In early 2021, Discovery+ launched fairly strong out of the gate thanks in part to its wealth of archived content. While the streaming service is packed with originals such as the surprisingly tantalizing Toddlers & Tiaras: Where Are They Now?, Home Town: Ben’s Workshop, and four 90 Day Fiancé spinoffs, it’s stuffed to the gills with season upon season of previously aired programming from the Food Network, HGTV, Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. (Just think of the breadth of House Hunters alone!) The service is constantly adding new material and signing new deals including one made earlier this year that allows it to run some of NBCU’s reality programming such as Top Chef Canada and the previously unavailable-in-the-States Real Housewives of Cheshire, Johannesburg, and Melbourne.
All of this is to say that Discovery+ can certainly be a lot to navigate, but there’s gold there for those willing to mine. Here are our picks for the 25 best TV shows on the streaming service.
90 Day Fiancé and all its iterations
Diving into the 90 Day Fiancé universe can be a daunting prospect. There are only eight seasons of the reality show, but TLC has seized on its success and gone a little nuts. Each episode of the series runs about 90 minutes now, and there are countless spinoff series including Before the 90 Days, The Other Way, and even subject-specific ones such as David and Annie: After the 90 Days. For those interested in dipping a toe into the universe, Discovery+ is a great way to dabble. The streamer not only has all of the original episodes and spinoffs but also summary episodes about each couple featured on the show, meaning if you’ve long been hearing friends talk about Darcey or the up-and-down saga of Colt and Larissa, you can catch up fairly quickly.
American Detective With Lt. Joe Kenda
An ex-detective who became a favorite of Investigation Discovery viewers, Joe Kenda crept into the true-crime reality space with 2011’s Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda. Nine seasons would follow — all looking at Kenda’s former cases and available to stream on Discovery+ — before the retiree got an itch for something new. Now he’s taken his deadpan delivery, brutal detail, and “Well, my, my, my …” catchphrase to American Detective With Lt. Joe Kenda, a Discovery+ original in which Kenda narrates and analyzes cases from across the U.S. A cut above your typical true-crime series, American Detective is full of high-quality reenactments, tantalizing details, and truly wild Kenda-isms.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Arguably the show that really put Anthony Bourdain on the cultural map, No Reservations finds the late chef gallivanting around the world, diving headfirst into food, fun, and local color. Over the course of nine seasons, Bourdain went to dozens of countries and ate everything from guinea pig in Peru to next-level dishes from El Bulli, a spot once dubbed the best restaurant in the world by fans and critics. While the food is certainly tantalizing, No Reservations would really be nothing without its host, who was wry, charming, and made us all want to travel the world with a similarly open mind.
Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern
Not wildly dissimilar to No Reservations in terms of its passion for local culture and food, Bizarre Foods is hosted by Bourdain’s “playful rival” Andrew Zimmern. While Bourdain dabbled in fine dining, Zimmern is truly a man of the people — and a man of the people who eat things that many of us would dub gross, inedible, or downright weird. Still, Bizarre Foods isn’t a sort of Fear Factor for cuisine. Instead, it’s a look at what connects us as people no matter where we live and what we eat.
The Blue Planet and Blue Planet II
One of the absolute best nature-documentary series out there, The Blue Planet is a remarkable look at the wild and wonderful world below the surface of the ocean. Beautifully narrated by David Attenborough, The Blue Planet takes viewers everywhere from swimming with elusive blue whales to diving 4,000 meters to the previously unseen bottom of the ocean. Both Blue Planets are absolutely gorgeous pieces of filmmaking and must-sees for anyone with a love for wildlife, the ocean, or really anything at all.
Chopped 420 and the rest of the Chopped universe
One of the most borderline-daring pieces of original Discovery+ programming, Chopped 420 finds cannabis-loving chefs going head to head to make the best weed-fueled dishes. They’re given a box full of unusable ingredients, of course, including something called “sour meat stew,” but they’re also given access to a “greenhouse” full of top-shelf marijuana, CBD products, and pre-infused oils, tinctures, and hot sauce. Hosted by weed-loving actor-comedian Ron Funches with a judging panel that features iconic Drag Race alum Laganja Estranja and iconically handsome Top Chef alum Sam Talbot, the show is a fun and interesting twist on the classic Chopped format. And if you’re a fan of that show, don’t worry: Discovery+ has dozens of episodes of the flagship series, too, plus Chopped Junior, Chopped Canada, Chopped Sweets, and the newer Chopped Next Gen.
