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MoviesThe best TV shows of 2024 (so far) you need to stream

The best TV shows of 2024 (so far) you need to stream

Last year we bid farewell to SuccessionBarry and Top Boyfell hard for BeefColin From Accounts and Blue Lights. The next 12 months should help us move on – the potential impact of 2023’s writers’ strike notwithstanding – as early hits like World War II epic Masters of the Air and Mr and Mrs Smith, Prime Video’s intoxicating mix of witty marital drama and zippy espionage caper, are already proving.

Ahead are hotly-anticipated new runs of Bridgerton and Squid Game on Netflix, a third season of Industry, a sci-fi prequel in Dune: Prophecy, HBO’s barbed political satire The Regime, Park Chan-wook spy thriller The Sympathizer, and The Franchise, the latest from telly genius Armando Iannucci – among many other potentially binge-worthy offerings. But there’s only so many hours in the day and you can’t spend all of them on the sofa. Here’s our guide to the shows most worthy of your time.

RECOMMENDED:

🔥 The best TV and streaming shows of 2023
🎥 The best movies of 2024 (so far)
📺 The 100 greatest ever TV shows you need to binge

Best new TV shows of 2024

Shōgun (Disney+)

Photograph: FX Networks

1. Shōgun (Disney+)

As a tense chess game between powerful warrior factions seeking control over a feudal realm, the comparisons with Game of Thrones are inevitable. But, boy, does Shōgun deliver on the brutal potential signposted in its opening episode – which delivers betrayals, beheadings, and even death by boiling. Inspired by real historical events from the climax of Japan’s ‘Warring States’ period (circa 1600), and otherwise based on James Clavell’s 1975 international bestselling novel (previously adapted as a mega-hit TV miniseries in 1980), Shōgun’s strength lies in its taut storytelling, rich production design, and nuanced performances from actors Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Anna Sawai and Cosmo Jarvis – all of whom are Emmy-worthy. It’s a gripping, gut-churning historical drama – and probably the best thing you’ll see on television this year.

Length of binge: 9 hours 46 minsJames BalmontFreelance arts and culture journalist

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Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Photograph: Ed Miller/Netflix

2. Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Richard Gadd’s darkly funny drama recounts its creator’s experience of being stalked and sexually assaulted in his twenties. But as Gadd, who impresses with his writing, acting and sheer, unsparing honesty, makes clear: Baby Reindeer is not your average, 1980s-style regressive Hollywood fantasy of female predation. What makes it such a jaw-dropping experience is how wannabe stand-up Donny, Gadd’s semi-fictionalised version of himself, implicates himself in his own anguish, his mishandling of Jessica Gunning’s deeply troubled Martha coming into sharp focus. It’s a show that threatens to have its own painful postscript, with online sleuths tracking down the ‘real’ Martha with dispiritingly predictable consequences.

Length of binge: 3 hours 57 minsJon Hornbuckle

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One Day (Netflix)

Netflix

3. One Day (Netflix)

Is this the definitive version of the modern-but-classic love story? Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall (The White Lotus) are perfect as Emma and Dexter, two students who meet-kinda-cute on July 15, 1988 – St Swithin’s Day – and whom we encounter again on the same day over the next two decades. The time jumps that make David Nicholls’ novel so unique add drama and uncertainty to a love story that’s by turns funny and gut-wrenching. And amid all the Blur-fuelled club nights and terrible noughties fashion choices, there’s real depth here too, with class divides, drug abuse, infidelity, and death all tackled head-on. Forget the 2011 movie, this one’s the real deal.

Length of binge: 6 hours 40 minsJon Hornbuckle

Ripley (Netflix)

Photograph: Netflix

4. Ripley (Netflix)

Matt Damon was preppy and pandering in The Talented Mr. Ripley; Alain Delon slippery and seductive in Plein Soleil. Now Andrew Scott gives us a smirking, shadowy Tom Ripley – and the most complex version of Patricia Highsmith’s great interloper yet. As showrunner, Schindler’s List writer Steven Zaillian, of course, has the luxury of eight episodes – and countless glorious Italian locations – over which spin Highsmith’s yarn about a murderous conman and the unsuspecting Americans abroad that he preys upon. But with Robert Elswit’s high-contrast monochrome photography as crisp as a fresh banknote, it makes for a highly addictive mix of high style and murky morality. The ending is maestoso, too.

