Arsène Lupin, the belle époque burglar created by French novelist Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900s, is reinvented as Assane Diop, a first-generation Frenchman with a mania for Lupin books and a grudge against the powerful blackguards who decades ago framed his father for a theft he didn’t commit – and led him to die in prison. Armed with drones, social media bots, and hacking skills alongside the traditional tools of the trade like fake beards, picklocks, and quick wits, Diop hunts down his adversaries one by one, on a quest for the truth about his father’s fate. In his spare time, Diop also tries to patch together a crumbling marriage and build a better rapport with his son. Worth watching in the French original, this five-episode series’ strength lies all in the dialogues, the character development, and the charismatic performance of Omar Sy as Assane. The actual escapades and daring heists are beautifully choreographed, but a lot of the mechanics – how a certain piece of legerdemain worked, when a certain impenetrable building was infiltrated – are left unspoken. In a show about a master thief, the reticence is unforgivable, and betokens some lack of scriptwriting rigour. Also unforgivable is that the fifth episode ends on a cliff-hanger – but fear not, the second tranche of five will hit Netflix mid-2021.
LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIXFrom executive producer Shonda Rhimes comes a period drama like no other that has become Netflix’s most watched series ever. Bridgerton is set during the Regency period in England and follows the powerful Bridgerton family as they navigate love, marriage and scandal. Incredibly bingable and shockingly entertaining, the show is based on a series of novels with each on focusing on a different Bridgerton sibling – this first series follows eldest sister Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and her turbulent marriage to one of London’s most eligible bachelors, Duke Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). With season two already confirmed, expect much more from London’s Ton era very soon.
Back to Life
Originally airing on BBC, Back to Life is a dark comedy that centres on a woman trying to reintegrate into society after spending almost two decades in prison. Protagonist Miri Matteson (Daisy Haggard) returns to her parents’ house after serving time for a violent crime committed in her teens (we’re kept in the dark about the exact circumstances for most of the series). As she tries to get a handle on adulting and catch up with a world that has moved on in her absence, it becomes clear that someone in her British seaside hometown hasn’t forgotten the past – and is making it their mission not to allow Miri to, either. Meanwhile there’s an eccentric man who appears to be stalking her; a naive neighbour who has taken a shine to her; and her parents, who against everything are trying to pretend that everything is just fine. The series, which received critical acclaim, perfectly balances humour with drama, and is at turns hilarious, unsettling and poignant.