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16 best original series on Starz: ‘Power’, ‘P-Valley,’ ‘American Gods,’ and more

Starz is building its reputation for original programming, including the newest entry, 'P-Valley.'

Jul 13, 2020, 1:23 pm*

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Phil West

  • Starz is building a reputation as a destination for original programming as well as for its movie library, with shows like Power, American Gods, and Outlander.
  • It’s also the home to a trio of acclaimed historical pieces—The White Queen, The White Princess, and The Spanish Princess—as well as cult favorite Ash vs. Evil Dead and underappreciated comedies like Survivor’s Remorse and Party Down.
  • Hightown and P-Valley are the latest entries in the Starz lineup of critically-acclaimed original shows, and Power Book II: Ghost is expected to add to the Power saga later this summer.
  • Starz is available for $8.99 a month or $74.99 a year.
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WATCH: 15 Best Original Shows on Starz


Starz original shows: A roundup of the best programs on Starz

P-Valley

Based on a Katori Hall play, this Starz Original drama explores the lives and struggles of the dancers in a Mississippi Delta strip club. While Brandee Evans stars in the show as the club’s most popular dancer, Mercedes, the performance to watch might be Nicco Annan as the non-conforming club “mother,” Uncle Clifford.

P-Valley trailer
JoBlo TV Show Trailers/YouTube
  • Launched: July 12, 2020
  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Brandee Evans as Mercedes, Nicco Annan as Uncle Clifford, Shannon Thornton as Keyshawn / Miss Mississippi, Skyler Joy as Gidget
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Ongoing

P-Valley reviews

What the critics are saying

“At times it feels a bit like a nighttime soap opera but set in a deep South strip club. Still, between the storylines about domestic abuse and a secret casino project, we see takes on colorism, closeted gay men and the struggle to survive when you’re poor, Black and outside polite society in the South. All the directors in this first season are female, which may explain why so many shots of the dancers feel constructed from their point of view, a departure from the leering male gaze found in many other films and TV shows about strippers … P-Valley is a drama that uses sex and titillation to spice a deeper story, presenting the kinds of characters rarely seen in an hourlong high-quality drama one subscription cable.” —Eric Deggans, NPR

“In all respects, “P-Valley” sides with these women and those who support them while previewing threats on the horizon. Their view informs the focus in the writing, the directing and the performances, turning every stereotype about these places and these women on its head and presenting them from a view that serves their perspective, for once. And when the story inevitably succumbs to some of its more melodramatic inclinations, no part of its potency declines in the bargain. Consider that to be a bonus, of the good time to be had in watching these women thanklessly work, possibly shifting your point of view in the bargain.” —Melanie McFarland, Salon


Hightown

Set in Cape Cod’s Provincetown, the show (with Jerry Bruckheimer in an executive producer role) follows Jackie Quinones, a National Marine Fisheries Service agent who stumbles upon a mysterious dead body. This sets her upon two paths: Trying to unravel what happened while also trying to get sober.

  • Launched: May 17, 2020
  • Genre: Crime drama
  • Starring: Monica Raymund as Jackie Quinones, Ray Abruzzo as James Badge Dale, Riley Voelkel as Renee Segna, Shane Harper as Junior, Atkins Estimond as Osito, and Amaury Nolasco as Frankie Cuevas Sr.
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Pending

Hightown reviews

What the critics are saying

“The eight-episode crime saga has all the earmarks of standard summer escapism: sun-dappled locations, attractive leads and a rambunctious horniness. Yet on the periphery of its narrative is the encroaching opioid epidemic destined to spread throughout the protagonists’ deceptively tranquil community, not unlike COVID-19.” —Matt Fagelhorn, rogerebert.com

Hightown doesn’t ever reach full beach-noir status, but it does grow organically darker and more heartbreaking as the season progresses. And unlike so many murder mysteries, it manages to make each of its deaths shocking in its obliteration of human potential. On most shows, the coincidences between the characters might be risible, but the writers persuasively establish this version of Provincetown as the kind of teeming village where secrets can fester even between lifelong friends.” —Inkoo Kang, Hollywood Reporter


