The Essex Serpent to How I Met Your Father: seven best shows to stream

Pick of the week

The Essex Serpent

Tom Hiddleston as Will Ransome in the Essex Serpent.
Tom Hiddleston as Will Ransome in the Essex Serpent. Photograph: Dean Rogers/Apple TV+

“How does it feel to cut into a living body?” It’s an odd question to ask a doctor at your husband’s funeral, but Cora Seaborne (Claire Danes) is an unusual woman. She’s also an aspiring naturalist, so when she reads the intriguing newspaper headline “Sea Dragon Sighted in Essex”, she spies a way of exploiting her newfound freedom and escaping her stifling London life. In Essex, she gets more than she bargained for, thanks to the wildness of the area in the late-19th century and her tentative chemistry with Tom Hiddleston’s vicar Will Ransome. Adapted from Sarah Perry’s novel and directed by Clio Barnard, it’s a darkly sensual gothic musing on faith, rationality and temptation.
Apple TV+, from Friday 13 May


Our Father

Jacoba Ballard in Our Father.
Jacoba Ballard in Our Father. Photograph: Netflix

“You really have no idea who you are any more,” says Julie Harmon, the 14th (but sadly not the last) person to discover that they are the biological child of rogue fertility doctor Donald Cline. In a genuinely sickening story, Cline used his own sperm to inseminate dozens of women, seemingly intent on assembling an army of unknowing offspring. It’s a distinctively American tale of overt religiosity and implied violence – Cline turned up at a meeting with wronged patients toting a Bible quote and a gun – and while the film lacks dynamism, the story is easily jaw-dropping enough to hold your attention.
Netflix, from Wednesday 11 May


How I Met Your Father

Hilary Duff and Josh Peck in How I Met Your Father.
Hilary Duff and Josh Peck in How I Met Your Father. Photograph: Patrick Wymore/Hulu

A spin-off (absolutely not a reboot, as the creators have been keen to stress) from How I Met Your Mother, this glossy comedy offers a female-driven perspective from the same fictional New York. Once again, it’s very much an idealised version of modern urban life – Friends with dating apps, essentially. Hilary Duff is Sophie, the young woman looking for love, while Kim Cattrall plays the older, future version. It’s never as funny or irreverent as it should be, but fans of the original will enjoy watching the two fictional universes inch closer.
Disney+, from Wednesday 11 May


Oussekine

Oussekine.
Oussekine. Photograph: Jean-Claude Lother/Disney

The 1986 killing of French-Algerian student Malik Oussekine was one of the inspirations for the film La Haine, and the story is told in full here. Malik was a 22-year-old aspiring priest who made the fatal decision to attend a political protest in Paris and paid for it with his life after he was savagely beaten to death by the police. Over four episodes, this series explores Malik’s family life, the killing itself and his family’s lengthy battle for justice as the French establishment closed ranks. Sayyid El Alami and Hiam Abbass, also known as Marcia in Succession, star. PH
Disney+, from Wednesday 11 May


Bling Empire

From left: Almar Guevarra, Kim Lee, Guy Tang in Bling Empire.
From left: Almar Guevarra, Kim Lee, Guy Tang in Bling Empire. Photograph: Netflix

More dead-eyed, late-capitalist high-jinks in the second season of the hyperactive Asian-American reality series which makes Selling Sunset look like The Ascent of Man. As ever, it’s full of semi-manufactured conflict as newcomer Dorothy is viewed with suspicion by the original cast, wedding plans fall apart and lunch dates turn sour. However, there’ll always be a bigger diamond to buy, another gratuitous holiday to take and a few more unearned millions to squander. Very quickly, you’ll become as jaded by excess as the cast themselves.
Netflix, from Friday 13 Ma


The Lincoln Lawyer

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Jazz Raycole the Lincoln Lawyer.
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Jazz Raycole the Lincoln Lawyer. Photograph: Lara Solanki/Netflix

Another twist on the legal maverick formula, brought to us by the king of soapy thrillers, David E Kelley. Based on the novels of Michael Connelly, it follows the exploits of scrappy LA attorney Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who works out of the back seat of his car after the death of his former law partner and the disintegration of his marriage. Despite this suboptimal set-up, Haller finds himself tackling the biggest case of his career when a murder leads him into terrifyingly deep water. It lacks a certain plausibility, but it’s pacy fun and Haller is easy to root for.
Netflix, from Friday 13 May


Greatness Code

Bubba Wallace.
Bubba Wallace. Photograph: USA Today Sports

A second series for the show in which athletes explore their defining moments and ponder what makes them tick. These deep dives into sporting lives are slanted towards American sports – don’t expect many cricketers or rugby players. This season’s most intriguing offerings concern Marcus Rashford – a rare non-American whose form on the field has inconveniently dropped off, and Bubba Wallace (pictured) whose motorsports brilliance has a fascinating sociopolitical subtext – he’s the first African American to win a Nascar race since 1963.
Apple TV+, from Friday 13 May