Length of binge: 7 hours 30 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

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Masters of the Air (Apple TV+)

Photograph: Apple TV+

5. Masters of the Air (Apple TV+)

World War II on the ground was zero fun, as Band of Brothers and The Pacific have shown in visceral detail. Somehow it seems even uglier in the skies above Europe in this gripping, epic-scale Hanks-and-Spielberg miniseries threequel. It barrels through nine episodes of airborne carnage as its charismatic cast of flyboys (Austin Butler, Callum Turner and Nate Mann) brave frostbite, hypoxia, flak and Luftwaffe fighters to drop bombs on the Third Reich. The combat scenes are terrifying, the period detail is spot-on, and the characters are true to historian Donald L Miller’s source tome – gutsy twentysomethings doing their jobs and trying to stay alive in the process.

Length of binge: 8 hours 31 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

Mr & Mrs Smith (Prime Video)

Photograph: Prime Video

6. Mr & Mrs Smith (Prime Video)

How do you mix espionage action, comedy and the kind of marital fireworks usually found in awardsy dramas? Answer: get Donald Glover involved. The star and co-creator of this eight-part riff on the so-so Doug Liman action-comedy (and lesser-seen Scott Bakula/Maria Bello ’90s TV series) helps bring a knowing, but smirk-free wit to a premise that sets him and Pen15’s Maya Erskine up as two spies going incognito as a married couple. The action is slick, the locations are Gourmet Traveller-worthy, and the chemistry absurd. Look for a John Turturro appearance for the ages, too.

Length of binge: 6 hours 31 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

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Hacks (Max)

Photograph: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Max

7. Hacks (Max)

Forget real-life comedians whining about being ‘cancelled’. Emotionally invest instead in Hacks double act Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder as the majestically monstrous (but softening rapidly) Deborah Vance and her prickly but hard-done-by co-writer Ava as they battle ageism, homophobia and actually career-derailing YouTube videos in a rabble-rousing third season that sets its sights on the late-night chat show world. Old school rapid-fire funny. Stephen A RussellContributor

Manhunt (Apple TV+)

Photograph: Apple TV+

8. Manhunt (Apple TV+)

The hipster-friendly feast of bushy mutton chops is just one reason to stream this enthralling and elegant period chase thriller. Another good one is The Crown’s Tobias Menzies’ lived-in performance as Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War during the Civil War, who seeks to track down the man who assassinated the President: John Wilkes Booth. The latter is a vain actor and white supremacist played with sulky malevolence by Anthony Boyle (Masters of the Air). Booth has several days’ head start, but is slowly tracked down by the bloodhound Stanton and his Union pursuers across a war-riven landscape. Not just gripping telly, but a historically ironclad insight into how Reconstruction-era fudges caused many of modern America’s woes.Phil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

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True Detective: Night Country (HBO/Sky Atlantic)

Photograph: © 2023 Home Box Office

9. True Detective: Night Country (HBO/Sky Atlantic)

The best True Detective since season one, this frosty noir is set in an Alaskan town (but filmed in Iceland) that’s beset by permanent darkness, environmental worries, and the discovery of a giant ‘corpsicle’ of frozen scientists. Enter Jodie Foster’s cranky cop Liz Danvers to form a testy partnership with indigenous local trooper Kali Reis (Evangeline Navarro) and figure out how that giant human ice lolly came about. Foster is mesmerising as the hard-bitten cop, and showrunner Issa López, taking over from, and for some reason incurring the ire of original series creator Nic Pizzolatto, wrangles all the disparate threads into one satisfying thrillersicle.

Length of binge: 6 hours 20 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

Expats (Prime Video)

Photograph: Prime Video

10. Expats (Prime Video)

For once, Nicole Kidman isn’t the main drawcard of this slowburn Hong Kong drama. An adaptation of Janice YK Lee’s bestseller, it sees the Aussie great retreading familiar ground as grieving architect Margaret Woo dealing with a family tragedy – overfamiliar, perhaps, after all those well-heeled David E Kelley roles. Instead, its power lies in creator Lulu Wang’s skill in locating Margaret’s trauma within a fracturing expat community, without ignoring the hard-grafting immigrants who serve it. The fifth episode, a stunning feature-length affair, centres on the foreign domestic workers who keep this rarefied world from falling apart. Mostly.

