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Eight TV Shows That'll Satisfy Your Thirst for Drama (That You Can Watch for Free)

Break up your streaming pile with some new drama picks from SBS On Demand, all of which are completely free.
By Alec Jones
December 07, 2023
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By Alec Jones
December 07, 2023
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The streaming television market is a helluva place to be in 2023. So many platforms are competing for our attention, time and money to deliver content to our eyeballs. It has its perks, though. Never before has there been so many great choices available. If the competition is too much for you, and you can't remember which service costs $14 a month and which costs $10, there is a free solution on hand.

Enter SBS On Demand. The Australian channel doesn't just broadcast — it streams as well. But what you might not know about its on-demand service is that it's completely free, and comes with a perfect blend of homegrown Aussie and internationally sourced content.

If the costs of streaming are getting you down, maybe it's time to trim your subscriptions and take a tour of the SBS On Demand catalogue. Let's start with drama — here are eight shows to watch.

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EROTIC STORIES: EIGHT STORIES OF LOVE AND INTIMACY IN MODERN AUSTRALIA

Brand-new in 2023, Erotic Stories joins the ever-growing SBS On Demand catalogue as a fresh, original title. Told in an anthology form, this series shines a light on the intricacies of modern relationships: from middle-aged mates experimenting with remotely controlled sex toys to breaking a sexual drought by trying out dating apps. The series doesn't shy away from getting spicy, wondering how spicy each episode is? Read our ranking.

Erotic Stories has a star-studded cast that any Australian drama fan will recognise: talents like Frances O'Connor (The End), Kate Box (Deadloch), Rärriwuy Hick (Wentworth), Zahra Newman (Thirteen Lives), Catherine McClements (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart) and Danielle Cormack (Rake) and Alex Fitzalan (The Twelve).

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FARGO: THE CRIME CAPER RETURNS FOR SEASON FIVE

No, this isn't the legendary 1996 film directed by the Coen brothers. If this is your first time hearing about the small-screen adaptation, you've been missing out. Since its premiere in 2014, Fargo has returned four more times with twisted tales of murder in the American midwest. In the latest instalment, an unexpected series of events lands a seemingly innocent housewife in hot water and under potentially lethal scrutiny.

Fargo season five stars Juno Temple (Ted Lasso) as Dorothy 'Dot' Lyon, Jon Hamm (Good Omens) as Roy Tillman, Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hunters) as Lorraine Lyon, Joe Keery (Stranger Things) as Gator Tillman, David Rysdahl (Oppenheimer) as Wayne Lyon,  Richa Moorjani (Never Have I Ever) as Minnesota deputy Indira Olmstead and Lamorne Morris (New Girl) as North Dakota trooper Witt Farr.

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THE DOLL FACTORY: A PERIOD DRAMA ABOUT LOVE, ARTISTRY AND OBSESSION

Coming to Australia through SBS On Demand, The Doll Factory is a six-part historical thriller that adapts the bestselling novel by Elizabeth Macneal. Take a trip to London in 1850, where protagonist Iris paints dolls for a living and dreams of a career as an artist when she meets a taxidermist and a painter, who will take her down a path of dark obsession that she might not return from.

The Doll Factory stars Esme Creed-Miles (Hanna) as Iris, Éanna Hardwicke (Smother) as Silas, Mirren Mack (The Witcher: Blood Origin) as Rose, George Webster (Wedding Season) as Louis and Sharlene Whyte (Sanditon) as Madame.

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SAFE HOME: A BOLD STORY TACKLING AUSTRALIA'S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

The gripping limited series Safe Home from SBS On Demand is only four episodes in length, but wastes no time and pulls no punches in telling a series of captivating and nerve-wracking stories centred around a family violence legal centre. Protagonist Phoebe has just moved into a new communications role at the centre after leaving a major law firm, but the situations in which she finds herself in this tense new environment are as confronting as they can be.

