it’s also the show that we need today. Because if there’s one thing the show has taught us, it’s that there is no bad time for Ted Lasso. —Kaitlin Thomas [Full Review]

1. The Good Fight


Network: Paramount+
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: The show continues to dive into the complex issues with creativity and thoughtfulness. (Plus, Elaine May as Ruth Bader Ginsburg!)

Watch Now

Five seasons into its run, The Good Fight isn’t showing any signs of slowing down or being less audacious of a series in terms of tackling topics of the day. That’s true even in how it handles the exit of two integral characters, Delroy Lindo’s Adrian Boseman and Cush Jumbo’s Quinn. In the premiere episode “Previously On,” it uses that story point as a catch-up device to brilliantly tell an imaginary season’s worth of stories to explain why and how they’ve exited the narrative. What’s left are Diane Lockhart and her husband Kurt (Gary Cole) navigating a marriage after his possible insurrection involvement on January 6th, Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald) mulling over making the firm one with all Black partners again, Jay (Nyambi Nyambi) suffering long-haul COVID and seeing visions of Frederick Douglas, and Marissa (Sarah Steele) attempting law school while also helping in Mandy Patinkin’s faux court experiment that’s attempting to rectify the broken justice system. Plus, the Cases of the Week. It’s brilliant madness already, but we’re entirely here for it. —Tara Bennett

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