Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel aired on Netflix in February 2021 and is directed by Joe Berlinger (Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes). The documentary series chronicles the mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel in 2013, whose final moments, which were caught on the hotel’s lift CCTV, ignited a media frenzy and mobilized a global community of internet sleuths eager to solve the case.
Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer aired on Netflix in February 2021 and follows the two detectives efforts to catch the relentlessly evil serial killer named The Night Stalke in 1985 LA.
Aired on Channel 4 in January 2021, It’s A Sin is a five-part series written and created by Russell T Davies. Set from 1981 to 1991, the series depicts the lives of a group of gay men and their friends – Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas), Colin (Callum Scott Howells), Jill (Lydia West), and Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) – who lived during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the UK.
Written by Daragh Carville, The Bay first aired on ITV in 2019. The second season sees D.S. Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) of the West Lancashire Police Service who, now that her suspension is over, has been demoted. Now working under D.C Ahmed ‘Med’ Kharim (Taheen Modak), the team are investigating the shooting of a solicitor who is shot on his doorstep. To complicate Lisa’s life further, her ex-husband Andy (Joe Absolom) reappears.
The Ripper is a true-crime series directed by Jesse Vile and Ellena Wood that was released on Netflix in December 2020.
The four-part miniseries recounts the events and investigation surrounding the murders of 13 women that took place in West Yorkshire and Manchester between 1975 and 1980. It would eventually be determined that these incidents were inextricably linked by the man carrying out the killings- English serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe. Dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper by the press, journalists were taken with the similarities to the murders conducted by the notorious Jack the Ripper and used the name to spark interest in the public. This series follows the chronology of events and is told through interviews with investigators, journalists, survivors, and family members of victims.
For five years, between 1975 to 1980, the Yorkshire Ripper murders cast a dark shadow over the lives of women in the North of England. 13 women were dead and the police seemed incapable of catching the killer. No one felt safe – and every man was a suspect.
Based on Julia Quinn‘s novels and created by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton premiered on Netflix in December 2020. The series centres on the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she makes her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market. Hoping to follow in her parent’s footsteps and find a match sparked by true love, her prospects initially seem to be unrivalled. Enter the highly desirable Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), a committed bachelor and the catch of the season. Despite proclaiming that they want nothing the other has to offer, their attraction is undeniable.
Written by Nigel Williams and directed by Philip Martin, Catherine the Great premiered on Sky Atlanticin October 2019. The four-part series stars Helen Mirren as the titular Catherine the Great and depicts her reign from 1764, two years after taking power, until her death in 1796, and her affair with Russian military leader Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke) that helped shape the future of Russian politics.
Based on A Teacher by Hannah Fidell, this TV adaptation aired on BBC Two in January 2021. Set from 2013 to 2024, A Teacher focuses on Claire Wilson (Kate Mara), a high school English teacher who has an affair with a 17-year-old student, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson). The miniseries explores the complexities of the relationship and the consequences for both of them and those around them.
The Pembrokeshire Murders is a three-part miniseries that aired on ITV in January 2021. The series follows the true story of newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins (Luke Evans) as he investigates the Pembrokeshire murders by Welsh serial killer John Cooper (Keith Allen) in the 1980s. With advances in technology for Forensic DNA analysis, witness reports and artists impressions of the suspect, Wilkins decides to re-open two unsolved murder cases linked with a string of burglaries. When Dyfed-Powys Police review a 1989 episode of Bullseye, this ultimately leads them to finally catch the serial killer.
This is my TV watchlist for 2020. I haven’t included any competition shows or reality TV shows or competition shows, but I have included series from other years that I’ve watched to catch up with.
My Top 5 series Of 2020 are:
- Normal People
- 9-1-1 (Series Three)
- Sex Education (Series Two)
- The Haunting Of Bly Manor
- Gangs Of London
Here’s a list of the series that I watched in 2020:
You (Season Two)
Whilst I enjoyed the first season of You, I wasn’t particularly interested in a second season but I decided to give it a go anyway. The series certainly maintains the intensity and disturbing curiosity of the first, keeping you guessing throughout as to how things will inevitably unfold, but it also feels repeated in many ways and struggles to break away from the formula.
Sex Education (Season Two)
It’s nice to see the good in people, and that’s what I love so much about this series. There are very few shows that I watch where I like every single character involved, but that’s what’s so great about Sex Education. I love every single character, and that’s why I want to spend so much time with them, because their eagerness and happy spirits make me feel better about myself.
The last episode had me laughing and crying, and yet again wanting Ncuti Gatwa to be my best friend. I really look forward to another series of this one, and I may even have to rewatch all of this before then because I just can’t wait that long.
