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Best miniseries available to stream

  • Best miniseries available to stream

    Miniseries have always occupied a particular niche in entertainment. They are longer than movies and shorter than TV shows. Traditionally, miniseries were in-depth documentary projects looking at historical events or adaptations of famous literary classics.

    However, due in part to the rise of premium TV like HBO and streaming services like Netflix, the miniseries genre is undergoing a renaissance, taking on topics like the horrors of war or the discrimination of the criminal justice system. Miniseries can have the budget of a movie without the time commitment of a TV show. This makes them excellent options for viewers who don't want to sit through another endless sitcom and celebrity actors who want to sink their teeth into complex characters without being tied down to a show for years.

    With so many streaming services available, the catalog of shows to watch has increased exponentially. Gone are the days of flipping on the TV and watching whatever. To help cut through the noise and decide what's worth watching, Stacker used IMDb data to compile a list of the best miniseries to watch on streaming services right now. This slideshow also includes total runtimes so readers can decide how much time they want to commit before starting the miniseries. Stacker ranked the miniseries by IMDb user score as of July 9, 2019, with ties broken by the number of votes. Shows must have at least 3,000 votes to be included in this list. It's also important to note that some limited anthology series like "True Detective" were left out because the IMDb user ratings represent an aggregate rating of the three stand-alone seasons.

    Read on to find out which sci-fi anthologies, historical documentaries, thrilling dramas, and faithful adaptations are worth watching. With so much variety, there's a show for everyone on this list.

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  • #30. The Lost Room (2006)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Votes: 26,953
    - Total runtime: 270 min
    - Where to stream: Roku Channel

    The sci-fi series that starts this list concerns the titular room, which was once part of a motel but mysteriously escaped the bonds of time and space, and its objects, which contain potent power. Three warring factions battle over access to these objects in this head-spinning three-part drama starring Peter Krause, Elle Fanning, Julianna Margulies, and others.

  • #29. Godless (2017)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Votes: 39,344
    - Total runtime: 352 min
    - Where to stream: Netflix, Hoopla

    One of two Westerns on this list, “Godless” stars Jack O'Connell as an outlaw trying to escape justice from his former boss. The ensemble cast also includes Jeff Daniels, Scoot McNairy, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as outlaws and officers. Much of the time the focus, unlike many Westerns, lies with the women, who include Michelle Dockery and Merritt Wever as residents of La Belle, a town run almost entirely by the women left behind after a mining accident killed their male relatives.

  • #28. The Pacific (2010)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Votes: 88,404
    - Total runtime: 530 min
    - Where to stream: Prime Video

    A companion series to "Band of Brothers," which appears further down this list, "The Pacific" tells the tale of three Marines and their fight in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, as opposed to the Europe-focused storyline of the aforementioned companion show. The ensemble cast includes James Badge Dale and Rami Malek, the latter of which won the Oscar for best actor in 2019.

  • #27. State of Play (2003)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Votes: 8,703
    - Total runtime: 127 min
    - Where to stream: HBO

    The only BBC series on this list that isn't a historical adaptation, "State of Play" is a drama starring John Simm as a journalist investigating the deaths of two young Britons. He later uncovers a deep conspiracy at the heart of the government. The series enthralled critics at the start, but some critics argued that miniseries didn't maintain its quality through the final episode.

  • #26. The 10th Kingdom (2000)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Votes: 16,453
    - Total runtime: 417 min
    - Where to stream: Prime Video

    Bringing together “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” and two New Yorkers, the fairytale story of “The 10th Kingdom” captured the hearts of families across America. Though it can be predictable at times, the series combines the fairy tales of old with the pop culture and mannerisms of the new millennium.

  • #25. Jane Eyre (2006)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Votes: 17,942
    - Total runtime: 230 min
    - Where to stream: Prime Video, Hulu

    Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel "Jane Eyre" has been adapted to the small screen, big screen, stage, opera theatre; even a manga adaptation was released. The four-part 2006 BBC adaptation starring Georgie Henley in the title role was well-liked by critics for its straightforward adaptation of the book.

  • #24. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Votes: 13,835
    - Total runtime: 283 min
    - Where to stream: The Criterion Channel

    Sweden's Ingmar Bergman was one of the most accomplished filmmakers in the history of cinema, though occasionally he would foray into other formats, like 1973's miniseries "Scenes from a Marriage." The series tells of the disintegrating marriage between two characters, one of which is a family lawyer with a specialty in divorce and stars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson.

  • #23. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (2004)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Votes: 14,529
    - Total runtime: 142 min
    - Where to stream: YouTube (free)

    At the time of broadcast, “Darkplace” brought in few viewers, but has since become a cult classic for its hilarious parody of 1980s television. Presented as a lost miniseries that has only been recovered decades later, “Darkplace” endeavored to make the show seem as 1980s as possible, even creating elaborate fake backstories for the characters, while the actors' names are never mentioned.

  • #22. Generation War (2013)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Votes: 21,895
    - Total runtime: 270 min
    - Where to stream: Prime Video

    This German miniseries sees five friends split up by World War II, each of different backgrounds and each choosing individual paths through the ensuing conflict. Though it stirred up controversy for its portrayal of the protagonists and omission of crucial details, critics and viewers praised the show for its depiction of combat and its unvarnished retelling of German atrocities.

  • #21. The Night Of (2016)

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Votes: 100,399
    - Total runtime: 525 min
    - Where to stream: HBO

    One night changed everything for Naz Khan, the character portrayed by actor and rapper Riz Ahmed in “The Night Of.” After he follows a young woman home for a night of drugs and intimacy, he wakes to find her murdered. Naz is then carted away to jail at Rikers Island. The show is less about the details of the case than the tragedies of our criminal justice system and the violence present in prisons. John Turturro also stars, in a career-defining performance as Naz's seedy yet earnest lawyer.

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