20 Miniseries With Great Stories That Won’t Turn You Into a Couch Potato
That feeling that tempts you to watch “just” one episode more is something that we’re used to dealing with pretty much every day by now. The credits roll and in a sneaky, but kind of pleasant way, your streaming service already starts the countdown before automatically going to the next episode. And honestly, nothing seems easier than just letting it do its job, relaxing, and continuing to watch for a while.
But sometimes, if you have a lot of things to do, this might be counterproductive. So in order to get the best out of both worlds, miniseries have arrived as a perfect compromise. So Bright Side decided to make a compilation listing the most thrilling productions with a single season to watch and no more than 10 episodes.
1. Unorthodox (4 episodes — Netflix)
A young woman belonging to an Ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York decides to escape from that life while leaving her arranged marriage behind. She then moves to Berlin where she meets a music band whose members are college students from all around the world. But her past is far from letting her move onto a new life. Despite how intriguing this synopsis might be, the story is inspired by true events.
2. A Very English Scandal (3 episodes — Amazon Prime)
Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a British Parliament member who is willing to do everything, even committing a crime, to keep his extramarital relationship with a young model away from the public spotlight during the ’60s, when homosexuality was heavily condemned and even illegal. The miniseries is based on true events and has received very good reviews by critics.
3. The Outsider (10 episodes — HBO)
We should probably start by emphasizing that, like all other productions based on Stephen King’s work, The Outsider guarantees a mystery/horror story that will make your spine tremble with fear. The miniseries is about the brutal assassination of a kid. All the evidence collected in the case points to his baseball coach as the main culprit of the crime, except for one video in which the coach is giving a conference outside the city at exactly the same time that the crime took place. Jason Bateman and Ben Mendelsohn were cast for this miniseries.
4. The Loudest Voice (7 episodes — Showtime)
You will hardly be able to recognize Russel Crowe, but we swear he does have a part in The Loudest Voice as the main character, Roger Ailes, who is the business executive in charge of transforming Fox News, one of the most influential news channels in the United States. The series that earned the reputed Australian actor a Golden Globe was not free of controversy. It’s based on the sexual harassment case brought forward by the victims of Roger Ailes and his own version of the story, mostly told through the news channel.
5. Alias Grace (6 episodes — Netflix)
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, famous for her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, is the genius mind behind Alias Grace, a story that takes place in the early 19th century. A psychiatrist has to decide whether a murderer can escape the chair by alleging a broken mental state. Sarah Gordon and Edward Holcroft are its stars.
6. Good Omens (6 episodes — Amazon Prime)
An angel and a demon who love their lives on Earth must leave their differences behind to work together and prevent the final battle between heaven and hell that could potentially wipe humanity from the face of the planet. That, more or less, is what this miniseries about. And this is accomplished by appealing to our senses: humor, adventure, and fantasy. It stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant, but has special guests like Jon Hamm and Frances McDormand.
7. Band of Brothers (10 episodes — HBO)
Band of Brothers has pretty quickly become a modern classic when it comes to miniseries. Coproduced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in 2001, this story revolves around the lives and perils of a regiment of paratroopers during World War II. Like any Spielberg production, it has great special effects and major actors like Damien Lewis, Ron Livingston, David Schwimmer, and Simon Pegg were cast. It’s definitely a must-see.
8. Years & Years (6 episodes — BBC)
The political situation, lack of economic stability, and technological breakthroughs made today and in the upcoming 15 years are portrayed in great detail and in a realistic fashion with their pros and cons in Years & Years. Through the eyes of a British family, we see how life evolves for better and worse, but always with a great set of actors lead by Emma Thompson. Years & Years is clearly a miniseries that will make you think about the modern condition of our world.
9. Feel Good (6 episodes — Netflix)
Mae Martin is a young comedian with a life full of ups and downs. She has to carry the load of a toxic past as well as a dysfunctional family, and she must undergo a storm of existential revelations that come with starting a new romantic relationship. This British production is ideal for rom-com and chick flick lovers that prefer shorter episodes (each episode lasts about 30 minutes). For those of you out there who are Friends fans, Lisa Kudrow plays the leading role.
