1. Unbelievable imdb Rating: 8.5/10 Netflix
Unbelievable is based on Pulitzer-winning article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” It is by far the best sexual assault series I have watched and one of the best original dramas in Netflix history. The first two episodes are eerily spot on, depicting in great detail how rape cases can be handled drastically differently and affect the lives of already traumatised survivors. It’s based on the true story of teenager Marie, who is raped in her own bedroom and then accused of lying about the incident. The show is painful, careful and gritty to watch, focusing on the effect the style of questioning can have on survivors. Get through the first episode like a Boss and I promise you will not regret it. Two great detectives Merritt Wever and Toni Collette are introduced, both women, who chase the rapist as he has since committed multiple offences. Kaitlyn Dever steals your heart as Marie.
There’s a tie for number one place.
1. When They See Us imdb Rating: 9/10 Netflix
Another exquisitely painful watch is When They See Us, based on the real story of Central Park Five. This Netflix path breaking four-episode mini-series by director Ava DuVernay is relentless in its pursuit of truth and justice. She shows us the circumstances that forced five Harlem teenagers of colou\r into confession, for a crime they did not commit in 1990 and their release in 2002. They admitted to violently raping and assaulting 28-year-old New York banker Trisha Meili on April 19, 1989. It lays bare the racist, corrupt, hateful system that enabled this to happen. The assault is spine-chilling and no way condones what happened. DuVernay skilfully depicts the trauma and cruelty inflicted on the boys. Not that it needs an award stamp, but the series won Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor (Jharrel Jerome) and Outstanding Casting in a Limited Series or a Movie. Plus, the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Series Long Form.
2. The Handmaid’s Tale (3 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.5/10 Hulu
‘Blessed be the truth.’ In The Handmaid’s Tale, Elizabeth Moss has emerged as my top favorite actress just for the way she plays her characters. She breathes fire into Offred, a fertile handmaid forced to have sex with Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and birth a child for him and his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski). Offred lives moment by moment, hoping to reunite with her daughter. Margaret Atwood’s dystopian world is perfect in its creation as well as execution with a fantastic supporting cast. Its similarity to the assault on women’s rights in the US is eerie.
3. Mindhunter (2 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.6/10 Netflix
You don’t want to miss the exploration of the mind of a serial killer in Mindhunter. Made with precision, intrigue and science, it follows two FBI guys Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff plays real-life John E. Douglas) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) who unite to form a behavioral science unit and study serial killers in the US, drawing from a unit set up in the 1970s and 80s by the FBI. Ford’s interest in psychology and interviews with these killers messes with his mind as he becomes obsessed with his interviewees. Show creator Joe Penhall and executive producer David Fincher borrow from their favourite Zodiac to create the unmistakeable world of Mindhunter which is detailed, with some great acting and surprises to keep you hooked.
4. House of Cards (6 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.9/10 Netflix
House of Cards was Netflix’s original winning horse, and it’s no wonder that it’s bingeworthy, with many twists and turns and Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) under its belt to keep you entertained. The show maps Frank’s journey to power from Speaker of the House to President of the United States. His wife Clare (Robin Wright) is close behind, wanting her share in it, until they betray each other. An impeccable supporting cast —Molly Parker, Michael Kelly, Reg E. Cathey, Constance Zimmer, and Corey Stoll — holds it together.
5. Narcos (3 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.9/10 Netflix
Crime fest Narcos tracks the rise and fall of Colombian honcho Pablo Escobar and the Medellín drug cartel. Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha ties together dramatized scenes and real news footage with Scarface and Goodfellas treatment to depict Escobar. It also shows the Colombian drug trade and how cocaine traveled from South America to the United States in the 1980s with Escobar’s help. It keeps its drama engaging and is an intriguing historical examination of the drug trade.
6. Stranger Things (3 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.8/10 Netflix
Set in the small town of Hawkins, Stranger Things transports you to the horror of the 80s with a vengeance and delivers a spell-binding sci-fi series in an ode to Steven Spielberg. Children rule this show. Strange things happen when 12-year-old Will Byers goes missing and his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder’s comeback turn) believes he has been taken by supernatural forces. A mystery girl Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) with superpowers helps Will’s friends find and rescue him. However, after his return, Will is not the same. The show gets creepier as more people get involved in the events. Definitely a must watch even if you are not a sci-fi fan for its ace production, spunky characters and grandiosity.
7. The Crown (3 seasons) 8.7/10 Netflix
Everyone’s watching The Crown so you should too. Who would want to miss out on royalty? Plus it’s excellent television – ensemble acting, stunning production value, and historical precision. The series tells the life story of Queen Elizabeth II across time with an intimate view. It starts with her 1947 marriage to Prince Philip of Edinburgh. Clair Foy plays her in the first two seasons and Olivia Coleman in the third. Creator, writer and producer Peter Morgan unfurls the royal family history slowly, but surely, creating a winner.
8. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.8/10 Prime
When Amy-Sherman Palladino is involved, one can be assured diamond standard levels of quality and some more. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a refined, wicked and delightful period drama about a housewife from the 1950s who ends up doing stand-up comedy when her marriage unexpectedly breaks up. It’s funny, witty, and heartwarming. Rachel Brosnahan plays Jewish housewife Midge Maisel whose disappointment leads her to a career in the comedy world. Go for it!
9. Fleabag (2 seasons) imdb Rating: 8.5/10 Prime
Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays Fleabag in the title role, as a woman who tries to go about her modern life in London even as she also holds on to grief and some secrets. She has a bossy sister, creepy brother-in-law, imposing stepmother and an estranged dad to tackle. Uniquely shot, it’s deeply intimate, hilarious, sexy, yet it embraces its characters’ flaws beautifully. It’s the most creative, distinguished, original piece of work and comedy by Waller-Bridge. Phoebe secretly converses with the camera in Season 1. In Season 2, Andrew Scott, the sexy priest, is on to both her and her secret. Do not miss this.
10. The Boys (1 season) imdb Rating: 8.8/10 Prime
Don’t get put off by the title The Boys thinking there are no girls. This superhero show is serious business and not a copy of anything really. It challenges the notion of superhero by deconstructing all the super-powered heroes and villains down to their motivations, intent and challenges. The series follows a group of vigilantes who have decided to police the super-powered heroes alone, and are abusing their abilities and taking advantage of the trust the public has placed in them. Corporate greed and the media follow them close. A memorable and unique perspective on superheroes. An average guy Hughie holds the baton as he learns to stand up and fight. A bit gory, but trust me, there is payoff. Stick on.
Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women and social equity.
This article was edited by Culture and Media Editor Geetika Pathania Jain.