Power

This six-season drama followed nightclub owner James “Ghost” St. Patrick’s quest to leave his drug dealer past behind. The absorbing show also examined complicated family dynamics, friendships, and a rivalry with Kanan Stark, played by the show’s executive producer Curtis Jackson (better known by his stage name 50 Cent). Though Power came to a close this past February, four different spinoffs are in the works, starting with Power Book II: Ghost this summer.

watch_power_online_free
STARZ/ Youtube
  • Launched: June 7, 2014
  • Genre: Crime drama
  • Starring: Omari Hardwick as James “Ghost” St. Patrick, Joseph Sikora as Thomas “Tommy” Egan, Lela Loren as Angela Valdes, Naturi Naughton as Tasha St. Patrick, Curtis Jackson as Kanan Stark
  • Seasons: 6
  • Status: Concluded

Power reviews

What the critics are saying

“A pay-cable crime soap with a hip-hop beat, “Power” counts Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson among its executive producers, and draws liberally from a rich history of mob yarns. By that measure, this Starz series musters occasional moments — mostly courtesy of its charismatic star, Omari Hardwick — but has a second-tier feel to it, with the familiar theme of the drug dealer who yearns to go legit, despite all the forces standing between him and dreams of dying from old age. Violent, sexy and slick, the show mostly feels like it’s sampling riffs from movies and TV of yore. —Brian Lowry, Variety

“In some of their best work individually and with one another and the rest of Power and its potent writing, these actors pull back the layers of mourning and … anger to unveil the complexities of loss in a life where a body count always seemed in the cards … Power is not just good television, it is vital.” —Dominic Patten, Deadline


American Gods

This fantasy drama, based on the Neil Gaiman novel, follows the lead character Shadow Moon as he’s released from prison and encounters a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday. As the relationship develops, and Shadow Moon becomes Mr. Wednesday’s bodyguard, he’s caught up in a world of magic where gods walk among people.

orlando jones american gods
American Gods/Starz
  • Launched: April 30, 2017
  • Genre: Fantasy drama
  • Starring: Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon, Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday, Emily Browning as Laura Moon, Crispin Glover as Mr. World, Yetide Batiki as Bilquis
  • Seasons: 2
  • Status: Season 3 premiering later in 2020

American Gods reviews

What the critics are saying

“Fantasy dramas often try to over-explain themselves, but American Gods just lets you sink into its world. It gives us a series of context-free, gorgeously realized short films about mythical figures, melding grimy reality with a powerful sense of ancient magic.” —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, The Daily Dot

“The show’s cinematography and digital imagery emphasize the juxtaposition of the natural world against the synthetic, reality versus the realm of the unreal, impressing upon the viewer how inconsequential man happens to be in the vastness of time and space. It also invites the viewer to see an extra level of magic within floating tufts of dandelion seed. The drama provides an ideal canvas for Fuller and Green to unleash their creative and collaborative powers. The conscientious visual style that Fuller honed on Hannibal achieves riotous new heights of sensuality in this series.” —Melanie McFarland, Salon


Outlander

Based on the Diana Gabaldon novel series, Outlander takes viewers back to 18th-century Scotland, via a time-traveling nurse who walks back from 1945 into the Jacobite rebellions. The critically-acclaimed show also wends its way to the American colonies through its first five seasons.

watch outlander season 5
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: August 9, 2014
  • Genre: Historical drama
  • Starring: Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser, Sam Heughan as James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser, Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall, Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fraser, Gary Lewis as Colum MacKenzie
  • Seasons: 5
  • Status: Renewed for Season 6 (release date TBD)

Outlander reviews

What the critics are saying

“Plenty of bodices get ripped in Outlander, but it tries hard to give equal time to eroticizing men and women … Always fascinating and often quite odd, mad, and weird, Outlander has the most peculiar mix of gothic horror, swashbuckling adventure, magical fantasy, and romance you’re likely to experience on TV.” —Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer

“The attention to detail across every level of production, from costumes to sets to cinematography, remains as impeccable as ever. It’s still a little hard to buy Balfe and Heughan as a woman and man in their 50s and late 40s, respectively … but the pair retains the chemistry that’s been the ultimate engine of this series from the beginning, heightened by the perceived passing of time.” —Liz Shannon Miller, Collider


Vida

This show, created by Tanya Saracho, has already completed a three-season run, but won a GLAAD Media Award and critical acclaim in its time. The series follows two very different Mexican-American sisters who move back to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights following the death of their mother.

Vida Season 1 trailer
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: May 6. 2018
  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Melissa Barrera as Lyn Hernandez, Mishel Prada as Emma Hernandez, Ser Anzoategui as Eddy Martinez, Chelsea Rendon as Marisol Sanchez, Carlos Miranda as Johnny Sanchez
  • Seasons: 3
  • Status: Concluded

Vida reviews

What the critics are saying

“In some ways, it’s a miracle that Tanya Saracho’s lovely Vida was allowed to exist for three seasons. Focusing on queer and Latinx themes through the lens of two very different sisters taking over their late mother’s East LA bar, the Starz series has had quiet and specific appeal. And yet, its story is also universal in the way it explores identity, authenticity, and issues of gatekeeping in a variety of different communities.” —Allison Keene, Paste

Vida is shot through with affection for its setting and characters. But it’s the unsentimental, difficult kind of love that an adult child has for a parent with whom she’s had a rough history. It sees the imperfections rather than looking past them … In an era of TV gigantism, when ambitious shows distend their episodes like a Yes double album, [its] brevity works well for a series that’s all about intimate, minute observations, emphasized by the roving hand-held camera, which creates the sensation of pulling up elbow-to-elbow with the characters. At typical drama length, this series might have been bogged down with plot digressions and expansions. As it is, it sometimes slips into melodrama, but the lapses pass quickly. Life may be too short, but Vida is just right.” —James Poniewociz, New York Times


Sweetbitter

This New York City-based drama drew from Stephanie Danler’s novel, and Danler was instrumental in developing it for Starz. The show follows Tess, a young woman who scores a job at a notable downtown restaurant and plunges into an adventuresome new world. The show only lasted two seasons before being canceled, but it’s still on Starz for those who missed it.

ONE Media/YouTube
  • Launched: May 6. 2018
  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Ella Purnell as Tess, Tom Sturridge as Jake, Caitlin FitzGerald as Simone, Evan Jonigkeit as Will
  • Seasons: 2
  • Status: Cancelled

Sweetbitter reviews

What the critics are saying

“It may seem unfair, 20 years down the line, to trot out Sex and the City in the discussion of a new story about a young woman’s New York awakening … But the Sweetbitter playbook isn’t much different. The show has a moody, dark peak-TV look and tone, and Tess is younger than Carrie Bradshaw, who was already an established writer and fashionista when Sex and the City began. —Mike Hale, New York Times

“The ultimately charming Sweetbitter explores the existential questions of a nearly quarter-life crises with sincerity, not cynicism, which gives it an unexpected warmth and coziness. Tess’ journey is one that may not have an exact direction, but it is guided by the idea of not settling or making the easy choice. It’s an idea that challenges her again and again, via various interactions with the show’s vibrant and likable cast, as the series vitally understands how an intense workplace can create opportunities and a sense of family, if not exactly friendship.” —Allison Keene, Collider


Black Sails

Avast! This show takes on the Golden Age of Piracy, as a prequel to famed novel Treasure Island, beginning in the West Indies of 1715. The show, boosted in part by a San Diego Comic-Con’s positive reaction to a second-season preview, had a solid four-season run between 2014 and 2017.