The Stranger (Season One)
A well-paced thriller, the tension vamps up with each episode. By around the fifth episode, you’ll want to binge-watch the rest all in one go. There are many twists and turns that will keep you engaged, and an ending that you won’t see coming (although I had guessed whodunnit in the final moments).
However, it is somewhat disappointing that there are two separate stories going on in an attempt to distract viewers from the mystery at hand, and some of the reasons given for certain characters’ behaviour don’t add up in the long run. There’s definitely a lot of loose ends which seem to be hinting at a second season, but the only thing I want to see more of are the performances from the two leads.
The Witcher (Season One)
When it comes to the fantasy genre, there are several ways that a TV series or film can go. You can either have your Game of Thrones-style sex, gore, and dragons, or you can have your monsters, witches, elves and orgies in the woods. This is definitely the latter.
Although I hoped for more horror-fuelled monsters and blood spill as the first scene promised, what you end up with is a group of fantasy-stereotyped characters with hard-to-pronounce names, set in a fictional medieval-inspired world that is run by large goat-looking creatures rather than nightmare-ish beasts. It definitely wasn’t what I expected it to be.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (Documentary)
When I saw people talking about a new Netflix true-crime series that was to do with a young person being abused, I thought I knew what to expect and prepared myself for its upsetting subject matter. But this hit a lot harder than I thought it would.
The story of Gabriel Fernandez is a heartbreaking one all on its own, but what’s more shocking is how it could have been prevented. And that’s what’s so shocking about this documentary: the bigger picture that Gabriel wasn’t just abused by two nasty excuses for human beings, but of how he was the let down by the system, time and time again.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Documentary)
Netflix must have known that a worldwide lockdown was on its way because Tiger King is a binge-worthy series of the highest order. Full of eccentric personalities including drug kingpins, conmen, and cult leaders, everybody in this series is full-on crazy and there’s so much going on that it’s hard to believe that you haven’t heard anything about these people before.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch this series when it was first released because I couldn’t imagine how the story of a wild animal owner could link to a murder-for-hire plot, but this documentary series is pure entertainment. It’s equal measures of intriguing and disturbing, making you laugh at the absolutely bonkers things that go on in the narrow-sighted world of these people, but also opening your eyes to the cruelty going on in these facilities as well as the minds of their owners.
The Innocence Files (Season One)
With series such as Making A Murderer, The Confession Tapes, and The Innocent Man being such a hit on Netflix, there was always going to be a call for more true-crime series, especially when it came to true stories about innocent people in prison. So, what a better concept than to give The Innocence Project some much-needed publicity?
The Innocence Files is a disturbing but also informative and hopeful series about real people who were sent to jail for years for something they had nothing to do with, with their convictions often being based on evidence that fell apart as soon as it came under The Innocence Project’s microscope.
Ozark (Season 1)
It’s a complex story but one that’s easy to follow, heavy on crime but it doesn’t weigh you down with talk of money-laundering or drugs. With rich characters and clever writing, the series is very character-driven and keeps you intrigued with plenty of plot twists and well-paced developments.
After Life (Season Two)
Gervais has been hugely praised for his writing of this series, but he also needs to be praised for his acting. Every tear his character shed, I felt the pain behind. However, the series also feels you with hope at the same time, delivering on every level.
The Last Dance (Documentary)
The most I know about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls is that Michael Jordan was in Space Jam. And that really is it. But consider me impressed. With a blend of archival footage and present-day interviews, the comprehensive documentary tells a fascinating story, and it tells it well. Giving a behind-the-scenes look into the careers of the Chicago Bulls’ renowned players, The Last Dance is entertaining but also brilliantly insightful, reminding viewers exactly why Michael Jordan is a legend.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Documentary)
The documentary may only relay the facts that are already out there, not necessarily adding anything new, but it’s a great starting point if you know little about Epstein. I had only seen what was on the news before watching this so I didn’t realise how horrific the details of this case were, and how much there is still left to uncover. It’s informative and eye-opening, but it also leaves you feeling enraged. The corruption involved is disgusting. If you didn’t realise how big this case is before, you’ll definitely understand the true scale of his crimes after watching this.
Thirteen Reasons Why (Season Four)
After the last season, I didn’t particularly look forward to another one but I knew that the characters needed to feel guilty for their actions. But while the start of this new series’ main purpose is to do just that, it neglects to resolve anything by the end, getting lost in its plot and forgetting its roots.
Instead, this fourth season is angry and filled with elements of horror. But who is it trying to scare? Guilt may manifester itself in different ways to different people, but for a series that is already quite heavy, it all feels a little unnecessary. If it were toned down a bit, some of it could have had the desired effect but it’s just not what we needed from the final season.