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games
The Fierissance is upon us, meaning it is no longer cool to hate on Guy Fieri. Indeed, the charity-loving, LGBTQ+-advocating, small-business-boosting Food Network icon has become a sort of 2020s totem, a hero for the everyman. That’s why it’s so great that Discovery+ is full of all kinds of Fieri-centric content including Guy! Hawaiian Style, Guy Off the Hook, Guy’s Grocery Games, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Throw one on at dinner and take a trip down to Flavortown.
Forensic Files premiered in 1996, a few years before CSI mania started sweeping America. It’s since become an omnipresent part of nighttime TV with episodes recycling at seemingly all hours on basic cable. The three most recent seasons of the show — 12, 13, and 14 — are on Discovery+ and ready to be viewed as they were no doubt intended: in strange hotel rooms, as background noise, or while you’re trying to fall asleep.
The show that introduced the world to the charmingly nerdy Alton Brown, Good Eats is part Mr. Wizard, part Julia Child, part Mythbusters, and part Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Over the course of its 16 seasons and 256 episodes, the show explained everything from how yeast works to how to choose the best tools for the kitchen. Given that it premiered in 1999, some of the show’s hokier elements haven’t aged especially well, but the knowledge and science are still sound and well worth watching, especially for those looking for bits of trivia to impress friends at a dinner party.
When Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines stepped away from HGTV to create their own brand and network — the Magnolia Network, which can also be found on Discovery+ — they left a hole in the network just waiting to be filled by some other heartwarming married couple with down-home charm and a strong sense of design. Home Town’s Ben and Erin Napier have gamely and ably filled the Gaineses’ slot, quickly hitting HGTV’s top tier of talent alongside the Property Brothers. On Home Town, the pair set out to help people fix up shockingly cheap and adorable homes near where they live in Laurel, Mississippi. The couple oozes love for each other and are pretty funny; Laurel’s so cute that people are actually moving there just because they’ve seen Home Town. For home-renovation lovers who have yet to be exposed to the Napiers’ charm, Home Town is must-see TV.
House Hunters and House Hunters International
The quintessential piece of HGTV programming, House Hunters is an absolute juggernaut of a program. Though it’s almost comically staged, the show still manages to scratch the itch of any real-estate lookie-loo whether the buyers are searching for condos in Indianapolis or island getaways on House Hunters International. The number of episodes on Discovery+ is pretty staggering — there are 31 seasons of House Hunters International alone — so even those who consider themselves House aficionados should find something new to watch.
Houses With History
A relatively new show from HGTV, Houses With History takes the home-renovation show and gives it a welcome twist: All of the show’s projects are centuries-old homes in and around Plymouth, Massachusetts. These houses often date from the 17th and 18th centuries and can be in pretty rough shape. Houses With History sets out to not only preserve them but to tell their stories, making the show a delightful blend of real-estate fluff and American-history geekery.
I Am Jazz
A remarkably sensitive show from TLC, I Am Jazz is a reality series focused on the day-to-day life and struggles of a transgender girl turned woman named Jazz Jennings. Now in its seventh season, I Am Jazz has been following Jennings since she was about to enter high school and has captured not only her remarkable story but also the emotional journeys of the members of her family. The show does a great job of showing the fullness of Jennings’s life and is great viewing for anyone whether or not they have LGBTQ+ kids or family members.
The Laundry Guy
It might seem simple, but The Laundry Guy is a Discovery+ original that really delivers. The show’s star, Patric Richardson, is a stain-removal expert, and armed with tools like horsehair brushes and spray bottles of vodka, he is on a mission to clean up America’s most beloved and soiled treasures. Richardson is charming and serene, and his work is incredible. Great-great-grandma’s quilt has never looked better. He manages to impart information that anyone can use on a day-to-day basis like why you should never wash clothes in cold water and how to use aspirin to get out sweat stains. The Laundry Guy is mild, feel-good entertainment that is actually informative.
