From Nordic mystery to Chinese period drama to heart-warming Australian comedy, these essential series give you plenty of options for gripping summer viewing.
By
SBS Guide

16 Jan 2020 - 4:38 PM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2020 - 8:42 PM

Bored with the same, same, same?  Take a dive into these series now streaming at SBS On Demand. 

The New Pope

If you loved Jude Law in The Young Pope, get set for another rocketing and unpredictable ride through the papacy  (and if you haven't discovered the compelling drama that is The Young Pope, stop reading now! Spoilers are about to follow - head over to SBS On Demand where the entire season of The Young Pope is streaming now). 

John Malkovich and Jude Law star in Paolo Sorrentino's stunning vision of the modern papacy. Pius XIII (Law) is in a coma. Succeeding him is the charming and moderate English aristocrat Sir John Brannox (Malkovich) with the name John Paul III. Quickly, the new pope realises it won't be easy to replace Pius XIII who has become a Saint with thousands of faithful followers now idolising him. 

The New Pope is streaming exclusively at SBS On Demand, with two new episodes available each week from 16 January. 

Years and Years

Russell T. Davies has created a scarily real-looking world with this drama series. The indomitable Emma Thompson stars as Vivienne Rook, a wealthy businesswoman forging her way up in politics. Relying on brutal candidness and shock factor in her speeches, she knows just how to spin the wheels in her favour to get what she wants while making it seem she’s out for the everyday person.

This audacious drama follows an ordinary Manchester family with Rook’s elevation as the starting backdrop, 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.

Season 1 of Years and Years is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

Twin

From Norway comes this identity story of twins, Adam and Erik (played by the superb Kristofer Hivju, Game of Thrones). Having no contact for 15 years, the brothers live very different lives. While Erik’s an unemployed surf rat living in a caravan and relying on the kindness of friends to get by, Adam has two children and with wife Ingrid (Rebekka Nystabakk) runs a successful hotel. When Erik’s luck runs out, he reaches out to Adam for help.

An altercation leads Ingrid to accidentally kill her husband, and to avoid her being arrested for murder and to save his brother’s family, Erik takes on Adam’s identity. The performances and the breath-taking scenery provide plenty of attraction. The strong supporting cast add even more aplomb to the series.  

Season 1 of Twin is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

On Becoming A God in Central Florida

Kirsten Dunst, who is also one of the heavyweight executive producers, is the shining light of this dark comedy. Playing Krystal Stubbs, a minimum-wage water park employee, she falls into desperate times when her husband, caught up with the cultish pyramid scheme, FAM, meets an untimely death. They ruined her family; now, she’s determined to climb her way up FAM’s ranks using whatever method it takes. Also stars Ted Levine as FAM top dog, Obie Garbeau II.

Season 1 of On Becoming A God in Central Florida is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

The Bridge

As we wrote in 2018, the global impact of The Bridge has been massive. The show has aired all around the world, leading to foreign versions including an American one set on the border with Mexico, The Tunnel, which starts off in the English Channel at the border between Britain and France, and new shows featuring a border-crossing premise, including Pagan Peak.

The original Nordic noir co-production pairs up Swedish police detective Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) with Danish detective Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) to solve the mystery of the body found in the middle of the Øresund, a bridge linking the countries. Season 4 will be the final season, so don’t miss out on seeing how they wrap up this iconic series.  

Seasons 1–4 of The Bridge are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

    

Also streaming is The Bridge USA:

And The Tunnel:

The Hunting

Starring Asher Keddie and Richard Roxburgh, The Hunting follows the lives of four teenagers, their teachers and families in the aftermath of a nude teen photo scandal. Tackling themes of misogyny, online exploitation, sexuality and sexualisation, the series offers a vital portrait of modern, multicultural Australia.

Breaking ratings records earlier this year, The Hunting is set to screen in six other countries. Writers Niki Aken and Matthew Cormack picked up the AACTA Award for Best Screenplay in Television late last year for episode 3 titled #shittyboys.