Snowpiercer (Season One)
A huge fan of the Bong Joon-ho film, I didn’t know whether to be excited about a new series that would divert people to a film that sadly missed out on a UK release, or annoyed that Joon-ho’s efforts might be overlooked for something more mainstream. But if it brings light to a truly underappreciated film, then I won’t complain.
The dystopian setting created in Le Transperceneige is what makes this such a great story worthy of adapting, rebooting and expanding on. The sci-fi premise is brilliantly crafted and explored in a unique and immersive way. Questioning class warfare, social injustice, and the politics of survival, it’s a well-developed series that is sure to entertain.
Unsolved Mysteries (Season One)
With an apparent suicide with no evidence of how a body reached its destination, a series of UFO sightings all in the same night, and a murdered family with the accused father still on the run without a trace, Unsolved Mysteries is another gripping binge-worthy series from Netflix. I like that it has a mix of cold cases and paranormal phenomena, balancing out the harrowing to feed our true-crime obsession with the absurd to add a hint of fun. But this is one that will leave you with more questions than answers.
The Crown (Season One)
A fantastic first series showing Elizabeth grow in confidence and takes charge. I especially loved seeing her relationship with Winston.
The Crown (Season Two)
I’m finding this series so interesting despite having no interest in the Royals. I loved the focus on Margaret, the look into Charles’ and Philip’s childhood at school, and the glimpse at the lives of JFK and Jackie.
The Social Dilemma (Documentary)
The Social Dilemma is a documentary that we all need to watch. There may be a lot that we already know about or make assumptions about, especially in regards to advertising and fake news, but it gets you thinking about your own usage of social media and I think it’s important that we all evaluate that.
American Murder: The Family Next Door (Documentary)
Piecing together home videos, social media posts, text message conversations and interrogation room video, American Murder: The Family Next Door is a real-life found-footage horror. The way it’s formatted makes it a gripping watch. With only firsthand footage, the story is told exactly how it happened, without opinions or other points of view that may be unreliable or bias.
Criminal: UK (Season One)
An impressive collection of stories that are told through a unique approach to police drama, looking at crimes from an angle that you wouldn’t normally expect to think about them from. It impresses, it shocks, and it constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat as you play detective along with the investigation team to decide innocent or guilty.
Criminal: UK (Season Two)
After loving the first series of this, I couldn’t wait to get straight into the next. And I actually enjoyed this even more than the first. The cases are even more interesting as you play detective along with the investigation team to decide innocent or guilty, and it certainly keeps you battling with the decision.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor
Another hauntingly creepy, brilliantly developed and emotionally impacting series from the team behind The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting Of Bly Manor is an exceptional ghost story full of standout performances and characters and twisted narrative.
Of course it isn’t as impressive as Hill House because that’s a series that we weren’t expecting to terrify us so much but also draw is in so emotionally. But while Bly Manor doesn’t have the big scares, it’s much more subtle in its emotional complexity and still manages to have a lasting effect.
Ratched (Season One)
With a beautiful colour palette and a legendary cast, Ratched isn’t the gruesome, twisted horror-edged drama that I was expecting it to be, but it gives an interesting insight into what happened in mental facilities in these times.
With Ryan Murphy developing the series and Sarah Paulson in the lead, there is obviously a feeling of American Horror Story to it, especially with the mental asylum setting and murderous characters. It wasn’t quite as sinister as I thought it was going to be, though, but there are certainly some nice surprises along the way.
The Act (Miniseries)
Patricia Arquette and Joey King give phenomenal performances as the mother and daughter, really getting into the heads of their characters to make the audience both sympathise and despise them at different times, emphasising the conflict of their motives with their actions.
With Chloë Sevigny and Calum Worthy also giving great support, they all help to tell this almost-unbelievable story brilliantly. King, especially, completely embraces the role of the high-pitched, physically and mentally tormented young Gypsy, showing the two very different sides to her personality – the fragile girl who has unknowingly been abused her whole life, and the suddenly more independent teenager who uses her newfound confidence to takes things into her own hands.
Little Fires Everywhere (Miniseries)
With exceptional performances, perfect casting, and high-quality cinematography throughout, Little Fires Everywhere is a remarkable adaptation of a book that gets your mind ticking away. Although it differs slightly from the book, it is a superbly written story that brilliantly expands on the book’s primary themes of motherhood and identity, exploring a handful of significant issues from various perspectives through its excellently crafted but largely contrasting characters.