  • Launched: January 25, 2014
  • Genre: Historical adventure
  • Starring: Toby Stephens as James McGraw/Flint, Hannah New as Eleanor Guthrie, Luke Arnold as “Long” John Silver, Jessica Parker Kennedy as Max
  • Seasons: 4
  • Status: Concluded

Black Sails reviews

What the critics are saying

Black Sails is also fun as hell. It’s much less dark than it seems at the outset, intentionally set apart from the TV trend for overwhelming grittiness. Black Sails includes plenty of brilliantly-shot fight scenes, but the moments of true grotesquery are few and far between. That means they have far more emotional impact than the ever-increasing tolerance for brutality in shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.” —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, The Daily Dot

“The era is a rich vein to mine, and to their credit, the creators are light on pirate cliches — I do not believe one “aargh!” is uttered — but at the same time, there’s a little too much emphasis on pirate economics and labor disputes than is necessary, and the sprawling cast and hierarchy a little hard to keep straight. More swashbuckling please.” —Vicki Hyman, NJ.com


Spartacus

Running for four seasons, this drama covers familiar territory for those who know their ancient Greek lore. This New Zealand-produced take on the legendary gladiator included Lucy Lawless (of Xena fame) and two different lead actors in the title role. (The series’ original Spartacus, Andy Whitfield, died of cancer a year into its filming.)

MTrailerSource
  • Launched: January 22, 2010
  • Genre: Historical drama
  • Starring: Andy Whitfield and Liam McIntyre as Spartacus, Lucy Lawless as Lucretia, Manu Bennett as Crixus, John Hannah as Quintus Lentulus Batialus
  • Seasons: 4
  • Status: Concluded

Spartacus reviews

What the critics are saying

Spartacus shows that it’s able to continue the threads of the past while building new paths toward the future, and it’s exciting to be caught up in a show that’s unafraid of the chaos this ultimately causes in the present. Well written and acted, almost perfectly paced, and entirely unlike anything else on television, Spartacus isn’t just bloody good, it’s bloody excellent.” —Aaron Riccio, Slant

Spartacus has painted itself into something of a corner in terms of expectations, creating an inevitable can-you-top-this element in terms of sheer gore. Even in this stylized, confined-to-pay-cable fashion, that’s perhaps not the most helpful image for the industry right now. As for Starz, the program clearly served its purpose, boosting the channel’s then-nascent original programming efforts and guiding them in an escapist direction, before the network began trying to expand its profile with more character-driven fare.” —Brian Lowry, Variety


Dublin Murders

Created for both BBC One and Starz, this grim and gripping show is based on Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels. It follows two investigators digging into a pair of murders; the investigation also opens up a psychological examination at the heart of the show’s initial eight episodes.

Mystery Shows Dublin Murders
STARZ/YouTube
  • Launched: November 10, 2019
  • Genre: Crime drama
  • Starring: Killian Scott as Rob Reilly, Sarah Greene as Cassie Maddox, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Frank Mackey, Moe Dunford as Sam O’Neill
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Pending

Dublin Murders reviews

What the critics are saying

“The psychological mystery takes many twists and turns as it winds its way to an almost inevitable conclusion, and at times it takes modest but bizarre detours. Like a good binge-watch drama, stunning reveals at the end of each hour leave you yearning for more.” —Carissa Pavlica, TV Fanatic

“It is a tasty slice of cut-and-come-again cake, even if the relationship between Cassie and Rob – upon which the credibility of the story turns (or will, if faithful to the books) – is not yet sufficiently close or well-drawn. But it is a fine one to curl up with and enjoy as the nights draw in.” —Lucy Mangan, The Guardian


The White Queen

Like Dublin Murders, this show is a BBC production made initially, exclusively available to American audiences via Starz. The historical drama covers The Wars of the Roses through the vantage point of Philippa Gregory’s novels. The story focuses on three women who navigate for power in the shifting landscape of the time.

Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: August 9, 2013
  • Genre: Historical drama (miniseries)
  • Starring: Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville (the “White Queen”), Amanda Hale as Lady Margaret Beaufort (the “Red Queen”), Faye Marsay as Lady Anne Neville (the “Kingmaker’s Daughter”), Max Irons as Edward IV
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Concluded

The White Queen reviews

What the critics are saying

With Showtime giving the ax to The Borgias, and The Tudors having run its course, The White Queen is an acceptable next best thing … [It is] an entertaining romp through a complicated and fascinating period of English history. —David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“Historical dramas have a tendency to flounder when they aim only to please their target demographic, so it’s easy to assume that this 10-part series about a mere few decades in England’s dusty history books might not have what it takes to draw in the masses. Happily, that’s not the case with The White Queen, which takes viewers on a sweeping tour of the past whether they come to it knowing Edward IV from Edward Cullen or not. Another bonus is the story’s clear message about the integral role women play in this traditional patriarchal society. Sharp writing, a fantastic cast, and a claim to being “reality TV” give this dramatic tale the edge it needs to vie for the attention of a discerning mature audience.” —Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media

The White Princess

This miniseries is a sequel to The White Queen, picking up the story with the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. While this effectively ends the Wars of the Roses, it (spoiler alert!) brings about new tensions. Like The White Queen, it’s based on Philippa Gregory’s novels.

The White Princess Starz original
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: April 16, 2017
  • Genre: Historical drama (miniseries)
  • Starring: Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York, Rebecca Benson as Margaret “Maggie” Plantagenet, Jacob Collins-Levy as Henry VII
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Concluded

The White Princess reviews

What the critics are saying

“Davis is as terrific as you’d expect, Collins-Levy more than holds his own, and while Comer is also good, the role doesn’t get her to summon up the riveting, ambiguous intensity she had in the BBC mystery-thriller Thirteen. The costumes are amazing, the exposition dumps are impressively efficient, and while some of the interiors seem far too bright, at least they’re not quite as blindingly lit as those of some other period dramas.” —Brad Newsome, Sydney Morning Herald

“All things considered, The White Princess isn’t the most spectacular drama to ever grace the small screen. The plots can get confusing and even tiresome when they center on history that hasn’t been exposited on screen, and it takes a couple of episodes before a few of the characters really come into their own. That said, I was on the edge of my seat while watching the first few episodes, and I could watch Essie Davis and Michelle Fairley attempt to outmaneuver each other all day long. I was certainly pleasantly surprised to discover that The White Princess is not a soap opera set in the 15th century. Rather, it’s a story of women working their way to the top behind the scenes at a royal court, and that’s not something we see every day on the small screen.” —Laura Hurley, Cinemablend


The Spanish Princess

If you followed The White Queen and The White Princess, you definitely want to jump into this miniseries sequel. But if your favorite part of this juicy period in English royal history is Henry VIII and his various sundry wives, this is the one for you. Specifically, this looks at his relationship with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon with many of the hallmarks of the preceding two series (intrigue, winsome performances, and sex) intact.

The Spanish Princess Starz original
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: April 16, 2017
  • Genre: Historical drama (miniseries)
  • Starring: Charlotte Hope as Catherine of Aragon, Ruairi O’Connor as Henry VIII, Alexandra Moen as Elizabeth of York, Elliot Cowan as Henry VII
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Concluded

The Spanish Princess reviews

What the critics are saying

The Spanish Princess is the ideal period soap, dexterously and intelligently balancing the webby intrigue of 16th-century court life with the dewy eroticism of a classic melodrama. There’s no guilt here. Just pleasure.” —Robyn Bahr, Hollywood Reporter

“It is as soapy as its predecessors, The White Queen and The White Princess, but also way more decadent in the best possible way. The Spanish Princess is by far and away the most romantic, most sensual, and most dreamy of the three series. It is a sumptuous treat, and watching it feels like slipping into a perfect bubble bath with a glass of your favorite bubbly. In short, The Spanish Princess is the kind of show you don’t see on television very often: a pitch perfect escapist romance.” —Meghan O’Keefe, Decider


Survivor’s Remorse

This critically-acclaimed sitcom follows a pro basketball player who moves his family to Atlanta. LeBron James is part of the executive producer team, and Mike Epps is featured in the show’s first two seasons. However, the show went under the radar for many, and it wrapped after its fourth season.

