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Billie Piper wears a fake fur dalmation coat drenched in blood in I Hate Suzie
Photograph: Supplied/Stan Fake blood on fake fur is the least of Billie Piper's worries in I hate Suzie

The best binge-worthy TV shows on Stan

We take a look at some of the best shows to stream on Stan

By Stephen A Russell
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They say we’re the lucky country, and that's certainly true when it comes to top-notch TV options. Not only are we spoiled with two public broadcasters, with all the free shows that entails, but Australians also have their very own affordable streaming platform to gorge on in Stan.

With so many original and exclusive shows on offer, we pick out some of our favourites to help you while away your weekends in style. 

Best TV shows on Stan

Billie Piper, wears a yellow jumper with black crosse on it in I Hate Suzie
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

I Hate Suzie

It’s hard to remember now, given the stratospheric success of the pairing, but a lot of folks were dubious when pop star Billie Piper was announced as Christopher Eccleston’s companion when Doctor Who was rebooted. Nailing the adventures through time and space, she went on to impress in Victorian spooktacular Penny Dreadful. Now she rules once more in I Hate Suzie. Re-teaming her with Secret Diary of a Call Girl creator Lucy Prebble, the irrepressible Piper plays a TV star stunned by a leak of her nude photos online. A whip-smart black comedy exploring sexuality, consent and celebrity, it’s tonally intriguing. It plays with genres from horror to comedy, sci-fi to spies, and there’s a dab of musical theatre thrown in too. Blooming marvellous.

David Tenant wears glasses in the back of a care as infamous serial killer Dennis Nilsen in Des
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

Des

Of course, Eccleston only stuck around for one season of new Who, regenerating into Scotsman David Tennant (sadly deploying a Cockney accent instead of his native brogue). Tennant went on to play detective in both Blackpool and Broadchurch, but he flips to the dark side in Stan’s three-part serial killer drama Des. If you caught him being manipulatively wicked on Jessica Jones, he’s even more disturbing for the banality of evil on show as real-life murderer Dennis Nilsen. He entrapped and murdered countless men, but there’s no moustache-twirling here. He looks and acts like a middle manager at a photocopying firm. Chilling.

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Alia Shawcat in season one of Search Party
Photograph: Supplied, Stan

Search Party

Think of a cross between Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History and the darkly comic and occasionally absurdist takedown of millennial life that is Broad City (another Stan must-watch). You’re halfway to this brilliantly subversive, Brooklyn-set hit headed up by Alia Shawkat (TransparentArrested Development). She shines as self-obsessed Dorey Sief, who fixates on the disappearance of a college acquaintance she suspects got sucked into a cult. She assembles a fairly dubious Scooby Gang, but the hunt’s more about the narcissism of the searchers than the plight of the lost. The addictive show lost its network after two seasons but got scooped up again three years later, and has now been commissioned for a fourth. 

Elle Fanning goes head-to-head with Nicholas Hoult in The Great
Photograph: Supplied, Stan

The Great

Run, don’t walk, to your remote to tee up this razor-sharp satire of the 18th century Russian court. The Beguiled star Elle Fanning delivers a career-best performance as the down-on-her-luck German noblewoman with a hefty destiny who is promptly married off to True History of the Kelly Gang’s Nicholas Hoult as the viciously slimy Emperor of Russia. Created by seasoned Australian screenwriter Tony McNamara (The Secret Life of Us), – he penned The Favourite alongside historian Deborah Davis –The Great is Game of Thrones meets The Thick of It. It’s equal parts hilarious and horrifying as Catherine plots to get rid of her rotten husband and seize power for herself – a once-naïve believer in true love careering down a Daenerys-like warpath. Huzzah!

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the bodyguard is back as Costner goes all ranch patriarch in Yellowstone
Photograph: Supplied, Stan

Yellowstone

Kevin Costner continues the trend of major movie stars making the shift to the small but increasingly bigger-in-scope screen in this contemporary western-soap. Folks of a certain vintage who miss the backstabbing feuds of the Ewing clan in Dallas, look no further. For everyone else: Costner is the cowboy hat and denim-uniformed patriarch of the Dutton family’s expansive cattle ranch in Montana. Both oil developers and the dispossessed First Nations neighbours want in. There’s quite a lot of gruff snarling, from both the humans and the animals, and a fair whack of sexy time too.

