Header images courtesy of Netflix
Originally published by Inés Fung. Last updated by Annette Chan and Jianne Soriano.
It’s looking like a rainy weekend once again, so why not hole up at home, order takeout, and get locked into a new series? Sometimes “getting locked in” means cancelling plans for the whole weekend, and whether you’re a true crime buff, a soap opera fanatic, or simply looking to “Netflix and chill,” there’s a show for everyone. Here are our top picks for highly binge-able shows on Netflix Hong Kong right now that’ll help kill the boredom.
Set 34 years after the events of Karate Kid, Cobra Kai follows Johnny Lawrence—the original film’s antagonist—whose life has been a series of failures following his defeat at the All Valley tournament. After stepping in to defend his young neighbour in a fight, Lawrence begrudgingly begins to teach the teen karate and reopens the Cobra Kai dojo. Before long, he’s reignited his rivalry with his old nemesis, Daniel LaRusso, and mayhem breaks out between them and their respective children.
There’s plenty to love about Cobra Kai: great fight scenes, a nostalgia-inducing soundtrack, and—because Netflix acquired the title from Youtube Premium—there are already two full seasons just waiting to be binged. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the original film; between cultural osmosis and well-placed flashbacks, the series is very easy to follow, even for newbies to the franchise.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens after we die, The Good Place is the show for you. It explores a version of the afterlife through the lens of five main characters: Eleanor, a selfish pharmaceutical salesperson; Chidi, an ethics and moral philosophy professor; Tahani, a condescending socialite; Jason, a kind but childish and petty criminal and amateur DJ; and their guide and afterlife architect, Michael.
As the series goes on, the ragtag group of unlikely friends try to become better people via ethics lessons and cause hijinks both in the mortal and deceased worlds. They’re also accompanied by Janet, an entity designed to contain all knowledge with the ability to conjure up anything they needed (where’s our own Janet when we get an uncontrollable craving for fettuccine chicken alfredo at 3 am?).
It’s sincere, heartwarming, and creative in its exploration of often complicated philosophical and moral dilemmas. You can’t help but emerge as a more optimistic and insightful person after indulging in all four seasons (shaped into 13 22-minute episodes that are no problem to the seasoned binge-watcher).
Set in both Tokyo and London, you’ll hear both Japanese and English spoken fluidly as the show flits between being a family drama, yakuza thriller, and off-beat cop comedy. Bound by family duty, weary Japanese detective Kenzo Mori heads to London to find his mysterious younger brother Yuto, who’s presumed dead after his involvement in the murder of a prominent Yakuza member. He finds a tentative alliance in Sarah Weitzmann, an uptight officer who finds her morality challenged, and Rodney Yamaguchi, a half-Japanese sex worker whose cutting one-liners provide much-needed comic relief in the tense show.
We love how the show balances the main plot with twists and turns while maintaining emotional depth, and for showing a side of Tokyo that isn’t the neon-soaked cyberpunk cityscape adored in Western media. Sink your teeth into this eight-episode series that’ll have you begging for more without being overwhelmed by the amount of ground covered.
The Chef Show is just so… wholesome. The jolly Jon Favreau teams up with chef Roy Choi, who consulted on his 2014 movie Chef (often lauded as a realistic view into the world of chefs and professional kitchens) to travel around the world and celebrate their mutual passion: food. They gather their friends, as well as people of different cultures, to experiment with their favourite recipes and techniques (the Cubanos, grilled cheeses, and beignets that were featured in Chef make an appearance in the first season of the show).
There’s absolutely no forced drama, bad editing, or “clever” humour to be found. The respect that Favreau has for cooking and his friend Choi shines through, and Choi is a great mentor to both Favreau and us, the audience. Watching The Chef Show feels real—like you’re just watching your own friends (if your friends included actor Tom Holland and famous chefs like David Chang) muck about in the kitchen and hang out over drinks.
Don’t come hungry if you’re bingeing Street Food: Asia or you’ll crave more! While various places around the world are opening up and welcoming tourists, some of us might still be hesitant to embark on anxiety-inducing travels during a pandemic. So why not see the best of Asia through its street foods in Street Food: Asia instead? In this series, you’ll get to explore nine different cities in Asia and hear the stories of the people who make them.
