Singapore TV series



Singapore TV Series
Images adapted from (clockwise from top left): Mediacorp, NSFTV, meWATCH, meWATCH

It’s hard to replace some of the classic Singaporean TV series we enjoyed while growing up like Growing Up, Phua Chu Kang Pte. Ltd. and Under One Roof. But no matter how many episodes of Friends or Crash Landing On You you binge on, you simply can’t recreate that distinct, warm feeling of home.

As we maintain our social distancing by staying at home during this COVID-19 outbreak, here are some recent local TV serials to keep yourself entertained while you #supportlocal.

For more shows to catch while you stay at home, check out our other articles:


11. Derek – Singapore’s first serial killer


Derek is Singapore's first serial murder in a local tv series.
Image adapted from: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 20 

Binge this if: Psychopathic serial murderers like Hannibal Lecter and Patrick Bateman send a chill down your spine. In Derek, Desmond Tan plays a crazed banker-turned-serial killer who meets a turbulent psychiatrist, played by Cheryl Chitty Tan, assigned to his case.

You’re forgiven if you were getting serious Joker/Harley Quinn comic book vibes, but the lead actors’ performances make Derek a pretty believable tale.

Derek speaks with his psychiatrist in a Singapore TV series, Derek.
Cheryl Chitty Tan plays a psychiatrist, Dr Winnie Low, who tasked to examine Derek.
Image credit: Derek

Verdict: Playing a psychopathic murder is one of the most difficult roles to nail, and Desmond Tan comes close. 

Watch Derek here.


10. Missing – police action thriller set in Thailand


Missing is a Singapore TV series that takes place in Thailand.
Pierre Png (centre) plays a Singaporean police investigator. Following a lead in Thailand, he crosses paths with Lynn (background, played by Rebecca Lim) and Aut (left, played by Thai actor Arak Amornsupasiri).
Image adapted from: Missing

No. of episodes: 15 episodes 

Binge this if: Police procedurals and whodunnits are your thing. In Missing, Pierre Png plays a schizophrenic police officer who travels to Thailand to search for a missing person. 

There, he crosses paths with a tour group leader (played by Rebecca Lim) who is searching for a lost child, along with a Thai police officer, Aut. They quickly discover that things aren’t as simple as they seem, as they get sucked into the world of a shadowy human trafficking syndicate behind it all.

Verdict: The bigger production team behind Missing makes for some of the better visuals and storytelling amongst Mediacorp serials.  

Watch Missing here.


9. The Pupil – Singapore’s Suits


The Pupil is a Singapore TV series that follows lawyers as they deal with tough cases.
Rebecca Lim (left), plays Wendy Lim, an apprentice lawyer under the tutelage of Dennis Tang (right), played by Adrian Pang.
Image credit: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 23 episodes 

Binge this if: You express disagreement by declaring “objection!” loudly, and you prefer to be addressed as “Your Honour”. The Pupil gives us a rare glimpse into the world of lawyers in Singapore, following legal apprentice Wendy Lim as she goes under the tutelage of Dennis Tang.

Verdict: Despite dealing with tricky subjects, it is easy to watch and understand.

Watch The Pupil here.


8. Point Of Entry – elite ICA team busts border crime


Point of Entry is a Singapore TV series that shows the rarely-seen operations of border security officers.
Image credit: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 69 episodes

Binge this if: You can’t get enough of police dramas. Point Of Entry follows Team Epsilon, an ICA special operations unit as they unravel an international syndicate.

It’s all the more gripping when you find out that the on-screen drama is actually based on true events! From bogus passports to human smuggling, Point Of Entry is a gripping reminder to not take our security in Singapore for granted.

Team Epsilon in Point of Entry.
Team Epsilon in Point Of Entry
Image adapted from:
IMDb

Verdict: Point Of Entry features a dramatic storyline and exciting action scenes that leave us (almost) hanging at the edge of our seats.

Watch Point Of Entry here.


7. Kin – (extra-long) family drama series


Kin is one of the longest-running Singapore TV serials to date.
Image credit: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 371 (Ongoing)

Binge this if: You love long-form family dramas like the local favourite Tanglin, or you watched all 787 episodes of the legendary Taiwanese epic Ai (爱). In fact, Kin is the second-longest TV series in Singapore to date.  

In Kin, you’ll have to untangle the complex relationships between the Balas, the Hassans, the Lohs and the Shelleys. Drama ensues when the two lead ladies suspect they’ve been switched at birth.

Verdict: Despite its length and huge cast, the twists and turns in Kin’s plot keep you fixated throughout the hundreds of episodes.

Watch Kin here.


6. Mata-Mata – police drama about women in post-war Singapore


Mata-Mata is a Singapore TV series that follows policewomen in post-war Singapore.
Image credit: Melissa Faith Yeo

No. of episodes: 54 episodes 

Binge this if: “Last time police wear shorts” is your favourite rebuttal when someone tries to bring up the past. Mata-Mata transports you to postwar Singapore, following three policewomen in a plot inspired by the first female Assistant Superintendent of the Singapore Police Force in 1961.

Mata-Mata not only explores the racial riots, secret societies and opium dealers in early Singapore, but the experiences of women in that era. The young policewomen face off a sexist Superintendent and pressure to get married at a young age, amongst other struggles.

Verdict: If all you remember about Singapore’s history is Sang Nila Utama, Mata Mata will be sure to reignite your curiosity.

