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The Best Shows and Movies to Watch on Paramount+ Launch Day

Stream everything from SpongeBob to Jean-Luc Picard!

Tim Surette

OK, who out there asked the cursed monkey paw for more streaming TV to watch? Well, that gave us not just more shows to stream, but a whole "new" streaming service in Paramount+. I say "new" because it's not actually new, it's a rebrand of CBS All Access after a corporate marriage between Viacom and CBS. That means there will be a lot of familiar shows from CBS All Access, as well as a whole bunch of new shows now that the streaming dam has broken on Viacom's vast library that includes series from Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, and more.

Paramount+ launches today, Thursday, March 4, and if you've signed up and are ready to dig into Season 4 of NCIS or The Roast of Donald Trump then that's your prerogative, but consider something from our recommendations below. From comedy to dramas to documentaries, we uncovered something for whatever taste you have, as well as the best series and movies premiering at launch. 

Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! We also have hand-picked selections based on shows you already love.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

For fans of: Krabby patties, sweet victory

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run

Paramount Animation

Every streaming service needs something for the kids to watch, and thanks to Nickelodeon being under the ViacomCBS umbrella, Paramount+ already has a couple of trump cards in SpongeBob Squarepants and Paw Patrol. But add the premiere of The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie: Sponge on the Run, and Paramount+ is looking like a very cost-efficient babysitter. The new film, the first to be full in 3D animation, makes its U.S. debut on Paramount+ and follows SpongeBob and friends as he looks for his missing pet Gary. Paramount+'s launch day also includes the debut of the SpongeBob prequel series Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Underyears, in case a movie isn't enough.  [Trailer]

Star Trek Discovery/Star Trek: Picard

For fans of: Setting phasers to "binge," Patrick Stewart
Number of seasons: Discovery: 3 (renewed for Season 4); Picard: 1 (renewed for Season 2)

Sonequa Martin-Green, Star Trek: Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green, Star Trek: Discovery

Michael Gibson/CBS

CBS All Access's biggest show, Star Trek: Discovery, continues to go where only it has gone before on Paramount+, with a fourth season coming sometime in 2021. It was the first new Star Trek TV show since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005, and the time off did the franchise well as Discovery is a hit with long-time Star Trek fans. Discovery follows the human but Vulcan-raised Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) as she rises among the ranks of the USS Discovery. The second new Star Trek series brings back The Next Generation's Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in a more character-focused Star Trek outing that sees Picard come to terms with the death of his good friend Data. Paramount+ also hosts the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks and the anthology series Star Trek: Short Treks. [Discovery trailer, Picard trailer] 

Here's everything you need to know about the new streaming service Paramount+

Detroiters/Review/Nathan for You/Corporate

For fans of: Alternative comedy, laughing, chuckling, guffawing, spitting milk out of your nose
Number of seasons: Varies, from two seasons to four seasons

Nathan for You

Nathan for You

Comedy Central

Massive corporate mergers may be bad for, well, pretty much everything, but in this case it's good for ending the streaming drought for some of Comedy Central's best original programming. In 2017, Comedy Central had arguably the three funniest shows on TV at the same time: Nathan Fielder's small business series Nathan for You, which turned hare-brained ideas into thoughtful experiments in social psychology; Andy Daly's bonkers dark comedy Review, which charted one man's descent into madness through his unbreakable dedication to his job of reviewing life experiences; and Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson's darling Detroiters, a buddy comedy set in the world of small-client advertising in a racially diverse city. Throw in 2018's nihilist parody of office culture Corporate, and you're set for weeks. All four have had modest-to-difficult appearances on streaming, but now they finally have a forever home. [Nathan for You trailerReview trailer, Detroiters trailer, Corporate trailer]

76 Days

For fans of: Reliving the event that started this whole mess we're in, award-winning film festival documentaries

76 Days

76 Days

MTV Films

MTV Films takes a look at the early days of the coronavirus as it spread through Wuhan, China, in February 2020. We still have very little insight, let alone footage, into the early days of the pandemic, but 76 Days brings cameras alongside the frontline workers who worked tirelessly to contain it and care for the sick. Now, you might be over everything about COVID-19, but the lauded 76 Days has been shortlisted by the Oscars in the documentary feature category and was a festival favorite when it premiered late last year. [Trailer]