Safe Home stars Aisha Dee (The Bold Type) as Phoebe Rook, Mabel Li (Erotic Stories) as Jenny Lee, Thomas Cocquerel (The Gilded Age) as Julian MacDonald, Antonio Prebble (Double Parked) as Grace MacDonald and Chenoa Deemal (Troppo) as Layla Morris.

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ROGUE HEROES: THE ORIGIN STORY OF THE INFAMOUS BRITISH SAS

Based on the bestselling book by Ben Macintyre, Rogue Heroes tells a World War II tale of how three young and daring British officers created the original unit of the British SAS. The modern elite special forces team had to start somewhere, and its beginnings involved a small team of cheeky soldiers disobeying orders, parachuting behind enemy lines and quickly becoming the worst nightmare of Axis forces in 1940s North Africa.

Rogue Heroes stars Connor Swindells (Sex Education) as David Stirling, Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) as Jock Lewes, Jack O'Connell (Lady Chatterley's Lover) as Paddy Mayne, Sofia Boutella (Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities) as Eve Mansour and Jacob Ifan (A Discovery of Witches) as Pat Riley.

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WHY WOMEN KILL: A DARK DRAMEDY OF FASHION, LEADING LADIES AND MURDER

Hailing from creator Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), this comedic drama features two seasons that stand apart. Season one stars Lucy Liu (Shazam! Fury of the Gods) as Simone Grove, Ginnifer Goodwin (Zootopia) as Beth Ann Stanton and Kirby (Scott Pilgrim Takes Off) as Taylor Harding. The season follows three women from different decades who are connected by living in the same Californian mansion, all experiencing infidelity in their marriages and dealing with it with a touch of violence.

Season two delivers a new story and cast with the same glamour, humour and even more murder. This time the focus is what it means to be beautiful, and also what it means to hide one's true face from the world — with Allison Tolman (Fargo), Lana Parrilla (Once Upon a Time), Nick Frost (The Nevers), BK Cannon (Switched at Birth), Jordane Christie (The Haunting of Hill House), Matthew Daddario (Shadowhunters) and Veronica Falcón (Queen of the South) starring.

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DARK WINDS: NAVAJO TRIBAL POLICE INVESTIGATE A SERIES OF STRANGE MURDERS

Based on the Leaphorn and Chee novels by Tony Hillerman, Dark Winds combines elements of a psychological thriller, cultural history piece and compelling crime drama. Set in the Navajo Nation in 1971, the series follows tribal police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and his deputy Jim Chee as they investigate a series of unusual murders that tell a much darker tale than either of them can imagine.

Dark Winds stars Zahn McClarnon (Reservation Dogs) as Joe Leaphorn, Kiowa Gordon (Roswell, New Mexico) as Jim Chee, Jessica Matten (Tribal) as Bernadette Manuelito, Elva Guerra (Reservation Dogs) as Sally Growing Thunder and Noah Emmerich (Space Force) as Leland Whitover.

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VIGIL: A DETECTIVE WORKS A MURDER CASE ONBOARD A NUCLEAR SUBMARINE

In its first season, Vigil has all the trimmings of your favourite UK police thrillers: a skilled detective, a mysterious death, and a clash between politics and justice. What makes Vigil unique? The death is onboard a nuclear submarine, and the Scottish police Detective Chief Inspector looking into the case must remain there as the vessel patrols the Atlantic while she investigates.

Vigil stars Suranne Jones (Gentleman Jack) as Amy Silva, Rose Leslie (The Time Traveller's Wife) as Kirsten Longacre, Shaun Evans (Endeavour) as Glover, Paterson Joseph (Boat Story) as Newsome, Anjli Mohindra (The Lazarus Project) as Tiffany Docherty and Connor Swindells (Rogue Heroes) as Hadlow.

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All of these titles and more are streaming for free on SBS On Demand. To find more information or other great shows, visit the website

Published on December 07, 2023 by Alec Jones
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