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The best TV shows on Binge (March 2022)
A guided tour through the halls of HBO's new home.
Foxtel’s drama streaming sidecar Binge has become the on-demand destination for some of the best, and most popular, TV shows in modern history. But with over 900 series to choose from, navigating the labyrinth of top-shelf telly can be a little overwhelming. We’re hoping we can save you from the endless scroll with our monthly recommendations for the best TV shows streaming on Binge (you can find out top picks for movies here).
Sex and the City
After six seasons, two god-awful movies and one spin-off that nobody remembers, you would think that the Sex and the City fountain had truly run dry but against all common sense, the HBO reboot series is officially going ahead without the series' sex positive MVP, Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall). Sure, there are some long overdue changes in store for the reboot, titled And Just Like That..., not the least of which adds a bit of diversity to the main cast with Grey's Anatomy's Sara Ramirez, who will play Che Diaz a "non-binary, queer stand-up comedian who hosts a podcast," but it's hard to shake the feeling it's too little too late.
Still, the announcement has, if anything, got us in the mood to binge all six seasons of the pro-Samantha Jones original series (potentially followed by a wine-fuelled hate watch of the two movies).
The entire original Sex and the City series is available to stream on Binge.
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Mare of Easttown
The entire season of HBO's crime drama Mare of Easttown is now available to stream so now you can watch all seven episodes back to back without waiting a week for answers.
Once a local sports hero in small-town Philadelphia, Mare is a grizzled detective with a growing list of mysterious murders and disappearances on her plate. Despite her popularity, Mare's work begins to take a toll when the murder of a young mother is piled on top of an unsolved case of a missing girl from a year prior. The overworked small-town detective premise might feel a bit rote but Mare of Easttown has been receiving high praise from critics, thanks in large part to Kate Winslet’s performance as the titular Mare Sheehan.
Mare of Easttown also stars Jean Smart (Watchmen), Evan Peters (Wandavision) and Guy Pearce (Memento).
Parks and Recreation
When Parks and Recreation first aired back in 2009, it seemed like a cheap attempt to replicate the success of The Office by shifting the petty workday drama from a Paper Company to the small-town politics of Pawnee. What we actually got was one of the best comfort-food comedies of all time that launched the careers of Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt and Ben Schwartz (just to name a few). Co-creator Michael Shur followed Parks and Rec up with two more bingeworthy classic: Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place, proving he can do no wrong.
All seven seasons of Parks and Recreation are streaming on Binge.
It's hard to say whether this one belongs on this list or our guide to the best movies on Binge. It's an anthology series from BBC, but each "episode" is essentially a standalone film, running between 60 and 128 minutes each. Whatever you want to call it, Small Axe from Steve McQueen (Widows, 12 Years a Slave) should be high up on your priority list of TV shows to watch in 2021.
Each of the five instalments tells a different story, following various West Indian immigrants in London across the 60s and 80s.
The first of the bunch is Mangrove. The 128-minute film kicks off in the 1960s' Notting Hill. On the eve of his restaurant (the Mangrove) opening, Frank Critchlow becomes the target of harassment and abuse from a local Constable. When the harassment takes a financial toll on the Mangrove, the neighbourhood rallies their support with a march that turns violent when the police intervene.
Mangrove stars Letitia Wright (Black Panther) and Malachi Kirby (Roots).
John Boyega (Star Wars) took out the Golden Globe for best actor in a TV series in 2021 for his portrayal of Leroy Logan, founder of London's Black Police Association, in Red, White and Blue, the third episode of Small Axe.
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Sam Levinson's surreal and strikingly cinematic high-school drama was one of the most talked HBO original series in years before the pandemic. With the arrival of the second season in 2022, the series has continued to explode in popularity.
The series follows a group of friends at an modern American high school, led by Zendaya's Rue, a young woman struggling to navigate her first relationship while recovering from a dangerous and destructive drug addiction.
While there are echoes of other series where edgey high school-aged characters push on the boundaries of likability and audience comfort (see also: Skins) here, Euphoria's diverse cast, mesmerizing cinematography, compelling performances and undiluted commitment to be extremely extra all of the time help it appeal to those who usually wouldn't bother with it given the genre and setting.
The first two seasons of the show are currently available on Binge.
High Maintenance follows a Brooklyn-based weed dealer on his daily delivery route. Creator Ben Sinclair plays The Guy, an appropriately named character who serves only to frame disparate, standalone stories throughout each season. The dealer delivers the viewer to another customer who usually takes the episode from there, rarely revealing morsels of The Guy's own personal life.
Each season is essentially a collection of short stories, only linked by their shared love of the Devil's Lettuce. If you had to label it with a particular genre, my instinct would be to call it a comedy because there's plenty of hearty chuckles to be had, but there's also an ounce or two of sticky icky romance, drama and heart.
If you're in need of some warm-and-fuzzies, give High Maintenance a good choof.
Bored to Death
If you're missing your weekly hit of Ted Danson now that The Good Place has wrapped up, you should give Bored to Death a shot. HBO's Bored to Death only ever aired three seasons between 2009 and 2011, but it's a tight three-season run that's all killer and no filler.
