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65 of the Best Netflix Series to Binge Watch Right Now - Nzuchi Times Independent News
65 of the Best Netflix Series to Binge Watch Right Now
Netflix has something for everyone, but there’s plenty of rubbish. Our guide to the best TV on Netflix UK is updated weekly to help you avoid the mediocre ones and find the best things to watch. We try and pick out the less obvious gems, too, so we’re confident you’ll find a must-watch show you don’t already know about.
When Rendell Locke is killed, his wife Nina and children Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode relocate from Seattle to the ancestral homestead of Keyhouse in Massachusetts. While the rest of the family try to settle into their new lives, youngest son Bode instead finds a strange key, one that can open up doors to anywhere. As the family are drawn into generations-old secrets surrounding the key and others like it – keys that unlock the soul from the body, that unlock buried memories, that unlock ghosts, and more – they also discover there may be more to their patriarch’s killing than they thought. Adapted from the comics by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, this blends family drama and ancient conspiracies into a magical realism-tinged dark fantasy. With two seasons already and a third confirmed, it’s a slower burn than Stranger Things but one of the best supernatural shows on Netflix.
Based on the Korean webcomic by by Kim Carnby and Hwang Young-chan, Sweet Home offers a very different vision of apocalyptic endtimes – rather than pandemics or disasters or even zombies, this posits an end of the world brought about by people’s transformation into grotesque monsters, each unique and seemingly based on their deepest desires when they were human. With phenomenal effects work that blends sensational prosthetics, CGI, and even stop motion for some disturbingly juddering monsters, this stands apart from the horror crowd. It’s not just the effects work that makes this worth your time though, as the focus on a group of survivors in an isolated apartment building – chiefly suicidal teen Cha Hyun-soo (Song Kang), former firefighter Seo Yi-kyung (Lee Si-young), and Pyeon Sang-wook (Lee Jin-wook), who may be a brutal gangster – roots the terror in an engaging, flawed, and desperate cast of characters. Like Parasite and Squid Game, Sweet Home also packs in a deeper commentary on Korea’s economic politics, making it more layered than the monster apocalypse alone would suggest.
Rachel Bloom shot to internet fame with hit YouTube comedy songs including “F*ck me, Ray Bradbury” and “I Steal Pets” – the outrageous tone of which should give you an indication of what to expect from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Co-created with Aline Brosh McKenna, this musical comedy-drama sees Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a successful New York City lawyer who seemingly throws everything away to move to a podunk town in California, set on reuniting with her teenage crush. What follows instead is a refreshingly honest look at flawed relationships, very poor life choices, and a brilliantly raw exploration of mental health, often delivered through bizarre yet endlessly toe-tapping musical numbers that cover everything from heavy boobs to UTIs, by way of hyper-motile sperm and Jewish rap battles. With a fantastic cast – including guest spots from musical theatre gods such as Patti LuPone – this is a show that will constantly subvert your expectations and leave you laughing out loud in the process. All four seasons are available on Netflix now.
Grace and Frankie
Created by Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman, this sharp sitcom sees Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular characters, longtime acquaintances forced into living together after their husbands leave them late in life – for each other. Grace and Frankie follows this contemporary Odd Couple as they deal with their ex-husbands’ coming out, their adult children’s drama, and each other’s maddening personalities, all while building a genuine friendship and trying to prove to themselves and the world that age is just a number. Taking cues from Arrested Development, Grace and Frankie’s chief comedic currency is awkwardness, as their two extended families – the rich, business-minded Hansons and the borderline hippy Bergsteins – bring their neuroses and baggage to bear while navigating adult familial relationships. Think of it as a modern day Golden Girls – just with more swearing and drug use.
Alice in Borderland
If you need another ‘murder game’ hit after Squid Game, look no further than this gripping adaptation of the Japanese manga series by Haro Aso. Slacker Ryohei Arisu and his friends Chōta and Karube find themselves mysteriously transported to a deserted Tokyo, with seemingly no way to return to their lives. Worse, the only way to stay alive in this world is to compete in lethal games that test intellect as much as physical prowess. Losers die, killed either by sadistic traps or laser beams that target them from space upon failure, while winners earn only an extension to their “visas”, forcing them to enter game after game to eke out more time. As Arisu seeks a way to break the chain and escape for good, his only hope may be to follow Usagi (Japanese for ‘rabbit’), a young woman already trapped in this strange borderland. The first eight-episode season arrived on Netflix in December 2020, and a second season is set to follow.
