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The 100 Best TV Shows on Netflix to Binge Right Now

For when 10+ hours of TV sounds good.

better call saul
'Better Call Saul' | AMC
'Better Call Saul' | AMC

Sometimes you just want to watch 10 hours of TV, whether it's an edge-of-your-seat mystery or a feel-good romantic comedy, and we've got you covered with this round-up of the Netflix's most bingeable series.

From the classics you really should have seen by now to your friends' current favorites, get some snacks ready and prepare for a marathon.

For more recommendations, read our list of the 100 Best Movies Currently on Netflix.

aggretsuko
Netflix

Aggretsuko (2018- )

This unlikely Sanrio-sponsored anime series totally succeeds as a standalone project from the branding that might otherwise subsume Aggretsuko, the super-cute red raccoon character who blows off steam from her shitty job by doing death metal karaoke. For anyone who's held down a clock-watching, 9-to-5 office gig, you'll root for Aggretsuko when she tells off her boss at an off-site drinking event, empathize with her when she falls into dating a schlubby guy around the office, and headbang during her solo karaoke sets.

Altered Carbon (2018- )

This high-concept sci-fi action series, based on the mindbending novel by Richard K. Morgan, requires both laser focus and suspension of disbelief to give in to its trashy charms. With a super-high budget providing the futuristic flash, Altered Carbon dazzles and confounds right out of the gate, as we're introduced to the concept of sleeving, a nutty process by which human consciousness can be transferred into another person's body. That's the ethically thorny way our super-soldier protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, arrives 250 years into the future after his own "death," where he is promptly tasked by an ultra-wealthy hedonist with solving the murder of the ultra-wealthy hedonist himself. If you tend to roll with batshit sci-fi set-ups like this until they click, you'll stick around to see how it all ends and be pleased that you did so.

American Crime (2015-2017)

Like its completely unaffiliated basic-cable contemporary American Crime Story, this ABC anthology series uses a repertory-style cast to tell a different story each season. But rather than focusing on a celebrity-driven or headline-making case each time, like The People v. O.J. Simpson, writer and director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) trots out an original story. If you prefer your social consciousness fictionalized, this is the heart-wrenching, family-oriented show to check out next.

American Crime Story (2016- )

FX's brilliant award-snatching miniseries began life about O.J. Simpson's murder trial, the event that captivated and changed a nation, along with a second season about the murder of designer Gianni Versace. Watch, pause, and rewind to marvel at the killer cast's resemblance to their real-life counterparts, and steel yourself for Cuba Gooding Jr.'s comeback. The Versace edition does similarly excellent work with a stacked cast

American Horror Story (2011- )

Why do people love Ryan Murphy shows so much? Because they're infused with equal parts camp, drama, suspense, and humor -- even this ostensibly scary one. Whether you're watching the Murder House, Freak Show, Hotel, Roanoke or any of the other installments, you're in for unforgettable characters, stomach-curdling gore, jaw-dropping plot twists, and brutal finales. 

american vandal
Netflix

American Vandal (2017-2018)

American Vandal, about teen documentarians who investigate the innocence of a classmate accused of vandalism (Jimmy Tatro), is much more than a four-hour dick joke followed by a four-hour poop joke. After the first couple episodes, the phallic material fades into the background, allowing the show to satirize high school and today's criminal justice system in a meaningful way. To pull it off, the co-creators studied the techniques that made them so invested in such true-crime titans as Serial, Making a Murderer, and The Jinx. It's parody, homage, addictive teen drama all wrapped in one -- an underrated win for the streaming service that was canceled too soon after its wonderful second season.

Arrested Development (2003- )

There's always money in the banana stand, and there are always laughs to be found in Arrested Development, Mitchell Hurwitz's sly, self-aware family sitcom. While the most recent Netflix-produced season occasionally devolved into discursive, indulgent meta-humor, the show's original three seasons established a freewheeling comic sensibility that many of your favorite sitcoms -- Parks and Recreation30 RockCommunityArcherKroll Show -- were influenced by. Don't hold the show's obnoxious fans against it. After watching a few episodes, you'll be quoting Tobias Fünke, too.

Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015-2018)

If you're a fan of the original Evil Dead trilogy and haven't seen Ash vs. Evil Dead yet, what have you even been doing with your spare time? Set 30 years after Army of Darkness, when the Deadites were neutralized, the demon curse of the Necronomicon is back, baby, and it's up to our skeezy hero Ash Williams (still Bruce Campbell) to do the thing he does best, which is cutting up the possessed. Sam Raimi and crew bring the same dark humor and over-the-top gore to the revived series that wrapped its third and final season on Starz, but is thankfully also on a streaming service people actually use.

Bates Motel (2013-2017)

Ever wonder what Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho fame was up to before his psychosis culminated in the horror classic? Well, he wasn’t up to anything good, and his life as a teenage psychopath with serious mommy issues is documented in this thrilling drama. From first acquiring the notorious motel to his first kill, over the course of five seasons there’s never a dull moment between Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his twisted mother, played by a dynamically haunting Vera Farmiga. 

better call saul
AMC

Better Call Saul (2015- )

It wasn't all that long ago that Bob Odenkirk, long a comedy icon, was stealing scenes in AMC's Breaking Bad. Now, he's doing things like showing up in a Steven Spielberg movie and carries the Breaking Bad prequel as its star. With the (re)introduction of ice-cold supervillain Gus Fring, this slow show shows no signs of slowing down. 

Big Mouth (2017- )

In Big Mouth, Nick Kroll and his friends essentially hop into an animated time machine to play much younger versions of themselves, adolescent tweens beginning to date and watch porn, coming to grips with their emotions and sexuality. The show comes stacked with familiar Kroll friends, including John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jenny Slate, Jordan Peele, and Fred Armisen, among others. With a no-holds-barred approach and the freeing format of animation, the show tends to really go there (see: horny Hormone Monsters, singing Michael Stipe tampons, scary Garrison Keillor sex fantasies), placing it in the same taboo-busting league as Netflix's other hit mature toons. 

Black Mirror (2011- )

Each installment of Charlie Brooker's addictive anthology takes a current techno-social phenomenon -- topics that range from hashtags to five-star ratings -- to its extreme and asks whether human nature can coexist with it. Part satire and part (unintentional) prophecy, the series presents an appropriately grim view of the future, one that will definitely make you worry for the next generation and maybe even galvanize you into action. Binge this delicious platter of paranoia cautiously.

Bodyguard (2018- )

This action-packed British thriller will have you gasping for air after each of its six episodes. Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) stars as David Budd, a war veteran and member of the Protection Command tasked with serving as the personal bodyguard of Britain's Home Secretary, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes). Various conspiracies and personal relationships intersect at a dizzying rate in a story that's about the ways in which power is used and abused in contemporary Western society.

bojack horseman
Netflix

BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)

It's a goofy animated comedy unlike those that came before it -- a middle-aged man (read: horse) consistently struggles to stay out of trouble while dealing with the downside of fame. Though you'd be hard-pressed to come across any moment in the series that isn't a side-splitting one, BoJack Horseman also boasts some surprisingly dark and emotionally ambitious moments that'll hook you from beginning to end.

Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

Despite originally airing on AMC, Breaking Bad is the ultimate Netflix show. Filled with moments of shocking violence and wry humor, the rise and fall of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) -- and his co-conspirators Jesse, Skyler, Gus, and Mike -- is probably best experienced in wild, indulgent weekend binges. That's what many fans did throughout the show's five-season run, catching up on old episodes on Netflix to prepare for the must-see moments that occurred during its final stretch. With the acclaimed spinoff Better Call Saul now inspiring similar conversations, there's never been a better time to take the dive. You don't just watch this show; it consumes you.

Broadchurch (2013-2017)

The murder of a young boy stirs up a media frenzy and divides a tight-knit English coastal town, and the proper order of things is further disrupted by the unfiltered hotshot inspector (David Tennant) who arrives just in time to take on the baffling crime and vex a local detective (Olivia Colman) who wanted his job. The episodes of all three seasons mix in the main protagonists' complex personal lives with the well-paced investigation, ensuring that Broadchurch unfurls in a way that'll have you texting your friends to say, "I'm too sick to go out tonight" and automatically clicking "Next Episode."

cheers
CBS

Cheers (1982-1993)

For the days when you want to hang out at the bar without changing out of pajamas. Starring Ted Danson as the ex-Red Soxxer and reformed alcoholic slinging drinks, Cheers, too, had a very long run -- 271 episodes! -- so you'll invest a ton of time if you're a completist, but luckily, you'll feel like a regular in no time.

Chef's Table (2015- )

With an explosion of food television comes elevated standards; Netflix's Chef's Table forages for those standards, brings them to the restaurant for dinner service, treats them with respect, turns them into a whimsical play on a dish remembered from childhood, and earns a couple Michelin stars and the admiration of its peers in the process. The point is that Chef's Table, from creator David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), is an exceptional food show that manages to make humans the centerpiece.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018- )

From the creator of Riverdale comes another Archie-adjacent series, only much witchier. You may remember Sabrina the Teenage Witch as the friendly, upbeat witch from ABC's TGIF lineup in the '90s, but in the new Netflix adaptation, the occult is far more present. The result is a dark, engaging showcase for Kiernan Shipka, and a Netflix hit that leaves us wanting more

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (2012- )

Jerry Seinfeld has a shitload of expensive cars lying around, so he decided to film himself giving other funny people rides in them. It's pretty entertaining! After a run as Crackle's only viable original program, Seinfeld took his talents to the king of the streaming game (for now).

comedy bang bang
IFC

Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012-2016)

A few years after his podcast started airing, Scott Aukerman's popular talk show got the TV treatment. TV treatment here doesn't really mean adaptation, though; it means a platform to be fucking insane and hilariously surreal. Your favorite comedians (think Andy Daly, Sarah Silverman) hit Aukerman's couch with special guests (who range from Tony Hawk to Kevin Bacon to publicist extraordinaire Rodney Waber) to improv some magic, participate in off-the-wall bits, and make you ask, What the hell am I watching? -- in the best way.

Community (2009-2015)

There’s a reason Dan Harmon’s community college ensemble comedy amassed a devoted cult following for its six-season run, despite it nearly always being on the brink of cancelation. The series focuses on a lovable study group of misfits played by both comedy veterans and those then just on the brink of breaking out -- including consummate cool guy Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), lovable ditz Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), TV-obsessed Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), anxious genius Annie Edison (Alison Brie), tough-but-firm mother Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), high school jock Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), and the baffling, bored, former CEO Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) -- as they navigate their way through Greendale Community College. It’s a sitcom that’s goofy and delirious, but forever a lesson in how to become a better person.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)

Many armchair critics tried to dismiss former YouTube sensation Rachel Bloom's CW series for what they presumed to be a sexist title -- a notion she bites back at from the opening credits on. In fact, the series is quietly revolutionary, offering sharp yet subtle commentary about the way women treat each other and themselves, and casually featuring one of the most diverse casts on TV. CXG draws its rom-com antics from heroine Rebecca's compulsive behavior and past traumas, all while satirizing the conventions of musicals with song-and-dance numbers worthy of Sondheim. It's a downward spiral, for sure, but psychosis has never been this entertaining.

The Crown (2016- )

The Crown is a well-made (and very expensively made) show, with standout performances in its first two seasons from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies will take over for them starting with Season 3.) Its period costumes are legendary and its sets designed with impeccable attention to detail. If only The Crown would choose its potential storylines as meticulously! Modern audiences would be better served if the showrunners examined the macro geopolitical shifts that have characterized Elizabeth II's long reign -- for example, decolonization receives scant attention, but the Great Smog of London merits a multi-episode storyline. Still, The Crown is confident in its soapiness, opulent in every respect, and quite possibly Netflix's best choice for escapism (albeit using a subject that should probably be anything but). If you love royalist porn or British period dramas like Downton Abbey, this will be like a long, slow massage.

Dark
Netflix

Dark (2017- )

Dubbed the German version of Stranger Things, this foreign supernatural drama following a boy who goes missing is an absolute mind fuck. While the show sees comparisons to the Duffer Brothers’ ode to ‘80s sci-fi, Dark is in a league of its own, following several families each with secrets of their own as they deal with a disappearance that shakes their eerie German town and might be a hint to a greater looming threat. There’s a handful of twists and turns, time travel (and lots of it), and a terrifying feeling you can’t shake until you see the entire first season through. Once you're done with that, get ready for the second season, which hits Netflix June 21, 2019. 

Dead to Me (2019- )

In Liz Feldman’s Dead to Me, Christina Applegate’s Jen is grieving the recent death of her husband, who was killed in a hit-and-run, with cynicism, reluctantly attending group therapy. That's where she meets Linda Cardellini’s Judy, who's also grieving, and the two form an instant bond. But by the end of the first episode, it's clear that both of these women, whose chemistry is the kind of snarky friendship you crave in your own life, are hiding something. The 30-minute dark comedy moves effortlessly between registers, from lighthearted to deadly serious, with a plot-turning twist thrown into every episode for good measure. If you enjoy watching adults say "screw it, I'm doing what I want," this is definitely for you. 

Dear White People (2017- )

Justin Simien's scorching send-up of post-racial America has transitioned smoothly from its film form to an ongoing series, with Logan Browning stepping in for Tessa Thompson. As in the movie, the streaming version follows a diverse group of students pushing back against discrimination at a mostly white Ivy League school. Contrary to what the trolls want you to believe, Simien's work is not white-genocide propaganda; it's an illuminating look at what equality means in the 21st century. As he's explained already, "I'm a storyteller. My job isn't to protect your feelings. It's to show you who you are. Sometimes that will be joyful. Sometimes it'll hurt."

derry girls
Netflix

Derry Girls (2018- )

Teen shows are often good for some laughs, but few are as goddamn hysterical as Derry Girls. The Channel 4/Netflix co-production about Catholic schoolgirls in the '90s living through the end of the Northern Ireland Troubles is all about their own, unfiltered teenaged troubles, and outright laugh-out-loud hilarious. The entire cast and their quirks are near perfect; after a quick binge, you'll find there's no other fictional crew you'd rather kick-back with. 

