From the history of how one of Nike’s most successful partnerships came to be to a record-breaking film about one of the world’s most celebrated toys to the rise and fall of some of the biggest tech startups, this year brought even more TV shows and films about business, brands, careers, and finances to Hollywood’s forefront.

Here are some great TV series and movies—including some highly binge-worthy docuseries and dramatizations of real-life business successes and failures—to catch up on over the winter break:

For a story about how an amazing brand was built . . . AirIn Alex Convery’s screenwriting debut, directed and costarring Ben Affleck as Nike CEO Phil Knight, the movie recreates the real-life story of sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) and how he led Nike in pursuing legendary NBA player Michael Jordan. Vaccaro’s persistence resulted in one of the shoe brand’s biggest partnerships to date—and the birth of the Air Jordan shoes, a brand unto itself, which continues to bring in major revenue ($5.1 billion in fiscal 2022). Air was the first film produced by Artists Equity, an independent studio cofounded by Affleck and Damon, whose innovative model shares profits and gives creative freedom to its talent amid the shift to streaming. Where to watch: Prime Video

For a study in the rise and fall of a massive tech company . . . BlackBerryBefore there were iPhones, there was BlackBerry—and if you were born before the 2000s, you might’ve owned one of the smartphone devices. Starring Jay Baruchel as Mike Lazaridis and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie, the two business guys who cofounded the mobile phone company with Douglas Fregin, the movie (which was recently recut into a three-part limited series) chronicles the success of the BlackBerry before the device’s downfall, due to market competition after Samsung and, you guessed it, Apple. Where to watch: AMC+

For a fun film that incorporates a brand’s history . . . BarbieIt was the pink campaign seen ’round the world. While the Warner Bros. film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, about the iconic Mattel doll, was a masterclass in marketing in its own right, there’s no denying the movie’s underlying business theme. While the movie centers on the titular doll having an existential crisis and explores themes of feminism, motherhood, and “the patriarchy,” part of the plot focuses on Will Ferrell as Mattel’s CEO having to capture a human-size Barbie “in the real world” and return her to Barbie Land. Rhea Pearlman’s heartwarming portrayal of Barbie’s creator and Mattel cofounder, the late Ruth Handler, alone is worth the price of subscription. Where to watch: Max

For another movie about an iconic toy brand . . . The Beanie Bubble (Make it a double feature!) Beanie Babies, another toy phenomenon, also got their own movie this year. Based on the book, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette, the movie stars Zach Galifianakis as toy manufacturer Ty Warner and Elizabeth Banks and tells the story of how Warner collaborated with three women on an idea that resulted in one of the biggest toy obsessions of the 1990s. Where to watch: Apple TV+

For a part thriller, part history lesson of a popular video game . . . TetrisThe captivating movie dramatizes the journey of Dutch video game designer Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton), who discovered Tetris in 1988 and risked his life by traveling to the Soviet Union and teaming up with Alexey Pajitnov to patent the game and bring it to the masses. Rogers was not only responsible for securing the rights to Tetris, but also bringing it to gaming consoles where it found much of its popularity, as well as resolving some of the licensing disputes that brought Tetris to GameBoy devices. Where to watch: Apple TV+

For a bit of true crime in the telemarketing industry . . . TelemarketersProduced by Benny and Josh Safdie and Danny McBride, the three-part true crime documentary series follows two former CDG employees in New Jersey who — through footage and investigation — attempt to interrogate the telemarketing industry’s practices and corruption after discovering the money they were supposedly raising for firefighter and police charities was going to their employers. If you weren’t familiar with the show before, you might’ve seen the news about Patrick J. Pespas, one of the show’s stars and a fan favorite, who went missing shortly after the docuseries premiered—but was found three weeks later. Where to watch: MaxFor a sobering take on what went really wrong with a startup . . . Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of JuulThis four-part docuseries takes an in-depth look at how electric cigarette startup Juul Labs, founded by Stanford University graduates Adam Bowen and James Monsees, became one of the fastest growing multibillion-dollar company in 2017 (once referred to as “the iPhone of e-cigs”)—and was especially popular with young people. But not long after its success, Juul found itself in hot water in 2018 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated the brand following public health concerns about the amount of nicotine in the devices. That same year, Juul agreed to pull some of its flavored cartridges before its products were officially banned in 2022. Since then, the company has attempted a comeback, including developing new tech devices with age-verification technology. Where to watch: Netflix