A charismatic young priest joins the Church of a small island township. Soon after, miracles follow – the paralysed walk, the blind see, those with dementia regain their faculties. Yet a dark secret lies at the heart of this religious revival, as the priest has brought something dark and hungry to the isolated community. Created by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Doctor Sleep), this supernatural miniseries offers a slow-burn, creeping terror that ratchets the tension over the course of its seven episodes. While its dark examination of the rites and traditions of Christianity – the cannibalistic and vampiric aspects of transubstantiation in particular – and the horror that can be found in scripture will draw the most attention, Midnight Mass also explores how religion can be used to corrupt and manipulate, all while serving up a host of phenomenal performances from a cast including Hamish Linklater, Rahul Kohli, Kate Siegel, and Zach Gilford. Perfect for the run up to Halloween.
Take a look inside the truly insane Los Angeles real estate market. Selling Sunset is a reality show focussing on the staff of The Oppenheim Group, an elite real estate broker whose young, pretty much exclusively female staff specialise in finding homes for the super-rich. A mix of Grand Designs-style property porn and Made in Chelsea-style social drama, it’s populated by the absolute worst people, but you’ll find it hard to tear your eyes away.
Drive to Survive
Each season of Drive to Survive follows the previous year’s Formula 1 season, giving a full run-down of events ahead of the current year’s championship. The series’ genius is to take a holistic approach, focusing on everything but the actual races. There’s plenty of footage of memorable race moments, but it’s what happens before, between and after the cars hit the track that really tells the story of the sport. The result is a viewing experience that feels fresh even to those who have already watched every race, while showing newcomers how much more F1 is about than just fast cars whizzing around a track.
Dear White People
It’s based on a film of the same name, but Dear White People is a Netflix-original American comedy that’s worth your time. The series follows a group of students of colour who attend a mostly-white Ivy League college. It shows their struggles against racism and discrimination and covers the same ground as the film. However, each episodes tells the story of one different character and lets you dive deeper into their lives and individual personalities. There’s also some laughs along the way. Originally released in 2017, the fourth season of the show debuted in September 2021.\
Produced in Korea, Squid Game blends Hunger Games and Parasite with a battle royale-style contest. Hundreds of desperate, broke people are recruited into a contest where they can win enough money to never need to worry about their debts again. All they have to do to win the ₩45.6 billion (£28 million) jackpot is complete six children’s games. But it’s not that simple: all the games have a twist and the risk of death is high. Very few people make it out alive. Squid Game is intense, brutal (and often very graphic) but completely gripping. Netflix’s dubbing isn’t the best in this instance, but the series more than makes up for this with how compelling all nine-episodes are.
Don’t watch this when you’re hungry. Each episode of this mouth watering series goes into the kitchen of one of the world’s top chef’s and looks beyond their creations. With restaurants still open in limited ways because of the pandemic, Chef’s Table is the perfect way to get inspired and passionate about food. What’s more, there are six seasons to get your teeth stuck into. The most recent of these involves Sean Brock, who is dedicated to reviving lost flavours and Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini who is trying to change how the world things about meat. If you really want to get your mouth watering, the entirety of season four is dedicated to pastry.
Star Trek: Discovery
It could have been terrible, but thankfully Star Trek: Discovery is absolutely terrific. While at times it oscillates awkwardly between big-budget drama and cheap sci-fi thrills, for the most part this is a thoughtful, visually stunning expansion of Trekkian lore. Its obsession with winking and nodding to that lore will delight fans of the show, but at its core Discovery is a brilliant character drama, set against some clever and mind-bending sci-fi plot twists. The series has also proven a success with fans. While it’s produced by US-based CBS Television Studios, Netflix has the international rights to the show. Three seasons are now available on the streaming service, with the latest being made available in January 2021. Filming is already underway on a fourth season although there’s currently no release date for its debut.
