Since I started working and blogging and writing novels, there came a time when TV viewing vanished from my days. The problem was when I had free time, I couldn’t find anything worth watching. And when I found something I wanted to watch, I had no time for it. Then arrived the streaming services like Prime Video and Netflix. My days have not been the same since.
Now, I have plenty of cool stuff to watch. And it is available to me 24/7. So, I can watch it when I am free. However, my leisure time is still very limited. So, watching epic length shows feels too daunting to me. I prefer mini-series that finish the story within a few episodes.
I can’t say that I’ve watched all the best mini shows. But among the ones I watched, these are what I consider to be the best mini series on Netflix, Prime Video and Hotstar.
My list of 7 Best Miniseries
1. Fleabag – miniseries on Prime Video
Fleabag is a British comedy-drama series set in London. The show is been created by Phoebe Mary Waller-Bridge who also stars in it as the main protagonist. It was produced by Two Brothers Pictures for BBC Three in a co-production agreement with Amazon Studios. So, it is available on Prime Video as Amazon Original. That is where I watched it.
Adapted from Waller-Bridge’s one-woman play, it follows an angry, confused woman stumbling in a world that sees her mistakes, not the desperate lonely heart causing those mistakes.
When I started watching the Fleabag, I didn’t expect to like it. I had switched it only only to check it out. But to my surprise, I got hooked to it almost instantly. Phoebe Mary Waller-Bridge acts superbly. Her witty asides, her brilliant smile even when pain is prickling her eyes, her ill-timed humour, all make for one brilliant show.
Although the show is divided in two seasons, it is just 12 episodes long in total. And each episode is less than 30 minutes. The first season of Fleabag is great. But the second episode is even better! Just a warning, this second season might make you fall in love with a priest.
2. When They See Us – Miniseries on Netflix
When They See Us is an American miniseries that’s created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix. This series premiered on May 31, 2019 and is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case. In this case, five juvenile males of color were prosecuted in 1990 on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City. The miniseries centers around these five men and their families. This critically acclaimed miniseries is a poignant drama showing the shattering effects of injustice. It has an IMDb rating of 9.1. Only four episodes long, When They See Us is an incredible, heart-wrenching, hard hitting and thought-provoking series. Must watch if you enjoy hard hitting shows about bitter reality.
3. Chernobyl – miniseries on Hotstar
Chernobyl miniseries is a co-production of HBO and Sky UK. As the name hints, it is about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which took place in the USSR in April 1986.
The show premiered in US and UK on May 6–7, 2019 and gained quick critical acclaim. It is a very well made show with exceptional detailing, and the brilliant depiction of the scientific, human, and political forces that caused that devastating nuclear disaster, and the herculean effort that went into controlling its aftermath
If you enjoy watching reality-based shows, Chernobyl is a must watch. Just five episodes long, this show will grip you till its end.
4. Alias Grace – On Netflix
Alias Grace is a Canadian television miniseries based on Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel of the same name. It tells the story of a famous murderess Grace Marks who has spent 15 years in prison. Then Dr. Simon Jordan is hired to do a psychiatric evaluation and determine whether Grace is sane or not. Her hope of freedom depends upon Dr. Jordan’s report about her mental condition. But she is an alluring enigma. And the more young Dr. Jordan tries to understand her, the more he gets caught up in her mystery and charms.
Alias Grace is a tale of exploitation, trauma, and psychological turmoil. Even till the end, neither Dr. Jordan nor the viewer is sure whether they have really understood Grace. This mini-series binds you with its human drama, mystery and deep psychological elements. Only 6 episodes long, this period drama keeps you intrigued till the end.
5. What/If – on Netflix
What/If is an American thriller anthology miniseries that premiered on Netflix on May 24, 2019. It is miniseries in the sense that each season of this show will tell a different tale. The series is based on the premise ‘the ripple effects that follow when acceptable people start doing unacceptable things.’ Each season will show a different tale showing the rippling consequences of one wrong decision.
The first season brings Renée Zellweger in the lead role. She portrays a character with many layers. She is intelligent, calculative, manipulative to the level of appearing evil. But hidden in her heart is deep loneliness and pain. The show is full of dark secrets and keeps you hooked with brilliant characterization, and thrilling twists and turns. The first season is 10 episodes long. Although it gets a bit slow at some places, the last two and three episodes are brilliant and full of plot twists. This show too has many psychological layers driving the human drama.
6. New Worlds – On Prime Video
New Worlds is a 2014 Channel 4 TV series. It is set in 1680s England and America and is actually a sequel to the series called The Devil’s Whore. It is a period drama centering around the time when the struggle of Independence was beginning to fester in British colonies in America. Besides the story of political ambitions and turmoil in Britain and America, it also tells a beautiful and heart-touching love story.
The canvas of the show is lavish. It’s history depicted through stories of human passion and courage. And it’s intriguing with the continuous hunter and hunted game being played in England and its colonies. There are revolts in England against King Charles II. There are revolts for freedom in Massachusetts. These freedom fighters too are targeted by the native tribes whose land they are usurping. Overall, a deadly game is on play throughout the ‘new world,’ and love faces a hard challenge to prosper amidst this hatred and bloodshed. The whole drama plays out through a tightly-knit plot within just three episodes.
(If you like period dramas, also check out the Prime Video miniseries titled When We Go To War.)
7. Casanova: PBS Masterpiece Theatre – The Complete Series – on Prime Video
You may have heard the name Casanova. The name is now synonymous with ‘womanizer.’ The original Casanova (Giacomo Girolamo Casanova – 2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798) was an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. His autobiography titled Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life) is considered as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century. In his life, Casanova earned much infamy thanks to his numerous, complicated, daring, and elaborate affairs with women.
Well, as you might have guessed, the show is all about his life story. What makes it exceptional is its theatrical extravaganza, and wit and entertainment combined with poignancy. Don’t mistake this show as just a depiction of Casanova’s sexual adventures and misadventures. This 3 episodes long mini-series also tells a beautiful love story that goes beyond the attraction of bodies.
These are the mini-series that I loved. But there might be many others that are even better than these. If you know any, do let me know. I’d love to check them out!
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