The best binge-worthy TV shows to stream that you might have missed
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So you’re stuck indoors, but you’ve watched The Sopranos end-to-end twice over and know the entire shooting script of Breaking Bad by heart. Perhaps it’s time to dig a little deeper, because there’s gold in them there hills.
Here are some of the best shows streaming right now that you might not have encountered. You lucky folk.
Brotherhood (Now TV)
Arriving at around the same time as The Wire, this engrossing – and underrated – family saga deftly weaves together converging strands of crime, corruption and politics in the city of Providence, Rhode Island. Centring on the Caffee brothers, Jason Isaac's career gangster Michael returns to town following an enforced seven-year exile, during which his brother Tommy (the breakthrough role for Australian actor Jason Clarke) has risen through the ranks of local politics. Brooding and quietly excellent.
F**k, That's Delicious (Now TV)
New York rapper and former chef Action Bronson's zest and passion for culinary excellence is just a joy to behold, and eminently binge-worthy (providing you're cool with the kind of robust language one might expect from someone so entrenched in the rap business). Action, with pals Alchemist and Big Body Bes, trot the globe in much the same way that the late Anthony Bourdain did, from Morocco to Alaska, Paris to Perth, sampling local delights and performing a few shows along the way.
The Deuce (Now TV)
In the clamour of content coming from all corners of the TV business, The Deuce, created by novelist George Pelecanos and The Wire co-creator David Simon, felt like it got a little lost in the noise, passed over for awards and ignored by audiences. This is a gross injustice.
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Set during the 'golden age of porn' in 70s New York, The Deuce tells a transformative story of the Martino twins, a bartender and a mob-associated gambler (both played by James Franco) and the savvy Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal, a sex worker who seizes the opportunity to change her life.
Though it's likely someone's insisted you watch 'that cheerleading show on Netflix', maybe now is the time if you've yet to take the plunge. It follows the Navarro College cheerleading team, and their formidable coach Monica Aldama, as they prepare for the national finals in Daytona, Florida. It's a rocky road, but these bewilderingly athletic kids put it all on the line with their heart-stoppingly risky routines, working through blood, sweat, torn muscles and tears. Lots of tears. It's engrossing, poignant and exhilarating work from documentary maker Greg Whiteley.
I Think You Should Leave (Netflix)
With its short, 15-minute bursts of demented hilarity, ex-SNL alumnus Tim Robinson's rapid-fire sketch show is a masterclass in bad taste brilliance and entirely made for bingeing. Robinson himself is a queasy on-screen presence, taking each and every squirm-worthy gag way too far. And then further still. An impressive guest line-up includes Vanessa Beyer, Will Forte, Cecily Strong, Tim Heidecker and Andy Samberg, and might hint at whether this is one for you.
This is exceptional euro-noir sci-fi, which centres on children disappearing from a small town in Germany, and a mystery which flows through the generations. It’s best to go into this as completely blind as possible, because once you’re locked in, this stylish take on a high concept is whiplash twists and turns, but all executed with style and verve. Dark brings Stranger Things’ many shortcomings to the fore. This is how to do it, basically.
Joe Pera Talks With You (All 4)
Beautifully-paced, soothingly funny and quite unique, there's a wondrous, almost dreamlike quality to US comedian Joe Pera's meandering show, in which he plays the universally liked 'soft-handed choir teacher' from Marquette, Michigan.
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A fan of sweaters and breakfast foods, Joe is an old soul who talks his audience through all kinds of disparate subjects, from geology to the joy of finding your new favourite song. Where poignant comedy meets ASMR.
Check It Out, with Dr Steve Brule (All 4)
John C. Reilly's range is seen in full bloom here, from his serious roles for directors like Paul Thomas Anderson to this, playing bewildered cable TV 'expert' Dr. Steve Brule (what he is a doctor of, or which body awarded him his qualifications remains a mystery). Originally conceived as a character for outsider sketch show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, here we see Dr. Steve embark on subjects like food, fear, friendship and family in his own inimitable style. It's persistently stupid and all the better for it.
The Americans (Amazon Prime Video)
Former CIA officer Joe Weisberg's substantial saga is another show which initially escaped a UK audience, but is now available in all its intricate glory on Prime Video. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, a seemingly normal all-American couple living in the suburbs of Washington DC during the Reagan era. They're actually 'rezidentura', embedded soviet KGB spies monitoring the changing political landscape at the tail end of the Cold War. All 75 engrossing episodes are now streaming.
Patriot (Amazon Prime Video)
More original espionage from Amazon with comedy-drama Patriot, which offers a considerably quirkier take on the genre. Michael Dorman's exhausted CIA officer John Tavner is tasked with stopping the Iranian nuclear programme by obtaining a boring middle management job for a Milwaukee piping firm. It's not as easy as it looks. On the side, he indulges his penchant for performing folk music and tussles with his dad (Lost's Terry O'Quinn), also a former espionage man.
Sneaky Pete (Amazon Prime Video)
Compulsive drama courtesy of House creator David Shore, Justified showrunner Graham Yost and some dude called Bryan Cranston, with Giovani Ribisi as recently released convict and con man Marius Josipović. Because he's being hunted by the brutal gangster he still owes money to, Marius assumes the identity of his former prison cellmate Pete Murphy. The web he weaves to keep up this increasingly dicey conceit makes this tense, edge-of-the-seat viewing that's all but impossible to turn away from.