Dirty John (2018)

Based on the 2017 longform article by The Los Angeles Times and its subsequent podcast, Dirty John tells the sordid tale of a serial grifter (Eric Bana) and an extremely trusting woman he targets (Connie Britton). It fairly faithfully follows the podcast's arc, but Bana and Britton bring a nuanced human touch to every maddening detail.

Disenchantment (2018- )

Be forewarned: Matt Groening's latest series is not like the others. It's doesn't try to be joke-for-joke funnier than The Simpsons, nor does it relegate the ventures of its own universe to singular episodes like Futurama. Disenchantment takes an episode or two to settle in, but once you've come around on the drunken shenanigans of Princess Bean (Broad City's Abbi Jacobson) and her unlikely sidekicks -- Elfo (Nat Faxon), a spacey, naive elf, and Luci (Eric Andre), a cat-like demon who curses Bean on her arranged wedding day -- prior expectations dissipate. Disenchantment is more like the streaming equivalent of The Princess Bride on mushrooms.

Documentary Now! (2015- )

IFC's Documentary Now! pokes fun at the precious self-seriousness of documentary filmmaking, thanks to SNL vets Bill Hader and Fred Armisen (and a regal Helen Mirren introduction). Docs in the show's crosshairs include everything from Nanook Revisited ("Kanuk Uncovered") to History of the Eagles ("Gentle & Soft: The Story of the Blue Jeans Committee"), the latter a parody of an Eagles documentary that's pretty funny in its own right. Which is why the true brilliance of Documentary Now! comes less from imitation and more from the same sauce that makes any doc memorable: Human existence is fascinatingly absurd.

the end of the f***ing world
Netflix

The End of the F***ing World (2017-2019)

Somehow, a show about a teenager who's convinced he's a psychopath and wants to find his first human kill manages to come off as a charming love and coming-of-age story. The tone demands a lot of the audience: Can you empathize with the human struggle of a kid who wants to kill, kill, kill? It's a compelling premise that tackles the question with necessary nuance

Fauda (2015- )

Fauda, an action thriller about an elite team of undercover Israeli commandos working in Palestine, is perhaps the best of Netflix's recent foreign-language shows, a frantically paced and politically charged melodrama filled with sequences of white-knuckle suspense straight out of Homeland or 24. But unlike those spy dramas, Fauda spends nearly as much time on the private lives of Palestinians as it does on its gun-toting heroes. It's got a moral complexity that its more simplistic American counterparts often lack.

Frontier (2016-2018)

A showcase for the charismatic brutality only Jason Momoa can muster, Frontier is a rollicking Netflix and Discovery Channel Canada co-production about the (literally) cutthroat 18th-century North American fur trade. The adventure series has more in common with breezy syndicated fare like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys than it does with Momoa's star-making Game of Thrones, but if you squint hard enough at the right moment you'll swear that it's Khal Drogo himself cutting off that poor sap's ear.

gilmore girls
Netflix

Gilmore Girls (2000-2007; 2016)

In case you haven't heard, Netflix revived Gilmore Girls -- so you can catch up with this wisecracking mother-daughter duo before watching the four-episode follow-up. The show takes place in the quirky small town of Stars Hollow and features a dynamic supporting cast so fully fleshed, you'll feel like a local after your first hour. For extra credit, the Gilmore Guys podcast dissects the series episode by episode, providing a present-day watercooler for your thoughts on a show nearly two decades old.

Girlboss (2017)

Co-produced by Charlize Theron and helmed by Kay Cannon, this streaming series takes its name from Sophia Amoruso's memoir but fictionalizes the entrepreneur's rocky rise to the top. Britt Robertson plays Amoruso, the young shoplifter-turned-mogul who founded popular fashion retailer Nasty Gal. "It felt like every story was about a flawed man, which is totally fine," Cannon has said. "But I was really starving to create a story about a woman." Think something along the lines of Wolf of Wall Street. While Netflix ultimately canceled this series, we wholly recommend watching the self-contained first season, which tethers episodic joy into what ultimately feels like three feature-length films.

GLOW (2017- )

It's odd that it took so long for someone to make a fun comedy about professional wrestling. Where Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler turned the plight of a washed-up grappler into a Sisyphean struggle in spandex, GLOW, which was inspired by a real life wrestling women's wrestling promotion from the '80s, takes a sunnier but still no-holds-barred approach. Community's Alison Brie excels as an actress who gets cast by a washed-up filmmaker (Marc Maron) to play the villain in the rag-tag operation, but, like producer Jenji Kohan's Orange is the New Black, it's the side characters, like Britney Young's second-generation brawler Machu Picchu, who really help this show get over. It's one of the few pieces of pop culture that actually captures this "fake" sport's very real appeal.

The Good Place (2016-2020)

Created by Parks and Rec mastermind Michael Schur, this whimsical comedy sends the World's Most Selfish Woman, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), to the afterlife. More specifically: the titular Good Place, something like heaven minus all the religious stuff. Things go swimmingly until Eleanor realizes she's been mistaken for someone else -- a glitch in the system that sends the utopia into a downward spiral. It's tons of fun seeing Bell and her onscreen soulmate Chidi (William Jackson Harper) try to fool everyone into believing this Eleanor can be a good person and deserves to stay. As we've already noted, "By the time you get to the incredible season finale, it's clear you've been sent straight up to TV heaven." Or, as Eleanor herself might put it: This show is forkin' good!

grace and frankie
Ali Goldstein/Netflix

Grace and Frankie (2015- )

Netflix users of a certain age have likely overlooked this dramedy from Marta Kauffman (Friends) and Howard J. Morris (The Starter Wife), about two septuagenarian friends (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) who shack up together after their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) announce they're in love and intend to marry. With notes of The Odd Couple and The Brady Bunch -- both couples have grown kids as equally knocked out by the news -- Grace and Frankie is down-to-earth viewing that's rich with observational wit on the progressive notion of being true to one's identity, and the time-worn cliche that everyone gets older with age. If you've indulged in the low-key, picture-perfect comedies of Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated, Something's Gotta Give), give this one a try.

Great British Baking Show (2010- )

If you still haven't indulged in this confectionary U.K. delight, clear enough room for a full-season binge. It's a mix of charm and no-holds-barred cooking criticism as judges and hosts navigate a sea of bakers vying to become the next masters of dough-proving, top-glazing, and edge-icing. There's something absolutely pure about Great British Baking Show, making it one of the nicest -- and we mean that as a plus -- reality shows ever to hit television.

Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017)

Man, if you like how pseudo-psychotic, bold, and impossibly ahead-of-the-game Tom Hardy is on Taboo, you'll love Lee Pace on Halt and Catch Fire. Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers' period saga sends the actor to Texas in the '80s, where he plays a tech visionary hell-bent on disrupting the computer revolution. Along with a top engineer (Scoot McNairy), a prodigy (Mackenzie Davis), and his new employer -- Cardiff Electric -- Pace & Co. race to clone and tweak IBM's processor to make more efficient, portable PCs. Loosely inspired by Compaq's real-life IBM rivalry, Halt and Catch Fire delivers with complex character relationships and top-notch acting (shout-out to the always-underrated Toby Huss). Also, great music.

Hap and Leonard (2016-2018)

Writer-director Jim Mickle adapted Joe Lansdale's pulpy noir novel Coldin July before diving all in on adapting the author's rootin'-tootin' crime franchise. Hap Collins (James Purefoy) is an ex-con trying to make enough cash to stay afloat. Leonard Pine (Michael Kenneth Williams) is a gay black Vietnam vet with a short temper. Together they solve crimes -- and it never goes smoothly.

the haunting of hill house netflix
Netflix

The Haunting of Hill House (2018- )

Netflix has found tremendous success with spooky shows and movies, and with Gerald's Game director Mike Flanagan as showrunner, The Haunting of Hill House delivers a creepy mystery that's even better as a family drama. Based on Shirley Jackson's novel of the same name, Hill House is a must-watch for any horror fan looking to get a fix from Netflix's ever-widening horror catalog. 

I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson (2019- )

I Think You Should Leave is easily the most bingeable series on Netflix, with just six sketch-based episodes clocking in at fewer than 20 minutes each. It's also really fucking funny. The brilliance of ITYSL comes from its ability to turn mundane, everyday situations -- like a birthday party or sitting on an airplane -- into absurdist masterpieces peppered with poop and fart jokes. The "good steering wheel" guy in the car focus group has become a widespread meme, but that kind of dense, nonsensical humor colors every sketch with a refreshing goofiness that's difficult to find. Where else will you see a guy dressed as a hot dog crash a wiener car into a store, then turn the debacle into a theft mixed with a commentary about watching porn on phones? 

The IT Crowd (2006-2013)

The traditional, "three-camera" stage sitcom can be done well. Cheers, Seinfeld, and Frasier all mastered it. But by the 2000s, the notion of shooting comedy in front of a live studio audience was all but dead -- at least in America. The IT Crowd, starring Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids), Richard Ayoade, and Katherine Parkinson as a lowly tech team residing in the basement of a major British corporation, proved there was still joy to bouncy dialogue and silly sight gags in a modern setting. Tremendously goofy and heartfelt, this show could easily replace hanging out with your actual friends.

jane the virgin
The CW

Jane the Virgin (2014-2019)

Yes, the title, the premise, the plotlines on this CW series are all ridiculous. But it's a telenovela -- it's supposed to be over the top. What's truly unbelievable about Jane is how many serious, controversial issues it makes palatable without moralizing (#ImmigrationReform). Somehow, a melodrama about an accidentally artificially inseminated virgin raising a baby while flitting back and forth between the vertices of a love triangle, which takes place in a world populated by drug lords, secret twins, evil professors, and a police department conspiracy -- manages to strike the simplest emotional and comic beats week after week. Jane deserves praise for its bilingual storytelling, strong female relationships, and uncommon mastery of a narrator's chryons... but ultimately, we watch it because it's just plain fun.

Jessica Jones (2015-2019)

Like Veronica Mars and many standout British crime series, Jessica Jones follows a private investigator searching for the answer to her own mystery. The difference is that Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) has superhuman strength... and crippling PTSD from a run-in with Kilgrave (David Tennant), a troubled man with mind-control powers who forces the heroine to commit heinous acts against her will. Jessica Jones still meanders in the mid-section as Jessica sloooowly unravels the past, but the frightful conceit, all-too-real social parallels, and Ritter's roaring performance make this the high-water mark for Marvel's Netflix projects. And it will all come to a close after Jessica Jones' final season in 2019.  

The Keepers (2017)

True-crime docs are a dime a dozen these days, but The Keepers takes the genre to another level by dealing in both micro and macro layers of a story involving sexual abuse, murder, police corruption, and the Catholic Church. At its center is the strange disappearance and death in 1969 of a schoolteacher nun named Sister Cathy Cesnik, a case that continues to be investigated by her former students, whom the filmmakers follow. Numerous shocking twists are revealed over the course of the seven-episode series, as the haunting mystery turns disturbing exposé and then circles back around again.

lady dynamite
Netflix

Lady Dynamite (2016-2017)

Maria Bamford's semi-autobiographical, surreal spin on mental illness in Hollywood was a sleeper hit for Netflix. The comedian's self-aware hijinks share obvious DNA with Arrested Development: Mitch Hurwitz and Pam Brady are executive producers; there are sight gags, wordplay, and mockery of Los Angeles idiocy galore; and it features countless comedy-world cameos, extended fantasy sequences, and genuine self-introspection. It'll take you a few episodes to get invested, or even to wrap your head around WTF you're watching. But once you're hooked, you're hooked.

The Last Czars (2019- )

The Last Czars approaches the end of the Russian monarchy and the start of the Russian revolution as part drama, part documentary, an appropriately unconventional way to depict an unconventional family. The fascinating and flawed Romanovs, along with their advisor, the perennially mythologized mystic Grigori Rasputin, take center stage against a sumptuous backdrop reminiscent of The Crown, but with talking-head historians giving context on the politics underpinning the seismic historical events that ultimately created the Soviet Union. Though it has exalted ambitions, The Last Czars, made by a largely British crew and cast, including showrunner Hereward Pelling and directors Adrian McDowall and Gareth Tunley, may not totally work as a historical document, but the Romanov family is fascinating enough to hold your interest.

Love, Death & Robots (2019- )

There's a certain artistry to making entertaining, effective, and imaginative short films, and Netflix's animated series Love, Death & Robots blends all three of those strengths with some really crazy sci-fi. The title pretty much says it all: every episode will have elements of love (read: sex -- the show is very rated R), death, and/or robots, and sometimes a combination of all three. From a tourist party of androids traipsing through a post-apocalyptic Earth, to a monster fighting ring where the monsters are powered by human minds, to an ancient civilization thriving in a couple's refrigerator, to a beautiful fable about an artist in the future who only paints using one shade of blue, Love, Death & Robots is a multifaceted collection of some of the most exhilarating and inventive storytelling out there.

