For its unrivalled range of content, from the gripping to the quirky and downright strange, Netflix Australia has you covered. If you’re wondering what to watch this weekend, fire up the telly – or tablet – load Netflix and settle in for some binge watching.
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services in Australia as people move away from traditional free-to-air TV, sick of all the ads and mindless programming. The beauty of Netflix is that it’s constantly updating and expanding its library to deliver even more exciting content – both ‘Original’ and licensed. After Netflix announced that it will aim to make 50% of its content ‘Netflix Original’, there is growing anticipation about what the streaming giant will offer up next. Here are the top 20 shows to watch on Netflix, with many being Originals.
Netflix Australia – Top 20 Shows to Binge
Below are – in this author’s opinion – the top 20 shows you should take a look at on Netflix right now. Cast aside the clichéd Orange is the New Black and House of Cards recommendations for now – there are some left-of-field suggestions here, listed in no apparent order! Or prefer to watch a movie? See our list of the best movies on Netflix here.
Before Andrew Lincoln was slashing zombies in The Walking Dead and stalking Keira Knightley in Love Actually, he was partying his way through a profession as an English teacher. British comedy at its best, Teachers originally aired on Channel 4 back in 2001, but has since found a new home – and audience – on Netflix. Set in secondary school in Bristol, the show follows the juvenile Simon (Lincoln) as he struggles to grow up and accept responsibility for anything besides a pint and a good time. Simon and his chaotic group of fellow teachers tend to spend more time in the pub moaning about their hapless love lives than they do the classroom – ultimately regretting everything at 8am home room the next day. You’ll want them as your best friends – but have you asking, who gave these guys a qualification?
Netflix does true crime like no other – and they haven’t disappointed us with their latest – The Pharmacist. The four-part doco series follows small town pharmacist Dan Schneider and the quest to solve his son’s murder case, and consequently his battle against giant pharmaceutical corporations. In 1999, Dan’s son was shot and killed whilst reportedly trying to buy drugs in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward. Unhappy with the slow pace of the police’s investigation, Dan sets out to solve the murder – and along the way stumbles into the world of prescription drug abuse and the impact it has on New Orleans opioid epidemic. The Pharmacist turns into a David Vs. Goliath fight between the everyday dad and the big pharma boys, as Dan investigates the drug OxyContin, determined to end pharmaceutical pill trafficking in his home state of Louisiana, and the whole of the US. With a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this isn’t one to miss.
The Ghost Bride
If true love really does last forever, then why are marriage vows made “til death us do part”? The Ghost Bride follows the journey of Pan Li Lian (Huang Peijia), a young girl who receives a proposal to marry the recently deceased and sinister son of the wealthy Lim family. By saying “I do” to Tian Ching (Kuang Tian), Li will save her family from debt in exchange for a lifetime of being haunted by her ghost husband. Unfortunately for the female lead, Tian Ching just doesn’t take no for an answer and quickly finds herself trapped in the afterlife. There’s also the very-much-alive Liam Tian Bai (Ludi Lin), a medical graduate who has stolen her heart. So, what will Li Lian choose? Love or family?
The Ghost Bride is based on the 2013 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name by Yangsze Choo and is inspired by the real-life tradition of ghost marriage still being carried out in places like Malaysia, China and France.
The most highly anticipated fantasy show to hit Netflix, The Witcher was one of the breakout shows of 2019 after its December release. While many shows have tried (and failed) to reach the popularity levels of Game of Thrones, The Witcher already had a fairly dedicated fan base of gamers and book fans to make this Netflix gamble really pay off. Season 1 introduces you to the three main characters — Princess Ciri, Yennefer of Vengerberg and the Witcher himself, Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill) — as their stories start to intertwine. There’s a lot of talk about destiny, plenty of monsters, magic, songs, action and bathtubs. While you might find yourself a bit confused by the timelines to start with, it all comes together by the end of the season and clicks into place nicely, leaving you longing for the next season.
This is a high fantasy show at its best. Henry Cavill’s passion as a dedicated fan of the Witcher games, really comes through as he brings the stoic Geralt to life. If you’re not the biggest fantasy fan, you might find it a bit too much magic and monsters compared to the more political Game of Thrones, however it is a fun ride with season 2 is already in production and rumoured to be released in 2021. Until then, you can toss a coin to your Witcher by checking out season 1 on Netflix.