Reading the book, I could see why Witherspoon connected to the character of Elena. Witherspoon is such a self-aware actress that it’s no wonder she could see herself playing the role. There’s a lot to aspire about a woman like Elena. But while she has good intentions, she’s blind-sighted by her ignorance which is what makes her very unlikeable at the same time. She’s planned her whole life to ensure that she can give her children the best of everything, but she’s also neglected to put them first to be able to do this.
The Outsider (Season One)
With a paranormal twist, The Outsider won’t be for everybody, but the quality of its look and feel may just be enough to entice any sceptic. The creepy ambience builds up a great tension and, although the final episode is somewhat anti-climactic, I’d definitely be up for another series of this, as the mid-credit scene seems to hint at.
Ballers (Season Five)
Ballers was a series that I didn’t expect to enjoy, but ended up loving. A lot of that is to do with Dwayne Johnson’s and Rob Corddry’s fantastic comedic chemistry, but there’s also a great supporting cast which has helped to kick off the acting career of the brilliant John David Washington.
But what I loved about the first three seasons has become lost in these final two, so I wasn’t surprised to find out that the series had been cancelled. This final season does attempt to retouch on some of the sporting topics that the first season opened up some important discussions about, but it’s definitely too little, too late.
The Jinx (Documentary)
The Jinx is the definition of a groundbreaking documentary in that it goes far beyond relaying facts. It exposes long-buried information, finds new evidence, and even unveils a potential confession, albeit one that was likely to not be admissible in court.
With the filmmakers having spent nearly 10 years researching Durst’s story, they knew the ins and outs of the case before Durst agreed to talk to them. Their meticulous research and investigative efforts not only got Durst, the prime suspect, to finally talk, but it helped to lead to his arrest, ultimately managing to do what law enforcement could not.
Beware The Slenderman (Documentary)
Too often I watch a documentary and instantly lose trust in the subjects and lack any compassion for them. And rightly so. They’ve committed a horrible crime, so I don’t expect to understand their point of view. So I thought that would be the same for this documentary. From the trailer alone, I couldn’t imagine that I would ever believe that two people killed because they genuinely believed in a Boogeyman. But this documentary is far more than just a horror story.
What this documentary does best of all is that it doesn’t exploit its young subjects. Instead, it offers a sensitive exploration into mental illness and opens up a debate about the impact of the internet on children. In no way do I sympathise with the two girls – they still attempted to kill somebody (who fortunately recovered after six days in the hospital) after all – but the documentary brilliantly highlights how young and naive minds can be manipulated by something much bigger than them.
Breeders (Season One)
Partially based on Freeman’s own experience as a parent, Breeders is a painfully honest and non-judgemental, although hugely dramatised, look at how parenthood is often very messy.
There’s a lot of dry British humour and it’s not something that everybody will relate to. It’s also very exaggerated as Freeman’s character, Paul, is the extreme of a “parent behaving badly”. He does come across as a little too aggressive at times, but most parents will be happy to admit that: “I would die for those kids. But often, I also want to kill them.”
Gangs of London (Season One)
Full of gripping performances, brilliantly choreographed graphic violence and even more sexual tension, Gangs of London is undoubtedly the best series of the year so far, and it will be hard for another to top the experience I’ve had with this immensely impressive crime drama.
I Know This Much Is True (Miniseries)
A truthful and raw drama with powerful performances, I Know This Much Is True is a hard-hitting story that excels in quality, but tells a grim story that has no lighter moments to give you chance to breathe.
I was intrigued by this series as it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance and I love his films. Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Light Between Oceans are all some of my favourites. They all have their darker moments, too, and Cianfrance certainly knows how to get the most of the talented actors he gets involved in his work, but I really felt the misery of I Know This Much Is True.
Little Birds (Season One)
The high saturated colours and soft shallow camera focus are stunning and the performances are strong, but I don’t completely understand the point of the story. It didn’t go anywhere, so I’m left feeling really underwhelmed.
An adaptation of Nin’s infamous collection of short stories, the erotism gets lost after a couple of episodes and instead focusses on the politics of that time. Instead of these characters finding themselves in a vibrant new world, I don’t feel that any of them got closure.
Brave New World (Season One)
I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if it’s a good adaptation or not, but there’s no doubt that it only skims the surface of Huxley’s complex ideas. Still, I think The New World is set up well and that the series showcases his imagined utopia brilliantly. I especially like the idea of freedom vs happiness and the series makes you think about what you would do. Would you keep taking the pill and live a luxury life in pretence? Or would you risk going rogue to hold onto your true emotions?
The Third Day (Miniseries)
The opening episode of The Third Day is an impressive example of folk-horror. The quality of this single episode alone is better than most TV I have watched this year. It grabbed my attention and chilled me to the bones, and there’s certainly a lot of intrigue that follows. But the atmosphere slowly died down after that, and what we’re left with felt a little confused.
