Murder Among the Mormons
Murder Among the Mormons is a three part docuseries that unravels the tale of the mysterious series of bombings that took place in Salt Lake City in 1985. The seemingly random pipe-bomb attacks killed two people and injured several others, sending the city’s citizens into panic mode. When a stash of early Mormon letters and artefacts were found in the vehicle of a third victim, Mark Hofmann, rumours ricocheted through the religious community that would call into question the very nature of Mormonism. Director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) sifts through the emotional and philosophical wreckage of this theological transgression.
Marriage or Mortgage
This lifestyle-show hybrid pits the twin obsessions of property porn and elaborate makeovers against each other as a selection of hapless couples must decide whether to spend their money on a dream home or a dream wedding – because who can have both (or either) these days? Trying to persuade them in diverging directions are wedding planner Sarah Miller and real-estate agent Nichole Holmes, who will assess the couple’s budget and lifestyle before planning their respective showcases. Rather than being the slice of realism it purports to be, in this time of financial stress and lockdown woes, Marriage or Mortgage feels like the stuff of fantasies.
Adapted from the 2017 film, Dealer is a twist on the found-footage genre. This gritty French series centres around music director Franck (Sébastien Houbani) and his subject, an aspiring hip-hop artist named Tony (Abderamane Diakhite). When Tony invites Franck into his neighbourhood to film a new music clip, Franck realises that the charming rap star is not just fabricating a “gangster” image: Tony is also a real-life drug dealer. With Franck documenting every encounter, he quickly gets caught up in the violent gang warfare, getting an up-close-and-personal look at the less than glamorous side of the drug trade.
Last Chance U: Basketball
The sporting documentary Last Chance U has proven to be a success for the streaming service with its look at how college American football programmes offer marginalised students or those from disadvantaged backgrounds an escape from poverty, crime and disruptive families. The series is now turning its attention to basketball, telling the story of East Los Angeles JUCO, a community basketball squad with players striving to break into the university team while battling chaotic home lives or battling inner demons.
John Marr’s bestselling novel gets the Netflix treatment with this adaptation of his sci-fi thriller by Misfits creator Howard Overman. Set “five minutes” into the future, The One is a world where your DNA can predict your ideal partner, according to the company MatchDNA. The idea of a genetically prescribed pairing upends notions of marriage and destroys traditional ideas surrounding romance and dating. It also sends those optimistic participants into the world of the unknown, uniting with strangers who have dark secrets and may not have their best interests at heart.
Operation Varsity Blues
While it would have been thrilling to see Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlan play themselves in this partially dramatised documentary about the US college-admissions scandal of 2019, the actors remain absent, sadly. Operation Varsity Blues (made by Tiger King and Fyre director Chris Smith) focuses on Rick Singer, scammer of the elite, who aided the less academic children of wealthy families to leapfrog their way into prestigious colleges with the help of thousands of dollars and the use of Photoshop. The documentary combines real interviews with “re-creations” of phone conversations between Rick (played by Matthew Modine) and his celebrity clients as Singer turns informant for the FBI, bringing the shady dealings to the world’s attention.
Under Suspicion: Uncovering the Wesphael Case
Comprising archive news footage, interviews and reconstructions, this six-part documentary attempts to extricate the truth about the Véronique Pirotton case. Pirotton was found dead in her hotel room in 2013, and her husband, Bernard Wesphael (one of the founders of the Belgian political party Ecolo), was accused of her murder. Under Suspicion treads the same path as Making a Murderer and The Staircase, putting the aggrieved men front and centre of the show, with their eagerness to share their side of the story twisting the narratives into impossible corkscrews that true-crime fans are now familiar with as the unfortunate women remain silent.
After the underwhelming affair that was White Lines, Money Heist creator Álex Pina returns home for the all-Spanish production Sky Rojo. This electrifying, darkly comic caper follows three sex workers who go on the run from their pimp and the brutalising men in their lives, escaping on a riotous road trip with their tormentors in hot pursuit. Pina’s frenetic style and his potent visual flair gives this Thelma and Louise-style race for survival a contemporary, chaotic makeover that is bursting with freewheeling vivacity.
The unofficial follow-up to 2014’s Cowspiracy (the affecting documentary about the meat trade), Seaspiracy delves into the murky waters of the commercial fishing industry. Kip Andersen has handed over directing duties to Ali and Lucy Tabrizi, who initially started the documentary, to expose the way humanity has diminished sea life but ended up uncovering a wide-reaching practice of erosion throughout governments and even environmental groups that can seem complicit in the demise of the ocean habitat that houses millions of species.
The Irregulars is a spin-off show of sorts. Creator Tom Bidwell has re-imagined and expanded the story of Sherlock Holmes’s erstwhile gang of sneaks, who managed to acquire the information from the streets that the reserved detective couldn’t. This time around the Baker Street kids are older and more troubled, and their relationships with Dr Watson and the elusive Holmes have a more manipulative edge, with the teens doing most of the sleuthing without any of the rewards. As the crimes and threatening forces they encounter turn supernatural, the group realise that they can rely only on each other to eradicate the monsters and save the world.