Break free with 7 captivating legal dramas

2017-08-01 07:00

Cape Town - From the bang of the gavel to the slamming closed of a prison-cell door, these courtroom and prison dramas on Showmax, Netflix and Amazon Prime will take you on a journey through the twists and turns of the justice system, exposing all the good, the bad and the ugly (and, in some cases, the criminally good-looking).

Rectify, S4

When Daniel Holden is released after 19 years on Death Row, he returns to his small Georgia hometown, and isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. Even though new DNA evidence confirms that Daniel couldn’t have killed his girlfriend when they were teenagers, most of the townsfolk, including law enforcement, are hung up on the fact that, almost two decades ago, Daniel confessed to the crime. Will Daniel ever be able to live a “normal” life? And will the real killers ever be found? With flashbacks to his time in prison and the cops’ machinations to try to pin the crime on Daniel again, this is a glorious mash-up of prison-, crime- and courtroom-drama. Season 4 of this dark horse of a series currently has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the show is seen as “a quiet marvel” (New Yorker). And it’s only on Showmax.

Watch the trailer here: 

Seasons 1-4 are available on Showmax, and Season 4 is first and only on Showmax.

The Night Of

Naz seems like a good kid. He’s a devout Muslim who tutors fellow students at college and has a close relationship with his parents. Then he goes out to a party one night, and his life - and everyone’s opinion of him - changes in an instant. After picking a party-girl up in his father’s taxi, and going to bed with her, Naz is immediately the cops’ only suspect in her brutal murder. But his unconventional lawyer sees something in Naz that convinces him that he couldn’t be guilty, even though Naz remembers very little of the night in question. And it’s this air of innocence that also attracts a fellow inmate to Naz while he awaits trial - a fellow inmate who just happens to be the man with the most power on Rikers Island. Naz’s time in prison, his transformation from naive student to the sidekick of a gang boss, and his defence’s scrambling behind the scenes to find other murder suspects make for gripping viewing.

Watch the trailer here:

Available on Showmax.

Wentworth, S1-3

The first three seasons of dark, brutal Australian drama Wentworth are on Showmax. This is not a sugar-coated comedy-drama about women’s prison. It shows prison as brutal and savage and dangerous. It centres around hairdresser Bea Smith, who gets sent to Wentworth Prison for the attempted murder of her abusive husband. She's a first-time offender but still manages to embrace her dark side, and almost immediately gets caught up in a power struggle between the two prison "queen-pins". And in Wentworth, it’s kill or be killed. 

Watch the trailer here:

Available on Showmax.

Suits, S1-6

With two of TV’s most handsome faces and slickest, smoothest-talking attorneys, Suits is a must-binge, right out of the gates when hotshot Harvey Specter goes against his better judgment and hires a law-school dropout to work at his firm in Season 1, episode 1. The pair are almost caught out a million times between Season 1 and Season 5 … and in Season 6, it all comes crashing down for them. Before you watch Season 7, which recently launched on DStv, refill your eye-candy jar by bingeing on the first six seasons on Showmax.  

Watch a sneak peek here:

Available on Showmax.

Orange is the New Black

Piper Chapman is an unlikely prisoner. She’s a public relations executive with a picture-perfect life and a sweet fiancé by her side. When her checkered past resurfaces, complete with drugs, girlfriends and smuggling, she ends up behind bars. While she seems innocent and naive at first, her time inside the women’s prison reveals a much harder side. She has to figure out how to survive and find her place within the complex prison society and begins to question her life outside the prison too. As the seasons progress, there’s heartbreak, drama, death, and love on the cards. To put the cherry on top of a real-life romance that started on set, actress Samira Wiley and OITNB writer Lauren Morelli got married in March this year.

Watch the trailer here:

Available on Netflix.

The People vs OJ Simpson

True crime doesn’t get grittier - or truer - than this. This series reenacting the trial of football legend and movie star OJ Simpson for the brutal murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and a young man in her Beverly Hills home, makes the verdict (because all know how this story ends) even more infuriating. It’s brilliantly cast - Cuba Gooding Jr perfectly captures OJ’s high-pitched rage, David Schwimmer (aka Ross Geller from Friends) as middle-aged Robert Kardashian is all innocence and fear with pitch-black eyes, and John Travolta as OJ’s defence lawyer rocks the world’s most unbelievable eyebrows.

Watch the trailer here:

Available on Netflix.

Damages, S1-2

This dense, tense legal thriller starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne is about Patty, a high-powered litigator (Close), who manipulates her protege Ellen (Byrne) in all kinds of dangerous ways when she finds out that Ellen might threaten her relationship with her granddaughter. Patty’s power games have deadly consequences, and her complete lack of remorse is chilling. You’ll be hooked from the pilot of Damages, which was hailed by the Washington Post as one of the best debuts since the Sopranos’ (the full boxset of which is available on Showmax, by the way).

Watch one of the best Damages scenes here:

Available on Amazon Prime.

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