9-1-1 (Season Three)
I randomly found this series when it first aired in 2018 and was instantly hooked. It has since become one of my favourite TV shows and I always look forward to what a new episode will bring. But with 28 episodes behind it, I wondered how they could keep up the excitement with a third series. Have they done it all? How will they top the events of the last season? The answer: a tsunami.
9-1-1: Lone Star (Season One)
As a huge fan of 9-1-1, I was more than happy to have something similar to fill the void. While this spin-off isn’t as fun and the characters aren’t as compelling as its origin show, Lone Star is still a thoroughly entertaining series with more interesting cases and engaging characters, which yet again explores a number of important and relevant topics in an engaging way.
Prodigal Son (Season One)
With grotesque murders, disturbing characters, malicious motives, and dark intrigue, it’s certainly a series that will keep you hooked. The cast are all brilliant. Payne leads the show with great energy and has an amazing support from those who play his colleagues and family. And of course, Michael Sheen is brilliant, as always, although I did want to see a lot more of him.
The Undoing (Season One)
Is this really the first time that Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant have starred in something together? I mean, they’ve certainly made it worth our wait, but I can’t believe that we haven’t seen these iconic actors working together before.
Maybe that’s why so many of us tuned in to watch the premiere of this show. Because with a cast list of this quality, it had to be worth the watch, right? Kidman and Grant certainly don’t disappoint, and with Édgar Ramírez, Donald Sutherland, and a fantastic performance from Noah Jupe, too, the performances are undoubtedly all on top form.
Death In Paradise (Season Nine)
It was sad to see Ardal O’Hanlon depart the series as he really got me into it, but Ralf Little certainly shows a lot of promise by adding a new personality.
The Pale Horse (Miniseries)
I always look forward to an Agatha Christie TV adaptation at Christmas, but I felt that this one was a little underwhelming. Sewell and Scodelario are good, but I wasn’t invested in the mystery.
Noughts + Crosses (Season One)
Following a premise which feels more and more apt in our increasingly backwards world, Noughts + Crosses is an original young adult [sort of] dystopia, exploring an alternative present-day in a way that we haven’t experienced before. As an example of speculative fiction with the reversal of skin colour, it’s a fresh, likeable and contemporary series to get excited about.
The Nest (Season One)
The Nest has had me gripped like no other series so far this year. Whilst you know that things aren’t going to go well from the beginning, the dark places that this series goes to are completely unexpected. The story not only shows a more sensitive yearning for a woman’s need to have a child of her own, but also the grittier, more conflicting sides to human nature of how money can make you feel untouchable, how secrets can eat away at you, and the desperate lengths that we go to for the ones we love.
Killing Eve (Season Three)
Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh give more great performances and their characters are still incredibly likeable, but this third season just wasn’t as exciting or daring. It was still enjoyable to watch and there are certainly some compelling moments, but I didn’t find myself looking forward to it as I once was. It definitely feels like it’s lost its spark now. Just like Villeneuve, I want out.
DEVS (Season One)
I really thought I was going to love this series. I’m a big fan of Alex Garland and this sci-fi heavy series has his vibrant, futuristic aesthetics but hauntingly dark atmosphere written all over it. Garland is undeniably a talented writer, known for his in-depth story-telling. But I couldn’t get into DEVS torturous slow pace or deadpan characters. Its philosophical story is definitely not easy viewing. Although the deeper questions of humanity and its place in the universe leave their mark, I just couldn’t enjoy the journey it took to get there.
Normal People (Miniseries)
Sometimes you find a story that really resonates with you, and for me, that was Normal People. I haven’t been so enticed by two characters in a long time, and I just can’t stop thinking about Marianne and Connell and their story. It’s incredibly moving in its intimate moments but also heart-wrenching in its authenticity. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal who are both absolutely phenomenal.
The Secrets She Keeps (Season One)
A gripping thriller with a compelling narrative, strong performances, serious drama and plenty of mystery, you will want to watch this engaging and psychological drama in one sitting. The central premise of two women being willing to do whatever it takes to conceal their truth is powerful and although both women behave wrongly, you can’t help but feel the power of the emotional drive behind their actions.
Harlots (Season One)
Harlots is a saucy and lavish period drama that brilliantly depicts the lives that many young girls had to live in the 18th century. Samantha Morton is absolutely fantastic. After watching her in The Walking Dead recently, it’s great to see her in something that I can like her character in, but her presence on screen is just as strong here. Jessica Brown Findlay is brilliant, too. I’ve always liked her as an actress but don’t often relate to her characters, but it’s so easy to enjoy her role in this.
