Television fanatics cut the cable cord, but did they really? Over the last few years, platforms like HBO Max, Hulu, and Disney+ changed their pace and opted to parse out their content releases. As a result, these streaming giants are returning nostalgic viewers to the days of anticipation, waiting weekly to watch a new episode. The momentum changes finally seem to restore the intended purpose of the episode-ending cliffhanger that forces audiences to keep coming back.
Meanwhile, streaming service Netflix sticks to its model, letting viewers control content consumption by simultaneously dropping entire seasons. They’ve dabbled into restricting shows like Ozark and You by releasing the seasons in two installments several weeks apart. Whichever way you stream, these weekly release series take away the pressure of bingeing double-digit hours worth of television just to join the workplace chat the next day.
1. The Last of Us (2023-)
An adaptation that is infecting viewers around the globe, HBO Max’s The Last of Us premiered as one of the most highly anticipated series in 2023. And they delivered. The series's source material is from a video game of the same name from Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. Taking place 20 years after an infectious cordyceps outbreak, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) trek across the country in hopes of finding a cure.
Premiering Sunday, January 15, The Last of Us locked in 4.7 million U.S. viewers with the first episode. It averaged 30.4 million U.S. viewers over its first six episodes. The episode nine finale dropped on March 12, hyping fans up for the inevitable season two.
2. White Lotus (2021-2023)
Catering to cable customers and the cord-cutters, White Lotus premiered on HBO's network and simultaneously dropped on HBO Max for streaming. Season one kicked off on Sunday, July 11, 2021, and ended on August 15. Season two landed with viewers on Sunday, October 30, 2023, and ended on December 11.
HBO reported that season two’s finale earned 4.1 million across the live and same-day streaming telecasts courtesy of an audience base double the size of season one’s finale. Both seasons follow a curious cast of unrelated vacationers as they spend a week at a luxury resort chain called White Lotus.
3. The Mandalorian (2019-)
Perhaps the biggest draw for Disney+ viewers (depending on whom you ask), The Mandalorian brought Star Wars fans their first live-action series. Pedro Pascal is the Mandalorian, a lone bounty hunter navigating the galaxy alongside the now ever-popular Grogu (affectionately referred to as Baby Yoda).
Disney+ secured a top-streaming series from day one for a platform in its infancy. Season two alone garnered 8.4 billion minutes of streaming during the eight weeks of its debut.
4. Euphoria (2019-)
Despite a pandemic-induced hiatus, Euphoria‘s second season returned in 2021 with no viewership setbacks. The HBO series, led by Zendaya, documents the trials and tribulations of being a modern teen with the temptations of sex, drugs, and individuality.
Whether it was the intense build-up from the pause in filming or because the show is that good, Euphoria still significantly increased its viewing stats from season one to two. The award-winning drama premieres Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.
5. Ted Lasso (2020-)
The lovable dramedy series proves that Apple TV+ can hang with the weekly release streamers. Ted Lasso stars Jason Sudeikis as the titular character, an American college football coach trying to manage an English Premier League football team.
Award-winning and well-received by audiences and critics, the season two finale snuck into the top 10 Nielsen ratings among all subscription video-on-demand programs, going against the likes of multiple Netflix originals and hosted series. In a world of Netflix binging, Ted Lasso’s weekly releases hold their own.
6. Poker Face (2023-)
A Peacock Original, Poker Face features star Natasha Lyonne in another entertaining leading role. Lyonne stars as Charlie, a woman with a remarkable ability to instantly detect lies, who treks across the country solving crimes as she meets a slew of interesting people.
With 641 million streaming minutes viewed the week of January 30 to February 5, 2023, Poker Face earned a number two spot on Nielsen’s U.S. streaming list. The series debuted with four of its ten episodes, with the remaining dropping weekly until the finale.
7. House of the Dragon (2022-)
The highly anticipated prequel, House of the Dragon, reignited a franchise flame after a polarizing Game of Thrones finale. The HBO series is set close to 200 years before the events of GOT during the Targaryen Civil War.
The Nielsen numbers don’t lie, with Variety reporting 1.01 billion minutes streamed by the series’ sixth week. Airing on HBO’s channel and HBO Max streaming, HOTD easily outperformed its predecessor series on premiere night.
