What to Watch (and Not to Watch) on Streaming: 'Pam and Tommy,' 'Tinder Swindler' and More

Netflix, Hulu and the rest of the streaming services have some big releases coming out this week – but with so many hyped shows and movies coming out, it can be difficult to know which are worth your time.

To help, here's our guide to what is streaming this week on the major streaming services.

Netflix's big release of the week is The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window, the streamer's parody of a certain brand of psychological thriller, usually starring a woman who drinks a lot of wine. Think The Girl in the Train or The Woman in the Window.

Other streamers are tackling true stories. Hulu has Pam and Tommy, its adaptation of the story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's leaked sex tape. Lily James' shock transformation into the female lead has generated many headlines, but that is just the beginning of the shocks the show has to offer. Showtime, meanwhile, are telling us that We Need to Talk About Cosby, a few months after the star was released from jail.

Read on for the lowdown on those shows as well as Netflix true crime doc The Tinder Swindler and Season 2 of HBO Max's Raised By Wolves.

Streaming highlight of the week: We Need to Talk About Cosby (Showtime, January 30)

Can we separate the art from the artist? Do the awful things someone does erase the good that they did? Why do so many people find it so hard to believe women when they talk about being the victims of sex crimes?

These are all questions that have been raised frequently in our Post-#MeToo world, but few shows have asked the questions so openly and honestly as We Need to Talk About Cosby, director W. Kamau Bell's four part Showtime documentary.

The show has a very difficult line to tread. It tries to explain what Bill Cosby meant to Black America, while also giving time for the many women who claimed to have been raped by the entertainer. We as viewers are invited to process what Cosby means to us at the same time as Bell. We learn that Cosby, for example, was crucial in the effort to make studios hire Black stuntmen rather than putting white men in blackface, but also learn that his alleged crimes go back decades, back to the very beginning of his time as a star.

It is not a perfect documentary. There are some noticeable absences among the talking heads, – Hannibal Buress, for example, is not interviewed despite the show acknowledging that he was crucial in making the Cosby accusations public.

However, the series remains a great example about how we can ask questions about the legacy of disgraced celebrities without being one of those "just asking questions" people. It also brings the public's attention to Cosby's alleged crimes at a time when people may be starting to forget about them.

The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window (Netflix, January 28)

Kristen Bell wine
Anna (Kristen Bell) is rarely seen without wine in "The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window" on Netflix. Colleen E. Hayes/Netflix

Netflix sometimes likes to neg its content on Twitter, lightly mocking some of its trashier films and series.

Now, however, it seems this negging is becoming part of Netflix's content strategy. The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window is an eight-part TV shows that is basically an extended parody of The Woman in the Window, a movie Netflix also put out.

But the makers of The Woman in the Window do not have too much reason to be offended – this new show mostly fails to land most of its blows against the genre.

There is much to make fun of in films like The Woman in the Window, The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. There are the massive and often absurd twists, there is the constant drinking of wine, and there is the fact that everyone in these films seems to have agoraphobia, amnesia, or a combination of the two.

The Woman in the House... starts with some good hits at these films. Kristen Bell plays Anna (not to be confused with Anna from Frozen who she also voices), a woman who regularly drinks entire bottles of wine mixed with industrial strength painkillers, and who's daughter recently died in gruesome (and darkly hilarious) circumstances. Oh, and she is also terrified of the rain.

As the show goes on, however, the series goes from mocking these stories to just becoming one of them – what it thinks is parody becomes straight-up homage. A show like American Vandal showed us how a series could work as a mystery while making fun of those mysteries, but The Woman in the House... never manages to do both at the same time.

Pam and Tommy (Hulu, February 2)

In a move that is guaranteed to make anyone born before 2000 feel old, there is a growing trend for historical dramas about the early years of the internet.

After Impeachment: American Crime Story started the trend, Pam and Tommy is continuing it. The Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape website was one of the web's first viral hits (before the term "viral" was even in use to describe the web).

As such, the show gets plenty of laughs out of people being confused as to what a website is, as well as people talking about such high-tech inventions as the 56k modem.

You are not coming to this show, however, for jokes about HTML. You are here to see how Stan and James do as one of the '90s most famous couples. The pair do an amazing job of embodying the pair, with Stan a particular energetic surprise to those who know him as the brooding Bucky Barnes. James also does great work once your brain can get over the uncanniness of how much they have made her look like Anderson.

The show cannot always match them in its energy. Apart from one moment involving a talking penis in Episode 2, the first three episodes are a fairly slow affair, which might leave some viewers wondering whether it is worth continuing with the weekly episodes. Things pick up after that, though, as we start to get into the couples' attempts to get the tape out of circulation – and see how Pamela deals with the sexism of the 1990s.

The Tinder Swindler (Netflix, February 2)

Another month, another Netflix true crime doc. The streamer's aim seems to be to make a true crime documentaries about literally every crime ever committed. Did you buy a pirate DVD of Spider-Man 2 circa 2004? Expect your own four-part doc with flashy graphics soon.

This time, the crimes were committed by Shimon Hayut, a man who pretended to be a wealthy playboy through an elaborate Ponzi scheme of money taken from victims he met on Tinder.

Generally, true crime documentaries about online crimes can be fairly dull, as no one has really worked out a way to make text messages dramatically effective on screen. Luckily for us, Hayut had a habit of leaving voice notes, meaning we get a unique insight into his ever-more-desperate attempts to con his victims.

All in all, The Tinder Swindler is that rare thing: A true crime documentary with a fairly satisfying ending that never feels like it is exploiting victims for our entertainment.

Raised By Wolves Season 2 (HBO Max, February 3)

raised by wolves season 2
"Raised By Wolves" was renewed for Season 2 by HBO Max in 2020. Season 2 is coming to the streamer this February. HBO Max

When HBO Max launched (which feels like a million years ago but was in fact just May 2020), Raised By Wolves was one of its first titles. The show became one of the streamer's first big hits, with viewers drawn in by its epic vistas, hard sci-fi elements and connection to Ridley Scott, who acts as executive producer.

With Season 2, we will see how the show competes now the HBO Max catalog has many more originals that it will have to fight for space. The series picks up exactly where it left off, with androids Mother and Father joining a new colony in the tropical zone of the mysterious planet Kepler B.

If you loved the first season, then you will love the second, but it remains to be seen whether this very singular sci-fi can find a wider audience with Season 2.