10. Defending Jacob (8 episodes — Apple TV+)
This miniseries was released on the 24th of April and it stars Chris Evans. It’s based on a novel of the same name, written by William Landay. The story revolves around a couple who must deal with the accusations made against his 14-year-old son, who is supposedly an assassin. Defending Jacob combines drama, crime, and family conflict.
11. The Night Manager (6 episodes — BBC)
A crew, including Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, and Olivia Colman is already more than self-sufficient and a pretty good reason to watch this miniseries released in 2016. On top of that, its story won’t even let you leave your couch: an ex-soldier is recruited as a secret agent to infiltrate a secret organization that operates an international network used to transport weapons. The cherries on top are the 12 Emmy nominations this series received.
12. Chernobyl (5 episodes — HBO)
The name says it all: this miniseries brings the drama that took place in April of 1986 to the small screen, when a nuclear plan failed to contain the same energy that allows us to function as a modern society every day. It’s told from the point of view of the people who were made responsible for this tragedy and it combines the stories told by the people of Pripyat, the closest village to the plant, as well as rescue teams and scientists who were affected by the accident. It won the 2019 Emmy for the Best Miniseries.
13. When They See Us (4 episodes — Netflix)
This dramatic miniseries is based on true events. The story revolves around a group of 5 African-American teenagers falsely accused and convicted of raping a woman in Central Park, New York. This production brings together consecrated actors like Vera Farmiga, Joshua Jackson, and John Leguizamo. It was very well received by critics and earned its way to the Emmys with multiple nominations.
14. Sharp Objects (8 episodes — HBO)
Amy Adams shows how versatile her performances can be in Sharp Objects, a miniseries where she plays a journalist that goes back to her native town to cover the assassination of her 2 daughters. Her own mental fragility, and that of her family that she reencounters after so many years, plays an important part in the puzzle that this case becomes. This psychological thriller received 8 nominations at the Emmy awards in 2019.
15. The Miniaturist (2 episodes — BBC)
The Miniaturist takes you straight to Amsterdam in the 17th century. During the so-called Dutch Golden Age, a young woman turns 18 years old while her family is consumed by debt and poverty. She then marries a rich trader and receives a mysterious doll house as a marriage gift. She hired a miniaturist to restore the doll house, but she will soon find out that there is a secret synchronicity between what happens in her dollhouse and in her home.
16. Mrs. Fletcher (7 episodes — HBO)
This comedy revolves around the life of Eve Fletcher, a divorced middle-aged woman who starts a new stage of her life after her only child leaves home to go to college. Now that she’s home alone, she decides to adopt a whole new personality and wants to experiment with her sexuality in a way in which she couldn’t when she was younger. Kathryn Hahn stars in the miniseries, which consists of 7 episodes that last half an hour each.
17. Into the West (6 episodes — TNT)
Steven Spielberg produced this miniseries that is a must-see for all western fans. It was nominated for 16 Emmy awards in 2006. It takes place in 1820 and is about the American expansion in the Far West. The story is told from the perspective of 2 very different families, whose paths crossed despite coming from different places too: a white American family and a Native American family.
18. Feud (8 episodes — FX)
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were 2 very popular and coveted movie stars from the early ’60s. When producers finally managed to put together a project for both of them to star in, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, one of the most famous enmities in Hollywood began. That’s the story told in Feud, released in 2017. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange were cast to play Davis and Crawford.
19. Unbelievable (8 episodes — Netflix)
A woman reported her rape to the police, but later on, she retracts her statement, and is accused of lying. Many years later, after a series of very similar events took place, 2 detectives reopened the case to discover the truth behind her version of the story. Unbelievable is based on the true events covered by the press in this article, that won a Pulitzer Prize. Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever star in this miniseries.
20. Angels in America (6 episodes — HBO)
HBO surprised us at the end of 2003 with this big-budget production that cast some of the best actors in Hollywood: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, and Jeffrey Wright. The series takes place in an alternative 1985, where the AIDS epidemic among the LGBT community has devastating consequences for social relationships. It won an Emmy for Best Miniseries and all categories related to acting performances.
Which of these miniseries would you like to watch first? Are there any you’d recommend to a friend? Let us know in the comment section!