The 100 Best TV Shows on Netflix to Binge Right Now
For when 10+ hours of TV sounds good.
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 (2018– )This unlikely Sanrio-sponsored anime series totally succeeds as a standalone project from the branding that might otherwise subsume Aggretsuko, the show about a 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, it's impossible not to relate to Retsuko in her day-to-day trials and existential tribulations as a 20-something anxious about her life purpose as she punches numbers into soulless spreadsheets for her literal pig of a boss. More than just office gags, Aggretsuko walks across minefields, too, approaching contemporary women's issues with unexpected finesse. It's a self-aware comedy gem in addictive 12-minute episodes that you'll breeze through until you're caught up.
Altered Carbon (2018–2020)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.
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 fashion 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 (many, but not all) 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 of the anthology's seasons, you're in for unforgettable characters, stomach-curdling gore, jaw-dropping plot twists, and brutal finales.
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 (2003–2019)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 Recreation, 30 Rock, Community, Archer, Kroll 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 franchise.
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, it wasn't 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 (2015– )It really wasn't all that long ago that Bob Odenkirk, long a comedy icon, was stealing scenes in AMC's Breaking Bad as the scuzzy defense attorney Saul Goodman in his tacky strip mall oval office and off-putting orange and purple ties. Now, he's doing things like showing up in a Steven Spielberg movie, delivering the titular line in Greta Gerwig's Little Women, and becoming a full-on action movie star, and he carries the underrated Breaking Bad prequel (indisputably better than its predecessor) in the series of events that lead to his slow backslide from struggling public defender Jimmy McGill to slimy small-time claims and criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. Told six years before Saul meets Walter White, Better Call Saul is full of "hey, that guy!" moments with the (re)introduction of characters like Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut. Catch up now before the last piece of the Breaking Bad ouroboros arrives to eat its own tail.
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, Ayo Edebiri (replacing Jenny Slate), Jordan Peele, and Fred Armisen, and plenty 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 cartoons and maturing to be one of the most adept shows about adolescence and mental health.
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 (2014–2020)When you write it, it sounds strange: A cartoon (and our favorite Netflix original series) about a talking horse is one of the funniest and most accurate representations of depression that exists in a TV format. But it's true. As you join the title character, voiced by Will Arnett, on his quest for Hollywood and personal redemption, you'll encounter killer visual gags, whip-smart dialogue, complex and deeply flawed characters, and genuine feelings—the kind that'll make you evaluate (and re-evaluate, and re-re-evaluate) your own life.
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.
Bridgerton (2020– )Netflix gave subscribers a Christmas gift in the form of Shonda Rhimes' first contribution to the streaming platform. Bridgerton, based on a series of well-loved romance novels, is a steamy take on the marriage politics of Regency England. Centered on eligible young bachelorette Daphne Bridgerton and her large and complicated family, it plays like a period piece Gossip Girl with the action narrated by the mysterious Lady Whistledown, voiced by none other than Julie Andrews.
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."
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 and its international (France) and culinary (Pastry, BBQ) spinoffs, from creator David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), are exceptional food programming that manages to make humans the centerpiece.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (2012–2020)Jerry Seinfeld has a shitload of expensive cars lying around, so he decided to film himself giving other funny people rides in them (and others that he rents out to match the energies of specific celebrities). It's pretty entertaining, as far as celebs chatting over normal stuff and the essence of "comedy" goes. After a run as Crackle's only viable original program, Seinfeld took his talents to the king of the streaming game.
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 across its many seasons—Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies taking over, with Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce carrying the series to its eventual conclusion. The series' period costumes are legendary and its sets designed with impeccable attention to detail. Early on, The Crown failed to examine the macro geopolitical shifts that have characterized Elizabeth II's long reign, picking more local ephemera from history—for example, decolonization receives scant attention, but the Great Smog of London merits a multi-episode storyline—but has more recently gotten to the real juice, bringing the doomed relationship between Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles to the fore. Throughout, however, The Crown has remained 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 (2017–2020)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 series through.
Dawson's Creek (1998–2003)Oh, Dawson, isn't growing up tough? This new millennium teen drama that aired over on The WB laid the blueprint for many of the coming-of-age series that followed with its earnest portrayal of adolescence. Even if the precocious teens of the fictional New England town of Capeside don't always have it easy, or you're filled with anxiety watching the will-they-won't-they unfold between Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and his best friend Joey (Katie Holmes), it always feels a little bit like coming home tuning into this late '90s/early aughts classic.
