(Photo by Syfy; BBC AMERICA; Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)The past year has offered 12 TV seasons Certified Fresh at 100% — including The Good Place, Cobra Kai, Vida, and Dear White People — of 110 overall that are Certified Fresh. A voracious TV consumer could simply work their way down the list of every Certified Fresh TV show of 2018, or have a look at Rotten Tomatoes staff picks. Our editorial staff has considered the year in television and curated a list of series that may not have met the criteria for Certified Fresh, but nonetheless have captured our imaginations and earned our recommendation anyway.The Expanse 94%What It Is: In the 23rd century, after colonizing the solar system, humans make first contact with an alien race. But rather than meet face-to-whatever, the interaction occurs via the ancient, extinct race s super-advanced A.I. technology, which humanity struggles to understand, communicate with, and ultimately control.Why You Should Watch It: It s been 10 years since Syfy s Battlestar Galactica remake from Ronald D. Moore (Outlander) went off the air. The series, which topped our list of the 100 best sci-fi series of all time, won worldwide fans through its gritty space-opera storylines about the human struggle with and against intelligent machines. The BSG world felt lived in, and its characters, both human and machine, presented a seemingly viable space-based future.The Expanse, which Amazon dramatically rescued from cancellation this year, is BSG s very worthy successor in offering a similarly complex sci-fi tale with engaging characters and award-worthy production design. It stars Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dominique Tipper, Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham, Frankie Adams, and Thomas Jane. Why the show hasn t enjoyed the same level of worldwide appeal is one of the series greatest mysteries.Where to Watch: Amazon, Syfy (season 3)Commitment: around 25 hoursPicked By: Debbie Day, TV Features EditorBarry 99%What It Is: In this dry, sometimes unexpectedly somber HBO dark comedy, a professional killer for hire from the Midwest travels to Los Angeles for a hit and stumbles into an acting class, where he not only discovers a community of aspiring actors who welcome him but also begins to imagine a quieter, more normal life.Why You Should Watch It: Thanks to his up-for-anything enthusiasm and easygoing charisma — not to mention his impeccable comedic timing — SNL and Documentary Now alum Bill Hader has earned a sizable fanbase over the years. Those fans were always going to show up for Barry, no matter how good (or bad) it was. Fortunately, the series does a magnificent job balancing Hader s natural boyish charm and his less frequently utilized — but still incredibly effective — proficiency at communicating deep pathos (see: The Skeleton Twins), and he s aided by a stellar ensemble that includes Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Goldberg, and Henry Winkler in one of his finest roles in years.Barry begins with a funny idea, infuses it with real emotional investment, and tosses in a few Oh, sh ! moments just to keep you on your toes. Hader and Winkler have already taken home Emmys for their efforts, and they re both up for Golden Globes next, so now is as good a time as any to see what all the fuss is about.Where to Watch: HBOGOCommitment: A little over 4.5 hoursPicked by: Ryan Fujitani, Sr. EditorBabylon Berlin What It Is: While investigating a pornography ring, Inspector Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) discovers a web of conspiracies with huge implications for Germany as a whole.Why You Should Watch It: The idea of the Weimar Republic (the era of German history that spanned from the end of World War I until the rise of the Nazis) has exerted a powerful fascination to this day. It was a time that produced a flowering of artistic expression — from the Bauhaus Movement to The Threepenny Opera, not to mention such cinematic masterworks as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Metropolis, and The Blue Angel — and a moment of (relative) tolerance for LGBTQ people. It was also a time of political upheaval, during which a democratic government attempted to hold together a nation struggling with extreme economic insecurity, a time when communists and fascists brawled in the streets. Historians dispute some elements of this narrative as myth, but while Babylon Berlin may be imperfect history, it’s exhilarating entertainment. Its Berlin is all bright neon and dark shadows, decadent parties and sudden outbursts of violence, mysteries and underground plots. We all know the horrible ending to this story, but the characters in Babylon Berlin don’t, and seeing this tumultuous period through the lives of regular people living in the moment gives the whole thing an air of haunting pathos.Where to Watch: NetflixCommitment: Just shy of 16 hoursPicked By: Tim Ryan, Review Curation ManagerKilling Eve 89%What It Is: This badass British spy thriller follows two female leads — MI5 intelligence officer Eve (Sandra Oh) and international assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) — who become obsessed with tracking each other down.Why You Should Watch It: There’s a reason Oh is getting finally getting her long-deserved award recognition for this role: She’s phenomenal as a mild-mannered government employee who heads up a task force to find a female assassin (an also-phenomenal Comer), beginning a deadly cat-and-mouse game between the two women. The BBC America series is also frequently incredibly funny, thanks to sharp writing from creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag).Where to Watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunesCommitment: About 5.5 hoursPicked By: Jean Bentley, Assistant TV EditorPeaky Blinders 92%What It Is: A raw mob epic set in 1919 Birmingham, England. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a World War I veteran and leader of the “Peaky Blinders” gang, has started the family business of running a bookie service as well as providing local muscle.Why You Should Watch It: This gritty crime drama will keep you glued to your screen as Tommy tries to build his empire and cement his legacy, all while facing the ever-changing landscape of the new century post-WWI. Guns, gambling, influence, politics, and the streets — this show has it all. Great costume and set design lure viewers into 1919 England to experience the region s post-war trauma. See how far Tommy will go to make a buck and gain power and the collateral damage his family must endure because of it. The series did not offer a new season to U.S. audiences in 2018, but with season 5 coming in 2019, now is a perfect time to binge it.Where to watch: NetflixCommitment: About 24 hoursPicked By: Shane Crocker, Motion Graphic DesignerChilling Adventures of Sabrina 81%What It Is: This comic book–adapted Netflix series from the creator of Riverdale is a dark reimagining of the Sabrina, the Teenage Witch story. Half-witch, half-mortal Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) refuses to sacrifice her human relationships in order to keep her witchy powers and must navigate the boundaries between the mortal and supernatural worlds.Why You Should Watch It: If you’re the kind of witch who wishes Halloween could be a year-long holiday, look no further than Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This show has plenty of campy magic and glamorous gore, but it’s more than flashy spells and Satanic references. Each of Sabrina’s allies — her aunts, cousin Ambrose, human friends, and demonic frenemies — has their own depth and intrigue, which makes their world colorful and worth a deep investment. It’s ultimately a coming-of-age story: Watching Sabrina come into her own, and change minds to do so, is exciting, empowering, and fun. She makes some big mistakes along the way, but who can blame her? She’s only just learning to play with hellfire.Where to Watch: NetflixCommitment: About 11 hoursPicked By: Sophie-Marie Prime, USC’s Rotten Tomatoes FellowForever 95%What It Is: Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen star as an ordinary married couple tethered to routine until a freak accident changes everything they thought they knew about themselves and the world.Why You Should Watch It: Much has been written about how Better Call Saul is an ode to the everyday (crime and dubious legal practices notwithstanding). They couldn t be more different, but if you re a fan of BCS, 2018 s Forever will appeal just as well. Created by Alan Yang of Master of None and featuring prolific comedic actors Rudolph and Armisen (do they ever sleep?), the show poses big questions while simultaneously offering tiny details for viewers to chew on long after the final episode of this compact series ends. Avoid spoilers as much as possible before indulging in this series, which somehow marries banality and longing to great effect.Where to Watch: AmazonCommitment: 4 hoursPicked By: Sara Ataiiyan, Review CuratorSchitt's Creek 93%What It Is: Schitt’s Creek is an amalgam of everything that is good and holy about Canadian entertainment.Why You Should Watch It: Led by Eugene Levy, his gorgeous son Dan, and their beautifully thick eyebrows, Schitt’s Creek follows the Rose family, their fall from grace, and their new life in a tiny town surrounded by some of the most wonderful, eccentric, and underrated characters on TV. The series is a rare bird: both funny and heartwarming, while completely insane and totally relatable. In watching, I have laughed so hard I cried, but I have also cried so hard that I had to laugh (specifically, season 4, episode 6). The relationships, the chemistry, the number of wigs Moira owns, Alexis’ vocal fry, and so on — everything about this show is so perfectly curated that you would be hard pressed to find anything else like it on television.Where To Watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, VuduCommitment: About 20 hoursPicked By: Zoey Moore, Community ManagerManiac 84%What It Is: Loosely based on a Norwegian show of the same name, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s mindtrip of a miniseries delves into the depths of the human mind with humor, heart, and just the right amount of heady conversations to keep you thinking.Why You Should Watch It: It’s the kind of show that can delicately