Normal People
Photograph: supplied

Normal People

It's hard to get an adaptation of a beloved book right, and especially hard not to get it horrendously wrong. Folks were understandably excited and trepidatious about this miniseries tackling Sally Rooney’s bestselling, universally adored and emotionally discombobulating novel about Irish teenagers falling in love. They needn’t have worried. It’s all in the casting of Paul Mescal as working-class Connell and Daisy Edgar-Jones as well-to-do Marianne, who navigated the troubled eddies of two Irish teenagers from very different worlds falling in love. It's delivered in a dozen half-hour eps directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room) and Hettie Macdonald (Beautiful Thing) and they nail the emotional complexities.

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Penny Dreadful
Photograph: supplied

Penny Dreadful

The divine Eva Green is the queen of the damned in this Victorian-era monster-mash melodrama that puts the sex appeal into losing your soul. She plays a spirit-sensitive medium dragged into a battle between heaven and hell, with Timothy Dalton as her debonair benefactor and Josh Hartnett as a Texan werewolf in London. If that hasn’t hooked you (a) what? And (b) seriously? Throw in Billie Piper as Frankenstein’s bride for the win. Once you’ve gorged all three seasons, you can kick on with Game of Throne’s Natalie Dormer in 1930s Los Angeles-set follow up City of Angels.  

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Photograph: supplied

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

While we’re on a monstrous kick, how could we go past Joss Whedon’s hugely successful re-do of a less than stellar movie? This late ‘90s gem cast Sarah Michelle Gellar as a demon-battling high schooler with bigger issues to deal with, like exams and bad boyfriends. Through seven seasons of navigating growing up, love, loss and the afterlife, the pop culture phenomenon was always bigger than the sum of its undead body parts. Alyson Hannigan, as Wiccan Willow, went on to have the biggest career, but it’s mean girls Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), Anya (Emma Caulfield Ford) and Faith (Eliza Dushku) who get all the best lines.

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Will & Grace, but Karen
Photograph: supplied

Will & Grace

The power of nostalgia is strong, but sometimes older actors returning to a much-loved show long since wrapped can feel mercenary. Not so with Will & Grace. The show is as comfortable as slipping into an old pair of slippers, and the chuckle factor's high as the single-again besties (Eric McCormack and Debra Messing) move in with each other again. The new incarantion broaches big subjects that catch you off guard, from tear-jerking family drama to mortality, and Martini-swigging Karen (Megan Mullally) steals the show as ever. 

The Parks and Recreation cast
Photograph: Supplied, Stan

Parks and Recreation

The perfect antidote to our unusual times, the kooky, loveable, wonderful misadventures of small government in a bizarre town overrun with racoons is comfort viewing personified. You can mainline all seven seasons of this dorky dream form the team behind the US version of The Office, that works that show’s mockumentary style in a much gentler and often poignant way. Amy Poehler is brilliant as the workaholic Leslie Knope who just wants things to be better for everyone, whether it irks them or not, but it’s Nick Offerman’s surly Ron Swanson, Aubrey Plaza’s emo April, Aziz Ansari’s skeezy Tom and Retta’s “treat yourself” Donna who steal all the best lines. It also launched Chris Pratt into the goofball stratosphere he has down pat.

 

 

 

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Bloom
Photograph: supplied

Bloom

Jacki Weaver. We repeat, Jacki Weaver. This is not a drill. The Animal Kingdom legend shares a role with The Vampire Diaries’ Phoebe Tonkin in this majestically shot supernatural series. Filmed in Clunes, it follows the aftermath of a very biblical flood that devastates a fictional Victorian country town and the appearance of a mysterious plant promising the gift of eternal youth. Hence the Weaver/Tonkin team-up. Also lookout for ubiquitous Ryan Corr, one of the busiest actors in this country.

