What to watch instead of Trump’s State of the Union

There are other options, people.
There are other options, people.
Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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As you may have heard, Donald Trump will give the annual State of the Union address tonight (Feb. 5) at 9pm US eastern time. All major American broadcast networks, as well as most cable news channels, will carry the address live. Democratic rising star Stacey Abrams will deliver her party’s rebuttal to the president’s remarks.

But what if you’re just not in the mood?

You could go out to dinner, take a walk, read a book. If you do find yourself watching TV the US tonight, however, it’ll be hard to avoid the flood of pre- and post-address analysis and hollow punditry. Luckily, for those who want a break from the political hoopla, there are many intriguing options to watch or stream instead of the State of the Union coverage, if you know where to find it.

Quartz looked at tonight’s TV listings and browsed the recent additions to the major streaming services and found a few things you should consider as your evening’s non-SOTU entertainment (all times are US eastern):


Cast Away (AMC, 8pm-11pm)

Tom Hanks stars as a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific in this 2000 film. There, he strikes up a friendship with a volleyball, “Wilson.” He struggles to survive the harsh conditions with little food and water, but at least he isn’t forced to watch the State of the Union.

Super 8 (BBC America, 8pm-10:30pm)

J.J. Abrams’ ode to the Steven Spielberg aesthetic, 2011’s Super 8 follows a group of teens filming a movie on the titular camera when an alien creature escapes into town. Kyle Chandler is in it, so it’s already more fun and charismatic than Trump’s State of the Union.

Shark Tank (CNBC, 8pm-9pm, 9pm-10pm)

Instead of the SOTU, you can watch not one but two episodes of the reality TV series in which entrepreneurs pitch their products to a panel of investors. An unlike the State of the Union, this show features an actual billionaire—Dallas Mavericks owner and businessman Mark Cuban.

The Office (Comedy Central, all-night marathon)

Why not kick back, relax, and enjoy one of the greatest comedy series of all time? There is more laughter, joy, and humanity in one square foot of the Dunder Mifflin paper company than in the whole of the US House chamber during the address.

American History X (IFC, 9pm-11:45pm)

The Academy Award-nominated 1998 crime drama starring Edward Norton as a neo-Nazi has unfortunately never been more timely. You won’t hear anything about the rise of white supremacism in America during Trump’s speech, but this film paints a harrowing picture of how the warped, hateful thinking ultimately destroys everyone it touches.

WWE SmackDown (USA Network, 8pm-10pm)

Because why not.


Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner (Netflix)

The comedian’s first stand-up special in 23 years, Right Here, Around the Corner, is getting solid reviews. Romano’s famously deadpan delivery stands in stark contrast to the bombastic, often incoherent Trump.

Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix)

If you aren’t interested in seeing Jake Gyllenhaal play a pretentious art critic who says things like, “Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining,” then I’m not sure what to tell you. The film, described by Quartz reporter Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz as “Art Basel on a bad acid trip,” is a romp for art and horror fans alike.

Russian Doll (Netflix)

The new dramedy starring Natasha Lyonne as a Manhattanite who keeps dying over and over and reliving the same day Groundhog Day style received unanimously positive reviews from TV critics for its wit, honesty, and ingenuity. Essentially, it is the polar opposite of the State of the Union tradition.

Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix)

While Ted Bundy gets all the attention, this completely bonkers documentary came out on Netflix. It chronicles the somehow true story of a man who kidnapped his neighbors’ daughter. Don’t read more than that. It goes off the rails from there.

Into the Dark (Hulu)

Hulu’s new horror anthology series releases a new movie-length installment every month based on a holiday that occurs during that month (the most recent episode, released on Feb. 1, is about Valentine’s Day). Some episodes are better than others, but the series is a refreshingly bold TV experiment that requires no investment—just watch the ones that interest you.

Hanna (Amazon)

If you watched the Super Bowl, you might have noticed the trailer for this original Amazon series, whose first episode debuted on the streaming service Feb. 3 (the remaining episodes will drop in March). Based on the 2011 film of the same name about a girl raised in the wilderness and trained to be an assassin by her CIA operative father, Hanna looks like good old-fashioned fun.

The Lost City of Z (Amazon)

Okay, this movie came out in 2017, but I will never pass up an opportunity to recommend it. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, there’s no excuse not to watch James Gray’s masterfully hypnotic dramatization of British explorer Percy Fawcett’s doomed expedition into the Amazon to find evidence of a lost city. Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam gives a career best performance as Fawcett.

Crashing (HBO Now)

The third season of the HBO comedy series premiered on Jan. 20 and has aired three episodes so far. (I have seen the whole season—it’s terrific). Comedian Pete Holmes plays a fictionalized version of himself struggling to make it in New York’s comedy scene. Crashing is clever and heartfelt and serves as excellent counter-programming to the inanity of State of the Union coverage.