There’s no getting around the fact that as a nation, we love to binge-watch TV shows – especially big-budget foreign fare. Enter SBS On Demand.
SBS is a publically-funded Australian TV network with an on-demand service online where you can access a wide range of movies and TV shows for absolutely nothing.
The content found on the SBS platform is specially curated by its editors, and you’re highly likely to find TV shows you’ve never heard of before, but ones that are of real quality. SBS wants people to keep coming back to it after all, so it’s not going to put out any old drivel.
With this in mind, it’s pretty easy to say that any TV show you find on SBS On Demand will be worth your time, but to help you get up and running, we’ve picked out some of the very best SBS On Demand shows to add to your watch list.
8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown
Starring: Jimmy Carr, Rachel Riley
For something a little more light-hearted, British show 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown takes the popular 8 Out Of 10 Cats panel show, hosted by Jimmy Carr, and mashes it up with the longstanding letters and numbers daytime show, Countdown.
With Jimmy Carr taking on hosting duties, Countdown’s long-serving lexicographer Susie Dent and regular captains Jon Richardson and the late Sean Lock, expect a laugh a minute in this easy-watching gameshow.
Starring: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry
Genre: Comedy, Drama
An absolute must-watch, Atlanta is an award-winning comedy-drama TV series created by comedian Donald Glover (who you may know from his musical alias, Childish Gambino.)
Atlanta follows Glover’s character Earnest “Earn” Marks and his friend and rapper Paper Boi, played by Brian Tyree Henry, as they make their way through the rap scene in Atlanta. The series touches on poignant topics such as racism, white privilege, African-American culture, and existentialism. Put simply, Atlanta is easily one of the best TV shows on SBS On Demand right now.
Starring: James Nesbitt, Lorcan Cranitch
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Bloodlands is a Northern Irish crime thriller that stars the always solid James Nesbitt as DCI Tom Brannick. When he is assigned to investigate a murder case, Brannick believes it is the work of a legendary assassin known as ‘Goliath’, the very same man who killed Brannick’s wife 20 years earlier.
A gritty police procedural that features much in the way of twists and turns, Bloodlands plays out in the shadow of The Troubles with a crime mystery story that is well written and performed, especially by Nesbitt who delivers one of his best performances.
Starring: Mathieu Kassovitz, Sara Giraudeau
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Thecritically acclaimed French political thriller The Bureau is based on real-life accounts of former spies and agents of the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE), France’s foreign intelligence agency. Agents that form this squad spend years working undercover and assuming false identities in order to scope out intelligence sources.
The Bureau focuses on one officer who has to readjust to normal life having spent six years in Damascus. If you like Homeland, you’ll love this.
Starring: Sofia Helin, Kim Bodnia
Genre: Crime, Thriller
The Bridge is a Scandi noir, but not as you know it. It follows the autistic but brilliant Swedish detective Saga Norén, who is forced to work together with detectives from Denmark following the discovery of a dead body directly in the centre of the Øresund Bridge which connects the two countries.
Darkly funny, well-written and with consistently rave reviews and several remakes, The Bridge a series you want to miss. This one’s a personal favourite.
Starring: Edoarado Pesce, Claudio Santamaria
Genre: Crime, Fantasy
This 2022 Italian drama follows a man named Christian, a man who serves as a henchman for the mob and who lives on the outskirts of Rome. Christian’s life completely changes after he discovers he has the power to cure people with his hands.
There’s only one season of Christian so far, but it has already received rave reviews, with many praising it for putting a modern spin on Christian mythology.
Starring: Jared Keeso, Nathan Dales
Long running Canadian comedy Letterkenny stars series creator Jared Keeso as Wayne, a farmer who regards himself as the toughest guy in his small Ontario town, and often finds himself in conflict with the various cliques that are a part of his community.
Filled with sharp, witty writing, Letterkenny features memorable characters who provide ever-quotable dialogue in a comedy series that delivers with every episode.
