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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Five TV Shows and Movies That'll Help You Kick Off 2021 with Thrills, Laughs and Drama

New year, new lineup of must-watch television and films to add to your streaming queue.
By Sarah Ward
January 19, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
January 19, 2021
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FIVE TV SHOWS AND MOVIES THAT'LL HELP YOU KICK OFF 2021 WITH THRILLS, LAUGHS AND DRAMA

in partnership with

New year, new lineup of must-watch television and films to add to your streaming queue.

With the holidays just coming to an end, we're all now emerging from prime binge-watching season. So, if you feel like you've glued your eyes to every possible TV show and movie there is recently, that's completely understandable — but the great thing about streaming is that there's always something else popping up, demanding your attention and helping you maintain that comfy groove in your sofa.

Returning series releasing their latest seasons, brand new shows that haven't been on your radar, recent favourites that you mightn't have seen, retro classics that are always worth a revisit, flicks that'll keep you talking — they're some of the fresh additions to the streaming world recently, and they're all ready to add to your 2021 watch list. If you're wondering where to start, we've teamed up with streaming platform Binge to pick five must-sees that'll help you start the year with some top-notch viewing. You can view them all on the Australian service, including via a 14-day free trial for new customers.

  • 5
    A Discovery of Witches

    When it was first published in 2011, A Discovery of Witches swiftly became a bestseller. Thankfully for readers instantly enamoured with Deborah Harkness’ supernatural novel, there was more where that came from. The book was just the first instalment in the All Souls trilogy, with its follow-ups arriving in 2012 and 2014 — and, since 2018, fans have been able to watch a TV adaptation starring Australian actor Teresa Palmer as a Yale University historian and witch, as well as Downton Abbey‘s Matthew Goode as a biochemistry professor and vampire.

    Palmer plays Diana Bishop, with A Discovery of Witches chronicling her story after she finds a bewitched manuscript and gets reluctantly drawn back into the magical world. Where the show’s first season charted her initial efforts to protect the enchanted text, known as Ashmole 782, the currently screening second season kicks off with a jump back to London more than four centuries ago.

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  • 4
    Gossip Girl

    If you’ve ever said “XOXO” aloud, you’ve obviously seen Gossip Girl, the glossy, quickly addictive drama about Manhattan teens, their hectic lives and their glam outfits that initially aired between 2007–2012. It’s the show that introduced the world to Blake Lively, Chace Crawford, Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley, and made everyone want to sit on the steps of The Met. It also demonstrated that you can never have too many headbands, and had us all wishing that Kristen Bell could narrate our every move, too.

    Gossip Girl is getting a follow-up series with a brand new cast that’s also heading to Binge, because nothing says goodbye forever these days — and because all that drama was never going to subside for too long. But there’s still nothing quite like the original, which starts with the return of Serena van der Woodsen (Lively) to the Upper East Side and the fallout within her inner circle, as constantly chronicled by an all-knowing blogger.

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  • 3
    Upright

    Throughout the history of Australian film and television, plenty of movies and shows have thrust their characters into the Aussie outback. That’s exactly why the country’s sunburnt expanse is so recognisable, with our dusty ochre-hued deserts common on-screen fodder. Upright follows the trend, but it also carves its own path through a crowded field — with Lucky Flynn (comedian Tim Minchin) trying to take his family’s upright piano from Sydney to Perth, and crossing paths with runaway Meg (Milly Alcock) in his eventful travels.

    Minchin also helped develop Upright, co-wrote the eight-episode show and co-directed two episodes, so he’s part of the series in a big way. He’s in stellar company behind the scenes, too, with Upright created and co-written by Chris Taylor from The Chaser, and co-directed by Noise, Felony and A Month of Sundays filmmaker Matthew Saville.

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  • 2
    Baby God

    As so many excellent documentaries have before it, Baby God tells a tale so astonishing it can only be true. It also steps through a story that’s harrowing, horrifying and downright nightmarish. For more than three decades, couples eager to start a family went to Dr Quincy Fortier, seeking his help to have children when they couldn’t conceive. Alas, the Las Vegas-based fertility specialist assisted them in a thoroughly unwanted way: by secretly inseminating women hoping to become mothers with his own sperm.

    Directed and produced by documentarian Hannah Olson (whose next project is about the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its COVID-19 outbreak), Baby God really has to be seen to be believed. It dives into shocking circumstances, and isn’t always easy to watch as a result, but it’s gripping from start to finish. Olson explores her subject’s history and the details of his crimes, and also surveys the aftermath through his biological children.

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  • 1
    Devils

    Whether you’re the type of news junkie that’s always abreast of current affairs, or you’re more familiar with big international events in passing, Italian-made financial thriller Devils should feel familiar. It’s set in 2011, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, and it plunges inside the toxic investment trading and banking world — bringing Guido Maria Brera’s 2014 novel I Diavoli to the small screen.

    Here, Massimo Ruggero (Alessandro Borghi) heads the trading team at a hugely influential investment bank. But when his mentor Dominic Morgan (Patrick Dempsey) promotes one of his colleagues, Massimo is far from happy. That’s just the beginning of this slick series’ wheeling, dealing, dramas and thrills, with real-life details weaved into its many subplots. And yes, Devils is also the latest series to star the always-watchable Dempsey, if you’ve been missing his face from your screen.

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To watch your way through all of the above movies and series, head to streaming platform Binge — where you can sign up for a free 14-day trial, then keep working your way through its jam-packed catalogue for $10 per month (based on Binge Basic, its first subscription tier).

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