The 10 Saddest TV Shows to Watch Now

The 10 Saddest TV Shows to Watch Now

Share:

twitter
facebook
reddit
pinterest
link

Pouring hours of your time into a series that’ll just leave you feeling down sounds counterintuitive, but when they’re done well, sad shows often have much to tell us about how we connect to other people. And since television allows us to get to know a wider range of characters arguably better than many films do, our personal perspectives can be challenged every which way. So here, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best of these “depressing” shows that you likely haven’t seen yet. And hopefully they’ll help you remember that feeling sad just means you’ve allowed yourself to care—and that can’t be a bad thing.

10. Three Pines

7.5

Country

Canada, United Kingdom

Actors

Alfred Molina

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Depressing

Set in the seemingly idyllic town of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada, Three Pines the series follows Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (Alfred Molina) as he attempts to solve a string of murders and disappearances in the area. It’s a classic whodunnit that doesn’t try too hard to be twisty and complicated; instead, it lays out its clues neatly and cleverly without giving too much away, all while digging deep into local issues such as the institutional neglect of indigenous people.

There’s no shortage of mysteries and crime thrillers on TV at the moment, but what makes Three Pines stand out is its seemingly virtuous lead. “You look for good even in the worst of humanity, don’t you?” says one witness about Armand, but it will be interesting to find out just how far his well-meaning ways can go.

9. The English

7.8

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Actors

Chaske Spencer, Ciarán Hinds, Cristian Solimeno, Emily Blunt

Moods

A-list actors, Action-packed, Character-driven

There is no shortage of craft and ambition in The English, a miniseries that employs tropes of classic Westerns, like the soulful anti-hero and the loyal sidekick, but also twists them enough to make them feel fresh. For instance, instead of typical cowboys, we have as our leads Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt), an aristocratic Englishwoman, and Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), a native who also served in the US army. Both of them are terribly out of place in the Wild West, but they’re fueled with the kind of vengeful drive that leads to bloody outcomes, which are themselves staples of the genre. 

The English is sweeping, both in scope and scenery, and solemn. Fans will appreciate how seriously the show treats the genre, and they’ll take pleasure in its familiarity, from the twisty mysteries and brutal disputes to the gritty backdrops and arid vistas. In this instance, the show’s ambition perfectly fits the genre. 

8. Looking for Alaska

7.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Abbie Gayle, Andrea Andrade, Charlie Plummer, Deneen Tyler

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Emotional

Unlike other adaptations of young adult novels that get caught up in overly romanticized teenage angst, the eight-episode Hulu version of John Green’s Looking for Alaska is far more self-aware about its own precocious characters. Because no matter how much earnest faux-wisdom they spout, all their intelligence still hits a brick wall when faced with unanswerable questions of grief, guilt, and what it means to truly love another person. It’s as funny as it is devastating, with genuinely moving emotional payoffs that are more than worth the wait, thanks to a uniformly brilliant cast that includes Charlie Plummer, Kristine Froseth, and Denny Love.

7. Move to Heaven

8.0

Country

South Korea

Actors

Hong Seung-hee, Im Won-hee, Jeong Seok-yong, Ji Jin-hee

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Discussion-sparking

In Move to Heaven, a man and his son clean up after the dead—specifically, the dead who have no one else to look out for them. Believing that no one should be robbed of a respectable farewell, they piece together the deceased’s possessions and celebrate them postmortem. It’s a noble job, but its existence is threatened when the father passes away. It’s now up to the ruffian uncle with a heart of gold to continue the business and bond with his nephew, who himself struggles with Asperger’s. 

It’s easy for Move to Heaven to feel weighed down by all the important stories it tries to tackle; represented here are disabled people, depressed people, queer people, overworked people. But it breathes so much life into these stories that they hardly feel like the drag other shows and movies make them out to be. Tragedy here is expertly blended with humanity, and the result is a moving and compassionate series that stands out even in the saturated content space that is Netflix. 

6. The Underground Railroad

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Actors

Joel Edgerton, Thuso Mbedu

Moods

Challenging, Depressing, Discussion-sparking

As is only appropriate for a limited series about such a horrific period in human history, The Underground Railroad isn’t meant to be easy viewing. Thanks to uncompromising direction from Barry Jenkins (the director of the Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight) and unforgettable images from cinematographer James Laxton, this approaches a level of confrontational storytelling that almost seems inappropriate for the comforts of television. But it’s essential viewing nonetheless, and Jenkins makes sure to transform this into a much stranger, more thought-provoking tale beyond the brutality of its first episode.

The Underground Railroad is speculative fiction: instead of being a historical account of the real-life network of routes to help free African-American slaves, it imagines a literal train that swiftly transports Cora (a powerful Thuso Mbedu) from one dystopian vision of white America to another. With every new setting, Jenkins doesn’t just talk about slavery; he talks about how America talks about slavery, and how the stories of these Black slaves are constantly reappropriated by white supremacists.

