This true crime drama really shows that fact is stranger than fiction. You may have noticed in crime series lately characters having a condition called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy; if you google it, the story this series is based on is top of the search list. Based on a shocking 2015 crime, it enacts what happens when daughter Gypsy (Joey King) attempts to escape the toxic relationship she has with her overprotective mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. Gypsy’s quest for independence opens a Pandora’s box of secrets, which ultimately leads to murder. Patricia Arquette won the Primetime Emmy for her performance as Dee Dee Blanchard.
The Act is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
When you read the synopsis for The Head, you just know you’ll be staying put to find out what happened.
After a summer of hard scientific work at Polaris VI International Research Station, most of the crew head home. Only a few chosen ones stay behind to endure the Antarctic winter. Inexplicably, in the middle of the long polar night, communications with the base are lost. Weeks later, a team led by Johan (played by Denmark’s Alexandre Willaume), the summer commander, comes to the rescue… only to find the most terrifying scene: a bunch of brutally murdered bodies, two survivors and one missing person: Johan’s wife (Laura Bach). Arthur (John Lynch), the veteran in charge of the scientific team, and Maggie (Scottish actress Katharine O’Donnelly), the young and inexperienced doctor, are the only survivors that can shed some light on the crimes. But they are also the main suspects. Both tell completely different stories. Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? And will Johan be able to find his wife before it’s too late?
The Head is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Winter 2019. What so many people predicted on numerous occasions becomes a reality when the Belgian power grid suddenly collapses. The nationwide blackout is a result of the sabotage of a reactor at the Westerdonk nuclear power plant. Who’s behind it all? And why? And then the Belgian prime minister Annemie Hillebrand (Sara de Roo) receives this message: ‘Turn the lights back on and your daughter dies.’ Annemie is torn between her sense of duty and love for her daughter. Because of the blackout, eleven million people are stuck without electricity, without light and water, without heating. This is a series filled with tension and mystery. At the same time, it confronts us all with such themes as ecology, sustainability and national security. It's a deft blend of political and crime thriller.
Blackout is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Starring Cush Jumbo (The Good Fight) and David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch), this four-part crime drama is set in the fictional Scottish town of Kirkdarroch and follows two families in the aftermath of a horrific crime. One night the community is drawn to Tom’s (Tennant) home in the forest by the flicker of flames and the smell of smoke. Amid the confusion Tom’s wife Kate (Anne Madeley) and their three children are found dead while Tom is rushed to hospital. As the fingers of suspicion point first to Tom, then to others as more details of that night emerge, Jess (Jumbo) becomes desperate to understand what could have caused such a tragedy, and what secrets lie at the root of this terrible act.
Deadwater Fell is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
This Dutch series is based on events that took place in the 1990s where the titular Stanley is Stanley Hillis (Jeroen Spitzenberger), one of the country’s most infamous criminals. Over three decades, Stanley evolved from ‘gentleman’ bank robber to ruthless kingpin. In the early 90s, thousands of kilograms of drugs (as well as weapons and explosives) were allowed to enter the country in an effort to catch the leader of the Dutch drug empire.
The four-part Stanley presents the cat-and-mouse game between the Justice Department and the criminal underworld, introducing us to remarkable characters on both sides. With Stanley’s group marred by mistrust, money problems and betrayal, heads surely roll. A fascinating look at this recent criminal history.
Stanley is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
The Salisbury Poisonings
This incredible four-part series is based on the real-life 2018 assassination attempt on double agent and spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK. Soon after the attack, it was discovered that a lethal nerve agent called Novichok was used, just half a teaspoon of which could kill 20,000 people, sending the local community into turmoil. Local policeman Nick Bailey (Rafe Spall) and Head of Public Health Tracy Daszkiewicz (Anne-Marie Duff) worked exclusively with producers to capture the fear, uncertainty and immense heroism of the community who ultimately rose to the challenge of overcoming a lethal contagion. Very inspiring stuff, and maybe a little timely too.
