Common Back Pain Treatment Doesn’t Actually Work, Study Finds

A bottle of venlafaxine, also sold as Effexor, an SNRI used to treat depression and nerve pain.

A bottle of venlafaxine, also sold as Effexor, an SNRI used to treat depression and nerve pain.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

A common treatment for chronic back pain may not provide much soothing after all. A new review released Wednesday suggests that antidepressants on average provide little to no back pain relief, though they could have a modest benefit for osteoarthritis and sciatica.

Chronic pain can be an emotionally draining experience, so antidepressants are sometimes prescribed by doctors to help sufferers with their mental distress. But beyond their typical use, research has also suggested that antidepressants such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can have an added pain-relief effect. How this exactly happens is still being studied, but it’s thought the same neurotransmitters that regulate mood (and that antidepressants help balance) also play a part in regulating our sensations of pain, especially pain caused by damaged nerves or a dysfunctional nervous system.

At least one antidepressant—the drug duloxetine, also known as Cymbalta—has been approved in the U.S. to treat chronic nerve pain and back pain. And organizations such as the American College of Physicians now recommend duloxetine for lower back pain as well. But according to the authors of this new paper, published in the BMJ on Wednesday, the overall effectiveness of antidepressants for treating pain is still uncertain.


Their review looked at data from 33 randomized and controlled clinical trials examining the use of antidepressants for chronic back pain as well as osteoarthritis of the hip and knees, including trials that hadn’t been included in previous reviews of the evidence, they wrote. These trials involved over 5,300 participants in total. The main outcome they looked at was a reduction in people’s reported score on a pain scale from 1 to 100, with any reduction 10 points or more following three months of treatment being considered a clinical improvement that patients would notice in their lives.

Altogether, the review found that the average pain reduction for SNRIs in treating lower back pain three months into treatment was only around five points. For osteoarthritis, the average reduction from SNRIs was just under 10 points, so more likely to be a meaningful improvement. Other evidence also suggested that tricyclic antidepressants, an older class of drug, had little effect on back pain, but that both tricyclic antidepressants and SNRIs might have a effect on treating pain from sciatica, a particular type of nerve pain that can affect the legs and back. However, the researchers were much less certain about the latter two findings, due to the limited data available.

“Our findings show that antidepressants are largely ineffective for back pain, but may be beneficial for osteoarthritis and sciatica,” lead author Giovanni Ferreira, a researcher studying musculoskeletal Health at the University of Sydney in Australia, wrote in an email.

The findings don’t necessarily mean that no one should use these drugs for back pain. Chronic back pain is notoriously difficult to treat, and, for some patients, even the hope of a small benefit might be worth trying for. But antidepressants have side effects, and both doctors and patients should know upfront that the chances of significant improvement from using them are likely slim, Ferreira and his team noted. There are also other, non-medication options that patients can still try, such as physical therapy programs and exercise.


“If people are currently taking antidepressants for their back pain or osteoarthritis and they feel that it is helping them, we recommend that they continue the treatment,” he said. Those who aren’t benefiting from them should consult with their doctor before making any changes, though, since abruptly stopping their use can cause withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and insomnia.

Another important consideration brought up the authors is that much of the data they studied came from trials funded by the makers of the antidepressants being tested. Industry-funded trials are well known to paint a rosier picture of the evidence, so it’s still possible that even the benefits they found here might not be as big as they look.


“This should be taken into account when interpreting the findings from our review, particularly for osteoarthritis, where six out of eight trials were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies,” Ferreira said. “That is why we still need more trials, and these should ideally be conducted by independent investigators free of industry ties.”

Life-size NASA Perseverance rover snow sculpture brings Mars to Earth – CNET

NASA/JPL solar system ambassador Mark A. Brown created quite a conversation piece with this life-size Perseverance Mars rover snow sculpture.

Mark A. Brown

When it snows, you might look out on the wintry landscape and think about making a snowperson with a carrot nose. Mark A. Brown, a solar system ambassador for NASA/JPL, looked out on the remains of a snow storm in Iowa and decided to craft a life-size frozen Perseverance Mars rover.

Brown spent three days building the rover, which sports wheels decorated with silver metallic spray paint and a mastcam (the rover’s camera-equipped “head”) made from PVC pipe and a cardboard box. 

The snow rover bears a remarkable resemblance to the real deal, which is en route to Mars with a scheduled landing on Feb. 18. “The plan was to attempt to create as close a likeness in size … and I had enough snow to do it,” Brown told CNET.  

Snow rover builder Mark A. Brown made sure to include the Mars helicopter Ingenuity as part of the installation.

Mark A. Brown

Perseverance isn’t traveling alone. It carries a helicopter named Ingenuity in its belly. The experimental chopper will attempt a powered flight on the red planet. Brown made sure to pay tribute to Ingenuity with a bonus model of the helicopter sitting next to the rover.

The frosty rover was a creative way for Brown to engage in pubic outreach with only a month to go until Perseverance’s big arrival. 

“I wanted to do something unique and educational for my neighborhood,” said Brown. “Many people take daily walks, and so as they did so they were able to look at this sculpture taking place and to ask about it.”

The snow rover might be almost as rugged as its space-faring counterpart. Brown shared a video of some wicked winds whipping the sculpture on Tuesday. 

Like the real rover, this one is persevering. 

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.    

UFC 257 Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier: Press conference, start time, how to watch and full fight card – CNET


McGregor takes on his first UFC fight in over a year on Jan. 23.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It’s UFC 257 fight week and Conor McGregor is back! After fighting once last year — mainly as a result of COVID-19 — McGregor will enter the Octagon at UFC 257, against elite lightweight contender Dustin Poirier.

With current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov all but officially retired, this contest is seen by many as a title eliminator. Most likely the winner will fight for the belt later down the track in 2021, potentially against Charles Oliveira or the winner of Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler. 

Also looming in the wings is Nurmagomedov who, according to Dana White, will be watching UFC 257. If someone does something spectacular, reports say, he may come back for one more defence of his UFC lightweight title.

The fight takes place on the UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

This isn’t the first time this fight has taken place. McGregor defeated Poirier comfortably the last time they fought over six years ago at UFC 178, but Poirier has improved dramatically since then. He defeated Max Holloway for the UFC interim lightweight championship, and put up a decent showing against Nurmagomedov, the current lightweight king. The undefeated Nurmagomedov also defeated McGregor in 2018.

Despite Poirier’s improvements, most oddsmakers have McGregor as a clear favorite in this bout. His destruction of Donald Cerrone in 2020, combined with the style matchup, has most people seeing this as a favorable fight for McGregor. Poirier is primarily a boxer and McGregor is still the sharpest striker at 155 pounds. 

McGregor also appears to be in phenomenal shape and, by most reports, is as motivated as he’s been since his legendary first run at featherweight. We could be in for something special with this performance. McGregor has predicted he’ll win this fight inside 60 seconds.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the UFC’s Inside the Octagon series, which breaks down the match-up. The McGregor vs Poirier one is already online.

But outside of the blockbuster main event, UFC 257 runs deep. Michael Chandler is making his UFC debut against fight of the night machine Dan Hooker in a compelling co-main event and the undercard is dotted with names like Joanne Calderwood. There’s a lot of great matchups in there.

Press conference

Conor McGregor is well known for his outlandish performances during UFC press conferences, and now we know that conference will take place this coming Thursday. You won’t want to miss this.

The press conference will feature Conor McGregor alongside his opponent Dustin Poirier. Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler from the co-main event will also feature. Dana White will also be at the event. 

Here’s the exact timing…


The press conference takes place at

  • Midday EST on Thursday, January 21.
  • 9am PST on Thursday, January 21.


5pm on Thursday, January 21.


4am on Friday, January 22.

You’ll be able to watch it live on the UFC’s official YouTube channel. The UFC is also making it available on its social media channels and on its homepage. We’ve embedded the YouTube livestream here, so feel free to hang around and watch on this very post!

How to watch UFC 257

This year the UFC entered into a new partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC live in the US.

