‘Beacon 23’ is a psychological thriller series created by Zak Penn set to premiere on MGM+ on November 12, 2023. Starring Lena Headey and Stephan James. The show takes place in the 23rd century on a remote space ‘lighthouse’ called Beacon 23. Aster and Halan find themselves trapped at the end of the known universe. As Aster mysteriously arrives at the lonely beacon keeper’s outpost, his paranoia and bad experiences in the past leave him questioning her true motives and the potential threat she poses.
The show itself is based on a series of short stories grouped under the name ‘Beacon 23’ written by Hugh Howey. Even though the show has some time to be properly released, based on the book, we decided to bring you the seven best shows with similar premises and explain why you should give them a try.
1. ‘The Expanse‘ (2016-2022)
What it’s about: In the distant future, humanity managed to expand its reach to the Solar System, establishing three major powers: the United Nations of Earth and Luna, the Martian Congressional Republic on Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), a loose confederation of colonies in the asteroid belt and moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
The United Nations is characterized by a militaristic and ultra-capitalist society with authoritarian tendencies, while the Martians have developed into a corporatist culture. Both powers exploit and oppress the alien “Belter” populations within the OPA, and they clash often.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: Just like in ‘The Expanse’ in ‘Beacon 23’ humanity has advanced in technology enough to be able to engage in interstellar war with other alien races but enough to realize that it’s wrong to invade far corners of the Universe for the benefits of the few. The main political premise is similar, although ‘The Expanse’ is much more complicated in its premise and setting.
2. ‘Lost in Space’ (2018-2021)
What it’s about: ‘Lost in Space’ is actually a reboot of the show under the same name that was quite popular in the 60s. It revolves around a Robinson family who sets out in space with a few selected individuals to colonize the Alpha Centaury System. However, on the way to their destination, pretty much everything goes wrong, and they end up on an uncharted habitable planet.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: Both shows are about facing the unknown and dealing with feelings of isolation and uncertainty. Even though Halan has company, before he did, he was severely lonely and making do with what he had on his hands.
3. ‘Dark Matter’ (2015-2017)
What it’s about: Imagine a group of people aboard the starship Raza. They wake up in stasis pods and have no idea who and where they are. There must be something that binds them all together, and that gathers them in this strange and alien place, right? It turns out that all six of them are violent criminals, and now they need to decide whether they will work together toward the common goal or continue with their tendencies.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: Like ‘Beacon 23,’ ‘Dark Matter’ forced the protagonists to trust each other when every fiber of their being screamed that they are surrounded by quite an assemble of untrustworthy characters. It’s sort of like the dynamic between Halan and Aster, in which he isn’t exactly sure whether he can trust Aster after all. Oh and it takes place in deep space.
4. ‘Homecoming’ (2018-2020)
What it’s about: Heidi Bergman, a former social worker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center, starts anew as a waitress, grappling with memory lapses from her time at Homecoming. A U.S. Department of Defense auditor prompts her realization that she was misled about the facility’s true purpose. Homecoming is not what it seems at all, and Heidi soon begins to struggle with her identity and what she thinks is true.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: The setting of both series can’t be more different, but the underlying themes are almost the same. Heidi, like Halan struggles with her past, and like Halan she signed up for a program that was supposed to make her forget or at least numb the horrible feelings she was having. Both of them realize that the programs are not what they signed up for. Both shows are also psychological thrillers.
5. ‘Fortitude‘ (2015-2018)
What it’s about: ‘Fortitude’ is in the Arctic town of Fortitude, which is located on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, one of the northernmost places on Earth that’s technically inhabited. The story begins with the murder of a British scientist named Charlie Stoddart, and as the investigation begins, it reveals a massive conspiracy and that everyone is hiding something. The town, known for its peaceful and close-knit community, becomes the center of a series of strange events. They also find mammoth remains, get unexplained illnesses, and witness the emergence of a mysterious parasite.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: The Arctic might as well be a strange alien planet to most people & considering its isolation, and although ‘Beacon 23’ takes place in deep space, the common theme binding those two shows is isolation, lack of contact with the “outside” world, and strange events that just keep on piling on one other.
6. ‘Away’ (2020)
What it’s about: Emma Green is an American astronaut who was chosen to lead an international crew on the first human mission to Mars, otherwise known as the Atlas mission. As the commander, she should have all the attention and loyalty of her crewmembers, but at the start of the mission, something goes wrong, and Emma fails to handle it properly, leading to the rest of the crew losing their trust in her and in her ability to handle things properly.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: ‘Away’ is set in close quarters, and although the aspect of isolation is somewhat lessened, there is still the psychological tension involved with several people who can’t trust each other being plunged into a difficult situation. The only way to survive is to trust each other.
7. Into the Deep / Yakamoz S-245 (2022)
What it’s about: Some yet unexplained catastrophe has struck Earth, leaving it exposed to toxic solar radiation that pretty much boils everything that gets exposed to the sunlight. The crew of the Yakamoz S-245 Submarine is sent to retrieve and save a team of scientists that managed to survive the ordeal. The army doesn’t know whether it can trust the team of scientists, while the scientists are set with the difficult task of trying to save what remains and keep the submarine functional with dwindling supplies.
Why it’s like ‘Beacon 23’: Both shows take place in strange environments, and the crews of both “vessels” are struggling with infighting and the lack of trust, and don’t get me even started on the paranoia. While you’re at it, you can also give ‘Into the Night’ a chance since it has a similar concept but takes place on a plane instead of in a Submarine. Into the Deep is its spinoff.
Have a show to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!