There’s no denying we live in the era of peak TV. Every week, it seems, another show drops. Actually, every other day. Especially during the fall season. It makes deciding what to watch an endless game, where you’re “Tin, marín, de dos pingüés”-ing through scores of dramas and comedies and reality competition series you’ve committed yourself to watching, even when you don’t have the time. And with services like Netflix opening up whole new global markets — teen dramas from Spain, telenovela comedies from Mexico, murder mysteries from Colombia — those lists of shows to watch get longer and longer each day. Not that we’re here to dissuade you from binge-watching everything your heart desires. Quite the opposite, we wanted to give you a list of some great television hailing from Brazil we feel should be on your radar.
With its penchant for great ensembles and visionary premises (everything from a dystopian Hunger Games-like world to a Xuxa-inspired comedy) there’s no shortage of great small-screen work being produced in Brazil. So if you’re in the mood for some Brazilian content, here are eight binge-worthy TV series you should start with.
Coisa Mais Linda (Most Beautiful Thing)
Set in the late 1950s, Coisa Mais Linda follows Maria Luiza (Maria Casadevall), a young rich paulista, who moves to Rio de Janeiro to open a restaurant with her husband. Upon arrival, she discovers he abandoned her and ran off with all the money. Desperate at first, Malu will recover and pursue a new a dream in the midst of the city’s vibration to the sound of the emerging genre: Bossa Nova. In this endeavor, she will count on three incredible women: Lígia (Fernanda Vasconcellos), her childhood friend who has a beautiful voice; Adélia (Pathy Dejesus), a black Carioca worker with sheer determination and unshakable strength, and Thereza (Mel Lisboa), a modern and independent writer.
Told through three characters’ perspectives, the story of Sintonia explores the universe of music, crime, and religion in São Paulo’s capital. Doni (MC JottaPê), Nando (Christian Malheiros), and Rita (Bruna Mascarenhas) all grew up together in the same favela, where they were influenced by the draw of funk, drug trafficking, and the evangelical church. Despite them following very different paths, the three childhood friends ultimately realize that to achieve their dreams, they’ll need to rely on and support each other throughout this journey.
A child star in the ’80s, Samantha is now a washed up has-been, who desperately clings to the fringes of celebrity with hilarious harebrained schemes to launch herself back into the spotlight. Played by Emanuelle Araujo in present day, Samantha used to be a sensation when she was part of The Plimploms, a kiddie trio whose spacey costumes would’ve been right at home on Xuxa’s morning shows. Indeed, it’s that ’80s nostalgia that the comedy mines as it follows a washed up Samantha trying to make sense of her life devoid of fame and plenty of responsibilities which includes her former (and disgraced) soccer player husband and her two kids.
O mecanismo (The Mechanism)
Marco Ruffo (Selton Mello), is a federal police delegate obsessed with the case he is investigating. When he least expects it, he and his mentee, Verena Cardoni (Carol Abras), become immersed in one of the largest diversion and money laundering investigations in Brazilian history. The scope is so great that the course of investigations completely changes the lives of all involved in this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller that is inspired by a case known as Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato).
Far in the future, the majority of the population lives in poverty (the Inland), while those in the Offshore live in virtual paradise. Every year, each 20-year-old has a chance of getting to the Offshore through a series of tests called “the Process,” but only 3% make it. This post-apocalyptic thriller set in Brazil, follows the story of when that ruthless “process” is set to be dismantled, with the possibility of an insurgence bringing down the very system it upholds.
By day, Patrick, Ralph, and Donizete are three young gay men who lead mundane lives working at a department store, dealing with annoying customers and a demanding boss. By night, they unleash their inner Diva to become Lemon Chiffon, Safira Cian, and Scarlet Carmesim: three incredibly fabulous Super Drags who are recruited to bring down Lady Elza, the evil Drag Queen who has been committing hate crimes against the LGBT community by attempting to take away all the glitter in the world. Watch the show in its original Portuguese or watch it dubbed to hear RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni like Trixie Mattel, Ginger Minj, Willam, and Shangela bringing these kick-ass drag queens to life.
O Escolhido (The Chosen One)
Three young doctors are sent to a remote village in Pantanal to vaccinate residents against a new mutation of the Zika virus. Their efforts to bring medical aid are refused, and the doctors find themselves trapped in an isolated community shrouded in secrets and devoted to an enigmatic leader (Renan Tenca who plays the titular “The Chosen One”) who forces them to confront the power of faith over science.
Set in the city of São Paulo in the mid-90s, the series follows the story of Cristina (Naruna Costa), an honest and devoted lawyer who discovers that her brother Edson (Seu Jorge) is imprisoned and leads a criminal faction — known as “Brotherhood.” She’s forced by the police to become an informant and work against her brother, who hasn’t seen her for years. By infiltrating the Brotherhood, in a risky and dangerous mission, she comes into contact with her darkest side, and begins to question her own notions of justice.
Season one debuts on October 25, 2019, on Netflix.