The show: Charting the rise and (real-world spoiler) fall of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, Narcos features two DEA agents, Murphy and Pena, trying at nothing in the war against drugs. But they’ve met their match: Pablo is infinitely resourceful, Colombia is a country with dangerous people around every corner and it only gets worse from there. This is an American-Spanish show that will have you on the edge of your seats 99% of the time. The other 1% if you learning Spanish swear words, which is always fun.
Why it’s worth a watch: Even if you know Pablo Escobar’s story, Narcos has been suitably embellished so every episode carries as many twist and turns as possible with it. That extends to its seasons, too. Each one does something different without straying too far from its main theme of ‘catch the bad guy.’ Without wanting to go into spoiler territory, the show turns everything upside down far sooner than you might think, too. This is a binge-worthy drama that’s an expert at keeping you on your toes.
The show: This seven-episode limited series hails from Ocean's Eleven director Steven Soderbergh and Logan screenwriter Scott Frank. A gritty western set in a small mining town, Godless stars Jeff Daniels as notorious crook Frank Griffin, the leader of a bunch of outlaws desperate to locate defector Roy Goode, played by Jack O'Connell. The twist? Goode's holed up in a town populated entirely by women. Following a mine accident that killed most of its male residents, the women including Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery who won't take any shit from Griffin, are doing just dandy on their own. For Netflix's first Western this is gritty stuff.
Why it’s worth a watch: A town of women who go up against bloodthirsty gangs of marauding men - what’s not to love about this series? Crafted deliberately as a limited series (that’s a one season and done), Godless has a razor sharp focus: there’s not a moment to waste, and none of it is. By far the biggest reason to tune in are its two leads, Dockery and Meritt Wever, who scored her second Emmy for her performance.
3. Russian Doll
The show: Take Groundhog Day, replace Punxsutawney with New York in 2019, and you’re getting close to the genius that is Russian Doll. Chain-smoking and swearing her way through the lead role is Natasha Lyonne, who, as Nadia, perfectly sums up the vagaries of modern day living through a seriously messed-up scenario. It’s her 36th birthday. Her friends are throwing her a party in her loft. Oh, and she keeps dying and waking up back in the bathroom, over and over and over again.
Why it’s worth a watch: The premise itself is intriguing enough on its own. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch someone relive their 36th birthday party over and over? Yet the success of this series boils down to its writers and actors. It takes sci-fi elements (repeating days), existential queries (what the hell am I doing with my life?) and hysterical one-liners (“it’s my bad attitude that keeps me young”) and mashes them into a gloriously deranged pulp, gathering speed until it hurtles towards its masterful ending.
The show: Seeing as you’ve binged the hell out of Stranger Things multiple times, you’re gonna need something similar to tide you over until season 4. Enter Dark. From the outset, this German-language Netflix original makes no bones about its intentions: to be creepy, eerie and as Lynchian as possible. And I say that not just because it’s odd, but, because like a certain David Lynch created TV show, this delves into the rotten underbelly of seemingly perfect small-town life. In this case, it’s the tale of two missing children that stirs up trouble for a mysterious community.
Why it’s worth a watch: You’re unlikely to see anything else quite like it. Sure, it may share ideas with some popular shows (there’s missing children, time travel, and other supernatural oddities) but Dark packs a lot of unique pieces into its puzzle.
The show: True crime enthusiasts like a good whodunnit. However, with Mindhunter, it’s less about the who and more about the why. Based on real-life events and real people, Mindhunter follows the fledgling days of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit. Executive produced by David Fincher, who also directs a handful of episodes, the show follows Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany’s FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench. Every day their routine unfolds the same: the pair travel across the US interviewing murderers with the hopes of figuring out what makes them tick. They return to work, where they debrief with their boss Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a psychology professor. Together they devise a system to categorise killers. Yep, this takes place before the term ‘serial killer’ was in common usage, and before the FBI worked profiles of potential suspects.
Why it’s worth a watch: The term ‘bingewatch’ was invented for shows like Mindhunter. It's a truly compelling piece of storytelling that manages to sidestep any grotesqueness from its subjects by being so damn fascinating. You won’t be able to stop this from dominating a weekend. Fincher and co. have crafted a subtle, under-the-skin thriller that’s part serial and part procedural. CSI fans will get a kick out of how things have changed.