MyDaily's edit of the very best Netflix shows to take to the sofa with over Christmas, by Anna Hart.
The Conversation Starter: Orange Is The New Black (Netflix Original)
Set in a women's prison in Connecticut, this 2013 comedy-drama is based on the true story of Piper Kerman, who aged of 34 was snatched from her WASPY New York existence (and doting hipster fiance, played by Jason Biggs) to serve 15 months for her part in an international drug trafficking ring. This crime was committed 10 years earlier when Piper was dating an alluring, wild older woman.The dialogue fizzes and crackles; the casting of the other inmates, the penitentiary staff and Piper's ex-girlfriend, is impeccable.
Also on Netflix is OITNB creator Jenji Kohan's Weeds; which did the drug-dealing-suburban-parent thing rather brilliantly, way ahead of Breaking Bad.
The Cop Caper: Justified (FX)
This criminally underwatched crime drama, based on the stories of Elmore Leonard, is set in Harlan, Kentucky, where the hotshot hero (a refreshing break from anti-heroes) Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) has been banished, after getting a little too trigger-happy in Miami. The dialogue is genuinely funny, and people talk like people really talk, something you rarely see in fast-paced, plot-driven crime drama. But it's the supporting actors that make the show; Walton Goggins plays Boyd Crowder, Raylan's friendly nemesis, and Nick Searcy is a charming, reassuring presence as Chief Deputy Art Mullen. Netflix only has the first three seasons (in the U.S. Season 5 is about to screen) but it's enough to get you hooked.
The Cult Comedy: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
This brilliantly inventive, reliably hilarious sitcom has just screened it's 50th episode in the US, but bafflingly few folk on either side of the Atlantic have heard of it. Always Sunny is set in a crummy Irish dive bar in South Philly, owned and managed by four slacker friends in their early thirties; vain sociopath Mac, his spoiled and only marginally less self-obsessed sister Dee, hapless drunk Charlie and, well, another hapless drunk, Mac. On paper it sounds cliched, tired, a tad callous and kinda dumb, but trust me, each 20-minute episode proves it to be one of the smartest, warm-hearted and laugh-until-you-puke comedies being made right now.
The Crime Export: Spiral (Son et Lumiere)
Sure, all the fuss has been about Scandi-dramas like The Killing, The Bridge, Wallander and Borgen, but this French police drama series has become a cult hit amongst viewers who caught the four seasons on BBC4. A huge hit in France, Spiral (Engrenages) has been compared to The Wire for the grittiness and grimness of the violence, and for the jaundiced representation of a hopelessly corrupt French legal system. But, this being France, everyone is ridiculously hot, particularly the fiery, foxy Captain Laure Berthaud, played by Caroline Proust.
The Dark Political Thriller: House Of Cards (Netflix Original)
Netflix is releasing all 13 episodes of the second series of this sexy, slick, noirish political drama on February 14th 2014, scuppering or saving Valentines Day, depending on how you look at it. There's time to catch up over Christmas, and you darn well should. David Fincher directs, and Kevin Spacey is on splendidly sly form as congressman Frank Underwood, who after being overlooked for an appointment as Secretary of State, resolves to exact revenge on those around him in true Machiavellian style. Robin Wright is mesmerizing as his glorious wife, Claire, who also functions as a masterclass in how to dress when you're over 30.