It’s worth noting, however, that the UFC has increased the price of PPVs starting with UFC 257.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 257, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

  • Existing yearly ESPN Plus subscribers can order the upcoming UFC fight for $70
  • Existing monthly ESPN Plus subscribers will be able to either upgrade to an annual plan and buy UFC PPV for $85 or purchase the ability to watch the UFC event on PPV for $70 by itself.
  • New ESPN Plus subscribers can buy a bundle of one UFC PPV event (streaming in HD) and an ESPN Plus annual recurring subscription for $90. This is a decent deal. The previous bundle gave a saving of 25% but this new bundle is a 35% saving. The ESPN Plus annual ESPN subscription will auto-renew after one year, at the price of an ESPN Plus annual subscription at the time of auto-renewal.

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 257 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 257 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Start time

The card is not finalized, but based on previous UFC times, this is what we expect…


  • The main card starts Jan. 23, 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT).
  • The prelims start Jan. 23, 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).
  • The early prelims start Jan. 23, 6.30 p.m. ET (3.30 p.m. PT).


  • The main card starts Jan. 24, 3 a.m. GMT.
  • The prelims start Jan. 24, 1 a.m. GMT.
  • The early prelims start Jan 23, 11.30 p.m. GMT.


  • The main card starts Jan. 24, 2 p.m. AEDT.
  • The prelims start Jan. 24, 12 p.m. AEDT.
  • The early prelims start Jan. 24, 10.30 a.m. AEDT.

Fight Card

This one is far from finalized at this point. We’ll update when more fights are announced.

Main Card

  • Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
  • Michael Chandler vs. Dan Hooker
  • Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood
  • Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
  • Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Ribas


  • Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast
  • Brad Tavares vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
  • Julianna Pena vs. Sara McMann
  • Khalil Rounree Jr vs. Marcin Prachnio

Early Prelims

  • Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov
  • Nik Lentz vs. Movsar Evloev
  • Amir Albazi vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov

Biden rejoins WHO, Paris climate agreement on first day in office – CNET


President Joe Biden had a full first day. He’s shown here with First Lady Jill Biden.

Getty Images

Among the first actions the Biden administration undertook was rejoining the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as reversing the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization. President Joe Biden signed the executive orders at around 5:30 p.m. ET, after his inauguration Wednesday morning. 

In a tweet on the POTUS account, Biden said Wednesday evening that the “got right to work taking action to control the pandemic, provide economic relief, tackle climate change [and] advance racial equity.”

The Biden-Harris transition team said in a post on the White House website that the administration will also be be issuing a 100-day coronavirus masking challenge on the first day in office.

“[Biden] will sign a combination of executive orders, memoranda, directives, and letters to take initial steps to address these crises,” the post said, noting that these actions and more will take place within hours of the inauguration. These three moves (as well as others) reverse policy stances set forth by former President Donald Trump.

Other actions will include continuing the pause on student loan payments, stopping border wall construction and reversing Trump’s immigration ban.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in Wednesday. 

CNET reporter Corinne Reichert contributed to this report.

SpaceX Starship SN9 reloads its Raptors ahead of high-altitude flight – CNET

Nose cone of SpaceX Starship SN8

This is the nose of Starship SN8.

Elon Musk

The latest SpaceX Starship prototype got some fresh Raptor engines and is being prepped for another test firing before a high-altitude test flight as early as this Thursday.

Elon Musk’s new Mars rocket iteration, which is identified by the serial number SN9, underwent a series of three static test fires on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Afterward, Musk said two of its three engines required slight repairs and would be switched out. That took place over the weekend and next up will be the test-firing of the newly refreshed SN9.

The latest airspace closure notices to pilots indicate that we could see this test happen as soon as Wednesday, with a launch the following day. However, the launch of SN9 has been repeatedly pushed back over the past few weeks, so it wouldn’t be surprising if we have to wait until later this month or even into February before it finally gets off the ground.

SpaceX has been testing and tweaking its Starship design over the past two years, beginning with a series of low-altitude “hops.” The first successful flight of significant altitude came last month when SN8 reached approximately the same altitude where commercial jets do much of their cruising.