Length of binge: 6 hours 26 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

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3 Body Problem (Netflix)

Photograph: Netflix

11. 3 Body Problem (Netflix)

A cerebral slowburn best digested in increments rather than one chewy binge, Game of Thrones duo David Benioff and DB Weiss’s sci-fi epic parlays the big ideas of Chinese engineer Liu Cixin’s books into a solar storm of astrophysics, religious fanaticism and extra-terrestrial plots. It follows a group of university friends who venture into alternate realities to uncover the truth behind a spate of suspicious suicides onlky to uncover something X-Files-y. The result is intergalactic in ambition as well as themes.

Length of binge: 7 hours 24 minsJon Hornbuckle

The Vince Staples Show (Netflix)

Photograph: Netflix

12. The Vince Staples Show (Netflix)

Rap fans have been familiar with Vince Staples for a decade now, while TV viewers may recognise him from Abbott Elementary. On his self-titled Netflix series, though, everyone seems to know who he is, at least in his hometown of Long Beach, California, and they all want something from him, whether it’s the cops who insist he hang out with them after hauling him into jail or the unknown cousin in need of an alibi with his girlfriend. It’s tempting to describe the show as ‘a West Coast Atlanta’, given its similar themes and surrealism, but its ambition is less ‘Twin Peaks with rappers’ than a live-action Adult Swim series, which perfectly suits Staples’ deadpan charisma and sly wit. Let’s hope his audience takes his suggestion and ‘peer pressures’ Netflix into ordering more episodes.

Length of binge: 1 hour 54 minsMatthew Singer

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Curb Your Enthusiasm season 12 (HBO)

Photograph: © Home Box Office, Inc

13. Curb Your Enthusiasm season 12 (HBO)

Twenty-four years after its debut, the curmudgeonly comedy starring Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, is still turning out classic episodes, improvised from outlines constructed with Swiss-watch precision. Season 12 sees Larry heading to Atlanta to avoid ‘girlfriend’ Irma (Tracey Ullman), get lauded as a political activist, condemned as a racist, fail to be ‘cordial’ at a millionaire’s (Sharlto Copley) birthday party, and try couple’s counselling in an office with wafer-thin walls. Pair it with the new weekly podcast ‘The History of Curb’, in which Jeff (Garlin) and Susie (Essman) look back at all 114 episodes.David Hughes

Blue Lights season 2 (BBC)

Photograph: Christopher Barr/Two Cities Television

14. Blue Lights season 2 (BBC)

They’re no greenhorn probationers any more, which is just as well as the stakes cranked up a notch for the Belfast police officers in the second season of this gripping BBC cop show. The element of surprise has gone from a show that arrived last year out of the blue, but the things we loved about it – the ensemble of complex characters; the nuanced look at the city’s sectarian divisions; and the thrilling set pieces – are still there in abundance. Co-creators, Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson, are both former hard news journalists and North Irelanders and it shows in Blue Lights’ gritty cityscapes and strenuous efforts to wrestle with the city’s real-life divisions. And good news: there’s two more seasons to come.

Length of binge: 5 hours 49 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

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Mary & George (Sky Atlantic)

Photograph: Sky UK

15. Mary & George (Sky Atlantic)

Shock executions, plots, betrayal and sex… if Sky’s 17th century royal potboiler sounds like Game of Thrones in a ruff, it’s all based on a dusty but delicious corner of British history. Specifically the story of social-climbing smoke show George Villiers (Nicholas Galitzine) and his scheming mum (Julianne Moore), who inveigle their way into the court of the sorta-closeted King, James I (Mayflies’ Tony Curran, superb). Benjamin Woolley’s book ‘The King’s Assassin’ offers a roadmap for a rollicking tale of affairs – of both the sexual and international kind.

Length of binge: 5 hours 59 minsJon Hornbuckle

Fallout (Prime Video)

Photograph: Courtesy of Prime Video

16. Fallout (Prime Video)

Apocalypses are big in Hollywood at the moment, but it’s rare to see one that actually starts there. That’s the setting for a deeply unnerving, nuke-filled opening that picks up where Dr Strangelove left off, before barreling forward 200 years to a still-radioactive, post-Armageddon California. What begins as a roadtrip of sorts, with Ella Purnell’s guileless Vault-dweller on a mission to rescue her abducted dad, becomes a murky conspiracy thriller. Retro ’50s world-building and Walton Goggins’ gunslinging Ghoul, a character straight from the pages of 2000 AD, help Fallout follow The Last of Us in successfully transplanting a wildy popular video game to the screen. Remember when they said it couldn’t be done?

