• (L - R) 'East West 101', 'The Killing', 'Spooks' and 'Fargo' (SBS)Source: SBS
We’ve hunted through the vast array of content currently streaming at SBS On Demand and have picked out the TV drama series you must watch in your lifetime.
By
Ally Caracatsanis

23 Oct 2020 - 10:39 AM  UPDATED 17 Mar 2021 - 4:16 PM

The Killing

This series is one that really started the Scandi/Nordic Noir obsession in Australia. When it originally aired on SBS back in 2010, similar to Twin Peaks’ ‘who killed Laura Palmer?’ people were trying to figure out who killed Nanna Birk Larsen and how to find a jumper like Sarah Lund’s? 

Season 1 takes place over 20 gripping episodes and 20 days in Copenhagen. On what is supposed to be her last day in the homicide department, Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl) is thrown into the murder investigation of a young woman, 19-year-old Larsen. The Larsen family and their friends struggle to cope with the loss. Meanwhile a top politician, Troels Hartmann (Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads) is involved in a ruthless but promising election campaign. As the investigation unfolds, Copenhagen opens up like a Chinese box, full of secrets and power struggles and everyone becomes a part of the same story as the police follow the leads. Running for just 3 seasons, The Killing certainly left its mark as one of the best Nordic Noir series ever.

The Killing seasons 1-3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand

 

Borgen

From the producers of The Killing, the critically acclaimed Danish drama series Borgen follows the intricate and complicated lives of politicians, media spinners and reporters. Sidse Babett Knudsen stars as Birgitte Nyborg, who becomes the first female Danish Prime Minister after scoring her party a landslide victory through her idealism and tenacious work ethic. And thus she faces the biggest challenges of her life: how can she most effectively use the newly won seats, and how far is she willing to go to gain as much influence as possible? Will she be able to succeed as a top politician and stay true to herself at the same time?

The series looks at many aspects of the political sphere: the politicians, the journalists and the private lives of the players. It is superbly written. If you like political dramas then you can’t go past Borgen, which has to be one of, if not the best, political TV series ever. 

Borgen seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Fargo

Created by Noah Hawley, each season of Fargo (based on the Academy Award-winning feature film by the Coen brothers) features an all-new ‘true crime’ story. They all follow a new case and new characters, all are entrenched in the trademark humour, murder and ‘Minnesota nice’ that made the film an enduring classic.

Each season is standalone so you can watch them in any order you please, and they all feature an incredible cast line-up. Season 1 – Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman. Season 2 – Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson and Jesse Plemons. Season 3 – Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Carrie Coon and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. And the latest season is a doozy (and set in Kansas City) with Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Jessie Buckley, Jack Huston, Uzo Aduba and Timothy Olyphant (just to name a few).

You don't have to watch the past 3 seasons of 'Fargo' (but you really should)
The stories are separate but with one crucial thing in common: the outstanding, award-winning talent of the Coen brothers.

Fargo seasons 1–3 are available to stream now at SBS On Demand (available until 16 December). Season 4 is airing on Thursdays weekly at 8:30PM on SBS with episodes available at SBS On Demand 2PM the same day they go to air. Start at season 1 episode 1:

Or jump to season 4:

 

Spooks

This seminal UK spy drama ran for 10 incredible seasons and introduced us to a slew of players who would become the who’s who of British actors. Set behind the scenes of the modern British Security Service (MI5), Spooks shows what it’s like to be a spy, through the eyes of the spies themselves, balancing the personal life storylines with the intense and sleek action. The series became known for its shock twists, cliffhanger endings and the feeling that no character is safe (long before Game of Thrones killed off a lead character early, Spooks had already done so and in a completely brutal way).

Jump back to 2002 when in season 1 a young Matthew Macfadyen was the chief of section D, a clandestine counter-terrorism division who work round the clock to safeguard the nation.

'Spooks' is the best British spy series ever: Fact
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Spooks seasons 1–10 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

East West 101

East West 101 is one of SBS’s most loved local dramas. It follows Muslim detective, Zane Malik (Don Hany) who is fighting crime in a post 9/11 world. When a police officer is killed, apparently by two armed robbers ‘of Middle Eastern appearance’, Malik uses his connections in the Arab community to track down the youths involved. His search for the truth brings him into a head-on clash with Senior Detective Ray Crowley, who accuses him of putting his community before his job. Will Malik be able to find out the truth behind the officer’s death before war erupts on the streets of Lakemba? This might look like the battle between two strong men for dominance, but it is also a metaphor for the fear that exists between East and West as two men search for love, approval and forgiveness.

The series is based on the experiences of actual detectives in a crime unit in Sydney’s western suburbs. 

East West 101 seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Broadchurch

Starring (the one and only) Olivia Colman and David Tennant as our lead investigators, Broadchurch is set in a small beachside town with wind and cliffs aplenty and a crime that will have you trying to guess who in the town is guilty. In season 1 when the body of 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found on the sand in Broadchurch, DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller are called to investigate in a case that will change the small Dorset community forever. This slow-burn murder mystery will hook you in and the performances from the incredible cast will make you want to watch just one more episode (and then surprise, you’ve watched them all). This series was so popular it was remade in the US with Tennant reprising his role. 

Broadchurch seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

The Bureau

It is safe to say you will quickly become addicted to this French spy thriller. Intricately plotted and based firmly on real-life events, The Bureau focuses on agents working for the Service of Clandestines, an elite unit within the DGSE (basically the French CIA or MI6). The writers met with working agents to develop the scripts; its so authentic the DGSE itself gave the show the stamp of approval. This spy thriller will hook you in with its tense storylines and world-class cinematic quality and make you wonder how on earth these agents are able to do what they do. With an incredible cast and creative team, plus filming across remarkable locations, this is unmissable television. 

5 reasons why you will love ‘The Bureau’
It's the French answer to Homeland, but with more subtlety and less cry face.

The Bureau seasons 1–5 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

Blue Murder

Back in the mid-1990s, this two-part Australian drama series was banned from airing in New South Wales due to ongoing legal proceedings following the uncovering of police corruption in events that spanned six years. Richard Roxburgh, who won a Logie for the role, plays decorated police officer Roger ‘The Dodger’ Rogerson, who does a deal with violent psychopath Arthur ‘Neddy’ Smith, played by Tony Martin, effectively giving the career criminal free reign to dominate Sydney’s underworld. Extensively researched, the thrilling program shows the gritty, corrupt and extremely violent side of 1980s Sydney. This tense drama full of twists and turns is a masterclass in television production by celebrated Australian filmmaker Mike Jenkins.  

Blue Murder is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

 

 

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