Millions have watched legendary shows like Friends, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, etc on TV or OTT. Over and over again. They have become legends. And, even if you say they never tire you, at some point, you will start getting bored.
So what do you do to kill time? Here is what you can try for a change — 10 most depressing shows that will spook you.
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1) Dark (Netlflix)
This is a German language series that debuted in 2017. The series did not catch on until 2019 but hit peak during COVID. Dark is a science fiction thriller created by Baran Bo Odar and Jantje Friese. It involves some mystery, time travel, bootstrap paradox, quantum entanglement, multiple dimensions, and parallel universe.
Dark completely sits in a different arena amid all the time travel series or cinema that you must have seen till date. Viewers would find it difficult to follow what is happening to whom or to keep track of the timeline at times, which makes this an interesting and repeatable one to watch — you need to sort out doubts you develop along the way.
At one point, relationship between the numerous characters becomes chaotic and challenging, making us to wonder about the serious amount of hard work invested by the creators. The casting is done with a great wit, makes one go — “hey who was that…is that…?”
One unique thing to emphasis about Dark is that it has something for everyone. The music is evocative; overall color tone is grumpy; the dynamics amongst the characters is remarkable; the plot is probably the first of its kind, and the screenplay is depressing.
It is highly evident that the writers have not only put enormous hours into creating such a masterpiece but have also succeeded in delivering it on screen with the impact they pursued to deliver.
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It is amazing that brilliance is shown till the last shot of the last episode unlike many series where the sophomore season is usually a let down and then the producers and creators buckle up in the third season to save the series from being cancelled.
To sum this up, Nolan would have been in awe finishing this series! You do not watch Dark, you experience it and are overwhelmed!
Watch this series for spell bounding story and mind boggling suspense with a very new trend setting story line.
2) After Life (Netflix)Ricky Gervais, one of the finest comedians from England, is the maker of this series and the protagonist too. This series goes on the presumption of comedy but the viewers would be surprised to feel the polarized opposite way (bleak or even miserable) after watching it.
This is a black comedy with a philosophical tint that revolves around Tony Johnson (Ricky Gervais), head of feature stories at a local newspaper that already struggles to sell and make profit. Tom Basden acts (Matt Braden) as Tony’s brother in law. Tony’s life is turned upside down after the death of his dear wife Lisa (Terry Godliman) due to cancer.
He thrives mainly not on food but by consuming old video clips of him and his wife or her struggle or monologue in the hospital with his dog. He faces an intense existential crisis of losing out on his life’s purpose. The intense scenes with minimal drama are seriously heart wrenching to watch.
Due to Tom’s request, everyone around him acts nicer to him and eventually Tony thinks the alter ego of hard speaking & constant discomfiting remarks to every one alter ego is his main personality. The character of Tom is an intellectual superiority in the career of Ricky Gervais for the audience would have known him as a comedian. The ability of Ricky to receipt viewers’ attention and empathy to this magnitude is definitely commendable which is justified by the number of awards received.
Viewers would understand what loneliness or trauma does to one’s life as they watch the series. However, other characters like his father’s nurse (Ashley Jensen), his small happy nephew (Tommy Finnegan) and his friend-hooker Roxy (Roisin Conaty), do have their encounter with Tony time to time.
Ricky’s popularity in comic has always come from making us uneasy
Ricky will make you wonder how many grudges you are already holding on to, with you to your grave; Ricky would give you some Nietsche’esque existential questions in your mind. Referring to his previous works, The Office & The Extras, Ricky’s popularity has always come from making us uneasy (right no?). Well, probably you would start reading philosophy, stop wasting the precious you already have by watching imbecilic YouTube shorts or Insta reels & enjoy the precious that you already have (it is called the present)!
Watch this series for the intense amount of emotions being shown with a minimalistic number of characters and a great attention put in their depth. Will make your question the paradigm you hold of (your) life!
3) True Detective
True Detective is an American anthology series that falls under the genres of crime investigative thriller with different pair of detectives for each season. Though the plot and screenplay is exceptionally good and different, this series follows the classic text book example of bringing the best in the first season and the quality gradually going downwards.
