• The best reviewed drama series of 2019. (SBS On Demand)
Get the snacks ready and ensconce yourself. These dramas are the best reviewed of the year, and for very good reason indeed.
By
SBS Guide

12 Dec 2019 - 11:40 AM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2019 - 11:40 AM

Blood

In this psychological thriller set in rural Ireland, adult Cat (Carolina Main) returns to her childhood home following her mother’s death from a fall at the bottom of the garden. The simmering tension of this family saga deepens when Cat begins to suspect her father (Adrian Dunbar) is involved. The Guardian lauded the show’s women characters as feeling ‘real, well wrought and fully fleshed out’, with the show’s creator Sophie Petzal never forgetting ‘to find the humour in the smaller moments’.

Watch Blood now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 


 

Deep State

Season 1 of this espionage drama follows ex-spy Max Easton (played by Mark Strong, who also stars in Temple, another of 2019’s best) forced out of retirement by the chief of MI6 to carry out a very personal mission in Beirut. Back home in France, where he’s settled with a new young family, his wife Anna (Lynn Renee) has cause to suspect he’s not the man she thought he was. Digging into his past reveals information that puts her and their children in grave danger. In an Australian connection, four episodes of season 1 were directed by Robert Connolly. Joe Dempsie and Karima McAdams co-star.

Walton Goggins joins the cast in season 2 as operative Nathan Miller. This time, the setting is Mali, Africa, and when four US Special Forces operatives and their translator are supposedly killed in an ambush, delaying a procurement deal in Washington, Miller is torn between his family and his duty. Deep State is heart-racing stuff.

Seasons 1 and 2 of Deep State are now at SBS On Demand.


 

Harlots

With an impressive cast of stars, including Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville and Liv Tyler, this female-centric drama is set in cosmopolitan 18-century London, and centres on the heady and highly competitive world of the city’s most valuable commercial activity – sex. All three seasons of this ‘obscenely enjoyable’ series are now at SBS On Demand.

Watch seasons 1 to 3 of Harlots at SBS On Demand.


 

Letterkenny

The rural Ontario town of Letterkenny is our setting in this series chockful of oddballs. Co-creators Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney have grouped their characters into three ‘gangs’: the not-so-brainy hockey players, the meth-smoking skids and the close-knit hicks. Lead hick Wayne (Keeso) consistently emerges victorious in organised punch-ups that ensure everyone knows who’s the toughest bloke in town. The wordsmithing is a fun challenge to work out, the turns of phrase most certainly unique.

Watch seasons 1 to 3 of Letterkenny at SBS On Demand.


 

Temple

In this UK remake of Norwegian series Valkyrien Mark Strong plays Daniel Milton, a successful surgeon who, along with the young and lonely Lee (Daniel Mays), runs a top-secret clinic beneath London’s Temple tube station. There, he treats those who can’t or won’t seek legitimate healthcare: criminals, illegal immigrants, misfits; their clientele becomes increasingly unpredictable. Game of Thrones’ Carice Van Houten plays Anna, a medical researcher who’s unwittingly drawn into the business. In the vein of Mary Kills People and Trust Me, the ‘hugely rewarding’ Temple centres on the good doctor (and that bass-heavy voice of his) juggling the illegal operation and a fraught personal life.

Watch Temple now at SBS On Demand


 

Shrill

Hit comedy series Shrill stars Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live, Girls) as Annie, an overweight young woman who wants to change her life – but not her body – unlike everyone else around her, it seems. Annie is determined to fire up her career in journalism while juggling a demoralising boyfriend, the illness of her beloved father, and the dismissive attitude of her perfectionist boss. UK comedian Lolly Adefope co-stars as the best friend we all want. Season 1 airs in full on Saturday 18 January in the lead-up to the arrival of season 2, fast-tracked from the US, airing in full on SBS VICELAND on Saturday 25 January.

Before season 2 arrives on 25 January, watch season 1 of Shrill now at SBS On Demand


 

Butterfly

Three-part English series Butterfly deals with the sensitive issue of 11-year-old Max who wants to transition to a girl known as Maxine. Separated parents Stephen (Emmett J Scanlan) and Vicky (Anna Friel) are challenged like never before, and are divided in their response to Max’s desire. Bullying and self-harm are also dealt with in this ‘wonderfully delicate’ ground-breaking series.

Watch Butterfly at SBS On Demand


 

Back To Life

Miri Matteson (played by the show’s creator, Daisy Haggard) has just been released from 18 years in prison. She’s returns to live with her parents Caroline (Geraldine James) and Oscar (Richard Durden) whose own unexpected dramas soon unfold. Miri’s neighbourhood seems benign at first, but her neighbours quickly end up in her life bringing emotional challenges, and she discovers a mysterious out-of-towner seems to be following her. Miri tries hard to move on, but the residents are determined to remind her of her past, making the laugh-out-loud moments even more welcome in this wonderful, moving series.    

Watch Back To Life now at SBS On Demand.

 


 

Years and Years

Starring Emma Thompson, this audacious drama follows an ordinary Manchester family and catapults them from life in 2019 through to 2034. The Britain of this drama is rocked by political, economic and technological advances while the family experiences what they hope for and fear in the future. Audiences have found Russell T. Davies’ show ‘both brilliant and terrifying’.  

Watch Years and Years at SBS On Demand, also available in Arabic and Chinese.


 

On Becoming A God In Central Florida

Kirsten Dunst shines in this dark comedy as Krystal Stubbs, a minimum-wage water park employee. She lies, schemes and cons her way up the ranks of the cultish pyramid scheme, FAM, that drove her family to ruin. In this creepy view of suburban America, capitalism crumbles.

Watch On Becoming A God In Central Florida at SBS On Demand.

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