Set in the English department at the prestigious Pembroke University (fictional, but think Harvard, Yale etc), this smart drama/comedy is set in the English Department just after the appointment of its first female chair, played by Sandra Oh, whose character Ji-Yoon Kim is also one of the few women of colour in the department. She has to navigate the politics of her new role, managing her colleagues – largely old, white and tenured – along with her family life, and an electric relationship with eccentric star professor Bill Dobson. Sharp and very watchable, in half hour chunks.
Set in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland, Derry Girls follows Catholic secondary school student Erin Quinn and her small group of oddball, kooky and, frankly, sweary friends as they navigate teenage life during the Troubles of the 1990s. In between the political turbulence of the period, Quinn and her friends (Claire, the sensible one, Orla, the offbeat one, Michelle, the wild child and James, the English one) juggle love lives, school exams and family life in, let’s just say, very creative ways. Creator Lisa McGee, from Derry herself, brings forth the quirks, conversations and traditions of Irish families in this period in a very deliberate way, and it makes for an incredibly authentic and hilarious watch. Only series 1 of this award-winning comedy is currently available on Netflix UK but even if you can’t binge it, every episode is such a gem in its own right that it takes minutes to fall head over heels for the Derry girls.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Not just one of the greatest kids shows ever or one of the greatest animated shows ever, Avatar is one of the greatest television series ever full stop. It has it all: laughs, redemption, misery, danger, thrills, imagination, wonder and love. It follows twelve-year-old Aang, the Avatar responsible for retaining balance in the world, as he and his companions strive to end the Fire Nation’s quest for world domination. Don’t be put off by the horrible live-action film, and be cautiously optimistic about Netflix’s upcoming live-action remake.
Bo Burnham: Inside
In the decades to come, when you’re trying to explain to your kids or grandkids how weird the pandemic was, you should sit them down and get them to watch Bo Burnham: Inside. Filmed, edited and starring American musician and comedian Bo Burnham, this is a creative masterpiece that does a brilliant job of capturing what it has been like to live through months of lockdown. It oscillates wildly and deliberately between the hysterical and the profound with Burnham going deep on the impacts of isolation, anxiety and the internet age. It’s essential viewing now – and it will continue to be for a very long time.
Better than Us
A reckless, boorish sex-robot manufacturer in 2029 Moscow tries to strike gold by ordering an experimental Chinese automaton touted as able to replace teachers, care workers, and security guards in this Russian sci-fi show. Instead he ends up with Arisa, a robot who looks like a Russian supermodel, kills like a FSB hitman, and runs away like a nose in a Gogol short story. Complicating the matter is Arisa’s sudden lust for the long-faced coroner autopsying her victim, and the appearance of a luddite terrorist group who wants to tear her to pieces. Hilarity duly ensues. The show’s premise and setting owe a lot to a ton of classics of the genre, from Her to Blade Runner. But the script is solid and layered enough to add some original twists on top of the sci-fi tropes, and the acting is – as usual for Netflix’s Russian productions – superb.
Based on the comic book by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth is set ten years after a viral pandemic that killed most of the population, and led – somehow– to babies being born with part human, part animal characteristics. It follows Gus, a half-deer hybrid boy, who leaves the wilderness in search of his mother. It’s part sci-fi, part fantasy, part mystery – as the boy’s journey sheds light on the cause of the plague, and what happened to humanity.
The Haunting of Hill House
Loosely based on the gothic horror novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House is horror at its finest – gripping, stunning and most of all, terrifying. The Crain family move into Hill House in the summer of 1992 to renovate and eventually flip it, but when they’re forced to stay longer, paranormal activity drives one family member over the edge, leaving the rest to flee. Twenty-six years later and disaster strikes again, forcing the remaining family members to meet and confront the haunting memories ruining their lives. Hill House never holds back on the jump scares, making its tension-building simply unbearable (in the best way). And despite the obviously supernatural elements in its plot, the horror grounds itself in the stories of the lasting Crain family members.
