TV shows have surpassed movies in terms of character arc developments, and you get a full-bodied character. Unfortunately, with so much content on various platforms to choose from these days, it is very easy for underrated gems to pass under the radar.
True TV comedy is rooted in reality, and this show is proof of just that. In this Hulu original series, a young bachelor and app developer Alex Cole finds himself living with his newly divorced sister and her teenage daughter. All of them are dipping their toes into the dating pool, but each one seems to have only casual relationships (hence the show’s title). They make choices within their circumstances, which seem funny at the onset. However, you realise that you might make the same choices, making you realise how and why you behave. Tommy Dewey is good, but Michaela Watkins is a revelation in the show – a genius, to say the least. She plays the divorced woman, making screwed up choices and learning from them.
A semi-autobiographical novel’s adaptation, this five-part tv show stars Benedict Cumberbatch. A story of growing up in a highly privileged upper-class English family from the 1980s through to the 2000s. He deals with abuse from his father, death of his parents, causing him to head into alcoholism, heroin addiction and his road to recovery. Littered with British sarcasm, this series can come across as a posh people’s angst. At points, the character is not likeable either. However, the problems and psychological issues are far rooted in reality, thanks to Cumberbatch’s performance.
Before Killing Eve was well Killing Eve, there was Luther. Idris Elba playing the brooding DCI agent with more skeletons in his closet and his nemesis-associate-lover Ruth Wilson as enigmatic Alice Morgan. She might not be as showy as Villanelle but just as deadly. The push and pull, the sexual tension between the two, is evident from the get-go – and Alice’s silence is scary. The woman with no moral compass is an accomplice and a nemesis, all at the same time. The supporting cast is top-notch, and after five seasons, there are talks of a movie too.
What happens when your husband’s ex returns after 20 years to seek refuge. The desires, relationships, and feelings all return to the surface with high stakes for the family. The acceptance, judgement-free and for someone in the real world, causes them to recalibrate their reactions to situations. Raqeeb Se is a masterpiece of storytelling with an exercise in restraint on display. A 23 episode mini-series from Pakistan is a must-watch. The enigmatic storytelling and how everything unfolds with every actor pitching in a top-notch performance, specifically Sania Saeed, Nouman Ijaz and Hadiqa Kiani (in her debut performance). The writing by Bee Gul is solid, and the dialogues are succinct yet impactful.
A trigger warning before you watch this, this show deals with self-harm. Sharp Objects stars Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen. It centres around Camille (Amy Adams) returning to her hometown, investigating and reporting on the deaths of two teenage girls. In the process, this Southern Gothic drama unveils a lot of skeletons, communal angst and toxic personality traits. With superb performances and directed by Jean Marc-Valle (of Big Little Lies fame), this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s debut novel is so good that you will never know what hit you. You think, you know, stay till the last dialogue of the previous episode to know that you didn’t.
Scenes From A Marriage
When a TV show is accused of giving rise to divorce rates in Europe in the 70s, you might think how this is underrated. Well, so many from the current generation do not even know about this mini-series that revolutionised the meaning of relationships and marriage. Directed by the great Ingar Bergman, the Swedish tv show has set the bar for its realistic portrayal of a deteriorating marriage, affecting the likes of Woody Allen, Richard Linklater and Noah Baumbach. A love story between the wife, Marianne and husband, Jonah, spans over ten years. Drawing on his personal experiences, Bergman paints a heart-wrenching love story between the couple with an extraordinary intimacy that brings forth the mystery of the banal every day that we take for granted. A Modern-day adaptation with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in the lead is releasing this month on HBO Max.
An account of an affair amidst a sunny seaside town of Montauk between a writer and a waitress. Throw in a murder mystery, and you have a good show on your hand. What makes this show brilliant, then? It is the format of how the creators chose to tell the story. In the He Said / She Said structure that further expands into their respective partners, the show plays with different POVs putting the audience in the protagonist’s mindset of that part. They never tell you the truth but give you versions of it – the story you choose to paint is your prerogative and bias. Outstanding performances by Ruth Wilson, Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson make this 5 season show a must-watch in a generation tv show.
An Icelandic tv show that might seem to follow the expected beats but is a far cry from the regular police procedural show. Taking liberties but based on an actual Icelandic incident, Valhalla Murders is about investigating teams collaborating with a cop over a series of murders that are the result of a heinous trauma. Kudos to keeping a show engaging despite the low light settings and dark frames. Hard to describe unless it is seen and experienced, it has a very noir-like feel to it with an Icelandic signature of how it is shot.
Unbelievable is an intriguing show based on a 2015 Pulitzer winning article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong. A teenager is charged with falsifying and lying about being raped, but it takes an unusual cop (Toni Colette) to follow twists to arrive at the truth. Memories, corruption and believability play a significant role in this show. It uses the absence of sound to its maximum effect as well as with brilliant performances. Not a pretty show by any means and is a complex but necessary watch.
White House Farm
A dramatisation of a real-life case, this whodunnit unravels in a good slow burn. It is an investigation of the murder of five members of the Bamber-Caffell family, who are shot to death in their home. The adopted son and brother claims his sister, Sheila, went under a schizophrenic episode killed them all. What follows is an investigation that keeps you on the edge of your seat as the unexpected mystery unravels as to who is the real culprit.
The real-life story of a drug dealer and French serial killer of Indian and Vietnamese descent, The Serpent follows Charles Sobraj in the 1970s, preying on the backpackers and travellers. Drugging, robbing and murdering them while on their ‘hippie trail’ in South Asia, Sobraj also delves into selling stolen gems with his girlfriend. The kingpin of South Asia was a feared name making his way to Interpol’s most-wanted list. The series follows his rise and the investigation by Dutch Diplomat Herman Kippenberg, which leads to his downfall. Tahar Rahim transforms himself and is an absolute pleasure to watch. Please don’t watch the Bollywood adaptation of this story.
A torrid affair between a lawyer and a photographer is more than what meets the eye. There is a dangerous sexual attraction between these two for which they come together. But, with Iris’s husband embroiled in a legal battle with her lover and lawyer, Willem, things don’t go smoothly as everyone around them gets entangled in a web of family secrets in this Dutch Tv Show.
The rise and fall of Harshad Mehta is an adaptation of true incidents and the book The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away by Sucheta Dalal and Debanish Basu. It is about Harshad Mehta from his humble beginnings, amassing power and wealth by exploiting loopholes and bribing officials. The series charts a whole journey from that rise to the downfall of being exposed as a scammer. Hansal Mehta never gives us a one-sided story when adapting the source material. Giving various facets of this character, Mehta keeps the grip strong and, despite its flaws, provides us with a story and character without pronouncing him guilty. He never veers into Harshad Mehta adulation nor a villain. This show lets the viewers make up their own minds if Harshad Mehta is a dubious character or just a flawed human.