Ten Ace TV Shows You Can Binge Your Way Through Now That Paramount+ Has Launched in Australia
Check out a couple of new must-see miniseries, binge your way through a few classic comedies and revisit a pair of 90s animation greats.
August 13, 2021
Another week, another new streaming service — or that's the way it feels, at least. By now, we all know that plenty of online platforms are constantly vying for our eyeballs, and that new ones will keep joining the fold. But, even as the list of streamers just keeps growing, we all love having options, too. We like knowing we have oh-so-many things to choose from, all at the touch of a button — because settling in for a binge-watching marathon is taking up a hefty amount of our leisure time these days.
So, the fact that Australia has just scored a new streaming service — and that said platform, Paramount+, features 20,000 episodes and films — is obviously welcome news. But if you're now wondering what to watch and what'll help you fill your hours at home (whether you're in lockdown or under other COVID-19 restrictions), that's understandable. If you need some assistance, we've picked ten new and classic shows you can start binging right now.
As an actor, Jodie Turner-Smith's resume isn't all that lengthy yet — but it will be. So far, ever since first popping up on-screen in the likes of True Blood and The Neon Demon, she has gravitated to roles that make the utmost of her presence. See: Queen & Slim, one of 2020's standout movies, and now miniseries Anne Boleyn. In the latter, Turner-Smith plays the titular character, and does so with a clear understanding of just how precarious the famed historical figure's place in her marriage to Henry VIII was. We all know how this story ends, of course. Even if you don't know that chapter of England's past inside out, this tale has played out in films and TV shows before, and will keep doing so. But Anne Boleyn's specific take on the tale draws plenty of power from its central casting, and pairs its formidable lead performance with sumptuous period details across its three-episode run.
Eventually, Daria is set to get a spinoff series, focusing on the eponymous sardonic teen's classmate Jodie and following her post-college life. Until that arrives — or even once it does — the OG show is still a treasure. That'll never stop being the case, especially if you grew up watching it in the late 90s and early 00s. And, even if you didn't, it's never too late to give it a whirl. Nostalgia isn't the only reason that Daria still has a devoted following, because this a supremely savvy animated exploration of being a teenager. A high-school outsider who doesn't ever care about fitting in, and is comfortable with her sarcastic view on the world, Daria, the character, has become an icon for being herself and never wanting to be anyone else. The series overall fits the same description, and spent five seasons combining relatable adolescent angst and spot-on social satire.
TWO WEEKS TO LIVE
When Two Weeks to Live begins, it does so with a twenty-something woman getting into an altercation with an unpleasant stranger, and refusing to merely grin and bear it. That main character is played by Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams, so it all feels familiar, but this six-part miniseries doesn't just ask its star to follow in her own footsteps. Instead, the show's protagonist Kim Noakes has been raised to be able to fend for herself, because she has also been brought up to believe that the end is near. Most of her life has been spent off the grid with her mother Tina (Sian Clifford, Fleabag), in fact, until she decides to experience the world before it all grinds to a halt. Then, after a chance meeting in a pub, she's told by a couple of strangers that everything really is about to go kaput. That's a prank, but it sets off quite the chain of events — and lets Williams turn in a stellar performance.
Netflix's I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson is only two seasons in, but it has already proven itself as one of most bizarre and brilliant comedies there is. It's one of the easiest to binge in one sitting, then start rewatching again straight away, too. The sketch show isn't Robinson's first amusing outing, however. He also spent a couple of seasons on Saturday Night Live, and co-starred in (and co-created and co-produced) the hilarious sitcom Detroiters. Featuring opposite Veep's Sam Richardson, Robinson plays a Detroit advertising agency creative with more than a few out-there ideas — but that term encompasses his life working beside his best pal anyway. It only spans two seasons, but the show will never stop being sidesplittingly funny. And, it also includes guest stars such as a pre-Ted Lasso Jason Sudeikis and the always-welcome Keegan-Michael Key.
