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The 50 best shows on Netflix right now

Nick Perry
·37-min read

As the weather cools and we start thinking more about hunkering down with some streaming entertainment to get lost in, don’t just set your remote’s sights on Netflix’s plethora of best movies to stream, and instead get cozy with the streamer’s near-limitless lineup of TV shows, sure to keep you occupied for days — or even weeks — on end. Or, if you just finished a good series and need a new one to fill the void, Netflix is the place to go, given the service’s phenomenal mix of classic, current, and original programming. Below, we’ve rounded up the best shows on Netflix right now, so you can binge-watch without having to hunt for the right title.

Looking for something else? We’ve also rounded up the best movies on Amazon Prime, the best shows on Hulu, the best shows on Amazon Prime, and the best shows on Disney+.

The Office
The Office

The Office

The Office is TV comfort food … and what’s wrong with that? This series was largely inspired by the BBC original, but the American incarnation of The Office ultimately found its own identity while following the exploits of Dunder Mifflin’s eccentric employees. Steve Carell had a star-making turn as the clueless boss, Michael Scott. Over time, Michael did have some personal growth, but he always retained his goofy and quirky qualities as well. Carell was also supported by an amazing cast that included Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Ed Helms, Craig Robinson, Mindy Kaling, and so many others. Over the course of nine seasons, it was very easy to welcome their characters into our collective hearts. And rewatching every episode is just another chance to catch the jokes that went by the first time.

Created by: Greg Daniels
Cast: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski
Number of seasons: 9

Watch on Netflix

Ratched
Ratched

Ratched

American Horror Story and American Crime Story standout, Sarah Paulson, takes the lead in Ratched, a series inspired by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Paulson portrays Nurse Mildred Ratched in a prequel to the famous novel and film. And if you thought that Ratched was monstrous before, then the series is going to be an eye-opener. The series takes place in 1947, as Ratched worms her way into a prestigious mental health institute. On the surface, Ratched is a model nurse and a paragon for others to admire. But beneath the surface, Ratched ruthlessly pursues her own agenda, regardless of who she has to hurt or kill. There are several twists to be found, and even a monster like Ratched can find love in unexpected places.

Created by: Evan Romansky
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Finn Wittrock, Cynthia Nixon
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

The Haunting of Bly Manor
The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor

First things first: The Haunting of Bly Manor is not the second season of The Haunting of Hill House, despite both being creations of Mike Flanagan. Instead of a sequel to Hill House, Flanagan has envisioned Bly Manor as its own separate story, which was inspired by Henry James’ classic novel, The Turn of the Screw. Victoria Pedretti headlines the series as Dani, a young governess who has been hired to watch over “two very unusual children.” Pedretti’s fellow Hill House veterans, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, and Kate Siegel, will also be back in new roles unconnected to the previous series. The only thing that we can guarantee is that fresh scares are on the way. And it might be a good idea to watch this new show with the lights on.

Created by: Mike Flanagan
Cast:
Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Schitt’s Creek
Schitt’s Creek

Schitt’s Creek

Even Netflix couldn’t have predicted that the final season of Schitt’s Creek would sweep the Emmy Awards for comedy in 2020. But this little Canadian comedy has turned into a TV powerhouse, thanks in part to Netflix itself. The father-and-son duo of Eugene and Dan Levy created and starred in Schitt’s Creek for six seasons. The show follows the Rose family after they lose their fortune and circumstances force them to move to a small town they once purchased as a joke. On the surface, that may sound shallow. But this is a comedy that has a lot of heart to go with its side-splitting moments and unique characters. The final episode even nailed the landing for the series, which is always a rarity. This month, Netflix is adding the sixth season, which completes the show’s run. But now it’s ready to be discovered by a new audience.

Created by: Eugene Levy, Dan Levy
Cast: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy
Number of seasons: 6

Watch on Netflix

The Umbrella Academy on Netflix
The Umbrella Academy on Netflix

The Umbrella Academy

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Gerard Way, this superhero series follows the lives of seven of 43 children born to women who mysteriously never knew they were pregnant until they went into labor. It turns out they are superheroes, and when these seven children are adopted by an eccentric billionaire, he turns the siblings into a superhero team called The Umbrella Academy. Later, however, the children become estranged from one another and their father. But when they discover he has passed away, they reconnect for his funeral. Warnings of a pending apocalypse prompt them to band together again to stop it, though it isn’t without clashing personalities and plenty of familial dysfunction.

Created by: Steve Blackman
Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Mary J. Blige
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

<span class="credit">Eric Liebowitz / Netflix</span>
Eric Liebowitz / Netflix

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It’s four seasons, plus a fun choose-your-own-adventure-style interactive special, full of silly hilarity. The sitcom takes a serious premise — a teenage girl is kidnapped and kept in an underground bunker for 15 years until finally being rescued — and makes it funny. Now 29, Kimmy has been completely cut off from the real world and still has the attitude of a 15-year-old girl living in the ’90s. But despite emerging to a world filled with negativity and stress, she is determined to live life to the fullest and make every moment count, which prompts her to move to The Big Apple in hopes of fulfilling her dreams … whatever they may be. While Kimmy, played by Ellie Kemper, is the title character, the real star of the series is arguably her lazy, effeminate, eccentric, and judgmental roommate and friend Tituss (Tituss Burgess). With a cast that also includes comedic icons like Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski, along with Jon Hamm in a recurring role, it’s an unconventional, sugary-sweet, and uplifting comedy full of color and old pop-culture references that will make you smile.

