Entertainment

The Best TV Shows on Binge

Binge really lives up to its name—the Australian streaming service has some of the best tv shows ever made, thanks to a deal with television giant HBO.

The Roy family from Succession, one of the best shows on Binge.
Photo: Succession

Binge really lives up to its name—the Australian streaming service has some of the best tv shows ever made, thanks to a deal with television giant HBO. The platform has a blend of classic tv hits like Grand Designs, with fourteen full seasons for your viewing pleasure, through to new and hyped shows like Barry and Sanditon

There are truly too many great tv shows to cover in one article on Binge, so instead, we’ve selected the best of the best—television series we think you’ll love. From some of the greatest television ever made that demands a viewing session, through to more recent and highly acclaimed tv shows everyone will be talking about over the next year, here is your guide to what you should be streaming on Binge next.

The Walking Dead (2010 – 2022)

With eleven seasons, The Walking Dead is one of the longest-running dramas on television. Its final season is just about to wrap up on Binge, so this is the perfect time to start watching the drama, which sees survivors in America adjusting to a new world after a virus turns the majority of humans into zombies. Far more than just a zombie series, The Walking Dead looks at human relationships and morality in a dystopian future.

Sex And The City (1998 – 2004)

Bingeing Sex And The City never gets old, and all six seasons of the original 90s/00s series are on Binge. Follow Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristen Davis) as they navigate the singles scene of New York City, from makeups to breakups, engagements to scandals, and of course plenty of sex.

Game Of Thrones (2011 – 2019)

Arguably one of the greatest tv shows ever made, the entirety of Game Of Thrones streams on Binge, so plan a weekend and settle in for a viewing. In case you missed the hype the first time around, Game Of Thrones is a sweeping fantasy series about power struggles in Westeros, as kings and queens vie for the Iron Throne. 

Mare Of Easttown (2021)

One of Binge’s most-watched series for 2021, Mare Of Easttown stars Kate Winslet as a Pennsylvanian detective investigating a murder in her small town, where everyone knows everyone – and many harbour dark secrets. Winslet is compelling as Mare, and the episodic plot twists will keep you gripped through the seven-episode limited series.

The Flight Attendant (2020 – )

Imagine waking up in a hotel, having no idea how you made it there… next to a dead man with his throat slashed. That’s the premise of The Flight Attendant, which sees a reckless alcoholic flight attendant (played by Kaley Cuoco) suddenly caught up in a murder mystery. A blend of thriller and dark comedy, the series’ second season just started streaming on Binge.

Euphoria (2019 – )

One of the most controversial tv shows in recent memory, Euphoria is a teen series that’s copped a lot of criticism for its depiction of drug addiction and teenage sex. The show follows Rue (Zendaya) and her wider friendship group as they come of age and work out who they are. This is definitely a heavy series, but it’s worth watching for the stellar acting and stunning cinematography teamed with composer Labrinth’s famous soundtrack.

The Sopranos (1999 – 2007)

Considered one of the best television series of all time, The Sopranos is a must-watch, and all six seasons of the critically-acclaimed show are streaming on Binge. Diving deep into a New Jersey-based mob family helmed by Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), it’s a lengthy series and one where you really need to focus – but with a whopping 21 Emmy awards under its belt, it’s one you won’t regret starting.

This Is Going To Hurt (2022)

Based on the memoir of the same name, This Is Going To Hurt is an eye-opening drama centred around an obstetrics and gynaecology ward within a public hospital. Adam Kay (Ben Whishaw) is an overworked, cynical junior doctor who is ambitious but also grappling with the sheer lack of funding and workplace care within the public health sector. We won’t tell you any more about the series as some of the shocking twists are what make the gripping drama so great, but be prepared for major heartbreak and a show that will sit with you for days afterwards.

Succession (2018 – )

Succession quietly dropped in 2018, but really gained its fanbase from season two. When season three landed last year, the hype reached fever pitch—you’ve definitely heard about this show, but have you watched it yet? It can be slow to start if you’re accustomed to fast-paced dramas, but believe us when we say that once you’re hooked, you won’t be able to stop watching as the Roy family battle it out for power and wealth in America.