Though we see the transition of big screen movie names being squeezed to the proverbial small screen series turf, one can be sceptic about watching the sophomore season because S02 is considerably a let down. This is when we compare the intensity of S01, but when you finish S03, you actually develop hopes for S04 with S03 being a genuine attempt to continue the legacy of S01 with Mathew McConaughey and Woody Harelson as the leads.
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The grim cinematography captures the mood or tone of the characters. This is awesomely supported by a well done casting that is capable of showing the emotions on screen.
Watch this series for the suspense build-up; minimalistic dialogues; reality of investigation. Avoid S02 if possible, for you would be able to anticipate when Collin Farrell & Rachel McAdams are cast as the lead.
We all know the Chernobyl disaster which happened in 1991 is one of the biggest catastrophe by the mankind, but only through the print media or mostly low quality pictures of the ghosted town.
Chernobyl created by Craig Mazin, the creator of the Scary Movie series & the Super hero movie, casts the very underrated British actor Jared Harris & the very famous method actor Stellan Skarsgard as Valery Legasov (the famous scientist who helped lead the clean up effort at ground zero) & Bories Scherbina (Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers).
The story is not a linear or a single line show case, its main theme is how Valery and Scherbina do the recovery work once the mishap occurs. It also has a fire fighter’s story of how he is introduced to a huge dose of radiation without him having even the slightest idea about it and his pregnant wife’s struggle of losing him.
Since this is a mini series, we sense a big budget for CGI being used very efficiently. The complementary CGI tricks which are generally used by David Fincher, (as in adding in trees or the buildings at the background in a way that 99.9 per cent of the viewers will not identify) are used in many places. This creates a very intense effect of immerging the viewers in the plot and work really well. Especially while showing blown rooftop of the reactor or the graphite pieces or the ashes being thrown all around Pripyat.
Though this has gotten accolades at all levels of television cinema, experts have really raised their eyebrows on how some characters are portrayed, especially showing as if the party members are cruel, inhumane and adamantly anti-social. It is true that USSR had a system that dug its own grave on getting the philosophy on a wrong level, but showing most apparatchik as a miscreant is completely defiant to truth.
Watch this series for how cruel a nuclear disaster that can be, how the suffering, tension and bureaucracy in USSR was (or would have been) after the Chernobyl incident, top notch screenplay, killer CGI.
5) Mindhunter (Netflix)
This is a psychological thriller starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McGallany as the two main detectives who plays the lead, based on the 1995 non-fiction work by two former FBI agents. This series delves into the thought process of how serial killers think and what triggers them.
This series got the attention of David Fincher fans, the legendary director who had directed the first two episodes of this series. Already directing superb serial killer films like Seven, Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the director plunges once more into a very depressing, dark and psychological thriller.
I was intrigued by this concept of exploring, diving deep into serial killers. Minimalistic setups, brown and grey lights, low lying angles of camera, sub-par lighting with some skin curling scenes will take you to a different kind of mood once you finish each episode. The whole purpose of the series is to go deep on the motive of a serial killer, on the why, where and how he is committing a sin of that order.
⃝Watch this series for its portrayal of how the ‘crazy’ thinks because how do you get ahead of the crazy if you do not know how the crazy thinks?
6) Bojak Horsemen
BoJack is an adult cartoon dark comedy drama series created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg. The voices are rendered by Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie and others. The show deals with a wide range of adult topics which are depression, PTSD, addition, racism, sexism, trauma and mainly self destructive behavior pattern. The series has received numerous acclaims and accolades since its inception.
The series revolves around an alternate universe where anthropomorphic animals and humans live together. The story happens in a city called Hollowoo (yes, your guess on the origin of the name is correct).
BoJack is an actor who is chasing his shadows after trying to become the best. He lives in uncertainty and obscurity with his room mate who is unemployed, lazy monger who started staying with BoJack after a party thrown at his house. BoJack explicitly express his disdain along with hatred toward Todd but secretly cares for him. The series also involves strong characters like Mr. Peanutbutter and Princess Carolyn.
The series character depth is of exceptionally high fathom, the makers work hard to portray how each character is hurt or used up by BoJack. This is a must watch for some serious philosophy enthusiasts, trust me you would not regret watching this.
