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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Five Big Award-Winning TV Shows That Are 100-Percent Worth Your Time and Attention

These series have received plenty of shiny trophies — and you can stream them all to find out why.
By Sarah Ward
December 14, 2020
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By Sarah Ward
December 14, 2020
  shares

FIVE BIG AWARD-WINNING TV SHOWS THAT ARE 100-PERCENT WORTH YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION

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These series have received plenty of shiny trophies — and you can stream them all to find out why.

Hollywood loves an awards ceremony, and boasts a regular lineup of statuette-bestowing occasions to prove it. Stellar television shows and the folks who make them can win everything from an Emmy and a Golden Globe to a Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA — and more — because cinema isn't the only screen format that likes rewarding its best and brightest at glitzy occasions with lengthy speeches and shiny trophies.

Awards ceremonies are also a handy source of information for TV fans. They're fun to watch, but they can also help you work out what else you should be watching. So many television shows vie for everyone's eyeballs each year, so knowing that something has scored a few gongs (or even more than a few) might help rocket it to the top of your must-see list. Streaming platform Binge features quite a number of award-winners in its catalogue, for example, if you're not quite sure what you should marathon your way through next. In collaboration with the service, we've taken a look and picked five of our accolade-receiving favourites that you can check out now — including via a 14-day free trial for new customers.

  • 5
    Watchmen

    When it was revealed that Watchmen was returning — with the comic book series getting the HBO treatment a decade after the movie of the same name — it felt like obvious news. Caped crusaders are big business on screens both small and silver, and every old superhero becomes new again at some point. But no one could’ve predicted just how this nine-part series would turn out, how timely it’d feel and how it’d take on an identity of its own. Set 34 years after the events of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins’ graphic novels, there’s a reason that it has been scooping up all the awards for the past year.

    This version of Watchmen is still set in the same alternate reality; however, under showrunner Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers), it turns its focus to racially motivated violence and vigilantism. And it’s brought to the screen with a top-notch cast (including Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Hong Chau and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and a bucket load of murky complexity.

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  • 4
    Chernobyl

    Dramatising the events at Chernobyl in 1986, where a power plant accident caused the worst nuclear disaster in human history, was never going to make for cheery viewing. But the Chernobyl miniseries drips with so much dread and dismay that it oozes from the screen, infecting everyone watching and burrowing deep into viewers’ souls. That’s by design, and also 100-percent necessary. There’s no way to revisit this chapter of history without being horrified. And that reaction applies not just to the intricacies of Saturday, April 26 in that fateful year, but to everything that lead up to the disaster, as well as the bureaucratic and government response that followed.

    Writer/creator Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck bring all of the above to the screen in devastating, meticulously researched detail, with exceptional help from stars Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson and Paul Ritter. The end result may only span five episodes, but it represents some of the best TV made in the 21st century.

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  • 3
    Succession

    It’s a series about the squabbling children of a global media baron who, after their father’s health takes an unexpected turn, start trying to position themselves as next in line to the empire. It’s obviously set among the one percent, in lives of luxury and privilege that most folks will never know, too. But the idea that depiction doesn’t equal endorsement is as rich in Succession as its always-bickering characters. Created by Peep Show‘s Jesse Armstrong — someone who knows more than a thing or two about black comedy — this Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Writers Guild and Directors Guild Award-winner is savagely witty, darkly biting and often laugh-out-loud funny about its chosen milieu.

    Succession also has one of the best casts currently on TV, and its stars keep picking up accolades and nominations that demonstrate just that. Brian Cox is as formidable as ever as family patriarch Logan Roy, but he’s matched at every moment by Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin and Australian actor Sarah Snook as three of the four Roy children.

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  • 2
    Game of Thrones

    Just ten short years ago, few people cared about Westerosi power struggles, how many times Sean Bean dies on-screen, if Jon Snow really does know nothing and whether winter is coming. Game of Thrones has existed on the page since 1991, but it was the first season of HBO’s huge fantasy-drama series in 2011 that made that three-word title a household term, got everyone hooked on the fight to assume the Iron Throne and had us all watching along for seven more action-packed seasons.

    Over the past decade, no TV series was bigger — not only in popularity and pop culture impact, but when it comes to small-screen battles and bloodshed, plus labyrinthine plots filled with cunning plotting and double-crossing. Oh, and dragons, too. Whether you loved or hated how it ended, Game of Thrones is always going to sit high on everyone’s rewatch list (because, let’s face it, everyone has watched it once already).

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  • 1
    The West Wing

    The West Wing first premiered in 1999, while Bill Clinton was president and over a year before George W Bush was elected. But when the latter happened, the acclaimed series inspired a strong and pervasive feeling — because every fan wished that Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlet was really the commander in chief. That response wasn’t just a case of escapism. It reflected The West Wing‘s top-notch writing and its passion. Unsurprisingly, even though the show wrapped up in 2006, that sentiment has echoed again throughout the past four years.

    In 2020, in fact, original cast members including Sheen, Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney reunited in the lead up to the election for a special stage version of a season-three episode. Called A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, it was filmed, of course. That means you can now stream the entire seven-season series and its trademark Aaron Sorkin-penned walk-and-talks, and also enjoy the political drama’s most recent gift to the world. Yes, it’s still as topical and timely as ever.

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To watch your way through all of the above 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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