Harlots (Season Two)
This second season is a brilliant follow up. I didn’t think they could make this any more dramatic but things are getting so interesting! With more murder, sex, rivalry, betrayals, and even a new brothel to contend with, every episode is full of excitement, curiosity and promiscuity, keeping you engaged on every level.
Harlots (Season Three)
The characters are still having a lot of fun with their roles, the costumes are just as glorious, the sharp dialogue continues to be rebellious, and there’s a huge twist that I definitely wasn’t expecting, either.
The Fall (Season One)
Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson both give phenomenal performances and I’m so intrigued to see where this series is going.
The Fall (Season Two)
Another chilling season that slowly builds up more tension as Stella and Paul’s worlds edge closer and closer. This second season didn’t quite grip me as much as the first season as it’s taking a while to get to where we want it to be, but it’s still fronted by two excellent performances that I can’t take my eyes off.
The Fall (Season Three)
This final series definitely didn’t go in the direction that I thought it was going to. The heat dies down without the chemistry between Stella and Paul being at the centre of the story, but it’s an interesting angle to take that adds quite a compelling edge. Still, the final moments are so impacting that you’ll not be left disappointed.
Life (Season One)
Life is a beautifully-written drama that perfectly captures the emotions of real life – the love, the heartache, the fallouts, the friendships, the betrayals, and the simple acts of kindness. We all have good and bad in us and we all make mistakes, and this series shows the emotional rollercoaster of what it is to be human.
White House Farm (Miniseries)
White House Farm is the definition of a binge-worthy series, ending every episode on a new twist that has you eagerly waiting for the story to continue. And that’s all down to the brilliant writing, performances, and direction, dramatising the horrifying true story exceptionally well.
Usually, I don’t like to binge-watch a TV series. I much prefer scheduling my week around them and having something to look forward to, rather than getting it all over with in one sitting. However, I didn’t want to wait a whole week to find out what would happen next with this series. The story was retold so well and sensitively that I would have stayed awake until the early hours to find out more.
Vera (Season Ten)
I was worried that after the last season, Vera was getting close to retirement. But she’s back with full force in this latest season, and Brenda Blethyn doesn’t appear to be giving up on the determined but often outspoken detective yet. Although on its tenth series, Vera still manages to impress, keeping its team of detectives likeable group with the occasional personal touch, and its investigations remain original and surprising. Brenda Blethyn never fails to entertain, and this will always be a series that I look forward to coming back every year.
Flesh And Blood (Miniseries)
Excellent performances from a great cast, especially Imelda Staunton, and a brilliant balance of engaging family drama and a curious mystery thriller.
Liar (Season Two)
There’s a lot to like about this second season, mostly because it is largely told in flashbacks and gives us some background into both Laura and Andrew’s pasts. I especially enjoyed learning about how Andrew turned into the creep we came to know him as with the introduction of Sam Spruell‘s Oliver, as we needed a reminder of why we wanted him dead with the huge gap in between series, so his story definitely refuels our hate for him. However, I just didn’t like Laura’s character in the end, and quickly grew tired of her whinging.
The Trouble With Maggie Cole (Season One)
An easy-going drama that was enjoyable enough for the hour I had spare every week to try a series I wouldn’t normally bother with. With a light thriller going on alongside the family drama, the series certainly takes a unique angle and successfully keeps you interested, although I wouldn’t say it grips you with any intensity. Dawn French and Mark Heap are both very likeable, though, and there are some great supporting characters, too, all with engaging relationships.
The story of Charles Ingram and the suspicious cough is a story that many of us will remember. And before watching this dramatisation of the event, I was convinced that he had cheated. This series might have just convinced me otherwise, though.
Quiz is a darkly funny and sharp retelling of an unbelievable but very British crime that has so much more to it than you would have initially thought. The faces of Charles and Diane Ingram are etched into our brains, as the series works as an investigation into how they could have got away with this crime, ultimately leaving it up to the viewers to decide if we think that they were capable of getting away with it or not.
The Salisbury Poisonings (Miniseries)
With excellent writing, the series shows a side to the true story that most of us didn’t know much about. We might have seen the odd news story, but there was definitely a lot more going on than what was reported. It’s hard to believe that all of this happened, but it’s great to see the amazing work that was done by all involved.
It doesn’t exactly instil any fear for what would have been a very fearful time for the people of Salisbury, but it does show the personal effect on those involved, having a genuine human touch to the stories that massively affected the lives of many families.
Little Boy Blue (Miniseries)
Another harrowing retelling of a sensitive story. The superb cast tells the heartbreaking story brilliantly, really drawing you into the lives of Rhys’s parents whose lives were changed in the worst possible way. The series is fast-paced but it’s still compelling in its drama. Sinead Keenan and Stephen Graham both give captivating performances, and it’s a story that we should all know the full story about.
