Most people agree that we’re going through something of a golden age of television with many of the biggest talents turning their back on cinema and concentrating on the small screen instead. The huge sums of money that streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix are now putting aside for production, along with minimal editorial control, means that programme makers have more freedom than ever before to create the shows they want to make.
But, with so much first-rate TV to choose from, it can be hard to decide just which shows to dedicate time to watching. So, to give viewers a helping hand, here are four of the very best.
Hailed as the best sitcom ever to come out of Canada, Schitt’s Creek passed under the radar for many people until it entered its sixth and final season. Since this finished in April 2020 the show has started to pick up the awards that many felt it so richly deserved.
The action revolves around the Rose family, parents John and Moira and adult children Alexis and David, who were once rich but who have been defrauded and left penniless. The only place they have to live is a back-of-beyond town they once bought because they thought the name was funny. But they soon settle into their new home and start to make new lives for themselves along with new friends.
There are many standout episodes but a particular favourite of many people is one in which Moira Rose plans an incident-filled town outing to a local casino to play roulette. Incidentally, for fans of gambling on the small screen they can find more info on Netflix roulette here with a comprehensive list of the best casino movies available to stream.
Very like Schitt’s Creek, Succession was something of a slow burner for the first season. But, as more and more viewers discovered it, the show became one of the most talked-about on TV.
This also tells the story of a very wealthy family, but this one has managed to hold on to its money. Brian Cox plays Logan Roy, a media mogul very much in the style of a Rupert Murdoch character. Growing old and wanting to slow down, he aims to hand over the running of his empire to one of his children, sons Kendall and Roman and daughter Siobhan.
The drama lies in the attempts of all three to become his favoured successor as well as the changing moods and whims of Logan as he shifts his interest between them, playing them off against each other to see who is the most determined. Written by Jesse Armstrong whose previous titles include Peep Show, Fresh Meat and Veep, as well as being a great drama it’s also a very funny show too – although much of the drama is indisputably very dark indeed.
One only has to look at the cast list of this HBO mini-series to see that big Hollywood actors are choosing to play roles in quality television drama. In The Undoing the principal leads are Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant – and the fact that the legendary Donald Sutherland is reduced to the role of supporting actor tells you all you need to know.
Adapted from the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz,, that action takes place in the more glamorous parts of Manhattan where married couple Kidman and Grant play a successful therapist married to a leading pediatric oncologist. But, following the murder of a mother of one of the pupils at their son’s school, their perfect lives start to unravel.
We soon discover that there are countless secrets and lies that slowly come to the surface, all expertly handled by writer David E. Kelly of Big Little Lies fame and Suzanne Bier, director of the highly acclaimed The Night Manager. We even get to enjoy the unexpected treat of Nicole Kidman singing the theme tune “Dream a little dream”.
Emily in Paris
Our final recommendation couldn’t be more different from The Undoing, in so many ways. The first clue is in the title – the series is a classic American in Paris story that we’ve seen may times before. But, in this case the girl in question is played by Lily Collins, daughter of the famous musician Phil Collins.
In the series she plays Emily Cooper, a twenty-year-old from Chicago who falls into a job working for a French marketing firm called Savoir. What follows is a typical “fish out of water” story, but one in which that fish gradually starts to swim with real confidence. If you just want to sink back and enjoy the sight of beautiful people in a beautiful city, then this is the perfect choice. While some critics may have been a little sniffy about it, the show has gathered a devoted following. The fact that Netflix has had no hesitation in commission a second series tells you everything you need to know.
So there you have them. Four very different types of show to enjoy. So get the popcorn, fire up the TV and settle back to enjoy.