It was still not easy to choose in 2022, with an ever-expanding universe of streaming parties. On March 8, HBO Max appeared on the Dutch market with the quality series offering from HBO and the huge archive of Warner Bros. Whole tribes watched Six Feet Under and The Wire for the first time. Some top series are ending this year (Better Call Saul) and others appeared out of nowhere: Severance! And then House of the Dragon (HBO Max) and The Rings of Power (Amazon Prime Video) have yet to begin.
We are Lady Parts
It was a good start to the year. Writer and director Nida Manzoor (of Pakistani background and raised in Singapore and London) takes us into the adventures of a budding punk band in London – short break – made up of Muslim women. Manzoor himself wrote the repertoire for the band, such as the song Ain’t No One Gonna Honor Kill My Sister But Me. The central figure is microbiologist Amina (Anjana Vasan), caught between permanent stage fright and the search for a great love. Infectious, moving, and how often can you be struck by your own prejudices? Long live the noise!
An insanely ambitious attempt to get to grips with the now no longer completely inconceivable question of what the world will look like when our era is over. Based on the bestselling novel by Emily St. John Mandel we follow a series of characters who meet around a performance of King Lear, just before a pandemic will destroy the world’s population. Jump into the future, where we follow, among other things, a traveling theater group in a desolate America. What role the theatre, and Shakespeare in particular, will play in the future leads in turn to reflections on what makes us human. Makers skilfully jump back and forth through time, leading to a rare and poignant apotheosis.
Adam McKay’s (The Big Short) flamboyant style also thrives in his 1979-1980 basketball season drama series, when businessman Jerry Bus (John C. Reilly) bought the dying LA Lakers and added a dash of show business. The actors do a wonderful job of convincingly portraying the athletic giants of the basketball court inside and outside the lines, with the central dynamic being the contrast between confident rookie Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) and Buddhist veteran Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes). ). The Boogie Nights vibe is never far away either.
Fortuyn’s year came like a bolt from the blue. A subtle, nuanced and at the same time frantic script by Nathan Vecht and Pieter Bart Korthuis, with some of our top actors in the roles of their lives. An unforgettable portrait of Dutch society in the year leading up to the murder of Pim Fortuyn. All details and supporting roles are correct, but it was the central trio (Jeroen Spitzenberger as Fortuyn, Ramsey Nasr as Ad Melkert and Fedja van Huêt as Mat Herben) that stole the show. No cabaret characters, but a disaster drama of the highest order.
Let’s consider it a successful reboot after the first Dutch Netflix series (Ares) was not such a success. Dirty Lines is the dramatization of a short and intense chapter of the Dutch sex line industry in the eighties, the prehistory of the Internet. The creators go all out in the eighties feeling, and the young cast shines with Minne Koole, Joy Delima and Julia Akkermans in the lead. The ingrained sexism is nicely ironized by the clever voice-over of Marly (Delima), who looks back to the years when everyone still had a landline. De Volkskrant called the series ‘refreshing and irresistible’.
Apple TV Plus
This year we went undercover in the dystopian open office of Severance. Brilliant casting, design and music, and a story that by the end of the first season had barely exploited the potential of the premise. ‘Severance’ is a procedure in which employees of the mysterious tech company Lumon Industries are implanted with a chip so that they do not know what they are doing inside the walls, and vice versa. A world of ‘innies’ and ‘outies’ where Lumon Industries seems to represent everything we find enticing and terrifying about big tech. Aren’t we those worker bees with the double life? We have rarely looked forward to the next season so much.
Better call Saul 6
At the time of writing, we are still in the middle of it. The final episode airs in mid-August, and so Saul Goodman’s adventure, so much more than a Breaking Bad spin-off, is over. Better Call Saul has always had fans, but sometime in its penultimate season, when our beloved evil lawyer (Bob Odenkirk) finally turned to the dark side with her husband Kim (Rhea Seehorn), the series took a turn for the worse, where we still not out. In the distance we hear the thunder of a waterfall. Better Call Saul is going to be hard to beat this year.
The rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, a young tech entrepreneur who briefly looked like the next Steve Jobs before being sued for fraud, continues to occupy our minds. After many newspaper profiles, books, a documentary and a podcast, The Dropout was a fascinating dramatization (based on the podcast) of Holmes’ life, not least because of Amanda Seyfried’s compelling performance. Less an exposé of a fraud than a sometimes confusing portrait of the opportunistic world of tech start-ups.
It was another surprise. Borgen, ten years later, or Borgen – Power & Glory, also called Borgen 4, turned out to be a great (Danish) series, which could also be watched without prior knowledge of the first three classic seasons. It does not change the fact that the old seasons in the wake of the new season also became a Netflix hit. Original writer Adam Price wrote a clever, witty and relevant script about the tension between politics and ideals, which also contained a successful rhombus. But it is of course above all Sidse Babett Knudsen’s triumphant return in the role of Birgitte Nyborg (as foreign minister) that makes Borgen so strong.
The Amsterdam that the heroes of Atlanta, one of the best series of recent years, find themselves in is both recognizable and a surreal dream world, where the celebration of Sinterklaas is filleted in the episode Sinterklaas comes to town. Let’s just say the Dutch don’t come off very well. After the brilliant second season about an Atlanta rapper (Brian Tyree Henry), his manager (Donald Glover, also the man behind the series) and their entourage, this third season changes very quickly. Every story can now be told under the Atlanta label, and painful truths are served up in every episode with the utmost pleasure and venom.