The milestone was then followed by a fall back to Earth and a new landing maneuver that seemed to succeed in orienting the rocket, but alas SN8 came in too fast and met a spectacular and explosive end.

SpaceX SN8 flew high and landed hard.

SpaceX/CNET video capture by Jackson Ryan

We could get lucky and see the sequel to the ordeal of SN8 this week, but scrubs and delays have been part of the routine in Starship’s development process. Heck, I I’ve already updated this post several times.

Whenever SN9 flies, we’ll be sure to carry the video here. Stay tuned.

Inauguration memes: Bernie Sanders’ huge mittens, Lady Gaga’s big dove pin – CNET

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as president and vice president on Wednesday in a fanfare-filled ceremony in Washington, DC. Though the public couldn’t attend, many people watched the events on TV or via livestreaming, and from singer Lady Gaga’s elaborate dove pin to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ giant mittens, they found plenty of opportunities for memes and jokes.

Smitten with mittens

Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont drew some fashion commentary for his large mittens and the large manila envelope he was carrying.

“Bernie looks like he’s running errands with his kids on Saturday morning,” one Twitter user wrote. Wrote another, “Bernie absolutely crushing Vermont dadcore.”

The mitten-maker herself, Vermont teacher Jen Ellis, spoke up.

“I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple years ago,” Ellis tweeted. “They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles).”

Sanders’ warm, practical outfit inspired plenty of memes and jokes about his plans for the day. One tweet included a faux schedule for Sanders’ day, including “drop off dry cleaning,” “Joe’s thing” and “swing by the post office.”

“Bernie dressed like the inauguration is on his to do list today but ain’t his whole day,” wrote one.

One photo in particular, showing Sanders sitting in a chair, inspired plenty of jokes, with many editing his image into different settings.

“When you get invited to a meeting but it should have been an email,” one said.

Sanders later defended his outfit to Gayle King on CBS This Morning.

“In Vermont, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion,” he said. “We want to keep warm, and that’s what I did today.”

The dove has landed

Lady Gaga also inspired some sartorial remarks. She wore an enormous gold dove pin as she sang the national anthem, and she explained its meaning in a tweet she shared that had a close-up photo of the pin. “A dove carrying an olive branch,” she wrote. “May we all make peace with each other.”

But some thought the pin looked more like the mockingjay, a fictional bird worn as a pin by heroine Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games book and movie series.

“Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the 1st Hunger Games,” wrote one Twitter user.

“Gaga’s wearing the mockingjay if you go by the book rather than the movie,” wrote another.

Instant photos

A moment that followed the swearing-in ceremony caught the attention of some. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer presented the new president and First Lady Jill Biden with photographs of the just-completed events, which led to some jabs at the government’s technology knowledge.

“LOL, McCarthy & Hoyer give Biden & Harris instaphotos of the inauguration, like they’ve just gotten off the hot new roller coaster at Six Flags,” wrote Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post.

There certainly will be more memes and social media commentary to come. Though the swearing-in is over, there’s a full schedule of Inauguration Day events remaining, including a 90-minute TV special hosted by actor Tom Hanks.

Joe Biden Is Putting the U.S. Back in the Paris Agreement. Here’s What Comes Next.

Joe Biden up the nation’s Paris Agreement commitments challenge.

Joe Biden up the nation’s Paris Agreement commitments challenge.
Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool (Getty Images)

On his first day in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an array of executive orders to overturn several of the Trump administration’s most egregious environmental rollbacks. The third one he signed set the U.S. on course to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

To rejoin the agreement, Biden’s administration will send a letter to the United Nations, triggering an official return process that will take just 30 days. But that’s just the first step both to rejoining and being an effective party to the agreement. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has wasted four valuable years not pursuing climate action, making it easier for polluters to emit planet-warming gases instead of harder. During that time, the crisis has become all the more urgent.

“Now, the Biden administration, really has the responsibility to show the world that the U.S. is a serious about taking action on climate change,” Sriram Madhusoodanan, deputy campaigns director at the nonprofit Corporate Accountability, said. “And that means that the U.S. needs to show that it’s ready to take action and with what its fair share of action should be.”


