Since time immemorial, we find ourselves in a perennial search for aliens, Godot and new TV shows. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that unpacking the unfamiliar world of a new series, sometimes, ends up giving a new meaning to our lives. Since we are well-versed with the nitty-gritties of popular series, here are five underrated, edge-of-the-seat thrillers that you can binge on.
Orphan Black (2013- 2017)
Streaming on: Netflix
Orphan Black makes science political. It is a novel show that explores the politics of cloning and its subsequent effect on one’s identity. The protagonist of the show is a petty criminal with ambiguous morals, Sarah Manning. It begins with Manning witnessing the death of Elizabeth Childs – one of her fellow clones. This makes her not only assume Elizabeth’s identity and occupation, but also puts her on a quest to find the truth about the business of cloning people. The show beautifully portrays the importance of sisterhood through eight female clones.
Watch the series for Tatiana Maslany’s revolutionary performance. The actress makes each clone so distinctive in their personality and physicality that one forgets that each of these clones are actually played by the same person. You can also look out for references of Greek mythology (in titles like Project Leda), as well as eminent scientific figures (like Darwin and Bacon), whose contributions were important in the evolution of the concept of cloning.
Sharp Objects (2018)
Streaming on: DisneyPlus Hotstar
Sharp Objects is a miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn (the author of Gone Girl). The series revolves around Camille Preaker (played by Amy Adams), a struggling alcoholic and a reporter, who returns to her hometown Missouri to investigate the murder of two young girls. The show majorly defamiliarizes the South as a utopic place for the audience. This is done by adopting gothic cinematic tropes of a horror film. The show uses Parker’s own internal conflict, her past, vulnerability and relationship with her mother (played by Patricia Clarkson), to intensify the element of thrill in the series. The show may seem to be slow, but don’t let that affect you. By the end of the series, you will realise how the slow pace of the show works for it, and makes the unravelling of the truth more effective.
Damages (2007- 2012)
Streaming on: SonyLIV
If you like Suits, then you should definitely watch Damages. It is a brilliant legal thriller, which delineates the journey of Patty Hewes (a ruthless litigator) and her protégé Ellen Parson (a newly graduate lawyer). Each season of the show features one major case that Hewes and Associates take on. The show’s narrative is nonlinear. It focuses on the complex relationship between Hewes and Parson. The show is also a masterclass in creating the anti-hero – Hewes (brilliantly portrayed by Glenn Chase) is a shrewd and an unreliable character, but she is not defined by these characteristics. She displays moments of softness and vulnerability. The series is bold and unpredictable – it kills off key characters and provides twists that changes the entire course of the narrative. In short, it is great for adrenaline junkies.
Losing Alice (2021)
Streaming on: Apple TV+
The Israeli miniseries can be categorized as an erotic thriller or as neo-noir. The series revolves around Alice Ginoch, a once promising director, whose life unravels when she meets Sophie, a fan who’s an aspiring screenwriter, on a train. The show deals with issues of marriage, professional success and the fear of irrelevance. It also dabbles into the theme of whether life imitates art or art imitates life. You will enjoy the show if you liked films like Cruel Intentions or Basic Instincts. Also, look out for Ayelet Zurer’s poignant performance as Alice.
Streaming on: Netflix
A miniseries showcasing the importance of women in power, the show highlights how the presence of two female detectives (played by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) help catch a serial rapist, whose first victim is deemed unreliable by a mechanical and apathetic police. It is based on real-life events documented by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong in the famous article, ‘Unbelievable Story of Rape’ in 2015. The detectives are girl bosses and badass(es), who exhibit empathy and sensitivity towards the victim’s trauma, reminiscent of Shefali Shah’s performance in Delhi Crime. The show neither dramatizes the victim, nor reduces the gruesome violence into a spectacle that the audience can consume – making it worthy of a watch.