14 best series to binge on Showmax these holidays, from Power Book III: Raising Kanan to Ramy S3
First seasons of Power Book III: Raising Kanan & Heels, new His Dark Materials, Ramy
THE WHITE LOTUS S2 | Binge from 12 December 2022
Season 2 of The White Lotus swaps Hawaii for Sicily, following a new group of vacationers jetting off to a different White Lotus resort.
Season 1 was the most awarded show at the 2022 Emmys, winning 10 awards, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, Directing and Writing – and Supporting Actress for Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya – who returns in Season 2.
The new cast includes Peabody Award winner Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), People’s Choice winner Theo James (Divergent), Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Emmy winner Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Teen Choice nominees Meghann Fahy (Sutton in The Bold Type) and Haley Lu Richardson (Five Feet Apart), BAFTA winner Tom Hollander (The Night Manager), BAFTA nominee Will Sharpe (Landscapers, Giri/Haji), multi-award-winning Italian actress Sabrina Impacciatore and Adam DiMarco (Todd/Elliott in The Magicians).
Season 2 has an 89% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In their five-star reviews, The Times calls this season “a whodunnit like no other” and London Evening Standard says, “As funny as ever, if slightly seedier, the second series is a brilliant rumination on desire and its destructive capability.”
HIS DARK MATERIALS S3 | Tuesdays from 6 December 2022
The third and final season of the HBO and BBC One fantasy epic His Dark Materials is based on The Amber Spyglass, the final novel in Philip Pullman’s Carnegie-winning book trilogy, which was listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time.
Season 3 follows Lyra (MTV Movie Award winner Dafne Keen from Logan) and Will (Emmy nominee Amir Wilson from The Letter for the King) as they journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned. As her father’s great war against the Authority edges closer, they will learn that saving the world comes at a terrible price.
Season 2 of the multi-BAFTA- and Annie Award-winning series earned an 85% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In their five-star review, The Independent called it, “a beautiful, brooding vision of Pullman’s universe, which retains the mix of childish wonder and darkness that make his books so beguiling to young adults.”
Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, tick, tick… BOOM!) returns as Lee Scoresby, with BAFTA winner Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Luther) as Mrs Coulter, and BAFTA nominee James McAvoy (X-Men’s Charles Xavier) as Lord Asriel. British-Nigerian Black Reel nominee Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: The Dark World, Lost) joins the cast this season, along with the likes of Emmy nominee Sian Clifford (Fleabag) and Ghanaian-British actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Mary Poppins Returns).
POWER BOOK III: RAISING KANAN S1 | Binge from 12 December 2022
The second spin-off to the hit crime drama Power, the prequel series Power Book III: Raising Kanan chronicles a journey into the drug trade, as 15-year-old Kanan Stark makes a bid to join the growing family business.
Young actor Mekai Curtis steps into the lead role as the young Kanan, the character played in the original series by Emmy and Grammy winner Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who once again executive produces alongside Emmy nominee Courtney A. Kemp and series creator Sascha Penn (Creed II).
Season 1 has a rare 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Tony Award winner Patina Miller (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Madam Secretary) was nominated for a 2022 Black Reel Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Raquel Thomas, Kanan’s mother and one of the most powerful drug lords in Queens.
The cast also includes Black Reel, Teen Choice and MTV Movie Award nominee Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, This Is Us, House M.D.), rapper Joey Bada$$ (Leon in Mr. Robot and the original Rebel in Wu-Tang: An American Saga), London Brown (Reggie from Ballers), Black Reel winner Omar J. Dorsey (Queen Sugar, When They See Us, Selma), and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Chris Alston in The Deuce, Bob Stookey in The Walking Dead, and D’Angelo Barksdale in The Wire).
The hit series has already been renewed for a second and third season.
RAMY S3 | Binge from 19 December 2022, first on Showmax
Ramy Youssef’s acclaimed comedy Ramy centres on Ramy Hassan’s sometimes awkward, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes disastrous experiences as a first generation Egyptian-American and Muslim millennial in New Jersey.