Master of None (2015- )

Master of None is a comedy that examines the anxiety of unlimited choice, that slow drip of dread that starts every time you fire up your Apple TV or look up restaurant recommendations on your phone. Sounds bleak, right? Thankfully, the series, which was co-created by stand-up Aziz Ansari and former Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang, is able to find laughs in the often mundane problems of well-off city-dwellers. Recent sexual misconduct allegations against Ansari will likely complicate the show's plotlines about online dating and modern love for many viewers, but individual episodes like Season 1's "Parents" and Season 2's "Thanksgiving" still stand out as some of the most thoughtful, incisive comedic storytelling Netflix has to offer.

the last kingdom
© Carnival Film & Television Limited 2018/Netflix

The Last Kingdom (2015- )

If you like Game of Thrones, but wish it had less magic, The Last Kingdom is for you. Set in medieval England, it pits Danish invaders (aka VIKINGS) against the divided kingdoms on the British Isles. At the center of it all is Uhtred, an English noble captured and raised by the Vikings, but who subsequently fights for the English in battles that help "medieval" live up to its reputation as a time when the brutality of humans was perpetually on display in bloody hand-to-hand combat.

Love (2016-2018)

Romantic comedies can often feel more like fantasy with their meet cutes and perfect endings rather than depicting an attainable relationship. Rather than falling into these tropes, Love, an aptly named Netflix original series, feels almost too real. The series with co-creator Judd Apatow at its helm follows two flawed individuals, addict and wise-cracking Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and people-pleasing Gus (Paul Rust), who organically meet and inevitably fall for each other despite being seemingly wrong for each other. With its Apatow antics, Love is equally smart and hilarious as it is raw, and you’ll find yourself rooting for these two fuck-ups, watching episode after episode to see what their fate as a couple is. 

Mad Men (2007-2015)

Matthew Weiner knew where it was all going from the start -- and the AMC show's creator even warned us in the third-season premiere, via a Don Draper line to Roger Sterling: "I keep going to a lot of places and ending up somewhere I've already been."

The series spans many eras as we travel throughout time: the 1960s change the people around Don, and the second half of the final season, set in 1970, is momentous. Betty confronts her own mortality. Peggy discovers that true independence isn't as clean-cut as she thinks. Pete breaks his life in two so that he can put it back together again.

And then there's Don Draper: well-meaning, self-destructive, creative genius Don Draper, who dreams big and falls hard over and over and over again. Mad Men asserted itself as the Great American Television Show by being hyper-specific -- designed down to the desk stapler -- and universally opaque. We’ll never stop talking about the ending, the beginning, and everything in between, so you'd better hurry up and get on our level if you're not already.

making a murderer
Netflix

Making a Murderer (2015- )

What begins like a standard-issue Dateline episode about Steven Avery, a rural Wisconsin man wrongfully convicted of rape, turns, over the course of its 10 episodes, into a sharp, twin rebuke of unchecked law enforcement and the entire criminal justice system.

The documentary team behind this essential Netflix binge, which rivals The Staircase and Serial Season 1 in its capacity to inspire righteous anger and rabbit-hole quests for the truth, details how justice for Avery and his nephew, tragically swept up in the deplorable affair, has most definitely not been served. With Season 2 complicating the case, prepare to be enraged all over again. 

Manhunt: Unabomber (2017)

This eight-episode miniseries plays loose with the facts of the FBI Unabomber investigation and it won't teach you how to remember to spell Ted Kaczynski. But sometimes you just can't stop yourself from bingeing a nicely paced true-crime dramatization with unlikely actors in the crucial roles, like we have here with Avatar's Sam Worthington (as a dogged FBI agent who uses linguistics to track down the Unabomber), Avengers: Age of Ultron's Paul Bettany (as the hermetic, manifesto-writing mad bomber), and Party Down's Jane Lynch (as Janet Reno!).

Maniac (2018)

This trippy series, directed by True Detective Season 1 helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga, follows two troubled people who sign up for the trial of a drug that promises to be better than traditional talk therapy. Suffice to say things do not go as planned. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill star as the two guinea pigs, and their stories become increasingly intertwined as they float from dream world to dream world attempting to confront and destroy their inner demons. Much of it reads as nonsense, but it's beautifully shot and features a hilarious take on Freudian dynamics between Justin Theroux's Dr. James K. Mantleray and Sally Field's Dr. Greta Mantleray.

mindhunter netflix
Netflix

Mindhunter (2017- )

David Fincher loves serial killers. The director of SevenZodiac, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo launched Netflix into the world of original television when he applied his dark, brooding aesthetic to a different kind of sociopath: obscenely ambitious politician Francis Underwood, focal point of House of Cards. But where House of Cards felt a bit like a desperate child crying out for attention, Mindhunter arrived fully mature, concerned more with exploring the depths of headlines already written than creating new ones. The show follows a young, self-assured FBI agent, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff); his mentor, Bill Tench (Holt McCallany); and psychologist-turned-consultant Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) as they establish a division of the Bureau tasked with solving a "new kind of crime" that lacks what most law enforcers think of as rational motives. In short, they're inventing what will become the famous "FBI profiler" department. As the series develops and explores more cases (Season 2 focused on the Atlanta Child Murders), the social and personal continue to generate tension, while the signature interview scenes reveal the extent of humans' capacity for violence -- and the limitations of human knowledge. 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (2017- )

Could a new crew of comedians revive the effortless magic of public-acess-born Mystery Science Theater 3000. Absolutely. With the nerdy Jonah Ray (The Meltdownwith Jonah and Kumail) locked in the new spaceship, once again backed by Crow and Tom Servo (but with new voices, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn), spearheaded by former Daily Show head writer Elliot Kalan, and produced by original host Joel Hodgson, the new incarnation pelts jokes at late-night schlock and half-assed blockbusters with relentless force. There's a musicality to the jokes in MST3K: The Return, punctuating every bit of dead air in the god forsaken movie choices, and everyone is at the top of their game. "Cry Wilderness," about a little kid who pals around with Bigfoot, stands up to any of the classic episodes.

Nailed It! (2018- )

Your favorite bad-cooking competition show is one cooking show you can relate to from your couch, so you can settle in for another exciting season of non-chefs decidedly not nailing it. Dig in!

narcos
Netflix

Narcos (2015-2017)

This thriller is a treat for history buffs, unpacking the horrifying, drug-laden history of Colombia during the reign of legendary kingpin Pablo Escobar. As Escobar, Wagner Moura is both terrifying and captivating, and his opposition, two DEA agents fighting their way through a convoluted mystery, give a scarily real sense of the American efforts to end the war on drugs. Narcos' mix of archival footage and contemporary fictionalization keeps you engaged, and reminds you that a literal genocide had to happen just so yuppies could blow coke in the Hamptons during the '80s (only kind of kidding).

Narcos: Mexico (2018- )

Binged all of Narcos? May Netflix interest you in the similar -- but different! -- Narcos: Mexico? As the name suggests, the action centers around Mexican cartels, as opposed to the Colombians in the original, and features more star power in Diego Luna and Michael Peña. Tracking the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel, Narcos: Mexico is in many ways the same show as its predecessor, so it will come as a welcome spinoff for fans of the original. 

