Top 10 – Top Shows available on Netflix
#1 Making A Murderer
Documentary fans will no doubt already have heard plenty about this one. It’s a painstakingly detailed 10-part series telling the story of Wisconsin man Steven Avery, who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Eventually exonerated and released, he is preparing to sue the state for damages when he is suddenly arrested on a murder charge. Thanks to video footage shot at the time – interviews, court cases, the works – the series lets the viewer build a picture of what might have happened, and of the reasons a potentially innocent man could be locked up for a second time. Truly compelling.
Made by Mexican network Telemundo in a partnership with Netflix, this gripping 10-part drama chronicles the rise of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, and the attempts made by the US authorities (and also some of his rivals) to stop him. Filmed on location in Columbia and oozing with authenticity, it’s a fascinating story of a man whose childhood ambition was to be a millionaire by the time he was 22; he ended up becoming one of the richest men on the planet while continuing to evade capture. Superb (and often very violent) television. Season 2 will arrive later in 2016.
Designed as a drama for teenagers that spoke their language and refused to be patronising, Skins was a huge success in its native England, and for good reason. Using largely inexperienced actors (some of whom have gone on to bigger things) and storylines that didn’t pull any punches, Skins is that rarest of things – drama made for a teen audience that’s still compelling for adults. Ironically, the show landed an R rating in Australia, meaning that its intended audience isn’t actually allowed to watch it at all! Netflix has all seven seasons of the show, with the early seasons available in HD for the first time.
#4 Black Mirror
English writer and comedian Charlie Brooker – best known outside the UK for his various “wipe” programs where he comments on news with biting sarcasm – came up with this stunning series back in 2011, where every episode is a self-contained story set at some point in the not-too-distant future. Each one has something to say – whether it’s about politicians, celebrity culture or even TV talent shows – but says it via a brilliantly written, often extremely dark story. Each episode is of feature film quality, too. This is another Channel 4 show that Netflix has taken over production on, so there’s much more to come.
#5 Scrotal Recall
Don’t let the truly awful title put you off – this British comedy-drama is a lot better than its oh-so-hilarious name suggests. It centres around Dylan, a young man who is diagnosed with an STD and told that he has to inform his previous partners about it for the sake of their own health. Sounds grim, right? Well, in reality, it’s anything but, as each episode has Dylan revisiting a past partner, in the process learning a lot about himself in what is actually a very warm-hearted comedy that never resorts to crude humour. While Channel 4 in the UK made this first season, Netflix has commissioned a second themselves, which arrives later this year.
Having been involved with the creation of classic Australian comedy shows like The D-Generation, The Late Show and Frontline – as well as the much-loved movie The Castle – the team at Working Dog has a fine pedigree when it comes to being funny and making a point while they’re doing it. Utopia won plenty of acclaim when it aired on the ABC – so much so that Netflix did a deal to license the show exclusively worldwide, where it can be seen in high definition for the first time. Like Frontline and The Hollowmen, it’s biting satire played completely straight, as the fictional government agency the Nation Building Authority goes about its business. Extremely funny stuff.
#7 Jessica Jones
Netflix’s large-scale jump into the “Marvel Universe” with a collection of new shows has been hugely successful for them already – Daredevil won rave reviews and fan approval. But it’s Jessica Jones that’s the real treat – even if you’re the sort of person that would see the Marvel brand on a show and say “ugh, not another superhero thing!” Because Jessica Jones isn’t a story about a superhero at all – Jones (Krysten Ritter), private investigator and determined alcoholic, is a former superhero who wants nothing more to do with all that saving-the-world business. Meanwhile, the sinister mind-controlling Kilgrave (David Tennant) has decided he wants Jessica all for himself. A dark, stylish and brilliant series.
While they’ll always be thought of for their Matrix movie trilogy, the Wachowskis have spent years trying to cram bold, expansive ideas and worlds into the confines of a two-hour movie. Their last two films – Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending – both tried hard to be sweeping epics, but were undone by the need to keep things short enough for a cinema audience’s attention span. Sense8 offers 12 one-hour TV episodes as the canvas; the Wachowskis get to take their time, and the results are incredible. It tells the stories of eight complete strangers scattered around the globe who become “linked” to each other, mentally and emotionally. Filmed on location in eight countries, it’s visually spectacular – but you’ll need to watch with some patience as the stories are set up. You’ll be rewarded.
A recent additional to Netflix’s collection of original shows, this is one of those pleasant surprises. Created by Judd Apatow of The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up fame, Love is the story of Gus, a movie-set tutor to precocious child stars. His life is thrown into turmoil when his girlfriend breaks up with him after cheating on him, accusing him of being “fake nice”. He runs into world-weary radio producer Mickey (Gillian Jacobs from Community) at a convenience store, and an unlikely relationship begins. Filled with warmth, humour and some wonderfully strange characters, Love is an absolute gem. Netflix has already ordered a second season, which will be streaming in 2017.
#10 House of Cards
Based very loosely on the vintage BBC drama series of the same name, House of Cards probably did more for the Netflix brand than anything before or since (and being one of Barack Obama’s favourite TV shows didn’t hurt). Kevin Spacey owns every second that he’s on camera as congressman Frank Underwood, an ambitious and ruthless Southerner who is passed over for a promotion to Secretary of State. Furious, he plots his revenge by hatching a plan to gain even greater power – at any cost. This is one of those shows that will turn you into a binge-watcher, if you’re not one already – it features brilliant writing, an incredible cast, and it’s impeccably produced. As the world’s largest and longest-running streaming video service, Netflix has a huge ever-changing library of content that caters for just about all tastes. Much has been made of the smaller size of the library on the Australian version of Netflix, but new content is constantly being added – there’s already more than double the titles than were there at launch. And central to it all are Netflix’s “Originals” – high quality shows that you can only watch on Netflix. We took a deep dive into the Netflix catalogue to find the highlights – a tough job with such a large menu!
And that’s just scratching the surface of the TV shows on offer from Netflix – just ten of the ones we think you should add to your watch list and take for a spin. Did we miss anything? Be sure to let us know!