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This month, Disney+ is set to mount an enormous expansion when it launches the Star arm of the service, enabling adult subscribers to access hours and hours of movies and TV shows deemed too mature for the main Disney+ service. More than 270 movies and 75 TV shows are due to be newly available to users, so there is a lot of material to sift through.
On the TV side, Star is set to deliver a selection of beloved sitcoms, from How I Met Your Mother to Scrubs, as well as acclaimed long-running dramas like Scandal and 24. That's before you get to some intriguing cult favourites, like the short-lived FlashForward and Joss Whedon's cult classic Firefly.
In alphabetical order, here are 20 must-see shows set to be available on Star when it launches...
Donald Glover is one of the biggest stars on the planet, from his work on cult shows like Community through to the success of his music career as Childish Gambino and lead roles in major movies, such as Disney’s live-action take on The Lion King. Yet another pillar of his creative brilliance arises in Atlanta – his comedy-drama series set within the Atlanta rap scene. Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz are also among the cast.
Currently on its seventh season on US broadcaster ABC, this sitcom created by Kenya Parris follows a middle class African-American family navigating cultural issues while living in a predominantly white area. The show has received critical acclaim, awards and a series of spin-offs. Anthony Andersen and Tracee Ellis Ross lead the cast.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (S1-7)
Joss Whedon’s 1990s series made a star of Sarah Michelle Gellar and gave a generation of TV viewers a kick-ass female hero to root for as she fought against vampires – obviously – and all manner of other supernatural beasties. The show is ripe for a rewatch and looks likely to be one of the first box sets people reach for when Star launches. There's even talk of a possible revival on the way.
Seth MacFarlane’s animated comedy juggernaut now joins The Simpsons as one of the big selling points of Disney+. It seems unlikely that there’s anyone around who has never experienced the lives of Peter Griffin, Stewie and the rest of the show’s cast, but the show is now being added to the service as part of Star. The series is still going strong after more than 20 years.
Ask anyone with an interest in geek culture to name the most unjust TV show cancellation of all time and they will undoubtedly say Firefly. Joss Whedon’s show, billed as a Space Western, was binned by the Fox network after just one season, until fan support earned it a movie spin-off in 2005’s Serenity – not to be confused with the terrible Matthew McConaughey film. Almost two decades after it was cancelled, the show remains a cult favourite.
Another well-liked show that was canned after a single season, FlashForward was adapted from a sci-fi novel and told the story of a group of people in the wake of a mysterious event in which everyone on Earth blacked out and experienced a vision of their lives six months in the future. John Cho, Joseph Fiennes and Courtney B. Vance were among the cast. The show originally aired on Channel Five in the UK and mirrored the same ratings decline which led it to be canned in the States.
Ryan Murphy’s all-singing all-dancing high school musical series was a teen phenomenon during the later part of the noughties, making stars of many of its key cast members. Matthew Morrison plays the Spanish teacher who takes over his school’s glee club, uniting a diverse crop of misfits into a genuine force in competitive show choir performance. It couldn’t be more heavy-handed and is often eye-rolling in its earnestness, but some of the songs are dynamite and there’s no denying how much fun it is.
How I Met Your Mother (S1-9)
Before it delivered one of the most divisive final seasons in sitcom history – it’s enough to put anyone off blue French horns – How I Met Your Mother was a beloved look at the lives of a group of friends looking for love in New York City. Neil Patrick Harris steals the show as the womanising Barney Stinson, while future MCU stalwart Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and Josh Radnor make up the rest of the core cast.
The conclusions to mysteries are seldom as exciting as the initial mysteries themselves. In that respect, Lost did a terrific job of dangling its audiences on the end of the hook for so long before unveiling yet another divisive final episode. However its finale was received, the series — shepherded by showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse — has plenty of rewatch value and will continue to reward fans, regardless of how they feel about where it all ended up.
