Accurate and relevant dramatic/thriller tv shows
July 9, 2022 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by this article on The Undeclared War, I've interested in watching drama/thriller tv shows that do a deep dive, well-researched and accurate, into a particular niche topic. I prefer shows about contemporary, relevant issues. Recommend me shows from any service or country, I'll find a way to watch it ;)

I'm looking for accuracy and relevancy. A show that gets a particular niche or topic right with copious research, and is about a niche or topic that's relevant to the world today.

One example that scratches this itch is Succession - I get to learn details about the corporate takeovers that shape the businesses the run the world, and it feels like I'm watching something almost as important as the news.

I generally really, really hate crime/cop dramas, I find them so disgustingly morbid and I'm so bored by shows fascinated by "the nature of evil", but if there's one that really fits the requirements and minimizes the above, I could be open to checking it out.

I'm not interested in thrillers focusing on historical events like The Americans - I want a deep dive into infrastructure that underpins the way the world works today.

Political shows are easy to google, so I'd rather avoid them as recommendations for this question.

I've watched Mr. Robot already - loved the first season but when it started going into conspiracy theories and borderline sci-fi it lost me.
posted by loonietrillium to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Patriot on Amazon will teach you all you ever wanted to know about The Structural Dynamics of Flow. Season one is just about perfect TV. Season two isn't as good.
posted by bondcliff at 7:06 PM on July 9, 2022 [5 favorites]

"Halt and Catch Fire" The pc boom in the '80's.
posted by alchemist at 10:44 PM on July 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

Valley of the Boom A Docudrama crosscut with real interviews about the 1990s tech boom in the Silicon Valley.
posted by oldnumberseven at 11:39 PM on July 9, 2022

Chernobyl. An excellent study in failed risk management. I watched this as a palate cleanser after Game of Thrones, because at least this one comes by its grimness honestly. It's absolutely horrifying but so well-made that you stick with it. Now that we're living through a pandemic most of us pretend is no longer happening, it almost feels like escapist wish fullfilment, because here people manage to acknowledge the problem at least long enough to prevent an even worse outcome through great personal and collective sacrifice before starting the next cover-up.
posted by sohalt at 12:50 AM on July 10, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: if you made an exception for a single crime drama, perhaps it could be for The Wire

> The Wire introduces a different institution of the city and its relationship to law enforcement in each season, while retaining characters and advancing storylines from previous seasons. The five subjects are, in chronological order: the illegal drug trade, the port system, the city government and bureaucracy, education and schools, and the print news medium.

> Simon has said that despite its framing as a crime drama, the show is "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed."

-- wiki/The Wire
posted by are-coral-made at 3:20 AM on July 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Also by Simon, the miniseries Show Me a Hero, about local bussing and segregation policies in Yonkers. Treme, about New Orleans post-Katrina and New Orleans local music culture.
posted by Theiform at 4:13 AM on July 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: ZeroZeroZero. A deep, slow, meticulous, ambitous, brutal saga about the international movement of drugs. Plenty of human drama in amongst the crime. In terms of cinematography also probably one of the most beautiful TV programmes of recent years.
posted by mani at 5:10 AM on July 10, 2022

Response by poster: I have watched The Wire and it's absolutely one of my favourite shows of all time - definitely a notable exception to most crime dramas with its nuanced unfolding of the structures underpinning Baltimore.

The rest of David Simon's oeuvre is already on my playlist, I should get cracking!
posted by loonietrillium at 5:55 AM on July 10, 2022

Film not TV, but The Big Short does give some genuine insight into how finance was working (or not) in the run up to the crash of 2008
posted by crocomancer at 7:24 AM on July 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I really enjoyed learning about stock market ups and downs in the 1980s and how people manipulate it and each other by watching Black Monday. Definitely a loving period piece with superb acting.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on July 10, 2022

Best answer: The Dropout is a pretty great and closely factual re-enactment of the sh*tshow around Elizabeth Holmes and the biotech company Theranos scandal. It makes inferences about Holmes’ motivations, but I found it pretty persuasive.
posted by idlethink at 8:31 AM on July 10, 2022

Manhattan, the series about the Manhattan Project.

edit: whoops, i see you're not interested in historicals.
posted by storybored at 2:57 PM on July 10, 2022

Depending on your definition of "historical", you might enjoy The Looming Tower. All about the US government's failure to detect and prevent 9/11, focusing on rivalries between counter-terrorism teams in the CIA and FBI.

Dopesick was good - plenty of juicy stuff about the FDA and the pharmaceutical firms they're meant to regulate, as well as the Justice Department building their case over the course of years.

The Thick of It is a look at how the UK government operates on a day-to-day basis - satirical, but very on-the-nose.
posted by dudekiller at 3:56 AM on July 11, 2022

McMafia, BBC-made show based on the book detailing how oligarchs oligarch.
posted by k3ninho at 5:09 AM on July 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Fauda (I didn't get into it myself, but believe it's pretty accurate)

+1 on Halt & Catch Fire (loved this show!), Patriot (also v.good), Chernobyl, and the collected works of David Simon (most recently, The Deuce, about the birth of the porn industry, among other things)
posted by Bron at 7:53 AM on July 11, 2022

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