When the U.S. signed onto the agreement under President Obama, it pledged to lower its emissions by at least 26% by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. Even at the time, scientists knew that commitment was insufficient to meet the agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures. The international climate treaty went into effect just days before President Trump was elected. Shortly after taking office, Trump pledged to pull the country from the accord, beginning an exit process which was only finalized this past November.

Though the climate treaty is far from perfect—it’s full of non-binding, insufficient commitments and language benefitting corporate polluters—it was still a big deal for the U.S. to leave it. As the second-largest current greenhouse gas emitter and largest historical polluter, it bears a huge share of responsibility for addressing the climate crisis. The nation’s pledged emissions cuts also accounted for roughly 20% of the treaty’s projected global reductions.

Now, the nation will re-enter the agreement at a crucial time, when countries are updating their “nationally determined contributions,” or pledges to reduce emissions. If Biden wants to show he means business, he should take the opportunity to strengthen the nation’s goals.

It’s not clear when the Biden administration will announce its new emissions target, but it must do so before the UN’s international climate talks in November this year. Under the treaty, nations agreed to reconsider their commitments every five years. The pledge the U.S. makes will be a huge signal to the world on if the country is ready to meet the scope of the crisis.


Biden has pledged to bring the U.S. to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. According 2020 analysis from the Rhodium Group, to keep pace with that goal, the nation would need to decrease its emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030. That amounts to a cut of about 3% every year. If Biden is serious about his stated goals, we can expect he will enshrine them in the nation’s Paris pledges.


But the reality is that the crisis will require even more than that. In late 2019, the UN warned in a report that to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, the world will have to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% every year for the next decade. Last month, more than 100 environmental, human rights, and climate justice organizations across the U.S. sent a letter to the Biden administration calling on the new president to make a bold pledge: achieving a 195% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. The letter lays out cutting domestic emissions by 70% and then achieving the remaining 125% drop by providing funds for developing countries to decarbonize.

That level of commitment seems unlikely. But regardless of where Biden’s pledge falls, there are a number of actions he could take very quickly to get the U.S. on track to meet whatever the emissions target is. On his first day in office, Biden signed an order to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline’s permits and instate a moratorium on drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Those are the first steps in what must be a holistic plan to halt or wind down all planned fossil fuel infrastructure and drilling rights on federal land.


In addition to these federal actions, under the Paris Agreement, the Biden administration could up the country’s commitments to helping poorer countries finance their transitions away from dirty energy. Under Trump, the U.S. ended its contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which is the UN’s grant-making body that provides resources for international climate action. Reinstating that funding—and increasing it—would help the world turn away from fossil fuels more rapidly and in an equitable manner.

“The executive administration should lead the way on this, becoming an international leader on climate finance,” Madhusoodanan said. “That would ensure countries in the Global South that have been hit worse by climate change can move forward in their plans for a just transition.”


In addition to working to reduce emissions here and abroad, the Biden administration should pledge to help the world with climate adaptation. This month, UN climate scientists released a report warning that on this front, the world is way behind.

“Climate change is happening, and even if we reduce emissions, it’s going to take a while for those emissions reductions to take action,” Daniel Bresette, executive director at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, said. “So as the world gets warmer, we should include thinking about what we can do in the near term to adapt and improve our resilience to the impacts of climate change.”


In particular, he said, the Biden administration should look to support policies that will boost safety and result in emissions cuts. Conserving wetlands, mangroves, and forests, for instance, would help communities handle the climate crisis by soaking up increased rain and rising seas, and would also ensure we have vegetation to suck up atmospheric carbon. Officials should prioritize these projects in areas most vulnerable to the climate crisis.

“Throughout his campaign, Biden has vowed to put both science and justice at the center of his policies,” Madhusoodanan said. “If we stand a chance of responding to this crisis adequately, then we need action that that really rises to that challenge.”