Created by: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Cast: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

Russian Doll on Netflix
Russian Doll on Netflix

Russian Doll

Natasha Lyonne brings her signature comedic stylings to this comedy-drama as Nadia, a woman stuck in a time loop who keeps reliving the same day over and over again, each time dying in increasingly freakish ways. She eventually discovers another man going through the same thing, and together, they try to figure out how to get out of the recurring nightmare. Earning four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, the mind-bending series will keep you puzzled and have you guessing all the way through. It’s the kind of series with lots of water-cooler-chatter potential by the end.

Created by: Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler
Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

The Baby-Sitters Club
Kelly Schwerman / Netflix

The Baby-Sitters Club

Just released in summer 2020, this television adaptation of the popular children’s novel series of the same name by Ann M. Martin has become an instant hit, with a 100% approval rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes and critics calling it “sweet, sincere, and full of hope.” Like the books, the series follows five middle-school girls who start their own babysitting business in Connecticut, and their adventures as they do so. Each girl has her own unique passion and personality, and a different job in the club, from Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace), the president who makes it a point to call out social injustices, to the shy Mary Anne (Malia Baker), who serves as secretary. It’s a great show that pre-teens and young teens will love, and nostalgic parents who might have read the book series when they were kids will appreciate, too.

Created by: Rachel Shukert
Cast: Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Alicia Silverstone, Mark Feuerstein, Xochitl Gomez
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever is a coming-of-age dramedy about a young woman who, after the death of her father, decides she wants to change her life and elevate her social status. However, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), an Indian girl raised in America, finds that her family and friends aren’t fully on board with this renaissance. Considered a standout in a crowded field of coming-of-age dramedies on Netflix, Never Have I Ever delightfully balances the traditional perils of high school like teen romance and popularity with the challenges of grief, being a first-generation American, and finding yourself in a crowd of loved ones.

Created by: Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher
Cast:
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Jaren Lewison
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender

When it comes to animated series, few rival Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. The beloved series continues to garner a following more than 15 years after its initial debut, likely due to the way it deftly balances child-friendly themes with more sophisticated narratives, ones that revolve around war and the oft-ambiguous line between good and evil. The show is centered on the titular Aang, a master of the elements, and four nations, each of which is named after a different element (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water). The main story follows Aang and his companions in their effort to quell unrest and an ongoing feud with the Fire Nation, but the show’s detailed world-building and character development extend well beyond the scope of any one individual. To this day, it’s still considered a masterclass in storytelling, and considering Netflix is currently working on a live-action adaptation, there’s no better time to watch than now. The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, is also on Netflix now.

Created by: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Cast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mako Iwamatsu, Mae Whitman
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

She&#39;Ra&#39;s modern reboot
She'Ra's modern reboot

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

In the ‘80s, She-Ra was He-Man’s sister and the star of her own animated series and toy line. Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power isn’t as interested in selling toys as it is building upon relationships. The series completely reimagined the story to center around Adora and Catra, a pair of orphans raised by the evil Horde army. When Adora finds her power through She-Ra’s magic sword, it sets her against her best friend, Catra, who also happens to be the person she loves the most. This series broke new ground for animated LGBT themes and characters and carved out a place for itself in the hearts of fans.

Created by: Noelle Stevenson
Cast: Aimee Carrero, AJ Michalka, Karen Fukuhara
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black

One of Netflix’s first breakout original series is still one of its most powerful shows to date. Orange is the New Black started out as a story about Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman who was locked up in prison over some bad choices she made over a decade before the series. But over seven seasons, it became a much richer story about the large cast behind bars as they came together and grew apart. It’s also a scathing indictment of the prison industrial complex that works equally well as both a comedy and a drama. This one is for the ages.

Created by: Jenji Kohan
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew
Number of seasons: 7

Watch on Netflix

Community on Netflix
Community on Netflix

Community

NBC never quite knew what to make of Community, but the series found a devoted audience that embraced its hilarious blend of pop culture comedy. Future Marvel directors Joe and Anthony Russo helmed several memorable episodes that earned them a chance to hit the big screen. But this show belongs to its mismatched study group as portrayed by Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, and Chevy Chase. Despite several personality clashes, the group becomes a makeshift family. Ken Jeong and Jim Rash also steal a lot of scenes as Dean Pelton and Ben Chang. We’re still waiting for a Community movie, but all six seasons are on Netflix.

Created by: Dan Harmon
Cast: Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover
Number of seasons: 6

Watch on Netflix

Halt and Catch Fire on Netflix
Halt and Catch Fire on Netflix

Halt and Catch Fire

How does one of the best shows of the decade get lost on a network? By contending with The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire carved out its own identity in this ‘80s period piece that chronicled the rise of personal computing, video games, and the internet. If you’ll pardon the expression, the series really catches fire in the second season when Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna Clark (Kerry Bishé) launch their own gaming company. Meanwhile, Donna’s husband, Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), and the enigmatic Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) had compelling stories of their own. This is a show that deserves a second chance to find its audience.

Created by: Christopher Cantwell, Christopher C. Rogers
Cast: Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

Ozark on Netflix
Ozark on Netflix

Ozark

In Ozark, the Byrde family has a knack for getting into overwhelming trouble. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) had a scheme to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. And when that goes wrong, Marty packs up his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), and their kids for an abrupt move to the Ozarks — where he proceeds to set up an even more dangerous money laundering operation. In addition to starring in the series, Bateman has made a name for himself behind the camera as an Emmy-winning director. There’s only one more season to come, so now is the right time to catch up on Ozark’s twists and turns.

Created by: Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story

The real-life legal saga of O.J. Simpson was both a circus and the trial of the century. The first season of American Crime Story dived into that tale full throttle with The People v. O. J. Simpson. Amazingly, the series offered a very grounded, human take on all of its principal figures. That’s especially true of Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark and Sterling K. Brown’s Christopher Darden, the prosecutors assigned to put O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) behind bars. The second season, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, is also on Netflix. But the two stories have been separated, so you’ll have to click here for that season.