Living with Yourself
Miles is feeling burned out on life and fears it’s only a matter of time until his career and relationship will end up in flames. After getting advice from a newly successful co-worker, he undergoes a strange procedure at a mysterious spa and wakes up to find that he’s been replaced by a better version of himself.
Created by Timothy Greenberg, Living with Yourself looks at whether the ‘best’ version of a person actually exists, and if making that transformation can be achieved authentically. The Netflix series is a drama comedy starring Paul Rudd as both ‘original Miles’ and ‘new Miles’, two characters who struggle to share and navigate their one life. The show also features Aisling Bea, Desmin Borges Zoë Chao and Karen Pittman.
Move aside Marvel and DC – Netflix has made its own superhero origin story with Raising Dion. It stars Ja’siah Young as Dion, who suddenly develops powers after his father was exposed to extraterrestrial radiation while watching the Northern Lights in Ireland. Alisha Wainwright takes on the role of the widowed mum, Nicole, who must protect her son Dion and keep the seven-year-old’s growing powers a secret. But it isn’t easy for the struggling mother to figure out how to raise her superhuman child while job hunting and mourning the death of her husband. There’s also the issue of an evil force trying to kill people like Dion and a suspicious environmental company that the duo need to keep an eye out for.
This family-friendly series is based on a single-issue comic by film producer Dennis Liu, and created by Carol Barbee. Actor Michael B. Jordan also enters the story as Dion’s father, Mark, while also acting as the executive producer for the show.
“If your country needed you to lie to your friends, your family and your wife, would you do it?” Sacha Baron Cohen stars in The Spy, a series inspired by the real life story of former Mossad agent, Eli Cohen. Set in the 1960s, the Israeli clerk accepted a job as a secret agent and went deep undercover inside Syria. After spending years on the dangerous mission, Cohen eventually succeeded his mission and transformed Israel’s history.
Sign up to Disney+ Australia
Disney+ is the new talk of the streaming world, so how can you get a subscription? There are two plan options to choose from – a monthly subscription at $8.99 per month, or prepay for a year at $89.99 and save on the monthly cost. Both plans include the same features, with unlimited downloads and the ability to stream on up to four screens at the same time. This table includes links to a referral partner.
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If standard rom coms and year-long available Christmas flicks are making you rethink about continuing with your Netflix subscription, prepare to lock yourself up in what is widely claimed to be a unique and highly anticipated police interrogation series. Criminal is expected to serve viewers 12 different stories set across four countries, and is even filmed in the local language of these different locations. Criminal will sit you inside the police interview room and deliver what Netflix describes as a “stripped down, cat-and-mouse drama” which “focuses on the intense mental conflict between detectives and suspects”.
What are you willing to risk to make it to the top? Top Boy follows two seasoned drug dealers who return to London with their eyes set on getting their hands on all the money and power the city has to offer. But it isn’t easy, especially when there’s a young hustler who’s planning on doing the same. Created by Ronan Bennett, the TV drama stars Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson and Micheal Ward.
Feel bored to death after seeing the same old romantic comedies in your list of recommendations? Well, you might be happy to hear that Ricky Gervais has finally revived Netflix with the refreshing and popular new series, After Life. Flexing his directing, writing and acting muscles, Gervais takes on the role of journalist Tony Johnston.
In the wake of the death of his wife Lisa (Kerri Godliman), who passed away from cancer, Tony becomes unapologetically honest with everyone around him. Going against the survival plan Lisa optimistically left in a video, Tony gives up and tries to push away anyone who attempts to help him cope with his wife’s death. But despite his rudeness, he is only met with the kindness of others. This leads to a string of heartbreaking, yet hilarious, experiences that many critics have praised as a perfect balance of poignancy and humour.
The cast of After Life includes Tom Basden, Tony Way, Ashley Jensen, Roisin Conaty, Diane Morgan, Mandeep Dhillon, David Bradley, Tim Plester, Penelope Wilton and Paul Kaye.