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 (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 (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.
Evil (2019– )This CBS series—created by Robert and Michelle King, the shepherds of The Good Wife franchise—gained new life when it hit Netflix being a procedural with a supernatural bent and an addictive overarching narrative. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) is a forensic psychologist who gets a gig assisting a priest-in-training David Acosta (Mike Colter) tasked with figuring out whether people are experiencing religious phenomena or whether there is an earthly explanation for their possessions. The Kings manage to walk the line between funny and creepy extremely well, making this a must watch.
Fauda (2015– )Fauda, an action thriller about an elite team of undercover Israeli commandos working in Palestine, is in the upper tier of Netflix's 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.
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 Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali as a US Air Force pilot who disappeared but somehow has a daughter in the present.
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 (2000–2007; 2016)This Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino series is an indisputable aughts classic. If the first seven years spent in the quirky small town of Stars Hollow wasn't enough Rory and Lorelai Gilmore's fast-talking banter wasn't enough, there's a four-episode Netflix revival to fill the nostalgia hole. On top of Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham's iconic performances as daughter and mother, Gilmore Girls 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 (2017–2019)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 and Betty Gilpin's all-American Liberty Belle, 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, making its untimely cancelation one big bummer.
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 (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 UK delight, clear enough room for a multi-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. (God forbid Paul Hollywood finds a soggy bottom.) 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). It's one of the TV greats of the 2010s.
Hannibal (2013–2015)A reinvention of author Thomas Harris's cannibalistic super-villain Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson) from Pushing Daisies showrunner Bryan Fuller, Hannibal is by no means comfort viewing. That is, unless you find imagery like a body covered in mushrooms or an unnerving stag-man beast oddly soothing. Ever since it first aired on network TV, though, it's remained an extremely daring procedural—and with just three seasons, it's one that's absolutely worth picking up a fork for. Even with the amount of bloodshed and bone chilling terrors, you'll devour it.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018) & The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)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. While it's not as terrifying as the first season, Flanagan turned this show into an anthology, and followed it up with the Turning of the Screw-inspired second season The Haunting of Bly Manor, which is also worth a watch.
Itaewon Class (2020)For an introduction to the intimidatingly extensive world of Korean dramas available on Netflix, Itaewon Class makes for a good, recent starter series. Like a well-made soap opera, the series follows Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon), a young man with a troubled past who owns a struggling pocha (a Korean gastropub) in the wealthy neighborhood of Itaewon in Seoul, and those around him, including his rowdy gang of employees, a perfectly loathsome bratty rich kid, and a sociopathic Instagram influencer. Like the majority of K-dramas, buckle in for hour-long episodes full of tense exchanges, scenes in the rain, and redemption arcs.
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.
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. Plenty of memes have come out of its perpetually relevant satire, but that kind of dense, nonsensical humor colors every sketch with a refreshing goofiness that's difficult to find anywhere. 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?
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 meanders in the as Jessica sloooowly unravels the past, but the frightful conceit, all-too-real social parallels, and Ritter's roaring performance made this the high-water mark for Marvel's ill-fated Netflix projects.
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 (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 LA 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 Dance (2020)Even if you couldn't care less about basketball, you'll be captivated by this lengthy ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and his legacy. Yes, it's worth watching for the memes alone, but Jason Hehir also crafted an incisive portrait that examines the intensity (and, in some cases, the insanity) of a person who is deemed "the greatest," framed by the Chicago Bulls' 1997-98 season with a team full of all stars (Scottie Pippin, Dennis Rodman, etc.) in their run for the NBA title. There's a pizza conspiracy, sick dunks, and, of course, Space Jam.
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, 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. Past 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.
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.
Making a Murderer (2015–2018)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.
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 (2017–2019)David Fincher loves serial killers. The director of Seven, Zodiac, 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.
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 (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.
Never Have I Ever (2020– )Mindy Kaling and co-creator Lang Fisher pull off a delicate but ultimately worthwhile balancing act with their teen comedy Never Have I Ever. The show is an exploration of its heroine Devi's grief while also excelling as a sweet and goofy teen romance with plenty of boy drama to debate. Narrated with a hefty dose of absurdism by tennis great John McEnroe, Never Have I Ever follows Devi as she attempts to change her social status at school, even as she bats back the lingering sadness from the unexpected death of her father. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, the previously unknown cast as Devi, is an absolute delight, and we're still debating whether we're Team Ben or Team Paxton Hall-Yoshida.