Length of binge: 7 hours 51 mins

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Extraordinary season 2 (Disney+)

Photograph: Olly Courtney/Hulu

17. Extraordinary season 2 (Disney+)

Disney’s superhero comedy returned for a second season, this time determined to make us weep. The silliness was still there – Kash (Bilal Hasna) stages a musical about Milton Keynes and his supernaturally-gifted ex-girlfriend Carrie (Sofia Oxenham) gets possessed by Princess Diana (because obvs) – but there’s loads of heart to go with the lolz. Therapy, break-ups and fatherhood, as well as complex themes of sexual exploration, self-sabotage and grief… no one could accuse Extraordinary of shying away from the tough stuff to go with all the twentysomething fuckupery. Have rehydration salts ready.

Length of binge: 3 hours 49 minsJessica PhillipsSocial Media Editor

Big Boys season 2 (Channel 4)

Photograph: Channel 4 / Olly Courtney

18. Big Boys season 2 (Channel 4)

Could the second run of British comedian Jack Rooke’s autobiographical coming-of-age-ish comedy live up to the explosion that was season one? Yes, and then some. Every bit as tender, funny and downright brilliant, season 2 widens the focus to the show’s wider ensemble of relatable characters, from the grieving, closeted Jack himself to his sweet mum Peggy, and lovely but depressed Danny. Rooke’s writing smartly navigates horrific freshers week parties and awkward sexual encounters. Like a cross between Gavin and Stacey and Fresh Meat, it’ll make you howl with laughter and wince in recognition. I hoped it would never end. Sadly, it did. Here’s hoping for season three. 

Length of binge: 2 hours 24 minsElla DoyleGuides Editor

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Boy Swallows Universe (Netflix)

Photograph: Netflix

19. Boy Swallows Universe (Netflix)

Based on Aussie author Trent Dalton’s semi-autobiographical novel, this Netflix series is a masterful meeting of authenticity, storytelling, and dreamy fantasy sequences. It’s a tale of magical realism that plunges you headfirst into the world of Eli and Gus – two young brothers growing up in a neglected outer suburb in Queensland during the mullet-loving ’80s. The pair must navigate never-ending hardships, brushes with the town’s criminal underbelly, and their mother’s struggle with addiction – all with (and without) the help of the dysfunctional family around them. Steeped in trauma, but packed with heart and humour, it has a touching bond of brotherhood at its core.

Length of binge: 6 hours 44 minsAlannah Le CrossArts and Culture Editor, Time Out Sydney

The Tourist season 2 (BBC/Stan/HBO Max)

Photograph: Steffan Hill/BBC

20. The Tourist season 2 (BBC/Stan/HBO Max)

The first season of this hit BBC mystery-thriller Jamie Dornan’s shadowy Irish amnesiac, Elliot, and Danielle Macdonald’s (Patti Cake$) Aussie cop, Helen, with plenty of questions back in Australia. The satisfyingly knotty, western-riffing second run has them heading back to the Emerald Isle, where the pair’s tender bond is soon interrupted by all manner of bloody mayhem, abductions and double-dealing as Elliot’s real identity is slowly revealed. Olwen Fouéré is all ivory-haired menace as Elliot’s family matriarch, but it’s Dornan’s show and The Fall actor is touchingly vulnerable as a reformed man figuring it all out as he goes along.

Length of binge: 5 hours 45 minsPhil de SemlyenGlobal film editor

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The Brothers Sun (Netflix)

Photograph: Netflix

21. The Brothers Sun (Netflix)

Like later-era John Woo, only without all the doves and slow-mo, this Netflix gangster series decamps from Asia to the US and pretty much lays waste to the place. There’s bruising fights in spas, dust-ups in driving ranges, devastation in Chinese restaurants – all overseen with aplomb by the John Wick stunt team. The non-fighty bits are spearheaded by Michelle Yeoh as a Triad matriarch travelling to LA where badass elder son Charles (Justin Chien) is a lot more help fending off rivals than Americanised younger offspring Bruce (Sam Song Li), who just wants to do improv for a living. It’s maybe an episode too long, but has enough charm to keep you on board throughout.

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