When They See Us
Ava DuVernay’s latest film has reportedly been the most-watched U.S. series on Netflix ever since it premiered in May, and Aussie audiences finally have the chance to see why. When They See Us tells the powerful story of Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond – five black and brown teens who were falsely accused of a violent attack on a woman in Central Park, New York City. The boys were imprisoned between six and 13 years for assault, rape and attempted murder, until they were found innocent and exonerated of the crimes.
The ‘Central Park Five’ were interrogated for up to 40 hours, and during this time were deprived of any food, water, legal representation and denied from seeing any of their parents. There were also no DNA matches with the sample from the rape kit.
When They See Us is gripping, searing, and often hard to watch, but in the best way possible. It portrays the wrongful imprisonment and over-representation of marginalised groups, an issue that hits home for many people around the world just as hard as it did for Americans when the trials for the five men ran in 1990. Some of the talented all-star cast in When They See Us include Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris and Ethan Herisse.
Dirty John: The Dirty Truth
Shows like ‘You’ make 2019 the year of creepy, yet charismatic, partners. And it doesn’t look like the train is about to stop. The show Dirty John follows businesswoman Debra Newell, played by Connie Britton, on her search for love online. It doesn’t take long until she meets Eric Bana’s character, John Meehan but Newell’s daughters, Veronica (Juno Temple) and Terra (Julia), aren’t convinced about him.
Unsurprisingly, the girls are right. The honeymoon period for Newell and the man she barely knows is cut short once she starts digging deeper into John’s life. It turns out John is definitely the manipulative and menacing man Netflix viewers love to hate. And as a side note, Dirty John is based on a true-crime podcast that goes by the same name. That’s right, it’s yet another dark and chilling real-life romantic comedy gone wrong.
The world is obsessing over the latest cult hit ‘You’, an anti-romantic comedy which spins the classic “boy meets girl” story into a nail-biting psychological thriller. Penn Badgley kills it as Joe Goldberg, a charismatic bookstore manager who falls in love with an aspiring writer and goes to extreme lengths to prove he’s “the one”. The leading lady is played by Elizabeth Lail (“Guinevere Beck”), the drop dead gorgeous woman driving Goldberg madly in love.
“At the end of the day, people just turn out to be disappointing.” But trust us, this Netflix smash is better than anything you could have hoped for. The final few seconds of season one also ends in a major cliffhanger, and you can now jump in to find out what happens next with Season 2 released towards the end of 2019.
The must-see You is created by Sera Gamble and Greg Berlanti, and features notable performances from Shay Mitchell and Luca Padovan. More importantly, it has previously topped our survey of Australia’s favourite Netflix shows.
The Kindness Diaries
Kindness makes the world go round – just ask Leon Logothetis. Since leaving his life as a broker in London, the host of the Netflix show now spends his time giving back to unsuspecting Samaritans and relies on kind strangers to help him make his way around the globe.
Take a seat in the yellow VW Beetle Kindness Two and learn about the value of sharing compassion and empathy with others. See why the motivational speaker, philanthropist, and best-selling author believes what we do in life shouldn’t always be about money or self-interest. Whether it’s wild weather, car trouble or lack of food and shelter, there’s nothing a little kindness won’t fix.
Raise the alarm because Sirens have washed ashore, determined to overtake a local fishing village and take control of everyone in it. Critics are lapping every second of Tidelands, a new supernatural series which made big waves as the first Netflix original series to be created in Australia. It follows the story of Cal McTeer, a woman who returns home to Orphelin Bay after spending ten years locked up in juvenile detention and jail. She ambiguously sets out to unravel the town’s string of juicy hidden secrets, and investigate the dangerous commune of half-Sirens, half-humans known as ‘Tidelanders’.
Tidelands stars Elsa Pataky, Madeleine Madden, Aaron Jakubenko, Marco Pigossi and Mattias Inwood.
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Back to Netflix Shows
What would you do if you found out you were connected to a secret, ancient order, destined to protect your hometown? Well, that’s something young Hakan has to figure out. Life can’t be any more different for this former shopkeeper, who is suddenly tasked with saving Istanbul from mysterious Immortals.