Turn your desktop into an invisible wireless charging pad and get a $35 power bank for free – CNET

Kew Labs

Years ago, when I first imagined wireless charging, my imagination pictured something a lot more like the Kew Labs UTS-1 than the ugly charging pucks and pads we routinely use these days. Instead of placing your phone on the equivalent of an electronic coaster, the UTS-1 attaches to the underside of your desk, so there’s nothing visible on top. Juist put your phone on the tabletop and it starts charging. As Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The UTS-1 must be sufficiently advanced, because it looks like magic. And right now, Kew Labs is offering an exclusive deal for CNET readers. Buy the $105 UTS-1 and get the company’s snazzy 10,000-mAh power bank for free, which is a $35 value. That’s the equivalent of getting 25% off. 

Here’s how to get the deal: Add the UTS-1 to your cart and then add the KPD10 power bank as well. Once both items are in your cart, apply promo code CNET and you should see the price drop from $140 to $105. 

Settings up the UTS-1 is a little more involved than simply plugging it in. For starters, it only works if your desk or table is between about 0.7 and 1.0 inch thick, so it behooves you to measure your furniture before ordering. The  reason? The 30-watt charging coils need to reach your phone through the desk, and the gadget is tuned to go through the desk to reach your phone. 

Setting it up is a snap, though; just peel some tape off the UTS-1 and affix it to the bottom of your desk — it’s incredibly lightweight, so there’s no need to screw it into the bottom of the desk (though you can if you prefer). Then use the included template to locate the optimum charging location on top of the desk, and apply a discrete sticker to mark ground zero for your phone. 

I set up the UTS-1 and found it could charge my iPhone 11 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and Apple AirPods with the wireless charging case. For the most part, it works like a charm, though occasionally, the UTS-1 becomes finicky with my iPhone and weirdly refuses to charge it. At other times, I’ll set the phone down and it works fine. I haven’t experienced that problem with the Galaxy S10, though, and am not sure what the issue is.

If you are fanatical about having a clean, neat desk — and your desk is right thickness to handle the UTS-1 — it’s hard to beat this gadget for helping you eliminate charging pads. And though I think $100 isn’t egregiously expensive for such a novel product, getting the power bank thrown in right now really sweetens the deal. It’s a USB-C battery that supports 18-watt Power Delivery fast charging and has an easy-to-read LED display that shows the remaining charge.  

CNET’s deal team scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

14 of the best TV shows to watch on Disney Plus – CNET


The Mandalorian.

Disney Plus

If you’ve binged The Mandalorian and are on the hunt for your next big Disney Plus addiction, here are a few live-action gems to check out. Comedies like Lizzie McGuire are a must, along with more from the sci-fi, superhero world, including Marvel’s Agent Carter and lesser-known gem So Weird. Let’s round up the best live-action shows Disney has to offer.

Read more: The 35 best movies to watch on Disney Plus


Disney Plus

Outside The Mandalorian, the reason you paid for Disney Plus is here. WandaVision is the first of the promised barrage of premium Marvel Studios TV series. Six hours, released over nine weekly episodes, find Wanda and Vision hopping through eras of sitcom TV, starting in the black-and-white ’50s. Why are Earth’s mightiest heroes now a house wife and a suit working a nondescript day job? It might have something to do with — spoiler — Vision’s death in Avengers: Endgame and a grieving Wanda exploring the full extent of her reality-altering powers. Weird, funny and laden with Easter eggs, WandaVision delivers your money’s worth.

Marvel 616

Disney Plus

Marvel continues its wonderful relationship with TV series Community, tapping stars Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs not to act in, but direct episodes of a new documentary series. Marvel 616, a reference to Earth-616 — the primary Earth and universe where the multiverse-spanning Marvel stories take place — looks at just how much the comics and movies have influenced culture. From the journey to Captain Marvel and female representation, to fascinating versions of Marvel comics in other countries, Marvel 616 is a slice of life fans across the world will relate to.

The Right Stuff

Disney Plus

Loosely based on the ’80s movie by the same name, The Right Stuff plunges you into the gritty side of the US space program’s beginnings. Over eight episodes, we follow the Mercury Seven — seven pilots accepted to the space program — and the effect the competitive job and media scrutiny have on their families. While it doesn’t exactly tread new ground, The Right Stuff is a handsome, proficient look at NASA in the ’50s and ’60s.