Created by: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Tom Rob Smith
Cast: Sterling K. Brown, Cuba Gooding Jr. Sarah Paulson
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

Alone
Alone

Alone

You’re not gonna find many reality shows on this list. But Alone is a breed all by itself. The series follows contestants who have been left out in the wilderness with limited survival equipment and forced to fend for themselves as long as possible. Sometimes, things can get pretty desperate before the contestants tap out. But that’s where the fun lies. So far, locations have included Vancouver Island, Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina, and northern Mongolia. But for now, there’s only one season on Netflix.

Created by: Shawn Witt
Cast: Nicole Apelian
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Lucifer on Netflix
Lucifer on Netflix

Lucifer

Tom Ellis is quite literally the devil in this loose adaptation of the Lucifer comic book series. After leaving Hell behind to chart a new path in his life, Lucifer encounters Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) and quickly falls for her. To remain a part of Chloe’s life, Lucifer helps her solve murders in Los Angeles with his talent for making suspects give up his secrets. No one can say that Lucifer isn’t open about who and what he is. But it takes a while for Chloe to realize that she really has partnered up with the original Fallen Angel.

Created by: Tom Kapinos
Cast: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

The Midnight Gospel
The Midnight Gospel

The Midnight Gospel

Comedian Duncan Trussell and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward teamed up for one of the most bizarre animated series on Netflix. The Midnight Gospel is partially inspired by Trussell’s podcast, and he stars in the series as a spacecaster named Clancy Gilroy who interviews guests as their worlds undergo an apocalyptic event by using a universal simulation machine. There are few topics that are out of bounds, and the comedy goes to some very strange and dark places. That’s par for the course for a series that ends almost every episode with an extinction-level disaster. And yet, it’s still really fun.

Created by: Pendleton Ward, Duncan Trussell
Cast: Duncan Trussell
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Pose on Netflix
Pose on Netflix

Pose

Pose is one of the rare TV dramas that fully embraces its LGBTQ cast, which is essential to the period and premise of the show. The series begins in the late ‘80s and chronicles the lives of several gay and gender-nonconforming dancers in the ballroom culture scene. But the series also takes a hard look at the HIV and AIDS epidemic, which hits the community hard just when the subculture begins to go mainstream in the early ‘90s. It’s truly a TV show like no other.

Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Cast: Evan Peters, Kate Mara, James Van Der Beek
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

Chef&#39;s Table BBQ
Chef's Table BBQ

Chef’s Table BBQ

The Chef’s Table documentary series may be the spiritual follow up to Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but it’s quickly taken on a life of its own. After six seasons on Netflix, creator David Gelb has added a spinoff: Chef’s Table BBQ. Only one season of the new show is currently on Netflix, but it retains the cinematic stylings that made the original Chef’s Table so compelling. Get ready to feel hungry as the show profiles pitmasters from the United States, Mexico, and Australia.

Created by: David Gelb
Cast: N/A
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Johnny and Daniel face off in Cobra Kai, now on Netflix!
Johnny and Daniel face off in Cobra Kai, now on Netflix!

Cobra Kai

Cobra Kai is a rare sequel that re-contextualizes the original story. In classic ‘80s film The Karate Kid, the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) was fairly straightforward. But their relationship is far more complicated when Cobra Kai picks up decades later. Daniel’s lost his sense of perspective, while Johnny’s been in a downward spiral for years.

Johnny largely takes the center stage in this series, and he reclaims some measure of control of his life by reopening the Cobra Kai dojo. In response, Daniel opens up a karate dojo of his own, which reignites their long-standing adversity and passes their feud to a new generation of students. There’s a third season of Cobra Kai coming to Netflix in 2021, but you can catch the first two seasons right now.

Created by: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz. Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

High Score on Netflix
High Score on Netflix

High Score

How well do you know the story of video games? From the rise and fall of Atari to the emergence of Nintendo and beyond, Netflix’s High Score proves that there are still surprises to be found in the history of gaming. Throughout the first season, High Score tracks the beginning of the medium and interviews some of the pivotal figures who shaped gaming as we know it, many of whom remain unknown outside of gaming circles.

High Score also takes a deep dive into the console wars of the ‘90s, as well as the roleplaying and fighting genres, before examining the advent of 3D graphics. It doesn’t quite take us to the era of modern gaming, but the series is just getting started.

Created by: France Costrel
Cast: Charles Martinet
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

The Haunting of Hill House Netflix
The Haunting of Hill House Netflix

The Haunting of Hill House

One dark and ominous night, Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas) gathers his children and flees their vast, gothic mansion, leaving his wife, Olivia (Carla Gugino), behind. Olivia dies that night, her death ruled a suicide, and the tabloids run wild with stories of the haunted Hill House. The five Crain children — Steven, Shirley, Theo, Nell, and Luke — all grow up dealing with their trauma in varying ways, whether writing a successful memoir about the haunting of Hill House (Steven), or abusing drugs to numb the pain (Luke). As adults, the Crain siblings are barely on speaking terms, until a tragedy forces them all back together, and back to Hill House. Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House is a character-driven story, delving into the psychological problems of its many protagonists. It’s no mere family drama, though. In addition to their personal demons, there are some very real ghosts haunting the Crains, and Flanagan orchestrates some intense scares in the first episode alone, building tension but also knowing when to bust out a jump scare.

Created by: Mike Flanagan
Cast:
Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

Peaky Blinders Netflix
Peaky Blinders Netflix

Peaky Blinders

Set in the aftermath of World War I, Peaky Blinders is a crime drama about a British crime family, the Shelbys. After Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) returns from the war, he sets about trying to expand the family’s control of Birmingham, stealing a shipment of guns to give his gang an edge in the world of crime. The show follows Tommy and his family as they move up in the world, butting heads with other crime families and the British government. Peaky Blinders is gorgeously shot, and the story it tells is one of complicated people and muddy morality.