Some of these stories include street food chef Jay Fai, who puts on a spin on tom yum soup; Toyo, the chef of a beloved izakaya in Osaka which is known for its delicious street food; or the late Florencio “Entoy” Escabas, the founder of a famed eatery in Cebu, Philippines. Prepare to go on a gastronomical journey right in front of the screen!
Looking for some comedy while reliving your youthful days? Look no further than Never Have I Ever. This coming-of-age series follows Devi, an Indian-American teenager as she deals with the recent death of her father, navigates high school, and really just goes through the up and downs of being a teenager. With an upcoming third season slated in August, now is the perfect time to start watching (or rewatching) the series.
The series is considered a watershed moment for South Asian representation in Hollywood as it breaks stereotypes. It’s also one of the few series starring an Indian-American and Tamil lead. What’s even better is that the cast is mostly newcomers, including lead Maitreyi Ramakrishnan who nabbed the role after showrunner and creator Mindly Kaling received over 15,000 responses to a casting call. Never Have I Ever will make you cringe but also smile, laugh, cry, and remember the best (and possibly worst) days of being a teen.
For an action-packed weekend that will keep you on the edge of your seat, put on Money Heist. The Spanish crime drama premiered to critical acclaim on Netflix and became one of its most-watched non-English-language series and eventually spun a Korean adaptation.
Set in Madrid, the series follows “The Professor,” a mysterious man who recruits a group of people to carry out an ambitious heist at the Royal Mint of Spain. Spanning 41 episodes, Money Heist received praise for its plot, direction, and action. We love the diverse blend of characters—who go by aliases based on cities—and their own interpersonal stories.
While Squid Game might still be the name on everyone’s lips, we’ll recommend something a little more lighthearted. Consider this your gateway to K-dramas if you’re a newbie, or something that has the best of everything if you’re already aboard the K-mania.
Based on the webtoon of the same name, Business Proposal follows Shin Ha-ri, an ordinary office employee, who goes on a blind date in place of her friend. Unknown to her, the blind date turns out to be her boss, Kang Tae-moo. Hoping to get rejected for her and her friend’s sake, Ha-ri puts on her best act to shoo Tae-moo away only for the young heir to choose Ha-ri as his wife—he’s just tired of being pestered by his grandfather to get married.
It’s equal parts charming and cliche, but the show has its own way of taking those cliches and tropes and playing them off in a bold way instead of trying to be subtle about it.
True crime documentary series are on the rise, but they are certainly not for everyone. An alternative is the psychological crime thriller Mindhunter. It’s based on the 1995 true crime book of the same name and boasts actress Charlize Theron and director David Fincher as producers, with Fincher also serving as director and showrunner.
The 10-episode series centres on FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench and psychologist Wendy Carr who are part of the Behavioural Science Unit. There, they launch a project to interview and study the minds of serial killers in order to understand their psychology, with the hopes of using what they learned in solving ongoing and future cases.
The series takes place during the infancy of criminal psychology and criminal profiling and before advanced technology played a large part in solving cases. Some of the most notorious serial killers you’ll see include Edmund Kemper, Richard Speck, and Dennis Radar. Mindhunter is a visual feast with great cinematography but equally great character development. It’s the type of show that is impossible not to binge in one sitting.
Unlikely superheroes? Check. Dysfunctional family? Check. Witty banter and awesome combat scenes? Check. That is perhaps the best way to describe The Umbrella Academy. The show, based on the comic book series by Gerard Way (yes, the frontman of My Chemical Romance), recently aired its third season, so there’s plenty to binge-watch.
The Umbrella Academy revolves around a dysfunctional family of adopted superheroes. The siblings reunite in order to solve the mystery of their father’s death, but soon realise that they have more problems to solve, namely an impending apocalypse. Grab your popcorn and follow the lives of Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Five, Ben, and Viktor (formerly Vanya) as they try to save the world, get along, and discover themselves along the way.
What’s so enjoyable about The Umbrella Academy is the family dynamics but also the individual journeys of each character. Add in a mix of time travel, action, comedy, unlikely romance, and, of course, family drama, and you really have a bit of everything.