New Girl (2011-2018)

Zooey Deschanel goes full-on manic pixie dream girl Zooey Deschanel in this 20-something buddy comedy, playing the new roommate in an apartment full of bros. With freshly dumped elementary school teacher Jess Day moving into the home of several men who would rather do the bare minimum than make their apartment/lives function, New Girl is the quintessential setup for clashing personalities, burgeoning relationships, and ridiculous "mess-arounds." The cast is hysterical, and the individual bonds between characters keep you coming back to apartment 4D -- as the show goes on, the classic will-they-won't-they that unfolds between Jess and her curmudgeonly bartender roommate Nick (Jake Johnson) will have you desperate to find space in Winston's galactic-sex-portrait-painted closet to move on in, too. 

Nobel (2016)

Amid the Homelands and Zero Dark Thirtys of the world, it's easy to forget that the United States' decades-long global war on terror is just that: global. The coalition of nations that fought with America in Afghanistan included Norway, and it's in a foreign camp that the show begins with a tense military operation to take out a suspected suicide bomber. Make no mistake, though: This is not a war series, but a political one, focusing on the treacherous ripples terrorism sets off through national politics. In this case, the political implications are told through the lives Erling Riiser (Aksel Hennie), who served in Afghanistan, and his wife, Johanne (Tuva Novotny), a government worker who must navigate the business interests related to Norway's involvement in the region.

the oa
Nicola Goode/Netflix

The OA (2016-2019)

If Stranger Things was a little too basic for you, give this wonky sci-fi series from co-creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij a shot. The otherworldly Marling stars as Prairie, a blind woman who returns to society after years in captivity and quickly starts a youth group with some troubled teens. It gets crazier from there. Yes, there's interpretive dance. Yes, there are weird flashbacks to Russia. Yes, it will leave you scratching your head and searching the internet for clues. But sometimes the crazy shows are the ones you love the most.

The Office (2005-2013)

Go ahead and try to prevent your brain from firing off loads of oxytocin as soon as those opening piano notes hit your eardrums. As scenes from Scranton and the Dunder Mifflin office play across the screen, you'll find it difficult to resist falling into a wormhole of nostalgia, knowing all along that (SPOILER) Jim and Pam get together in the end. If you're watching for the first time, you'll understand why so many people fell for Michael Scott and the soft-bellied, straight-faced humor that reinvented network television. 

One Day at a Time (2016-2019)

Like The Ranch, its red state cousin, One Day at a Time is a throwback family sitcom in a world that can be unkind to audience laughter, big comedic performances, and that stage-bound multi-camera look. But single-camera purists should get over their hang-ups. This clever remake of Norman Lear's '70s hit about a single mother raising two teenage daughters is more charming and funny than many of its seemingly "edgier" peers. Anchored by a lived-in performance from Justina Machado (Six Feet Under), the show finds familiar laughs in the way generations clash and families wage war, but it's also culturally specific, socially engaged, and leisurely paced in a way that makes it stand out from your average CBS family show -- or Netflix's own dire Fuller House.

orange is the new black
Netflix

Orange Is the New Black (2013-2019)

The scripted original that put Netflix on the map, Orange is a comedy that will make you cry or a drama that will make your sides split, depending on how you want to categorize it. Featuring one of TV's best ensembles made up largely of unknown actresses, Jenji Kohan’s show about life in a women’s prison is full of fascinating, nuanced characters from all walks of life, who elicit empathy even as they make difficult -- sometimes morally reprehensible -- choices in order to get by.

Ozark (2017- )

It's easy to see why early critics compared Ozark to Breaking Bad: Drug money and morally gray characters abound in both. But as Marty Byrde -- a brilliant Chicago-based financial advisor who moves his family to Missouri's Ozarks on a life-or-death deadline to wash truck loads of cash for Mexico's second biggest drug cartel -- Jason Bateman never goes full Heisenberg. In fact, his character's main motivation for doing anything is to protect his family. Along with Bateman, Laura Linney (Marty's wife), Jason Butler Harner (an undercover fed), and Julia Garner (one sketchy family's substitute don) deliver particularly memorable turns to help make this slow-burn work wonders over its tense two seasons, with two more on the way. The Byrde saga might not yet be as good as its spiritual forefather, but it's better than a lot of its cousins (even Bloodline!). It'd be a mistake to not give it a shot.

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)

In the vein of workplace "reality" comedies like The Office, creator Michael Schur's take on a local parks and rec department finds humor in the mundane -- like bosses who take themselves way too seriously. Watching this show now is like being treated to a buffet of comedic royalty; there's Amy Poelher! Adam Scott! Donald Glover! Aubrey Plaza! Aziz Ansari! And more! Their performances cemented Parks and Rec's place in network comedy lore. 

Peaky Blinders (2013- )

Cillian Murphy stars in this early-20th-century period drama as Thomas Shelby, a World War I vet-turned-patriarchal crime boss who wants to up his family's social and financial status in England. The Shelbys' story plays out as historical fiction, loosely inspired by the exploits of real-life gangs based in Birmingham around the late 1800s and early 1900s. Rivaling bands of thugs clash for underworld influence here in a way that is not unlike on Game of Thrones just on a less fantastical scale: high-stakes political power plays, shady back-room dealings, and gritty tussles abound, with enough blood to rival the Red Wedding. (The show's name comes from the razor blades stitched in the Shelbys' flat caps, after all.) And if you still miss GoT, take comfort in appearances from Locke (Noah Taylor), Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), and the Night King (Richard Brake).

pose
FX

Pose (2018- )

Focusing on the queer ball communities as well as the upper crust businessmen of New York in the 1980s, Pose was destined to be an important show from its debut, especially considering it features the largest regular cast of trans actors ever on TV. But the show from Ryan Murphy proved to be even more fabulous than anyone anticipated, with thanks to nuanced storylines and incredible performances from talent like Janet Mock and Indya Moore. It's an ode to an overlooked community, keying in on the story of an ambitious dancer named Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), but Pose is also a testament to resilience, and one of the most joyful viewing experiences in recent TV memory

Riverdale (2017- )

A modern CW take on the yuk-yuk teen comic Archie may sound like a shot of arsenic to prestige TV binge-watchers, but with a murder mystery undercurrent, soap drama worthy of The O.C., and a sheen that looks like Twin Peaks by way of 300, Riverdale rises above everything you think you should be watching. Each young actor on the show is a discovery (OK, maybe not Arch himself, but this is why the comics always emphasized "& Friends") and the fully packed episodes earn all the twists and turns. Watch Riverdale and you'll be sifting through grocery store comic shelves in a week.

Russian Doll (2019- )

This failed NBC pilot pitched by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland returned to life as a Netflix original, and it's a good thing it did. The Groundhog Day-like premise finds Nadia (Lyonne) continually returning to life and dying until she can find a way to confront her trauma. It's a surreal examination of reality and the nature of the self, with an ending that leaves you guessing (and wanting more). 

