So you’re done with Game of Thrones and you’re now suffering from major withdrawals. You’re craving for another great series to catch. Like a heroin addict who desperately needs a fix, you don’t just want it, you need it or your body threatens to internally combust and disintegrate. So you turn on Netflix, but you’re spoilt for choice. “What do I watch?!?!” You scream into the ether. Don’t worry! We’ve got some suggestions for you. Below is a list of Netflix series that are engrossing, exciting and also pretty damn EPIC!
5. Stranger Things
You can’t discuss EPIC-ness without talking about the most popular show on Netflix. Stranger Things is great. Heck, it probably would’ve been a cultural phenomenon in the same vein as Game of Thrones if the episodes were released weekly as opposed to dropping all at once, but I digress. The series is a fantastic throwback to the 80s, particularly 80s adventure films like Indiana Jones, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Ghostbusters. The homages and nods are stylistic and abundant but they never feel superficial because at its core lies a great story with loads of heart and genuinely likeable characters. You come for the nostalgia, you stay for the storytelling.
The series is set in a small town in Indiana and follows a bunch of spunky kids played by charismatic actors who are in search of their missing friend, Will. The arrival of a young girl with superpowers makes the case all the more mysterious. In the hands of its showrunners/writers/directors, the Duffer Brothers, the highly energetic Stranger Things is equal parts funny, touching and haunting.
4. Sacred Games
Sacred Games is a sprawling and utterly fascinating Indian crime thriller created by Varun Grover based on Vikram Chandra’s best-selling novel of the same name. The opening moments of the series sees a big-time gangster by the name of Ganesh Gaitonde shoot himself in the head, but not before warning a police officer, Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) about a threat that will apparently lay Mumbai to waste. What exactly is that threat? How does a gangster fit into this? Why did he even warn this particular cop? Why did he kill himself? We discover the answers slowly, by alternating between past and present, gangster story and police investigation.
The characters are wonderfully written and the performances are brilliant all across the board. Saif Ali Khan and Radhika Apte have ample charisma but it is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who steals the show, delivering a magnetic, all-time great performance as the enigmatic gangster. Ganesh Gaitonde is both badass and vulnerable, evil yet charming. Season 2 expands the narrative even further and introduces us to an unholy cult lead by a false prophet with a Godlike complex. Some of it falls flat. It isn’t as tight as season one, probably because it’s missing the brilliant hands of Anurag Kasyap behind the camera. But as a whole, Sacred Games is still very much a fascinating watch.
There was a point in time, where the Daredevil character was seen as a complete joke by the mainstream audiences, no thanks to the 2003 film starring Ben Affleck. However, those days are long behind us. Netflix’s Daredevil is a magnificent beast that’s hard-hitting, blood-soaked and pulsating, filled with one EPIC action sequence after another. Every season tries to up itself in terms of fight choreography and photography. Season one has the brilliant one-take fight inspired by the Korean Oldboy that sees Daredevil fight a bunch of thugs in a corridor to rescue a little boy. Season 3’s heart-pounding prison break set-piece — also one-take — that’s 11 minutes long, is easily one of the most jaw-dropping pieces of action cinema this decade.
But Daredevil offers so much more than great action. It’s a crime drama that focuses on litigation, crime-solving and investigative journalism as much as it does the superheroism. Charlie Cox is great as a lawyer by day, vigilante by night, Matt Murdoch AKA Daredevil who operates in grey areas, and Vincent D’onofrio is a monstrous imposing presence as Kingpin. While the series has been cancelled after 3 seasons — along with the other Marvel Netflix shows — it still wraps everything up beautifully and ends on a high note.
2. Jessica Jones
This is a series that’s gripping right from its opening line: “New York may be the city that never sleeps, but it sure does sleep around.” Even more so than Daredevil, Jessica Jones is less about the superheroism and more about the human being behind the proverbial ‘mask’ (though, she doesn’t actually wear a mask in the series, nor her classic comic book costume). In fact, despite having superpowers, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) constantly rejects the notion that she’s a hero.
She’s a little bit of a recluse, a part-time assh*le, full-time drinker. She uses alcohol to numb the pain of her dark and cruel past. Jessica Jones is a slow burn feminist psychological thriller. At its core, this is a story of a rape victim trying to overcome her past traumas. The trauma is inflicted by Killgrave, the villain of the series played to perfection by David Tennant. Killgrave — a telepathic psychopath and a representation of odious toxic masculinity — is a villain so repulsive, you feel your gut fire up every time he pops up on screen.
If you’re intrigued by the underbellies and the world of crime then the Netflix crime-drama Narcos is a must-watch. The first two seasons detail the EPIC rise of notorious Cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar in the late 80s and the astronomical efforts of American and Columbian law enforcement to take him and his syndicate down. Yes, yes, a lot of what transpires on the show is fictionalised, some would say to a laughable degree. But while it isn’t 100% factual, it always feels earnest. Every single episode, particularly in the first two seasons are utterly engrossing, mostly because the story is so mind-blowing — seriously, you’ll keep wondering “how did any of this happen in real life??” over and over again throughout — and it’s directed in such a way that you’re constantly at the edge of your seat.
But it’s Wagner Moura’s intoxicating performance as Pablo Escobar that makes the series oh so addictive! He oozes so much charisma, that you can’t help but feel for him, despite constantly rooting against him. The third season which happens after the death of Pablo and centres around the downfall of the Cali Cartel is equally alluring.
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