Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series

Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series
Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series

We are currently living in the golden age of television. No matter, if it’s HBO, Netflix, or AMC, the quality of television, has greatly increased in the past ten years. Oftentimes, television has surpassed movies in terms of quality. A mini-series often feels like a movie; usually starring big names and a story that has a beginning, middle, and end in a span of one season.

This list will cover the best mini-series that have come out in the last ten years. Despite being flooded with hundreds of quality content throughout the years, these shows have exceeded expectations and provided something that’s truly unforgettable.

Watchmen

Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series

This is a controversial one in the eyes of some fans and critics. Critics loved Damon Lindelof’s adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Fans weren’t as keen on it. Admittedly, I didn’t see Watchmen until several years after it premiered in 2019 and it had me glued to the TV screen from beginning to end. It’s a political-heavy show, but the striking images, bold storytelling, and incredible performances outweigh the preachiness of the series.

The Zack Snyder film that was released in 2009 is actually an underrated superhero feature. Snyder didn’t just focus on the action aspects as the central story around the murder of Rorschach was compelling and the ending was shocking. Lindelof’s version expands on the lore of Watchmen by taking its rich concept and subverting expectations until the very end. It’s truly one of the best mini-series to come out in recent times.

The Night Of

Riz Ahmed in The Night Of (2016)

HBO is known for its high-quality programs, so it’s easy for some shows to slip under the cracks of the mainstream. The Night Of didn’t receive the flowers that it deserves, but it’s truly an excellent mini-series. Riz Ahmed had a star-making performance here. He was great playing a young man who was caught in a strange murder mystery after some seemingly innocent fun.

The most compelling aspect of the series was when Nasir was in prison. How his character was quickly forced to adapt to prison culture and the bond he shared with Freddy Knight (Michael Kenneth Williams). The series is a bit predictable, but there are moments throughout its eight-episode run where there’s genuine suspense and intrigue over the murder.

The ending was great as well. Though Nasir was freed from all charges, that cloud of him being a murderer still seeped into the public eye. The Night Of’s themes about racism were a lot more subtle, and since the show wasn’t particularly preachy about its subject matter then its messages are more profound and impactful because it isn’t shoving it down your throat.

Black Bird

Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series

The fact that Black Bird didn’t receive more love from the Emmys is a disappointment. The film’s non-linear structure also elevates the mini-series. We know that Larry Hall is guilty. However, the focus isn’t on whether he did commit those murders. It’s about whether James Keene can truly get the truth out of the serial killer.

Paul Walter Hauser’s performance is simply mesmerizing. The angle at which Hall reports false crimes to deceive cops is certainly unique. It puts into question Hall’s mental state, and Hauser is able to hide Larry’s true motivations organically. Sometimes Hall comes across as a bumbling buffoon. Other times he comes across as being smarter than he seems. Either way, he’s treated as a human throughout the series and Hauser is tremendous waving through these motions with ease.

Taron Egerton and Ray Liotta are no slouches in this series either. Both deliver excellent performances and help propel this character-driven story into something amazing.

Beef

Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series

While it’s not clear that Beef is just a one-off series, it’s easily one of the biggest surprises of 2023. The show starts off wild, but it takes its time in building its central characters. Beef explores the struggles in the lives of Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) and Ali Wong (Amy Lau), which cause them to go into road rage on that fateful day.

The character-driven piece does an excellent job of highlighting the struggles of both main characters without choosing a side in their rivalry. There are plenty of funny moments such as Danny trying to commit suicide with a dozen grills or Amy losing her cool when she sees that Danny has pissed on her floor. These people are unhappy with their lives. It’s human nature for us to be petty, and that anger and frustration build over a misunderstanding is a thrill to watch.

The Queen’s Gambit

Top Five Modern Television Mini-Series

Another mini-series that came out of nowhere was Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit. It’s a beautiful character study that’s masterfully performed by Anya-Taylor Joy. The game of chess has always been fascinating, though there’s no denying that it doesn’t exactly scream something worthy of watching on television. However, this coming-of-age period piece is a strongly written drama that carefully tackles the hardships that Beth had to deal with. The series avoids being too preachy or political. It’s an emotional story that will have you rooting for Beth to win it all in the end. 

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