Binge Watches: Five Netflix Dramas Worth Discovering

Anna Friel as Marcella Netflix promo Netflix promo
Anna Friel as Marcella, Photo: Netflix

If there was ever a time to feel perfectly ok with sitting back and watching tons of television, a global pandemic is it. East Enders are doing the right thing by practicing social distancing and self-quarantine in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Perhaps one of the few rewards is this guilt-free chance to catch up on some great streaming television.

Most know about the popular shows that win awards, get great press and dominate that bygone tradition of water cooler chatter, like The Mandalorian, Fleabag and Stranger Things, to name a scant few. But what happens after you’ve seen all the big-name shows? Well, we have your answer—try watching these lesser known, excellent series, and explore our other lists on (search: Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon Prime) to find many more great TV shows, new and old, you probably never knew existed.

RELATED: 10 of the Best Lesser-Known TV Shows on Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime

Wentworth on Netflix
Cast of ‘Wentworth’ on Netflix

Wentworth – Seasons 1–7 (2013–2019) Netflix
Everyone likes Orange Is the New Black’s mostly lighthearted look at women in prison, some of which was shot right here in Riverhead. For those seeking a more dramatic take on the topic, Australian hit Wentworth is far darker, but it will absolutely fit the bill. Separated from her daughter and awaiting sentencing for the attempted murder of her abusive husband, first-time prisoner Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) must learn to make her way within the power structure of her new home. Based on Prisoner, a classic Australian soap opera set in the Wentworth Detention Centre, the show covers many classic prison genre tropes, but it’s done with humor and gripping drama that’s compelling and difficult to stop watching. Wentworth should be the topic of conversation at far more water coolers in this country—or maybe online chats since we’re all at home. Season 8 airs this summer.

RELATED: 5 Great Shows You Should Watch Streaming on Netflix

Marcella – Season 1–2 (2016, 2018) Netflix
This dark series from Britain’s ITV, follows Marcella Backland (Anna Friel), a brilliant former London police detective who returns to the job when her husband Jason (Nicholas Pinnock) decides, quite unexpectedly, to leave her. Marcella goes back to investigating a trio of unsolved murders from 2005 because the serial killer she believes is responsible appears to be back on the hunt. Meanwhile, Marcella is experiencing blackouts and wakes up in strange places with no memory of what she’s done. Things get particularly tense when her husband’s mistress is murdered—and Marcella worries she may be her killer. (Image at top of post.)

The cast of "Versailles" on Netflix
The cast of “Versailles” on Netflix, Photo: Canal+

Versailles – Seasons 1–3 (2015–2018) Netflix
For fans of period drama, Versailles is an absolute treat, yet few people seem to know anything about it. Set in 1667, this show from Canal+ (which brought us the amazing Borgia) follows the 28-year-old king of France, Louis XIV—played by George Blagden (Athelstan on History’s brilliant series Vikings)—who decides to build the greatest palace in the world, Versailles. The king must battle against often deadly political and social unrest, fight wars and manage the machinations of his family and court, all while pushing ahead with work on his ambitious, unprecedented palace. This is a perfect for folks who enjoy shows like BorgiaThe TudorsWolf Hall and others in the genre.

The Five – Miniseries (2016) Netflix
Created by crime author Harlan Coben, this British standalone series offers 10 episodes of taught drama about a group of childhood friends–Mark, Danny, Slade and Pru–who are reunited after DNA left at a murder scene is a match with Mark’s long missing brother, Jesse, who disappeared while they were all playing in the park 20 years ago. Convicted child killer Jakob Marosi says he killed Jesse, but the DNA evidence changes everything.

Shone Romulus and Ashley Walters in 'Top Boy' Season 3
Shone Romulus and Ashley Walters in ‘Top Boy’ Season 3, Photo: Chris Harris/Netflix

Top Boy – Series 1–3 (2011–2013, 2019) Netflix
Listed as two separate shows, Top Boy: Summerhouse (Series 1–2) and 2019’s Top Boy (Series 1), this British crime drama looks at the gangs and drug dealers in East London’s estates—the UK version of our “projects.” Set in the fictional Summerhouse estate, Top Boy paints authentic, well-rounded pictures of its many residents. Whether it’s Ra’Nell (Malcolm Kamulete), a young man trying to survive and do right while his mother is committed to a mental hospital and his father sits in jail; or drug dealer Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his hot-headed partner Sully (Kane Robinson), who work to eliminate their competition and become the undisputed kingpins of Summerhouse; each character’s motivations and humanity, or lack thereof, is evident and true.

RELATED: 10 Little Known, Must-Watch Shows on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon

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