After binging the third season of Stranger Things, the perpetual question will return: what to watch? I’ve supplied some short reviews below to help you out, particularly shows you might not have heard about!
Dark, Netflix, German, science fiction
A common theme in these three reviews will be a missing child (hence the Stranger Things reference). In a small German town, mostly surviving because of a nuclear power plant, a child goes missing after playing with his friends in a cave. The other inciting incident is the main character's father commits suicide but leaves a letter not to be opened until a specific date. As the town searches for the missing child, character relations come to light--ranging from affairs to secret hideouts. Where Dark shines is the atmosphere. A slow burn, the dark German woods and the language create a gothic atmosphere perfect for the show. That being said, the plot twist takes so long to reveal that it was hard to stay motivated to watch, especially as the it is more plot-driven than character driven.
Black Spot, Netflix, French, paranormal
Now, imagine the French version of Stranger Things, and you have something close to Black Spot. Again, the inciting incident of the show is a child has been missing for six months. While this story is the overarching plot of the first season, the show remains more episodic, focusing on the police force in the small town of Villefranche, surrounded by a large and very dark forest. While Dark very much evokes the gothic German stereotypically associated with the culture, Black Spot explores a French culture where a wine bottle is rarely in sight. In fact, the inhabitants hang out a bar called the Eldorado and drink beer. Again, the fantastical elements are a slow burn, but where this show stands out is the character interactions. Each episode focuses on a murder or moment of violence while simultaneously building toward the overarching plot of the missing child. The chief of police, Major Laurène, balances toughness and vulnerability in a way often lost in tough characters, and her interactions with her partner Teddy Bear are funny and poignant. Yet, something dark is killing people in the woods, and Laurène is determined to find out who or what it is.
Diablero, Netflix, Spanish, urban fantasy
In the farthest departure from Stranger Things, this show still opens with a missing child as the inciting incident. That being said, it quickly becomes more like Supernatural with lots of monsters, a very cool car, and a found family of people trying to keep Mexico City safe from demons. Overall, this show is a fun romp, a little less serious than Supernatural, with cheesy special effects. That being said, I instantly fell in love with the characters, particularly Nancy who ingests demons to use their powers. The show also doesn't take itself too seriously, such as a demon cage fight in the first few episodes. Another slow burn, the first few episodes really focus on world-building, but the over-arching arc promises plenty of big baddies.
POSTED BY: Phoebe Wagner is a writer, editor, and academic currently living in the high desert. Follow her on Twitter: @pheebs_w