explore the fragile folds that are the human mind and mental health, while still provoking a fully belly laugh (usually followed by a cathartic cry). Between Emma Stone and Jonah Hill’s melancholy chemistry, the singular force of confidently neurotic nature that is Sonoya Mizuno, and Justin Theroux and Sally Field s “special” parent–child relationships (truly something to behold), you feel for each character you meet. For a show about anxiety and depression, it’s refreshingly present. There are no endless flashbacks or flash forwards, even with some of the more cerebral elements. You share moments with the characters as they have them, making for an engaging, emotional viewing experience. Oh, and there are elves, therapy robots, tons of wild accents, unexpected mammals, and a neat retro futuristic feel that’s at once nostalgic and current. It may sound kind of heady, but trust us, it’s worth the trip.Where to Watch: NetflixCommitment: 6.5 hoursPicked By: Haña Lucero-Colin, TV Curation LeadTerrace House: Boys & Girls in the City What It Is: A reality series documenting the real lives of six roommates in Japan.Why You Should Watch It: For those who hate traditional reality TV and want insight into Japanese culture, this is your show. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of love triangles and conflict, but it’s more civilized. It’s the ultimate comfort watch! When you catch up with this season, there’s previous Terrace House series (“Boys and Girls in the City” and “Aloha State”) to enjoy!Where to Watch: NetflixCommitment: There are 42 episodes available from the most recent season, all around 30 to 40 minutes each — and it runs through 52! The time commitment is A LOT, but SO worth it.Picked By: Eileen Rivera, Sr. Director of ProductionHappy! 84%What It Is: Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Nick (Christopher Meloni), a degenerate hit man and ex cop, gets beaten up by mobsters only to wake up in the hospital seeing a cheerful blue unicorn named Happy (Patton Oswalt). Nick learns Happy is the imaginary friend of a kidnapped little girl named Hailey, who is being held captive by a demented Santa Claus. Happy won’t stop bothering Nick until they find Hailey and bring her to safety. Nick’s harsh, aggressive behavior clashes with Happy’s childlike mentality, creating a blend of violent dark humor living in each episode.Why You Should Watch It: Happy! is a solid mix of dark humor and violence — all set in a Christmas-centric world. It is the true opposite of everything we usually watch during the holidays. Through the season Nick gets into trouble with the mob, his former police partner, and his previous romantic partners, but it’s the absurdity of all these scenarios that keep you hooked. One of the most rewarding aspects about the show is the deeper you get, the wilder it becomes, from murderous side characters to a Willy Wonka-type corporate overlord. Happy! is not for the faint of heart and is truly made for fans of antiheroes. The casting is also particularly fun, as Meloni is the polar opposite of his Law Order: SVU character. Think: the crazy cook in Wet Hot American Summer, but darker and more twisted.Where to Watch: Netflix, SyfyCommitment: About 6.5 hoursPicked By: Jason Blagman, AssistantElite 97%What It Is: Rich, sexy Spanish teens clash with working-class students at their elite private school, leading to murder.Why You Should Watch It: Gossip Girl meets Big Little Lies meets Skins meets Cruel Intentions meets The O.C. meets Veronica Mars meets well, basically every single other of the very best teen dramas for this Spanish-language soap-to-end-all-soaps. The eight-episode season features overachieving teens doing teen things like vying for a scholarship, having sex, doing drugs, blackmailing, and murder. The private-school uniforms evoke Gossip Girl, the class clashes evoke The O.C., and the murder-mystery at the center, featuring flash-forwards to the teens being interrogated by police, is very BLL. Elite is addictive and pulpy and will most certainly keep viewers up late trying to figure out who killed [spoiler]. Pro tip: If you don t speak Spanish, Netflix will usually default to the dubbed version. To avoid that travesty, and make sure you select the European Spanish audio track.Where to Watch: NetflixCommitment: About 8 hoursPicked By: BentleyHappy Valley 98%What It Is: A kind of Fargo for the South of England, Happy Valley focuses on policewoman Catherine Cawood’s (Sarah Lancashire) personal and professional lives in the struggling, drug-ridden town for which the series is named. Each season comes with a different mystery, extended across that season’s six episodes, and while they’re dark and twisted fun, the show’s true focus is Cawood’s past – particularly the rape and murder of her daughter by the convict Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) – and its refusal to stay buried.Why You Should Watch It: There is a reason Lancashire was at one time Britain’s most highly paid TV actress: her Cawood is one of TV’s great creations. She’s tough as nails at work, and at home, and yet is only ever barely holding it together, and Lancashire’s performance is revelatory for those unfamiliar