The very best shows to binge on Neon this summer

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Looking ahead to some summer viewing, Steve Newall finds plenty to revisit or discover in Neon’s excellent selection of shows streaming now.

Neon’s steadily built up a superb catalogue of series over the years. With a summer break on the horizon for most of us, it’s the perfect time to catch up with something you’ve been meaning to see (or revisit an old fave). Before I get stuck into my own viewing, I’ve gone through Neon’s highlights and lesser-known gems and come out with plenty to recommend.


A fixture in Neon’s most-popular list, still going strong (and perhaps even from strength to strength) five seasons in. Kevin Costner sports a stetson as a ranch-running patriarch in Taylor Sheridan’s drama that continues to spin off new prequel shows. To make sense of ‘em all, you ought to watch the O.G.—but even without other generations of Duttons, there’s plenty enough intrigue in Yellowstone to sink your teeth into.

This might be the perfect ‘always been meaning to catch up on it’ show for summer (if you need further convincing, check out Adam Fresco’s feature about the good, the bad, and the ugly influences that make it one of TV’s top shows).

Avenue 5

Created by British comedy legend Armando Ianucci (The Thick of It, The Death of Stalin) and starring Hugh Laurie (who’d previously appeared on Ianucci’s Veep), this space-set satire arrived in 2020 on a wave of anticipation. Following an interplanetary cruise ship that goes off course, turning a weeks-long voyage into a multi-year struggle to survive, the show mirrored COVID lockdown life—and skewered the wealthy like a deep space The White Lotus or Succession (also both on Neon for your bingeing needs).

Avenue 5 got off to a bit of a slow start that didn’t quite seem to match its pedigree, but this year’s season two felt like a welcome step up, delivering on the show’s potential and encouraging viewers back that might have dropped off. And like another show further down, it also poked fun at the kind of thin-skinned egomania we’re now seeing in the ever-devolving meltdown of Twitter at the hands of Elon Musk.

Nathan For You

Nathan Fielder melted minds mid-year with real-life comedy (or is it a comedy?) The Rehearsal, the seemingly deep-pocketed HBO show on Neon allowing him to indulge some incredibly awkward and specific creative whims. Few could have predicted exactly where Fielder would take us—although long-term fans of Nathan For You previously had four seasons of incredible television to get to know his general approach.

Framed as a reality show in which Fielder “assists” small business owners (everyone from mall Santas to yoghurt shops), all the foundational elements of The Rehearsal are present—outrageous business ideas, intimate revelations from his subjects, episodes pivoting to follow unexpected breadcrumbs, and increasingly ambitious endeavours. Comedy genius, served in bite-sized cringey pieces (see Tim Batt’s feature explaining what has made him such a fan of Fielder).


A mystery survival thriller involving a plane crash might have sounded a little too much like Lost for comfort, but such doubts were dispelled by the sheer watchability of Yellowjackets. Taking place in different time periods, decades apart, audiences may have been drawn by the pedigree of present-day castmembers ​​Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci, but were just as quickly impressed by the likes of Sophie Nélisse, Sophie Thatcher and Sammi Hanratty, the actors bringing to life their counterparts’ younger selves, sometimes uncannily.

The adults were seen grappling with trauma, buried secrets and murder, the kids with cabin fever and hints of the occult, parallel stories that left us desperate to find out just what the hell happened, and where it’s all heading. Catch up before season two lands in 2023 (and check out Katie Parker’s feature, delighting in how Yellowjackets shows girls are incredibly good at being very, very brutal).

Silicon Valley

During the Trump years, there was a lot of talk about real life resembling Mike Judge’s movie Idiocracy. More recently, as world’s richest clown Elon Musk bought Twitter, users of the platform (including those heading for the nearest exit) likely felt they were in an episode of Judge’s hilarious show Silicon Valley.

For six seasons the show took hilarious potshots at tech culture, startups and entrepreneurs, following a group of young coders in an incubator who navigate their way through the wild world of internet companies. You’d have been forgiven for thinking that compression algorithms, cryptocurrency, social media and user data were all incredibly dry topics, but this show—and real life—demonstrate that the drive, ego, and lack of foresight behind tech juggernauts is a perfect setting for a comedy series. More timely than ever—and really, really funny.


This gripping dramatisation of 1986’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster captured the real-life panic of a crisis that affected millions, an atomic accident that terrified a world already grappling with life under the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation. This grim detailing of Soviet-era institutional failure now seems very familiar when looking at Russia’s broken war machine in Ukraine (home of the now-abandoned city of Chernobyl). While Russia’s armed forces are currently proving inept in many ways, the growing casualty list reeks of the same profound disregard for human life decades later—no matter which side you’re on.

