- THE WINDSORS (comedy) (3 seasons) (16+) (2020)
The theme song and opening credits don’t give it away immediately but this show is utterly ridiculous. Let’s be honest – it’s damn funny, especially if you are not particularly fond of the royal clan. Royal fans will probably be offended by this satirical portrayal and call it disrespectful, no doubt. The acting is exaggerated and the storylines are ludicrous BUT it is still funny. There’s Prince Charles (played by Harry Enflield) who is so posh, he can barely speak properly, Camila (played by actress Haydn Gwynne wearing a wig) who can’t stop drinking, smoking and swearing (Camilla is a real villain), Prince William (played by Mama Mia’s Hugh Skinner) who speaks like he’s just eaten a really hot potato, Kate who used to be a gypsy, her sly maneater-sister Pippa (who is played by Morgana Robinson) and finally – Prince Harry (Richard Goulding) who can’t read or write. It’s all beyond ridiculous and far-fetched but if you have a good sense of humour, you will most definitely enjoy this one. Luckily her Majesty and Prince Phillip have been spared and do not feature. 3 Seasons are available with a limited amount of episodes (only 20 in total). The general feeling is that the show started losing steam in its 3rd (and probably last) season released earlier this year. The Windsors has a rating of 6.8/10 on IMDB
FastFact: Louise Ford, the actress who plays Kate, is in a relationship with Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean)
- OZARK (drama) (3 seasons) (16+) (2020)
Wow. It is dark, it is tense… It is rom-com favourite Jason Bateman like you’ve never seen him before. Jason plays the role of Marty, a financial survivor who finds himself on the wrong side of the Mexican Drug Cartel after a money laundering scheme went horribly wrong and has no option but to take his family and run. They move to the Ozarks to get away from trouble but instead, they actually just arrived in Trouble Central. Marty is in for a big surprise if he thinks he will live in peace. Trouble just came knocking. This award-winning show is known for its brilliant writing, outstanding acting and breathtaking cinematography. You can’t fault it. Bateman also works behind the scenes as director and executive producer. Three Seasons are currently available on Netflix with the 4th (and final season) expected late in 2021, possibly early 2022 due to the pandemic delaying filming. It’s a long wait, especially after the mindblowing end to Season 3. This is a must-see. Bateman is supported by a stellar cast and production team. Ozark is perhaps not for the kids or those who do not like a bit of nudity, money laundering and violence.
FastFact: The show hired graphic designer Fred Davis to create a white letter ‘O’, which is featured on a black background at the beginning of each episode. Within the quartered circle of the ‘O’ are four symbols which foreshadow the main plot points in that episode. Additionally, each of these hand-drawn symbolic images are formed to represent the remaining letters in “Ozark”. For example, for episode one, a kneeling man represents “Z”; a building represents “A”; a gun represents “R”; and a falling man represents “K”.
- KATH & KIM (comedy) (6 seasons including recaps) (13+) (2007)
Perms, durries and incredible Aussie slang. Oi! That’s how we’d sum up this show. Kath and her overgrown daughter live together in Fountain Lakes, Suburban Victoria. When Kath gets married again to a metrosexual butcher named Kel Knight, things get a little uncomfortable in the already packed house and her selfish daughter Kim has to deal with marriage problems of her own. It’s funny, but it’s a very different kind of humour that not everyone can appreciate. If you don’t like the Aussie accent, you’re going to want to skip this. It can be a bit irritating. It does however feature some cool catchphrases, such as Kath’s “Look at moy, look at moy, look at moy” which she often uses to resolve conflict. The show has been an instant hit with the Australian audience and even caught the attention of American producers who filmed their own version but failed miserably.
FastFacts: The actresses Jane Turner (Kath) and Gina Riley (Kim) are good friends in real life and came up with the concept for the show together.
Riley also sings the show’s theme song ‘The Joker’.
Apart from the 4 seasons, the Kath & Kim franchise also released a telemovie (Da Kath & Kim Code) and a feature film (Kath and Kimderella), both of which can also be found on Netflix.
- SCHITTS CREEK (comedy) (6 seasons) (13+) (2020)
A father and son’s idea for a TV comedy became an overnight hit. Eugene Levy (best known for his prominent eyebrows and roles in The American Pie movies) teams up with his actor-son Dan Levy in this hit Canadian comedy, also starring the talented Catherine O’Hara (Kevin’s mom in Home Alone and Delia in the classic film Beetlejuice). Here she plays the very eccentric former soap opera actress Moira Rose who has an accent and language of her own and loves to wear wigs (she has an entire wig wall in the motel).
The Rose-family were living it up in a mansion until Eugene Levy’s character (Johnny Rose) is the victim of fraud by his business manager. They lose it all. Everything. They only have each other now and move to a town called Schitts Creek, a town Johnny bought for his son’s 21st birthday as a joke. Here they stay in a rundown motel and have to get used to life without the money. The town has some rather colourful characters – the mayor, for example, is named Roland Schitt (say that out loud a few times…) and is played by Chris Elliott (you’ll most probably remember him as the creepy hand-man in Scary Movie 2)
Apart from all the funny situations, the show teaches us a lot of important life lessons, most importantly about acceptance, tolerance and that there’s nothing like family. The show wrapped earlier this year with its 6th season, so you can binge-watch it to your heart’s content. You’ll laugh and you’ll certainly cry. The show has been lauded for its portrayal of a world without racism and homophobia.
FastFacts: Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara play husband and wife in this show. In real life they’ve worked together a lot and even, at one stage and not for very long, dated.