with her work. She’s as compelling a TV anti-hero as any of the guys you’d find on AMC or HBO. Lancashire is well matched by a supporting cast that includes Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey s sinister O’Brien) as her sister Clare, who is coping with sobriety, and James Norton as the menacing Royce, whom anglophiles might recall swooning over in Grantchester and War and Peace, and who is rumored to be in consideration to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond. It can be dour, nasty stuff, but series creator and writer Sally Wainwright infuses it with just enough heart, humor, and quirk – this is small-town-TV-England after all – to make it utterly bingeable. Happy Valley is another Netflix title that didn t release a new season in 2018, but will in 2019, making now a great time to binge.Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, VuduCommitment: 12 hoursPicked by: Joel Meares, Editor-in-ChiefPose 98%What It Is: A look inside the underground ball scene in the 1980s, made famous by the documentary Paris Is Burning, in which competitors from various “houses” walk, dance, and/or perform in drag to win big trophies and bigger boosts social stature.Why You Should Watch It: That Pose is genuinely groundbreaking – it features a largely transgender cast, many of whom have not acted professionally before – was reason enough for many to tune in when the Ryan Murphy series premiered on FX in 2018. That it was genuinely thrilling, romantic, and ultimately moving was the reason most stayed on for all 10 episodes. Murphy’s series plays out like Fame at times, and like an episode of Drag Race at others. Which is to say there is as much new-to-New-York excitable pluckiness as there is shade being thrown around. The ball scenes are dynamically staged, with outrageous costumes (the pilot’s royalty-themed ball is a particular treat), and dangerous levels of fierceness. But what makes Pose something special are its softer moments, away from all that voguing. Moments like when Elektra, played by Dominque Jackson, who was a genuine house “mother” during the 1980s, grapples frankly with whether to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. Or when Billy Porter’s Pray, who hosts the ball nights, keeps bedside vigil for his ailing lover. Porter, nominated for a Golden Globe this year, is a series standout, along with Indya Moore, whose complex relationship with married boy from the ’burbs Stan (Evan Peters) will break your heart.Where to Watch: Amazon, Fandango Now, FX+, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTubeCommitment: 10 hoursPicked by: Meares
(Photo by Rooster Teeth; Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE; Dana Starbard/AMC)Updated March 20, 2020There’s so much great stuff to watch, we know. But as cord-cutting becomes more common and networks like NBC, HBO, and CBS decide to stop playing nice with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu and launch their own streaming/subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms or other over-the-top services (OTT), the question is becoming less about what to watch and instead about where to find it.Some choices are obvious, brought to you by established major media brands and are already very much a part of pop culture vernacular:CBS All Access has been churning out new Star Trek series, including Discovery and, the latest, Picard, in addition to series like The Good Wife spin-off, The Good Fight.Sony Crackle is where to find new shows like crime drama The Oath and classics from its library like The Facts of Life and movies like Adaptation and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Facebook Watch has been around a few years and has become known for drama series like the anthology Sacred Lies.Disney+ launched in November and gave the world the gift of Baby Yoda through The Mandalorian, a TV series set in the Star Wars universe, in addition to other original content and classics from the Disney film archive.Apple TV+ also launched last year and has already made a name for itself with awards-worthy programming like The Morning Show (although we re partial to period dramedy Dickinson.And there’s more to come. Soon, we ll all have the answer to what is Quibi, the streaming platform that promises to give us quality (or at least enjoyable) content in 10-minutes-or-less morsels. Programs and channels owned by WarnerMedia — think cable channels like HBO and TNT as well as soon-to-launch shows and classic programming like Friends — will soon be housed under the streaming platform HBOMax. And NBCUniversal will soon launch its over-the-top streaming option, Peacock.(Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Fandango, a division of NBCUniversal that includes film and television on-demand streaming service FandangoNow.)There are also more all-encompassing options like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Pluto TV (the latter of which has expertly curated channels, such as Adam Carolla’s one for car buffs called Chassy). And, in perhaps the ultimate example of clearing the clutter, the service VRV will bundle your select streaming video on demand and fandom content. (One of the service s options is NickSplat, a channel featuring Nickelodeon kids content from the 1990s, including CatDog, Rocko s Modern Life, and The Wild Thornberrys).