Created by: Steven Knight
Cast:
Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Helen McCrory
Number of seasons: 7

Watch on Netflix

Mindhunter Netflix
Mindhunter Netflix

Mindhunter

In 1977, cultural earthquakes have toppled faith in the American ideal, and the agents of the FBI face an unfamiliar kind of criminal: The serial killer, whose crimes have no basis in reason as far as the agency can see. Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) believes that, with enough research, the FBI can make sense of the seemingly senseless violence. Together with Behavioral Science Unit agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), Ford travels the country, interviewing imprisoned serial killers to understand what drives them, but gazing into the abyss starts to gnaw at the agents. From director David Fincher, Mindhunter is a sleek, eerie production, with a focus on the nature of criminal psychology, rather than grotesque violence.

Created by: Joe Penhall
Cast:
Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

Queer Eye

The original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy introduced the world to a whole new kind of reality show. More than a decade later, Netflix rebooted the franchise with a new Fab Five and a new mission. The new Fab Five consists of food and wine specialist Antoni Porowski, interior designer Bobby Berk, grooming consultant Jonathan Van Ness, fashion designer Tan France, and culture expert Karamo Brown. Every season, they travel to new parts of the country to meet and pick up under-recognized people, helping them to find the value within themselves and accomplish a specific goal. It’s a heart-warming, provocative show that sees the Fab Five fly into cities and rural areas where they very clearly stand out and attempt to prove that we’re all not that different after all.

Created by: David Collins
Cast:
Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Karamo Brown
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

Breaking Bad Netflix
Breaking Bad Netflix

Breaking Bad

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a high-school chemistry teacher diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. To secure his family’s finances before he dies, White uses his chemistry background to cook and deal premium blue meth. His partner is former student and burnout named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Breaking Bad is teeming with moral consequences and family issues, and fittingly, it’s as addicting as the crystal meth White produces in his beat-up van in the desert.

Created by: Vince Gilligan
Cast:
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

Better Call Saul Netflix
Better Call Saul Netflix

Better Call Saul

Starring Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul takes fans of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad back to the New Mexico desert for a look at Saul Goodman’s origin story. Before Goodman became the quirky, crooked lawyer Walter White played like a fiddle, he was Jimmy McGill, an aspiring lawyer who just couldn’t seem to keep his hands clean. The show is set six years prior to the events of Breaking Bad, and throws out the convention that a spinoff must pale in comparison to its source material. It also proves Gilligan and company remain at the top of their game.

Created by: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Cast:
Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

Rectify Netflix
Rectify Netflix

Rectify

How would you handle readjusting to life after being wrongfully imprisoned for 19 years of your life? Sundance TV’s Rectify addresses this quandary as it follows the life of Daniel Holden. Convicted and sent to death row as a teenager for the rape and murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend, new evidence sets the stage for his return home to Paulie, Georgia. Now in his late 30s, Holden attempts to rekindle relationships with his family and friends, something not easily accomplished for someone whose name had been denounced for so long.

Created by: Ray McKinnon
Cast:
Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

The Crown Netflix
The Crown Netflix

The Crown

Britain’s current and longest-reigning monarch is also one of its most unassuming. Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in the aftermath of World War II, at a time when the monarchy had ceded much of its power to Parliament and the Prime Minister. Despite a lack of governmental power, the Queen remains one of the most important heads of state in the world, and civic duties abound. Netflix’s The Crown traces Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) life from her marriage to Prince Philip (Matt Smith) in 1947 to the present day, digging into the web of agendas and alliances the Queen must navigate. Heavy on political intrigue, The Crown is sure to satisfy viewers who appreciate Machiavellian television, as well as those who love the decor of TV shows like Downton Abbey. However, the show also has a deeply intimate side, in that it examines Elizabeth’s personal relationships and the toll exacted by her duties as Queen.

Created by: Peter Morgan
Cast:
Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Matt Smith
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

Sex Education Netflix
Sex Education Netflix

Sex Education

Sex Education is a bawdy comedy about teens grappling with sexuality. Just how bawdy is it, though? The opening scene concludes with a macho bully faking an orgasm, after which his girlfriend angrily demands to know “Where’s the spunk, Adam!?” As in a lot of high school comedies, the teens of Sex Education are having (or trying to have) a lot of sex, but for various reasons, none of them are really enjoying themselves; that’s where Otis (Asa Butterfield) comes in. The son of prominent sex therapist Jean (Gillian Anderson), Otis knows a thing or two about sexual dysfunction (due to some childhood trauma, he has some dysfunctions of his own). When a delinquent named Maeve (Emma Mackey) realizes Otis’s therapy skills could make money, they go into business together, treating the neuroses of their classmates. It should be smooth sailing, but then Otis realizes he has feelings for Maeve. Sex Education gets a lot of mileage out of sex jokes, but what leaves a lasting impression is the show’s recognition that sex can be an emotionally perilous adventure and the effects that can have on people.

Created by: Laurie Nunn
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

Best shows on Netflix Tiger King
Best shows on Netflix Tiger King

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

The “crazy true crime” documentary has become the iconic genre of the streaming age, and Tiger King might be the Platonic ideal. The setup is simple enough: Director Eric Goode is making a documentary about a snake dealer in Florida, stumbling from there into the world of big cat owners, and the eponymous “Tiger King” in particular: Joe Exotic, the grandiose owner of a big cat zoo (and country musician) who was convicted in 2019 of trying to put a hit on animal rights activist Carole Baskin. From the moment he appears on screen, Exotic is an outlandish figure, and the story only gets wilder from there.