- OUTERBANKS (adventure-drama) (1 season) (16+) (2020)
If adventure, a beautiful location and hot bods are your thing, this is it. This mystery teen drama centers around a group of teenagers who are frantically trying to find a treasure and main character John B (Chase Stokes) who is desperately searching for answers surrounding his dad’s sudden disappearance. Along the way they meet some dodgy characters and have a few run-ins with the law and a wealthy group who call themselves ‘The Kooks’. It’s fast-paced (only 10 episodes) and the beautiful scenery is the perfect backdrop for this adventure-drama. Only one season was released and we were promised that a second one is on its way, especially given how the 1st season ended. We want answers.
FastFacts: Chase Stokes plays John B, a minor, but in reality he was 27 years old at the time of filming. He almost got away with it.
A hurricane halted filming for several days as the cast and crew had to evacuate Charleston, South Carolina where it was filmed.
- DOWN TO EARTH WITH ZAC EFRON (travel / adventure/ educational) (1 season) (All) (2020)
If you think this is just another travel show, you’re wrong. We’re constantly reminded throughout this adventurous and educational show that the orange-faced teenager we got to know in High School Musical is long gone. Zac Efron takes us with him on a journey to foreign places and introduce us to unknown faces. Fascinating discoveries that grip the viewer and leaves one with a burning desire to travel and see our beautiful world. It’s a must-see and for the whole family. Efron evolved into a real man and proves it in this adventurous documentary. Only 1 season is available with 8 episodes that include visits to Iceland, Costa Rica, Peru, France and more exotic locations.
FastFact: The show’s health and wellness tips have been criticized by some as “irresponsible” and “misleading”.
- DEAD TO ME (comedy drama) (2 seasons) (16+) (2020)
Christina Applegate plays the lead role in this dark comedy-drama. Get ready for a real rollercoaster ride as Applegate (Jen) befriends Judy (played by Bloodline’s Linda Cardellini). A true friendship it would seem at first, but there’s more than meets the eye – a raging conscience. The show includes a few rather unexpected twists. The ending of Season 2 allows for a 3rd season but there’s a feeling that a 3rd season could also be unnecessary. Both actresses are 2020 Emmy Nominees and deservedly so. The show also features some lovely older songs on its soundtrack (Judy Garland, Peggy Lee…)
FastFacts: Lead actresses Christina and Linda had the freedom to improvise some of their lines and in some scenes their reactions were unscripted.
Applegate was in semi-retirement but the script caught her immediately and she signed up for the role of Jen, her first TV role in 7 years.
- QUEEN OF THE SOUTH (drama) (4 seasons) (16+) (2018)
Drugs, money, blood and powerful women. Queen of the South is a fast-paced Mexican drama with strong female leads. Teresa Mendoza has to fight for survival after her boyfriend was killed by drug lords who are now after her blood. She finds herself working for the evil Camila Vargas as a drug mule and works her way to the top. The show paints a morbid picture of the life of the Mexican drug cartel and can be a bit heavy at times with an impressive body count.
We would certainly not recommend that you watch this late at night. Best to skip this one if you’re not a fan of violence and lots and lots of drugs. If you enjoy shows like Breaking Bad and Ozark, this could be for you.
FastFact: The ominous soundtrack for this show was composed by legendary Italian composer Giorgio Moroder who worked extensively with Donna Summer in the 80’s (Hot Stuff was one of them), Bonnie Tyler, Irene Cara, David Bowie, Blondie and composed some memorable scores for films such as Midnight Express, Scarface and The Neverending Story. And that song by Berlin ‘Take my breath away’ – that was him too! A legend indeed.
- BETTER CALL SAUL (drama) (4 seasons) (16+) (2018)
The brilliant Breaking Bad series introduced us to the colourful character Saul Goodman, who plays Walter White’s lawyer. But how did Saul get to where he is today? This Breaking Bad prequel (meaning it is set in the years before Walter White’s arrival) explores the hard life of Saul Goodman (whose real name is actually Jimmy McGill) and his struggle to the top. The rise and fall of Saul Goodman would also be a very fitting name. It’s a must-see for all Breaking Bad fans with appearances by a lot of familiar faces, mostly the bad guys (that includes Mike Ehrmantraut and the cool and calm Gus Fring) but also a lot of new faces that never appeared in Breaking Bad. Currently its 6th and final season is in the making and will be released in 2021.
FastFacts: Producers at first wanted to make it a comedy, bringing a famous comedian onto the show each week where Saul would be tasked with fixing their problems. Good thing they didn’t go that route.
The theme song has some elements used in the theme song for Breaking Bad. This can be heard when listening to the full version of Better Call Saul’s theme song.
- TOAST OF LONDON (comedy) (3 seasons) (16+) (2015)
A struggling actor with the worst luck in London. Matt Berry plays the much-hated Steven Toast who finds himself in the strangest situations and mostly unemployed. The show is a different kind of humour, also not for everyone but filled with good catchphrases and even a few musical numbers. Poor Toast just can’t get a break- perhaps his appearance in the new laxative TV commercial could turn things around for him. The show features some colourful character names (such as Jemima Gina, Dinky Frinkbuster and Clem Fandango) and also some bizarre situations, such as a black woman who suffers botched surgery and now looks like Bruce Forsyth.
Berry is certainly a talented man – he not only plays the main role of Toast, but also composed the music, sings and also wrote it with Arthur Matthews (best known for his work on the legendary Irish comedy Father Ted). It’s good for a late night chuckle.
FastFacts: The theme song initially appears as an Elton-John inspired instrumental but later lyrics were added and the song was named ‘Take My Hand’. The song appears on Berry’s album ‘Witchazel’ released in 2009.
Berry also appeared in the Britcom ‘The IT Crowd’ (another gem available on Netflix).