5. Industry

best

8.4

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Adam Levy, Harry Lawtey, Jay Duplass, Katrine De Candole

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Character-driven

Industry has all the markings of an HBO show: an abundance of sex, drugs, alcohol, and sure enough, an inextinguishable affinity for the F word. Like Succession, The Sopranos, and even Euphoria before it, it revels in its freedom to explore the nitty-grittiest parts of its subject matter and put its gruesome findings on full display. But instead of capitalism, organized crime, or teenhood, Industry incisively takes on hustle culture. 

Through the eyes of four new hires at a premier investment bank in London, we see the dangerous means people put themselves through in order to achieve some semblance of respect, recognition, or at the very least stability. Bullying is rampant, hazing is normalized, competition is encouraged, and blind loyalty is rewarded. The characters are so flawed and damaged, you’ll often find yourself rooting for their demise. But you’ll also be glued to their arcs and storylines. Will they break the cycle of abuse or continue it? Can they actually change the system from within or does that remain a utopian dream? These questions are hardly charming, but Industry has a way of making them engaging, exciting even. It fully inhabits the meanness you can and should only enjoy behind the safety of a TV screen. 

4. Five Days at Memorial

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Adepero Oduye, Cherry Jones, Cornelius Smith, Cornelius Smith, Jr.

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Discussion-sparking

Five Days at Memorial recalls the real and horrifying events that went on at a New Orleans hospital during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Over the course of five days, the caregivers in charge try their best to evacuate thousands of people from the building, but heavy floods, power outages, intense heat, and a sorry lack of planning result in some heartbreaking decisions about the fate of their patients.

The ongoing series is a gut-wrenching and at times excruciating watch, adeptly directed by John Ridley (American Crime) and absorbingly moored by a cast that includes Vera Farmiga (Conjuring)—by now an expert at exhibiting pure horror—and Cherry Jones (Succession).

3. Black Bird

best

8.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Greg Kinnear, Paul Walter Hauser, Ray Liotta, Robert Wisdom

Moods

A-list actors, Binge-Worthy, Challenging

Based on true events, Black Bird follows James Keene (Taron Egerton), a narcotics dealer sentenced to ten years in jail. He makes a deal with the authorities to reduce his sentence, but in return, James has to befriend their deadliest convict—a child murderer played by the excellently terrifying Paul Walter Hauser—and extract a confession out of him before it’s too late.

If you’re a fan of gripping crime thrillers, anti-heroes, star-studded shows, and watching British actors do a perfect American accent, then Black Bird is right up your alley. The miniseries is also an excellent showcase of topnotch performances; Egerton and Hauser bring the house down in their excellently staged two-handers, Greg Kinnear is reliably sturdy as the determined detective, and Ray Liotta in one of his final roles is devastating as an ailing father. 

2. This Is Going to Hurt

best

8.8

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Alex Jennings, Ambika Mod, Ashley McGuire, Ben Whishaw

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Dark, Depressing

In the dark comedy This Is Going to Hurt, Ben Whishaw stars as junior doctor Adam, who’s barely keeping it together in the understaffed and under-equipped ob-gyn ward of Britain’s NHS hospital. We see, often in sad and graphic detail, what goes on in a public hospital and the heavy toll this takes on both the patients’ and medical staff’s personal lives. It’s hard to look away, especially when Adam addresses us in the first person. 

Even more upsetting? The miniseries is based on a memoir. Former medical trainee Adam Kay wrote a best-selling book detailing his horrific time at the NHS, and now he serves as executive producer and writer of the series.

1. Normal People

best

9.1

Country

Ireland

Actors

Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal

Moods

Character-driven, Dark, Depressing

The author of the much-loved New York Times bestseller, Sally Rooney, is among the writers of this TV dramatisation, directed by Irish compatriot and indie director Lenny Abrahamson. Abrahamson, who also gave us Frank and the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s Room, builds on Rooney’s fantastic source material and an evocative soundtrack to create an intense, atmospheric drama about the vitality and violence of young love.

Initially set in rural Ireland, Normal People follows Marianne Sheridan (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal) as they are figuring out themselves, their connection, and impending adulthood. And that is all I am going to say at this point, because I feel that it is best to know as little as possible going in.

Every detail of every scene feels studied, laying bare the raw emotion of the two main characters. The dialogue is sharp and funny. The acting is flawless. One thing is certain, if you like modern drama that is as much about how and what is said as about what is actually happening, you will have to watch Normal People!

agmtw
eu

© 2023 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.

We are home to the best film and TV on popular streaming services. Supported only by readers like you and by public grants.