What are the best drama series on Disney+ Hotstar? The 23 titles below — a mix of biopics, dramas, crime sagas, and historical dramas — star actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Zendaya, Frances McDormand, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Steve Buscemi, Benicio del Toro, Patricia Arquette, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Clive Owen, Riz Ahmed, Winona Ryder, Michael C. Hall, and Oscar Isaac. Michaela Coel is both the star and creator of her series.
Other creators include Steven Soderbergh, David Simon, Ben Stiller, David E. Kelley, Ryan Murphy, Sarah Treem, Hagai Levi, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Tony Kushner, Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Terence Winter, Sam Levinson, Sally Wainwright, Rodrigo García, Tom Hooper, Todd Haynes, Richard Price, Steven Zaillian, Jane Anderson, David Nicholls, and Alan Ball.
You might find more drama TV shows in our list of best TV series. If you’re looking for more TV series on Disney+ Hotstar, we’ve recommendations for some select other genres as well that you should check out. We also have a similar article for best drama and comedy-drama series on Amazon Prime Video.
- The Affair (2014 – 2019)
A schoolteacher and budding novelist (Dominic West) begins an extramarital affair with a young waitress (Ruth Wilson) trying to piece together her life in this sombre drama, which delivered two strong seasons of deep and psychological observation before a slight dip brought by plot struggles in the third season. Recovered marginally for fifth and final season.
- American Crime Story (2016 – Present)
A crime anthology series from prolific creator Ryan Murphy, which dramatises historic criminal cases in the US, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the assassination of Gianni Versace by spree killer Andrew Cunanan. A terrific first season followed by a slightly less powerful second. Season 3, about Bill Clinton’s impeachment, begins in September.
- Angels in America (2003)
Al Pacino and Meryl Streep lead the cast of this six-part miniseries that swept the Emmys and Golden Globes. Based on Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, it’s set during the dawn of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and follows six New Yorkers — a powerful lawyer (Pacino) among them — whose lives are connected.
- Big Little Lies (2017 – 2019)
The lives of five wealthy but emotionally-troubled women (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, and Laura Dern) living in in an idyllic California town are upended after their involvement in a murder investigation, sending ripples across the community. Season 2 couldn’t live up to its first, even with the presence of Meryl Streep.
- Billions (2016 – Present)
Set in the world of New York high finance, a shrewd, savvy US attorney (Paul Giamatti) and a brilliant, ambitious hedge-fund manager (Damian Lewis) try to outmanoeuvre each other in this slightly-soapy and larger-than-life drama about greed, power and competition.
- Boardwalk Empire (2010 – 2014)
A look at the 1920s Prohibition era — ban on alcohol — in the US, through the eyes of an Atlantic City, New Jersey politician (Steve Buscemi) playing both sides of the law. Consistently praised across its five-season run for the acting of its ensemble, its terrific realisation of the period, and the shades of grey amongst its characters.
- Escape at Dannemora (2018)
Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette lead the excellent cast of this seven-episode miniseries — directed by Ben Stiller — about a real-life prison escape, involving two convicted male murderers and a married female prison employee, all of whom were romantically and sexually entangled. It’s a slow-burner but rewarding.
- Euphoria (2019 – Present)
Based on an Israeli miniseries of the same name, it follows a group of high school students — with Spider-Man star Zendaya in the lead — as they struggle with drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love, and friendship. It’s not an easy watch, mind you, but it’s full of empathy.
- Feud: Bette and Joan (2017)
The backstage rivalry between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis during the production of a film in early 1960s serves as the focal point for this anthology series — from Ryan Murphy — which explores ageism, sexism, and misogyny in their struggle to hold onto fading fame.
- Gentleman Jack (2019 – Present)
Set in the 19th century, it tells the story of English land-owner and industrialist Anne Lister (Suranne Jones), who documented a lifetime of lesbian relationships in secret code in her diaries. Jones’ performance was praised, although critics felt the series isn’t as unapologetically progressive as the protagonist.