The five-episode mini-series boasted great performances, stylish cinematography and production design, strong attention to detail, and an ability to focus on both the potential scale of calamity and the intense personal dimension for those caught up in it. These are qualities that the hugely-anticipated upcoming series The Last of Us looks to have in spades—no surprise, as it’s in the safe hands of Chernobyl showrunner Craig Mazin (alongside Neil Druckman, creator of the games).

Raised by Refugees

If you slept on comedian Pax Assadi’s semi-autographical local sitcom Raised by Refugees, its recent win at the NZTV Awards adds to the chorus of recommendations the show has already garnered. There, Raised by Refugees was crowned 2022’s Best Comedy, further cementing Assadi as a standout of the comedy scene in Aotearoa (as part of comedy trio Frickin Dangerous Bro and in his own right as a writer, actor and stand-up).

Based on his stand-up show of the same name, this (now award-winning) sitcom sees Assadi play his own father, generating plenty of laughs while also exploring difficult moments from his family’s life and his own experiences as a 12-year-old. Growing up in the aftermath of 9/11 with Iranian and Pakistani parents, you can imagine some of the challenges the young Pax faces—but like all good comedies, the show uses humour as a vehicle for social commentary, mining gags from cultural misunderstandings (and turn-of-the-millenium Aotearoa pop culture). For more see Laumata Launano Volavola’s feature proclaiming it a genuine, funny take on growing up in post-9/11 Aotearoa.

The Leftovers

After the disappointing conclusion to Lost, a new series from showrunner Damon Lindelof felt a tough sell—especially since it too had a massive supernatural mystery at its core. But here’s the thing. People loved The Leftovers, and they still do. Set after 2% of the world’s population disappear into thin air, The Leftovers examines grief, faith, and humans’ search for meaning, weighty themes handled here with sophistication and excellent storytelling (and, critically, a dollop of humour).

In the wake of COVID (not to mention the MCU’s Blip/Snap) the premise might not seem so extreme anymore, but the mystery of why it happened, and whether the disappeared are still out there somewhere, weighs on the show’s characters in ways big and small. It’s all brought to life by a great cast who helped the show swing big, and if you haven’t watched it before, you’ll soon see why it has a cult following to rival the religious fervor of some characters encountered onscreen (Bonus—it’s just three seasons/28 episodes long).

Better Call Saul

Speaking of endings, when Better Call Saul came to a conclusion in August of this year, it came with the perfect bittersweet feeling creator Vince Gilligan must’ve hoped for. Not just because of where it left its characters, but in bringing to an end an unlikely TV success. Hitting screens two years after Breaking Bad‘s finale, this prequel/spinoff quickly exceeded expectations as it charted one-time-scammer and wannabe lawyer Jimmy McGill’s transformation into the flashy Saul Goodman we were familiar with.

Some other folks from Breaking Bad made a welcome return to our screen here, but Gilligan didn’t rest on his laurels. One of the ways in which Better Call Saul matched (if not surpassed) its predecessor was a magnificent new cast. By the time it wrapped up, the charismatic Tony Dalton had made Lalo Salamanca perhaps the most terrifying character on TV in recent memory, and Rhea Seehorn proved the show’s MVP as Kim Wexler. Odenkirk, meanwhile, seemed to effortlessly bring Jimmy/Saul to life in utterly heartbreaking fashion, a far cry from the comic relief served up in  Breaking Bad, as the show carved out its own superb niche (see Dominic Corry’s 5 reasons why Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad).

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Whether it’s during the stress of Christmas or the sheer bliss of summer relaxation, spending time voluntarily with Larry David may or not meet your personal needs. For those of us who revel in squirm-inducing comedy, though, Curb Your Enthusiasm has long proved a welcomely obsessive distraction. Neon has all eleven seasons of Curb, and despite this being a piece recommending shows to binge, I cannot in good conscience recommend you smash through all 110 episodes—overindulgence here might have profound effects on your future human interactions.

Then again, Daniel Rutledge has already pondered whether life in lockdown made the whole world more like Larry David for Flicks. Perhaps we’ve all moved a little towards his persona, and overindulging here won’t make you a nuisance to others. To be safe though, it’s probably best to chip away at Curb—revisit a couple of your faves, hit the beach, rinse and repeat. It’s already sounding pretty pretty good…