When you think of Directv, I would not be surprised if this is the first thing that you think of.
This is America. Football is our religion. In Pittsburgh, the Lord’s Prayer opens with, “Our Father, Art Rooney in Heaven.”
Directv, of course, is the sole provider of NFL Sunday Ticket. That alone convinces a bevy of American television watchers to order Directv, and understandably so. Sure, there are many other terrific sports packages available through Directv, but the exclusivity factor on Sunday Ticket certainly drives a high amount of their business.
But just as it is with life, there’s more to Directv than football. I know, that’s a shocking proclamation, but I stand by it.
In fact, Directv offers over 315 channels. Most of them don’t have football or sports of any kind; just some of the best storytelling and shows Hollywood has ever produced. Don’t take just my word for it; most television critics agree.
Of course, not every Directv package comes with those 315+ channels. Like most television providers, Directv offers a tiered system: more expensive packages tend to feature more channels. Directv has six standard packages. While some have fewer channels than others, they all feature outstanding programming.
Here, in my expert television junkie opinion, is a list of the best shows available with each Directv package.
Note: not including any local channels that you can get with an antenna from Target
“Broad City” (Comedy Central): Three seasons deep, and “Broad City” has established itself as one of the most essential comedies on television. Focusing on a dysfunctional friendship between two twentysomething women in New York City, “City” stars some of today’s funniest actors. Along with “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Broad City” is ensuring that women have a rightful place on Comedy Central.
“Fargo” (FX): Anthology shows are on the rise, and “Fargo” might just be the best one. Featuring writing that brilliantly balances dark humor with melancholy, “Fargo” is a unique and unpredictable take on Americana.
“The Walking Dead” (AMC): Thanks to an unprecedented abundance of programming, it’s harder than ever to attain the status of being a “watercooler show.” This long-running, consistently gut-wrenching zombie drama is an exception. With AMC, you not only get the ever-suspenseful “Dead,” you get “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Talking Dead.”
“The Dan Patrick Show” (NBCSN): Dan Patrick changed the face of sports journalism in the 90s with “SportsCenter.” His former partner Keith Olbermann has moved onto political commentary, but Patrick remains as relevant in sports commentary ever. Every episode features incisive interviews with some of the biggest names in professional sports.
“First Take” (ESPN2): Love him or hate him, Stephen A. Smith is one of the more boisterous commentators in sports television. Despite losing his former debate partner, “First Take” remains one of the most influential shows in the sports world. When Stephen A. talks, we listen. Not only because he has something bold to say, but he’s saying it with signature gusto.
“Undisputed” (FOX Sports 1): Like his former debate counterpart, Skip Bayless is one of the most, um, divisive commentators in sports. You either hate him, or you *really* hate him. But either way, people keep hatewatching him. His new show with hall-of-famer Shannon Sharpe is filled with the same controversial hot takes you hate/love.
“Bizarre Foods” (Travel Channel): Remember that classmate in elementary school who would eat anything for a quarter? If you don’t, you *were* that kid. And if you were that kid, you’ll get a kick out of this show with celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern. Zimmern travels the world to consume unique local cuisine, most of which will make you squirm. But in this rare instance, it’s the good kind of squirm.
“Portlandia” (IFC): If you’ve never been to Portland, you’re missing out on a lovely city, in my opinion. I can tell you though that although it’s clearly exaggerated, “Portlandia” provides a hilarious window into the city that insists on keeping itself weird. With comedian extraordinaire Fred Armisen at the helm, no one ever has to worry about keeping “Portlandia” weird.
“Queen Sugar” (OWN): “Sugar” is one of the most buzzed about shows of the last few years, and for good reason. The show–developed by filmmaker Ava Duvernay–is a delicate, powerful show about estranged siblings who forced to come together to rescue the family sugar plant. Like her films, Duvernay approaches “Sugar” with remarkable sensitivity and humanity.
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” (Discovery Family): If you have children, you’re well familiar with the “My Little Pony” franchise. And given its following, it’s likely your childrens’ children will be intrigued by the magic as well.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” (Logo): Since 2009, “Drag Race” has been one of the funniest and lively reality shows on television. This is no small part to flamboyant host RuPaul, who resurrected her career with this campy classic. No one has done more to heighten the popularity of drag shows.
“The Vanilla Ice Project” (DIY Network): It may sound ludicrous that the guy who wrote “Ice Ice Baby” has a show about home improvement, but it’s true. What might sound even more ludicrous is the fact that it’s both entertaining and informative. But that’s true as well.
“From Dusk till Dawn” (El Rey): In the 90s, Robert Rodriguez’ “From Dusk till Dawn” became a cult cinematic sensation. Two decades later, Rodriguez is attempting to turn it into a cult television sensation. Judging by the response from fans, he’s doing a pretty good job so far.
“Shaun the Sheep” (Boomerang): “Sheep,” the spinoff of the “Wallace & Gromit” franchise,” is often just as endearing and clever as its source material. Using the same charming stop-motion clay animation, “Sheep” is a proven hit with audiences of all ages.
“Slasher” (Chiller): Like “Fargo,” Slasher is an anthology show. Like “American Horror Story,” it’s an anthology show with a lot of, well, horror. And camp. And gore. And adoration from its fans. “Slasher” is one of the most underappreciated shows on television.
“Game of Thrones” (HBO): Do I even need to write a description here? Moving on.
“Homeland” (Showtime): This Emmy winning show has undergone some interesting transformations through six seasons, but it’s arguably just as thrilling as it has ever been. Claire Danes is still Emmy-worthy as the troublemaking CIA operative always out to the right thing, even if she has to do a bevy of bad things.
“Outlander” (Starz): Based on Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novels, this wildly entertaining show about accidental time travelers might be Starz’ best venture into original programming yet. “Outlander” does an amazing job of transporting its characters to 18th century Scotland, but it does an even better job of making the audience feel like they’ve been transported as well, thanks to exciting storylines and breathtaking scenery.