- I May Destroy You (2020)
A “millennial icon” and first-time novelist (Michaela Coel, also creator and writer) attempts to piece together a night she can’t recall with the help of her two best friends: a struggling actor and a gay man. Explores sexual consent in a post-#MeToo era.
- In Treatment (2008 – Present)
A 50-something psychotherapist (Gabriel Byrne) sees different patients every day of the week and his own therapist at the end of the week in this remake of the Israeli series BeTipul that ran for more episodes — 130 across four seasons so far — than most HBO series do. Each episode is a new session. Irrfan Khan was one of the patients on season 3. Uzo Aduba took over lead role in season 4.
- John Adams (2008)
Paul Giamatti played the titular second president of the United States in this seven-part miniseries — directed by Tom Hooper — which chronicled his political and personal life from the pre-Independence times in 1770 Boston through to his death in 1826. Praised for its visuals though criticised for its casting choices, it won more Emmys than any miniseries to date.
- The Knick (2014 – 2015)
Steven Soderbergh directed all 20 episodes of this look at New York hospital at the start of the 20th century, told through the viewpoints of a chief surgeon and a drug addict (Clive Owen), and the assistant chief-surgeon (André Holland) who fights racism within the staff and the city. Kicked off in style, and considered to have improved in year two.
- Mildred Pierce (2011)
Kate Winslet swept the awards circuit for her performance in the titular role of an overprotective, self-sacrificing divorced single mother of two kids, who opens a restaurant and tries to win over her spoiled, narcissistic, ambitious elder daughter during the Great Depression. Based on James M. Cain’s 1941 novel of the same name, to which it stuck a little too close.
- The Night Of (2016)
Riz Ahmed stars as a Pakistani-American student in this eight-part miniseries, who is charged with a woman’s murder after a night of partying mysteriously goes awry, of which he has no recollection. Less a crime drama and more an indictment of the US criminal justice system.
- Olive Kitteridge (2014)
Frances McDormand played the titular cantankerous but well-meaning retired mathematics schoolteacher in this miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which offered a look at 25 years of her life in a small town in the northernmost state in eastern USA. A slow-burner filled with great performances, including McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Ann Dowd, and Bill Murray.
- Patrick Melrose (2018)
Based on Edward St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novel series, this five-part miniseries finds Benedict Cumberbatch playing the titular wealthy Englishman battling multiple addictions, and childhood abuse and neglect from the 1980s to the 2000s. Critics said it offered “a scathing indictment of British high society’s inherited dysfunction, cruelty, and the wealth that enables them”.
- The Plot Against America (2020)
The latest series from The Wire creator David Simon is based on Philip Roth’s 2004 eponymous novel and looks at an alt-history USA where xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh becomes President in 1941 and steers the country towards fascism. Praised for its timely message in the political parallels it draws with Trump’s America and for the performances of its ensemble cast.
- Pose (2018 – 2021)
Set in 1980s New York, this dance-musical drama — co-created by Ryan Murphy — explores several parts of society: the ball-culture world, the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe and the downtown social and literary scene. Noted for its large transgender cast.
- Rome (2005 – 2007)
The transition of Ancient Rome from Republic to Empire, that began in 52 BC under Julius Caesar and set the stage for civil war, explored through the eyes of two soldiers whose lives intertwine with major events in history. Ran for just two seasons due to costs.
- Show Me a Hero (2015)
From the creator of The Wire, a six-part miniseries starring Oscar Isaac as Nick Wasicsko, the youngest big-city mayor in the US, who dealt with vociferous public opinion between 1987 and 1994, stemming from a court order that public housing should be built in the middle-class, mostly-white part of town. Addressing class and racism, it was timely and timeless.
- Six Feet Under (2001 – 2005)
Oscar-winner Alan Ball created this macabre drama about a dysfunctional family running a funeral home in Los Angeles, with every episode opening with a fresh corpse that would have something to do with the Fisher family’s own problems. Filled with a superb cast, it tripped over itself in season 4, but recovered for a fitting swansong that boasts arguably one of the best series finales.