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5 streaming shows that lived up to the hype in 2021

Omar Sy in 'Lupin'. Picture: Netflix

Omar Sy in 'Lupin'. Picture: Netflix

Published Dec 30, 2021

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As we countdown to 2022, let’s look at the shows that left us completely mesmerised in a year where we yo-yoed between different Covid-19 lockdown levels and waves.

These shows immunised us against serious boredom-meets-cabin fever and, in some instances, left us gaping by the twist.

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Squid Game (Netflix)

Talk about becoming a global phenomenon, this K-drama not only enjoyed critical acclaim but also went on to surpass “Bridgerton” to become the most-watched series for the streaming platform.

The nine-part series centres on Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), who lives with his elderly mother. Although divorced, he is a devoted father to his daughter. Unfortunately, his gambling addiction leaves him in a tricky spot with a local loan shark.

But there is a silver lining or so he thinks when a stranger invites him to play a game, where he could win a life-changing cash prize. He, along with hundreds of others in a similar cash-strapped predicament, agree to participate.

They arrive at an undisclosed location, where they are assigned numbers and made to wear green tracksuits while the masked guards are in pink jumpsuits. The games are overseen by the Front Man.

It isn’t long before they realise that death is the price for those who fail to win in the games. Each time a person dies, ₩100 million is added to the cash prize.

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This game puts everyone to the test from a physical and psychological perspective. In this kill or be killed scenario, the unsettling graphic violence caused a fair amount of controversy.

That said, this series was a resounding success and has been given the green light for two more seasons.

Behind Her Eyes (Netflix)

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This British noir supernatural psychological thriller was a complete mindf**k. It is based on Sarah Pinborough’s novel of the same name.

The plot centred Louise Barnsley(Simona Brown), a single mother, who, on a girls night out, meets and falls for David Ferguson (Tom Bateman).

Unbeknown to her at the time, he’s married and is her new boss.

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David’s wife, Adele (Eve Hewson), who comes from money, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Louise. But Adele has a muddled past, which left her spending some time at a mental institution.

As time passes, Louise becomes ensnared in a world where no one is what they seem, and even worse, the secrets she stumbles upon are most disturbing.

This series threw streamers for a loop with its curveball finale. But I don’t think anyone will dispute being left spellbound by this offering.

Lupin (Netflix)

Omar Sy stole the hearts of viewers in this French thriller when the first five episodes aired earlier in the year. Part two released five months later.

In this pioneering era of TV series, heroes are no longer squeaky-clean role models. Not at all.

The protagonists of today, like Lucifer Morningstar, are dealing with personal demons. They are victims of circumstance and heroes for the decisions they make.

Sy, who I like to call the French version of Idris Elba, plays Assane Diop.

As a young boy, he was dealt a heavy blow when the affluent employer of his immigrant father framed him for theft. Unable to live with the shame, his father ends up killing himself behind bars.

Orphaned as a young boy, Assane became even more enamoured with the adventures of a gentleman thief named Arsène Lupin from a book his father had given him.

As an adult, he becomes a criminal maven, relieving the wealthy of their valuables with his cunning plans and foolproof disguises. But he is working towards a goal – clearing his father’s name and, in so doing, exacting his revenge.

Unfortunately, his son Raoul (Etan Simon) ends up becoming a target in his vendetta.

Fans were left completely mesmerised by the protagonist as he executes his plans with admirable suaveness and smarts.

The White Lotus (Showmax)

This satirical comedy-drama was filmed in Hawaii.

It stars Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Lacy, Natasha Rothwell and Steve Zahn.

The six-part first season explores the trials and tribulations of the staff and guests at a tropical resort.

It follows the week-long shenanigans of the vacationers and delves beyond the cheerful disposition of the hotel staff.

The narrative takes a dark and complex twist and struck a chord with streamers, so much so that it was renewed for an anthology series.

WandaVision (Disney+)

This is the first television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is produced by Marvel Studios.

Jac Schaeffer is the head writer on the show, which picks up from three weeks after the events of the 2019 film “Avengers: Endgame”.

Wanda Maximoff and Vision are enjoying life in suburbia in Westview, New Jersey. They keep their true identities hidden and try and fit into their new surroundings in a fictional series, “WandaVision”.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprise their respective roles as Wanda Maximoff and Vision from the film series, with Debra Jo Rupp, Fred Melamed, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Randall Park, Kat Dennings and Evan Peters also in the cast.

However, certain situations threaten to expose them as Wanda and Vision are forced to use their superhero powers.

The series received 23 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won three.

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