In a triumph of on-the-nose conceptualising, La Révolution spins an alt-history romp in on-the-cusp-of-revolt France, where the cruel aristocracy become literal “blue-bloods” thanks to a contagion that turns them into inky-veined, dandyish fiends ravenous for human flesh. A plucky reformist contessa who sympathises with the commoners’ plight – first of being exploited by the ruling class, and then being eaten by them – allies with forces both rebel and supernatural as she tries to prevent the undead disease spreading from the elite of Versaille to the whole of France’s upper crust. Surprisingly great production values and a cast that’s clearly enjoying themselves elevates this above your standard zombie nonsense – and it’s subtitled, which definitely means it’s arthouse, right?
The People v. O.J. Simpson
Part of the American Crime Storyseries, The People v. O.J. Simpson is a gripping ten-episode mini-series which tells the story of the the infamous O.J. Simpson murder case. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Simpson with David Schwimmer is uncanny as Robert Kardashian, whose family needs no introduction. The story is compelling enough on its own and the performances and direction are (John Travolta aside) excellent, as evidenced by the 22 Primetime Emmy Award nominations the series received and its 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Once you’ve burned through this you’ll want to move onto the second season, which revolves around the murder of Gianni Versace.
Line of Duty
Jed Mercurio’s gripping police drama follows the work of AC-12, a police anti-corruption unit working in an unspecified UK city. Originally broadcast on the BBC, the show centres around Steven Arnott, a detective who is transferred to AC-12 from counter-terrorism after a delicate operation goes badly wrong, and colleagues Kate Fleming – an undercover operative – and Ted Hastings. Each set of six episodes covers a different case of potential police wrongdoing, and there are moments of gripping tension that make it perfect for binge-watching. Season five is on Netflix, with the first four on BBC iPlayer and the sixth airing through spring 2021.
Parks and Recreation
Some may view it as the little (and lesser) sibling to the US Office, but Parks and Recreation stole the hearts of many with its witty scripting, hilarious hijinks and star turns from Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza and a fresh-faced Chris Pratt. The world of local government may not be to everyone’s taste, but for bureaucrat Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) it’s where the real action is. No job too small, Knope and her team of off-beat employees tackle river clean-ups, local elections and STI outbreaks in the senior community with hare-brained ideas and real heart.
Yes it’s disgusting and puerile but then, so was puberty remember? Nick Kroll’s masterpiece of teenage angst is a wickedly smart, wickedly rude cartoon that follows a group of kids and their troupe of very influential friends – Hormone Monster, Shame Wizard and the rest. Big Mouth manages to turn dick jokes into poignant World War stories, make a ghost of Duke Ellington in the attic make sense and fearlessly take on with everything from mental health and bad parents to sexual and racial identities with whimsy and grace. Oh, and lots and lots of bodily fluids – it’s all here. One of the funniest shows of the past 10 years period.
Pretend It’s A City
Martin Scorsese chuckling to himself at every other line that comes out of Fran Lebowitz’s mouth is one of the most joyful things on Netflix right now. Marty directed this seven part ‘limited series’ which follows the writer and ‘humourist’ – she wrote a couple of books decades ago and now gets paid to make salty observations on talk shows and live events – riffing around New York City, in libraries and members’ clubs and on stage. A masterclass in artful anecdotes and one for city snobs everywhere.
Arsène Lupin, the belle époque burglar created by French novelist Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900s, is reinvented as Assane Diop, a first-generation Frenchman with a mania for Lupin books and a grudge against the powerful blackguards who decades ago framed his father for a theft he didn’t commit – and led him to die in prison. Armed with drones, social media bots, and hacking skills alongside the traditional tools of the trade like fake beards, picklocks, and quick wits, Diop hunts down his adversaries one by one, on a quest for the truth about his father’s fate. In his spare time, Diop also tries to patch together a crumbling marriage and build a better rapport with his son. Worth watching in the French original, this five-episode series’ strength lies all in the dialogues, the character development, and the charismatic performance of Omar Sy as Assane. The actual escapades and daring heists are beautifully choreographed, but a lot of the mechanics – how a certain piece of legerdemain worked, when a certain impenetrable building was infiltrated – are left unspoken. In a show about a master thief, the reticence is unforgivable, and betokens some lack of scriptwriting rigour. Also unforgivable is that the fifth episode ends on a cliff-hanger – but fear not, the second tranche of five will hit Netflix mid-2021.