THE REN & STIMPY SHOW
It's aimed at kids, it's just as entertaining for adults and, as it celebrates its absorbent, yellow and porous hero, it's one of the most anarchic and eccentric shows there is. We're talking about SpongeBob SquarePants and everything it has spawned — movies and musicals included — but it wouldn't exist if it wasn't for 90s cult favourite The Ren & Stimpy Show. The latter definitely isn't for very young viewers, as everyone who sat up late to watch it back when they were kids knows. That's obvious from its animation style alone, and from its gags and rich vein of all-round dark humour. In fact, plenty of the adult-friendly animated series that've graced screens over the past 30 years owe an enormous debt to this iconic effort about a chihuahua and a cat, their constant fighting, their differing emotional and mental states, and the mania of their exaggerated, acerbic and always absurd lives.
KEY & PEELE
These days, Jordan Peele has an Oscar to his name for Get Out, while Keegan Michael-Key has his own sitcom thanks to Schmigadoon!. But they'll always be known for their 2012–15 sketch comedy series Key & Peele, which won them some Emmys, showcased their considerable talents as comedians, actors and writers, and constantly delivered clever and ridiculously funny skits episode after episode — bits that weren't just amusing, or commented on popular culture, but tackled race relations in a perceptive and impassioned way as well. The highlights are too many to mention, although you've likely already seen the sublime aerobics sketch that's one of the very best things that hit screens of any size in the past decade. It's always worth watching again, as are all of Key & Peele's skits — from the gushing over "Liam Neesons" to President Obama's anger translator Luther.
If you're going to make a TV series that mixes some of horror fiction's best-known and most iconic characters into the same tale, you need to do three things. Firstly, you need to treat those figures with respect and complexity, because there's a reason that the likes of Frankenstein's monster, Dorian Gray and Count Dracula have stood the test of time. Secondly, you need to embrace a gothic vibe, as that's the era that gave birth to these stories. And, you need to cast every part exceptionally well — including when you're working other characters into the tale as well. Across its initial three-season run, Penny Dreadful ticked all these boxes masterfully. It did so in an intoxicatingly lavish and smart manner, in fact. And, in its 19th-century London-set story, it gifted the world one of the great Eva Green's very best performances, plus also-excellent work from Timothy Dalton and Josh Hartnett.
It's the mind-bending small-town mystery-drama that comes with its own menu — and with plenty of thrills, laughs and weirdness. Whether you're watching Twin Peaks for the first or 31st time, you'll want to do so with plenty of damn fine coffee, fresh-made cherry pie and cinnamon-covered doughnuts to fuel your journey to this place most wonderful and strange. And, of course, David Lynch and Mark Frost's seminal TV series doesn't just serve up 90s-era oddness centred around the tragic murder of popular high-schooler Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), but returned for a mesmerising third season back in 2017 as well. There's simply never been anything on television like Twin Peaks, because no one can make movies and TV shows like Lynch. No one can play a kind and quirky FBI boss like Lynch either, or a dedicated agent like Kyle MacLachlan as Dale Cooper.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
When The Twilight Zone made a return back in 2019, it did so in the best possible hands. After wowing horror movie lovers with Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele took on the task of presenting, narrating and redeveloping the legendary sci-fi anthology show for the 21st century, and did it well. Picking up where Rod Serling's original five-season 50s and 60s show left off (and short-lived versions in 1985 and 2002, too), the two season revival series blends the old with the new — both remaking previous episodes and coming up with fresh, thrilling stories. It's as entertaining as you'd rightfully expect, complete with a cast that features everyone from Adam Scott and Kumail Nanjiani to Steven Yeun and Zazie Beetz. And, because the 20 episodes might not be enough, Paramount+ is also streaming both the 50s/60s and the 80s iteration of the iconic science fiction series as well.
Before The Sopranos, the show that everyone thinks of when they think of HBO's early big-name dramas — and before The Wire, the other seminal series that made the US cable network a must-watch destination — there was Oz. Talk about starting out as you mean to go on, because this prison-set show is phenomenal. It's as grim as it is gripping, though, as you'd expect of a drama set inside a maximum-security state penitentiary. Across six seasons, the series follows the daily ups and downs in Oswald State Correctional Facility, spending time with prison newcomers struggling with life inside and hardened crims who've behind bars for years. The end result is an acting powerhouse, too, complete with a sea of familiar faces. If you think JK Simmons well and truly earned his Oscar for his formidable performance in Whiplash, you're right, but his work here is next-level.
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