For a company that gets as much press and scrutiny as Facebook does, it’s a little weird that their TV shows don’t get as much attention. Launched in 2017, Facebook Watch, as it’s called, has been quietly chugging along ever since. According to Facebook, they get 720 million viewers a month. And these aren’t amateur shows. Although they generally have smaller budgets compared to shows on other platforms, they have stars with recognizable names. So why is no one talking about Facebook’s TV shows? Well, part of it may have to do with availability. And part of it may have to do with an overabundance of choice. But it’s okay. We’re going to figure it all out. First, let’s start with the basics.
How to Watch Facebook’s TV Shows
Xaria Dotson on The Birch, image via Facebook Watch
When Facebook Watch comes up, the most common thing I hear is that people don’t know how to, well, watch it. This is anecdotal, of course, but I’d bet it’s a pretty typical dilemma. In true Facebook fashion, they’ve obfuscated something relatively simple. Remember when you discovered that there was a whole inbox of messages you never knew existed? Like that, Facebook Watch is hiding in plain sight.
That’s because the easiest way to watch these shows is through Facebook itself. If you’re watching through the website, look on the left sidebar for the “Watch” link. Through the app, it’s the icon at the top next to the home button.
If you’d rather watch on your TV, then you have a few options. You can cast videos on Facebook through various devices, as well as through the dedicated Facebook Watch app. The Facebook app itself is also available through devices like Amazon’s Fire Stick.
So now that we’ve covered the most basic part, let’s talk about what to watch.
Facebook’s TV Shows You Might Know
If you’ve heard about any of Facebook’s TV shows at all, then chances are that the one you’ve heard about most (or at all) is Red Table Talk. The talk show, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow Smith, and Jada’s mom, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, has generated a lot of press. But in case you haven’t heard of it, the format’s pretty straight. The ladies sit around the titular red table and discuss sometimes difficult topics with celebrity guests. Jada’s interview with Jordyn Woods, for example, was the most watched episode of any of Facebook’s original TV shows (at least, as of March). If you don’t know who that is, or if you’re not into self-help, then Red Table Talk is probably not for you. And that’s okay. Maybe something else is.
Like Humans of New York. If you’re familiar with the blog format, then you know what to expect from the show. Photographer Brandon Stanton interviews people on the street in New York (and occasionally other locales). Unlike the blog, though, the TV version experiments with theme episodes.
Facebook’s TV Shows You Might Not Know (But Should)
Jessica Biel on Limetown, image via Facebook Watch
The fact is, there are a lot of original shows on Watch and I watch a lot of TV as it is, so I didn’t watch them all. If you’re interested in live sports, comedies, and/or reality shows, there’s content out there for you on Facebook. I, however, stuck to dramas.
This piece was prompted by my watching Castle Rock. Facebook advertised their adaptation of Limetown heavily during the commercial breaks. It’s not that I’m super-susceptible to commercials–although I remember every jingle ever–but I am primed for this advertisement. I really enjoyed season 1 of the Limetown podcast–I haven’t listened to season 2 yet, no spoilers–so I was very interested in seeing the TV version. (But first I had to figure out how to watch it and now here we are.)
As with the podcast, the show focuses on Lia Haddock (Jessica Biel), a reporter for American Public Radio. She’s trying to put together a show about and solve the mystery of Limetown, a community in Tennessee. 15 years earlier, it was a thriving little village populated by researchers, like Lia’s uncle Emile (Stanley Tucci), and the researchers’ families. Then one day, local first responders outside the village took an alarming 911 call from Limetown. When they arrived, Limetown security wouldn’t let them enter. Three days later, the security staff took off without a word, leaving the gates open. When the first responders went in, all 300 residents were missing. There was no trace of what happened save a pyre, upon which one of the head researchers was apparently burned. None of the other residents have been seen since.
Whether you’ve listened to the podcast or not, there is still a pleasure in watching the show. It’s not groundbreaking by any measure, but it does succeed in creating an effectively creepy environment.
Sorry for Your Loss:
Although Limetown is perhaps a more accessible drama, Sorry for Your Loss is ultimately a better show. Following Leigh Shaw (Elizabeth Olsen), this drama is about navigating the stages of grief. Leigh is a young widow, whose husband died suddenly, and now she has to reconstruct her whole life. That includes coming to terms with her feelings, as well as the realization that her husband had a life outside her. Through this, she struggles with her relationships with her own family, especially her sister Jules (Kelly Marie Tran), and her husband’s brother Danny (Jovan Adepo).
It sounds like a bummer, I know. But if you like thoughtful dramas and/or crying a lot, then you might want to check it out.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve finished watching Limetown and want to continue the scares. In that case, you should catch The Birch. This show began only this month, so I can’t give it a full assessment. But it seems decent so far, especially if you’ve got a soft spot for low-budget horror. This one’s about a trio of teens who summon a kind of tree golem. (Bet you’ll never guess what kind of tree.) Predictably, supernatural (and bloody) high jinks ensue. Again, it’s early days for the show, but it could hit the spot if you’ve got a jones for new horror.
Have you been one of those people watching Facebook’s TV shows all along (and just not telling us)? Or are you going to start now? Let us know in the comments below. You can also come see us on social media, where I promise we’ll summon no kind of golems.
featured image (of Elizabeth Olsen on Sorry for Your Loss) via Facebook Watch
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.