A few of the best mini series available to watch on Netflix
Watching a TV series can often feel like a big commitment, especially when it spans multiple seasons or even years. Between keeping up with all the characters and plotlines, not to mention all the time you have to spend actually watching each episode, it can be difficult to justify dedicating so much time and energy to one show. However, TV mini series provide a great alternative for those times when you want to enjoy some quality television without having to invest too heavily in it.
With mini series, you get a shorter run-time that gives you just enough of the story without taking up too much of your precious free time. Whether you’re looking for something lighthearted and fun, or an edge-of-your-seat thriller, mini series are a great way to enjoy the best of what TV has to offer while still fitting into your busy schedule. So if you’re ready to start your next binge watch adventure, why wait? Dive right into the world of mini series to watch today!
This is, in my opinion, one of the best mini series of all time. I watched it on a whim, when Netflix recommended it to me based on my previous watches, and I felt so lucky afterwards to have come across it. This is why I’ve mentioned it before in articles such as this one. Never has a show made me feel so invested in the story and the protagonist before.
I particularly curious about this series because I realised I had never watched a TV series in Yiddish before, and this show beautifully combines conversations in English, Yiddish and German. Creating an online, global representation for a language we rarely here in the media.
The series is based on Deborah Feldman’s 2012 autobiography, ‘Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots’. It follows the story of a young woman leaving the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community she was raised in, as well as her husband and escaping to Germany to start a new life.
The protagonist of this mini series, Esther, is beautifully portrayed by Shira Haas, who gives a powerful performance and depicts Esther’s major character developments with captivating emotion. She shows the process of starting as a traditional, old fashioned housewife who lives to please her husband, to becoming an ambitious, independent human being finding her own path in life and her own place in her faith.
The Queen’s Gambit
You’ve definitely heard of this mini series, the whole world seemed to be watching it when it premiered on Netflix in 2020 and kept us entertained during lockdown. But in case you haven’t watched it yet, here’s a brief synopsis.
Beth Harmon, portrayed by the talented Anya Taylor-Joy, is a young orphan who discovers she is incredibly skilled at chess when playing with the orphanage janitor Mr Shaibel. This is the first time she feels powerful, in control of her life, she has found her calling. She goes on to pursue this skill, trying to become to world’s greatest chess player. She faces various obstacles on the way, her adoptive parents, often being the only girl at tournaments, attention from older men, even addiction. But she remains determined to become the best.
This mini series was also a book, with the same title, by Walter Tevis, and had a brief but large impact on its audience. Google searches for ‘how to play chess’ and people buying chess boards online skyrocketed, which was definitely no coincidence. But regardless of whether you like chess or not, this mini series is definitely worth a watch
When they see us
This is the highest rated TV mini-series on Netflix, according to IMDb, which isn’t surprising considering it was directed by the successful filmmaker Ava DuVernay. She is known for her thought provoking documentaries about racial inequality, like 13th and Selma, as well as fiction films like Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. Deciding to temporarily move away from films to make a TV series, shows just how much she cared about this story.
The story being The Central Park Five, five black teenagers who were wrongly accused of a brutal assault in the 1980s and unjustly charged for the crime. The series follows this harrowing story for decades, starting from the accusation, all the way to the settlement reached in 2014. The mini series is full of emotion, brought to us from the creators and the talented actors who put everything into their performances.
The series makes you deeply feel the sense of injustice it is trying to communicate, and reminds us of the struggles and extreme discrimination within the judicial system, specifically in this case in the US. It is a great example of powerful and emotional storytelling.
One of the most watched mini series of 2021 was Maid, which follows Alex, a single mother who has just fled an abusive relationship. She starts cleaning houses in order to survive and provide for her daughter Maddy. Alex struggles throughout the series to overcome homelessness, bureaucratic frustration and delays in government help, her ex-boyfriend trying to get custody of their daughter, all while dreaming of a career as a writer.
This is another great mini series based on a book, which seems to be a pattern. The creator, Molly Smith Metzler, based it on Stephanie Land’s memoir ‘Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive’.
It received a glowing Guardian review by Alex O’Sullivan, who is a survivor of domestic abuse and related to the character. She wrote that “Gallows humour is a way for victims to cope. I know I wouldn’t have survived without it…I appreciate the humour in Maid because I recognise it in myself.” She ended by saying that this series is “something people need to see”.
This is a lesser known one, but after mentioning so many shows with dark and heavy topics, I thought it would be worth listing something a bit more lighthearted and fun. Dead Set is a British horror comedy-drama series, created by Charlie Brooker and directed by Yann Demange. Brooker stated that it was inspired by the film Dawn of the Dead, which makes sense as the film depicts a British based zombie apocalypse.
The big difference being that some people are spared, the contestants and crew of Big Brother. They start out as completely oblivious to what is happening outside the house, until eviction night comes and their safe haven is destroyed. It even stars Davina McCall, the real Big Brother presented who plays herself.
The series is a production of Zepporton, which belongs to the Endemol group of production and distribution companies that produces the real Big Brother show. It premiered in 2008, only a few weeks after the end of that year’s Big Brother season on the same channel.
And now we’re back to another intense and upsetting mini series, but one which raises awareness of an incredibly important and pertinent issue in the world. Unbelievable is a true crime series starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever, based on a series of real rape cases in Washington State and Colorado. It is said to specifically be based on a news article from 2015 titled ‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape’, as well as the 2018 book ‘A False Report’, by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong.
The series follows the story of a teenager, Marie, who is charged with lying about being raped. While she is being falsely accused and struggling with both her trauma and the charges, two female detectives believe her and are determined to gather enough evidence to prove the truth.
It has been described by the Guardian as “a fiercely feminist look at the nature of truth and whose stories get heard”. The Me Too movement has raised significant awareness about how many survivors of sexual assault are not heard or don’t feel comfortable telling anyone about their experience or reporting it to the police. But the problem continues, most cases are still not taken to court and often end up ruining the victim’s life even further. That’s why this series it so important today.
Black Earth Rising
Written and directed by Hugo Blick, and co-produced by BBC Two and Netflix, this series covers some topics many TV series don’t dare to, while captivating the audience. It tells the story of Kate Ashby, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, portrayed by Michaela Coel. She lives in London, working for the barrister Michael Ennis. Her adoptive mother starts working on a case to prosecute an African militia leader, and this pulls protagonists Michael and Kate into this story which upends their entire lives.
It is a powerful political thriller, which confronts geopolitical problems and challenges that not many TV series have. It doesn’t try to sensationalise the issues or provide easy answers, but instead uses the creator’s and actors’ storytelling abilities to convey an experience and remind people of recent, life changing events that nations have experienced and in many cases still are.
The Guardian wrote that the show “combines adoption, mental health, the Rwandan genocide and the international criminal court”, a tough thing to accomplish as a mini series.
I am not normally a big fan of Westerns, but when they change the way women are portrayed in them, and finally make them the strong protagonists, instead of the heroine that needs saving, I’m in. Godless is a Western, drama mini series, set in 1884, created, written and directed by Scott Frank.
It follows a young outlaw who’s run away from his mentor and ends up in a small New Mexico town, populated almost entirely by women. His former mentor, Frank Griffin, figures out where he is and begins his chase to find him, but he needs to get through the women of the town first.
The mini series has received excellent reviews, including the Washington Post and Vanity Fair both declaring it as one of the year’s top 10 series when it was released. The Guardian also granted it a 5 star review, saying that it was “visually spellbinding and filled with standout performances”.
For more great mini series recommendations you can check out this article. And for all the updates on anything film, TV and media industry, check the Nostairway website regularly, we post fun, interesting and informative articles three times a week.