From Patrick Bateman to Jordan Belfort, finance has given the world some of its most enduring psychopaths and sociopaths. Now there’s a new intake to look out for. Mickey Down and Konrad Kay are City boys turned TV writers. For their debut drama, they’ve drawn on personal experience and written a story about life on the lower rungs of international finance. A group of thrusting millennials are competing for jobs at an investment bank where the competition isn’t just about closing deals and 100-hour weeks. It’s about not drowning in a deeply immersive world of sex, drugs and egos. A joint project between the Beeb and HBO, Lena Dunham (Girls) has co-directed, but characters such as the manager who never misses an opportunity to drop his trousers are reportedly rooted in the real-world experiences of Down and Kay. Check out the trailer here.
Available from 9th November
CARMEL: WHO KILLED MARIA MARTA?
Netflix’s newest true-crime series flies the viewer to South America to investigate one of Argentina’s most controversial criminal cases. In 2002, at the exclusive Carmel country club, Maria Marta was found dead in her bathtub. Her family told doctors who attended the scene it was an accident and police never bothered to visit. Then Maria’s step-brother pushed for an investigation and it came to light that five bullets had been found at the scene. Maria’s husband fell under suspicion, but could not be conclusively placed at the crime scene. As well as telling that story in full, the series explores a shortlist of possible alternative killers, inviting viewers to decide for themselves exactly what happened 18 years ago.
Available from 5th November
The first season of The Vow went big in the States over the summer and it has just been renewed for a second season. Happily, Sky has now picked the true-crime show up for UK audiences. For its nine-part debut season, the cameras are trained on NXIVM, an organisation that self-describes as a multi-level marketing company, but might be more widely recognised as a cult. Indeed, NXIVM’s leader Keith Raniere was eventually convicted of sex trafficking and conspiring to racketeer, among other crimes. The Vow tracks the work of the investigative journalists who helped build the case against Raniere and hears first hand from various former members, who listened to his promises of self-improvement then experienced the abuse he orchestrated. Check out the trailer here.
Available from 7th November
Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe-winning director Steve McQueen is the big name behind this new BBC series. Small Axe is a collection of five films set between the 60s and the 80s in London’s West Indian community. They’ll drop weekly on Sundays from 15th November to 13th December. First up is Mangrove, which sees restaurant owner Frank peacefully protesting racist police raids on the community in 1970. When some of the protesters are arrested, a highly publicised trial ensues. The second film, Lovers Rock, is set a decade later and takes its name from the style of romantic reggae that soundtracked the house parties young black people threw when they couldn’t get into white nightclubs. In the final film, Red, White and Blue, John Boyega (Star Wars) is a naïve young man who believes he can overthrow systemic racism from within.
Available from 15th November
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute in the American version of The Office) might just be the perfect narrator for this series-long exploration of the world’s most weird, ridiculous and occasionally dangerous sports. The first episode is given over to the lunacy that is the annual cheese rolling championships in Gloucestershire. Later episodes see masochistic contestants taking on the Carolina Reaper (aka the world’s hottest chilli) in the inaugural Pepper Eating Challenge, while New Orleans is the destination for a Fantasy Hair Competition that inspires some of the most OTT hairdos on the planet. Ohio hosts the world’s most prestigious yo-yo competition, while it turns out California is the epicentre of the global Frog Jumping scene.
Available from 17th November
THE GOOD LORD BIRD
In 19th century America, John Brown (Ethan Hawke) is an abolitionist who has a bit too much religion in his life. Believing himself to be possessed by the spirit of the Lord, he sets out on a righteous mission to free slaves. Like the novel it is based on, The Good Lord Bird tells Brown’s story through the eyes of Onion, a teenage slave Brown has successfully released but unsuccessfully mistaken for a girl. Cue some absurd comedy to punctuate what is primarily an astonishing character study by a remarkable actor. The seven episodes of this first season give Hawke the scope he needs to capture Brown in all of his double-sided mania: though he’s driven by a sense of justice, an inner rage means he’ll stop at nothing – including extreme violence – to achieve his rather laudable goal. Check out the trailer here.
Available from 18th November
THE REAL RIGHT STUFF
Last month, Disney launched The Right Stuff, its fresh adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s awe-inspiring 1979 book about the early days of the American space program. The series captures the glory of the pioneering astronauts and their stylish era, while not shying away from the cracks that made them human, however far away from Earth they got. Now Disney has released an accompanying documentary that tells the true story of the Mercury 7. Drawing exclusively on hundreds of hours of contemporary film, including home movies and other never-before-seen material, The Real Right Stuff takes viewers back to the late 50s to show how Nasa sent its first astronauts into space.
Available from 20th November
Ron Howard, the Happy Days actor turned Oscar-winning director (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), is in the chair for this Netflix original film. Based on the 2016 memoir of JD Vance, Hillbilly Elegy tells the story of three generations of his Appalachian family. Vance himself (Gabriel Basso) is an ex-Marine and Yale law student about to land his dream job when he’s forced back home by a family crisis. In trying to deal with his mother’s addiction, he’s reminded of the resilience of his grandmother and the film opens up to become a window onto a family story that spans three generations. Glenn Close and Amy Adams head up a starry cast. Check out the trailer here.
Available from 24th November
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