Broadchurch (Season One)
I finished watching this series last night after ITV re-aired the series from the very beginning, and I’m still not over that final episode. Even seconds before the reveal, I was saying “No, it won’t be them. It can’t be them.” And then the truth hits you, and it hits you hard.
A raw and heartbreaking murder mystery filled with intrigue, brilliant character development as you get to know every individual character as they all come under question, and excellent writing, Broadchurch is a fully immersive drama that will grip you from the very first episode.
Broadchurch (Season Two)
This was a great follow-up season that follows the case that Hardy mentioned in season one, while also focusing on Miller putting herself back together after the shocking revelations that left us so gripped. Despite tragedy in both of their lives, Tennant and Colman maintain a brilliant chemistry in another investing crime story.
Broadchurch (Season Three)
This was another hard-hitting story that was yet again brilliantly handled. With plenty of great performances and a number of quality additions to the cast, I especially loved how Beth used her experiences to help others.
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies (Miniseries)
Part of ITV’s true-crime series, I’ve seen this series advertised for years, but I didn’t know what the story was about. Not thinking too much into the title, I always assumed that Christopher Jefferies was a serial killer and that the series was an exploration of his crimes, just from Watkin’s appearance alone.
But that’s not the case at all. The series, instead, faces the problem that my prejudices are a part of. Jefferies was vilified by the press because of his eccentric appearance, which led to many turning their backs on him despite his high-class reputation beforehand.
Appropriate Adult (Miniseries)
Another interesting true-crime drama from ITV, seeing the story of Fred and Rose West from an unusual point of view, but one that adds so much insight. I didn’t know about Janet Leach before watching this series, but it’s obvious that she played a pivotal role in encouraging Fred West to give details of his crimes, so for that, she undoubtedly deserves her own TV series.
David Tennant gives a chilling but utterly phenomenal performance as the real-life serial killer in this gripping true-crime drama. He paints an excellent portrait of the titular character, from his attitude to his mannerisms, which is supported by a confident script that captures the fascinating truth behind the experiences of those involved in the case.
The Sister (Series 1)
An intriguing new thriller with a paranormal twist, The Sister may have lost your interest if it were a longer series spread out in weekly episodes, but as a four-part series that was shown throughout a week, the quick pace and decent performances were enough to keep you watching.
Deadwater Fell (Miniseries)
With a hard-hitting and devastating first episode, Deadwater Fell is a combination of a mystery thriller with a compelling drama. Full of suspicion and speculation, the series is led by a host of talented actors and asks us to question if things are as simple as they seem.
Whilst there’s only really one suspect from the beginning, we begin watching the series by thinking that it can’t be that obvious. And as Tom’s family life slowly starts to unravel and we begin to see the cracks, more suspects begin to be questioned.
The Walking Dead (Season Ten Part Two)
Review to come.
The Deceived (Season One)
It’s not often that Channel 5 make a series that appeals me, but I like Emmett J Scanlan so I was instantly intrigued. And he’s so good. He’s sexy, mysterious, and very threatening at the same time. Emily Reid is brilliant, too. She plays her character’s vulnerabilities well, confusing audiences as to whether she’s really ill or being manipulated.
You can read my full review here.
Cursed Films (Season One)
From the controversy surrounding The Exorcist, a series of unfortunate events that plagued the cast and crew during the making of The Omen, a series of untimely deaths connected to the making of the Poltergeist films, the death of Brandon Lee due to an on-set accident during the making of The Crow, to a horrific on-set accident during the production of Twilight Zone: The Movie, these are all probably things you have made a swift internet search on after viewing the films.
The Exorcist, The Omen, and Poltergeist, especially, are legendary for their spooky tales, which have almost become folklore because of how their historic stories have spread online. But these films were made before the days of social media, memes, and constant “fake news”, when rumours of a haunted set and an evil curse would have much more easily spread fear. Now that everything is on the internet for all to see forever, sometimes the curse of a film is about something more real than ghosts and witches.
The Mandalorian (Season One)
If you’re a Star Wars fan, The Mandalorian is a great spin-off to an immensely entertaining saga. It’s not as much of an epic adventure as the films are, but it’s an action-packed space-western that builds on the universe well.
Telling the story of its titular character and his mission, it’s an interesting chapter that draws you into the world of Star Wars even more. With a similar tone to the original films, it feels like a fresh but welcomed throwback rather than an over-hyped reboot.