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Entertainment

With One Orgy, 'Queer as Folk' Sets a New TV Standard

Peacock's reboot of the gay drama is finally giving queer disabled people some of the representation they've been seeking on television.

Peacock
Peacock
Peacock

Everything is ready for the orgy. The snacks and drinks are prepared, the disco ball is hanging, and there are mechanical lifts to help people in and out of their wheelchairs. As a few guests mingle and a go-go dancer gyrates, Marvin (played by Eric Graise) rolls onto the stage in his wheelchair to act as emcee. With the help of a sign-language interpreter, he kicks things off by announcing, “I know you’re all dying to tear each other’s clothes off, or to have your attendants take them off for you.” This is no ordinary orgy; it’s “#F*CK Disabled People,” the titular orgy from Episode 4 of Queer as Folk.

The Queer as Folk reboot, released this month on Peacock, is already far more diverse than the versions of the show that came before it: more racially diverse, more body types, more genders, and multiple disabled actors in key roles. Episode 4 pushes the envelope beyond almost anything seen on network TV. It’s the kind of representation that disabled viewers-and actors-have been dreaming about, centring on a queer disabled orgy and one stunningly beautiful sex scene.

Ryan O’Connell, who both co-writes and acts in the series, recognized the reboot’s potential when it came to better representing the lives of queer disabled people like himself. Key to this was sharing the screen with multiple disabled actors, including recurring appearances by Graise. Marvin’s presence had already sold O’Connell on the show when he began meeting with series developer Stephen Dunn, who had previously directed the coming-of-age movie Closet Monster. “He was like, ‘I also want you to star in it too,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, you want two disabled people?'” says O’Connell.

O’Connell grew up enjoying the sexy, soapy escapades of the American Queer as Folk, Showtime’s five-season adaptation of the British series of the same name. Amid widespread bigotry and the AIDS epidemic, the two popular shows offered a rare picture of happy gay life. But O’Connell longed for a reflection of himself on the screen. That impulse eventually led him to create Special, the Netflix sitcom about a gay man with cerebral palsy seeking love, sex, and friendship. Queer as Folk gives him another special opportunity: to tell sexy, soapy, positive LGBTQIA+ stories with an ensemble cast wherein he wouldn’t be the only disabled character. “I was so shocked in a way that was truly depressing, but it’s so rare as disabled people that we get any kind of inclusion whatsoever, let alone that there’s two of us,” O’Connell says. “Immediately, writing for the reboot, I felt a sense of ease.”For Graise, working on a show written by O’Connell was a “dream come true.” He continues, “I’d always said there needs to be a disabled person in the writers’ room, but I had no idea how significant it would be and how much it meant to me. And even Stephen Dunn has a disabled friend who Marvin is very much inspired by.”

Marvin is outgoing, even wild in his energy. When we meet him at a bar in the first episode of the series, he acts like he owns the place, flirting and serving up wicked verbal jabs with equal ease. Before we get to know him better, O’Connell’s shy, sheltered Julian Beaumont seems to fade into the background by comparison. Initially, he serves mostly as a foil to his more outgoing older brother, Brodie (Devin Way), who, in many ways, is the chaotic core around which the rest of the ensemble orbits. During the first three episodes, the brothers, along with Brodie’s on-again, off-again lover Noah (Johnny Sibilly), convert their shared New Orleans home into the epic party house known as “Ghost Fag.” It’s Ghost Fag that attracts Marvin, in the fourth episode, with the idea of hosting a queer disabled orgy. We don’t learn as much about Marvin’s background, but it’s clear he’s made himself a cornerstone of the LGBTQIA+ community despite the everyday ableism he faces.

Beyond the surface differences, Julian and Marvin couldn’t be more divergent. In addition to their differing disabilities (Marvin, like Graise, is a double amputee), they come from disparate economic classes and have radically contrasting outlooks on life. Julian protects his vulnerability with an introverted lifestyle and a carefully cultivated routine, while Marvin hides his behind a boisterous exterior. Just like real life, not all members of a marginalized group get along, or even have very much in common.