From executive producer Shonda Rhimes comes a period drama like no other that has become Netflix’s most watched series ever. Bridgerton is set during the Regency period in England and follows the powerful Bridgerton family as they navigate love, marriage and scandal. Incredibly bingable and shockingly entertaining, the show is based on a series of novels with each on focusing on a different Bridgerton sibling – this first series follows eldest sister Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and her turbulent marriage to one of London’s most eligible bachelors, Duke Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). With season two already confirmed, expect much more from London’s Ton era very soon.
Back to Life
Originally airing on BBC, Back to Life is a dark comedy that centres on a woman trying to reintegrate into society after spending almost two decades in prison. Protagonist Miri Matteson (Daisy Haggard) returns to her parents’ house after serving time for a violent crime committed in her teens (we’re kept in the dark about the exact circumstances for most of the series). As she tries to get a handle on adulting and catch up with a world that has moved on in her absence, it becomes clear that someone in her British seaside hometown hasn’t forgotten the past – and is making it their mission not to allow Miri to, either. Meanwhile there’s an eccentric man who appears to be stalking her; a naive neighbour who has taken a shine to her; and her parents, who against everything are trying to pretend that everything is just fine. The series, which received critical acclaim, perfectly balances humour with drama, and is at turns hilarious, unsettling and poignant.
Now into its fourth season, The Crown shows the British royal at its best and worst. It’s a definitely fictional retelling of the life of Queen Elizabeth II, with the first season focussing on the eight years between 1947 and 1955, where Elizabeth marries the Duke of Edinburgh. Things move faster in the second series, which covers the Suez Crisis and the resignation of British prime minister Harold Macmillan. The third season saw Olivia Colman stepping into the role as HRH enters the tricky middle years and the swinging sixties, while the recently released fourth season centres on Princess Diana’s tricky relationship with the royals.
The Queen’s Gambit
Stylish, compelling and intensely watchable, this seven-part limited series is based on a novel of the same name, and follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon from an orphanage in Kentucky to duelling with Russians in Moscow. Anna Taylor-Joy excels as the troubled Harmon, and the series is so surprisingly gripping that it will have you pondering a monthly subscription to Chess.com.
Chewing Gum is gloriously rude, funny and awkward. Created by and starting Michaela Coel, the creative force behind I May Destroy You, the comedy series follows Tracey, a young, black, Londoner who is intent on escaping her Christian upbringing and losing her virginity. What results is a hilarious but always cringe-inducing zip through the uncertainty of young adulthood.
Looking for hidden gem on Netflix? Look no further than Orphan Black. The sci-fi drama grew in prominence after an Emmy win for leading actress Tatiana Maslany in 2016 but never quite cracked the mainstream fanbase like Black Mirror and Doctor Who did. After witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks just like her, outsider and orphan Sarah Manning (Maslany) assumes her identity. But she soon uncovers a conspiracy that will haunt her past and define her future. It’s difficult to explain Maslany’s powerful performance(s) without spoiling the plot altogether, but it’s one of the most unique and impressive turns in science fiction TV. Though sometimes a little out there with plot devices and characters, especially in the later seasons, Orphan Black is a great watch for any sci-fi fan craving excellent female-led drama and comedy.
Some writers perfect the cliffhanger – the team behind Prison Break were some of the best at it. Each episode leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting more. While Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) purposefully lands himself in prison to free his brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), it is just the beginning of something much bigger. And darker. Through 90 episodes across five seasons – although the best series are at the beginning – the brothers are involved in prison riots, breakouts, plotting, and tense exchanges with fellow inmates. Thankfully due to all the seasons streaming, there’s only a few seconds to the next episode.