Being Mary Jane

For fans of: Messy drama, soaps, Gabrielle Union
Number of seasons: 4, plus a wrap-up movie

Gabrielle Union, Being Mary Jane

Gabrielle Union, Being Mary Jane

Guy D'Alema/BET

Most of Paramount+'s back TV catalog is made up of CBS shows, which don't trend toward soapy fun. For that, you'll want to explore BET's shows on Paramount+, and the best place to start is Being Mary Jane, one of BET's most successful series. Gabrielle Union stars as Mary Jane Paul, a single, Black woman who works as a stylish news anchor in Atlanta. I think you know where the show is going; her professional life is complicated with occupational obstacles and her romantic life is messy with plenty of worthwhile candidates but not "the one." And if you need closure, the movie-length finale gives it, happy ending and all. [Trailer]

For Heaven's Sake

For fans of: True crime shows that aren't too grim, backwoods oddballs
Number of seasons: 1

Mike Mildon and Jackson Rowe, For Heaven's Sake

Mike Mildon and Jackson Rowe, For Heaven's Sake

CBS2021 Paramount+, Inc.

You'd think that with Paramount+'s slate of shows like Criminal Minds the streamer's first true crime show would be a gruesome tale of a cold-blooded psycho, but it's anything but. Sure, For Heaven's Sake has murder and mystery, but it's really about Mike Mildon, a man trying to solve the disappearance of his great-great-uncle who vanished in the winter of 1934 from a remote cabin in Ontario, Canada. The thing that separates it from most true crime shows is that it leans into meta comedy as Mike and his friend Jackson, Mike's true crime obsessed friend, try the whole detective thing involving a case that's more than 80 years old despite neither of them having any experience in the field. All eight episodes will be available on premiere day. [Trailer]

The Real World Homecoming: New York

For fans of: OGs, reality television, catching up with old pals
Number of seasons: 1 (20 previous seasons are also available)

The Real World Homecoming: New York

The Real World Homecoming: New York

Danielle Levitt/MTV 2021 Paramount+

One of Paramount+'s launch titles, The Real World Homecoming: New York taps into the streamer's strategy of reboots and revivals by bringing back the entire cast of the first season of the groundbreaking hit The Real World. Once again, they'll have parts of their lives followed by cameras as they all live together in the same loft in Manhattan that they did decades ago. The question is whether they're wiser and more tame in their 40s and 50s, and if the screaming matches about race and gender that filled their first go-around will now be civilized discussions about social issues. That is, until they stop being polite and start getting real. Maybe people don't change as they get older. [Trailer]

The Stand

For fans of: Viruses, pandemics, and all that far-fetched stuff
Number of seasons: 1 (it's a miniseries)

Jovan Adepo and James Marsden, The Stand

Jovan Adepo and James Marsden, The Stand

Robert Falconer/CBS

Steven King's acclaimed novel The Stand was adapted into an ABC miniseries back in 1994, but that may as well be the Stone Ages, so CBS All Access gave it another go after serious attempts to turn it into a movie franchise fell apart over the last decade. The story remains the same -- a group of survivors makes a last stand against evil in a post-apocalyptic world decimated by a plague -- but the production uses a Lost-ian device of flashbacks and the cast, which includes James Marsden, Amber Heard, Whoopi Goldberg, Greg Kinnear, and Alexander Skarsgard, is great. [Trailer]

Console Wars

For fans of: Aching thumbs, nostalgia, cutthroat business

Console Wars

Console Wars


People who were old enough to remember playing the Sega Genesis are now old enough to be making video game documentaries, and the CBS All Access/Paramount+ exclusive film is one of the best of them. Console Wars traces the battle between Nintendo and Sega in the late 1980s when Sega challenged Nintendo's hold on the home gaming market with the 16-bit Sega Genesis. The film dives deep into the business side of things, focusing the story on the underdog Sega and its marketing team who battled Nintendo by making fun of Mario and appealing to teens. It's a colorful and energetic film loaded with old footage of wired controllers and other things that will make today's youth gasp. [Trailer]