Watch this series for it will make you less alone if you are going through a hard time in your adulthood (which obviously includes every adult on this planet). The causal puns or philosophical one liners on most mental taboos that we encounter will hit you differently in all instances.
Warning: A rich profound series that will make question your existence, make you conclude that existence is nothing but suffering (you have been warned! Why the long face Bojack? (pun intended)).
7) The Alienist
This series is a period film set up in the late 1890s, adopted from a novel by Caleb Carr ‘The Alienist’ written three decades ago, a fictional story where Teddy Roosevelt the former President of the US was a police commissioner in New York.
Following the incident of a serial killing, Roosevelt calls upon Laszlo Kreizler (a psychiatrist specializing in murder convictions) and John Moor (a journalist) to investigate this incident in secrecy. The series shows corruption in government institutions, class conflict, domination, yellow journalism and the suppression of women rights in the then society.
It is a British series so most of the castings are of English like Daniel Bruhl, Like Evans and Dakota Fanning, etc. The acting and casting is next to perfect with a strongly written story. Especially Daniel Bruhl with his intense facial expression will make him your personal favorite for sure.
Watch this series for the interesting story line with no unrealistic twists and turns that usually happen in the series of this genre. This series will take you to that particular period for the dialogues, CGI, costumes and music are crafted to well complement one another.
8) The Leftovers
The story of this series revolves around a shocking departure of two per cent of the global population. This affects the live of a police inspector Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), his family who missed him, Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) and her brother Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston). The writer of this series Damon Lindelof who is famous for his works of Lost, World War Z and Watchmen series, has succeeded in getting the viewers fixated on their screens.
Viewers should watch this series with fidelity, as in not falling into the pitfall of watching other series. The reason for this being the intense, emotional experience created by Damon. Like the other series mentioned in this article, the music is made to suit the intensity of the nexus amongst human relations.
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The second season moves away from the main plot and the third in fact goes to Australia, but the writer has continued to maintain the melancholy what so ever.
⃝Watch this series for a different concept which you can relate to, but the concept you are watching is very sad (warning).
9) The Sinner
This is an anthology, crime investigation series like True Detectives with William Pullman as Harry Ambrose, a detective in the investigation department. He takes up different cases in each season. Throughout the series, we come across different characters but with Harry himself being the same in all seasons.
The first season is based on the work of Petra Hammesfahr’s novel ‘The Sinner’. The protagonist Harry is not a perfect guy with impeccable wit like Sherlock Holmes or a gentleman like Hercule Poirto, but has his own limitations in his personal life where he tries to sort things out. The making (cinematography) adds to the visceral depth of the plot along with the music.
The Sinner makes the viewers question the belief system of the masses, as it makes us question the chart that everyone holds mostly similar to the populist notion of ‘sin’. It emphasizes on the story of the uncaught who are free in the society even after committing a crime.
This includes Harry himself. His part of sin is beautifully intertwined with the plot itself. This gets interesting and intense to watch when he gets involved in a romantic relationship in the third season.
Watch this series for an intense old fashion crime investigation drama adapted to the modern day protagonist. The casting, plot, cinematography will give you True Detectives’esque vibes.
10) Sharp Objects
Sharp Objects is a mini series only of 8 episode, a psychological thriller genre. Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) who gets released from a psychiatric hospital is a crime journalist, fallen into alcohol addiction, self harming behavior. She lives with her aristocratic mother who is a socialite Adora (Patricia Clarkson) and gets into conflicts with her along side fighting her addiction and personal mental problems.
Originally adapted from the novel of the same name by the very famous ‘the’ Gillian Flynn (Gone girl writer). The story starts with Camille being asked by the editor of the news company she works for to investigate the disappearing (suspected murder) of two girls Ann Nash and Natalie Keene.
The character of Camille intrigues us as she fights the aftermath of her behavior of denial at childhood, trauma and repression. We are able to relate this with how adults display flashes of the behavioral traits that they undergo in childhood. The mystery she gets to investigate and her inner demon she already fights is wonderfully portrayed on screen. Amy Adams with her default face of desolation, pushes us into a lugubrious rendezvous with the grim, deep, dim-lit cinematography.
Watch this series for the ability it has to keep us in a dreary mood with an intensity of high fathom in all the 8 episodes. Mood disruptor of high capacity!