Jason Schwartzman plays a sort of fantasy version of the show's writer, novelist Jonathan Ames, who, true to the show's title, finds himself bored and uninspired after discovering his girlfriend will break up with him. In an attempt to ignite his imagination, Jonathan posts a Craigslist ad claiming to be a private investigator and quickly gets a response for a gig shadowing a suspected cheater. Jonathan's thrill-seeking detective work intersects with his personal and professional life as he finds himself too deep (and probably a little too high).
The MVP here is Ted Danson, who plays Jonathan's wayward editor and proto father figure. Still, the show's heart is the relationship between the three best friends. Zach Galifianakis rounds out the trio of buds as a comic book artist and Jonathan's best bud, Ray Hueston.
At the start of quarantine, quiet nights at home quickly became the worst setting possible for an intense TV drama, so I turned to comedy. I returned to a few of the classics; Curb, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Nathan For You, but I was desperate for something new. That's about when I stumbled across Dave, a biopic series about comedy rapper Lil Dicky. Coming from the producers of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you can expect a fair deal of cringe comedy as a socially inept Lil Dicky claws his way through the world of American Hip Hop.
Dave isn't shy of some good old fashioned gross out comedy, but I was surprised to find as much heart as I did digging further into its debut season. At times, the comedy takes a backseat to the fledgling love shared between a mismatched group of friends. Eventually, it leads to some real tearjerker moments before swerving quickly back into its musical comedy lane with surprisingly solid tunes like My Dick Sucks.
If you were left reeling after the Watchmen's finale, you might be disappointed to know there are no solid plans with a second season. Showrunner Damon Lindelof cut his teeth on Lost, where he proved he wasn't afraid to leave some questions unanswered (for better or worse). But none of Lindelof's work will leave you with as many questions as The Leftovers. Not loose-end questions, that sort of manufactured intrigue that Lost was criticised for, questions you're happy to explore and continue exploring long after the credits have rolled. We're now three years from The Leftovers Season 3 finale, and it's still a show I think about constantly.
I know a lot of people gave the first season a shot and dropped off after a few episodes, but I can't recommend persevering enough. Season 2 and 3 go beyond the novel's source material into some truly wild and fascinating places (including the Australian outback for the majority of Season 3).
If you never even took a crack at Season 1, the general gist is this: Three years after 3% of the world's population disappears, the residents of small town Mapleton, New York are still grieving for the friends and family they lost in the 'Departure'. It features historic performances from Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, Amy Brenneman, and Christopher Eccleston as some of Mapleton's most broken residents, but Carrie Coon is a revelation as Nora Durst, a government worker who lost more than most in the departure.
The famously ‘unadaptable’ graphic novel Watchmen was always going to be comfortable on the small screen. The politically-charged alternative history superhero epic is far too dense for a feature-length film. I’m personally a big Snyder apologist, and I think his effort to cram such a complex narrative into a cinema-sized serving should be celebrated. But there’s no doubt that it was always going to be better served as a TV series.
Still, Watchmen’s history with on-screen adaptations was enough fuel for a few nay-sayers to bet against the 2019 series before release. What we got, in the end, was not an adaptation of the same story, but rather a continuation, or sequel, set in a future that more closely resembled today’s political climate. And to sweeten the deal, it was brought to life by Leftovers’ alumni Regina King (in the lead role as Sister Night), and creator Damon Lindelof.
While it’s not required reading, knowing the original Watchmen story will help you understand some of the show's weirder elements. It won’t give you all the context you need, but you can catch the 2009 movie over on Netflix if you can’t find a copy of the book.
Only two seasons of Donald Glover’s comedy-drama series of Atlanta are currently released but seasons three and four are already in the works, with both set to release in 2021. If you’re arriving late to this FX series, Atlanta follows Glover’s Earn - a young university dropout trying to prove to his ex-girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz) that he can provide for her and their baby daughter, Lottie.
Earn reconnects with his cousin, Alfred, a rapper that goes by the name of Paper Boi, and quickly takes up the vacant position as the rising star’s manager. That’s the loose gist of it, anyway. Atlanta often detours into emotional, hilarious and absurd subplots, with occasional and unexplained departures from reality.
Atlanta’s Earn exists somewhere between Glover’s bubbly Troy Barnes, and his musical persona Childish Gambino. If you’re a fan of either of those, pay Atlanta a visit.
If DC’s TV show efforts haven’t interested you so far, you’re not alone. There’s something about the soap-opera sheen on CW’s superhero shows that just doesn’t gel with me. So I was wary when I first scouted Doom Patrol, DC’s original series for its own streaming service in America. But Doom Patrol is nothing like Arrow, or Flash. It’s a more mature comic-book adaptation with a cracking sense of humour, and its multi-pronged character arcs aren’t afraid to go to some dark places. It also has at least two of the most heartfelt scenes/episodes I’ve ever seen in a DC series or movie.
It’s not Doom Patrol’s more mature themes that make it such an exceptional adaptation, it’s the superhero slant on the “found family” trope and the tender handling of each characters’ struggle and redemption. Oh, and Brendan Fraser. Brendan Fraser also makes it worth watching.
