As streaming services jockey for our attention, we provide the power rankings of their new original offerings, from November 2023.
Just as sports franchises fluctuate from week to week, comprehensive power rankings are the ideal way to determine a streaming service’s worth. As we navigate the ever-expanding world of streaming, we all look to which service is worthy of our precious time and money. Over the course of a few months, one streamer can go from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel. All it takes is a few new releases, an underrated gem, and the authority of yours truly. Every month we’ll break down what’s hit the streams in the past month, what’s making headway in the cultural zeitgeist for good and bad, and what causes one service to reign supreme over all the others. Here’s our power rankings of the major streaming services in November 2023:
The first half of 2023, when Max was flying high with both The Last of Us and Succession, sure does feel like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Max has churned out more of what’s populated its streaming service without making any impact whatsoever: stand-up specials, news documentaries, and barely-promoted series. Season 2 of The Gilded Age is really all that Max has going this month that’s harkened back to its Emmy-friendly ways, but it feels like the buzz has been significantly muted compared to season 1. How much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Hollywood Public Enemy #1, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and how much is the inevitable lull that all streamers go through? The answer is unclear, but Zaslav didn’t do himself any favors this month by canceling the release of an upcoming film – though he did quickly reverse course after a loud public backlash.
The line of what constitutes a Hulu Original and what does not will likely drive me insane eventually. I’m talking, of course, about the streamer’s deal with FX, where some shows will air on cable TV and be available the next day, like Welcome to Wrexham and Fargo, which both aired in November. Or there’s the FX shows that stream exclusively on Hulu, like November’s flashy title, A Murder at the End of the World. It’s a harmless procedural that wants to be True Detective or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but arrives a few years too late to really capture the murder-mystery zeitgeist.
Hulu doesn’t produce many original films, but November was a rare exception with the Awkwafina-Sandra Oh comedy vehicle Quiz Show. Hulu’s films may not garner major awards contenders like Netflix or Prime Video do, but they’re still able to attract major talent. Quiz Show is not terrible, not great, just something to have on after you’ve finished Only Murders in the Building.
4. Disney Plus
Was November 2023 a landmark month for Disney Plus? Probably not, but look closely enough and you’ll find enough worth watching besides kid-friendly shows and Bluey. November saw the conclusion of season two of Loki, and while the second season didn’t live up to my personal expectations, it still maintained an 82% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. All the more impressive considering audience’s increasing superhero fatigue at the box office, and Jonathan Majors’s lingering domestic violence charges. At least we got more of Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson’s bromance together, plus newcomer Ke Huy Quan.
Not to be forgotten, November saw the rest of the season of Goosebumps with Justin Long. Hollywood has tried many times throughout the years to make a Goosebumps adaptation work, to mostly middling effect, but this version works perhaps the best. Long continues his late career douche persona renaissance, and it’s got enough chills for adults while still being safe enough for kids, as RL Stine intended.
3. Prime Video
Much like Max, Prime Video finds itself at a bit of a crossroads these days. Its major awards player The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is over, Fleabag likely won’t ever come back, The Boys is between seasons, and its big gamble, The Citadel, was an expensive flop. But November’s output, though sparse, gave enough solid content to rank it above other similar streamers. The Boys spin-off Gen V wrapped its first season on November 3, and has already been renewed for season 2.
Here’s where I shamefully admit that I’ve never watched The Boys, nor Gen V, so I can’t comment on the latter’s quality, but it holds a 97% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, which is extremely hard to come by these days. Remaining on the superhero front, part 1 of season 2 of Invincible premiered this month, and the adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel remains as bloody and smart as ever.
2. Apple TV+
It’s become too easy to joke that AppleTV+ is littered with shows with big-name talent that nobody has ever watched. While I can’t argue too much with that, there’s plenty of worthwhile programming available with and without A-list movie stars. Nobody in my office has been crowding around the water cooler to discuss the latest in Lessons in Chemistry, which just aired its season finale, but there’s enough worthwhile content that the streamer has released in November 2023.
From the unheralded The Buccaneers to the franchise-minded Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and the fourth season of the solid sci-fi For All Mankind, Apple has a little something for everyone, without the bottomless glut of their competitors. The film slate in November 2023 was a little quieter, with the sci-fi melodrama Fingernails, which should have been much better considering its cast. Also worth mentioning, AppleTV+ has cultivated a bizarrely robust catalogue of holiday specials, and this month features Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas, a spotlight for the Ted Lasso star to do what she does best: sing, dance, and be incredibly charming. I don’t know if a celebrity holiday special is considered appointment television these days, but more Hannah Waddingham on our screens is never a bad thing.
Sure, it’s easy to point to Netflix claiming the top spot here because of the sheer volume produced, but November 2023 was a really solid month for a streamer where consistency has never been a high priority. November is traditionally a month where Netflix releases its biggest awards priorities, and we saw the streaming releases of films like Nyad and Rustin, plus David Fincher’s The Killer.
This month also saw the latest Happy Madison production, the animated comedy Leo, with Adam Sandler and all his friends and family lending their voices. It’s not the greatest animated film you’ll find on Netflix but, not for nothing, my kids have already watched it approximately 3 billion times.
On the TV side, we saw the return of The Crown, with the first part of its final season. While the four episodes available aren’t exactly the show in peak form, it’s enjoyable television for adults, and Netflix’s greatest hope for Emmy success. Perhaps just as surprising is the anime lega-sequel Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, a hell of a fun take on the comics and the 2010 film, and one of the best TV shows of the year.
November 2023 brought on a great deal of material with all the major streamers, with some debuting their big awards players. Only time will tell if this month was an anomaly, or if there will be a shake-up to come. December looks to have more major releases, plus Holiday films, so stay tuned!