Streaming services and cord-cutting have made appearances in media, including comics and animation. Which left me to wonder: what streaming services would certain cartoon characters use? Below, I offer some recommended streaming services based on these characters’ backgrounds and interests.
- I’m using real-world streaming services (versus any in-universe ones).
- I skipped wealthy characters, since they can afford to pay for cable TV/every streaming service. So no Daphne Blake (“Scooby-Doo”), Bruce Wayne (“Batman”), or Veronica Lodge (“Archie”).
- I assume the most popular tiers of each service.
- I’m assuming it’s the full cost of the service, not as part of any deals (free with cell phone service, etc.).
- Prices are as of this writing (November 2022).
Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Superman)
Situation: Busy reporters for a “great metropolitan newspaper”; probably not big TV watchers
Between Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s jobs as the top reporters at the “Daily Planet,” as well as Clark’s “side job” (as Superman), they likely aren’t big TV watchers. Off the top of my head, I can count on one hand the number of comics I’ve seen Lois or Clark watching TV for recreational reasons, versus as part of their journalism jobs or for Superman-related duties.
That said, they’re certainly still interested in TV for breaking news. Some modern stories also give them a son, Jon Kent, so they might also want some recreational TV for him.
- Sling TV (Blue) ($40/mo.). For CNN and MSNBC (and keeping tabs on Fox News, I suppose).
- Netflix ($15.50/mo.). For the rare times Lois and Clark do want to watch TV for relaxation.
- An antenna (free). As WGBS-TV and its network, the “Galaxy Broadcasting System,” are Superman lore mainstays, they’d definitely want to get the local TV stations in Metropolis.
- Total: $55.50
The Fox family (FoxTrot)
Situation: Upper-middle-class suburban family; vastly differing TV tastes
The Fox family of Bill Amend’s long-running comic strip “FoxTrot” fall on the upper-middle-class side. Aside from a turn-of-the-millennium plot about Roger quitting his job, and the occasional “Andy/Roger pinch pennies to save money” jokes, concerns about money don’t seem to come up often. Andy can afford to heavily buy organic groceries; Roger can afford to play golf; the family regularly takes vacations (though frequently it’s camping); and they’re an all-Apple device (or “iFruit” device) household.
TV-wise: Roger and Peter are big sports fans (particularly football); Paige likes reality shows and sitcoms (one strip has her streaming “Cake Wars” on Netflix); and Andy likes watching news, dramas, and “Downton Abbey.” Meanwhile, Jason is obsessed with “Star Trek” and (to Andy’s consternation) “Game of Thrones.” Otherwise, Jason doesn’t seem to have any specific TV tastes—he’s way more obsessed with gaming.
One 2021 strip shows they aren’t shy about streaming services. (Though it’s unclear if they just have them ongoing or are rotating between them.)
Based on all of the above, my recommendations:
- Hulu + Live TV (with ad-based Disney+/Hulu on-demand and ESPN+) ($75/mo.). A cable-replacement service that covers the entire family’s viewing tastes, including news, sitcoms, sci-fi, cartoons, and sports. Since Roger and Peter are heavy sports fans, it’s either this or Sling TV; though I suspect they’d go for a full-fledged cable replacement service/the one bundling Disney+.
- Netflix ($15.50/mo.). The entire Fox family seems to be obsessed with Netflix.
- HBO Max ($15/mo.). Apparently, Andy’s an HBO fan, going by a strip about “The Sopranos.” Which would explain why they don’t ditch it and cut off Jason’s “Game of Thrones” viewing.
- Total: $105.50
Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Situation: Often financially struggling
While the comics have evolved over the decades, spin-off media (TV shows, movies) still assumes Peter’s living at home with his elderly Aunt May. Famously, Peter’s often broke, for various reasons (J. Jonah Jameson’s pay rates, Aunt May’s medical bills, etc.). And of course, he’s also busy in his role as Spidey. I’d assume being Marvel’s flagship superhero doesn’t leave much time for TV watching, anyway.
- Netflix ($15.50/mo.) A catch-all service for Peter and Aunt May.
- PBS Passport ($5/mo.). I could see Aunt May feeling charitable enough to donate to PBS. That, and Peter might enjoy PBS’ science shows like “Nova.” (Never mind the Spider-Man franchise’s ties to public broadcasting.)
- An antenna (free).
- Total: $20.50
The Parkers (AJ & Magnus)
Middle-class but budget-conscious suburban family; geeky interests
The comic strip “AJ & Magnus” is about grade-schooler AJ Parker, his dog Magnus, and his two fathers Alex and John (“Dad” and “Pop” respectively). Usually, the Parkers are supported by either Dad or Pop (Pop’s job problems with discrimination make up a major storyline in the strip. At one point, Dad had cut their subscriptions down to just one streaming service to save money.
Other than Pop’s interest in football, the family’s interests skew on the geeky side of things. The family enjoys cosplay for Halloween/other occasions; they all like superheroes (and superhero comics); AJ and Pop like video games; and Dad and Pop once argued over which was better, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars.” AJ also enjoys watching nature documentaries (keeping with his interest in the outdoors).
- The Disney+ bundle (with ads; Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu) ($13/mo.). With the Disney+ bundle, you get three services for the price of one. The Disney+ bundle also covers a broad variety of media, including “Star Wars,” Marvel superheroes, adult dramas, National Geographic programs, and sports. (Disney+ with ads, and the all-ads Disney+ bundle, are set to launch on December 8, 2022.)
- Netflix ($15.50/mo.). If they want to save more, there’s the new Basic tier at $10 (though at 720p picture quality).
- Pluto TV (free). Pluto TV offers free streaming content, including a “channel” dedicated to Logo TV (an LGBTQ-oriented cable channel).
- An antenna (free). NFL football is mainly carried on over-the-air TV.
- Total: $28.50
The Simpsons family (The Simpsons)
Situation: Working-class suburban family; traditional TV tastes
While the Simpsons often engage in various wacky money-making schemes, new jobs, etc., their default situation’s always that of a working-class/middle-class family. “The Simpsons” is also famous for A) Homer’s obsession with watching TV and B) the family’s traditional rabbit-ears antenna TV set. One of my favorite episodes is from the second season, where the family pirate cable.
TV-wise, the Simpsons’ viewing tastes fit that of being, well, a show dating from the early 1990s parodying old-school sitcom tropes (and the creators’ Baby Boomer childhoods). Homer watches sitcoms, cop shows, football, boxing, and bowling; Marge likes soap operas; and the kids like old-school-style slapstick cartoons (“Itchy and Scratchy”). Basically, a show airing in the 2020s that’s a mashup of the 1960s and 1990s?
- Sling TV (Orange) ($40/mo.). Sling TV offers a basic cable-like package of channels. The Orange tier includes ESPN, HGTV, Cartoon Network, and other channels. Again, some of the sports Homer likes pretty much require ESPN these days, versus when “The Simpsons” debuted in 1990.
- Netflix ($15.50/mo.). The standard Netflix package.
- Tubi (free). A free ad-supported service with plenty to watch. (Appropriately, it’s also owned by Fox.)
- An antenna (free). The Simpsons watching broadcast TV is a staple of the series, as is local TV station KBBL, home of Krusty the Clown and news anchor Kent Brockman.
- Total: $55.50