8. Only Murders in the Building (2021-)
Featuring two comedic legends and a pop culture icon, Only Murders in the Building remains one of Hulu’s best original series. The comedy stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez as three neighbors conducting their own investigation into the murders occurring within their Upper West Side apartment building.
Following the season one finale, the whodunnit series ranked as the 14th most in-demand show in the U.S. among thousands of titles, according to Vulture's review of Parrot Analytics.
The weekly releases have original fans eager for the next and allow new fans to binge while waiting for the highly anticipated following season.
9. The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)
Another prime example of adaptations done right. The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian drama series based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel. Women are enslaved and forced to live under a strict, oppressive government that dictates their fertility and reproductive purpose.
The Emmy-winning series streams Tuesday nights on Hulu. The Handmaid’s Tale will conclude after season six. Still, a sequel series based on Atwood's 2019 novel, The Testaments, is developing with the streaming giant.
10. 1923 (2022-2023)
This second prequel series in the Yellowstone franchise, 1923, earned its due as the most-watched debut on Paramount+. Before 7.4 million viewers, a new chapter of the Dutton family was told through the eyes of stars Cara (Helen Mirren) and Jacob (Harrison Ford) as they faced the struggles of the 1920s.
Created by Taylor Sheridan, 1923 is the third series in the franchise, with 1883 and Yellowstone establishing the western franchise. With its explosive streaming debut, Paramount+ renewed 1923 for a second season.
11. Shrinking (2023-)
Shrinking is a brilliant exploration of grief. The Apple TV+ series stars Jason Siegel as a grieving therapist taking a new approach by telling his clients his unfiltered opinion and finds it's changing not only their lives but his in return.
This series features Siegel at his best in equal parts drama and comedy alongside his co-star Harrison Ford. The 10-episode season airs Thursday nights and secured an early renewal for additional seasons.
12. How I Met Your Father (2022-)
With this series, Hulu proved it could bring a weekly release sitcom to streaming. An ode to and reboot of How I Met Your Mother, this series features Sophie (Hilary Duff) and her friends as they attempt to navigate modern dating.
In a streaming plot twist, How I Met Your Father will get a second run on cable. Variety reported that the series will go from Hulu to Freeform on April 25, with each episode airing back-to-back until the finale on May 23.
13. Bel Air (2022-)
Following Disney's footsteps, Peacock adapted a nostalgic classic for a new generation of viewers. Bel-Air stars Jabari Banks as Will Smith, keeping with the original series premise of Will’s journey from the West Philadelphia street life to the wealthy suburbs of Los Angeles.
This modern retelling dives deeper into the issues the 90s sitcom touched on, backed by a platform that doesn’t need to abide by network censorship. With another season ordered by Peacock, Bel-Air continues its success as a weekly episode series.
14. The Peripheral (2022-)
Don’t forget about Prime Video as they tried their hand with weekly releases with The Peripheral. A sci-fi series starring Chloë Grace Moretz, the creators of Westworld introduced another mind-bender about a woman living in a technology-altered world of espionage and dark humanity.
The series appeals to the likes of Black Mirror fans in addition to Westworld viewers. Another example of weekly episode streaming gone right, The Peripheral secured an additional season with Prime Video.
15. WandaVision (2021)
The first go-around for a Marvel series proved to be a success. WandaVision seemingly picks up post-Avengers: Endgame as Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) attempts to build a sheltered life with Vision (Paul Bettany) in an environment she controls completely. Riffing off the styles of classic sitcoms, WandaVision beautifully blends Marvel with television.
The single nine-episode season premiered on Disney+, setting fans up for the new phase of Marvel movies and series. For new viewers to the franchise, it's a “can't see one without the other” situation here, but indeed a beautiful ode to television.
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Ali is a Milwaukee-based writer and editor with a focus on entertainment topics like movies and television for Wealth of Geeks. While movies were always a part of her life, Ali found a way to blend her passion for writing and cinema while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. There, she studied the dynamics of literature and film, earning a Bachelor's in English and a minor in creative writing. As an entertainment geek, Ali believes movies are best seen in theaters and TV shows are more impactful with weekly episode releases, but she'll never turn down a good movie marathon or binge-watch of the most recent Mike Flanagan series. With over five years of publishing experience, her career includes serving as an editor for Oshkosh Scholar and previously reporting construction and legal news for The Daily Reporter and Wisconsin Law Journal. Additionally, Ali is also an infotainment contributing writer for Collider.