Watch Mata-Mata here.


5. Last Madame – a brothel owner falls in love with a police officer


Last Madame is a controversial Singapore TV series that follows a mamasan and a police officer.
Joanne Peh with Jeff Chou in Last Madame
Image credit: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 12 episodes 

Binge this if: You’ve always lamented that “Mediacorp drama no sex one, what.” Last Madame sparked controversy with a steamy bed scene involving actress Joanne Peh and Canadian-Taiwanese actor Jeff Chou, and is Mediacorp’s first M18 production.

In Last Madame, Peh plays Fung Lan, mamasan of Singapore’s most prominent brothel. Sheltering vulnerable girls as prostitutes, she eventually falls in love with Jeff Chou’s Inspector Mak, a policeman.

Verdict: Last Madame is one of the first Mediacorp serials to explore touchy topics like sex and prostitution, and Joanne Peh does a truly remarkable job of recreating the world of a mamasan.

Watch Last Madame here.


4. Lion Mums – a mother’s love knows no bounds


Lion Mums
Image credit: Ochre Pictures

No. of episodes: 62 episodes

Binge this if: You’d like to relive your childhood trauma drama of bringing your report book to your parents for that dreaded signature. Lion Mums follows three mothers who want nothing but the best for their children.

As expected, none of the children fully understand their matronly actions, despite each one of their three mothers dealing with extraordinary circumstances themselves. Chae Lian with a cheating spouse, Min Yi juggling her roles as CEO and single mother, and Durrani as lawyer and business owner.

The three mums wielding rotans.
The three Lion Mums wielding rotans
Image credit: @vanessavands

Verdict: The plot hits close to home with constant reminders of the sacrifices mothers make for their children.

Watch Lion Mums here.


3. The Intruder – four friends are attacked by a mysterious man


The Intruder is a murder mystery set in Singapore.
Image credit: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 4 episodes 

Binge this if: You’re an unabashed Agatha Christie fan, and a murder mystery on a deserted island fascinates you. 

The Intruder is about a group of 4 friends enjoying a birthday trip to a deserted island in Thailand. Starring real-life sweethearts Benjamin Kheng and Naomi Yeo, along with Eugena Bey and Edwin Goh, the relationships in the tightly-knit quartet slowly unfolds as a masked intruder brutally interrogates them.   


Image credit: @321koo

Verdict: Solid performances and truly horrifying scenes made us exclaim eeyer! at every turn.

Watch The Intruder here.


2. Titoudao – a throwback to simpler times


Titoudao is a Singapore TV series that follows a Chinese opera troupe in old Singapore.
Malaysian actress Koe Yeet plays Titoudao’s protagonist, Ah Chiam.
Image credit: Mediacorp

No. of episodes: 13 

Binge this if: You want a bite-sized dose of early-independence Singapore nostalgia. In Titoudao, Koe Yeet’s Ah Chiam struggles to learn the ropes in a wayang (Chinese street opera) troupe. She is joined by familiar faces like Fann Wong, Nick Shen and Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Lau.

Fun fact: Titoudao is based on true events surrounding director Goh Boon Teck’s mother, Mdm Oon Ah Chiam, who was a Chinese street opera star in the 50s and 60s.

Verdict: Though short, the 13 episodes are a potent, chilli padi-like dose of old Singapore.

Watch Titoudao here.


1. Fighting Spiders – a strong dose of childhood nostalgia


Fighting Spiders will take you back to a simpler time as you follow adolescent boys as they grow up.
Image credit: meWATCH

No. of episodes: 26 episodes

Binge this if: You were the pontang king/queen at school, and never had a dull moment outdoors with your childhood friends. 

Fighting Spiders follows 14-year-old Soon Lee and 12-year-old Charlie as they catch fighting spiders, go fishing and fly kites – quintessential childhood pastimes in 60s Singapore.

A coming-of-age tale, Fighting Spiders is a bittersweet reminder of growing pains as the boys struggle with nasty grown-ups, love rivalry… and their grand quest to find the Raja Labah Labah – the king of all fighting spiders.

Verdict: A young Edwin Goh and Andie Chen are poignant reminders of simpler times, and we can’t help but feel that warm sense of nostalgia. 

Watch Fighting Spiders here.


Bonus: One Take – a coming-of-age web series


One Take is a web-exclusive series that explores the issues adolescents in Singapore face.
Siblings James and Jasmine share their secrets at a stairwell, away from their abusive father.
Image credit: NSFTV

No. of episodes: 19

Binge this if: your idea of drama is more teenage pregnancies and leaked nudes than fighting over a kopitiam. Available on IGTV and YouTube, One Take takes you through heart-wrenching issues like child abuse, teenage pregnancies, leaked nudes and redemption – all in short episodes, filmed in one take.

There’s also a surprise cameo by veteran actor Gurmit Singh!

Verdict: One Take has a surprisingly powerful plot with incredible performances by budding actors. Don’t be surprised if you’re left a sobbing mess by the end of each 5-minute long episode!

Watch One Take here.


Singapore TV series


Being surrounded by Netflix and YouTube, it’s easy to forget that we’ve got such exceptional home-grown options in Singapore when it comes to drama serials. From crime flicks to historical portrayals, these Singapore TV series will be sure to bring a smile to your face even as you keep safe at home.