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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Entertainment
Phil Harrison

The Big Cigar to Bridgerton: the seven best shows to stream this week

André Holland as Huey P Newton in The Big Cigar.
On the run … André Holland as Huey P Newton in The Big Cigar. Photograph: Apple TV+

Pick of the week

The Big Cigar

Based on real events, this gripping drama tells a wild and wayward story of the relationship between film mogul Bert Schneider (Alessandro Nivola) and Black Panther Huey P Newton (André Holland). Schneider produced seminal late-60s counter-cultural classics including Easy Rider but hankered after real rebellion. He found it in Newton, whose perilous legal situation called for a sharp exit from the US – so the pair hatched a plan to smuggle Newton to Cuba via a fake movie production. It’s an age-old story of well-meaning privilege colliding with real outsider jeopardy. “What would you die for, Bert?” wonders Newton at one point. Eventually, the question becomes very relevant.
Apple TV+, from Friday 17 May

***

Bridgerton

Here’s the first part of a third season of the slick, glossy Regency drama based on Julia Quinn’s novels (part two lands next month). Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) has decided that continuing to live under the same roof as her mother will no longer do. It’s time to take a husband. With her friendship with Eloise (Claudia Jessie) increasingly strained, she’s isolated. But where is her beloved Colin (Luke Newton)? As it happens, he’s back from Paris and as vaguely distinguished and mildly aloof as ever: after a slow burn, their tentative almost-romance is the heart of the season.
Netflix, from Thursday 16 May

***

Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal

Many ideas from the early, gold-rush era of the internet now seem misjudged, including the website Ashley Madison, which specialised in connecting people seeking extra-marital affairs. Ashley Madison was a huge success but didn’t lock its back door: online security was in its infancy and the site was an accident waiting to happen. This fascinating three-part series tells the story of the acquisition, by hackers, of the contents of the site’s database – which left millions of users’ intimate secrets exposed. Cue a long line of very painful corporate and personal lessons.
Netflix, from Wednesday 15 May

***

Uncle Samsik

This 60s-set South Korean drama follows Kim San (Byun Yo-han), an ambitious young man looking to make his way in the world. He comes across mysterious fixer Uncle Samsik (the excellent Song Kang-ho of Parasite fame, in his first major TV role) and an uneasy alliance is born. However, Samsik’s enigmatic nature looks likely to conceal a very shady past when political intrigue gathers around the pair. San soon finds himself in dangerous waters as it becomes clear that Samsik has his own reasons for wanting a young protege.
Disney+, from Wednesday 15 May

***

Outer Range

A second season begins of this peculiar but ponderous drama, which lands somewhere between a western and a Lost-style existential mystery. Josh Brolin carries most of the weight as Royal Abbott, a ranch owner who is coping with family trauma, hostile neighbours and the presence of the mysterious Autumn (Imogen Poots), a drifter who is camping on his land. At the intersection of these issues, there’s a literal hole: a bottomless pit at the centre of the farm, which may or may not be a portal enabling movement through time and space. Flabby, daft but also intriguing.
Prime Video, from Thursday 16 May

***

The 8 Show

Yet another slick, nasty South Korean thriller satirising capitalism, the class system and the brutality of modern media, this latest twist on Squid Game’s loose formula sees eight individuals trapped in an eight-storey building. The longer they stay in the structure, the larger the prize fund becomes. But, predictably, the game’s danger levels – and potential for interpersonal betrayal – are ramped up too. Will the competitors’ sacrifices of time, of morality and eventually, of safety prove to be worth it in the end? And who is pulling the strings?
Netflix, from Friday 17 May

***

99

It is sometimes hard to believe but perpetual Premier League also-rans Manchester United have a pretty illustrious past. This three-part documentary recalls the 1998-99 season, the club’s halcyon days under the custodianship of Alex Ferguson during which they won a unique – and impossibly dramatic – Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble. This deep dive will be an absolute treasure trove for fans: it features contributions from Ferguson along with star players including David Beckham, Peter Schmeichel, Gary Neville and Andrew Cole.
Prime Video, from Friday

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