Created by: Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin
Cast: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

The Good Place Netflix
The Good Place Netflix

The Good Place

Bureaucratic mix-ups can be a nightmare — just ask anyone who has needed to apply for a passport — but on occasion, they can work out in your favor. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself on the good side of a paperwork snafu when, after dying, she ends up in the Good Place, a serene afterlife neighborhood built by a cosmic architect named Michael (Ted Danson). In reality, Eleanor was an abrasive person who only looked out for herself. Now, in order to avoid being discovered and sent to the Bad Place, she must learn how to behave like a nice person. The Good Place is an upbeat comedy whose unique setting and surprising plot set it a notch above most sitcoms.

Created by: Michael Schur
Cast: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Netflix
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Netflix

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Musicals are in short supply on television — perhaps because audiences just find song-and-dance a bit too corny. That same drought makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s lavish musical numbers all the more striking, however. The titular ex is Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), a tightly strung lawyer who abandons her career in New York and moves to West Covina, California, to reconnect with her first crush, Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III). The premise seems like typical rom-com fare, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend rises above by embracing absurdity. The musical numbers, of which there are many, are funny and bombastic, paying homage to various genres of music and classic films.

Created by: Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna
Cast: Rachel Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin, Vincent Rodriguez III
Number of seasons: 4

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Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy

The original Transformers animated series was, admittedly, a cool way to sell kids toy robots that could turn into vehicles. There have been several subsequent Transformers animated series, but Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy is the first one to truly embrace the pathos behind the struggle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. The gorgeous CGI animation retains the look and feel of the Generation 1 Transformers, and it also adds moments of genuine awe in Cybertron and the return of some unexpected heroes and villains.

But the most impressive part of this series is the way that it allows both Autobots and Decepticons to question their place in the war, as well as the morality of their leaders, Optimus Prime and Megatron. The line between the good and evil robots is no longer cut and dried. This incarnation of Transformers is an unexpectedly rich drama with terrific writing and performances. It’s the show we always wanted it to be.

Created by: F. J. DeSanto, George Krstic
Cast: Jake Foushee, Jason Marnocha, Joe Zieja
Number of seasons: 1

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Master of None Netflix
Master of None Netflix

Master of None

Created by and starring comedian Aziz Ansari, the Netlfix original series Master of None concerns the everyday life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor who attempts to navigate the twists and turns of adulthood while making a living for himself in New York City. Reportedly based somewhat loosely on Ansari’s own life, the show even features the former Parks and Recreation actor’s real-life mother and father as Dev’s parents in the show. Even if you haven’t dabbled in Ansari’s prior work (you should, too, he’s absolutely hilarious) Master of None is sure to please with its witty dialogue, multidimensional cast of characters, and relatable storylines.

Created by: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Cast: Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe
Number of seasons: 2

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Bojack Horseman Netflix
Bojack Horseman Netflix

BoJack Horseman

Netflix’s original animated show features voices from some of the brightest stars on TV today (i.e., Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul). Comedian Amy Sedaris also lends her voice to this raucous show about a washed-up celebrity horse who attempts to reignite his stagnant career. Ridiculous in all aspects, BoJack Horseman is good for some hearty laughs at the expense of the commonplace celebrity lifestyle. Season 1 starts off goofy, but by the first season finale, the show evolves into a shockingly sad, yet still hilarious examination of depression and pop-culture into the second season.

Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie
Number of seasons: 6

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New Girl

Zooey Deschanel plays the quirky Jess in this Fox comedy about a woman who moves into a loft in L.A. with three guys she meets online. While Jake Johnson’s Nick character serves as the second lead behind Deschanel, it’s performances from Max Greenfield (Schmidt) and Lamorne Morris (Winston) that steal the show. This single-camera sitcom perfectly blends elements of drama into its comedic writing, and remains one of the wittiest shows on TV. To top things off, it even created its own drinking game called “True American.” What other show has that on its résumé?

Created by: Elizabeth Meriwether
Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield
Number of seasons: 7

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GLOW

The job market isn’t great for aspiring actors, so when Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) answers a call for “unconventional women,” she ends up trying out for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, an all-female wrestling league overseen by washed-up director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). Wilder’s former friend Debbie Gilpin (Betty Gilpin) also tries out, and Sylvia decides to make the two the center of the league’s story: Gilpin the heroic “Liberty Belle,” and Wilder as the villain “Zoya the Destroya.” What follows is a raucous story of misfits chasing their dreams, complete with a melange of ’80s tropes, including cocaine-fueled parties and hokey montages. One scene even busts out Stan Bush’s Dare, which, if you haven’t seen The Transformers: The Movie, is an absolute gem.

Created by: Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch
Cast: Alison Brie, Marc Maron, Betty Gilpin
Number of seasons: 4

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Altered Carbon Netflix
Altered Carbon Netflix

Altered Carbon

An adaptation of a popular cyberpunk novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is set a few hundred years in the future, by which point humanity has developed the technology to download a person’s consciousness into computers. People can now transfer themselves into new bodies, called “sleeves,” effectively making themselves immortal — provided they have the money. Into this world steps Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), a former soldier who has spent the last 250 years in cold storage. He is back, in a new sleeve, courtesy of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), a wealthy man who wants Takeshi to find the man who killed Bancroft’s previous body. Altered Carbon draws on classic noir elements, as Takeshi explores a grimy city where everyone seems to have a hidden agenda.

Created by: Laeta Kalogridis
Cast: Chris Conner, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Joel Kinnaman
Number of seasons: 2

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Dark Netflix
Dark Netflix

Dark

Although it drew a lot of comparisons to Stranger Things (due to the small-town setting and teenage protagonists), the German Netflix series Dark is its own thing, a strange, high-concept story set in a town where everyone has their secrets. Dark begins in Winden, a small, wooded town near a nuclear reactor. Teenager Jonas (Louis Hoffman) returns to school, having spent time getting therapy following his father’s suicide, only to find the town in a state of shock over a new tragedy: The disappearance of his fellow student, Erik Obendorf. Erik is not the first child to go missing in Winden’s history, nor will he be the last, and Jonas and his friends soon find themselves on the edge of a mystery that spans generations. Dark is an eerie drama, dense with mysteries and complicated characters.