Dramas about rich people problems aren’t typically my cup of tea, and there was nothing about Succession’s marketing that convinced me it wasn’t just another Billions. But what I didn’t realise until consuming both seasons over a single week was that Succession doesn’t actually glorify the wealthy elite, rather tears them apart limb from limb with whip-smart satire and a healthy serving of schadenfreude.
Brian Cox is perfectly cast as a Super Saiyan-level bastard, Logan Roy; the Roy family patriarch and co-founder of a fictional media giant Waystar Royco that is maybe definitely based on Murdoch’s media empire.
In my opinion, Succession is HBO's best replacement for Game of Thrones. It has all the familial conflict and back-stabbing, but it's much wittier.
Very few writers and directors get an automatic pass when they bugger about with complex science fiction topics but Alex Garland is a creator that warrants season tickets, even when the science feels flimsy (see: Sunshine). Garland’s track record of bringing fascinating sci-fi worlds to screen was topped with 2018’s Annihilation on Netflix (easily one of the best flicks on the service). So when Garland’s television debut on FX was first announced, we started counting down the days, and we weren’t disappointed with the results.
Devs takes place in a Google-ish tech campus run by a Mirror Universe Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) where a mystery project is taking place. When software engineer Lily Chan’s boyfriend Sergei ascends to DEVS godhood, the career opportunity seems like a dream come true. But Sergei doesn’t return from his first day on the job, and Lily’s quest for answers leads her down a rabbit hole as the true nature of DEVS reveals itself over the season.
Devs is a limited, single-season series, so there’s no further commitment past what’s currently available, making it the perfect weekend binge.
With no flesh-eating zombies, serial killers, or vampires involved, Chernobyl still manages to be the scariest TV show on this list. The fallout from the 1986 nuclear disaster in Pryp'yat' is portrayed so graphically, your first instinct is to assume there’s been some embellishment for the sake of drama - then you do your research and realise that it’s an almost entirely accurate retelling.
The impact of the accident can be hard to stomach at times, but the attempted cover-ups, sheer ignorance of the powers that be, and the buddy cop duo of Stellan Skarsgård and Jared Harris make for a compelling drama.
Game of Thrones
What’s there to say about Game of Thrones that hasn’t been said already. It’s the most popular and most expensive drama in history, and if you’re reading this list, you’ve probably already seen it. If the TV show’s divisive ending left a bad taste in your mouth, we’d recommend revisiting the show’s glory days (roughly seasons 1 to 4).
If the disappointment is too fresh, there’s more to see in the Game of Thrones Binge Centre, a home for every season, plus behind the scenes docos, cast interviews and more.
What We Do in the Shadows
When the U.S., adapts a British, or in this case, Kiwi comedy, the results are often disastrous. We had zero faith in the TV adaptation of Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows but the end product is an utter delight. Thankfully, it’s Jemaine Clement’s hand at the tiller, and the leading vampires; Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, and Matt Berry; are lovable substitutes to the original cast.
Unlike a lot of U.S. adaptations, What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t recycle the same jokes as the original, rather continues that joke with new and hilarious setups and punchlines.
If The Sopranos’ near-unanimous praise hasn’t been enough to get you tied up in Tony’s troubled and twisted family crime-drama, then it’s time to pull out the gabagool (capicola) , whipped cream, Neapolitan ice cream and buckle up for a Bada Binge.
Every season of the HBO classic is now streaming on Binge.
The Walking Dead
2010 - present, FX
Even though the ever-popular zombie apocalypse series has never been shy of killing off main characters, over the past few years, a large portion of the primary cast just up and left. But even after losing some of its most notable and interesting players, The Walking Dead just won’t die.
Now in its tenth season, The Walking Dead is still ambling along somewhere in Georgia, with a few OG survivors, and an army of faceless randoms ripe for the picking.
To be blunt, I dropped off a few seasons back when my favourite character met the business end of a baseball bat after a needlessly vague cliffhanger. But I’ll still go to bat for those earlier seasons, and the enduring popularity of the show years later speaks for itself.
If you’ve ever spent time in Stephen King’s fictional version of Maine, you’ve probably heard of the mysterious town Castle Rock. King’s Castle Rock is a town with inseparable ties to tragedy, a place where bad luck permeates the lives of everyone living in it.
The Castle Rock TV series isn’t based on any one Stephen King story, it's a menacing medley of King’s characters and themes, repurposed to tell a new story each season.
Season 1, for example, revolves around a cover-up at the Shawshank Correctional Facility, where a young man is discovered, locked up for most of his adult life. The reason for his unlawful incarceration drives the first season’s mystery, implicating some notable characters from King’s literary works, such as Alan Pangborn, a police officer from Needful Things and The Dark Half, and the niece of Jack Torrance from The Shining. But the connections don’t stop there, a lot of the casting has throwbacks to King adaptations too, such as IT’s Bill Skarsgård (minus the Pennywise makeup), and Carrie’s Sissy Spacek.
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