Now the world is in lockdown due to the coronavirus, I have taken the time to assemble a list of binge-worthy TV series so that you can help pass the time indoors. As a sufferer of the chronic illness ME/CFS, I have had ample time to watch tons of TV on my rest days, and I can now share my favourites with you with a brief description to help you choose what to watch first. Without further ado, here they are:
Les Revenants (The Returned)
When the town’s dead start returning to their homes unaware of what has happened to them, they try to resume their normal lives with their perplexed and disturbed families. But strange phenomena start to occur, and secrets that were supposed to die with them are dug up. This series is an intriguing mixture of horror, mystery and drama. The constant puzzles will keep you hooked and you’ll want to keep clicking next at the end of every episode.
The Haunting of Hill House
This chilling but emotional horror follows the lives of the siblings who grew up in Hill House and experienced supernatural occurrences that resulted in a tragedy. In their adult lives, another tragedy strikes, and they are forced to reunite as increasingly creepy things start to happen. Watch out for The Bent Neck Lady.
This teen slasher series is incredibly cliche but a hell of a lot of fun. Emma Duval and her friends are stalked and targeted by a masked killer who seems to know a lot about Emma’s past and that of her family who are linked to the town’s brutal and violent history. Who is the killer behind the mask?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy Summers is the Slayer, chosen by fate to battle the evil forces of the world. It’s very nineties, and it can be cheesy, but if you’re thinking that it is for children, you’re dead wrong. It has some incredibly dark, adult situations that go over your head when you’re watching it as a kid. There are so many poignant moments and mature underlying themes, and beneath it all is it’s incredible feminist message of equality. Oh, and there’s plenty of eye candy along the way. Just bear with it through the first seasons where the special effects aren’t all that special.
The Walking Dead
We all know the Walking Dead by now, but surprisingly, there are still those who haven’t seen it. The first four or five seasons are fantastic, with incredible character development and lots of original content. It does go downhill from there, but I’m on the most recent series 10 and I still find it entertaining, although my emotional investment decreases with each season. That being said, I’d still recommend watching a few series, just because of how incredibly awesome they are.
This series takes characters, settings, and themes from Stephen King’s fictional town of Castle Rock and weaves an eerie mystery which contains nods to many of King’s work including The Shawshank Redemption, Pet Cemetary, and The Green Mile. A mostly mute, strange young man is found in a cage in a prison septic tank after the suicide of the prison’s warden. He asks specifically for Henry Deaver, a black lawyer who grew up in the racist town that is Castle Rock. Who is the man from the cage? Why was he down there? How does he know Henry Deaver? And why are bad things happening in the town now he has been let out?
This series comes under horror, but although it is creepy in places, it’s more of a fun, light-hearted ride that verges on fantasy – for the most part. There are some dark moments and this series certainly isn’t for children, but the comedy is a central theme. The earlier series are definitely better, with the brothers investigating different monster sightings each episode, and with an underlying narrative arc that ties each series together. In later series, they scrap the new-mini-story-each-episode approach and just focus on bigger plots that last the entire season, but this can become a bit samey the more you watch. However, watch the first few episodes and see how long you get hooked for!
True Blood is a graphic, violent, blood bath of a vampire series. It revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress living in a fictional rural town in Louisiana, who meets and falls in love with a vampire called Bill Compton. It is set in a time not long after the invention of synthetic blood (“Tru Blood”), meaning that vampires can come out of the shadows and choose not to murder people in order to survive. Some vampires struggle for equal rights to live amongst humans, whilst others believe that cohabitation is impossible. The same division exists within the human population. Don’t be put off by the seemingly tame description: this series is twisted, bloodthirsty, and at the same time, sexy as hell.
In the future, humanity has colonised the Solar System. there are those who live on Earth, those who live on Mars, and those who live on the Belt. Based on the novels by James S. A. Corey, this sci-fi series focuses on a detective and a rogue ship’s captain (and his crew), who come together to investigate the case of a missing young woman, and find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy.
Based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller/Legion, this series centres around a mutant who is diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child. Legion is like a hallucinogenic trip, and is very different from any Marvel adaptation you may have seen. Aubrey Plaza also takes on a fantastic and disconcerting role, although I’m pretty sure that the characters she plays are just slightly tweaked versions of herself. Legion is strangely unique, and uniquely strange; it’s twist and turns original, and it’s characters as engaging as they are bizarre. If you want something different, Legion is the thing to watch.
