Skipping the Super Bowl? Here’s What To Watch Instead

February 8, 2024
Graphic of someone skipping through the Superbowl on TV

About one in three Americans will watch the Super Bowl on Sunday – which means two-thirds of the country may want some alternative viewing. (Illustration by John DiJulio, University Communications)

Roughly 115 million Americans watch the Super Bowl every year, but you might not be one of them. Or maybe you’re only in it for the ads, or to catch Usher’s halftime show performance.

While we always cheer on the Cavaliers, we won’t judge you for wanting to skip Sunday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.

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The big game might dominate the airwaves, but it’s not the only thing to watch. From one of 2023’s most talked-about movies to a comforting show about lovable animals, faculty and staff at the University of Virginia have got you covered with alternatives to the big game – all streaming on demand.

Anthony Palomba, assistant professor at the Darden School of Business

“Julia” on Max: This is a riveting show that illustrates the rise of bon vivant and culinary master Julia Child and the arrival of televised cooking. The cast is absolutely superb, reuniting Bebe Neuwirth (as Avis DeVoto) and David Hyde Pierce (Paul Child) from their days on “Frasier.” 

The series is helmed by an absolutely stunning and jaw-dropping performance from Sarah Lancashire (Julia Child), who absolutely embodies the soul of Julia from every cuisine she produces through the challenges and struggles she had in gaining buy-in for her show from WGBH in Boston during the 1960s. This show is a demonstration in a character’s reclamation of a dream as a middle-aged woman.

“Saltburn” on Amazon Prime: A wild, indulgent romp into sex, power and even a remonstration against the elites, this movie illustrates the general malaise and apathy that can settle into characters with too much wealth, and how one character gradually exploits their weaknesses. This is led by Barry Keoghan as Oliver Quick, a student at Oxford, who establishes a friendship with Jacob Elordi (Felix Catton), and goes to visit his family at their estate, known as Saltburn. Be warned: This is a graphic and explicit movie, but I believe it unveils particular corners of the human psyche that we seldom introduce in public conversation.

Jaden King, Presidential Fellow

“Free Solo” on Disney+: In June 2017, climber Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” a route up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The 2,900-foot climb took one of the most daring and challenging routes for any climber to attempt. 

Honnold completed it with no clip-ins, no ropes and no assistance. This documentary, directed by Jimmy Chin and Eizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, tells the story of this extraordinary accomplishment. Not only is the film impressive for its stunning live-action shots of Honnold climbing a vertical cliff formation, but the technical achievement of capturing these shots is, itself, a remarkable story. 

The film represents artists at the top of their game: for Honnold, free solo climbing, and for Chin/Vasarhelyi, adventure photography. It’s a towering achievement of athletics and art, together in one, making it a must-watch for all outdoor enthusiasts.   

“Past Lives” on Showtime: This was one of my favorite features to come out of 2023. This film is a soft-spoken, but deeply powerful portrait of relationships as they once were, could be and presently are. It’s strikingly resonant for its honest portrayal of the tension between nostalgia and reality. Quite unlike anything that I’ve seen before, this film is worth a watch.

Theresa Carroll, senior assistant dean for academic and student services at the School of Nursing

“The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix: Not a sports lover, but like competition? It doesn’t get any better than a finale of “The Great British Baking Show.” Will the sculpted bread showstopper shaped like the Acropolis fall over? Who might get a Paul Hollywood handshake? And you can’t beat the stress of a soggy bottom!

“All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS: If you simply need a break from the anxiety of sports, spend an hour in the Yorkshire dales with “All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS. Mostly happy endings for the dogs, turtles, cows, horses and pigs on hills covered in turf that doesn’t have all kinds of lines and logos on it.

André Cavalcante, associate professor of media studies and women, gender and sexuality

“Yellowjackets” on Paramount+ and Showtime: It’s a bingeable drama featuring an amazing cast about a women's high school soccer team whose plane crashes in the Canadian forest and their struggle to survive. The show vacillates between the current day and the 1990s and is steeped in ‘90s nostalgia. Queer relationships are central to the show and make it shine. Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci and Melanie Lynskey offer knockout performances.

“Rustin” on Netflix: This is about the life of gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin. The film spotlights Rustin's struggles within and outside of the civil rights movement as a gay Black man. Rustin, who has long been in the historical shadows, was the architect of the March on Washington and the film offers long-overdue recognition of his efforts for social and racial justice. Moreover, Colman Domingo mesmerizes on screen and gives an Oscar-worthy performance of Rustin as a stylish, sassy and courageous leader.

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Alice Berry

University News Associate Office of University Communications