Love, Victor (Original, S1)
The most exciting new, original arrival of the Star debut is the LGBT+ romcom series Love, Victor. A spin-off of the excellent 2018 film Love, Simon, it follows Michael Cimino as a gay student at the school where Simon came out a few years prior. In the USA, the series was released on the Disney-owned streamer Hulu, but UK viewers have been unable to see it until now.
Modern Family (S1-8)
Another sitcom hit primed for box set binging, the first eight seasons of Modern Family are due to arrive when Star launches. It follows a selection of diverse, linked families living in the suburbs of LA and is presented as a mockumentary. Ed O'Neill plays the lead role, with Sofia Vergara and Ty Burrell also key members of the cast.
O.J.: Made in America
Ezra Edelman’s five-part miniseries about the life and trial of O.J. Simpson was made in 2016 for long-running ESPN series 30 for 30. It was considered to be a movie by the Academy and won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, becoming the longest film ever to do so with its near-eight-hour running time. The Oscars changed its rules after this, so the record looks set to stand forever. Now, UK viewers can watch the series in its entirety via the Star label on Disney+.
Prison Break (S1-5)
It seems frankly incredible that Prison Break ran for five seasons. The premise of the first run, in which Wentworth Miller’s character concocted an elaborate plot to free his brother from Death Row – complete with a tattoo of the prison’s blueprint – seemed set to be a one and done. The show soldiered on though, even if its subsequent reviews were never as strong as for that first season.
Created by the ultra-successful Shonda Rhimes, this power-play thriller follows Kerry Washington as a crisis manager and political adviser with real clout among the corridors of power. The series is partially based on the work of former White House press aide Judy Smith, who was involved in the show as an executive producer.
Scream Queens (S1-2)
Another Ryan Murphy creation, this is a sly look at the world of slasher horror, with the first season following a university sorority plagued by a serial killer and the second season set in a hospital. Horror legend Jamie Lee Curtis is among the cast, which also includes Lea Michele, Emma Roberts and Twilight hunk Taylor Lautner. The show was cancelled after season two, but Murphy teased a revival last year.
Lockdown has given fans of this hospital-set sitcom a treat in the shape of the podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends in which stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison take a trip down memory lane and re-examine the show they led throughout the noughties. Now, thanks to Star, viewers can watch along with them.
Sons of Anarchy (S1-7)
All seven seasons of Kurt Sutter’s brutal, acclaimed motorcycle club series are part of the initial Star offering. The show depicts Charlie Hunnam as a key member of the titular group, which is involved in its fair share of violence and organised crime. The real-life Hells Angels were a big influence on the show and numerous members made cameo appearances across its history.
Ugly Betty (S1-4)
America Ferrera plays the title role in this comedy series about a less-than-stylish woman who somehow lands a prestigious job at a leading fashion magazine. After critical acclaim and awards notices for the early seasons, its viewership declined and led to the show being cancelled in 2010. In the decade since, the show has earned itself a cult following, which will only get bigger now that new fans can discover it on Disney+.
The X-Files (S1-9)
What more is there to say about The X-Files? The iconic 1990s sci-fi show follows FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigate paranormal phenomena. After its initial run came to an end in 2002, the success of the movie sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe in 2008 brought about a revival for stars and creators. The nine pre-revival series are set to be available when Star launches.
If there’s a defining TV show for the post-9/11 cultural era in America, then there’s an argument that 24 is that show. Kiefer Sutherland’s counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer was a man who believed the ends justified the means and somebody who was willing to try whatever methods were necessary in order to protect the USA. Stylistically, its ticking clock structure and use of split screen would go on to become widely parodied, as well as adored by fans.
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Get a discounted Disney+ membership
If you join Disney+ before 23 February, you can get 20% off a membership before the price increases in line with all the extra Star programming.
This means you'll be paying just £5.99 a month, or £59.99 a year, instead of £7.99 a month, or £79.99 a year.