TV crackers

The Netflix shows to binge-watch this Christmas
Film+TV | 23 December 2017
text Cal Morris

Top image: Still, ‘Dark’ 2017 

The Christmas holidays are here, a time for love, giving and, of course, binging on hours of incredible TV. But what to pick? We know it can be a hard job sifting through that never-ending Netflix menu, so we’ve done the hard work for you and selected the most gripping TV shows on the streaming platform. From comedies to thrillers through award-winning documentaries, we’ve got you covered – all you need to do is stack up those leftover turkey sarnies for sustenance.

Think of this as an early Christmas present from us to you. I mean, what else are you gonna do when its minus two degrees and your nan’s doing karaoke?


Dark (Germany, 2017)

If you’re fresh off a 10-hour binge of Stranger Things and haven’t quite scratched the sci-fi television itch, this German TV series might be one to sniff out. Released on Netflix this month and featuring one hour long episodes, this will certainly quench your post-Stranger Things thirst. Set on multiple timelines from 1966-2019, the series follows four families’ difficulties following the mysterious disappearance of two children (sound familiar?) Although this may sound like a carbon copy of the hit Netflix original, Dark spans more narratives and dives deeper into the intergenerational complexities of family life. Compelling and beautifully filmed, the serie’s creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese manage to weave a dark and twisted tone throughout.

Black Mirror

Charlie Brooker’s terrifying account of the expansion of technology in our every day lives proves a sour social critique of our generation’s obsession with technology a lá The Twilight Zone by way of The Stepford Wives. Each episode is stand alone with its own cast, director and story line, exploring the darkest angles of technological advancement. Scarily close to the bone, several storylines have actually become reality – isn’t that right, David Cameron?

And lucky us, Brooker’s vision of a dystopic Britain returns for a much-anticipated forth season on 29th December. It all kicks off with the Jodie Foster-directed episode Arkangel, which offers a wickedly sharp and twisted look at parenting via technology.

Blue Planet 2 

David Attenborough’s breath-taking lens into the world’s oceans have sparked a generation’s worth of interest in our natural world. His most recent project, Blue Planet 2 has been four years in the making, and it’s worth the wait. Documenting previously unseen creatures through breath-taking footage, Attenborough and his team dive deep to show us these the unusual behaviours and relationships of those who call the seabed their home.

What makes the series so ground-breaking is the fact that many of these behaviours and animals have never been caught on film before. Attenborough provides a thorough and beautiful account into the lives of everything from creatures of the deep to new developments on the lives of Bottlenose dolphins, as well as discussing humanity’s effect on the health of our oceans. Don’t underestimate the pure entertainment value our natural world has and bang this one on, you’ll be up till 4am I promise.

PS. Netflix only has season one, so head to BBC iPlayer for season two.

The Sinner

From the German best-selling book, The Sinner (developed by Derek Simmonds and Executive Produced by star Jessica Biel) is a gritty and engrossing look into one seemingly sane woman’s psyche to discover why she commits a horrifically violent crime in front of her family. The anti-heroine Cora Tanetti is expertly portrayed by the transcendent Jessica Biel, and is probably Biel’s finest performance to date. The writing, cinematography and performances are just as brilliant, and instead of a classic whodunnit narrative, the show is more of a whydunnit, slowly revealing Cora’s twisted background and the circumstances that encouraged her to commit such a crime. At ten episodes long, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into.

F is for Family 

In the same vein as Netflix favourite BoJack Horseman and from the mind of comedian Bill Burr, F is for Family is one of Netflix’s most looked over shows. Focusing on a small town all-American family, the animated series focuses on the intricacies of middle American family life in the wake of the cold war. Caveat: the series starts slow, but after five episodes you’re hooked and feel a real affection towards the characters however flawed they may be. Plus, look out for a magnificent turn from David Lynch veteran Laura Dern as housewife Sue Murphy. Uproariously funny one moment and heart-breaking the next, think of it as a modern-Christmas classic.

Absolutely Fabulous 

A jewel in the crown of British comedy, Absolutely Fabulous has been a national favourite since airing in 1992. Even if you have (and let’s face it you probably have) watched every episode twice (at the least) it’s always worth revisiting.

If you haven’t heard of it, where have you been? Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley play two women working in fashion. There’s Edina Monsoon, the Christian Lacroix-loving fashion PR who is constantly playing catch-up, following trends 20 years too late. And then there’s Patsy Stone, the unhinged, incapable magazine editor who hides drugs in her beehive and describes an upcoming issue as “Sex Bitch Aristo Sex Punk Whore Bitch Prozzy Lezzy Slut … with lovely shoes”.

The Christmas episode is a highlight if you’re feeling especially festive, if not just close your eyes, point at the screen at random and I guarantee it’ll be a cracker. Now where’s the Bolly?!


From the mind of Scott Frank (The Wolverine, Logan) comes one of Netflix’s newest and most hype-worthy series, Godless. Set in 1884 amongst the dusty central North American desert, the series is a revitalised vision of the classic western narrative.

It’s all set in the small town of La Belle in New Mexico and led by a star turn from Downton Abbey alumni Michelle Dockery, who plays Alice Fletcher, a twice-widowed farmer who is a prominent member in the town. Becoming tangled in a manhunt between outlaw Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and on-the-run ex-outlaw Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), Fletcher soon finds herself in the middle of something more bigger than first thought.

Visually arresting and slow-burning, this is one to take your time with. But trust us, the guns will blaze.


The second series of Joe Swanberg’s acclaimed anthology series has recently hit the platform, with another intimate dose of hipster 20, 30 and 40-something’s lives in Chicago and how they cope with their relationships and personal development.

Each episode is standalone, so no need to worry about who’s who or starting right at the beginning, feel free to dip in and out as you please. The series is sharply written and refreshingly honest, with an eclectic ensemble cast featuring the likes of Marc Maron, Dave Franco and Aubrey Plaza. Completely diverse yet intimate in scope, each short is easily digestible, in a similar manner to Vimeo and HBO’s hit High Maintenance – if you don’t know it, slam it on your watch list too.


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