Love Off the Grid
Created by the team behind 90 Day Fiancé, Love Off the Grid is an intimate look at four couples who are trying to find exactly what the title suggests. While one member of each pair is committed to their life sans electricity, the other is trying to figure out how many creature comforts they can live without. Love Off the Grid has the potential to be trite and exploitative, but it’s really not. The couples clearly care for each other, and the people living off the grid are almost always portrayed with sense and compassion. Viewers are less likely to walk away asking “What, why?” than “What could I live without?”
There are 21 wild seasons of Mythbusters on Discovery+, meaning almost 300 episodes of inane urban legends, crash test dummies facing down precarious situations, and big old-fashioned explosions. Venture deep into the world of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman as the pair use the scientific method to figure out everything from “Can octopus eggs hatch inside a human’s stomach?” to “Can Pop Rocks and soda, when eaten simultaneously, cause the eater’s stomach to rupture?”
Oddities and Oddities: San Francisco
Premiering in 2010 on Discovery, Oddities takes viewers inside New York’s Obscura Antiques & Oddities, where the shop’s owners and buyers seek out unusual and unique artifacts. Visitors to the shop have included Amy Sedaris, Chloë Sevigny, Dita Von Teese, and Genesis P-Orridge, and purchases have included a mummified cat, a straitjacket, and art made from nail clippings. The spinoff Oddities: San Francisco is slightly less successful but no less weird with customers looking for taxidermy, automatons, and steampunk trappings.
Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, and A Perfect Planet
The Blue Planet but on dry land, Planet Earth premiered in 2006 on the BBC. The most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the network at the time, Planet Earth took five years to film and covers all of Earth’s biomes and habitats. Perfect for kids, adults, and kids and adults together, the series has an HD sequel, Planet Earth II, and it has inspired other beautifully shot, Attenborough-narrated, conservation-minded programs such as A Perfect Planet. Planet Earth III is due sometime in 2022, so now is a great time to get caught up.
The Real Housewives of Melbourne, Cheshire, and Johannesburg
While the Real Housewives franchise has certainly become a juggernaut in the States, it’s actually much bigger than that with franchises all over the world. Most of these have never made it to the airwaves in the U.S., save odd afternoon airings of The Real Housewives of Melbourne’s earlier seasons, and Housewives aficionados have gone so far as to trade VPN tips on fan blogs in order to get access to their global faves. Fortunately for those fans, three of the Housewives franchises came to Discovery+ this year as part of the streamer’s deal with NBCU. While fans still can’t scope out The Real Housewives of Vancouver or The Real Housewives of Durbin, they can dive deep into all the seasons of The Real Housewives of Melbourne, The Real Housewives of Cheshire, and The Real Housewives of Johannesburg while maintaining their intense regimen of American Housewives programming.
The Repair Shop
A U.K. import that is as heartwarming as The Great British Bake Off, The Repair Shop follows an ensemble of passionate niche craftspeople tasked with fixing guests’ priceless family heirlooms. In other words, this is a show in which viewers watch one of Britain’s last accordion repairmen take on grandma’s old squeeze-box, which she used to entertain her neighbors in the bomb shelters during the WWII blitz, or see life restored to grandad’s old clock, which he built right before he lost his sight as a young man. It’s sentimental, adorable, and very, very British.
Top Chef Canada
Another product of that NBCU deal, Top Chef Canada’s appearance on Discovery+ comes as a nice surprise. The show has aired for nine seasons in the Great White North but has never really made its way down to the States. While only two of those seasons — six and seven — are available on D+, it’s still a nice way to dip into the world of Canadian cuisine, especially when you’re absolutely starving for a new season of the U.S. Top Chef.
The granddaddy of all true-crime programming, Unsolved Mysteries aired for 15 seasons starting in 1987. Five of those seasons have made their way onto Discovery+, meaning viewers can be transported to the magical world of ’70s crimes and early-’90s reenactments while listening to the melodious voice of the late, great Robert Stack. For fans of the genre, Unsolved Mysteries is an absolute must not only because it’s great TV but also because it’s just a great look at how the genre has evolved.
A blend of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and How It’s Made, Unwrapped was one of Food Network’s biggest hits around the turn of the century, spawning hundreds of episodes hosted by the amazing Marc Summers as well as a slightly less successful reboot with Alfonso Ribeiro. In each episode, viewers were transported into factories to see how their favorite sweets, treats, and foods were made, from M&Ms to frozen ravioli. All 22 seasons of the original series are on Discovery+, making for a delicious trip down memory lane.