Here’s the thing about Netflix. Nothing is ever set in stone. Sometimes, a show like Squid Game will be intended to only have one season with the possibility of a second season, only for it to blow up out of nowhere and thus make Season 2 almost a foregone conclusion. Then, you have shows that look like they will almost certainly have multiple seasons, only for the show to not get enough views, and thus leaving it with only one season, a la, (sadly) Cowboy Bebop. But, then, you also have the Netflix miniseries and limited series, like Bodyguard, which is a whole other beast entirely.
Ah, yes. The miniseries and the limited series. The beauty of these two formats is that you get one complete narrative and are hopefully satisfied by the conclusion without having to think about the next season, or wonder if you’ve gotten into a show won't even get renewed, like, well, take your pick. Now, some of these miniseries that I mention in this article may eventually get a Season 2, but, as of this writing, they are all available now for you to watch, at your viewing pleasure, with only one season. So, without further ado, here are five great Netflix miniseries and limited series that you should be checking out right now.
Created by Jed Mercurio, this political thriller follows a British Army veteran (played by high-flying Eternals star and Robb Stark/maybe James Bond himself, Richard Madden) who is now tasked with being a bodyguard to a divisive Home Secretary. Intrigue and drama ensue as there are inner workings at play that lead to someone wanting to harm the female Home Secretary, and there may even be a little romance involved, as well. Compounded upon all of this is our hero’s PTSD, which plays a major role in both his work as well as his home life. It’s a lot to take in.
But, it’s all worth it, since the six riveting episodes will grip you like a bomb strapped to the chest, as terrorism is a centerpiece to this harrowing drama. If you like 24, then you’ll likely love this British miniseries. Now, there have been talks since 2018 for a second season of Bodyguard, but nothing has been confirmed. And, that’s fine, because these six episodes wrap everything up nicely. I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked on the series from the very first episode if you actually give it a shot.
The Queen’s Gambit
Based on the 1983 novel of the same name, you’ve likely heard of The Queen’s Gambit because it blew up back in 2020, but have you actually watched it yet? It’s the story of a young, female chess prodigy in the 1950s and ‘60s who rises up in the international ranks to become the greatest chess player in the world. Anya Taylor-Joy plays the lead role of Beth Harmon, and she’s magnificent as she battles both her opponents as well as her personal demons. It won several awards and deserved every last one of them.
The Queen’s Gambit is actually what got me into watching miniseries on Netflix in the first place. I was late to the party (as I typically am when it comes to TV) and when I realized it was only seven episodes, it gave me the assurance that I could watch it and not have to worry about having to come back for later seasons. The story is engaging from the very first episode, and it never lets up as you follow Beth’s growth from childhood to womanhood.
When They See Us
Created and directed by Ava DuVernay, this miniseries is serious with a capital S as it deals with the true events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case, where five young men of color were wrongfully accused of raping and assaulting a white woman. There is a large cast of brilliant actors, including Michael K. Williams, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Vera Farmiga, and the young actors who play the victims of the court system. It’s told in four episodes and chronicles what the young men went through both outside and inside the penal system. Don’t watch it if you don’t want to get angry.
When They See Us is a tough watch, but what else would you expect from the woman who directed Selma and 13th? Some people involved with the actual events have gone on record to call the miniseries “total nonsense,” but that’s really up for you to decide once you watch it. There’s also a special with Oprah called Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now that is also quite illuminating. Think of it as a companion piece.
Also known as Harlan Coben’s The Stranger because it’s based off of the novel of the same name, The Stranger is about a mysterious young woman in a baseball hat (played by Hannah John-Kamen) who has a penchant for ruining people’s lives when she encounters them and reveals secrets. The first big secret she delivers is to a loving husband and father named Adam (Richard Armitage) that turns his whole world upside down and leads to his wife going missing. But, the stranger is not done there, as she also encounters other people, and reveals their secrets, too, which creates a pretty tangled web throughout the thrilling eight episode run.
The Stranger is taut storytelling at its finest that gets thicker and deeper the more you watch it. If you’ve ever read any of Harlan Coben’s thrillers or mystery novels, then you’ll have a sense of just how far the darkness goes. By the last episode, you’ll wonder how you got there from what originally seemed like such a simple premise.
Starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever, and a slew of supporting actors, Unbelievable is another miniseries that will likely make you mad, and also concerns rape. This time, the male officers don’t believe the female victim, and they accuse her of seeking attention. It takes two badass female detectives to get to the bottom of a case that may involve a serial rapist.
Unbelievable is actually based on an award-winning news article titled “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” so the “characters” in this miniseries are based off of real people and events. The story takes place in eight episodes, and resonate, because we get to see a dark glimpse into what a rape victim actually goes through, and why (even in the 2010’s) many women don’t come forward even when they’ve suffered despicable sexual abuse. Make sure you are in a certain headspace if you’re going to watch this one.
Honestly, there are so many miniseries and limited series on Netflix that I want to dig into now that I’ve caught the bug. If you want to learn about some of the other best shows to binge on Netflix, make sure you stop by here often.
Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.
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