Last Chance U
Last Chance U is one the most successful documentary series on Netflix and Part 5 is the best season yet. The series, which follows the travails of junior college student athletes aiming to break into big time college football and ultimately the NFL, benefits from shifting its focus from oddball rural towns with outsized ambitions and imported talent, to the inner city Laney College in Oakland, California. Laney isn’t rich. It doesn’t import players to improve its team. It doesn’t house and feed its players. It’s a genuine part of the community and the players come from that community. The result is a series that shines a light on the growing dislocation and inequality in inner city America as the overflow from neighbouring San Francisco gentrifies the formerly blue collar Oakland. And, unlike previous seasons, Laney’s head coach isn’t an unbearable ass. It goes to some dark places, but is all the better for it.
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are at it again with Dracula, a modern adaptation of the classic novel that draws some inspiration from their previous work on the hugely popular Sherlock. Thankfully, Dracula has more in common with Sherlock’s earlier seasons than the clumsy later ones, delivering a delightfully macabre take on the classic tale. Danish actor Claes Bang delivers a career defining performance as the eponymous vampire, who revels in sparring with an unconventional nun (Dolly Wells) who is determined to learn his secrets and end his centuries-long trail of terror. The three-part mini series will have you enthralled from its opening moments and keep you guessing throughout.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
This mini-series chronicles how Madam C.J. Walker went from being a widowed laundress to creating her own line of haircare products, becoming America’s first female self-made millionaire. Based on the book On Her Own Ground from A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, the series provides a window into the life of African-American women in the early 1900s. Academy Award-winning Octavia Spencer, who stars as the title heroine, fights to overcome post-slavery racial biases and find her place in a man’s world of capitalism.
The Last Dance
The Last Dance is simultaneously a ten-part documentary about the greatest basketball team of all time and also a show that really isn’t about basketball at all. It follows the Chicago Bulls’ record-breaking NBA championship run, with behind-the-scenes access to documentary footage shot throughout the 1997-98 season, but is really about what it takes to be successful. Underlying the entire show is what motivated Michael Jordan to become, arguably, the greatest of all time – and continue performing at that level. Top tip: don’t get him mad.
When a team of nine criminals launch an audacious heist at Spain’s Royal Mint, they are convinced that their meticulous plan has every eventuality covered. But things start to unravel when the enigmatic mastermind behind the heist starts getting close to the police detective in charge of securing the safe release of the 67 hostages. Although the twisting plot stretches the limits of credulity at points, Money Heist is a deliciously frenetic and tension-filled series that makes surprisingly sympathetic figures out of its devilish main characters.
This miniseries follows Esty, a 19-year-old woman who flees her ultra-orthodox upbringing in Williamsburg’s Hasidic Jewish community and ends up in Berlin, where she soon discovers quite how different life can be. But as she tries to find new friends and make a fresh start in the city, her husband Yanky and his shady cousin Moishe are in pursuit, determined to bring her back. The plot is dramatic and compelling, with flashbacks to Esty’s experiences around her arranged marriage providing an interesting insight into orthodox life and her struggles to play the role expected of her. The clash of cultures is sometimes played up to the point of silliness, but the strength of Shira Haas’ performance in the leading role will keep you glued to the screen. We just wish there were more than four episodes.
The Shelbys have come a long way since they debuted in the BBC series back in 2013. At the end of April the fifth series dropped onto Netflix for the first time. It now means the streaming service has every episode created. Season five sees Tommy Shelby’s gang have considerable power and reach within the UK establishment. That doesn’t mean life has got any easier for the Brummie mobsters. The power of their enemies has also grown and there’s a very real risk the family’s days are numbered.
A strange specimen of a sitcom, this Dan Harmon show set in a community college is the most meta TV comedy since Moonlighting. With a late-00s cast including Donald Glover, Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs, plus scene-stealers like Ken Jeong, Community rummages around in pop culture references, clever callbacks and comments on its own existence but never forgets to pop up with a spot of character development or a heartfelt moment. All six seasons are on Netflix.
