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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

What we're loving: 11 TV shows to binge watch on Netflix

When life gets overwhelming, sit back and relax with a good Netflix series

Pedro Pascal in Narcos. Juan Pablo Gutierrez / Netflix
Pedro Pascal in Narcos. Juan Pablo Gutierrez / Netflix

Life can get busy and sometimes overwhelming. Some days, something as simple as a good Netflix marathon is all you need to help unwind. Grab a blanket, turn off your phone, sit back and relax. In no particular order, here are 11 television shows or series in the Netflix Middle East catalogue that we think deserve a good binge-watch.

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table is not just a show for people who like cooking or love food, it is a show about the tenacity of the human spirit and mind-blowing creativity. Each episode profiles a world-renowned chef and tells the story of their (often rocky) path to culinary success. Created by the man who brought you Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Chef’s Table is beautifully filmed and showcases talents and cuisines from some of the most remote areas of the world to bustling cities. Watching this show will make you want to eat your way across the world, feel like you can overcome any adversity that befalls you and remind you that no cuisine isn’t fine enough for fine dining. – Juman Jarallah

Black Mirror

The brainchild of venom-tongued journalist and TV presenter Charlie Brooker, this ongoing series of unrelated cautionary tales about the dangers of technology is mostly a collection of near-future nightmares to keep you awake at night. As the seasons have progressed, the cast and production values have got more “Hollywood”, but the narratives remain imbued with a sense of dystopian dread, albeit occasionally tempered with the occasional heart-tugging love story. Well, maybe one. The rest will just leave you terrified of the coming years, your iPhone and every other “black mirror” device from which the show takes its fittingly dark title. – Adam Workman

Narcos

Anything that has to do with politics, history, drug cartels and larger-than-life wacko personalities has my attention. Narcos packs in all that and more for gratifying my old obsession with Pablo Escobar. The show is based on the drug dealings of Colombian cartels starting in the 1980s, and Escobar is on the front line of it all. His crazy life is a ready-made script for the story-line, and the showmakers add artistic brilliance. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura is menacing as Escobar and Pedro Pascal (also known as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones) is convincing as a brooding, fearless drug enforcement agent. Escobar takes over the first two seasons; now running into its third season, the show has moved on to other drug kingpins. Narcos is worth all the binge-watching with zero remorse. – Mary Ercilia Gayen

Trailer Park Boys

If you describe why this Canadian comedy is nigh-on genius, on paper, it is a tough sell. The basic premise is a bunch of white-trash trailer-park dwellers filmed in the mockumentary manner of The Office, except with extra guns, scams, swearing and a shirtless man called Randy with a belly the shape of a beer barrel. But its taboo-disregarding humour has made it a cult show around the world, even if you suspect that some of the actors behind the core crew of ne’er-do-wells might be a little closer to their characters in real life than would be entirely comfortable. – Adam Workman

Ozark

If you were ever curious about what it means to “clean” money for a drug cartel, all while trying to maintain a normal, middle-class family life in America, start Netflix series Ozark. It follows the story of a man who takes pride in honour and ethics, but finds himself in the midst of murder and deceit in the boonies off the coast of Lake Ozark in Missouri. Having visited the lake frequently while living in Missouri as a child, I felt a sort of personal link to the show – not that I have ever had experience in raising wild bobcats, rigging docks to electrocute people or laundering money. – Hafsa Lodi

Suits

Suits is a legal drama set in the heart of the Big Apple. It details the lives and cases of hotshot attorneys Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams) and others. Mike’s passage into the legal profession is not exactly through traditional channels, but Harvey’s belief in the youngster is quickly cemented through a series of successful, significant wins in the courtroom. How long Mike can keep up the facade is where it gets interesting. You will get to know and love other characters such as the sharp and feisty Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), the annoying but equally loveable Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) and Rachel Zane, played by Meghan Markle, who you might recognise as Prince Harry's love interest. Oh and the show brings out some gems, as far as soundtracks are concerned. Make sure you have Shazam ready for when you hear something good. – Jason Von Berg

Stranger Things

This show brings back 1980s nostalgia – and I wasn’t even around for most of that decade. The first season focuses on the disappearance of a young boy named Will Byers and the supernatural events that are also happening in Hawkins, Indiana. The cast consists of a loveable group of kids who you can’t help but root for. Stranger Things does have some scary elements, but also some sentimental ones. Not to mention the theme song is amazing – as is the rest of the impressive musical score, which sets the tone for the rest of the episodes. The second season comes out October 27. – Evelyn Lau

Master of None

Aziz Ansari is definitely a master of easy-to-relate storytelling. Written by the American comedian of Indian descent, Master of None is like watching a comical narration of his real life, and he has won Emmys for the show's writing. It is a mix of stories about misfits, immigrants, relationships and, basically, adulting. Don’t watch the second season hungry, or else you will want to dig into some pasta. – Mary Ercilia Gayen

Terrace House

This show is a game-changer and puts other reality television to shame. It is a Japanese reality show that follows the lives of three men and three women (all strangers) who live in a house together. Sure, the premise sounds familiar, but instead of drama and partying, the show focuses on issues most young adults can relate to (What’s my goal in life? Does he or she like me?). Each member comes to the house with a specific purpose, and once they feel they have found it, they leave and another housemate arrives. There are currently two seasons on Netflix: Boys and Girls in the City which takes place in Tokyo, and Aloha State in Hawaii. Even better is the panel that consists of comedians who add their own witty commentary between moments. Once described as a “show about nothing”, you will be surprised at how fast you binge-watch through the episodes while relating to everything. – Evelyn Lau

The Crown

The Crown shows a side of the British royal family never previously accessible to we humble commoners – their humanity. This is largely thanks to the convincing, believable performances of the two leads: Claire Foy as the young, often petulant, Queen Elizabeth II and one-time Dr Who Matt Smith as the irascible Prince Philip, who clearly resents playing second fiddle to his wife. Continuing seasons will take the story up to the present day – including Princess Diana and all the drama that surrounded her. I was never previously keen on the royals, but seen from this perspective, it is like you have a special place hiding behind the curtains amid all the goings-on at Buckingham Palace. Season 2 is released December 8. – Michael Barnard

Peaky Blinders

This BBC gangster thriller has made its way on to Netflix and the world is better for it. Set in Birmingham, England, just after the First World War, this riveting show focuses on the Peaky Blinders gang and their ambitious leader Thomas Shelby, played to perfection by the superb Cillian Murphy. Peaky Blinders is arguably Britain's answer to HBO's Boardwalk Empire, taking place in the same era, although the theme of prohibition that ran through Boardwalk does not really apply – quite the opposite. Murphy is undoubtedly the star, but he is ably supported, none more so than by Helen McCrory, who plays Aunt Polly, while Hollywood star Tom Hardy's baker-slash-gangster, who arrives in Season 2, is one of the best supporting characters you will ever see in a television series. Peaky Blinders is intense, violent, heartfelt and incredibly addictive. Season 4 is out this month, so clear your schedules. – Jon Turner

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Read more:

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