Once Upon a Time


If you’re into fairy tales reimagined for a modern day setting, Once Upon a Time is a long-running series covering a huge range of classics. And Frozen! Set in a seaside town with a forest not far away, the story follows Emma Swan and her 10-year-old son. They encounter magical objects, like a Narnia-repping wardrobe, and live-action characters like Snow White, Prince Charming and the Evil Queen, who were transported to the real world. It’s up to Emma to help them break a curse that stole their memories. Charming, grab-your-tea-and-a-blanket stuff.

Disney Plus

Criminally short at two seasons, Marvel’s Agent Carter gave the whip-smart Peggy Carter a chance to showcase her action-hero side. Set after her love Steve Rogers sacrifices himself at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, the series focuses on Peggy’s adventurous life in 1940s New York, where she takes on a slightly dangerous gig helping out genius scientist Howard Stark and his butler Jarvis. Hayley Atwell channels a sense of cheeky fun in this stylish Marvel TV gem.

Disney Plus

Sliding sweet nostalgia across the table, this late ’90s sitcom also stars one of the coolest, cutest child actors. Tahj Mowry plays boy genius T.J. Henderson, managing to pull off being a likeable know-it-all. Aside from the comedy, T.J.’s heart-to-hearts with his single dad are tear-jerking. It’s a little dated, but it’s one of the best sitcoms starring a young Black actor.

Disney Plus

Six super-powered teens team up to fight against their criminal parents — that’s the intriguing premise of Marvel’s Runaways. Eventually the team does some running, escaping their parents as well as Morgan le Fay and other villains. Despite its occasional reliance on standard superhero storytelling, this strong ensemble will grow on you, along with the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe references and general exciting action. If you’re a fan of the comics, you’ll be satisfied.

Disney Plus

If you missed this classic sitcom in the early ’90s, it’s time to hit it up on Disney Plus. Chronicling the life of middle schooler Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World ran for seven seasons, depicting realistic characters and relationships that branch and blossom into lessons about real life. For a nuanced sitcom that features some of the best ’90s curtained hairstyles, Boy Meets World is a must.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

The show that launched Baby Yoda into the pop culture stratosphere built its foundations on a base of bountiful action and rich space Western visuals. The titular lone bounty hunter finds his soft side as he protects his precious green alien baby from those on his tail. For polished episodic storytelling in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian is bang on.

Now playing: Watch this: The basics of The Mandalorian


Disney Plus

This Disney Channel classic is sadly not coming back for a sequel series, but that takes no enjoyment away from the original wholesome misadventures of teenager Lizzie McGuire and her friends Miranda and Gordo. With creative soliloquies from a cartoon version of Lizzie, the show allows you to peek inside its hero’s brain as she finds her identity and grows up.

Disney Plus

If its shaky first season lost you, it might be time to give Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. another go on Disney Plus. Finding its feet by the second season and growing from there, the series is character-focused storytelling set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cocreated by Joss Whedon. A super cast, including Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennett, take on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s enemies, from Hydra to the Kree.

Disney Plus

See where it all began for Shia LaBeouf in Even Stevens. The comedy hinges on the dynamic between siblings Louis (LaBeouf) and Ren (Christy Carlson Romano): Louis is the carefree mischief maker; Ren the A-grade overachiever. Delivered with superb comic timing, this is quintessential family comedy that lets you marvel at LaBeouf’s natural talent in front of the camera.

Disney Plus

With Disney Plus’ National Geographic content comes Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a follow-up to Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Presented by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the documentary series updates the ’80s milestone of scientific documentaries. Stunning CGI aids the storytelling approach to humanity’s triumphs and mistakes in science.

Disney Plus

A Disney Channel show with The X-Files comparisons? This late-’90s gem is definitely worth checking out. So Weird stands apart from other Disney Channel shows of the time with its dark tone and intricate narrative. It follows teenager Fiona as she tours with her rock-star mom and encounters paranormal activity on the way. With original music and a cult following, So Weird should be on your radar.