Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on streaming services in the United States.
US, 2002-2005, 22 min episodes, Created by MTV
You can't talk about the history of reality TV without talking about this show. Hailed as "television’s first celebrity reality show," the series follows Ozzy and Sharon and two of their kids, Kelly and Jack, as they putz around their Los Angeles mansion with celebrities coming and going (Elijah Wood! Diddy! Slipknot!). Ironically, the series seems profoundly wholesome today: the kids are late to school; the dogs shit all over the floor; the neighbors play their music too loud; the teenage son gets scolded for smoking weed. (Nevermind dad's high the whole time.) But in 2002, the show's crass honesty was genre-setting, becoming MTV's highest-rated show in its then 23-year history. And it holds up! Just, pro tip: If you watch, turn on the "Ozzy translator." CHASE BURNS
US, ABC, 1985, 60 min episodes, Created by Glenn Gordon Caron
US, 1999, 100 min, Directed by Brian Helgeland
I guess I really love to torture myself with the filmography of Mel Gibson for this column, eh? But Payback is far from the worst movie I've ever watched for Unstreamable (that designation goes to Faithful). In any case, this macho action neo-noir from the dude who brought audiences L.A. Confidential and A Knight's Tale is pretty straightforward: Porter (Gibson) got epically screwed out of $70,000 by his addict wife Lynn (Deborah Kara Unger) and crook Val (Gregg Henry). He wants that $70k back—no more, no less. And he'll go to extremely violent lengths to do it.
Perhaps more interesting than the movie itself is the drama that went into its production. Director and screenwriter Brian Helgeland's dark and brutal cut made Gibson and the executives over at Paramount and Warner Bros nervous about its marketability. After a fight, the higher-ups ultimately kicked Helgeland out as a director, and hired Terry Hayes to re-write it and someone else re-shoot about a third of the movie. That was the version audiences saw in 1999. But in 2006, Gibson felt bad for the whole ordeal and convinced Paramount to let Helgeland release his substantially different (and from what I've read, more entertaining) Payback: Straight Up. I'm sure that these differences in creative opinions and versions are the reason Payback isn't available to stream today. JAS KEIMIG
Every week we feature one formerly unstreamable title that's now available to watch online.
USA, 1982, 92 min, Dir. Boaz Davidson
I'm upset no one ever told me about this movie. It's a remake of director Boaz Davidson's popular late-'70s Israeli teen flick Lemon Popsicle, which follows three young hotshots through Tel Aviv as they listen to Elvis and get laid. Both Lemon Popsicle and The Last American Virgin rely heavily on their bloated soundtracks. But rather than focus on the '50s, like Lemon Popsicle, the American remake is centered around new wave rock, with Devo, Blondie, Oingo Boingo, the Police, REO Speedwagon, and about 20 other hit bands underscoring LA teens who desperately want to fuck. Overall, it's got strong Porky's vibes, with an exceptionally brutal ending that makes the film all the better. I assume these tricked-out, expensive soundtracks are the reason for both of these movies' longtime unstreamable statuses. (Though now The Last American Virgin is available through Xfinity Stream.) Also, fun fact, The Last American Virgin is the quirky and beloved Kimmy Robertson's first film. CHASE BURNS
Looking for more? Browse our big list of 350+ hard-to-find movies.
The fine print: Unstreamable means we couldn't find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Disney+, or any of the other 300+ streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn't find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. Yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don't consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.