Among its numerous accolades, the series won a 2020 Peabody Award, and was nominated for three 2020 Emmys – Best Actor and Best Director in a Comedy for Youssef, and Best Supporting Actor for Season 2 guest star Mahershala Ali. Youssef also picked up two nominations at the Critics Choice Awards, where the show was nominated for Best Comedy in 2021.
All the core cast members are back for Season 3, including Hiam Abbass (Succession, The Visitor, Blade Runner 2049) and May Calamawy (Moon Knight), along with Ghanaian actress MaameYaa Boafo (The Mysterious Benedict Society, An African City), who reprises her Season 2 character as Zainab. This season’s guest cast includes model Bella Hadid, Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan, Amy Landecker (Minx, Your Honor), Critics Choice nominee Christopher Abbott (Catch-22), and Teen Choice nominee James Badge Dale (13 Hours, 24, Iron Man 3).
Season 3 has an 89% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “It takes incredible confidence to go to the kinds of tricky emotional places that Ramy likes to live in,” says Rolling Stone. “If the show can at times feel deeply uncomfortable, the payoffs are inevitably worth it.”
NEW AMSTERDAM S4 | Binge from 23 December 2022
Season 4 of the ever-popular medical drama New Amsterdam returns us to America’s oldest public hospital, where Dr Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold from BlacKkKlansman, 90210 and The Blacklist) continues his fight to put saving lives above the bottom line while fielding his increasingly personal relationship with Dr Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman from Doctor Who and Law & Order: UK, who was nominated for a 2022 Hollywood Critics Association award for Best Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series for the role).
Created by writer-producer David Schulner (Desperate Housewives) and based on Eric Manheimeris’ book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital, the hit series has an 8.1/10 score on IMDb.
The new season brings in Sandra Mae Frank, who was nominated for a 2022 Hollywood Critics Association award for Best Supporting Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series as the new chief of oncology, deaf surgeon Dr Elizabeth Wilder, and Emmy nominee Michelle Forbes (24, True Blood). MTV Movie Award winner Gina Gershon (Face/Off, Riverdale) guest stars.
New Amsterdam has already been renewed for a 13-episode fifth and final season.
HEELS S1 | Binge from 5 December 2022
Set in the small-town pro-wrestling world in Georgia, Heels follows the rivalry between two brothers – one a villain (or “heel”) in the ring, the other a hero (or “face”), as they war over their late father’s wrestling promotion.
Led by Teen Choice winner Stephen Amell (the Arrowverse’s Oliver Queen/Green Arrow) and Teen Choice and MTV Movie + TV Award winner Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn Ironside in Vikings and Cato in The Hunger Games), Heels has an 8/10 rating on IMDb.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 96% critics’ rating, with the critics’ consensus saying, “Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig sell hard in Heels, an impressive new drama that has compelling angles on both sides of the rope.”
It’s already been nominated for three 2022 Critics Choice Super Awards – Best Action Series, Best Actor in an Action Series (Alexander Ludwig) and Best Actress in an Action Series (Mary McCormack from The West Wing and The Kids Are Alright), and Season 2 is already on the way.
Created by Emmy winner Michael Waldron (producer on Rick and Morty and the writer of Loki and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), the show’s cast also includes Kelli Berglund (Now Apocalypse) and award winner Chris Bauer (For All Mankind, The Deuce, The Wire, True Blood).
GENTLEMAN JACK S2 | Binge now
The second season of Gentleman Jack returns us to 1800s West Yorkshire, England, where Anne Lister (BAFTA winner Suranne Jones from Vigil) now shares her ancestral home and her passion for life with heiress Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle from Peaky Blinders and Bodyguard) following their controversial wedding at the end of Season 1.
But Anne’s entrepreneurial spirit frightens the locals as much as her unconventional love life. With Halifax on the brink of revolution, her refusal to keep a low profile is seen as provocative and dangerous.
