Entertainment

Neon NZ’s 28 Best Shows To Watch In 2021

By Morgan Reardon
29th Nov 2021

We guarantee you’ve seamlessly worked your way through nearly every TVNZ, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ show by now, but fear not, Neon NZ is here to save the day.

Home to some of the best series from HBO Max, Warner Bros, Sony, NBCU, FX and BBC content, you can now work your way through the likes of The OfficeThe Wire, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Westworld, The Bold Type and True Detective, you know, the types of show everyone talks about. 

With over 10,000 glorious hours of content, we've hand-picked the best new shows to watch on Neon NZ.

The Great

In season two of The Great, Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own—but if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of ‘liberating' a country that doesn’t want to be. She’ll battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring enlightenment to Russia. Meanwhile, she’ll also battle her heart as Peter slowly transitions from much-hated husband, to prisoner? Ally? Lover? Ultimately Catherine will learn that to change a country, you must let it change you. 

ZeroZeroZero

If cut-throat crime dramas are your thing, ZeroZeroZero should be top of your to-binge list. This critically-acclaimed eight-part series from Italian writer, Roberto Saviano dives deep into the world of the global drug trade—specifically, a massive shipment of cocaine as seen through the eyes of those involved (the hustling Mexican sellers, the white-collar American brokers, and the ruthless Italian buyers). Fans of Ozark and Narcos are sure to enjoy.

Barry

How a series about a hitman who 'finds himself' makes us feel so damn good, we're not entirely sure, but nonetheless, here we are. Bill Hader is everything as the lead in Barry, a dark comedy that follows a depressed assassin who gets a new lease on life when he joins an acting class to suss out his next victim—an aspiring actor who's bedding a mobster's wife. Keep an eye out for the legendary Henry Winkler, who shines as Barry's mentor/acting tutor.

Succession

This award-winning series has two juicy seasons for you to binge-watch and trust us, once you start, you won’t stop. And you're in luck, with weekly episodes of season three dropping every Monday from the 18 October. Succession follows the uber-wealthy Roy family, known for controlling the biggest media and entertainment company in the world. However, their world changes when their father looks to step down from the company and the fight for power begins. With characters so well drawn, you'll be utterly and immediately entranced by their Machiavellian schemes and often hilarious family dynamics, there's a good reason this is one of the best things to watch on Neon NZ right now.

Scenes From A Marriage

This reboot of Ingar Bergmann's 1973 Swedish miniseries stars Hollywood heavyweights Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac as a contemporary American couple whose marriage is falling apart. Mira (Chastain) is an ambitious tech executive discontent with their relationship, while Jonathan (Isaac) is the brilliant philosophy professor determined to keep them together, and so unfolds a complicated story of love, hatred, desire, monogamy, and more. Packing in some serious feels (if the trailer makes you cry, just wait!), we reckon Scenes from a Marriage is even better than 2019's Marriage Story.

Insecure

Creator Issa Rae stars as Issa Dee, a young woman struggling to navigate the tricky professional and personal terrain of Los Angeles in the final year of her 20s. Stuck in a job where she feels like everyone is progressing but her and questioning whether her relationship is at a dead-end, she joins forces with her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), to finally take control of her life. Neon just dropped the fifth and final season of this hilarious show, so pop Insecure on your must-watch list. Check it out here

Raised By Wolves

From executive producer Ridley Scott, HBO Max series Raised By Wolves is definitely one of the best shows on Neon NZ. It goes like this: two androids (named Mother and Father) are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet, but as the burgeoning colony of humans in space threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task. Expect twists, turns, plenty of high production drama in a futuristic world. Utterly engrossing.  

Gangs Of London

If you like your drama gritty and with a British accent, Gangs Of London is for you. For 20 years, Finn Wallace was the most powerful criminal in London. Billions of pounds flowed through his organisation each year. But now he’s dead—and nobody knows who ordered the hit. With rivals everywhere, it’s up to the impulsive Sean Wallace to take his father’s place. Prepare to be swept along London’s dirty criminal underworld where loyalties are constantly tested.  

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is a modern-day love story, set in a world where witches, vampires and daemons secretly live and work alongside humans, hidden in plain sight. The series follows Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) who after discovering a mystical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, jumpstarts her latent powers, forcing her to go into hiding and travel through time to escape from evil forces. The third and final season just dropped and trust us when we say this magical series is the ultimate binge-fest. 

Time

You’re in for a rollercoaster with the BBC’s critically acclaimed Time. Consumed by guilt for accidentally killing a man, newly imprisoned Mark Cobden (played by Britsh acting royalty Sean Bean) is confronted with the harsh realities of his new life, while prison officer Eric McNally (played by the excellent Stephen Graham) is faced with an impossible choice when a dangerous inmate identifies his weakness. This show is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat, no wonder it’s one of the best shows on Neon NZ. 

The White Lotus

Taking place at a swanky Hawaiian resort, The White Lotus follows the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week. Despite everyone’s happy exteriors, there’s a simmering tension waiting to explode. There’s a newly married couple on their honeymoon, a widower who comes to spread her late mother’s ashes, a young family with a famous mother and angsty teens and a hotel manager who's constantly on the edge expertly played by Aussie actor Murray Bartlett. Expect plenty of cringe-worthy moments interspersed with black comedy gold and a soundtrack that's next-level. This series gets our pick as one of the best shows on Neon NZ right now. 

