There's more than you think going on with the bird: Peacock, that is.
The streaming service from NBCUniversal, the latest entrant into the streaming wars, may seem like an unnecessary add-on to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, Paramount+ and HBO Max. But with both paid and free ad-supported tiers, a handful of originals and a deep library that includes exclusive access to some of the best TV shows of all time, Peacock is worth a look.
The library of series (some non-exclusive) is deep, including beloved sitcoms ("Parks and Recreation," "The Office"), classics ("Murder, She Wrote," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"), recent cable series ("Psych," "Suits" ) and originals ("Girls5Eva"). We've rounded up the 35 best shows available to stream on Peacock as of January 2022 (in alphabetical order). (Asterisks denote shows that are only available with a premium subscription.)
Don't have Peacock?: 50 best TV shows to watch on Netflix right now
1. “30 Rock”
Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan make an endlessly appealing trio in NBC's award-winning series about a "Saturday Night Live"-style sketch comedy series. One can’t help but wonder what fake sketch show “TGS with Tracy Morgan” might have to say about 2020 (ignore the terrible recent infomercial the cast did for this streaming service; it was beneath them).
2. “The Affair”*
Showtime’s dark relationship drama is scintillating and twisty: a grown-up soap opera. Starring Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Ruth Wilson, the chemistry and frequent fights on the 2014-19 series radiate off the screen.
3. “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”
If you’re looking for thrills, look no further than this series, created and hosted by the master of suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock. This superb 1955-62 anthology series, which originally aired on CBS and NBC, has “Twilight Zone” vibes but features murder mysteries, thrillers and dramas rather than science fiction.
4. "Baking It"
Emmy winners Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg come together to host this festive baking competition, in which eight duos of home bakers compete in a series of culinary challenges, concocting a variety of holiday desserts to vie for a grand cash prize. A judges' panel of blunt grandmas gives the show an endearing homey feel, complementing Rudolph and Samberg's quirky banter.
5. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”*
From Dan Goor and Michael Schur, producers of "Parks and Recreation,” the former Fox (and now NBC) workplace comedy, set in a New York police precinct, also masters fast-paced humor and an upbeat tone.
6. “The Carol Burnett Show”
There are a multitude of series from the mid-20th century available to stream, many of which have a classically upbeat energy. One of the best is the timeless CBS sketch comedy of Burnett, an American treasure.
There is no better late '90s/early 2000s nostalgia trip than “Charmed,” with its crop tops, butterfly clips and combat boots. While it has its flaws (particularly in the later seasons) it is still a gripping, complex fantasy series.
With a magnetic cast – including Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, Shelley Long, Woody Harrelson and Kelsey Grammer – reliable jokes and comforting setting, the classic Boston sitcom set in a bar "where everybody knows your name" holds up after all these years. (*Season 1 is available to all users, but Seasons 2-11 require a premium subscription.)
9. “Downton Abbey”
What makes the PBS period drama about an aristocratic British family in the early 20th century and its household staff so riveting is the way it dresses up soapy drama in high-class clothes: a little trashy, a little classy and a lot of Maggie Smith asking what a "weekend" is.
This delightful Syfy series creates a world in which the greatest minds on Earth are gathered in one small Pacific Northwest town to work their scientific miracles, turning the little hamlet of Eureka into a futuristic enclave. The town sheriff (Colin Ferguson), who's merely average on the IQ scale, is tasked with cleaning up all the messes caused by out-of-control experiments.
11. “Everybody Hates Chris”
Based loosely on Chris Rock’s young life in the 1980s (and nodding to the next show on this list in its title), this UPN (and later CW) series toyed with the tropes of the family sitcom. The great performances, including Tyler James Williams as Chris and Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold as his aggrieved parents, are the bow on top of the irreverent humor.
12. “Everybody Loves Raymond”*
If you want guaranteed laughs and guaranteed comfort, look no further than CBS' touchstone sitcom, which remains one of the greatest entries in the genre. For nine seasons, Ray (Ray Romano), Debra (Patricia Heaton), Robert (Brad Garrett), Marie (Doris Roberts) and Frank (Peter Boyle) were like a second family. Even 15 years after it signed off, “Raymond” is hilarious and vital.
If “Cheers” isn’t enough Kelsey Grammer for you, try this slightly more cynical and mature NBC spin-off centered on the delightfully uppity Frasier Crane (Grammer), one of the most successful of all time. (*Season 1 is available to all users, but Seasons 2-11 require a premium subscription.)
14. “Friday Night Lights”
The drama on NBC's acclaimed high school football series, based on a book and movie, undeniably makes it one of the best shows to binge-watch, equally entertaining for teens and adults. They don’t make teen dramas like this anymore.
Peacock's first great original series, “Girls5Eva” is a sweetly funny sitcom created by Meredith Scardino and executive-produced by the “30 Rock” team of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. “Girls” is about a has-been 1990s girl pop group – played by Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Busy Philipps and Paula Pell – that tries to make it again in middle age. (Episodes 1-3 are available to all viewers, while the full season requires a premium membership.)
16. "Good Times"*
This Norman Lear series from the 1970s about the Evans family, a Black family getting by in Chicago, is a television classic and a welcome addition to the streaming landscape. John Amos, Esther Rolle and Janet Jackson are among the wonderful cast of the "Maude" spin-off (which itself was an "All in the Family" spin-off) that aired for six seasons on CBS.
Hugh Laurie’s turn as the misanthropic, wisecracking doctor struggling with addiction has become an iconic TV role. Combining the relationship drama and life-and-death stakes of the medical procedural with the mysteries of a cop show, “House” was a huge hit for Fox and remains a one-of-a-kind show.