Nominated for a 2020 BAFTA for Best Drama Series, as well as a GALECA Award, Season 2 of the hit HBO/BBC One co-production has a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the consensus says, “Blessed with Suranne Jones’ exquisite performance and some of the crispest dialogue on television, Gentleman Jack remains a total ace.”
Gentleman Jack is created by four-time BAFTA winner Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax) and stars Screen Actors Guild nominee Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones’ Yara Greyjoy), BAFTA nominee Timothy West (Last Tango in Halifax), and BAFTA winner Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary), among others.
“Behind the familiar frilly bonnets and linen drawers, Gentleman Jack is disrupting the conventions of one of our most fiercely loved dramatic forms, at a time when we most need them disrupted. It is a masterpiece,” says The Guardian.
BLINDSPOTTING S1 | Binge from 14 December 2022
Blindspotting, the spin-off sequel series to the award-winning, critically acclaimed 2018 film of the same name, follows Ashley, who has to navigate a chaotic and humorous existential crisis after Miles, her partner of 12 years and the father of their son, is suddenly incarcerated, forcing Ashley to move in with Miles’ mother and half-sister.
Once again created by Emmy nominee Daveed Diggs (Snowpiercer, Hamilton, Black-ish) and Black Reel Award nominee Rafael Casal (who reprises his role from the film as Miles), the eight-episode series stars Emmy and Grammy winner Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton, The Photograph, Mrs. Fletcher), who was up for Best Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy at the 2022 Hollywood Critics Association Television Awards, for the reprisal of her role from the film as Ashley. The cast also includes Oscar winner Helen Hunt (Mad About You, As Good As It Gets).
Nominated for a 2021 Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series, Blindspotting has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critics’ consensus saying, “The rare adaptation that exceeds its source material, Blindspotting deftly takes on complicated social constructs with comedic flair, crafting a show that’s as funny as it is poignant while giving its incredible ensemble – led by the captivating Jasmine Cephas Jones – plenty of room to shine.”
Blindspotting has already been renewed for a second season.
DMZ | Binge from 6 December 2022
DMZ leaps off the pages of Brian Wood’s acclaimed graphic novel into a near-future, civil-war-torn America, where one woman sets out on a harrowing quest to find her missing son – crossing into the demilitarised zone of Manhattan, where a ruthless battle for control rages between rival gang leaders.
Rosario Dawson was up for Best Actress at the 2022 Black Reel Awards, where Emmy-nominated series creator and showrunner Roberto Patino (Westworld, Sons of Anarchy) was also up for Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series. Emmy nominee Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange, 24, Law & Order) co-stars, with the likes of Hoon Lee (See, Warrior, Bosch) also among the cast.
The four-episode HBO Max limited series is executive produced by Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Ava DuVernay (When They See Us, 13th, Selma), who directed the first episode, with Emmy-winning cinematographer and director Ernest R. Dickerson (Bosch, Raised by Wolves) at the helm for the remaining episodes.
DMZ, says IndieWire, “inverts the dystopian drama formula” and “refuses to give into our worst impulses”, adding “Like Station Eleven before it, DMZ carries real weight as a rebuke to contemporary conjecture about what people will do in a post-apocalyptic landscape.”
THE PORTER S1 | Binge now
Inspired by the real events that led up to the formation of the world’s first Black union, The Porter is set in the roar of the 1920s, following war buddies and train porters Junior and Zeke, whose unbreakable bond is stretched to its limits when tragedy inspires them to take conflicting paths to a better life.
As the world rebuilds after the First World War, the Black community in St Antoine, Montreal – known as the “Harlem of the North” – find themselves thrown together across the colour line in an era that boasts anything is possible. If change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it. By any means necessary.
Already confirmed for a second season (coming in 2023), the eight-episode first season has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and picked up a 2022 Emmy nomination for its choreography.