Season 1 of The Hunting is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

Robbie Hood

Filmmaker Dylan River was inspired by his own childhood in Alice Springs to create short comedy web series, Robbie Hood. Three teens are the protagonists: Robbie (Pedrea Jackson), who lost his mum as a little one and lives with his grandmother, father and numerous siblings and cousins, and his loyal besties, the tough and assertive Georgia Blue (Jordan Johnson) and the tallest of them all, Little Johnny (Levi Thomas).

The kids are largely left to their own devices, their main aim being to source food and cruise round town seeking out fun and adventure, preferably without being hassled by interfering adults. It’s a gorgeous lovable series, and being shot on location gives it extra substance. With 6 x 10-minute episodes, it’s easily devoured, but you’ll want to savour it.

Season 1 of Robbie Hood is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Struggle Street

Season 3 of this thought-provoking documentary series was released last year. With a shameful 13.2% of Australians living below the poverty line, the show is still sadly relevant. Locals of Wagga Wagga and surrounds, in the New South Wales Riverina region, share the complex issues facing them and many Australians today, including addiction, poverty and drought-induced stress, as well as inadequate access to health care. Season 2, from 2017, is also streaming at SBS On Demand.

Seasons 2 and 3 of Struggle Street are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

The Handmaid’s Tale

This hugely popular adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel barely needs an introduction. Season 3 follows June’s resistance to Gilead’s dystopian regime and her determined strike back against overwhelming odds. Season 4 is coming soon. Stay tuned!

Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Wisting

This thrilling Norway­–USA collaboration brings together homicide detective William Wisting (Sven Nordin) and FBI special agent Maggie Griffin (Carrie-Anne Moss) to solve the case of a suspected American serial killer on the loose. Wisting’s journalist daughter is also put into grave danger after publishing a news story related to the investigation. This is one bingeworthy series.  

Season 1 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Shrill

Hit comedy Shrill centres on young woman Annie (the talented Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live, Girls) 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. Along for the ride, her fangirl and best friend Fran (UK comedian Lolly Adefope) has a zesty sense of humour and offers unwavering support for our woman.

Season 1 of Shrill is now streaming at SBS On Demand. Season 2 arrives on Saturday, 25 January.

The Last Man On Earth

It’s 2022, and Phil Miller is the last man on Earth, the sole survivor of a cataclysmic event. Phil searches for other survivors to quell his deepening loneliness, and finally encounters Carol (Kristen Schaal) but co-existing with her is more challenging than he anticipated. When more survivors show up, the challenges only grow.

Starring Will Forte as Phil (Forte also created the show), the strong cast includes comedy pros Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), and January Jones (Mad Men) proves her comedy chops. All four seasons are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

Seasons 1–4 of The Last Man On Earth are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

The Longest Day In Chang’an

From China comes this hit period drama series based on Ma Boyong’s novel of the same name. Set in 774 AD when Chang’an was the cosmopolitan heart of the Tang Empire, the events of a single day unfold over 48 episodes (bear with!), each accounting for 30 minutes of the day. The day in question is the Lantern Festival when an attack is to take place, staged by the remnants of a vanquished Central Asian kingdom. While the court is fraught with infighting, two investigators set out to thwart proceedings.

This series was widely popular in China upon its release there last June, not least for its stars, including pop idol Jackson Yee as investigator Li Bi and popular actor Lei Jiayin as a former army officer turned rebel hunter. Now, we get to marvel at this depiction of a momentous day in Chinese history.

Season 1 of The Longest Day In Chang’an arrives at SBS On Demand on Thursday, 23 January.

Dublin Murders

Creator Sarah Phelps has based this crime series on Tana French’s novels, In The Woods and The Likeness. Detectives Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene) are tasked to investigate the murder of a young girl, found in dense woodland on the outskirts of Dublin. Reilly’s past connects him strongly to the case, and as he’s drawn to investigate another missing child, he’s plunged further into his own past than he’s ever wanted to go, threatening the revelation of secrets he’s worked desperately hard to keep hidden away. The dynamic between Reilly and Maddox, who play close friends as well as co-workers, is a major drawcard here.  

Season 1 of Dublin Murders arrives at SBS On Demand on Wednesday, 19 February. Here’s the trailer:

 

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