Survivor's Remorse Starz original
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: October 4, 2014
  • Genre: Sitcom
  • Starring: Jessie T. Usher as Cam Calloway, RonReaco Lee as Reggie Vaughn, Erica Ash as Mary Charles “M-Chuck” Calloway, Teyonah Parris as Missy Vaughn, Tichina Arnold as Cassie Calloway, Mike Epps as Uncle Julius (Seasons 1 and 2)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Status: Concluded

Survivor’s Remorse reviews

What the critics are saying

Survivor’s Remorse is mordant and very funny, but there is a redeeming sweetness beneath the satire and b-ball swagger. LeBron James is an executive producer and the story is loosely inspired by his life, though the show runner, Mike O’Malley, also owes a debt to the HBO series Entourage.” —Alessandra Stanley, New York Times

Survivor’s Remorse is all over the place in a good way, smartly weaving together out-loud laughs, palpable jeopardy, family drama, business sense and (multi-) culture clash — all sprouting from finely drawn characterizations that carry real-world weight. Though dialogue can address issues a bit too squarely, these people have the depth to make it resonate, especially in public moments that demand their own conceit.” —Diane Werts, Newsday


Ash vs. Evil Dead

If you like your comedies with chainsaws and gore, look no further than this quirky three-season show from Sam Raimi. It’s a sequel of sorts to the Evil Dead movie franchise, with hero Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) battling internal monsters—and, eventually, actual monsters—30 years after the trilogy of movies concludes. The series also includes Lucy Lawless as a mysterious figure who will prove influential on events, as well as Ted Raimi doing what he does in his brother’s productions.

Ash vs Evil Dead Starz original
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: October 31, 2015
  • Genre: Comedy/Horror
  • Starring: Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell/Sorceress Kaya, Lucy Lawless as Ruby Knowby/Rebecca Prevett
  • Seasons: 3
  • Status: Cancelled, to the horror of its diehard fans

Ash vs. Evil Dead reviews

What the critics are saying

“What’s ultimately so refreshing and thrilling about Ash vs. Evil Dead, whose premiere episode is helmed by Raimi, is how charmingly and giddily scrappy it feels, in both narrative and aesthetic, and the zooming, seemingly effortless pace at which Raimi keeps the bloody, widespread mayhem going. Indeed, rather than try to dully build up some looming season-long arc to explain how Ash once again comes face to face with the demonic tome known as the Necronomicon, the series remains consistently in the moment, immediately re-sparking the feud between Ash and the plethora of sinister spirits and beings released from the book.” —Chris Cabin, Slant

“Watching the production come up with crazy kills and challenging set pieces is nearly as fun as hearing Ash’s continuous wisecracking, making Ash vs. Evil Dead quite possibly the most fun you can find on television. It’s certainly the best action I’ve seen in a while, proving even an aging hero can still kick ass.” —Ben Travers, IndieWire


Party Down

If you’re a Parks and Recreation fan, you’ll be interested to know this short-lived comedy about caterers features a young Adam Scott in a leading role. It also features other familiar faces, including the always-amazing Jane Lynch (whose jump from this show to Glee helped accelerate its demise) and Jennifer Coolidge (best known as “Stifler’s mom” from American Pie, and brilliant as part of the team responsible for Best in Show and A Mighty Wind). Also notable: Rob Thomas, Fred Savage and Paul Rudd were part of the creative group behind the cast.

