Since its premiere in November 2019, Disney+ has consistently provided Disneyphiles with a nonstop stream of amazing content, including classic animated and live action films, original programming, and some delightful obscurities from the studio’s vault. We’ve assembled a shortlist of the best TV shows currently available on the streaming service.
1. Agent Carter (2015-2016)
Although it lasted only two seasons, this spinoff of Captain America: The First Avenger offered scruffy, wholesome, empowering charms that few other Marvel-related series seemed to, as Hayley Atwell reprised her role as a Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) operative navigating secret organizations—and the sexism of the 1940s and ‘50s—with her lost love Steve Rogers as inspiration. The show doesn’t get into the metatextual explorations of its successors (especially the other ones listed here), but it offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of an MCU character with no powers other than her intellect and resourcefulness using their noble example to make a difference in the world.
2. Behind the Attraction (2021)
Fans of Disney’s theme parks will particularly enjoy this series, created by Brian Volk-Weiss, which explores the history of many of their most famous attractions. Five episodes premiered on July 21, focusing on Jungle Cruise (a timely bit of cross-promotion with the recent movie), Haunted Mansion, Star Tours, and more. The series offers a fun look behind the scenes at these experiences that have enchanted parkgoers since the earliest days of Disneyland.
3. Big Shot (2021)
David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies) co-created this series about a college basketball coach (John Stamos) who finds a job at a private girls high school after being fired for an outburst on the court. Stamos, better known as TV’s Paul Rudd, continues to look impossibly young as coach Marvyn Korn opposite Jessalyn Gilsig (Boston Public) and an ensemble of young actors with remarkable talent on and off the court.
4. Earth To Ned (2021)
Jim Henson’s son Brian helped develop this series about an alien whose plans to conquer Earth get derailed when he becomes absolutely consumed by the planet’s popular culture. Using puppetry and animatronics, the show both sends up both the variety and talk-show formats and offers a unique perspective on a lot of subjects that we tend to take for granted, from pets to social media.
5. Gravity Falls (2012-2016)
Alex Hirsch not only created this cult animated series but shepherded it to its conclusion—a rarity among, well, most TV shows—with the adventures of 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they explore the eponymous (fictional) town and its many mysteries. Between its 40 episodes and a collection of short films, the award-winning show taps into classic storytelling techniques while adding welcome doses of inventive humor to elevate and transform them.
6. Loki (2021-present)
With a second season in development, creator Michael Waldron took the beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe villain and gave him a vehicle for more mischief while (moderately) taking accountability for his past deeds. Tom Hiddleston leads a cast featuring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Richard E. Grant, and Owen Wilson—the actor you never knew you absolutely needed to become a part of the MCU. Meanwhile, director Kate Herron delivers mystery and excitement that nudges this ever-expanding mythology in intriguing new directions.
7. The Mandalorian (2019-present)
Jon Favreau made himself a Disney mainstay directing two Iron Man films (and later, “live action” adaptations of two of their animated classics), but he became an architect of their multi-tiered universes with The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars show since the franchise was reborn in 2016 with The Force Awakens. Set in the time after Return of the Jedi, the show focuses on the adventures of a bounty hunter hired to retrieve a character that became instantly and iconically known as “Baby Yoda,” featuring Pedro Pascal and a revolving door of stars including Giancarlo Esposito, Omid Abtahi, Temuera Morrison, and Werner Herzog.
8. The Muppet Show (1976-1981)
This puppet-hosted variety show has gone through multiple iterations over the years, including spinoff films, sequels, and reboots. But nothing beats the original five-year run where Jim Henson and his gifted team of puppeteers enlisted high-profile actors and celebrities of the era to showcase the personality of Kermit, Miss Piggy, and their felt-covered colleagues. Particularly since the final seasons never made the jump to physical media, this collection is a treasure trove of great comedic gags and guest stars bringing the Muppets to life in extraordinary, unforgettable fashion.
9. The Simpsons (1989-present)
Even if you have not actively watched this animated comedy mainstay in years, The Simpsons is such an indelible part of the pop culture firmament that it has become a security blanket and always-easy solution if there’s a second when you don’t know what to watch. What’s wonderful about Disney+ is that it collects every episode from 1989 to present, offering an opportunity to see how the show has grown over the years and also what essential elements have made it such an enduring staple for one generation after the next.
10. Spider-Man (1981)
Until all of Spider-Man’s many television incarnations are made available physically or on streaming services, this short-lived 1981 animated series must suffice, and it more than delivers: Picking up where the 1967 series left off, it offers wall-to-wall webcrawling action along with a delightful rogue’s gallery of Marvel villains, including Lizard, Dr. Doom, Red Skull, Kraven the Hunter, Doctor Octopus, and more. If for no other reason than to generate enough viewing numbers to convince Disney (or whoever owns it) to also release Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, make sure you check this show out.
11. Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021)
Although its initial impact should have viewers seeking out the seven-season animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars (also available on Disney+), this spinoff/sequel show not only offers a wonderful visual alternative to live-action films, but storytelling and mythology that they either have not yet explored, or may not have the bandwidth to do. As with The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni created the show not only to examine a period of time in between the central trilogies, but to highlight characters who might show up in an action figure window box, though otherwise would be unlikely to see much action.
12. Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
Any Dave Filoni-related Star Wars property is worth exploring, and this series is no exception: Set after the events of Revenge of the Sith, the series actually explores the adventures of characters audiences fell in love with in the films, as well as new, never-seen-before characters exploring the world they inherited. Best of all, a number of original cast members, including James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz, and Billy Dee Williams show up to reprise their roles in a completely new format.
13. WandaVision (2021)
Jac Schaeffer created this show built around the appealing but mysterious duo of Scarlet Witch and Vision to serve as audiences’ first foray into Phase Four of the MCU, leading to the 2022 film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Whether or not those words mean anything to you—and even if you’re not currently contemplating connections to a movie that won’t come out for more than a year—Schaeffer cleverly draws upon a rich legacy of television storytelling tropes throughout various decades in order to highlight the characters’ disorientation and offer a referendum on gender roles and cultural norms as they have changed—and sometimes haven’t.
14. What If...? (2021)
What If...? is a thrilling manifestation of fan curiosity and speculation, paired with a talented team of animators and revolving door of all-star voice actors. Based on and built out of the premise of a comic series of the same name, the Marvel series takes the daydreams of love, hate, and imagination around iconic characters and properties and follows them to an exciting, unpredictable conclusion. Jeffrey Wright stars as The Watcher, a character who famously observes the comics multiverse (and occasionally gets involved), while everyone from Seth Green to the late Chadwick Boseman offers their talents as characters you already love, or soon will.
15. The World According to Jeff Goldblum (2019-present)
We can debate whether or not Jeff Goldblum has officially become a parody of himself at this point in the beloved, idiosyncratic actor’s career, but admittedly there are few things more enjoyable than watching him satisfy his own curiosity. This 30-minute show offers his unvarnished perspective as he examines and explores topics about which he knows nothing but exudes absolute sincerity, from sneakers to ice cream. A second season is debuting on November 12, 2021; in the meantime, you can watch the actor learn a few things about a few things, and maybe learn a little something for yourself as well.