What We Do In The Shadows  

A reimagining of Taika Waititi’s epic film What We Do In The Shadows follows the night-to-night activities of vampires who’ve been living together for hundreds of years. Filmed documentary style, Nandor, Laszlo and Nadja live in Staten Island alongside their human familiar and have to deal with the hilarious, age-old intricacies which come with flatting—particularly one which comes with an energy vampire who lives in the basement. Their original intent was to take over the known world, but jumping forward to the present day, it seems things haven’t quite gone according to plan. Season three has just been released.  

Pose

The category is: onscreen representation and visibility. Set in New York in the 1980s, Pose shines a light on the ballroom scene—an underground community for queer people and a safe space from everyday oppression. From the man who brought us American Horror Story and Glee, Ryan Murphy is now responsible for thrusting icons Billy Porter and Indya Moore centre stage in a drama where a young woman takes charge of her destiny as the mother of House Evangelista.

Gossip Girl

Eight years after the original blog went dark, a new generation of private school teens are introduced to Gossip Girl. The reboot centres around popular teen Julien Calloway and her close-knit group of genetically blessed mates at Constance Billard. But Julien’s perfect life takes a nosedive when her estranged half-sister Zoya turns up catching the eye of her boyfriend and Gossip Girl. 

The Nevers

Historical drama fans, The Nevers is for you. Set in 1896, Victorian London is rocked to its core when a supernatural event gives certain people—mostly women—abnormal abilities. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted "orphans".

Betty

This series is a spin-off of Crystal Moselle’s amazing 2018 film Skate Kitchen. It features much of the original cast, including Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Ajani Russell, and Rachelle Vinberg, and follows a diverse group of Gen Z women as they navigate their lives through the male-dominated world of skateboarding in New York City. Witty, smart and serving up a serious dose of feminist power—you’ll love Betty. 

Mare Of Eastown

If you only watch one show from this list, make it Mare Of Eastown. It stars the incredible Kate Winslet as detective Mare Sheehan, whose life crumbles around her when investigating a shocking murder in small-town Pennsylvania. When the dark side of the close community is exposed through the course of the investigation, long-held secrets will be revealed, changing the course of people’s lives—and Mare's—forever. 

The Flight Attendant

Set in the world of travel and high-end airlines, this darkly comedic thriller series follows Cassie Bowden (The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco), a flight attendant whose life takes a terrifying turn when a one night stand turns deadly. Waking up in the wrong bed, with a dead man—and no idea what happened, Cassie flees back to the US but it’s not long before the police come knocking and Cassie needs to figure out fast, who she can really trust. 

The Undoing

From writer David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies), this limited series is the binge-worthy show you’ve been looking for. It centres around Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman), a successful therapist, her devoted husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), and their young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. But the plot twist occurs when a cheating scandal, a violent death and a missing spouse comes to light. 
 

I May Destroy You 

This drama series has gained worldwide praise, and for good reason—it’s incredible. Set in London, the series centres on Arabella (played by Michaela Coel, who also penned the script), a carefree, self-assured Londoner who is working on her second, highly anticipated book. But when her drink is spiked and she is subjected to a harrowing sexual assault she must question and rebuild every element of her life.

Mrs. America

Mrs. America tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly. Through the perspective of Schlafly (played by Cate Blanchett) and second-wave feminists, this series explores how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 70s forever shifted the political landscape.

Lovecraft Country

Based on Matt Ruff's novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father. This begins a struggle to survive and overcome the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback. 

The Plot Against America

A working-class Jewish family in New Jersey watches the political rise of aviator-hero and xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh, as he becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism. This six-part re-imagining of history is based on the Philip Roth novel of the same name. This one also has a stellar cast too with Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector and Winona Ryder.

Devs

This series is all about a young software engineer named Lily Chan who works for Amaya, a cutting-edge tech company based in Silicon Valley. After her boyfriend’s apparent suicide, Lily suspects foul play and begins to investigate. She quickly realizes that all signs lead to Forest, Amaya's bigshot CEO, and “Devs”, the company's secret development division. 

The Outsider

Based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name, The Outsider begins with a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a young boy. But when a supernatural force somehow edges its way into the case, it leads a seasoned cop and an unorthodox investigator to question everything they believe in.

Euphoria

Euphoria follows the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue (played by Zendaya), a drug addict fresh from rehab with no plans to stay clean. Circling in Rue's orbit is Jules, a transgender girl searching for where she belongs; Nate, a jock whose anger issues mask sexual insecurities; Cassie, whose sexual history continues to dog her; and Kat, a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality. As the classmates struggle to make sense of their futures, the series tackles the teenage landscape of partying and anxiety-ridden day-to-day life.

Chernobyl

On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union suffered a massive explosion that released radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe. Chernobyl is a dramatisation of this accident which has gone down as one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history, and the sacrifices made to save Europe from the disaster. 

Animal Kingdom

The fifth and final season of Animal Kingdom is here and no, we’re not sure if we’re ready to say goodbye either. If you’re not familiar with the series, it goes like this: a group of brothers and their nephew J, live together in a seaside house in California with the family matriarch Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Together the Cody family orchestrate robberies on banks, drug lords and gangsters to fund their lifestyle of partying and debauchery. In season five the dysfunctional family and their criminal ways finally come to a head. 

In the mood for more binging? Catch the best of what's streaming across all the NZ channels right here.

Image credit: Neon

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