When the super-wealthy Rose family are defrauded by their business manager and lose all their money, they’re forced to move to Schitt’s Creek, a backwater town they once purchased as a joke and which is now their only remaining asset. They go from living in a mansion to sharing two rooms in a rundown motel – and the sitcom derives its charm from them slowly adjusting to their new surroundings over the course of the seasons (of which there are five on Netflix). There are some brilliant performances, particularly from creator Dan Levy and his on and off-screen father Eugene (who you’ll recognise as the dad from American Pie). It’s slow-paced and sweet, much like life in a small town.
Jason Bateman had got us used to goofy manners in the role of the tragically romantic Michael Bluth in Arrested Development; but in Ozark , he reveals a whole new side of his actor’s palette. He impersonates a much more serious financial advisor, Marty Byrde, who finds himself relocating his entire family from a Chicago suburb to the Ozark mountains in Missouri. The reason? He has got himself involved with some dodgy money-laundering scheme for Mexican cartels that he is having difficulty disentangling himself from. The atmosphere, heavy with suspense, guilt and trouble-making drug lords, is reminiscent of Breaking Bad. It’s one of Netflix’s most popular shows and is now into its third season.
Eric Goode was filming a documentary about the reptile trade when he met a guy with a snow leopard in the back of his van. He spent the next five years and in around the big cat community in the United States, where there are more tigers in captivity than exist in the wild. This seven-part true crime series explores a feud between two of them – a gun-toting, mullet-wearing, country-singing zoo owner from Oklahoma called Joe Exotic, and animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who has some secrets of her own. Honestly one of the craziest things you will ever watch.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Stuck at home and struggling with what to watch during the Coronavirus pandemic? Search no more, because Netflix has the entire 11 seasons of legendary drag show Ru Paul’s Drag Race at your fingertips and a bonus new season to boot. With a format similar to America’s Next Top Model, watch drag queens make their own outfits, perform acting, dance and singing challenges and fight off in lipsynch extravaganza battles to avoid being eliminated and claim the crown. Fans will recommend starting on season two, when the lighting and the show’s format is better. This is the best light-hearted relief, with a smattering of celebrities (including Janet Jackson, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus and Shania Twain!). May the best woman win!
It’s 1980s New York, the height of the AIDS epidemic. Madonna’s Vogue is playing everywhere, and the underground ballroom scene – haven to mostly black and Latino trans and gay people – is a dizzying, glitzy whirlwind of joy and judgement.
Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) decides to take control of her life after receiving an HIV positive diagnosis, and takes in a ragtag bunch of misfits that call her “mother”. Among them is Damon, a talented 17-year old with dreams of becoming a dancer and Angel, a young trans woman who would love to be a model (but works as a prostitute). Worlds collide when Damon gets into the prestigious New School for Dance and Angel falls in love with young executive Stan Bowes (Evan Peters) – who happens to work for Donald Trump.
The world of Pose, inspired by the legendary 80s documentary Paris is Burning, hits a sweet spot: it tackles profoundly difficult issues like discrimination, sexism and poverty, between joyous dance and drag competitions. The series has no weak link. Billy Porter as ballroom MC Pray Tell, and Dominique Jackson as Elektra are truly magnetic, and ground what could have become too much of a tear-jerker with the perfect sprinkling of world-weary cynicism. If you missed it on BBC2, the perfect time to binge-watch it on Netflix is right now.
The second season of this raunchy teen show was one of the biggest highlights on Netflix in 2020. Although it has a distinctly American glow, with jocks, Acapella groups and mean girls, Sex Education is set in the UK and filmed in Wales. Asa Butterfield stars as an awkward teenager who starts giving sex counselling for money, and Gillian Anderson plays his mother in her typical graceful style. While the titular topic is used as a source of comedy, Sex Education also explores issues related to intimacy and identity issues in a smart way that will dredge up your emotions.
Netflix Original The Witcher is, by objective critical standards, not particularly good. But as binge-worthy escapist enjoyment, it’s an absolute triumph. Based on a Polish fantasy literature franchise that gained global popularity following its successful video game adaptation, the series follows Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill), whose occupation as a mutant ‘witcher’ sees him slaying monsters for money. Our beefy, gravel-voiced hero finds himself caught up in a bigger plot, however, as his destiny becomes entwined with an orphaned princess on the run and a powerful sorceress testing the limits of her abilities.