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.
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.
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 (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 previously 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.
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.
The Queen's Gambit (2020)You don't have to like, or even understand, chess to get behind The Queen's Gambit, Netflix's resident chess show. An adaptation of Walter Tevis' 1983 novel, the limited series charts the evolution of Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy of The Witch), an orphan who grew up addicted to the tranquilizers her caretakers fed her and eventually becomes a glamorous international chess star, beating the Soviets at the game they dominate. While it can get into the weeds about strategy at times, this is mostly a character study of a complex young woman you can't help but root for. From the immaculate '60s production and costume design to Taylor-Joy's attentive performance, it's a masterpiece you ought to play.
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). Luckily, more is coming.
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 (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.
Schitt's Creek (2015–2020)Any time you have the chance to watch a comedic genius flexing the full range of her abilities, you should take it, and Catherine O'Hara flexes hard as Moira Rose in Schitt's Creek. The story of the formerly wealthy Rose family's struggle to adjust to life running a motel in a small Canadian town they bought for their son as a gag back in the early '90s gives her and co-star/series co-creator Eugene Levy ample material to work with. Also living with their grown children David (Daniel Levy, the show's co-creator and Eugene's real-life son) and Alexis (Annie Murphy), who still share a room in the motel—it's the perfect vehicle for the cast's whip-smart comedic instincts, while doubling as a roast of the extremely wealthy.
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 (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 (2010–2017)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. After the first installment, only Bill Pullman's detective Harry Ambrose carries over from season to season, as it turns into an anthology but continues to focus on cases that drive ordinary people to commit heinous acts.
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 author of crime sagas Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife in 2001, creating one of the first-ever great nonfiction murder mysteries in the murky details picked over in The Staircase. 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.
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.
3% (2016–2020)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.
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.
Trailer Park Boys (2001-2008)The premise of this Canadian cult classic is right there in the title, but it doesn't prepare you to enter the streets of Sunnyvale Trailer Park, run by the spiteful alcoholic Jim Lahey and his shirtless lackey Randy and populated by the perpetually scheming main characters Julian, always with a drink in his hand, Ricky, full of malapropisms, and Bubbles, surrounded by cats. Though we can't vouch for the greater Trailer Park Boys universe that spawned after the success of Mike Clattenberg's original mockuseries, this initial run of episodes remains an irreverent comedy with a high rewatch value.
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.
Unbelievable (2019)Toni Collette and Merritt Weaver lead a talented cast in this miniseries that adapts a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the hunt for a serial rapist and the infuriating police lapses that could have reduced the scale of the crimes. Booksmart breakout Kaitlyn Dever plays Marie Adler, a rape victim who winds up pleading guilty to filing a false police report after authorities doubt what happened to her, allowing her attacker to continue operating in a different state. Throughout its eight episodes, Unbelievable takes an unsentimental approach to the failures of the justice system and the struggle many survivors go through just to get taken seriously; it's one of the more harrowing viewing experiences you'll have on 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.
Unorthodox (2020)This four-episode miniseries is about a 19-year-old woman who flees her marriage and the restrictive Satmars in Brooklyn for Berlin, where she has a right to citizenship through her maternal grandparents. Co-written by Deutschland83's Anna Winger, Unorthodox is a coming-of-age story that's not about a rejection of faith as much as it is about finding faith in new communities.
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.
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.
The Witcher (2019– )Based on the books that inspired the video game series, The Witcher stars Henry Cavill, Superman himself, as Geralt of Rivia, a magical mutant "Witcher" who hunts stuff and drinks lots of potions and grunts "hm" and "fuck" often. There are also other characters, arguably too many, but really, the one to know is Geralt. It's confusing, yes, and it leaves a lot of questions lingering, but it lays down a long runway ahead of it for Season 2 (and many more, hopefully) to take off with. Unfortunately for Geralt, he won't be able to shake off Jaskier the bard, who penned the catchiest original song ever included on a Netflix show.
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 (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 in 2018, and continues on as a Netflix original that retains its trashy form. What's all the fuss about? Penn Badgley stars as Joe Goldberg, an attractive, sensitive book lover who happens to be an obsessive serial killer. You'll follow along his inner monologue as he murders his way to the hearts of the women he becomes obsessed with using his signature mix of next-level stalking and timely violence. It's ridiculous, but Joe remains oddly irresistible.
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