“I don’t ever try to feel the burden of representation because there’s no point-you have to write from a place of truth,” says O’Connell, who wrote Episode 4 with Alyssa Taylor. “It was really fun creatively to have these two disabled characters who are so wildly different from each other in how they conduct themselves in their relationship to disability and to sex and all those things, but also I think in Episode 4 it was really interesting to show their commonalities.”

Peacock
Peacock
Peacock

Both Marvin and Julian get laid over the course of the episode, but even before their clothes come off, the orgy scene fills the screen with something seldom seen on TV: disabled people in all their sexual glory. The scenario was inspired by a 2015 disabled sex party co-hosted in Toronto by Andrew Gurza, the show’s disability awareness consultant. After Gurza joined QaF, he mentioned the party in the writers’ room. “Mine was a lot more tame than this should be,” Gurza recalls telling them. “I’d like this to be a lot racier.”

Gurza even appears in a sex scene during the episode. “Being together on the show was an amazing moment,” says O’Connell, who cites Gurza as one of his inspirations. “He’s so honest and demands that his voice be heard and makes no apologies for that, and I try to do the same.”

As the orgy continues, both characters hook up with sex workers. It’s clear the actors and creators wanted to affirm that sex work is work. “It’s incredibly difficult work, not only the physical labour but the emotional space you have to hold for somebody to make them feel seen and heard and not judged. It makes me happy to showcase their work in a more positive light,” O’Connell notes.

Sachin Bhatt, who plays Ali, the sex worker hired by Marvin, agrees. He adds that his role is an all-too-rare example of a Southeast Asian man being sexual on-screen. “Anyone who’s not a cisgender, white male has many more mountains to climb,” Bhatt says. “So for me it was really exciting to play this sex worker because they wouldn’t typically cast an Indian for this role.”

Peacock
Peacock
Peacock

While their relationship is transactional to begin with, Ali is respectful, playful, and caring throughout his interactions with Marvin. However, his feelings for his client intensify during Episode 4 as the pair connect alone in a room at Ghost Fag. “We bonded instantly,” Bhatt recalls of Graise. “It was very important to both of us that we get the intimacy and the vulnerability right.”

For Graise, who also appeared on Netflix’s Locke & Key, that actorly connection made the sequence what it is. “We spent a lot of time kiki’ing off-set and discussing what we wanted out of this scene for both of us. The scene wasn’t just about me. It’s also Ali exploring Marvin’s body in a way that he’s never explored with anyone before, and his insecurities and trepidations about interacting with a disabled body.”

Unlike previous interactions shown between them, Ali asks to top Marvin this time-and to interact with his body in new ways. “Can I touch your legs?” Ali asks. This was influenced by Graise’s own life, as someone he dated for three years realized he’d never touched Graise’s legs. After some tender caressing, Marvin wraps his thighs around Ali and they make love. Graise’s background as a dancer is evident in his elegant movement throughout the scene, which contrasts with some of the polished, more “Hollywood”-style sequences that appear elsewhere in the series.

“Sachin and Eric really fucking landed that plane,” O’Connell says. “It was everything I want in a sex scene, which is that it was vulnerable, it was tender, it was awkward, and it was sexy.”Beyond the new Queer As Folk, it’s rare for media to let disabled people be either queer or sexy. O’Connell cited a few other examples, such as Jillian Mercado’s role in The L Word: Generation Q or the work of playwright and actor Ryan J. Haddad, but it’s sparse overall. With one episode, Queer as Folk has set a high bar for other shows to follow, and the series as a whole demonstrates how disabled actors can portray real, complex, and flawed human beings.

“A cognitive dissonance happens when we watch things on our TV screens, where, all of a sudden, we want things to be simplified,” O’Connell says. “Isn’t it art’s job to reflect humanity accurately?

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Kit O’Connell is the Digital Editor at the Texas Observer, and lives in Austin, Texas with their spouse and two cats. Follow them @KitOConnell.

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