30 Rock, Downton Abbey, Battlestar Galactica. Enjoy some of the best free shows on Peacock without spending a penny.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
We need "comfort TV" now more than ever. But at what price? Thankfully, if you have an internet connection fast enough for streaming, that price is zero. With NBC's Peacock service, there's more great free TV to watch than ever. Below I've rounded up a handful of the best free shows on Peacock and other services you can watch from start to finish, no charge.
The catch, of course, is that you'll have to sit through commercial breaks, same as with classic broadcast TV of old. But here you can watch entirely on-demand, on your schedule, and on just about any device you want.
This is my must-see-free-TV list; hit the comments with your picks.
Tina Fey's SNL-inspired workplace comedy remains as underrated now as it was during its seven-season run. That's a shame, because it's sharp, smart and laugh-out-loud hilarious -- and doesn't feel the least bit dated. The show took maybe half its first season to really find its footing, but by the end of S1 it was firing on all cylinders.
You don't have to like sci-fi to love Battlestar Galactica, and you don't need to know a single thing about the campy '70s series that preceded this reboot. You just have to enjoy blistering drama, phenomenal acting and more plot twists than you can fit in an airlock.
Even if you're not a fan of reality shows like The Bachelor, this criminally overlooked parody series (of shows like The Bachelor) will have you howling. It's packed with familiar faces (Michael Ian Black, Kristin Bell and Jennifer Aniston, to name just a few -- and that's just in season 1), all of whom bring their comedy A-games to this sharp send-up.
Has there been a finer TV drama in the past decade? I think not. Downton Abbey proves that shows don't have to be dark and depressing and populated with anti-heroes. Sure, it has bleak moments, but it's also fun and funny, with characters you can't help but love. Don't think it's your cup of Earl Grey tea? Watch one episode; I guarantee you'll be hooked.
Just as Battlestar Galactica isn't about spaceships, Friday Night Lights isn't really about football. It's a fully realized human drama, one that hums with relatable stories and lovable, often deeply flawed characters. The show came to IMDb TV a couple of years ago; it's now available on Peacock as well.
Mad Men is a slow burn, a show that takes time to flesh out its stories and characters. At first you'll echo the first season's underlying question, "Who the heck is Don Draper?" Then, in subsequent seasons, you'll wonder, "What is Don Draper?" Hero? Villain? Something in between? It's easy to see why this soapy slice of '60s melodrama took home a suitcase full of Emmys.
During its amazingly strong nine-season run, The Middle aired right after Modern Family, offering the perfect bookend to that show's moneyed milieu. This quirky family lives a decidedly middle-class lifestyle in the middle of the country. The kids are weird, but not in a sitcom-y way. The parents work unglamorous jobs and would rather watch TV than, well, parent. It's all wrapped in a funny, relatable, often sweet show that feels more real than most.
Though it lasted just two short seasons, Pushing Daisies made a lasting impression. How can you not love a show about a lovestruck pie-maker who brings people back from the dead to help solve their own murders? And who literally cannot touch the object of his affections lest he send her back to the dead? It's creepy, funny (the first episode is called "Pie-lette"), fantastical and oozing with charm.
This is the one series here I haven't yet seen, but you can bet it's on my watch-list. That's because everyone I know won't shut up about it and it keeps appearing in "best series of the year" stories. In fact, Schitt's Creek won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.