The 10-episode superhero fantasy brings together the East and West, and the past and present. It stars Cagatay Ulusoy, who is joined by Ayca Aysin Turan, Hazar Erguclu, Okan Yalabik, Mehmet Kurtulus, Saygin Soysal, and Burcin Terzioglu.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Gone are the days of the bubbly and lighthearted Sabrina the Teenage Witch from the 90s, now replaced with a much darker, but still fun, version of Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) and trusty familiar, Salem the cat. Based on a comic book series by Archie Comics division, Archie Horror, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 introduces us to Sabrina, a half-witch, half-mortal (human) who lives with her two witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda, along with her warlock cousin, Ambrose. Sabrina tries to balance her life as a normal teenager with her mortal boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle and friends Roz and Susie, and her growing duties as a witch in the Church of Night. There’s plenty of magic and drama that you’d expect from a series about a teenage witch, and the visuals are fantastic. This series is definitely one for the teenagers or anyone who loves a good occult horror series with a splash of fun and plenty of references to classic horror themes. You can currently binge-watch Seasons 1, 2 and 3, with a release date for Season 4 (or, Part 4) currently unknown.
When Netflix wants you to tune in to a new show, or season, it has a habit of trying to ram it down your throat, keeping it in your eye’s view until you eventually give in and click. It’s like that with Ozark, but in this instance you really should take the advice. Ozark could be described as the new Breaking Bad given it tells the story of a main character pretty much out of his depth dealing with a Mexican drug cartel. But instead of making drugs, our main character here is instead involved with laundering money on behalf of the bad guys. Said main character is played by none other than Jason Bateman (playing Marty Bryde), ably supported by Laura Linney (who plays Marty’s wife, Wendy).
The couple and their kids quickly find themselves having to move from Chicago to the seemingly idyllic Ozarks region to escape their cartel-related problems. But surprise, surprise, things don’t go accordingly to plan. Be aware, this show is not as funny as Breaking Bad often was, and is in fact a lot darker at times. But it’s essential viewing for fans of the genre. Season 2 is now playing, with Season 3 on the way!
Netflix does crime drama really well, and Mindhunter is certainly no exception. Loosely based on a non-fiction book of the same name, this series centres around two fictional FBI agents, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), as they work in the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit in the 1970s and through to the 1980s. These were the early days of studying criminal psychology and the development of criminal profiling at the FBI. Many of the events that transpire in Season 1 and Season 2 are based on real events and real interviews with some of the most notorious serial killers during this time, including Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton) and Charles Manson (played by Aussie actor Damon Herriman, who also played Manson in the Quentin Tarentino film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood).
Mindhunter has grown a very loyal following, and once you start watching, it’s easy to see why. This is a crime thriller at its best and the casting of the serial killers is so well done, it’s easy to forget you’re watching actors and not the real thing. While there are two seasons available to binge-watch on Netflix, the highly-anticipated season three looks to be on rocky ground as it’s been put on hold indefinitely, despite plans for five seasons of the show.
Hot off the press, the Staircase is a demonstration of what Netflix seems to do best – gritty ‘whodunnit’ documentaries. The Staircase is actually a 2004 French miniseries that was picked up and expanded upon by the Netflix productions team in June 2018. It documents the trial of Michael Peterson, an American man accused of killing his wife Kathleen in 2001. She was found dead at the bottom of a staircase and the series plays out in the courtroom, not dissimilar to that of ‘Making a Murderer’. It’s a meticulous and thought-provoking documentary that’s sure to take you out of the sun for a few hours.
The miniseries picks apart the private lives of the Petersons and the husband so ‘obviously’ did it – or did he? It’s an interesting insight into how both prosecution teams and the defence mount their arguments, what they latch onto, and how they present their cases.
What should I binge watch on Netflix?
No matter your TV tastes, Netflix has new shows and new seasons releasing all the time. The beauty with Netflix is the large majority of its TV series are released all at once, meaning you can binge watch instead of having to wait weekly for the new episode. If you’re new to Netflix, get caught up with these shows and you’ll soon be at the cutting edge of the water cooler conversation, playgroup chat, or school drop-off catch-up.
Netflix has plenty on offer here, and if you’re looking for something new to watch, or you have a free weekend, the above shows may be suitable. So grab the popcorn and snacks, get in your pyjamas and have a weekend in full of bingeing delight! It’s also worth checking out the very best shows on Stan and Amazon Prime. And maybe even HayU if you’re feeling like a bit of trash TV.