Kings of Pain (Season One)
I don’t particularly like watching people in pain, but what animals are involved, there’s something very intriguing about how much their bites or stings hurt. Apparently all in the name of science and “to help save lives”, a wildlife biologist and professional animal handler get bit and stung by some of the most dangerous animals and insects in the world to create a complete and comprehensive pain index. It’s intense throughout and stomach-churning at times, but I couldn’t take my eyes off. I really hope there’s another season of this because these guys have definitely caught my attention.
Created and written by Allan Cubitt, The Fall originally aired from 2013-2016 on BBC and follows Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), who is brought in to assess the progress of a murder investigation that has remained active for longer than 28 days. When it becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose, local detectives must work with Stella to find and capture Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), who is attacking young professional women in the city of Belfast.
Originally premiered on ITV Encore in July 2018, Harlots was recently picked up by BBC, with the three series airing from August-November 2020. Written, directed and produced by an all-female team, the series is created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman and based on The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold. The 18th-century drama is set in London and follows brothel owner Charlotte Wells (Jessica Brown Findlay) as she fights back against the new pimps in town, Isaac (Alfie Allen) and Hal (Ash Hunter), Lucy Wells (Eloise Smyth) as she joins forces with the new owners of the town’s molly-house, Elizabeth Harvey (Angela Griffin) and her son Fredo (Aidan Cheng), while Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) continues to suffer the abandonment of her family and the experimental treatments of her doctors as she befriends the young Kate (Daisy Head).
Aired on Sky Atlantic in October 2020, The Undoing is written by David E. Kelley and directed by Susanne Bier. Based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, the series follows a wealthy New York couple, therapist Grace (Nicole Kidman) and doctor Jonathan (Hugh Grant), whose lives turn upside down when their family gets involved in a murder case.
A spin-off to 9-1-1, the Sky Witness series 9-1-1: Lone Star, created for Fox by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Tim Minear, aired in the UK in September 2020. Focusing on a set of fire, police, and ambulance departments located in Austin, Texas, the series follows a team – Owen (Rob Lowe), Michelle (Liv Tyler), TK (Ronen Rubinstein, Grace (Sierra McClain), Judd (Jim Parrack), Marjan (Natacha Karam), Paul (Brian Michael Smith), Carlos (Rafael L. Silva), and Mateo (Julian Works) – as they work to save people’s lives while trying to solve their own personal problems.
Created by Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver, Prodigal Son aired on Sky One in August 2020 and centers on FBI profiler Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne). Now a consultant for the New York Police Department, Malcolm is forced to confront his father, the infamous serial killer Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen), known as “The Surgeon”, after a copycat serial killer uses Whitly’s methods of killing. As a child, Malcolm was responsible for enabling the police to arrest his father, and has not seen his father in ten years. Now, he finds himself drawn back into constant contact with his father as he must both use Whitly’s insights to help the police solve particularly horrible crimes and battle his own inner demons.
Directed by Niall MacCormick and adapted by Neil Cross from his own novel, Burial, The Sister is a four-part series that aired on ITV in October 2020. It follows the character of Nathan (Russell Tovey) when, almost a decade into his new devoted married life, is rocked to the core when an unwelcome face from the past, Bob (Bertie Carvel), turns up on his doorstep with shocking news.
Created by Ryan Murphy and Evan Romansky, Ratched serves as a prequel to Ken Kesey‘s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, following the titular character, Nurse Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson). Airing on Netflix in September 2020, the series begins in 1947 when Mildred arrives in Northern California to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital, where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. On a clandestine mission, Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smouldering within.
Based on the classic novel of the same name by Aldous Huxley and aired on Sky One in October 2020, Brave New World is set in a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family and history itself. As citizens of New London, Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd) and Lenina Crowne (Jessica Brown Findlay) embark on a vacation to the Savage Lands, where they become embroiled in a harrowing and violent rebellion. Bernard and Lenina are rescued by John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich), who escapes with them back to New London. However, John’s arrival in the New World soon threatens to disrupt its utopian harmony, leaving Bernard and Lenina to grapple with the repercussions.
Created by Felix Barrett and Dennis Kelly and aired on Sky Atlantic in September 2020, The Third Day follows the individual journeys of a man and woman who arrive on a mysterious island off the English coast at different times, where they encounter a group of islanders set on preserving their traditions at any cost. Sam (Jude Law) arrives in the “Summer” after being mysteriously drawn to the island, and Helen (Naomie Harris) arrives in the “Winter” seeking answers.
Directed by Jeff Orlowski and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis, The Social Dilemma aired on Netflix in September 2020 and explores the rise of social media. Focusing on its exploitation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining, the documentary looks at the damage it has caused to society, how its design is meant to nurture addiction, its use in politics, its effect on mental health, and its role in spreading conspiracy theories.