Younger
Photograph: supplied

Younger

The set up for this New York-set contemporary fairytale is ridiculous, but somehow it sings. Chock full of Broadway luminaries, Tony Award-winning Sutton Foster plays Liza, a forty-something single mum struggling to get back into the book publishing industry who accidentally on purpose fakes being in her twenties. Promptly landing a new gig, she finds herself in a ‘will they, won’t they?’ love triangle with her actual age-appropriate publisher (Peter Hermann) and a hunky young tattooist (dreamy Nico Tortorella). But really we’re shipping Miriam Shor as her eternally arch boss, plus Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar as Liza's BFFs.

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Everything’s Gonna Be Okay
Photograph: supplied

Everything’s Gonna Be OK

Stand-up comedian turned TV genius Josh Thomas delivered one of the finest Australian shows ever made in the heart-breakingly funny Please Like Me. Lightning clearly strikes twice. He plays the strange and estranged half-brother of two LA-raised younger sisters who suddenly become his wards when their dad dies unexpectedly. Maeve Press, as the younger sis, has dry comic timing to a tee as the most sensible person in the room, with Kayla Cromer also excellent as her autism spectrum, sex-positive sibling dreaming of heading to Julliard.

SMILF
Photograph: supplied

SMILF

Speaking of complicated parenting, we can’t get enough of this two-season slice of perfection about a twenty-something single mum working the hustle in a struggle-town neighbourhood of Boston. The show is loosely based on creator Frankie Shaw’s real life, and she plays lead Bridgette, as well as taking on writing and directing duties. Miguel Gomez sensitively portrays her co-parenting ex Rafi, with local hero Samara Weaving as his kooky new partner. But it’s Rosie O'Donnell who gets most of the mic drops as Bridgette’s no-nonsense mum.  

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The Commons
Photograph: supplied

The Commons

Remember last year when climate change was the biggest freak out we were all worried about? Well, this Stan original series tapped into that other great existential crisis with unnerving aplomb. It's set in a Sydney of the not-too-distant future, where going outside is far from ideal in a world where the very elements are against us. Golden Globe winner Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) plays a neuropsychologist led down a dark path by her determination to get pregnant at all costs, even if it does seem like the end is nigh. Ryan Corr pops up again, as does the equally busy/brill Damon Herriman.

The Loudest Voice
Photograph: supplied

The Loudest Voice

Honorary Aussie Russell Crowe secured a Golden Globe for portraying creepy disgraced Fox News founder Roger Ailes in this starry miniseries, which also recruits Sienna Miller and Aussie Naomi Watts. The latter pipped her good mate Nicole Kidman to the post as network anchor Gretchen Carlson in the similarly themed movie Bombshell. A gripping but uncomfortable true story, it traces abusive Ailes's downfall thanks to the talented women who ultimately unseat him.  

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Twin Peaks
Photograph: supplied

Twin Peaks

David Lynch arguably changed the shape of television forever with the original ‘90s run of this haunting show, fusing soap opera tropes with Stephen King-style small-town macabre. Dark, unnatural forces swirl around the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), and nothing, including the owls, are what they seem. Some 25 years later, Lynch did it all over again in this masterpiece return, with Kyle MacLachlan once more assuming the role (eventually) of damn fine coffee and cherry pie-loving FBI agent Dale Cooper.

Need more binge-worthy content?

Season two of the Heights on ABC TV
Photograph: Megan Lewis

The best binge-worthy feel-good TV on the ABC and SBS

Film

If you’re anything like us, you're in desperate need of something light and easy to binge-watch while settling into your sofa for the never-ending Easter. With minimal tolerance for grim and gritty right now, we've turned to our public broadcasters (bless the ABC and SBS) for lowkey cute chuckles with a side of feel-good warm and fuzzies that will cost you nada to mainline. Here are a few of our current faves that you should pop onto your must-watch-now-K-thanks list that will easily see you through the weekend and beyond.

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