In a secret facility called the Dollhouse, “actives” are having their personalities and memories erased over and over again, where each time they are given different personas for use by the wealthy and powerful. But one of the “actives”, Echo, is starting to remember…
Westworld has a similar concept to Dollhouse, but the stories take very different paths and are in very different settings. Westworld is a futuristic park designed for the rich and powerful to indulge in fantasies of excitement, heroism, and of course, violence. At the mercy of the guests of the park are the hosts: robots who take on different characters within the park. Each time a host is killed, either by a guest or a fellow host following their character plot, their memories are wiped and they are put back into the park to play out their lives in repetitive loops created by the makers of the park. But some of the hosts are starting to remember, and their presumed lack of sentience is called into question.
Eight strangers from various countries around the world find themselves connected through a shared vision, and then through the ability to communicate with each other and act through each other. However, as they pursue answers, a mysterious organisation hunts them down. Beautifully shot with diverse characters, personal storylines, and important issues that deserve addressing, Sense8 is intense, captivating, thrilling, and above all, human.
Black mirror is a dark drama series centred about technology and how it affects and manipulates human behaviour. Each episode focuses on different characters in different versions of our world, with futuristic technology as the connecting theme. Each episode raises important questions about the advancements of technology and what those advancements might mean for us as a species, as well as leaving us with some extremely haunting images and ideas.
After witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks just like her, Sarah assumes her identity. As she delves into the woman’s life, Sarah discovers a conspiracy that alters her life completely.
When two children go missing in a small German town, the secrets and lives of the residents start to unravel. As strange and inexplicable things start to happen, the links between the past, present, and future start to overlap and intertwine, in this gripping sci-fi drama.
When one of the gang of four 12-year-old boys goes missing, and a strange young girl shows up in town, the missing boy’s mother searches desperately as his friends unearth the existence of terrifying supernatural forces, secret government experiments, and an alternate reality. Set in 1983, this series contains a retro electronic music score, brilliant acting, and some serious mysteries.
War of the Worlds
Just released, this series is a retelling of the classic War of the Worlds sci-fi story. Set in the current day, this series follows the journeys of multiple characters, a couple of which appear to be connected to the alien creatures in some way. Secrets are revealed, lies are told, and bonds are formed. And all the while, something is hunting them.
A young woman turns up and reveals a secret to an apparently happily married man, which turns his life upside down. Soon, his wife is missing, and his search for her reveals other secrets of those around him. And he’s not the only one to have had a visit from the young woman…
A man convicted of murder in Afghanistan has his conviction overturned due to issues with the video evidence that was used at his trial to obtain the guilty verdict. But he soon finds himself the suspect of another crime, also due to video footage. At the same time, a detective is keen to get to the bottom of the crime, only to realise that some things are not as they appear to be.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Not for the faint-hearted, this bleak futuristic series shows us a US society that has become a nightmarish reality for women – especially fertile women – who are enslaved and used to create children for couples who are infertile. Our heroine June – one of many female heroines in this thriller – fights for her survival, and for the survival of women like her. At times the tension can be unbearable, and each episode will have you at the end of your seat, gripping the arm rest.
After a young boy is murdered in a coastal town, two detectives unravel the mysteries and the secrets of the residents in order to find the killer.
When homicide detective William Wisting finds himself on one of the most challenging cases of his career, his path crosses and conflicts with his crime-writing daughter as they both investigate a murder.
My ultimate favourite series of all time, The Killing combines exceptional character development and a superb plot line (especially the first two seasons) to create one of the best (or in my opinion, the best) crime dramas ever created. This American series (there is also a Swedish version) keeps you on your toes with its clever twists and turns and makes you fall in love with it’s deeply flawed but redeemable characters. When a teenage girl is murdered, the family tries to keep it together, a political campaign comes under scrutiny, and two detectives work night and day to discover who the killer is.
Top of the Lake
Top of the Lake stars Elizabeth Moss as a detective who investigates the case of a missing 12-year-old in her hometown as traumas from her past are revisited.
A former detective returns to work when an 11-year-old case of a serial killer is reopened, as it appears they are active again. Meanwhile, she is experiencing blanks in her memory.
Unbelievable is an eight part mini-series, based on the true story of a serial rapist and his victims. The series focuses on a young victim who reports her rape and then recants her statement, and the two female detectives in another state who are intent on finding the truth and catching the rapist.
Big Little Lies
This series centres around five mothers whose lives are shattered by a murder in their seemingly idyllic town. As the mystery unfolds, relationships are tested and cracks start to appear. The first episodes centres on the murder without revealing the victim, and from thereon in shows the events leading up to it.
An oldie but a goodie (and by old I mean everyone has heard of Dexter). This series focuses on Dexter, who works as a forensic technician. The thing is, Dexter is a psychopath with homicidal tendencies. In order to keep these in check, he becomes a serial killer who kills serial killers.
