Article written by Meah Denee Barrington and Phebe Banks
The pandemic has been hard for everyone and that is why we wanted to give our audience a refresher and drop new ways you can connect with your loved ones from afar. On our latest episode of The Reel Effect, our host Meah Denee Barrington, discusses five streaming services and apps that allow you to have virtual watch parties with your family and friends. We also give you some movie options for each streaming service! Watch the video above or read the list below.
The pros about using the Zoom app to have a movie watch party is that you can use it for FREE along with 100 other people, and only one person needs to make an account. You simply send out the Zoom link and anyone can join in on the fun. This is definitely the cheapest, most flexible option on the list but there are some bad qualities to using Zoom. One being you can only use the free version for forty five minutes at a time, unless you upgrade. Also, the video quality is spotty and can easily lag if your internet is not strong, un-syncing your video and audio.
Movie suggestions are that you can watch anything you want! Along with DVDs and any streaming service you have an account with you can have a great video night!
Netflix Watch Party
One of the first watch party options has been through Netflix where you can watch anything on the streaming services alongside your family and friends as long as they have a Netflix account. You can easily watch a movie with up to 50 people by downloading a quick Netflix Party extension (only available on Chrome and Opera browsers) to your computer. Here’s a quick how to video you can watch! Some more features of Netflix Watch Party are that the video quality is very good, and you can also text chat with the other viewers during the movie. So make sure you download the extension and get to sharing that link with your family and friends and have a great time! Check out a few movie suggestions below:
- The Lovebirds – What begins as a date night for a couple on the verge of a break-up, quickly turns into a run from the law and some terrible people. This romantic date night comedy stars Issa Rae as Leilani Brooks and Kumail Nanjiani (Jibran) who go on the run after inadvertently becoming accessories to a murder. Leilani and Jibran find themselves in a whirlwind of unfortunate events that test their survival skills and love for each other. Snuggle up with your boo and check out this movie on Netflix.
- Always A Bridesmaid – Flourishing copy editor Corina (Javicia Leslie) is always showing up for her friends but in a way that’s starting to get pretty tiring: as a bridesmaid. Becoming exhausted of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride, Corina decides to thrust herself back into the dating scene. The quest to find Mr. Right puts Corina in a struggle between giving love another chance or not. Written by Yvette Nicole Smith and serving as her debut writing project “Always a Bridesmaid” is a great pick for laughs and a love story.
Another great option is Hulu, its features are similar to Netflix’s, like everyone needing a Hulu account to tune into the watch party, but Hulu does have their own pros and cons. First, you don’t need to download an extension to have a watch party, you can easily create a watch party right in the Hulu app.
Directions via Wired.com: “Go into the show or movie you want to watch. There’s an icon right next to the play button that looks like three people with a play arrow on the top. That’s the Watch Party button. Click it, then click “Start the party.” That will take you to a screen with a link for your viewing session. Copy that, send it to your friends, then click “Start party” once everyone has joined.“
They also have great video quality and the text chat option that allows you to speak to each other during the movie. The worst part about the Hulu Watch Party option is you cannot watch everything on Hulu, there are limitations. Those being you cannot watch live television within a watch party, or “premium ad-on content.” To make it easy we included a list of movie options for you below:
- Hitch (also available on Amazon Prime) – Three words: thank you Hulu! The romantic comedy has finally hit Hulu and we could not be happier. Will Smith stars as Hitch, a professional date doctor who coaches men on how to win the women of their dreams. Smooth talking Hitch finds himself at a loss of words when he meets and falls for Sara Mellas (Eva Longoria) a gossip columnist who is not easily swayed by the Hitch charm. Hitch has to re think his usual playboy approach for Sara all while coaching his friend Albert (Kevin James) on how to swoon the woman of his dreams. Watch it on Hulu.
- Poetic Justice – Directed by the late John Singleton, Poetic Justice is easily one of our “for the culture” classics. Starring Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur, an unlikely and slightly rocky love story blossoms between mailman South Central mailman Lucky and hairdresser Justice. A roadtrip across the country brings out the best and worst of Lucky, Justice, and their friends Iesha (Regina King) and Chicago (Joe Terry). A cuffing night choice for throwback black love movie night!
- The Best Man – Looking to lead off part 2 of a “for the culture” movie date night. The Best Man is a perfect contender. With an ensemble cast featuring Nia Long, Regina King, Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Terrence Howard ,Morris Chestnut, and more, its suggested to add it to the list. The film follows a group of friends during a weekend in New York City to celebrate the upcoming marriage between Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun). Lance’s best man Harper (Taye Diggs) upcoming novel Unfinished Business reveals some scandalous secrets that can change the course of relationships.
- If Beale Street Could Talk – Based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name written in 1974, Beale street is the story of a romantic relationship that blossoms between “Fonny” (Stephan James) and Tish (Kiki Layne) in New York City during the 1960s. Emotions take a toll between the two when Fonzy is arrested and falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. A pregnant Tish does her best to prove Fonzy’s innocence in hopes of his release before the birth of their child. Snuggle up and enjoy this personified Baldwin Classic with bae.
Amazon Prime Watch Party
The newest streaming service to add a watch party feature is Amazon Prime. Once again you must have an Amazon Prime account to enjoy this feature, and thankfully you don’t have to download any extensions to make this work. Similar to Netflix and Hulu this streaming service also provides great video quality for its watch party. The worst part about using Amazon Prime is that you can only watch content from Amazon Prime’s video library. This includes its original shows and some licensed movies but you cannot watch anything you buy or rent.
- The Weekend – Looking for a romantic comedy with twists and turns you won’t expect? Well The Weekend is a great option starring Sasheer Zamata Moore (Saturday Night Live), Tone Bell (Little), DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It), Y’lan Noel (Insecure), and Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry). This film is about a down-on-her-luck comedian’s (Moore) vacation plans are interrupted by her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.
- What Men Want – Passed up for a well-deserved promotion, sports agent Ali Davis wonders what else she needs to do to succeed in a man’s world. Hoping to find answers from a psychic, Ali drinks a weird concoction that suddenly allows her to hear what men are thinking. Using her newfound ability, Ali starts to turn the tables on her obnoxious male colleagues while racing to sign the next basketball superstar.
New to most of us is the Scener, this is a third party option, probably the best option on this list. Scener is an extension you can download that provides great video quality and allows you to watch content from several streaming services like Disney Plus, Netflix, Vimeo, HBO Go and/or Now. Anyone using Scener has to download the extension, as well as have an account to the streaming service they are using.
Directions via Wired.com: “To start Scener, just click the extension logo and a separate window will pop up. From there, press “Create a theater” and choose between a private or public screening. Then select your subscription service of choice (you’ll have to log in if you haven’t already) and it should pop right up. In the chat window to the right, you’ll see the option to enable video chat and an invite link to send to your friends. A handy “pass the remote” feature lets you toggle who gets to pick what to watch next and who has control during playback.”
With Scener anyone can have a public watch party with an unlimited audience or a private screening with up to 10 people. On top of that, Scener has a video chat feature, allowing up to 10 people to see and chat with each other at a time. Check out a few movie suggestions below:
- Love Jones (available on HBO Max) – Last up but certainly not least, is Love Jones. This next black bae-goal film starring Nia Long and Larenz Tate explores romance from an unconventional standpoint. After crossing paths at a nightclub in Chicago, Darius Lovehall(Tate) and Nina Mosley (Long) instantly connect and begin a complicated “situationship. The chemistry and attraction the two share push them to put effort into working things out for the best between them.
Let us know which streaming service you used to host your virtual watch party! Feel free to also look at our latest video featuring black streaming services you should be supporting.