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Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Binge: The shows you really need to watch
What should I watch next? We've got some ideas.
The first time you scan through the titles on new streaming service Binge the biggest surprise is how many of the shows and movies you have heard of before.
You’ll quickly see some great shows on there you’ve probably already seen - Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Sex & The City, Seinfeld, etc etc. But what are the hidden gems on Binge? What are the shows you may not have heard of before but really should check out?
We’ve got you covered with some great shows you should add to your watchlist.
[This isn’t a paid promotion for Binge - I just think there’s a lot of great stuff on there.]
Ben and Cam are two young men on the cusp of 30 who are trying to hustle their way into New York’s fashion industry. At every turn they face challenges from ex-girlfriends, criminal family members, and the shady figures in the industry.
The show is fun, vibrant, and is a super easy hang. The only criticism of the show (and it’s not really a problem - it’s just the viewpoint of the show) is that at times it is aggressively hetero.
An 8-part mini-series from writer-director Alex Garland. It’s a slow-burn paranoid techno-thriller about a mysterious medical technology company in Silicon Valley. When her boyfriend Sergei is tapped by the head of the company (Nick Offerman) to join a secret development team, company staffer Lily is unwittingly thrown into a situation where life and death are at stake.
This is a moody and meticulously paced drama.
Watch it if you like: Mr Robot, the movie Ex Machina
Parks and Recreation stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman host this goofy reality game show which has contestants competing against each other with art & craft projects. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments to be had with the wry and playful hosts, but the crafting is taken very seriously by the shows contestants.
The show absolutely delights in the joy that comes from making things and celebrating the hard work and effort that people put into their work. This show is an absolute delight.
Based on the real-life Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy, this is one of the most twisted mother-daughter relationships you’ll see on TV. Dee Dee and Gypsy move into a new neighbourhood. As Gypsy, a girl with cancer and confined to a wheelchair, becomes interested in the care-free life of her new neighbour, a slightly older teenage girl, Gypsy begins to question her illness. Maybe she isn’t as sick as her mother has made her believe.
Watch it if you like: Dirty John, Unsolved Mysteries
Three oddball nuns are living isolated in rural Tasmania when a young hot Priest arrives with plans for their monastery. When the nuns catch wind that the Priest is there with an agenda, they drug him and steal his clothes.
Easily the best Australian TV production of the past few years, this dark comedy stars Essie Davis (The Babadook), Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Jessica Barden (The End of The F**king World).
Watch it if you like: Coen Bros movies, the movie Calvary
Pete Holmes stars in this semi-autobiographical series based on his own life as an emerging standup comedian. Holmes is a repressed, religious young married guy whose life is thrown into a tailspin when he discovers his wife has been unfaithful. He moves to New York to pursue a career as a comedian starting at the bottom.
Like so many of the best comedies, this takes a few episodes to figure out what works about itself, but as soon as you lock in with the show, it is an incredibly satisfying comedy.
Watch it if you like: Master of None, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage
New York City has a population of over 8.3 million people. It’s a massive city where people from all walks of life and living and working alongside each other - each with their own unique stories. Every episode of the show features 1-2 short stories about the lives of people living in the city. The only connection each of these stories has is that they all share the same weed dealer.
Every story in this is an exploration of humanity. It’s laugh-out loud funny at times and heartbreaking at others. You also never know what you’re going to get with each story with episodes about an elderly Asian couple, swingers, a teenage Muslim girl seeking independence - there’s one episode told from the perspective of a neglected dog. It’s TV’s most unique show.
Please be advised that the very first episode does feature an incredibly graphic gay sex scene. Best not watched with your visiting mum - trust me.
What happens to a world if suddenly 2% of the world’s population just vanishes without a trace? How does that impact on everyday people who lose loved ones, see this as a religious event, or are trying to find meaning in a world that has a very large existential question dominating everyone’s thoughts?
The show picks up three years later as the world is trying to recover from shock.
Warning: Because of the nature of the show, the first season is incredibly depressing. Series co-creator Damon Lindeloff knew the show was a tough slog, so relocated the show for the second year and made the show a lot brighter and less focused on mourning the dead. If you feel a bit bogged down by the first season, you can get by in skipping to season two as long as you’ve seen episodes one, three, and six of season one.
This is a dark, intense drama about a hospital in New York in 1901. Clive Owen is Dr John Thackery - the head surgeon who spends his day doing cocaine and spending his nights in a Chinatown opium den. The show, from Steven Soderbergh who directs every episode, is absolutely wild. You will squirm in your chair as you watch the doctors in the show practicing medicine with a lot of really wrong-headed ideas about what they’re doing.
Owen is fantastic in the show, but Andre Holland completely owns the show in what was his breakout role (you’ve possibly since seen him in Moonlight and the new Netflix drama The Eddy).
Stephen Merchant was the co-writer and co-creator of the UK comedy The Office alongside Ricky Gervais. With Hello Ladies he stars in the show as Stuart - a web designer from the UK who is working in LA and looking for love with women who are well out of his league.
If you enjoy the UK-style cringe comedy of shows like The Office and Alan Partridge, this is definitely one to check out.
Watch it if you like: The Office, Alan Partridge. (As above).
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