Sacred Games (2018- )

Netflix's first original Indian series is an insanely watchable, not-to-miss cat-and-mouse cop thriller. Based on the 2006 novel by Vikram Chandra, this eight-part series works off of a familiar premise -- determined cop hunts down a high-profile drug kingpin and uncovers ungainly connections and hushed corruption -- set in Mumbai, showing Western audiences that there's way more to Indian entertainment than Bollywood movies.

santa clarita diet
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Santa Clarita Diet (2017-2019)

The series from Better Off Ted creator Victor Fresco gives the typical suburban family an undead twist. Unlike most shows about the struggle of surviving with zombies, Santa Clarita Diet is set up like a typical sitcom, with Drew Barrymore as the flesh-hungering monster and her husband (Timothy Olyphant) as a tireless zombie-pleaser trying to placate her in Little Shop of Horrors-like fashion. A 30-minute format establishes a laid-back pace with quirky jokes and an excessive amount of gore. Not for the weak-stomached. 

Sense8 (2015-2018)

Can you imagine waking up one day and suddenly your consciousness is interwoven with strangers from around the world? That’s the fate of eight individuals in the Netflix original Sense8, and only the beginning of the otherworldly oddity these "sensates" experience as they discover what their connection means, and the fact that they’re being hunted down. The global adventure of a show comes from the Wachowski sisters of The Matrix fame who intentionally wrote storylines revolving around identity politics rarely represented in sci-fi into the script, making Sense8 one dynamic genre series. 

Sex Education (2019- )

Though sex is right there in the title, this British Netflix original smartly places its emphasis on the emotions, uncertainty, and raging hormones that define most adolescents' entry into the sexual world. Awkward teen Otis (Asa Butterfield) finds himself an unwitting sex therapist to his peers, thanks to the knowledge gleaned from being the son of an actual sex therapist, Jean (Gillian Anderson). With help from his crush, Maeve (Emma Mackey), the two form a side hustle that turns out to have a lot more clients -- and bumps in the road -- than they expected. It's funny, yet also takes its subject matter seriously, and plays like a sex-positive manifesto for all struggling teenagers. 

Shameless (2011- )

A remake of the popular British series of the same name, Shameless follows the patriarch (William H. Macy) of a dysfunctional family as he tries, with very modest success, to keep everyone's lives from totally falling apart. As he struggles to stay sober, his daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) takes the reigns on raising her five siblings with much disdain for her dead beat dad. Disaster ensues and fires are frequently put out with scrappy plans, giving the show a dramedic leaning that makes bingeing very doable. 

she's gotta have it
Netflix

She's Gotta Have It (2017-2019)

Nola Darling is an artist, an activist, a Brooklynite, and a sex-positive polyamorous pansexual with three emotionally volatile boyfriends. But who is she? Spike Lee made his directorial debut with 1986's She's Gotta Have It, and 30 years later, expands the character study (with the help of a writer's room including his sister Joie Lee, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage) into his first TV series, a rhythmic exploration of sex, Brooklyn, and black life. Lee's signature, syncopated style -- bright colors, up-close-and-personal confessionals, jolts of pop music and album art, Bruce Hornsby's melancholy piano filling the gaps -- is intact, tracking Nola through the gentrifying brownstone labyrinth of Fort Greene like an epistolary novel. The joy of the series is in the updated casting, DeWanda Wise's Nola beams with wisdom, fear, artistic knowledge, and carnal desire, while the men and women in her life are fleshed out and… fleshed out, allowing the many sex scenes to play to the senses while reaching for something deeper.

Sherlock (2010- )

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Sherlock Holmes, albeit in the present day, solving crimes with the refined intelligence characteristic of Arthur Conan Doyle's hero, and accompanied by his sidekick, Dr. Watson. With three hour-and-a-half-long installments in each series, you can solve a single mystery in the course of a single night -- or, if you're more ambitious, you may find yourself glued to the couch for an entire weekend, trying to catch up with the rapid wit and near-impossible intellect of one of fiction's legendary characters.

The Sinner (2017- )

In the first episode of The Sinner, Jessica Biel’s character Cora Tannetti stabs a man to death in broad daylight with her family sitting nearby. Why she erupted in such a violent act is just the first mystery in this Golden Globe-nominated series about what drives average people to commit heinous crimes. As Cora awaits arraignment in court, a detective feels compelled to understand what fueled her rage, revealing an immensely troubled past. The way the series unfolds, will keep you on your toes, as you’re led by an unreliable narrator into a history of events that constantly evolves from fact to fiction, while constantly remaining horrific as the truth begins to surface. 

The Staircase (2004-2018)

Years before the streaming revolution gave viewers unfettered on-demand access to true-crime hits like Making a Murderer and Evil Genius, French director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade gained unprecedented access to North Carolina writer Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife in 2001. Netflix acquired the rights to the original series and follow-up (get on board with "The Owl Theory!"), and will also release new episodes detailing the case's bizarre twists and turns. The Staircase will almost certainly be the next big summer binge-watch.

star trek the next generation
CBS Television Distribution

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

After a string of The Original Series-inspired movies and miscalculations on how to revive the sci-fi franchise for television, Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek boldly went where no concept had gone before with The Next Generation, a shinier, headier, all-around better (yeah, we said it) saga in the United Federation of Planets' history. Led by Patrick Stewart and helped by an iconic supporting cast, The Next Generation followed the TOS mission to speculate about and empathize with social issues of the day, filtered through a lens of A-grade sci-fi writing that stands the test of time.

Stranger Things (2016- )

If you haven't binged Netflix's '80s paranormal throwback... what gives? It's all anyone talked about in 2016, and the second season ramped up the stakes controversially, with a third installment returned the series to its nostalgic glory. If you've already done your time in the Upside Down, bide your time with the time-jumping Travelers, the alien-invasion saga Colony, the goofy fantasy series Shannara, and the one-season mind-bender Awake.

Terrace House (2012- )

Call it what you will, Terrace House's brand of neo-anti-no-wave-reality TV show from Japan is back for another installation of its third series (Opening New Doors, following Boys and Girls in the City and Aloha State) with Netflix. A rotating cast of six strangers live in an amazing and huge house together, weathering drama levels ranging from nonexistent to low-level tension, while continuing with their daily lives. They talk about their dreams, respectfully date each other, and do group activities, all of which is filmed and recut for a panel to scrutinize. It might seem like the epitome of boring TV you wouldn't think to watch, but trust us: you want to hop on the Terrace House bandwagon ASAP.

tiger king
Netflix

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)

Before Tiger King came along, a few docuseries were vying for the title of Netflix's craziest true-crime shows. Since Tiger King came out, it's no longer a contest. This series, a close look into the community of exotic animal keepers hiding in plain sight, has more crazy moments, twists, and real shockers in a single episode that it's legitimately difficult to keep track of every jaw-dropping revelation. Directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin know how to hook an audience: Every episode starts with an epiphany and ends on a cliffhanger as they get deeper into the world of big cats, the drama unfolding between someone like Joe Exotic, who at one point owned the largest private zoo in the United States, and his mortal enemy Carole Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue in Florida. Beyond being absolutely insane to watch, Tiger King pulls off the delicate task of telling this impossibly crazy story with both empathy and a critical eye. No one comes out of it unscathed. 