“With SVOD, if you look at the failures, these are things that are pitched at mainstream, big-stream audience [like Seeso or Verizon’s go90], and they just couldn’t make that work, says Todd Spangler, Variety’s New York–based digital editor. On the nichier side of things … I think those are genuine, niche genre categories that can support a smaller subscription base and be profitable. They’re not going to be Netflix, but —”What kinds of niche content options are we talking about, exactly? We’ve rounded up some examples of the diverse specialty streaming sites available. Not specific enough? You can always watch that one Roku channel that only airs episodes of the old game show What’s My Line?For TV Addicts Who Love an Accent: Acorn TVThe Acorn TV subscription-based streaming service is one whose “audience is sophisticated, demanding, and passionate about content,” according to General Manager Matthew Graham when he spoke at the winter 2018 Television Critics Association press tour. Its programming is from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. These include celebrated British murder mysteries like Manhunt (92% Tomatometer), and the soon-to-premiere Deadwater Fell (86% Tomatometer), which stars David Tennant and Cush Jumbo.For Unabashed Anglophiles: BritBoxThis SVOD service, which launched in 2017 as a partnership between BBC and ITV, is a speedy fix to anyone craving classic British programming. “What sets us apart from all the others is our ability to present many of these shows within hours of their U.K. premiere,” BritBox North America president Soumya Sriraman told journalists at the winter 2018 TCA press tour. Highlights include Absolutely Fabulous (96% Tomatometer)and Fawlty Towers (100% Tomatometer), as well as newer titles like the sitcom Mrs. Brown s Boys.For Anime-niacs: CrunchyrollLaunched in 2006, this streaming favorite is synonymous with anime and anime-related products like manga, TV dramas, and music. Still, given the plethora of options available from those markets, Crunchyroll Head of Business Operations Brady McCollum tells Rotten Tomatoes that it becomes a “mix of art and science” to find which programs best fit their TV options. While some titles on the site are expected hits — Dragon Ball Super, Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia — the fans have been known to surprise them (some examples include Darling in the Franxx and Megalobox). McCollum says the team also “see(s) a bright future in creating originals for our passionate community to come together through extraordinary content. One of Crunchyroll’s first original series will be High Guardian Spice, which is about four girls who learn about friendship and allegiances while studying sorcery and battles.For Bollywood Lovers: Eros NowOne of many over-the-top platforms to celebrate all things Bollywood films and other regional programming, Eros grew out of film production company Eros International and, according to its homepage, boasts 100 million registered users and 7.9 million paying subscribers. It also has a lengthy list of television shows and original programs, including sudsy dramas like Kuch Na Kaho, a love story about a couple whose families try to tear them apart.For Those Who Prefer Their Heroes With Capes: DC UniverseDC Universe launched in 2018 and is home to favorites like the 1978 Superman movie and new programs like the animated, but certainly not rated-G, Harley Quinn. Subscriptions also give you access to over 20,000 comic books and information on special events and contests.For Gay-Cinema Devotees: DekkooThis Philadelphia-based streaming service is geared toward gay and bisexual men. It s become known for its trove of art house flicks of pretty much any genre that celebrate or highlight characters who happen to be gay. “When we do our original content, we steer toward episodic because it’s more interesting and it keeps customers attached to the site longer,” says Dekkoo COO Brian Sokel, adding that this also came from necessity as not a lot of TV feature diverse gay characters. “What we find from subscribers is they are looking for content that’s for a gay audience … but they want to be able to see content that’s not about a coming out story; it’s just gay characters in larger stories.” Original series include the dating competition series Love Is Blind (which isn t to be confused with the Netflix series of the same name) and the 20-something comedy I’m Fine.For Korean TV Junkies: KOCOWALaunching as a partnership between South Korea’s three major networks, the Los Angeles–based KOCOWA offers a way for those outside of that country to catch its most popular programming just a few hours after they first air. KunHee Park, the CEO of parent company Korea Content Platform has said that the majority of its users are young, female, and not Asian (In fact, the channel launched in Brazil last year, meaning it now also has Portuguese subtitle options). Popular programming include variety shows like Running Man and dramas like Wok of Love. KOCOWA also has licensing deals with