The second season of The Handmaid’s Tale is official over, and I’m already feeling the lack of red capes in my life. If you’re like me, and are already wondering what you can binge watch next, I’ve created a list of some amazing Dystopian series that you might not have tried yet. From a group of teenagers attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, to a Nazi-run alternate universe, here are 8 shows that will both captivate and terrify you at the same time.
This Brazilian thriller is set in a dystopian future where only 3% of society live in luxury – on an island called Offshore – while the rest of the population is abandoned Inland to live in poverty. At the age of 20, everyone is given a single chance to become one of the 3% through a competition called the Process, which is designed to be difficult and potentially lethal. Most of the candidates are unsuccessful and return to their previous life of struggle, whilst some fail to even survive. The Portuguese series can be found on Netflix, so if you don’t mind subtitles, you can check out the first two seasons now.
After an advanced race of extra-terrestrials known as Hosts conquer Earth, the residents of Los Angeles are forced to live under a regime of military occupation by a human organisation known as Homeland Security – loyal to the aliens. Massive walls were constructed overnight, bordering central parts of LA and splitting it into ‘Blocs’, allowing everything from the movement of humans, to the distribution of medicine, food and fuel, to be controlled by the Hosts. The population is given curfews, regular electronic identity checks, and are monitored by drones, but there is a resistance, and it’s getting stronger. The third season premiered in May 2018.
The Man in the High Castle
Loosely based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Phillip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle is set in a dystopian alternate universe, where the Germans won World War II and took over the United States. The US gets divided into two halves, and the Nazi’s take control of the East while the Japanese rule the West. The series follows a woman who discovers propaganda in the form of an old film reel, that shows a very different reality from their own, so goes on a mission to find the man in the high castle, in the hopes he can help fix things. There are currently two seasons on Amazon, with a third coming soon.
Set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse that wiped out all of life on earth, survivors held up on a space station called The Ark are in danger as their life-support system is failing. They send 100 teenagers down to earth to determine whether it’s inhabitable, where they discover that humanity was not destroyed at all, so have to battle with the hostile Grounders, fight for survival in the harsh conditions, and try to communicate with the loved ones they left on the Ark. What started out as a teen drama, the show has become a cult favourite and is now in its fifth season.
Another dystopian series set in the distant future, Altered Carbon takes place in a world where a person’s memories can be decanted into a device called a cortical stack, which can then be implanted into any human host – whether real or synthetic. This is great if you’re a member of the higher societies because you can live forever, but everyone else has to suffer as the powerful become more powerful and do whatever the hell they like – because does anyone really die if they have a chip in the back of their neck that will bring them back to life. The first season is on Netflix.
Before Westworld, there was Dollhouse. This Joss Whedon directed series revolves around a company who programmes humans with temporary personalities and skills, who are then hired out to clients for various purposes – sexual pleasure, assassinations, robberies – and then wiped of all memories. The ‘Dolls’ are volunteers who gave up their bodies in return for money at the end of a five year stint, but start to regain some of their original memories and realise that they are never going to be free. The show was cancelled after two seasons, but still remains popular.
In a 2019 post-apocalyptic dystopia, a genetically enhanced super soldier called Max, who escaped the military facility holding her as a child, sets out to find her brothers and sisters. She tries to lead a relatively normal life in the United States – which now resembles a third world country – by evading capture from the company that want her back, and ends up helping a cyber-journalist called Eyes Only fight the corruption of the new world. The show marks James Cameron’s debut into television, and launched Jessica Alba’s career. There are two seasons.
The series is set three years after a global, rapture- like event called the Sudden Departure, where 2% of the world’s population just disappeared. The billions remaining on earth are left wondering why they weren’t chosen, and it results in a massive cultural shift and an increase in cults – most notably the Guilty Remnants. The story revolves around one particular family, the Garvey’s, whose mother/wife decides to leave her life behind and join the mysterious cult. The show ran for three seasons, concluding in 2017.