Candy to Shantaram: the seven best TV shows to stream this week – The Guardian

Jessica Biel and Melanie Lynskey are excellent in a small-town tale of axe murder, while Charlie Hunnam plays a bank robber on the run
Candy Montgomery was an excellent planner. From children’s birthday parties to extramarital affairs, the Texan homemaker calibrated her life meticulously. But, as one friend tells her in the opener of this drama: “You can’t be perfect all the time.” And indeed, Candy was not. Played here with brittle intensity by Jessica Biel, Montgomery was the suspect in a murder case when, in June 1980, she was accused of killing Betty Gore – the wife of her lover – with an axe. Candy is something of an enigma, giving up its secrets gradually, but it does a fine job of establishing the tedium and horror of small-town domesticity. Both Biel and Melanie Lynskey (Gore) are excellent.
Disney+, from Wednesday 12 October

This revelatory series from the trickster magus of the BBC archives, Adam Curtis, is an emotional history of late 20th-century Russia. Or, in the words of the subtitle, how it felt to live through the collapse of both communism and democracy. Curtis shows rather than tells, using a bricolage of uncannily juxtaposed images. Horror meets banality, for example – while the Afghanistan war was brutalising a generation of young Russians, Moscow apartments were plagued by fires caused by badly made TV sets. It’s more like a beautifully constructed art installation than a documentary series. Unique.
BBC iPlayer, from Thursday 13 October

Following her Big American Road Trip earlier this year, Perkins has a new travelogue. First announced in 2020 – then delayed, for obvious reasons – Perkins is pushing the boat out, heading for Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil in search of “bizarre, unusual and shocking activities that are somehow perfectly legal in those countries”. Truly, the mind boggles. Some of it is a good deal more vanilla than it sounds (hang-gliding is fun, but hardly transgressive) but there are hints of a few wilder experiences too. Good fun.
Netflix, from Thursday 13 October

The controversial music streaming giant Spotify, which – depending on your point of view has either set music free or devalued it to the point of exploiting its creators – gets its own dramatised origin story. Filmed in Swedish, the genre’s lingua franca is familiar; a socially-awkward outsider with a big idea, occasional problems with making coding look exciting and a sense of ambivalence about whose side we’re supposed to be on. But Edvin Endre (Vikings) is persuasive as the company’s geeky yet implacable driving force, Daniel Ek.
Netflix, from Thursday 13 October

“Tegan and Sara? It doesn’t even rhyme. Your parents blew it.” Starting at a new school and trying to impress the mean alpha-teens isn’t easy when you’re exploring your own identity, distinct from that of your twin. This new series, based on the memoir by the Canadian indie-pop duo who came to terms with their non-rhyming names, charmingly filters growing pains through the prism of sexual awakenings and lashings of 90s pop culture. It’s extremely likable with TikTok stars Railey and Seazynn Gilliland bringing real-life twin dynamics to the lead roles.
Amazon Freevee, from Thursday 13 October

Loosely based on a novel of the same name – which was itself loosely based on true events from author Gregory David Roberts’s life – Shantaram is the story of Australian bank robber Lin Ford (Charlie Hunnam) who flees to India in the hope of disappearing into the sprawl of 80s Mumbai. In search of redemption, he finds himself working in one of the city’s slums – but soon his past is catching up with him. The show’s moral messages are rarely conveyed with any degree of subtlety, but it’s a lively, picaresque story all the same.
Apple TV+, from Friday 14 October

The Korean culture boom continues: Netflix’s first ever music reality show is a talent contest with a difference. Instead of an elimination format, the musicians must devise a show, located wherever they choose and lavished with dancers, light displays and the guest performers of their choice. The catch – and it doesn’t seem a particularly devilish twist since this has been the case with live performance since the dawn of time – is that the final performance will be one-take and on a fixed date. Will the presence of the countdown clock cause drama?
Netflix, from Friday 14 October

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