In Review

The best box sets on Netflix UK in 2019

There are plenty of new shows to binge on this year, including Stranger Things, Glow and BoJack Horseman

The dividing line between cinema and television is becoming thinner and thinner with big names flocking to the small screen and streaming platforms.

Here is The Week’s guide to the most exciting box sets released on Netflix this year.

Stranger Things

The third series of the retro sci-fi/horror hit, which dropped on Netflix earlier this year, made quite a splash.

Set in the 1980s, Stranger Things follows the residents of the fictional small town of Hawkins, Indiana, as they investigate mysterious, supernatural goings-on, and grapple with the consequences.

The latest series sees the young stars of the show “entering a whole new Upside Down: adolescence”, as well as bringing in a fitting bit of “cold-war paranoia”, says the BBC, giving it five out of five stars. Maya Hawke – daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke – joins a talented cast that includes Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder and David Harbour.

BoJack Horseman

A firm cult favourite, this original Netflix animation features the voices of some of America’s big TV names including Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul and Amy Sedaris.

Arnett stars as BoJack, the washed-up star of the fictional 1990s sitcom Horsin' Around, who attempts to reignite his career. It is a surrealist and highly comedic take on fame, but the show has also received praise for an often moving insight into the world of depression, addiction and trauma.

Dead Set

Long before the heady days of international sensation Black Mirror, British writer and television presenter Charlie Brooker wrote a five-part mini-series titled Dead Set which was originally broadcast in 2008.

The show was uploaded to Netflix for the first time this year and follows the contestants and producers on a fictional series of reality TV show Big Brother, who become stranded on the set as a zombie outbreak ravages the world outside. Wired says that although the show “isn’t quite as slick and polished as its higher budget successor”, there are still “clear signs of what was to come from Brooker in its darkly twisted premise”.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The show from 30 Rock producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock was first released in 2015 and looks set to come to an end after season four, the second half of which dropped onto Netflix earlier this year.

Bridesmaids actress Ellie Kemper stars as Kimmy Schmidt, the survivor of a doomsday cult who starts her life again in New York. “What infuses the entire series with sweetness and positivity is Kemper's never-flagging, completely endearing portrayal of Kimmy, who doesn't want to be a victim and doesn't want to waste another day of her life,” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Glow

The critically acclaimed female wrestling series Glow returned to Netflix this year. The sharp, witty comedy revolves around a fictionalised version of the famed 1980s syndicated women's professional wrestling circuit, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, tackling mysogyny and sexism as it goes.

The Guardian describes it as a “bubble gum explosion of nostalgia with a panto aesthetic”, but adds that it is also “a shot in the arm for a generation tired of women’s portrayal as victims or ball-breakers”.

The Good Place

Radio Times says NBC’s “high-concept philosi-sitcom” The Good Place “cannot be talked up enough”, having “carved out a new mould that hasn’t been seen in a network sitcom since Seinfeld changed the game back in the 1990s”.

The series starts with the death of Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who fears she has ended up in a much better afterlife than she deserves. Season three came out earlier this year.

Call My Agent!

“At a top Paris talent firm, agents scramble to keep their star clients happy - and their business afloat - after an unexpected crisis.” So says Netflix of its hugely popular French comedy-drama Call My Agent!, which first aired on French TV network France 2 in 2015.

The show has been a hit with English-speaking audiences, who praise its razor-sharp writing, character development and direction. Vogue calls it “fast-paced and funny”, while the New Yorker praises its “melodramatic twists worthy of a soap opera, cut with a general Gallic wryness at the vagaries of business and art”. The third season was released on Netflix earlier this year.

Russian Doll

A far cry from Amy Poehler’s most famous turn starring as Leslie Knope in the light-hearted Parks and Recreation, eight-part Netflix series Russian Doll is a dark and surrealist outing that marks a stylistic U-turn for the comedian, who created the show with its star Natasha Lyonne.

It follows a day - and only a day - in the life of Nadia, a husky-voiced New Yorker who lands in a Groundhog Day-esque loop on her 36th birthday.

The New Statesman says its “tightly scripted 20-minute episodes are funny, moving, and sometimes existentially terrifying”.

Dead to Me

Nominated for an Emmy, dark comedy series Dead To Me stars Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate as bereaved women who bond during therapy sessions. But all is not what it seems, with the intrigue building the longer the series goes on.

Bursting with gallows humour, and produced by Anchorman’s Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, its deft touch with cliff-hangers makes it a moreish and eminently binge-worthy series.

Variety says Dead To Me is “undeniably exciting”, while several critics have described the series as a darker version of Grace and Frankie.

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