After presenting a list of hot TV series with the grim central trend of “we may survive” last year, the folks at The Wit identified “we are all survivors” as the main theme running through this year’s Fresh TV fiction selection.
Presented at MipTV by Wit CEO and co-founder Virginia Mouseler, the 2021 selection is headlined by Russell T. Davies’ Channel 4 drama “It’s a Sin,” which Mouseler described as “era defining.”
“It’s the series I found the most tragic, the most moving, the most stimulating this season. It’s a story of survival, but above all it’s a story of liberation,” Mouseler said.
The list is littered with serial killer and abduction dramas, with crime and cop shows in general making up around 70% of the selections.
One might have expected more comedies or escapist fare, given the world’s pandemic predicament, but Mouseler and company only selected one out-and-out comedy in Australia’s “Bump.”
However, Mouseler identified that a good deal of the list’s crime series are period pieces, perhaps hinting at how TV creatives are seeking to process the current climate.
“We have a lot of dark ratings hits, but those are all set in the past, so dark series from the past are maybe easier to accept than our current times,” concluded Mouseler.
Here is The Wit’s Fresh TV fiction selection in full:
“It’s a Sin”
Country of origin: U.K.
Distributor: All3Media International
Davies’s drama about a group of young gay men navigating the AIDS crisis of the 1980s was a critical and ratings hit for Channel 4 in the UK and launched to similar success on HBO Max across the pond. The series was snapped up by broadcasters all over the world in a competitive pre-sales market.
“The Pembrokeshire Murders”
Distributor: ITV Studios
The three-part series, led by “Alienist” and “Beauty and the Beast” star Luke Evans, smashed ITV ratings records when it launched earlier this year. Its first week broadcast drew a whopping 11.2 million total viewers, which represents the network’s largest drama launch since 2006.
Distributor: MGM Studios
Set directly after the events of “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Clarice” launched to decent numbers on CBS and almost immediately picked up distribution deals across Europe. The renown of the show’s title character, originated on-screen by Jodie Foster, likely played a significant part in its global appeal.
Distributor: ITV Studios
Despite mixed initial reviews upon its BBC One launch, “The Serpent” helped BBC iPlayer break its own viewership records at the beginning of the year. Tahar Rahim’s icy central performance as slimy serial killer Charles Sobrahj has lifted the slow-burner’s profile.
Distributor: Newen Connect
This series centers around the police’s attempts to crack Michel Fourniret, a man whom they arrest for attempting to abduct a minor, but they believe is in fact a prolific serial killer. “Showdown” averaged around 4.5 million viewers for TF1.
Distributor: Newen Content
“The Promise” has been the biggest launch of the year so far in France, accumulating almost 50 million total viewers on TF1. The show hails from “Spiral” creator Anne Landois and centers around a detective who picks up the cold case her father couldn’t solve 20 years prior.
“The Red Ripper”
Distributor: Okko Studios
“The Red Ripper” is based on the true story of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, nicknamed the Rostov Ripper, who killed over 50 women and children over a 12-year period. A second season of the Russian drama is already in the pipeline.
“Line in the Sand”
Distributor: Keshet International
Hailing from the team behind “Fauda,” gritty police drama “Line in the Sand” delivered spectacular ratings with its launch on Israel’s Keshet 12. The first two episodes debuted to 617,000 viewers, commanding an average viewing share of around 28%. Keshet International is likely hoping the series can emulate the global success of its other shows.
Distributor: DBG Films
“Nafas,” which launched in Israel in March, is set in 2008 and tells the story of three Palestinian students who move to Tel Aviv and become entangled in the drugs trade as tensions surrounding the Gaza Strip begin to mount.
“The Shadow Team”
One of the most-watched Turkish series of 2021 to date, “The Shadow Team” centers around the titular gathering of experts who are brought together to try and eliminate terrorism in Turkey. The catch to joining said team is that each member must be thought to be dead by their friends and family.
Distributor: ViacomCBS International Studios
This ten-part drama follows the aftermath of a contentious piece of legislation in Spain which meant that prisoners were no longer forced to serve their full jail terms. It stars Adriana Ugarte, who recently played the lead role in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Julieta,” as a police officer on the hunt for the person behind a series of revenge killings.
Distributor: RAI Com
Adapted from the novels of the same name by Gabriella Genisi, this Italian hit follows a female cop who returns to her home in the south of the country and works in a precinct run by prejudiced men.
“Il Commissario Ricciardi”
Distributor: RAI Com
“Il Commissario Ricciardi” is also based on a series of novels, but rather than being set in the present, the series takes place in 1930s Naples in middle of the country’s fascist period. The show’s main character is a detective who can see the ghosts of people who have been murdered.
Distributor: Sony Pictures Television
The third, and likely the most eye-catching Italian series on the list is this historical drama which stars “Poldark” alum Aidan Turner as Leonardo da Vinci. Amazon snapped up the UK rights to the series, which had one of the strongest launches of the year in Italy.
Distributor: ZDF Enterprises
This German crime series, which The Wit labels a “maternity noir,” centers around a cop who investigates whether she may have been involved in the disappearance of her own baby. Aylin Tezel plays the lead character with a foggy memory.
Following the trend of crime series told from the perspectives of multiple characters, this German drama features interviews with eight different people who all witnessed the kidnapping of a young girl from a crowded museum in Berlin. The show consists of eight half-hour episodes.
Distributor: Federation Entertainment
Led by “Game of Thrones” star Carice van Houten, this Dutch offering had its world premiere at Canneseries last year and follows three women entangled in the worlds of human trafficking and prostitution. The trio, who come from totally different backgrounds, discover they need each other to emerge from their own difficult situations.
Distributor: ITV Studios
Australian SVOD platform Stan has already renewed “Bump” for a second season, after the teen pregnancy comedy-drama broke viewership records with its launch. It tells the story of a straight-A student whose life hits a major bump when she unexpectedly gives birth.
A Life to Die For
The only South American series on the list, “A Life to Die For” centers around four characters who are granted six more months to live by God after dying in a plane crash. “A Life to Die For” is set to launch later this year in Brazil.