Eight streaming shows to ward off cabin fever
Whether your television viewing tastes veer towards real-life drama, quirky comedy, crime or pure escapism, there’s something in this line-up of shows to keep you entertained for hours.
Josh Thomas and Kayla Cromer in Everything's Gonna be Okay.
The Repair Shop
An antidote to throwaway culture is how the BBC describes this series. It’s also an antidote to current affairs – “the TV equivalent of sinking into a warm bath”, as one UK writer commented. The Repair Shop is a barn in West Sussex, where people bring damaged family heirlooms in the hope they can be returned to their former glory. The array of items is fascinating – from a disturbing-looking clapping monkey, to a 100-year-old rocking chair and a pinball machine used as a kitchen worktop – and the skill of the craftspeople is impressive, but the real pleasure is in witnessing people’s joy when they are reunited with their restored treasures. (Series One episodes have been re-uploaded to iview recently but will expire in coming weeks.) – ABC iview
Everything’s Gonna be Okay
The title sounds promising, and with Australian comedian Josh Thomas at the helm you’re in good – if slightly zany – hands. The follow-up to his successful semi-autobiographical series Please Like Me, Everything’s Gonna be Okay is set and filmed in the US, with Thomas playing Nicholas, a somewhat neurotic young gay man who unexpectedly ends up guardian of his two teenage half-sisters, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, in Los Angeles. It’s quirky, charming and outside-the-box, with new episodes (each only around 20 minutes long) being uploaded weekly. – Stan
A stranger confronts people and creates turmoil in their lives by revealing a secret about their family. That’s the premise of this intriguing new eight-part British mystery series based on a novel by crime writer Harlan Coben. The fact that comedy actress Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, French & Saunders) plays one of the key characters helps pique interest in the show, and the twisty way in which the mystery unfolds – complete with disappearances, blackmail and a drug-fuelled teen rage in the woods – will keep viewers captivated. (If you enjoy The Stranger, check out Safe, another Netflix suburban thriller adapted from a Coben novel and starring Dexter’s Michael C Hall.) – Netflix
Next in Fashion
Even if your fashion sense is more daggy than designer, there’s still plenty to enjoy in this reality show co-hosted by Queer Eye’s Tan France and model Alexa Chung. Eighteen emerging designers from all over the world come together in one big sewing room to compete for $US250,000 and the chance to sell their designs through US fashion retailer Net-A-Porter, with each episode bring a fresh challenge to create a catwalk-ready outfit based around themes such as streetwear, denim, suits and red carpet. There’s little contrived conflict among the likeable contestants, but plenty of tension as they put everything on the line in pursuit of their designer dreams. – Netflix
Starring a stellar Australian cast including Cate Blanchett (also a co-creator), Asher Keddie, Marta Dusseldorp and Dominic West, this new six-part ABC drama follows four people whose lives intersect at an immigration detention centre in the desert. It’s inspired by the true story of Cornelia Rau, an Australian resident who spent months in a prison and SA’s Baxter Detention Centre after being mistaken as an illegal immigrant. Stateless is provocative but compelling viewing (read a review here), with new episodes airing each Sunday on the ABC and the first three available on iview. – ABC iview
Grace & Frankie
If you haven’t yet discovered this offbeat feel-good comedy series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the great news is that there are now six seasons waiting to be devoured. The pair play unlikely friends – prim cosmetics mogul Grace (Fonda) and boho artist Frankie (Tomlin) – who are thrown together when their lawyer husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson) reveal they are actually in love with each other. There’s plenty of shenanigans involving both families, plus a bit of kitsch, but it’s a rare treat to see a show centred around two mature female characters who crash-tackle stereotypes and still create a real buzz (literally). – Netflix
A Very English Scandal
This acclaimed three-part, fact-based series starring Hugh Grant and directed by Stephen Frears has just been released on ABC iview two years after premiering on the BBC and streaming on Foxtel. Playing against type, Grant nails the role of lip-curling Jeremy Thorpe, the 1960s UK Liberal Party leader desperate to hide his homosexuality to avoid scandal and hold onto his dream of becoming prime minister. So desperate, in fact, that he is prepared to go to extreme lengths to silence his angry ex-lover. – ABC iview
This crazy New Zealand mockumentary about a secret unit of zombie-chasing police officers in Wellington is bonkers. Think body-hopping demons running rampant, the gates of hell opening in a city fountain, werewolfs, vampires, creepy clowns and a house haunted by a never-ending 1970s disco party… and that’s just the first few episodes. Created by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Wellington Paranormal will strike a chord with fans of other Kiwi comedies like What We Do in the Shadows. The po-faced performances of the cast, daft dialogue and hilarious storylines are a recipe for complete escapism… with zombies. – SBS on Demand