Party Down Starz original
Starz/YouTube
  • Launched: March 20, 2009
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Adam Scott as Henry Pollard, Ken Marino as Ronald Wayne “Ron” Donald, Lizzy Caplan as Casey Klein, Ryan Hansen as Kyle Bradway, Martin Starr as Roman DeBeers, Jane Lynch as Constance Carmel, Jennifer Coolidge as Bobbie St. Brown
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Concluded

Party Down reviews

What the critics are saying

“Every successful joke leaves a few failed efforts in its wake, as each episode’s vague storyline ambles forward. But the improvisational atmosphere of these shows is infectious, especially if you have a taste for comedy that flirts with bad taste and political incorrectness. And most of the characters are refreshingly offbeat – just a little too out there and unpolished for the network milieu.” —Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe

This comedy by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas was cut criminally short after only two seasons, but in that time it was able to depict a side of Hollywood that we rarely see: the underbelly of disappointments, broken dreams and settling for second-best. That dreary outlook is perfectly incongruous with its premise of a happy catering business with crisp white shirts and jaunty pink bowties, and that’s exactly what makes it work. Underlying the caustic observations about Tinseltown superficiality is a genuine understanding of the combination of hope and bitterness that comes with unrewarded talent. The ensemble’s easy chemistry — especially between Adam Scott and the always-excellent Lizzy Caplan — makes this an enjoyable hang while we reflect on our own ambitions. —Hanh Nguyen, IndieWire


Other noteworthy shows on Starz

Though these series weren’t created specifically for Starz, they’re featured as part of Starz programming and they’re listed as entries in the Starz series lineups.

Luther

This British crime drama stars Idris Elba as a genius detective with obsessive and sometimes even violent tendencies. While it’s a well-executed show that’s met with positive reviews, there have been precious few episodes—just 20 over five irregularly-occurring seasons, though there’s still hope for a sixth on the horizon.

  • Launched: May 4, 2010
  • Genre: Crime drama
  • Starring: Idris Elba as John Luther, Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan, Paul McGann as Mark North, Warren Brown as Justin Ripley, Michael Smiley as Benny Silver
  • Seasons: 5
  • Status: Pending

Luther reviews

What the critics are saying

On Season 1: “Luther often teeters on the edge of plausibility — there seems to be no end to serial killers in the detective’s precinct who are doing things like abducting schoolchildren and dressing them up as dolls. But Elba’s deeply grounded performance keeps the show from feeling over-the-top. And, yes, you have missed him since you finished The Wire. —Anna Peele, Esquire

On Season 4: “Luther built its reputation on outrageousness, on pulpy thrills and giddy excursions into the preposterous. The season-four miniseries never exceeds the brazen hilarity of previous seasons, but it continues apace, and for a show so full of intense action, keen performances, and self-aware humor, that’s plenty. John Luther’s compulsion to chase rough justice, no matter how high the cost or how low he falls, makes for compelling viewing.” —Emily L. Stephens, AV Club

Ambitions

This show, starring Robin Givens as the wife of Atlanta’s mayor, had one season on OWN before its cancellation. Starz saw enough potential in the Will Packer production to not only acquire it, but there’s talk of a second season, though nothing definitive yet.

  • Launched: June 18, 2019
  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Robin Givens as Stephanie Carlisle, Essence Atkins as Amara Hughes, Brian J. White as Mayor Evan Lancaster, Kendrick Cross as Titus Hughes, Brely Evans as Rondell Lancaster, Erica Page as Bella Tru
  • Seasons: 1
  • Status: Pending

Ambitions reviews

  • Rotten Tomatoes score: 83% audience rating (not enough critical reviews to provide critics’ score)
  • Metacritic score: not enough critical reviews to provide score

What the critics are saying

“I discovered the over the top yet entertaining Ambitions to be filled with juicy secrets, lies, affairs, beautiful people, and at least one pure (for now anyway) couple to root for. You know, everything you want in a soap opera.” —Lori Wilson, soaps.com

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*First Published: Jun 5, 2020, 10:13 am