Number 1 on this list had to be the seminal Nordic Noir cross-country crime drama, The Bridge. Created by Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein and Hans Rosenfeldt the series begins when a woman is found murdered in the middle of the Øresund Bridge – right on the border between Sweden and Denmark. The Swedish and Danish police are called to the scene. What at first looks like one murder, turns out to be two. The bodies have been brutally cut in half at the waist and put together to form a single corpse. This spectacular double murder is just the beginning of a wave of violence the like of which no one has ever seen before. The Swedish and Danish police find themselves in a race against the clock in a deadly showdown with a superior enemy, where no one will be the same when it’s over.
While the crime and thriller elements will keep you hooked, what really has you coming back across 4 gripping seasons is the character of Saga Noren, the lead police detective, played so wonderfully by Sofia Helin.
The complete series of The Bridge is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Mårlind and Stein's next project together was the first French–Swedish TV co-production, Midnight Sun, a high-concept, culture-clash thriller bathed in sunlight. Leïla Kahina Zadi (Leïla Bekhti), a French police officer, travels to Kiruna, a small mining community in remote northern Sweden, to investigate the brutal murder of a French citizen (the murder is an opening scene you won’t soon forget). With the help of Swedish DA Anders Harnesk (Gustaf Hammarsten), Kahina is faced with new killings – the initial murder turns out to be the tip of the iceberg – and the pair come to realise that behind the killings is a 10-year-old secret conspiracy involving many of the town’s inhabitants. Kahina finds herself confronting a ruthless serial killer, always one step ahead, a macabre plan and her own painful past.
Nordic Noir loves to team up detectives from different countries; what Midnight Sun does so well is beautifully explore the backgrounds and lives of the characters in line with the crimes. The show also places a spotlight on the Indigenous Sámi people.
Midnight Sun is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
If it’s more WWII drama you are after, then you can’t go past 2 seasons of Das Boot. In season one, it’s autumn of 1942 in occupied France, and the submarine U-612 is now ready for its maiden voyage, preparing to head into the increasingly brutal warfare with its young crewmen, including the new captain, Klaus Hoffmann. As the 40 men take on their first mission, they struggle with the cramped and claustrophobic conditions of life underwater. Meanwhile, at the port of La Rochelle, Simone Strasser, sister of one of the crew, is engulfed in a dangerous liaison. And in season 2 of the critically acclaimed drama, it’s December, and U-boat ace Johannes von Reinhartz (Clemens Schick) is handed a new secret mission to transport three saboteurs to the US East Coast on board U-822. When his loyalty is questioned, U-612 is sent in pursuit.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Das Boot are streaming at SBS On Demand.
World On Fire
This WWII drama is set in 1939, and the threat of the Nazi regime looms large over Europe. Starring Sean Bean and Helen Hunt, World On Fire tells the story of World War II through the lives of ordinary people from all sides of the global conflict. Among them, there’s Douglass Bennett (Bean), a bus conductor, pacifist and shell-shocked veteran of the Battle of the Somme; his daughter Lois (Julia Brown); Vernon Hunter (Arthur Darvill), an RAF fighter pilot; and Nancy Campbell (Hunt), an American journalist working in Berlin. Moving between France, Britain, Poland and Germany, the 7-part series journeys into a pivotal time in world history.
Be quick! World On Fire season 1 is streaming at SBS On Demand until 12 April.
Perhaps it was the famous faces that drew you to Shadowplay? If that’s the case you should check out Riviera. The series is led by Julia Stiles (Jason Bourne) and features other recognisable faces like Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana), Lena Olin (Alias), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones) and Rupert Graves (Sherlock). The series begins when Georgina Clios’ (Stiles) billionaire banker husband Constantino (LaPaglia) is mysteriously killed. She is determined to find out what happened, but the deeper she digs, the darker things get. The drama and conspiracies continue in the second and third seasons of Riviera, as do the stunning costumes and locations.
Watch every episode of Riviera at SBS On Demand.
Why Women Kill
Tonally very different from Shadowplay, but if it’s more famous faces you are after, you can’t go past Why Women Kill. This dark comedy from Marc Cherry, the creator of Desperate Housewives, is led by Ginnifer Goodwin, Lucy Liu and Kirby Howell-Baptiste. They play three women across three different decades, who all live in the same house in Pasadena, California and who (as the title would suggest) commit murder. We meet Beth Ann Stanton (Goodwin) in 1963, Simone Grove (Liu), onto her third marriage in 1984, and Taylor Harding (Howell-Baptiste), who’s in an open marriage, in 2019. Each era is represented with exceptional colour, design and style, there are twists and turns aplenty and wonderful performances from the cast.
Why Women Kill is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Shadowplay airs on SBS weekly on Thursdays at 9:30pm. Episodes are available to stream the same day as they go to air at SBS On Demand. Start from episode 1: