By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
Are you keen to find five new binge-worthy series? Just look to the STARZ!
STARZ, which has made such an impact in the U.S. as a go-to destination for edgy and exciting programming, is now conveniently and collectively available in Canada. Pay TV channels Encore have now rebranded as STARZ, and the STARZ streaming service can be accessed as an add-on to Crave.
To mark STARZ’s official launch in the Canadian marketplace, here are five binge-worthy series that will have you thanking your lucky stars that STARZ is finally here:
THE WHITE QUEEN / THE WHITE PRINCESS
These two related series (which combine for a great binging experience) stand on their own as compelling historical fiction, set in the world of England's Wars of the Roses and the immediate aftermath. But here's another reason to be fascinated: If you've ever watched Bravo's KILLING EVE, which is one of the most acclaimed shows on TV right now, you'll be amazed to see Jodie Comer - who plays dangerous assassin Villanelle in KILLING EVE - as Elizabeth "Lizzie" of York, a.k.a. the lead character in THE WHITE PRINCESS. Talk about acting range! Keep in mind, even though the titles might suggest otherwise, THE WHITE QUEEN comes first, followed by THE WHITE PRINCESS.
THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (Season 1-2)
Notable about the first season of this Steven Soderbergh-produced anthology series is that it stars none other than Elvis Presley's granddaughter, Riley Keough, as Christine Reade, a law student who also works as a high-end escort. It's a different take on this kind of tale, because, as Keough puts it, "“The theory behind the show was, let’s tell this story about a girl who has no sad background, no emotional baggage, no sob story, who just is very smart and has a great job and is in college and has a lot going for her, who decides to be an escort." The second season focuses on completely different characters and story lines.
COUNTERPART (Season 1-2)
Spy stories are nothing new, but did you ever notice how most of them involve spies who are at the absolute top tier of their organizations? This fresh take on the genre focuses on a character named Howard Silk, played by J.K. Simmons, who has been a low-level, largely in-the-dark employee at a United Nations spy agency based in Berlin for 30 years. But one day he stumbles across a big secret: The agency actually oversees a crossing point to a parallel Earth that was opened by East German scientists in 1987, and these two versions of our world have been diverging ever since. What happens when Howard comes face-to-face with his other self? And why is one Howard so timid, and the other so bold?
VIDA (Season 1, new season coming soon)
Granted this will be a short "binge," with only six episodes in the highly acclaimed first season, but a second season is on the way, so you need to be prepared! Two estranged Mexican-American sisters, Lyn (Melissa Barrera) and Emma (Mishel Prada), return to their old neighborhood in L.A., following the sudden death of their mother Vida. Lyn and Emma meet their mom's “roommate” Eddy (Ser Anzoategui), who they later find out actually was married to their mother. This obviously is an eye-opener for Lyn and Emma on an emotional level, but it also has a direct financial impact, because Vida willed 30% ownership of the family-owned bar to Eddy, with the other 70% split between the two siblings.
POWER (Season 1-4, Season 5 coming soon)
One of the most popular shows in the STARZ stable, the one-word title of this family crime drama neatly sums up what the characters are fighting for, and why it's so crucial in their cutthroat world. The main story focuses on James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), a ruthless drug dealer with the enigmatic nickname "Ghost." Like many who have chosen his line of work, Ghost dreams of going "legit" as a club owner, so he doesn't have to spend every day of his life nervously looking behind his back. But that's just never as easy as it sounds, right? Noteworthy cast members include 50 Cent, who is worth far more than that, playing fellow drug dealer and Ghost's former mentor Kanan Stark.