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

Every lauded sci-fi movie or television show owes Rod Serling residuals. Over 156 episodes, Serling speculated and dreamed, refracting his present day through the trippiest scenarios to ever beam through mild-mannered American homes. The Twilight Zone’s visual prose took us to jungles, to space, to 20,000ft, and to the sunny block from every person’s childhood, where the worst existential revelations tended to lurk. The Twilight Zone still speaks volumes. Buckle up and fly into a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

David Lynch and Mark Frost's detective series is often credited with instilling television with artful potential. Without Twin Peaks, there'd likely be no Mad Men or Breaking Bad,  (and both shows nodded to the ABC series). And yet, the show's dreamy, saturated look is really a cherry on top. Twin Peaks is a steady stream of oddball characters and fantastical twists, encountered by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he hunts for the murder of a small town teenager. Your weird friends love this show. You should, too. It's finally time to understand those Log Lady Halloween costumes.
 

unbreakable kimmy schmidt
Netflix

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2019)

Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer Robert Carlock’s comedy tracks the adventures of an Indiana naïf after she is freed from being held captive by a doomsday cult leader for 15 years -- what a premise! Ellie Kemper plays the freed kidnapping victim, who heads to the Big Apple without a clue on how to exist in the modern world. Luckily, Titus, a penny-pinching, Broadway-belting man in desperate need of a roommate, takes her in and trains her in the art of living. Kimmy Schmidt clings to 30 Rock’s goofy sense of humor and drops the cynicism. Beware: it’ll take three binges just to catch all the jokes.

The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)

Here's the pitch: not one, but two hot vampire brothers. While it premiered back in 2009 at the sparkly peak of Twilight mania, this supernatural teen soap has more in common with co-creator Kevin Williamson's witty '90s work -- Dawson's Creek and Scream -- than it does with Stephenie Meyer's po-faced novels. Based on a series of books by YA writer L. J. Smith, the show brings you into the inner life of a newly orphaned high-schooler named Elena (Nina Dobrev) who gets pursued by sultry, good vamp Stefan (Paul Wesley) and his equally sultry, evil bro Damon (Lost's Ian Somerhalder). There are love triangles, complicated mythology, crazy plot twists, and countless scenes where yokels get bit in the neck by pale guys with great hair. But it's the wry, almost Buffy-like comic tone that keeps you coming back.  

The Walking Dead (2010- )

What makes Robert Kirkman's graphic novel-turned-TV saga so great is that it isn't just about curb-stomping zombies:The Walking Dead focuses on complex personal relationships to ask thought-provoking questions about what it means to rebuild society, how to function as a healthy community, and what humanity looks like in a post-apocalyptic age. Just don't get too attached to your favorite characters. Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and friends live in a very, very unforgiving world.

the west wing
NBC

The West Wing (1999-2006)

Don't hold The Newsroom against him: Aaron Sorkin's political fable is smarter, funnier, and less bombastic than some of the Oscar-winning screenwriter's later television work. In telling the story of President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his workaholic senior staff, Sorkin found the perfect subject matter for his farcical, monologue-heavy, walk-and-talk style. Though the show lost some of its charm when Sorkin left after the fourth season, the later episodes -- complete with an Obama-like presidential candidate played by Jimmy Smits -- work as a liberal wish-fulfillment fantasy in these very, uh, un-Bartlet-ey times.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015) & 10 Years Later (2017)

Reboots and spinoffs often fall flat; not so with Netflix's prequel and sequel to the 2001 cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer. The strength of this series is its willingness to poke fun at the very nature of the repetitive, sequel-driven boom TV and movies are experiencing, with the same actors playing the characters they originally portrayed as though no time has passed in the decade-and-a-half since the movie appeared. A-listers Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, and Elizabeth Banks give game performances that are bolstered by new faces like John Slattery and Jordan Peele. The show never makes you feel as though you're participating in a cynical nostalgia play (though, let's face it, you kind of are), and while 10 Years Later took a dip in quality, succumbing to the dopiness of its own premise, the steady laughs have us recommending both seasons.

When They See Us (2019)

Given the wide scope of the material, juggling multiple families scrambling to protect the ones they love and a vast grinding legal apparatus attempting to pin a crime on innocent victims, the most impressive aspect of When They See Us, director Ava Duvernay's powerful docudrama about the Central Park Five, is the way it zeroes in on small moments of human anguish, bravery, and cruelty. Focusing on the aftermath of a rape and assault of a female jogger in the park, the miniseries combines the tick-tock storytelling of a true-crime police procedural with a more curious, empathetic eye. Like she did with 2014's Selma, Duvernay, who also co-wrote all four episodes of the series, moves elegantly between tactics-obsessed storytelling and more intimate passages. That sense of purpose -- and the show's relative brevity in comparison to many Netflix shows -- makes it stand out on a platform that often emphasizes comfort at the expense of concision.

Wynonna Earp (2016- )

Wynonna Earp is a faster, sexier, funnier show than it has any right to be. The pitch is simple: the great-great-granddaughter of legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp must lead the charge against an army of zombies. A hero fighting the undead? A badass woman in charge? If you love action TV, this one's for you. Earp totes a gigantic, legendary magic pistol called Peacemaker. She has a bumbling, moronic Justin Bieber-lookalike as a sidekick/comic relief. There are several love triangles with the undead. One of those love triangles happens to involve Doc Holliday in the present. Perhaps the best summary of the show is this one-liner in its pilot: "I am the girl. With the big-ass gun." If you can't get on board, you may not like fun.

you netflix
Beth Dubber/Netflix

You (2018- )

Oh, You -- you are the beautiful trash of Netflix, the junk food that millions of binge-seeking viewers simply couldn't resist. Originally a Lifetime series that went mostly under the radar during its cable run, You picked up a huge following when it hit Netflix, and will now return for a second season as a Netflix original. What's all the fuss about? Penn Badgley stars as Joe Goldberg, an attractive, sensitive bookstore manager who happens to be an obsessive serial killer. When he gets fixated on Beck (Elizabeth Lail), you'll follow along his inner monologue as he murders his way to her heart with a mix of next-level stalking and timely violence. It's ridiculous, but like Beck, you'll find Joe oddly irresistible. 

3% (2016- )

If you relish the dystopian drama of The 100, The Hunger Games, or other narratives about attractive people living under unattractive regimes, then this Brazilian Netflix original is for you. The hook of 3% is simple: The world is divided between a world of wealth called the Offshore and a world of poverty called the Inland. (Sounds familiar, right?) The Elysium-like premise is explored with real emotional depth, and director César Charlone, the cinematographer responsible for City of God's stunning visuals, shoots everything with a gritty glow.

The 4400 (2004-2007)

Produced by The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, this underrated sci-fi series imagines what would happen if 4,400 people suddenly vanished from the face of the planet in the early 20th century... then flashed back into reality decades later. The mystery unfolds through the eyes of some superlative performances, including newly minted Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali as a US Air Force pilot who disappeared but somehow has a daughter in the present.

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