7 Lesser-known Drama Series On Disney+ Hotstar
Netflix is slowly becoming the most popular OTT platform in India for English language TV and movie streaming. However, Disney+ Hotstar is doing a great job at maintaining its popularity, not only in regional language content but also for its foreign shows. It might not have as vast a library as Netflix, but it does have some amazing shows to offer. Disney+ Hotstar’s long-standing association with HBO, Showtime, AMC helps them source iconic television shows throughout the year. Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known drama series available on Hotstar that might have slipped under your radar.
Treme comes from the writers of The Wire (David Simon and George Pelecanos) and is a series that focuses on the lives of people in New Orleans in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The show has multiple heroes from different walks of life – musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians who are trying to rebuild their lives and most importantly striving to retain their culture in the aftermath of the hurricane. While it does not have an overarching plot and is not written as fiction, the show is all about character building and little plots which make it a tremendous watch. It is a story about New Orleans and its people. Treme consists of a wide range of leads – a trumpeter, violinist, DJ, chef, trombonist, police officers, lawyers, Indian Chief, bar owner and a city contractor. With such a diverse cast, the writers are able to narrate a wide range of stories about people and their collective as well as individual experiences after the hurricane.
Music, especially jazz and blues, is at the heart of Treme. The show highlights the contribution New Orleans has made to American music and how music enables people to survive the violence and corruption in the state. The series never became as popular as The Wire, but we hope more people watch this show as it is beautifully written and all the actors, however, small their role, have done a tremendous job.
Rome is a historical drama TV series, set in the 1st century BC. It revolves around the lives of Rome’s rich and powerful historical characters. Season 1 depicts Julius Caesar’s rise and fall during his dictatorship. Meanwhile, season 2 shows the power struggle between Octavian and Marc Anthony. The lead protagonists are two fictional soldiers named Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo who are able to influence many of the historical events in the series.
The showrunners have put in an incredible effort to recreate sections of ancient Rome, making it one of the costliest productions in TV show history (more than 100m dollars!). The pace of the show might be slow in the beginning but becomes more complex as it moves forward. The series also has strong woman characters such as Atia – Caeser’s niece, Octavia – Atia’s daughter and Sevilla who plays Caeser’s long-time paramour. Stellar writing, great direction, grand yet realistic sets and a mostly historically accurate story makes Rome a fascinating TV series.
The Deuce is a show whose audience is small but the subject matter is brilliantly broad and impactful. The creators of The Wire and Treme bring to us a drama series that traces the origins of the billion-dollar pornographic industry from the beginning of the 1970s to the mid-1980s. It tells the story of the rise of the porn industry in New York and also explores important social issues such as HIV, drug violence, and the boom in real estate.
Like other David Simon shows, The Deuce has a large, multicultural ensemble of characters, most of them written with great backgrounds and equally well portrayed by the actors who play them. Of all the cast, two stand out – James Franco who plays the dual role of twin brothers, Vincent and Martino, both becoming associates and fronts for the mob and Maggie Gyllenhaal who plays ‘Candy’, a sex worker, who later toils away as a successful yet unacknowledged adult film director. The Deuce has some of the best acting performances on screen and does tread on a tricky line since it is a show about prostitution. The show takes a balanced approach when it comes to sex work, addressing the obvious dangers and injustices faced by the women, but also the unity among them, giving a sense of community. High quality, both in terms of script and character-driven production makes it a series worth watching.
Over the years, we have seen a lot of medical dramas – House, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy being some of the most popular shows in that genre. However, The Knick steals the show, not because it was Obama’s favourite in 2015, but because of its highly unique plot. Based in the early 1900s, a time when the medical fraternity struggled with medical understanding and practice, the show tells the story of the Knickerbocker Hospital (The Knick) that operates with inventive surgeons, nurses and staff.
In the Knick, Dr Thackery is the chief surgeon, a highly talented and respected doctor who is also a drug addict. He is supported by Dr Edwards, recently hired by the Board of Directors who is met with opposition because of the colour of his skin; Tom, the ambulance driver; Cornelia, an underestimated daughter of the hospital’s head of BoD; Dr Bertie, a young and talented doctor and Dr Gallinger, a resentful character. The Knick is about the personal struggle of all the above characters and the hospital’s struggle to maintain its reputation. What drew us to this show was its unique storyline, combined with the portrayal of dynamic characters, fascinating medical discoveries, and brilliant sets that will take you back in time (wait till you see how the ambulance used to work in the 1900s). Oscar-winning director, Steven Soderbergh and the creators have done an amazing job to truly depict the happenings of the time period. They have understood the events during the 1900s, such as racism and ignorance of medical practices, and have gone on to ruthlessly depict it on screen. The cast, cinematography and research put into the show make it a must-watch!
At the beginning of 2000, we witnessed some great TV series such as The Sopranos, The West Wing and many more. These shows represented the golden age of television and also introduced small-screen anti-heroes. But the TV show that went under the radar was Six Feet Under, a show about the Fisher family who runs a funeral home in Los Angeles. Created by the Oscar-winning screenwriter Alan Ball (American Beauty), the show revolves around the Fisher family, wherein, the father and the funeral director Nathaniel leaves the family business in the hands of Nate and his younger brother David.
In Six Feet Under each episode begins with a death, which has something to do with the dysfunctional Fisher household. Considering the show deals with the subject of death, it is rather smart, character-driven and very funny. The characters are well-defined and have a detailed backstory – at the same time superbly played by the actors. With a stellar group of actors, directors and writers, the show features a lot of depth in its characters, complex plots and brilliant writing. It has a great mix of dark comedy and psychological drama, making it a show like no other.
The Warrior is a supremely kick-ass and severely under-appreciated martial arts Western series that is based on the writings of Bruce Lee. The show’s main protagonist is a Chinese immigrant Ah Sahm who arrives in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Because of his proficiency in martial arts, Ah Sahm is recruited by Hop Wei Tong (criminal organisation), while anti-sentiments grow in the city because Chinese workers are seen to be taking away the jobs of the locals. The show is broadly about the rivalry between different brothel owners, policemen, businessmen & corrupt politicians.
The show also explores America’s racial history and the immigrant experience. It is filled with thrilling energy and action, guaranteeing at least one epic action scene per episode with each fight having its own unique flavour. The martial arts sequences appear to be very natural. The cast is extremely diverse and their performance is pretty solid. The show is an all-around entertainment that will appeal to those who like action and are also interested in the socio-political context of America in the 1800s. The music is also worthy of a special mention.
The Leftovers is an intriguing series that follows the world when 2% of the population has departed following an event called the “Sudden Departure”. This event has affected various people around the world in different ways, followed by the decline of mainstream religions and the formation of new cults. The series tracks the life of the Chief of Police in Mapleton, New York – Kevin Garvey, his family and other townsfolk affected by the event. The Leftovers is a daring show which portrays anguish in a manner never seen before. It deals with agony and loss and is about coping, but in a way, you probably would not have imagined. Grief, hope and anguish build several important characters over the seasons of The Leftovers. We highly recommend you to watch this show.