How to watch
Hilarious and sweet, Meet the Patels is a charming collaboration between siblings Geeta and Ravi Patel. While the film is a documentary, it feels more like a real-time romantic comedy – which makes sense, given that it’s about Ravi’s quest for the perfect wife. Standard tropes, such as parental disapproval, are present here, but the film keeps it fresh as it focuses on the intricacies of Indian dating, specifically with traditional matchmaking and modern internet dating. However, like some of the best romcoms, the real heart of the story lies outside of Ravi’s love life. What drives the story is the dynamic between Ravi and his family. Balancing parental expectations with personal hopes is a struggle anyone can relate to, though this film presents this through comedic debates about marriage. At the same time, these debates end up insightful and oftentimes reveal fundamental principles the family believes in. It’s only through resolving familial issues that Ravi finally figures out his love life.
Kanopy is an on-demand streaming service that schools and public libraries all around the US offer students and members for free. All you have to do is enter the details of your participating institution and you can start watching as you please. Because of the academic nature of the platform, Kanopy makes sure it streams only the most essential and important content available, which could mean hard-hitting films like Moonlight, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Lady Bird, Dogtooh, Memento, and Howard’s End for certain viewers, or The Adventures of Paddington, Richard Scarry, and The Monster Math Squad for even other, younger viewers. There are also storybooks, documentaries, and educational programs available to watch as Kanopy makes sure to cater to every learner regardless of leaning or age.
Peacock is a streaming service owned by NBC, with options for paid subscriptions as well as a free plan. The free plan offers about 13,000 hours of ad-supported content, with the option to upgrade to premium for more access to content. The premium options include two plans: $4.99 a month or $50 a year for ad-supported; $9.99 a month or $100 a year for ad-free. With both premium plans, you’ll get access to the full catalog of 2,000 movies and shows, including every episode of the original NBC series. You’ll also get next-day access to all the new episodes of ongoing NBC shows, and early access to talk shows such as Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on the air night. You can stream Peacock on Apple devices like the iPhone and Apple TV, Google devices like Android phones and Chromecast, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. But there is still no app available for Roku or Amazon platforms.
Much like Tubi and Freevee, Crackle is a streaming service that offers hundreds of movies and TV shows for free. Some of the more considerable titles include network series like Shameless and Community, Hollywood hits like Mad Max: Fury Road, and small indies like Short Term 12. Granted, Crackle doesn’t nearly have as many to offer as its competitors, and the ads are relentless, but it’s still a worthy and penny-less alternative that fills in the gaps for any streaming needs you might have. It also plays on most major streaming devices, including gaming consoles PlayStation and Xbox.
If you’re subscribed to DirecTV’s satellite or internet plans, you can choose to rent and buy from the platform’s wide library of titles. Here, you’ll find the latest blockbusters, indies, cult favorites, and even beloved TV shows and previous hits that might be difficult to view elsewhere. Prices can range from $3 to $20 per title, but that will depend on its popularity and how recently it was released. You’re free to watch them on the go via the DirecTV app, but do note that you can’t transact on the app itself. And while concurrent streams for purchases (which are yours for as long as you remain a DirecTV customer) are limited to three devices, the limit for rented titles is two.
FilmRise is a streaming app that’s partnered with the likes of MGM, Warner Bros., and ITV Studios to provide over 20,000 films and TV shows you can watch for free. It’s not immune to ads, but FilmRise more than makes up for those disruptions with its impressive selection of titles. On the film front, it has indie favorites, award-winning classics, and foreign gems, while on the TV front, it has murder mysteries (many imported from the UK), Gordon Ramsey-led competition shows, and oldies-but-goodies like The Dick Van Dyke Show, Roseanne, and the original 21 Jump Street. FilmRise isn’t available to stream directly on the website, but if you have a compatible device, you can download the app and start watching for free.
Despite its wobbly start in the streaming sphere, Peacock now has a growing and respectable catalog of titles to its name. It’s home to critically acclaimed shows like Poker Face and movies like Tar, not to mention a whole host of reality shows and sports events. But perhaps the greatest edge Peacock has over its competitors is that along with its on-demand content, it also features a solid lineup of live TV channels, many of them for free.
Peacock’s premium tier, often referred to as Peacock Premium, has channels like Hallmark, Fallon Tonight, SNL Vault, NBC News, Premier League TV, WWE, Dateline 24/7, and Below Deck.
Plex is a media management software that doubles as a free streaming service. Its main function is to organize your own library of content—that is, your own video, photo, or sound files—and make it streamable alongside Plex’s offerings of 200+ live TV channels and 50,000+ on-demand movies and shows. Plex’s basic package comes at no cost, but it also has a premium package starting at $4.99/month that boasts additional features, such as the ability to download content and watch them offline, among other things.
No longer just a physical DVD kiosk, Redbox has expanded to become an online space where you can rent and purchase films and TV shows as well as watch live channels for free. Like Vudu and Amazon Prime, Redbox gives you access to a plethora of movies, including fan favorites and indie gems (these can cost anywhere from $2 to $5) and movies currently screening in cinemas (these usually cost more, around $20). Redbox also has a live TV streaming feature that you can access even without a registered account. Although most of the channels are not that notable, they cover the essential categories: news, sports, and entertainment.