In 1899, a group of immigrants of various European descent board steamship Cereberus with the goal of crossing the Atlantic for greener pastures in the new world. However, uncertain waters abound as the passengers, and the ship’s crew, discover another ship that requires their assistance. From there, things take a dark and terrifying turn.
Created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, the same team behind Netflix’s German-language genre hit Dark, the new mind-bending program (which explores themes of time travel, alternate dimensions, and reality simulations) boasts a sprawling international cast, including Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, Andreas Pietschmann, Miguel Bernardeau, Maciej Musial, Lucas Lynggaard Tonnesen, Rosalie Craig, Yann Gael, Mathilde Ollivier, Isabella Wei, Gabby Wong, Fflyn Edwards, and Alexandre Willaume.
Season 1 of 1899 ended with a cliffhanger twist leaving things open for a new season, but Netflix did not order a second season. While we mourn our loss, here’s a list of 10 shows like 1899 that will surely scratch that high-concept sci-fi itch.
In 2017, Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese unleashed their brooding sci-fi sensibilities unto the world with Netflix’s Dark. The story follows four families whose past, present, and future are tethered to the problematic history of the town they live in. Like their series 1899, Dark is a twisty puzzle box that unfolds in a manner that requires vigilant attention from its audience. Andreas Pietschmann, who stars in 1899, also appears here.
Where to watch: Netflix (Subscription, 3 seasons)
The OA follows Prairie Johnson (played by Brit Marling, who also co-created the series) who, after being missing for seven years, resurfaces. Mysterious scars on her back and the ability to see (she was blind when she went missing) lead the characters she comes in contact with, as well as the audience, down a baffling rabbit hole. The story and disruptive narrative of The OA elevates the series into hard-to-describe territory, which may explain why it didn’t last beyond two seasons at Netflix. But if metaphysical themes of identity, time travel, and other dimensions (as well as interpretive dance) pique your interest, then this is the show for you.
Where to watch: Netflix (Subscription, 2 seasons)
The Matrix masterminds Lana and Lilly Wachowski partnered with J. Michael Straczynski to bring Sense8 is to life. It’s a sci-fi series that follows eight people, from different parts of the globe, who discover themselves to be physically and psychically linked. Bound by shared trauma, the characters in Sense8 find healing through dangerous odds. 1899 uses similar subject matter to inform the characters’ challenges on the ship as they face otherworldly threats.
Where to watch: Netflix (Subscription, 2 seasons)
Before there was the Thanos snap, there was The Leftovers. Created by Watchmen‘s Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta (the latter of which also wrote the book), HBO’s celebrated series explores the aftermath of a mysterious global event that causes 2% of the world’s population to up and disappear. Centered in a small Ohio town, the show digs into how community’s cope with grief and loss on such a grand scale. It sounds bleak, because it is. But it’s also impeccably written and its ensemble cast – Cary Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Ann Dowd, and Liv Tyler, among others – is at the top of their game.
After the devastating crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815, a group of passengers struggle to survive on a remote island in the Pacific as they learn about themselves, and the mysteries unfolding in this odd new place they call home. Basically, that’s the gist of Lost, the groundbreaking series created by J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Jeffrey Lieber. Fans of the program may notice some narrative similarities with 1899 as both shows use flashbacks to develop the characters. As well, both series feature a group of strangers who must band together to face ominous challenges, creating an unexpected community in the process.
When discussing shows that blur perception of what is real and what is fabricated, Westworld fires on all cylinders. The HBO series, which was inspired by Michael Crichton‘s 1973 movie, takes place in a future reality where an amusement park filled with robotic Hosts appeal to the dark desires of the wealthy elite. Westworld explores how technological advancements can lead to ethical lines being crossed. And in 1899, a science experiment is alluded to near the end of the season, which once again brings to mind the question of what is real as the bigger concept of free will is put front and center.
The Peripheral is a sci-fi noir thriller inspired by William Gibson’s 2014 book of the same name. The series takes place in a near future world where technology has transformed the landscape. Flynne Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz) is the central character to the program, which follows her as she discovers a secret connection between our reality and an alternate one. The production value, world-building, and immersive story all make this a solid choice for viewers looking to scratch that twisty sci-fi itch.
Where to watch: Prime Video (Subscription, 1 season)
In its early days, J.J. Abrams’s Fringe drew many comparisons to Fox’s previous monster-of-the-week phenomenon, The X-Files. But over the course of its five seasons, the sci-fi mystery series proved itself to be more than bizarre cases investigated by the FBI’s Fringe Division. An increasingly immersive world and bewildering plot details led to an ongoing storyline involving alternate dimensions and the threats they posed on our own.
Continuing with the alternate dimension theme is Starz’s short-lived sci-fi drama Counterpart, which starred Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons as a mild-mannered bureaucrat who learns of a parallel universe where the Cold War is still taking place. His discovery comes with an unexpected face-off with himself – more specifically, the other dimension version of him, who works as a high-level spy within the same agency he works for. As worlds literally collide, the war in one dimension spills over into our own, resulting in some complicated espionage goodness.
When speaking of genre shows that features a talented ensemble, a peculiar supernatural mystery, and the existence of another dimension, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Stranger Things to the list. Since first premiering to Netflix in 2016, the fun little genre series exploded into the global phenomenon we know today. But it all started with the mysterious disappearance of a child, with a sinister experiment residing at the show’s core. 1899 may move at a slower pace, and feature more native languages spoken throughout, but there are enough similarities between the two series to include the streamer’s massive hit here.
Where to watch: Netflix (Subscription, 4 seasons)