The Salisbury Poisonings is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Years and Years
This series from Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who, Queer As Folk, It’s a Sin) shows how to survive against the backdrop of a frightening political world and the rise of extremism. Years and Years follows the Lyons, a busy Manchester family. Daniel’s getting married to Ralph. Stephen and Celeste worry about their kids. Rosie’s chasing a new fella. Edith hasn’t been home for years. All are presided over by Gran, the imperial Muriel. But when their lives all converge on one crucial night in 2019, the story accelerates into the future, following them over the next 15 years. And what a world! Society gets hotter, faster, madder, with the turmoil of politics, technology and distant wars affecting the Lyons in their day-to-day lives. Set against this, the Lyons have to navigate their everyday hopes and fears, knowing that one ordinary family could never change the world. Or could they?
Starring Russell Tovey (who also stars in Years and Years), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones) and Nina Toussaint-White (Bodyguard), this British psychological thriller is from Luther creator Neil Cross. Praised by The Guardian as a “nail-biting whodunnit that is truly haunting,” it centres on Nathan who, almost a decade into his devoted married life, is rocked to the core when an unwelcome face from the past turns up on his doorstep with shocking news, triggering a series of catastrophic decisions. Suitably creepy and nail-biting this series is filled with dark forests, haunting spirits and an unrecognisable Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster) as the sinister, here to haunt your dreams character of Bob.
The Sister is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
2015 crime drama mini series The Principal is a whodunnit set in a multicultural school. Matt Bashir (Alex Dimitriades), history teacher and former Deputy at a prestigious girls’ school, is swiftly promoted to the position of Principal of Boxdale Boys High. In this notoriously difficult Sydney school, Bashir’s radical approach brings him into conflict on all fronts and leaves his personal life dangerously exposed. He works overtime to get the local community on side, promising change in his charges. But just when it seems he is making progress, a 17-year-old student is found dead on school grounds. The murder and subsequent police investigation threaten Bashir’s fledgling reforms, his support from staff and even his resolve. But he’s determined to do his best for the boys of Boxdale despite his fear that students will take matters into their own hands. The murder investigation shifts focus from students to gang members, local shopkeepers, parents and staff.
The Principal is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
International Emmy Award-winning Anna Friel stars in a heartfelt story from BAFTA Award-winning writer Tony Marchant. The story centres on 11-year-old Max, who identifies as a girl and wants to live her life as Maxine. What follows is a great test of family love and understanding. The visibility and acknowledgement that Butterfly brings for trans children and their families makes it ground-breaking television and a potential lifeline for many people; it is a heartfelt and sensitive family story. British charity Mermaids, a support organisation for young trans people and their families, provided advice and guidance for the Butterfly production and are featured within the series.
Butterfly is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
This timely 2019 four-part drama tackles themes of misogyny, online exploitation, sexuality and sexualisation. The Hunting intimately and dramatically imagines the lives of four teenagers, their teachers and their families throughout the lead-up, revelation and aftermath of a nude teen photo scandal. When two high school teachers discover students are sharing explicit photos of their underage friends and peers online, the revelation has unbearable consequences for their students and their families. The series uses this singular event as a way of exploring some of the most pressing issues of our time and offering a vital portrait of contemporary, multicultural Australia.
The 2018 four-part drama Safe Harbour is a bold psychological thriller that left viewers asking “who cut the rope?” On a yachting holiday from Darwin to Indonesia, five Australians come across a broken-down fishing boat, full of desperate asylum seekers. The Australians decide to help, towing the refugees, but when they wake the next morning the fishing boat is gone.
Five years later they meet some of the refugees again and learn the truth. Someone cut the rope between the two boats and, as a result, seven people died when the fishing boat sank. The revelation drives a wedge of mistrust between the Australians, as they grapple with protecting themselves and doing the right thing. The refugees struggle with their desire for justice and, possibly, revenge. Old secrets come to light, relationships are shattered and lives are put in danger. And that one question hangs over it all – who cut the rope?
Safe Harbour is now streaming at SBS On Demand.