Netflix's hit series Cobra Kai might be a little formulaic -- how many times do we need to see characters' allegiances shuffle and re-organize into new factions for the sake of drama? -- but its comforting mood, incredible nostalgia, and self-aware parody make it an addictive watch. But one part of the formula that we don't like? The brutal wait between new seasons. We've come up with a list of shows to watch that will to ease the pain.
Cobra Kai has been around since 2018, when it debuted on YouTube, but it got some additional attention by moving to Netflix after its second season. Picking up 34 years after the events of The Karate Kid films, Cobra Kai reunites its stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in their roles as Daniel and Johnny to examine what happens when their rivalry reignites vis-à-vis their teenage children, who are also conveniently into karate.
Blending an almost unbelievable level of smarts, charm, humor, and retro nostalgia, Cobra Kai is as much a fun teen drama as it is a sophisticated series for grown-ups. It cleverly flips archetypes on their head, with Daniel shifting to becoming a bad guy and Johnny earning empathy, and it riffs on what it means to be a man in the 21st century without being heavy-handed or reinforcing the toxic tropes of the '80s. It's highly bingeable and addictive, making it only natural to want more NOW. Since there's still some time to wait for the new season to arrive, though, fans of the show can bide their time with similar options, which are below.
If it's some of the sweet, sweet nostalgia that you're craving, take off the gi, put on some shades, pop a collar, chisel those dimples, and head over to Bayside High for the continuation of the '80s and '90s series Saved by the Bell. Like Cobra Kai, it follows the characters from the original series years later (Zack is governor of California!), as well as a new generation of high schoolers who realize the older characters can't stop living in the past. It also pokes fun at the original by pointing out some of the characteristics of the show that haven't held up well over time. Almost all of the original gang reprise their roles in some capacity. -Tim Surette [Watch on Peacock]
In the mood for a show that's the continuation of a movie that came out in the theaters decades ago? Disney+'s The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers follows the same path as Cobra Kai, bringing us up to speed on what's going on with the Mighty Ducks youth hockey program, and, obviously, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), the coach from the original movies. Lauren Graham stars as the mom of a young hockey player who gets cut from the Ducks, who have turned into an elitist powerhouse. See? That's kind of like Cobra Kai with the whole script flipping! It's a lot more wholesome than Cobra Kai, but it's also surprisingly funny and a real charmer. -Tim Surette [Watch on Disney+]
When it comes to charming shows with '80s nostalgia and subtly poignant commentary to be made, you can't go wrong with the totally rad Netflix original GLOW. A fictional tale based on the real-life ladies wrestling league of the Reagan era, GLOW stars an ensemble cast led by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin. As Ruth "Zoya the Destroya" Wilder and Debbie "Liberty Belle" Eagan, Brie and Gilpin portray actors whose ambitions were thwarted by institutional sexism and personal life choices. Both Brie and Gilpin -- nominated for a Golden Globe, Emmys, and Critics Choice awards between them -- make the show's skillful blend of lightheartedness and serious drama look easy to pull off and they're just two of many great performers who make the show's unforgettable characters come alive. Each of its three seasons gets better and more satisfying as the episodes go on. [Watch on Netflix]
Want to see more of the karate and less of the kid? This action-adventure series ran for three seasons on AMC and follows a warrior, Sunny (Daniel Wu), and a young boy, M.K. (Aramis Knight), who go on a journey to seek true enlightenment. Heavy on martial arts and formulas from that genre, Into the Badlandsof course required its journeymen to battle many, many foes along the way as they trudge through a post-apocalyptic landscape that's the result of a centuries-old war. Full of warlords, mystics, and magic, Into the Badlands is packed with cinema-level fight choreography, and engrossing conflicts that make it a compelling drama. [Watch on Netflix]
Friday Night Lights ran from 2006 to 2011 yet this oldie remains a goodie. It's about high school football in Texas, where high school football is everything, but it's also about community, duty, and the sometimes suffocating ties that bind. Kyle Chandler is damn-near iconic as Coach Taylor, a conflicted family guy doing his best to lead the Dillon Panthers to state at all costs; Connie Britton shines as his wife/guidance counselor Tami Taylor; and Taylor Kitsch earns our love again and again as Tim Riggins, the talented athlete struggling with alcohol and problems at home. It's way more intense than Cobra Kai but is just as beloved as a portrait of a community surrounding a sport. [Watch on Hulu]
True to its name, this dramedy follows a pair of high schoolers who, well, become teenage bounty hunters. At the outset, Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) are normal teenaged twins doing normal teenaged twin things when they accidentally land a job nabbing fugitives to earn cash. With Orange Is the New Black's Jenji Kohan on as a producer, the series has that madcap vibe you can't turn away from even when it goes completely off the hinges. Yet as Sterling and Blair balance crazy adventures with standard coming-of-age rites like dating and school, just like Cobra Kai, TBH remains lovable and sometimes excellent. [Watch on Netflix]
If you liked Cobra Kai for its family-friendly take on a dojo in a strip mall, then wait until you get a load of...this family-friendly Disney series about kids doing karate at a dojo in a strip mall! Running on Disney XD from 2011 to 2015, Kickin' It was a half-hour comedy series about a crew of kids who chop and kick their way through lessons about life and friendship. Of course, its mousey home network means this one's a little less gritty and a lot more PG than Cobra Kai, but the fundamental appeals are very much the same. [Watch on Disney+]