Starring: Daniel Sharman, Alessandra Mastronardi
Genre: Drama, History
Medici is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an Italian TV series that premiered in 2016. The political drama follows The House of Medici, a real-life banking family – and banker for the Pope – that became notorious in the early 15th century in Florence, Italy. Medici follows that family, with each season focusing on a different yet specific event.
The opening season of Medici follows the story of the head of the family dying and his son, Cosimo de Medici, succeeding him. In real life, Cosimo was the family member responsible for overseeing the first stages of the family’s rise to prominence. Raunchy, violent and well-written, it’s like Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones.
Starring: Abigail Spencer, Rodrigo Santoro
Genre: Crime, Drama
It may have been cancelled after just one season, but Reprisal is still well worth your viewing time. In a similar vein to Kill Bill, Reprisal follows the story of a woman set on revenge against a gang who tried to kill her.
Abigail Spencer takes on the lead role, and you may recognise her from Suits, where she portrayed one of Harvey Spectre’s love interests Dana ‘Scottie’ Scott.
Starring: Connor Swindells, Jack O’Connell
Genre: Action, War
Inspired by true events, Rogue Heroes portrays the origins of the British Army Secret Air Service during World War II. Set in Cairo, the series follows British Army officer David Stirling (Connor Swindells) who, after a training exercise gone wrong, comes up with a plan to create a special commando unit.
Created by Steven Knight (the man behind Peaky Blinders), Rogue Heroes suitably takes artistic license with historical events to create an entertaining adventure war story that features an excellent cast in fine form.
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Ken Wattanabe
Genre: Crime, Drama
Tokyo Vice follows young American journalist Jake (Ansel Elgort) who has relocated to Tokyo where he writes for a major Japanese newspaper. Taken under the wing of a veteran detective (Ken Wattanabe), Jake begins to investigate Japan’s criminal underworld that is ruled by the yakuza.
Based on the true accounts of journalist Jake Adelstein, Tokyo Vice features a potent blend of engrossing drama and eye-catching style, resulting in a neo-noir that becomes more absorbing the deeper its story delves.
Starring: Richard Ayoade, Joe Lycett
Genre: Comedy, Documentary
Richard Ayoade, British comedian, master of the deadpan and star of British sitcoms such as The I.T. Crowd, presents this quirky travel documentary series which puts an eclectic and comedic spin on the typical travelogue.
Each episode of Travel Man sees him accompanied by a celebrity guest whom Richard acts as a tour guide for, and, being comedic in nature, you can expect plenty of laughs. Light-hearted and fun, Travel Man remains one of the best shows on SBS On Demand.
Starring: Stephen Graham, Andrew Ellis
Genre: Crime, Drama
The Walk-In tells the story of former National Front member turned anti-fascist activist Matthew Collins (Stephen Graham), who through his activist group Hope not Hate foiled a plot to murder a Labour Party MP.
Based on remarkable true events, The Walk-In takes on confronting, topical subjects and creates a gripping crime thriller that stars the aways fantastic Stephen Graham at his best.
War of the Worlds
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Lea Drucker
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
The new War of the Worlds series is a bold new take on H.G. Wells’s classic novel about Earth coming to terms in the wake of a sudden Martian invasion.
Arguably the best post-apocalyptic thriller since The Walking Dead, this Anglo-French co-production is more cerebral, action-packed, and unique than any other sci-fi show out there at the moment. War of the Worlds offers a gripping look at how people react to a crisis, what it means to be human, and how power and circumstance can warp human morality.
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Andrea Riseborough
Genre: Crime, Drama
This Italian drama series, based on a book of the same name, is also a must-watch. The main character – for want of a better phrase – is a shipment, with the show following its journey, all the way from its origin in South America, across the Atlantic Ocean and to its Italian buyers.
Naturally, they’re involved in a life of crime. Originally destined for the likes of Sky Atlantic and Amazon Prime Video, this highly-reviewed series is more than worth tuning in for.