For the story of how the GameStop-Reddit craze happened . . . Dumb MoneyDirected by Craig Gillespie and featuring a star-studded cast of Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, and America Ferrera, the movie is based on Ben Mezrich’s 2021 book, The Antisocial Network. It dives into the now-infamous 2021 GameStop-Reddit short squeeze that resulted in major financial consequences for a number of hedge funds and short sellers. Gillespie told Fast Company earlier this year that he was inspired to make the movie when he learned about it from his 24-year-old son, who was living with him during the pandemic, and was active in the WallStreetBets community on Reddit. “I was living through all that with him, and it was an incredibly emotional, intense experience, both exhilarating at times and incredibly frustrating,” Gillespie said. “And that really connected with me.” Where to watch: Apple TV+, Vudu, Google Play, Prime Video, YouTube

For an inspirational show about women in STEM . . . Lessons in ChemistryBased on Bonnie Garmus’ novel of the same name, Lessons in Chemistry stars Brie Larson as Elizabeth Zott, a lab tech who gets fired from her job and instead begins hosting her own chemistry-based cooking show, Supper at Six, to educate housewives in the 1960s. While the show is historical fiction, it highlights the very real gender gap in science. A recent study from MIT showed that women still only make up 28% of the entire STEM workforce in the U.S. in 2023. Where to watch: Apple TV+

For a story about the making of a popular snack . . . Flamin’ HotIn Eva Longoria’s directorial debut, this is the story of Richard Montañez, the son of a Mexican immigrant, who worked as a janitor at Frito-Lay headquarters when he came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos—a move that disrupted the food and snack industry. As Longoria told Fast Company earlier this year, the story (which she and Searchlight Pictures took some liberties with) is less about the snack food than it is an inspiring tale about Montañez, who represents to her the struggles of many Latino Americans and their capabilities when given sufficient opportunity. “The theme of the film is how opportunity isn’t distributed equally,” she said. “Your whole life, certain people will say that certain jobs aren’t for people like you. Ideas don’t come from people like you. And he kept asking, ‘Why not?’ His naivete was his superpower.” Where to watch: Hulu, Disney+For a story about navigating your identity and career . . . Fellow TravelersFellow Travelers is many things. Part romance, part political thriller, the miniseries, based on Thomas Mallon’s novel of the same name, tells a story about the decades-long love affair between two political staffers (Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey) who meet at the State Department during the height of McCarthyism in the 1950s. While the series might not focus on a real-life business like some of the other movies on this list, it still highlights what happens when identity clashes with your work life and career. When asked about what it’s like releasing a series during today’s climate, executive producer Ron Nyswaner told Fast Company: “It’s so important and moving to me and Robbie [Rogers, executive producer] that our corporate entities who made the show love the show, and they never ever suggested that we hold back on or soften anything—that we would take out a sex scene, that we would take out an expression of love, or take out anything political.” Where to watch: Paramount+For a dose of actual financial advice . . . How to Get RichFinancial expert Ramit Sethi has made a name for himself and found plenty of success with the release of his best-selling book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, as well as his podcast of the same name. Earlier this year, he brought his advice to TV with the series How to Get Rich, in which he works with people across the United States to help them reach their financial goals. In the first episode, Sethi spends time with three separate families to see how much they spend on a daily and weekly basis, and helps them tighten their budgets in six weeks. Sethi explains the importance of making a financial plan and whether it’s better to rent or own a house. While some of his tips seem obvious, it’s a good starting point for financial advice whether for saving money or knowing where to invest. Where to watch: Netflix

For a captivating dramedy about a media magnate‘s family . . . SuccessionFor nearly five years, Succession chronicled the fictional lives of the Roy family and their fight for control of WayStar RoyCo, the global media and entertainment conglomerate, inspired by real-life business families, such as the Murdochs and the Hearsts. The show, which has so far scored HBO 13 Emmy Awards, became meme fodder and a communal-viewing experience for Twitter users—but if you missed it while it aired (Succession ended just this May), this is the best time to binge-watch. The show perfectly captures the chaos of working in a corporate environment during a merger (mass layoffs and all) and an election season. Some of the story might hit a little too close to home for those in these industries, but it will certainly make you appreciate your family members—all of them. And that’s some consolation. Where to watch: Max

For an old legal dramedy that seems brand-new . . . SuitsSuits, about the antics at an elite corporate law firm in New York City whose top attorney partners with a genius underachiever with a photographic memory but no law school degree, premiered on USA Network in 2011 and ran for eight seasons. This past summer, Netflix added Suits to its roster, and with an algorithm that puts the show in front of hundreds of millions of users, the sometimes silly, soap-opera-ish series catapulted to the top of Nielsen’s streaming charts for weeks on end. Chalk it up to the Netflix Effect, the fact that TV was in the middle of a writers strike and produced no new shows for a whole season, or, oh yeah, that one of its costars went on to marry a prince in real life. Whatever, its newfound success reflects the trend of older, cable TV shows finding success among younger audiences on streaming. Also, Suits boasts a whopping 134 episodes, so there’s plenty to keep you hooked. Where to watch: Netflix, Peacock

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194 thoughts on “14 of the best shows and movies about business to binge over the holidays”
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