The CBC/BET+ Original stars Aml Ameen (I May Destroy You, The Maze Runner) and Ronnie Rowe (The Man from Toronto, Star Trek: Discovery), with the likes of Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, State of Affairs) and Zambia’s Mizinga Mwinga (Oscar nominee War Witch) also among the cast.
PLANET SEX WITH CARA DELEVINGNE S1 | Fridays from 2 December 2022, first on Showmax
Got big questions about sex? So does Cara Delevingne.
One of the world’s most photographed people, Cara puts her mind and body on the line each episode to try to understand our deepest desires.
On a journey spanning the globe, she donates her orgasm to science in Germany; makes art from her vagina in Japan; hits up a women-only sex club; takes a masturbation masterclass; and visits an “ethical” porn set.
From LA, New York and London, to Beirut, Barcelona and, wait for it… Johannesburg, Cara shares her own personal experiences in each episode. Uniquely unfiltered and authentic, there’s no limit on how far Cara’s willing to go to explore what makes us all human.
THE VOW, PART TWO | Binge from 7 December 2022, first on Showmax
Five years after Keith Raniere’s arrest in Mexico, amid rumours of a secret sex sorority within his self-help company NXIVM, The Vow, Part Two follows the legal and emotional journeys of the group’s founders, supporters, and defectors as new evidence and stunning revelations come to light, while federal prosecutors and defense attorneys engage in a trial in the national spotlight.
Directed by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated Jehane Noujaim, The Vow, Part Two features chilling testimony from the trial, exclusive phone interviews with Keith Raniere from prison and extensive access to co-founder Nancy Salzman, who wrestles with her role in the rise of NXIVM, her relationship with Raniere and her involvement in growing an organisation accused of fostering predatory behaviour and criminal activity. South African Mark Vicente, an outspoken former member, again features prominently this season.
Season 1 was #3 on Entertainment Weekly’s round-up of the best TV of 2020 and was up for Best Docuseries at the 2021 Hollywood Critics Association Television Awards, and for Outstanding Cinematography at the Cinema Eye Honours Awards.
And the critics are saying this season is even better. “As storytelling, this is crisper and cleaner than The Vow’s first iteration; as psychological portrait, little in the nonfiction space of late matches its acuity,” says Variety.
THE BAY S3 | Binge from 12 December 2022
Season 3 of the British crime drama The Bay sees actress Marsha Thomason (Better Things) take over the leading role, stepping in as Detective Sergeant Jenn Townsend. She is thrown into the deep end when a body is found in the bay on her first day on the job. She must get under the skin of a grieving and complicated family if she has any chance of solving the premature death of an aspiring young boxer.
Already greenlit for a further season, the show has picked up nominations at both the Scottish and Welsh BAFTAs, as well as the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards.
VIGIL | Binge now
In November 2022, Vigil was named Best Drama at the International Emmy Awards, beating out Lupin, Narcos: Mexico and South Africa’s very own Reyka.
From the creators of Line of Duty and Showtrial, Vigil investigates the mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board the submarine HMS Vigil, which bring the police into conflict with the Navy and British security services.
DCI Amy Silva (BAFTA winner Suranne Jones from Gentleman Jack and Doctor Foster) and DS Kirsten Longacre (BAFTA winner Rose Leslie from Game of Thrones and The Time Traveler’s Wife) lead an investigation on land and at sea into a conspiracy that goes to the very heart of Britain’s national security.
Vigil’s stellar ensemble cast also features Emmy nominee Stephen Dillane (Stannis in Game of Thrones), Anjli Mohindra (Bodyguard), Shaun Evans (Morse in Endeavour), MTV Movie Awards nominee Connor Swindells (Adam in Sex Education) and BAFTA nominee Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot).
Vigil has an 85% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Wall Street Journal hailing it as “one of the better thriller series of the year,” and Radio Times saying, “From the shock death inside the opening 10 minutes of episode one to the thrillingly tense climax in the final instalment, this was a terrifically gripping and propulsive affair that proved a huge hit with the viewing public.”