Dana Feldman Senior Contributor Hollywood & Entertainment FORBES

There’s something about finishing a task that feels good. Starting and completing something leaves one with a sense of fulfillment. This includes bingeing a TV show in its entirety. There are series that are added to the “To Watch” list but the reality may be that there are too many seasons and episodes to commit to at a given time.

However, Netflix NFLX +1.3% has several short binges that are perfect for a long weekend. These are doable commitments. Some are series that were always planned to be limited and others didn’t get picked up for a second season for one reason or another. For disappointed fans on the latter, don’t forget that Showtime just renewed fan favorite Dexter for a new 10-episode season seven years after the series finale. So, there’s always hope that some of the below could potentially get the green light in the future. For now, the five series listed can be binged in 10 hours or less and winter in lockdown is the perfect time.

There’s a familiar theme to these incredible series: Like us trying to survive 2020, the characters in these stories each have unimaginable challenges to overcome. There is a resilience to the human spirit reflected in each that we can all learn from. It’s not solely about good storytelling and acting, there are lessons to be gleaned from each of the below series. Oh, and do not worry, you’ll also be entertained!

Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) (8 Episodes):This thriller centers around a Tokyo detective as he travels to London to look for his long lost younger brother, who is now believed to be posing as a Yakuza gangster and wanted for the murder of a Japanese businessman. His family’s honor, and the fragile peace between the warring gangs back home, is at stake. This 2019 series is so beautifully shot and the acting is superb. Creator, writer and executive producer Joe Barton proved himself a master storyteller with this one. What this series does so eloquently is weave in a love story that is both hopeful and heartbreaking, while also sending the message of just how interwoven our lives are in ways we might not ever be able to imagine. It was a shock to fans that this series wasn’t picked up for a second season, especially considering its 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and 88% from the viewers. Takehiro Hira and Yosuke Kubozuka lead the Japanese cast alongside Kelly Macdonald and Justin Long.

Yvonne Strahovski in 'Stateless' on Netflix.
Yvonne Strahovski in ‘Stateless’ on Netflix. PHOTO BY BEN KING FOR NETFLIX.

Stateless (6 Episodes): This limited seriesis inspired by true stories from Australian immigration detention centers and represents the real-life struggles of the more than 70 million displaced people globally who are currently seeking sanctuary from war and persecution, half of which are children. Since 2012, all of the asylum seekers entering Australia by boats have been held in offshore immigration detention centers including Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. The refugees are referred to as UNCs, or unlawful non-citizens. The conditions in which they’re being held has been brought to the public’s attention via the work of lawyers, advocates and the media, though their access has been very limited. One story that blew the lid off was the discovery of an Australian woman wrongfully held in detention. Her case led to a public inquiry which spotlighted the many holes in the Australian Immigration Department and sparked urgent reform. Yvonne Strahovski portrays the fictionalized version of this woman, Sofie Werner, an airline hostess seeking escape from her troubles. Her character was inspired by Cornelia Rau, who in 2004 was imprisoned in one of Australia’s immigration detention camps in the middle of the desert. She was deemed mentally ill and suffered severe trauma after spending time in a dangerous cult. To escape her life, she pretended to be a German citizen. She had no papers to prove her identity and was trapped for 10 months before her family found out where she was. Her story led to a national scandal and was the impetus for change. Rounding out this fantastic cast are Fayssal Bazzi, Dominic West, Cate Blanchett, Jai Courtney, Soraya Heidari, Asher Keddie and Marta Dusseldorp.

Kaitlyn Dever will blow you away in 'Unbelievable' on Netflix.
Kaitlyn Dever will blow you away in ‘Unbelievable’ on Netflix. PHOTO BY BETH DUBBER FOR NETFLIX.

Unbelievable (8 Episodes): This is the incredible true story of a young woman who told the police she was raped. They told her she wasn’t. Two female detectives would enter the picture and help her put the pieces of her shattered life back together. The woman at the center of the story wishes to remain anonymous and will be referred to as Marie. She endured cyclical trauma throughout her childhood and then from a legal system that was supposed to protect her. At the time of her assault on August 11, 2008, Marie was in a pilot program for those aging out of foster care called Project Ladder. The new program, which began the prior year and was designed to help foster children transition to living on their own, provided each member with subsidized housing. In her case, 18-year-old Marie lived in a one-bedroom apartment at the Alderbrooke Apartments in Lynnwood, Washington. This is where her attack occurred and it was in this apartment that she sat with her foster mother, Peggy Cunningham, and Wayne Nash, her case manager with Project Ladder, as she told two detectives what happened. The limited series Unbelievable was inspired by The Marshall Project and ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article, «An Unbelievable Story of Rape,» written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and This American Life’s radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt.” Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette and Merritt Wever star.

Anya Taylor-Joy shines in 'The Queen's Gambit' on Netflix.
Anya Taylor-Joy shines in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix. PHOTO BY PHIL BRAY FOR NETFLIX.

The Queen’s Gambit (7 Episodes): This story explores the true cost of genius, which one young woman learns comes with a very high price. The series is based on Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name and centers around a young girl who learns she has an extraordinary talent for the game of chess. The story is set in 1950s Kentucky where Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) faces the tragic death of her mother and ends up at an orphanage. Her misfortune, however, leads her to discover her life’s purpose when she plays a game of chess with the orphanage’s janitor. Her gift for the game becomes apparent immediately. She will also encounter a new challenge; the state provides tranquilizers as a sedative for the children there, which leads her down the dark path of addiction. As a youth, she’s socially awkward but through the game, she finds her purpose and transforms into a remarkable competitor. Fans have devoured this one and Netflix recently announced that in its first 28 days, a record 62 million households binge-watched the series making this the streamer’s most popular limited scripted series ever.

Vivian Wu, Mark Ivanir, Hilary Swank, Ray Panthaki and Ato Esandoh in 'Away' on Netflix.
Vivian Wu, Mark Ivanir, Hilary Swank, Ray Panthaki and Ato Essandoh in ‘Away’ on Netflix. PHOTO BY DIYAH PERA FOR NETFLIX.

Away (10 Episodes): Hilary Swank shines as Commander Emma Green, an American astronaut leading an international crew on a first-of-its kind three-year mission to Mars. Josh Charles plays her husband Matt, who stays home to take care of their teenage daughter, Alexis (Talitha Bateman). Rounding out the international crew are Ato Essandoh as Kwesi, Mark Ivanir as Misha, Vivian Wu as Lu and Ray Panthaki as Ram. From different corners of the globe, the team must work together under extreme stress to save themselves and the mission at hand. This story sends a positive message of unity in the face of adversity, which is extremely relevant to the world we are currently living in. As the pandemic hits every corner of the globe, we are forced to band together to fight this deadly virus COVID-19 and in America, we are literally split nearly in half over the most divisive presidential election this country has seen. Fans were highly disappointed to learn there would not be a second season for this series. Perhaps in time, like Showtime’s decision to renew Dexter after nearly a decade, viewers might be able to see what life is like on Mars for our beloved crew of astronauts.

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