Created by: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
Cast: Karoline Eichhorn, Louis Hofmann, Jördis Triebel
Number of seasons: 3

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Black Mirror

Each episode of Black Mirror tells a single story, with a theme of modern and near-future technology running through each unnerving tale. It’s often compared to The Twilight Zone for its episodic nature, and just like that classic, some of the stories will leave you sitting and staring at a blank television, wondering what you just watched. Beyond all of the thought-provoking, mind-bending, and world-building, the acting and aesthetic is smart and nuanced, and will leave even the best spoiler guessers out there reeling from the sharp twists and turns in every episode.

Created by: Charlie Brooker
Cast: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel
Number of seasons: 5

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The Witcher Netflix
The Witcher Netflix

The Witcher

A lone swordsman rides into town, a grotesque beast slung over his horse. The townsfolk cast scornful glances, although he’s slain the monster that plagued them. He’ll get no thanks; at best, the bounty he was promised in full. Such is the life of a witcher. Based on the popular fantasy series, Netflix’s The Witcher follows Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a monster hunter with magical powers: A witcher, to use the parlance of his world. Over decades, Geralt hunts monsters for gold, crossing paths with the cunning sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the refugee princess Ciri (Freya Allen), whose fate is bound tightly to his own. Bloody battles, complicated characters, and memorable songs — courtesy of the bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) — are just some of the charms this dark fantasy series has to offer.

Created by: Lauren Schmidt
Cast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra
Number of seasons: 2

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The Last Dance

In the fall of 1997, the Chicago Bulls had won five of the last seven NBA championships and were primed to earn their second three-peat of the ’90s. Nonetheless, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Jerry Krause seemed fully prepared to fire coach Phil Jackson and begin rebuilding the franchise after the 1997-98 season, despite the opposition of the world’s greatest player, Michael Jordan. That fall, the Bulls allowed a film crew to follow them as they embarked upon what Jackson deemed “The Last Dance.” This 10-part docuseries chronicles that season and contextualizes it in Michael Jordan’s remarkable, world-changing career. Following Jordan from being cut from his high school basketball team, through his illustrious college career and battles with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, all the way to his iconic game-winning shot in the 1998 NBA Finals, The Last Dance is one of the most immersive and exciting sports documentaries of recent memory, even though Jordan’s production company had the final editorial say. The series doesn’t shed much light on the many controversies that followed Jordan throughout his career, but it does help solidify just what an enormous, transcendent icon Jordan really was.

Created by: Jason Hehir
Cast: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson
Number of seasons: 1

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Stranger Things
Stranger Things

Stranger Things

The opening sequence of Stranger Things lays out the TV show’s sci-fi aspirations clearly: A scientist flees down an empty hallway, pursued by some unseen force that eventually nabs him as he waits for elevator doors to close; it then cuts to a group of kids playing D&D in a suburban basement. From Alien to E.T. in a matter of seconds. The show is a stew made of various influences from the ‘80s. A mysterious creature and a secret government agency, a group of kids having adventures around their rural town, teens experimenting with sex, drugs, and peer pressure.

There are pieces of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Hughes strewn throughout Stranger Things, and the result is a show that will feel immediately familiar to people who grew up with that source material. The show is not shallow in its emulation, either. The acting and direction are superb, giving even the most derivative scenes some heft.

Created by: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder
Number of seasons: 3

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The Keepers
The Keepers

The Keepers

The streaming service’s true-crime streak continues with The Keepers, a haunting investigation into the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a nun and Baltimore school teacher who was found near a garbage dump in the winter of 1969. The documentary follows the efforts of two of her former students — Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub — as they try to uncover why someone would murder her. The Keepers is no simple whodunit, however. The documentary’s focus quickly expands from Cesnik’s murder to the atmosphere of Seton Keough High School, where it becomes apparent that sexual abuse was systemic, a scandal Cesnik may have tried to stop. Those who want a satisfying tale of justice may want to look elsewhere; those who want to see how institutions can work to cover up corruption will find The Keepers to be a disturbing case study.

Created by: Ryan White
Cast: Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Virginia Anzengruber
Number of seasons: 1

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The Twilight Zone Netflix
The Twilight Zone Netflix

The Twilight Zone

One of the most influential television series of all time, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is an anthology series, with each episode telling a unique story in the realms of sci-fi, horror, or some mix thereof. Each story followed characters caught up in strange, often cruel circumstances beyond their comprehension. Written during a particularly hot part of the Cold War, many episodes — particularly those written by Serling — serve as parables, exploring social and political issues of the 20th century. Take, for example, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, set on a cozy, suburban block where the power mysteriously goes out one night, causing the neighbors to turn on each other. Or It’s a Good Life, about a small town cut off from the world, whose inhabitants must bow to each and every whim of a tyrannical tyke. Don’t let the archaic props and special effects deter you — The Twilight Zone is every bit as brilliant today as it was when it first aired.

Created by: Rod Serling
Cast: Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts
Number of seasons: 5

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Twin Peaks Netflix
Twin Peaks Netflix

Twin Peaks

This cult classic of the early ’90s came from the mind of director David Lynch. After homecoming queen Laura Palmer is murdered, FBI agent Dale Cooper arrives in the small Washington town to investigate. Weirdness ensues, with everything from homicidal demons and cryptic dreams to doppelgängers of dead people and an FBI agent who really likes cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.” Twin Peaks was a revelatory series in its heyday, and it still holds up thanks to its uniquely eccentric characters and memorable moments, even if the murder mystery fizzles out eventually.

