Amidst a boom of premium cable channels creating series that are entirely their own, Starz has proven that it’s more than just an HBO wannabe. The network has been the force behind some of the most creative and daring original series of recent years, and has created a handful of shows that are widely regarded as among the best ever made.
What makes Starz’s lineup even more impressive is that the network’s best shows span a wide variety of genres. Starz has made some truly hilarious dramas, but they’ve also dipped their toes in conventional small scale drama and told a few truly epic stories as well. There’s a little bit of everything on Starz, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
There are plenty of great comedy series that everyone has seen, but there are also plenty of hilarious gems that deserve more eyeballs. Party Down is one such gem, and it tells the story of six Hollywood dreamers who are trying to make it big, and who are passing the time until their big break by working for a high-end catering company. The show is frequently hilarious, but Party Down is a dark, cynical show underneath it all. It’s about waiting for your life to begin, and coming to the sad realization that the life you’ve been living may be the only one you get to live.
Creator: John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Paul Rudd, and Dan Etheridge
Main Cast: Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch
Total Episodes: 20
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Designed as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Black Sails tells the story of Captain Flint, a pirate who sails the high seas in the early 1700s, when pirating was at its peak. Flint’s story is ultimately about protecting his thieving, debauched way of life. That quest takes a more literal form as he attempts to defend New Providence Island, a piece of land that’s untamed the way that nothing in the modern world is. Flint is out to prove that the world can’t be tamed, and watching him fight that losing battle is one of the show’s chief pleasures.
Creator: Jonathan E. Steinberg
Main Cast: Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold
Total Episodes: 38
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Some of the best shows on Starz fly under the radar, and Power is a great example of that trend. The series stars Omari Hardwick as James Patrick, an entrepreneur who’s achieved enormous success through his night club, but who also caters to a drug operation designed to serve only high-status clients. The series chronicle’s Patrick’s attempts to move away from the world of crime and into running a legitimate business full-time. As you might expect, though, it’s not as easy to get out of the game as it may sound.
Creator: Courtney A. Kemp
Main Cast: Omari Hardwick, Lela Loren, Naturi Naughton
Total Episodes: 63
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Outlander may be the most popular Starz series of all time, and there’s good reason for that. In its early seasons, the story follows a love triangle that spans time and space, following a former nurse in the wake of World War II who finds herself transported back in time to the 1700s. Eventually, she finds herself torn between her husband in the 1900s and the man she’s married in the 1700s in order to survive. Outlander sprawls outward from there, but it’s the initial story of love and loss that got viewers hooked, and keeps them coming back for more season after season.
Creator: Ronald D. Moore
Main Cast: Catriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies
Total Episodes: 67
IMDb Rating: 8.4
America’s schools are fundamentally broken, and fixing them isn’t as easy as it may seem. America to Me is a stunning indictment of the racial and social inequalities that have infected America’s education system. The docuseries follows a group of Black students at Oak Park and River Forest High School in a suburb of Chicago. The school is high performing, and is thought to be one of the most progressive schools in the nation. In looking at the stories of individual students, though, it becomes clear that the systems around the school reinforce racial hierarchies even as individual teachers try to undo them.
Creator: Steve James
Main Cast: Tiara Oliphant, Jada Buford, Kendale McCoy
Total Episodes: 10
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Based on the more-than-century old novel of the same name, Starz’s Howard’s End miniseries is one of the best adaptations that E.M. Forester’s novel has ever seen. The series tells a sprawling story over the course of its four episodes, focusing on three families as the world changes at the turn of the 20th century. Kenneth Lonergan, who has also directed acclaimed films like Margaret and Manchester by the Sea, adapted the series, and it features plenty of deft, articulate writing that burrows into the core of the novel, and comes up with a few new ideas in the process.
Creator: Kenneth Lonergan
Main Cast: Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen, Tracey Ullman
Total Episodes: 4
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Even in an era where there’s more TV than ever, you still don’t get many shows like Vida. The series follows two Mexican-American siblings who clash in every way possible. One is a party girl, and the other is much more straight-laced, but they’re forced to reunite following their mother’s untimely death. From there, the sisters form a new relationship as adults and discover who their mother really was. It’s a subtle, moving series that focuses on what it’s like to live as a Latinx person in 21st-century Los Angeles. It may not have any dragons, but Vida is well worth checking out for its subtle, intricate character work.
Creator: Tanya Saracho
Main Cast: Melissa Berrera, Mishel Prada, Ser Anzoategui
Total Episodes: 22
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Although it has a dour name, Survivor’s Remorse has plenty of comedy to counterbalance its more serious moments. The half-hour comedy follows Cam Calloway (Jessie Usher), a young basketball player who signs a massive contract with a team in Atlanta and suddenly feels burdened with the responsibilities that come with wealth and fame. What makes Survivor’s Remorse work is its ability to balance the lighter moments with grounded looks at what fame and stardom actually mean. Money solves plenty of problems, but it doesn’t fix everything.
Creator: Mike O’Malley
Main Cast: Jessie T. Usher, RonReaco Lee, Erica Ash
Total Episodes: 36
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Based on an epic Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, American Gods had a lot to live up to before the series even premiered. The series has a wildly fantastical premise, which involves a man named Shadow Moon who meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday after being released from prison. Ultimately, Shadow finds himself embroiled in a war between the old gods and the new. American Gods is not a perfect show, but it took enormous swings over the course of its three-season run. Few shows tried to encompass more of what America was, and what it could be.
Creator: Bryan Fuller, Michael Green
Main Cast: Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning
Total Episodes: 26
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Anthology dramas have become increasingly popular in an age where shorter series are becoming the norm, and The Girlfriend Experience is a great example of how the format can be used. Each season of the show tells a different story, but each one is focused on the lives of sex workers who provide a high-end, girlfriend experience for their clients. The series is incredibly smart about the way patriarchal norms have infected prostitution, and always grants full humanity to the characters who are selling their bodies on screen.
Creator: Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz
Main Cast: Riley Keough, Anna Friel, Julia Goldani Telles
Total Episodes: 37
IMDb Rating: 7.0
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