If you’re a cord-cutter who’s waded into the world of Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming library, you might have noticed that there is a very different selection than what you’ll find on network TV. While the streaming library doesn’t offer every show you can get through Netflix’s DVD service, it does allow you swift access to a whole host of shows to watch while waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones to hit iTunes.
After you’ve worked through the American version of The Office, you might have glanced over at the British original. Intrigued by the accents and dry senses of humor, you might have even wondered if there might be other interesting shows from that side of the pond.
Barring television shows that have been remade for American audiences such as The Office, Skins, and Being Human (they seem to lose a bit of their good writing and snark), as well as absolutely iconic shows that have generations-wide cult followings (like Dr. Who‘s fans, nicknamed the Whovians), the following is a starter’s guide to the world of British television. It’s all available through the convenience of Netflix Watch Instantly streaming.
5. Shaun the Sheep
Shaun the Sheep is a non-speaking, claymation children’s series in the style of Wallace and Gromit. Following the pastoral antics of Shaun, his flock, dog, and farmer, each half-hour episode contains several segments — perfect for short attention spans and/or kids.
4. Black Books
Fans of Community will appreciate the screwball humor of Black Books, which follows a misanthropic Irish bookseller, his quirky assistant, and his next-door neighbor.
3. Land Girls
Polar opposite to the glamour and posh of Sex and the City, Land Girls is set during the time of the Women’s Land Army in Britain. Women were drafted to keep farms running and do the jobs that soldiers had left behind. Land Girls features four women from different social classes working on the farm of a manor house, and how the war changed England.
Much like House, this modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries features a “highly functioning sociopath,” accompanied by wounded Afghanistan veteran Dr. Watson. Once you’ve exhausted the first season, you can turn to PBS directly to stream Sherlock‘s second season.
1. Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey seems to defy the target audiences, by airing well in America on its affiliate, PBS. Set in the beginning of World War I, Downton Abbey chronicles how society transitioned from Victorian class and propriety to the modern world we know today. From Mary’s refusal to marry for money to Sybil’s experimentation in Communism and feminism (and let’s not forget the antics of the staff who work for the house) this series gives equal weight to the different social classes, in a society that is shedding its social strata.
Sparking Tumblrs like Downton Pawnee and Arrested Downton, which combine images from Downton Abbey with quotes from Parks and Recreation and Arrested Development, the series’ all-star cast has begun a successful crossover without catering to American audiences.
The next time you surf Netflix’s instant stream, check out one of these series to expand your horizons across the pond.
Image: Harshil Shah