Created by: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick
Number of seasons: 2

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Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal
Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal

Hannibal

This NBC series takes another look at everybody’s favorite cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, the character made famous in Thomas Harris’ trilogy of novels and 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. Hugh Dancy plays gifted criminal profiler Will Graham, whose unique way of thinking gives him the ability to empathize with anyone, even psychopaths. While pursuing a particularly difficult case with the FBI, however, he decides to enlist the help of psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Their partnership flourishes and it soon seems that there is no villain they can’t catch together. Unfortunately, Lecter harbors a dark secret and his mind continually edges towards the dark side until he has more in common with the criminals they hunt than Will understands.

Created by: Bryan Fuller
Cast: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas
Number of seasons: 3

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s during the technology boom of the 1980s. The show centers around former IBM sales executive Joe MacMillan, Cardiff Electric engineer Gordon Clark, and programming whiz Cameron Howe as they navigate the tumultuous landscape of the personal computer revolution. Boosted by superb writing, brilliant acting, and its unique inside look at one of the most influential eras in human history, Halt and Catch Fire has binge-worthy written all over it. Although season 1 is rough, season 2 essentially reinvents the show.

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‘Rectify’

RectifyNetflixTV1
RectifyNetflixTV1

How would you handle readjusting to life after being wrongfully imprisoned for 19 years of your life? Sundance TV’s Rectify addresses this quandary as it follows the life of Daniel Holden. Convicted and sent to death row as a teenager for the rape and murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend, new evidence sets the stage for his return home to Paulie, Georgia. Now in his late 30s, Holden attempts to rekindle relationships with his family and friends, something not easily accomplished for someone whose name had been denounced for so long.

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‘Penny Dreadful’

penny dreadful body image
penny dreadful body image

Crossovers are not a new concept — superheroes have been doing it for decades — but Penny Dreadful’s gothic milieu helps it stand out, particularly in the television landscape. The show is a who’s who of 19th-century icons, including Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, as well as several original characters. The show begins with stately adventurer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) and his compatriot, the psychic Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), recruiting American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) and Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) to investigate the disappearance of Murray’s daughter, Mina. The case takes them to dark places, but all of them carry their own secrets that may be darker still. True to it genre roots, Penny Dreadful takes things slow, building relationships between characters and coyly unfurling its mysteries. The show’s unique atmosphere and mastery of tone set it apart from everything else on television.

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‘Easy’

netflix-easy-body-image
netflix-easy-body-image

Joe Swanberg’s eight-episode anthology, Easy, explores the many incarnations of romance, with almost every episode presenting a stand-alone story set in Chicago. One story follows a long-married couple trying to spice up their love life, another a pair of artists whose personal and professional lives collide after a night together. The stories are heavily improvised, with a focus on interactions between characters, rather than plot. As expected of an anthology series, not every episode of Easy is great, but at its best, it is one of the most intimate, honest explorations of love and sexuality around.

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‘The Fall’

the-fall-body-image
the-fall-body-image

Following a series of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) arrives to supervise the investigation. The killer, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), is a family man and therapist who’s trying to maintain his personal and professional lives while hunting young women. Unlike many police procedurals, The Fall makes its villain known very early. Thus, for the audience, the tension comes not from trying to guess the killer’s identity, but from watching the detective and murderer go about their days, never knowing who is about to get the upper hand. The Fall is a psychological procedural, focusing more on the lives and motivations of the central characters than hunting for clues. A simmering detective story, to be sure, but one well worth the time investment.

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‘The Crown’

netflix-the-crown-body-image
netflix-the-crown-body-image

Britain’s current and longest-reigning monarch is also one of its most unassuming. Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in the aftermath of World War II, at a time when the monarchy had ceded much of its power to Parliament and the Prime Minister. Despite a lack of governmental power, the Queen remains one of the most important heads of state in the world, and civic duties abound. Netflix’s The Crown traces Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) life from her marriage to Prince Philip (Matt Smith) in 1947 to the present day, digging into the web of agendas and alliances the Queen must navigate. Heavy on political intrigue, The Crown is sure to satisfy viewers who appreciate Machiavellian television, as well as those who love the decor of series like Downton Abbey. However, the show also has a deeply intimate side, in that it examines Elizabeth’s personal relationships and the toll exacted by her duties as Queen.

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Comedy

‘Aggretsuko’

If you liked Office Space, but think it would have been better if the characters were cartoon animals, you may be pleased to learn that such a thing exists. Aggretsuko, a Japanese cartoon from mascot company Sanrio (creators of Hello Kitty), follows Retsuko, a red panda in her 20s working a soul-crushing job at a trading firm. Her career is going nowhere, she can barely muster the energy to get up in the mornings, and her boss is a pig (literally and figuratively) — and those are just the problems she faces in the first episode! Despite the cute character designs and short episodes, Aggretsuko is a surprisingly mature series, tapping into the anxieties of being a millennial in the workforce.

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‘The End of the F***ing World’

It seems unlikely that a story about a teenage psychopath traveling with the girl he intends to kill could be funny, or even touching. Somehow, The End of the F***ing World manages to be both. The show follows James (Alex Lawler), the self-described psychopath, and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a modern rebel without a cause. She convinces him to run away with her, and the two embark on a road trip across England, getting into bizarre shenanigans as James plots to kill her. Dark, funny, and strangely poignant, The End of the F***ing World is one of the most unique shows on Netflix.

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‘Crashing’ (U.K.)