similar services, like the Asian TV powerhouse Viki.For Kevin Hart Disciples: Laugh Out LoudComedian Kevin Hart and studio Lionsgate launched this OTT streaming service in 2017 as a way to showcase content that the comedian endorses and curates. (This is kind of Hart s thing; he also is known for Comedy Central s Kevin Hart Presents: The Next Level, which spotlights up-and-coming talent.) Among the programs on LOL are Cold as Balls, where Hart himself takes ice baths next to the hottest names in sports. There are also comedy specials from D.L. Hughley, Iliza Shlesinger, and more.For Your Baby-Daddy s Online Catfisher/Stripper-Girlfriend: Nosey(Photo by Nosey)Nosey may not be the place to find the most high-brow and intellectually stimulating programming, but have we got a service for those who like to watch hour after hour of men sweating it out over paternity tests. This free app, which is available on the likes of Roku and Google Play, is a carefully curated list of programming like Maury Povich, Jerry Springer — so pretty much every program that would make your family seem like one in Andy Griffith.For Players Who Know When to Hold ’Em, Know When to Fold ’Em: PokerGoAn OTT service that’s willing to bet big on the niche factor? Sam Simmons, VP of content for Poker Central, which oversees PokerGo, says the goal of his service is to “combine the existing television success of longstanding programs like the World Series of Poker with world-exclusive original programming, in order to create a year-round entertainment destination for the game that excites both the most passionate fans and casual enthusiasts.” This means they offer over 100 days of live poker coverage as well as original series like Hand Histories, a new series that looks at real-life gamblers and their stories.For Drama (and Comedy!) Queens: RevryAlia J. Daniels and Chris Rodriguez, two of Revry’s founders, tell Rotten Tomatoes that the goal of their LGBTQ-themed streaming service is to be as inclusive as possible. This isn’t just in regards to gender and sexuality; Revry also strives to highlight racial and ethnic diversity. “I think a driving force behind our programming is reflecting the community as we are as opposed to what’s trendy or what big-wig ex
cope.It Was a “Traditional” Disney Story in a Way No Other Pixar Movie Is(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)These days, Pixar is celebrated for its truly innovative premises. What if the emotions in your head were personified, here to teach you a lesson about how sadness is good? What if humanity ruined the Earth and left a cute, largely silent robot behind to clean up? What if art deco superheroes fought against the struggles of marriage, and also maybe loved Ayn Rand? A Bug’s Life is not like that. In fact, it’s probably the most traditional Pixar movie when compared to Disney’s classic animated canon. The film, like so many of the classic Disney movies, was based on an old tale from the public domain — in this instance, the Aesop’s Fable about the ant and the grasshopper.Anybody who has watched The Little Mermaid and then gone and read the original Grimm’s Fairy Tale knows that Disney frequently makes major (and typically good) changes when adapting an old story. A Bug’s Life was no different, taking this fable of a lazy grasshopper and hardworking ant and spinning it into a new tale about individualism, make-believe actors becoming real-life heroes, and triumph over extortion. It was Pixar’s only real take on what had been Disney’s M.O. for decades, and while the studio’s creative ambitions would only grow greater, A Bug’s Life is worth remembering for being a singular Pixar reinterpretation.It Proved That Pixar Wasn’t a FlukeIf the worst thing A Bug’s Life has going for it is that it isn’t one of the greatest animated movies ever made from arguably the greatest animation studio of all time, then that’s a pretty good sophomore slump. After the success of Toy Story, Pixar, which had since become a public company, needed to deliver a success to keep the momentum going.“We felt the future of the studio was resting on it,” A Bug’s Life producer Darla K. Anderson recalled in that filmmaker’s roundtable. Had Pixar’s second movie been a total bust, Pixar might’ve been written-off as a one-hit wonder. Instead, A Bug’s Life was a critical and financial success — maybe not as good as Toy Story, but a sure sign that there were plenty more good things to come.Twenty years later, now that computer graphics have progressed so much, it’s easy to overlook the visual and technical leaps that A Bug’s Life Made. Compared to Toy Story, A Bug’s Life is much more complex. Animators needed to create entirely organic-looking worlds on a much bigger scale than Toy Story’s mostly bedroom settings. There were significantly more characters in A Bug’s Life than in the earlier film — heck, the ant colony alone dwarfs Toy Story’’s entire cast. Pixar also had to use or develop new animation techniques to handle light flickering through semi-transparent grass and the flickering flames of the finale. In other words, A Bug’s Life was no small feat, and that warrants a bit of celebration.A Bug s Life was released on November 25, 1998.