18. “Law & Order: SVU”*
There's a comforting sameness to the nearly 500 (and counting) "SVU" episodes: Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) investigates the crime, finds her perp and justice is served. (Seasons 1 and 2 are available to all users, but Seasons 3-22 require a premium subscription.)
Based on the "Saturday Night Live" parody sketch of "MacGyver," which also became a 2010 movie, this comedy series promises the same chaotic hilarity as its prime-time predecessor, featuring performances from Kristen Wiig, Sam Elliott, Ryan Phillippeand Will Forte as the title character.
20. Modern Family"*
"Family" ran for 11 acclaimed seasons, following the antics of the large and blended Dunphy and Pritchett families. The series' long popularity stemmed from its talented cast (including Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Sofia Vergara and Ed O'Neill) and relatable laughs for families and married couples. (*Season 1 is available to all users, but Seasons 2-11 require a premium subscription.)
For those who like to mix slapstick comedy with murder-of-the-week police drama, “Monk” is a touchstone series. Tony Shalhoub's Emmy-winning performance as a genius detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder makes this 2002-09 USA Network comedy a true classic.
22. “Murder, She Wrote”
Jessica Fletcher (the absolutely wondrous Angela Lansbury) is a joy to watch in all 12 seasons of this classic detective series, which aired from 1984-96 on CBS.
23. "The Office"*
The long-running NBC sitcom is Peacock's biggest get to date. Consistently one of the most-watched shows on Netflix, the new streamer hopes to lure new subscribers with the beloved workplace comedy. And it might just work. There is just no getting sick of the hilarious series, no matter how many times you watch Michael Scott (Steve Carell) burn his foot on a George Foreman grill. (*The first two seasons are available to all users, but Seasons 3-9 require a premium subscription.)
Messy, tear-jerking, angering and melodramatic, NBC’s 2010-15 family drama is far superior to that other NBC family drama everyone talks about ("This Is Us"). Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Dax Shepard, Craig T. Nelson, Monica Potter, Mae Whitman and more make the Braverman family achingly relatable.
25. “Parks and Recreation”*
Peacock is now the only place to stream this beloved NBC sitcom about a hardworking city employee (Amy Poehler) and her work family. Although its rosy view of politics and government bureaucracy may feel a bit dated, it is still one of the best sitcoms NBC ever made. (*The first two seasons are available to all users, but Seasons 3-7 require a premium subscription.)
A faux-psychic (James Roday Rodriguez) is really a hyper-observational investigator, but he prefers to make jokes and have fake visions with the help of his best friend (Dule Hill). Although originally a crime-of-the-week procedural, later seasons of the series focused more on its pop-culture parodies (“Clue” and “Twin Peaks” are among the best) and goofball comedy. Although the series and revival movie are also available to stream on Amazon Prime, Peacock is the exclusive home of the sequels “Psych 2: Lassie Come Home” and "Psych 3: This is Gus."
27. “The Real Housewives”
Wealthy women in great clothes drinking wine 24/7 and arguing about their problems (in cities including New York, Beverly Hills and Atlanta) is quality viewing to help you forget about your own real-life issues. Come for the shouting matches and the ritzy vacations on the Bravo show, stay for the shady confessionals and rare moments of authenticity.
28. “Saturday Night Live”
While you're waiting for new episodes from Season 47, you can dive into the 46 previous seasons of NBC's late-night institution for some quick laughs and topical (well, at the time) parodies.
An underachiever with a photographic memory (Patrick J. Adams) poses as a lawyer at a high-powered New York firm and wins big cases in this snappy USA legal drama. Once you get over seeing the former Meghan Markle without Prince Harry – and the show's admittedly absurd premise – enjoy the soapy drama.
NBC's series about employees at a big-box store is something like a modern-day "Cheers," a workplace comedy set outside a traditional white-collar office in a place we all have wandered into at some point. (The blue vests of the fictional Cloud 9 store might remind you of a certain retail chain).
31. “Top Chef”*
There are dozens of food shows and chef competitions, but this Bravo staple remains the best, pitting a group of chefs in a series of grueling competitions.
This six-part crime drama from the BBC centers on the darker aspects of the marine world, including a disappearance from a fishing boat and a death aboard a submarine. The suspenseful adventures of investigator Amy Silva, who embarks on a quest to piece it all together, offer a chilling and adrenaline-pumping watch.
33.“Will and Grace”
“Will and Grace” broke new ground on NBC from 1998-2006 and was halfway decent in a recent revival. In either run, this must-see-TV sitcom was a fount of fast-paced dialogue, frequent pop-culture references and easy cast chemistry.
34. "Wolf Like Me"
This fantasy comedy stars Isla Fisher ("Arrested Development") and Josh Gad ("Frozen," "Beauty and the Beast") as emotional vagabonds who find unexpected solace in one another. Mystery and suspenseful romance marry nicely, as the inexplicable chemistry between Gary (Gad), a struggling widower, and Mary (Fisher), tormented by a personal secret, mesmerizingly unfolds. (Begins streaming Jan. 13)
35. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”
NBC’s musical comedy (and two-time Save Our Shows winner) about a San Francisco coder (Jane Levy), who hears other people's thoughts through music after an MRI mishap, is ambitious and fun. The upbeat series (at least in rhythm and emotion, if not plot) has a talented cast of singers belting their hearts out.
Have a different streaming service? Here are the shows worth checking out:
Contributing: Edward Segarra
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best shows on Peacock in January 2022: 'Wolf Like Me' debuts