Jessica Jones possesses super strength and a degree of invulnerability, but after tragedy, hangs up the costume and lives alone in a dingy apartment working as a private investigator. On the path to self destruction, Jones suffers from PTSD and isn’t interested in saving the world, until her past comes back to haunt her. Dark, violent, and with themes of abuse, this superhero story is not for kids.
Working with the evidence they have been given, CIA operative Carrie Mathison and her team are searching for an American prisoner who may have joined forces with Al-Qaeda. Marine Nicholas Brody, who has just been released from hostage after eight years becomes their top suspect.
The Night Manager
When the night manager of a hotel finds his lover dead under suspicious circumstances, he finds himself the key player in an undercover operation to infiltrate the inner circle of Richard Roper, a secret arms dealer and the person responsible for his lover’s murder.
Cillian Murphy stars as the ambitious and highly intelligent leader of a dangerous criminal gang living in Birmingham in 1919. Tommy Shelby, the head of the tight-knit family, suffers with PTSD after his time spent as a solider in World War One. Despite his struggles, he is both cunning and ruthless in his goal to get to the top.
A young mother commits a brutal murder in an inexplicable fit of rage with what appears to be no motive, and later, with no memory of the crime. Although there were many witnesses to the murder, one of the detectives working on the case feels that this isn’t just an open-and-shut case and dig deeper to unveil what is behind this seemingly senseless killing.
Line of Duty
DS Arnott finds himself transferred to the anti-corruption unit after he refuses to take part in a cover-up of the shooting of an innocent man by the police. Partnering up with D.C. Kate Flemming, the investigate corruption within the police force.
We all know this series, right? After discovering that he has cancer, Walter White gets into the meth business in order to pay off his medical bills. He partners with young Jesse Pinkman, and as he gets deeper into meth-making, he starts to find out who he truly is.
Dr Watson, a former army doctor, and an eccentric but extremely intelligent Sherlock Holmes who has a knack for solving crimes, find themselves sharing a flat together and team up to solve some unusual cases.
When a fire burns down a house in a small town whilst the family are trapped inside, the tragedy unveils dark secrets amongst the community.
This Is England ’86, ’88, and ’90
The sequels to the film This Is England, these series are dark, tense, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at once. The series focuses on the same characters from the film, only three years later, and then each series is set two years apart. The second two series have themes of trauma, so if this is triggering for you, don’t watch them.
Gabriel Byrne stars in this simple yet captivating series about a psychologist Paul Weston who gives therapy sessions in his home. The series almost completely focuses on the sessions between him and his patients, with some scenes showing the dynamics between him and his family, and the conflict that arises from his job.
On the Southeastern coast of France, Georgina and her husband Constantine live a life of luxury, power, and excess. When a yacht explodes and kills Constantine, Georgina sets out to find the truth of what happened to him. This is made more complex by the presence of his ex-wife and children.
In this gripping series, Jodie Comer stars as Villanelle, an extravagant, magnetic sociopathic assassin, and Sandra Oh stars as Eve Polastri, a secret operative. Tasked with finding Villanelle, the two become inexplicably connected, and Eve spirals into obsession.
Orange is the New Black
Piper is imprisoned for a crime she committed ten years ago. With a steady job and a fiance, she thought she had left that life behind, but it appears that deep inside, she’s still the same person who got mixed up in a lifestyle of crime. Prison doesn’t change her, it reveals who she truly is. With a colourful array and engaging characters, this series is both hilarious and devastating.
Alison, a waitress dealing with a deep and powerful grief, has an affair with married man, Noah, a successful teacher and aspiring novelist. The consequences of their affair threatens to destabilise their marriages, and the effects of their choices ripple outwards.
Dr Gemma Foster is convinced that her husband is having an extramarital affair. As she sets out to investigate, she finds out what lengths she will go to in order to find out the truth.
With only five episodes, this mini-series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose, a wealthy addict haunted by childhood trauma.
Pretty Little Liars
This series follows four teenage girls after the leader of their clique, Alison, goes missing. The gang falls apart, until a year later when they start to receive messages from someone called “A”, who threatens to reveal their secrets to the rest of the world, and they are brought back together again to try and figure out who it is. As their stalker becomes more and more menacing, they are forced to be a part of a dangerous game. Alright, this series is trash, but it’s GREAT trash, I promise.
When there’s a tough medical case, ingenious but incredibly hostile, unsociable, and rebellious Dr House is the one called upon to figure it out. With his team, they rush against time to save their patients.
After the head of the Bluth family is convicted of fraud, Michael must try to keep his absurd family together and maintain the peace between them. Accustomed to a certain lifestyle, Michael’s ridiculous family continue trying to live as they always have done.
Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope, a highly organised, motivated, and enthusiastic mid-level bureaucrat, tries to help local nurse Anne by converting the disused construction site outside her house into a community park. With her quirky but loyal colleagues, she tries to fight through red tape, difficult people in her field, and self-centred people living in the community. This American political satire sitcom is a laugh out loud kind of series, and each and every character is entirely lovable in their own way.
Socially awkward and anxious Otis has no experience with sex whatsoever, but knows substantially more about it than any of his peers due to his sex therapist mother. When his knowledge proves extremely useful, he teams up with intelligent but quirky bad girl Maeve to make an unofficial sex therapy clinic for his classmates, who pay them to fix their sexual problems.
The End of the F***ing World
James is convinced that he is a psychopath, has decided that he is going to kill someone, and he has a target in mind: Alyssa, an angsty peer who feels like she doesn’t fit in. Together, they go on an adventure to track down her estranged father, but events turn more and more violent as they progress on their quest.
A woman with a dry sense of humour and zero filter tries to navigate her life after a tragedy. Comic actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the star of the series, which is based on Waller-Bridge’s 2013 one-woman show of the same name.
Based on the book series, The Witcher explores the legend of Geralt of Rivea and princess Ciri, who are linked together by destiny. The show follows three main characters: the witcher Geralt, a powerful witch, Yennefer, and a princess with powers, Ciri. Different timelines are shown through these characters, until the timelines eventually merge.
This gothic fantasy horror series draws upon many characters from 19th-century British and Irish Gothic fiction, such as Dorian Gray, Abraham Van Helsing, Mina Harker, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, Count Dracula, and Henry Jekyll. Vanessa Ives recruits Wild West showman Ethan Chandler, and big game hunter Sir Malcolm to track down a killer. However, they soon realise that what they are up against is a non-human entity.
Game of Thrones
Not sure I even need to write a description for this series, but okay okay, I will. An adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels, Game of Thrones follows multiple storylines. Numerous noble families wage war and politically scheme in an effort to compete for the Iron Throne, whilst an ancient threat that no one believes truly exists rises in the North.
After a freak electrical storm hits their town, five juvenile offenders doing community service together find that they have supernatural powers.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
The world is divided into four nations — the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation and and the Air Nomads. There are benders who have the ability to control and manipulate the element from their nation, but it is only the Avatar who can wield all four elements. The ruthless Fire Nation wants to conquer the world but the only bender who has significant enough power to defeat them, the Avatar, has disappeared … until now. Katara and Sokka from the Water Tribe discover the Avatar preserved in ice and must help him on his journey to master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation.
The Legend of Korra
A sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, this series focuses on Korra, Aangs successor, who struggles to maintain balance in the world as she faces political and spiritual unrest in a world that is becoming more modern by the day.
This animation is most certainly not one for children. This dark fantasy anime series is an adaptation of Sui Ishida’s manga series. Tokyo Ghoul is set in an alternate reality, where creatures who look like human beings but have super powers and survive by eating human flesh live in amongst society without revealing what they really are. The story follows Ken Kaneki, a college student who barely survives a deadly encounter with Rize Kamishiro, his date who reveals herself as a ghoul. He is taken to the hospital in critical condition. After recovering, Kaneki discovers that he underwent a surgery that transformed him into a half-ghoul.
Love, Death, & Robots
This series tells a different short story in a different animation style each episode, and again, is not for children, as it is both violent and sexually explicit. World-class animators have come together to tell captivating and absorbing stories to life with their unique styles and covers multiple genres such as horror, comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi.
Another superhero series that isn’t for kids, Gotham focuses on the early life of detective James Gordon. When he is assigned to investigate the death of Thomas and Marth Wayne, he meets their son, Bruce Wayne. This series also focuses on the origin stories of Batman and many Batman villains.
The Boys is an American superhero web television series based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. It follows a team of vigilantes as they fight back against individuals with superpowers who abuse their abilities and are not the superheroes that they appear to be. Hughie Campbell joins the vigilantes after his girlfriend is killed by one of the superheros, and joins the gang in trying to expose the “superheroes” for what they really are.
Technically a sequel, this series takes place 34 years after the events of the comics. New characters and new plotlines create a new story within the Watchmen continuity, and the series focuses on events surrounding racist violence in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019. A white supremacist group takes up arms against the Tulsa Police Department, causing the police to conceal their identities with masks to prevent them from being targeted in their homes following the “White Night”. Angela Abar, a detective known as Sister Night, investigates the murder of her friend and superior, Judd Crawford, and discovers secrets regarding the situations around vigilantism.