One of the sitcom tropes that often defies belief is that groups of 20-somethings with ordinary jobs can somehow afford nice apartments in big cities. That’s not a problem for Crashing; actually, it’s key to the premise. The show follows a group of young friends in need of housing in Britain. Their solution? Become property guardians, living in a derelict hospital, keeping the place safe from squatters in exchange for cheap rent. Among the residents are Lulu (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a quirky rover, her childhood friend Anthony (Damien Molony), and Kate (Louise Ford), an uptight professional and Anthony’s fiancée. These three and the other residents do their best to get along and enjoy life in their dire situation. Season 1 is short (six episodes, roughly a half-hour each), perfect for binge-watching. Hopefully there will be a season 2!

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‘She’s Gotta Have It’

Thirty years or so after the release of his directorial debut, Spike Lee reimagined She’s Gotta Have It, this time as a 10-episode series for Netflix. She’s Gotta Have It follows Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise), an artist with no interest in settling down, in life or in love. Nola is polyamorous, and her three main lovers are immature-but-sweet jokester Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos), egotistical model Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony), and controlling older man Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent). The original film kept the focus tightly on Nola’s relationships, but the show uses its extended running time to explore other facets of her life, making for a richer character study. The show is gorgeously shot, luxuriating in the colors and movement of its protagonist’s bohemian life.

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‘Neo Yokio’

Not content to spend his days making jaunty indie rock, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig leaped into the world of showrunning with Neo Yokio, an anime-inspired comedy of manners which torches the insular, image-obsessed world of New York high society. Set in a futuristic New York plagued by demons (who seek out displays of opulence), Neo Yokio follows the life of Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith), a demon hunter reeling from a breakup. Kaz’s aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon) gives Kaz various assignments — exorcising a possessed fashion blogger, protect a Damien Hirst sculpture — but he’d rather play field hockey or shop for a new blazer. The cast of characters includes Charles (Jude Law), Kaz’s robot butler, Arcangelo (Jason Schwartzman), his aristocratic rival, and Helena St. Tessero (Tavi Gevinson), the aforementioned blogger who turns into a Marxist critic of capitalism after a run-in with a demonic Chanel suit. It’s a goofy show, and it doesn’t always work, but it’s got guts, and the humor is spot on.

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‘American Vandal’

If you were to go into American Vandal without reading anything about it, you might think you’ve stumbled onto the next, great true crime story. The show’s setup is ominous. A student, Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), stands accused — falsely, he claims — of a heinous act: Spray painting “dicks” on all the faculty cars at Hanover High School. Given his history of pranks — including drawing dicks on whiteboards — the school expels him. Only Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), a sophomore who works on the Hanover High morning show, thinks Dylan might be innocent and sets out to prove it. The case quickly becomes stranger than it first appeared. For those who enjoy true crime stories like Making a Murderer, American Vandal is a tonally perfect parody, emulating the lighting and story structure that define the genre.

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‘The Good Place’

best netflix tv shows the good place
best netflix tv shows the good place

Bureaucratic mix-ups can be a nightmare — just ask anyone who has needed to apply for a passport — but on occasion, they can work out in your favor. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself on the good side of a paperwork snafu when, after dying, she ends up in the Good Place, a serene afterlife neighborhood built by a cosmic architect named Michael (Ted Danson). In reality, Eleanor was an abrasive person who only looked out for herself. Now, in order to avoid being discovered and sent to the Bad Place, she must learn how to behave like a nice person. The Good Place is an upbeat comedy whose unique setting and surprising plot set it a notch above most sitcoms.

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‘Gilmore Girls’

netflix-tv-shows-gilmore-girls-image-1
netflix-tv-shows-gilmore-girls-image-1

This comedic slice of life follows Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), a business-minded single mother, and her academic daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Living in the small New England town of Stars Hollow, the two women seek fulfillment and love. Lorelai, having dropped out of school after getting pregnant, wants to get her career on track, while Rory struggles with the pressure to succeed in school, navigating teenage rivalries and young love. The dialogue is frequently snappy, so those who enjoy quips will feel right at home. Lighthearted and episodic, Gilmore Girls is as comforting as a warm cup of coffee with a slice of pie. Longtime fans of the series will also appreciate that Netflix recently released four, 90-minute episodes that pick up the story where the original series left off.

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‘Lovesick’

netflix-tv-shows-lovesick-image-2
netflix-tv-shows-lovesick-image-2

After he is diagnosed with chlamydia, hapless romantic Dylan (Johnny Flynn) must contact all his former lovers from recent years and inform them. In the process, he must also reflect on those relationships, and get a sense of what he really wants in life. The show is told largely through flashbacks, with each episode focusing on a specific woman from Dylan’s past, and the story is complex; unlike in classic sitcoms where Dylan’s misadventures would be isolated stories, events from the past inform the present. Lovesick strikes a careful balance between comedy and drama. Hijinks abound, particularly when Dylan’s feckless playboy roommate, Luke (Daniel Ings), is around. Despite the comedy — or perhaps because of it — the somber moments hit hard. This is a show that understands the many facets of relationships, both platonic and sexual.

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‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’

crazy-exgirlfriend-netflix-image-1
crazy-exgirlfriend-netflix-image-1

Musicals are in short supply on television — perhaps because audiences just find song-and-dance a bit too corny. That same drought makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s lavish musical numbers all the more striking, however. The titular ex is Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), a tightly strung lawyer who abandons her career in New York and moves to West Covina, California, to reconnect with her first crush, Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III). The premise seems like typical rom-com fare, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend rises above by embracing absurdity. The musical numbers, of which there are many, are funny and bombastic, paying homage to various genres of music and classic films.

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‘Master of None’

MasterofNone1
MasterofNone1

Created by and starring comedian Aziz Ansari, Netflix’s Master of None concerns the everyday life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor who attempts to navigate the twists and turns of adulthood while making a living for himself in New York City. Reportedly based somewhat loosely on Ansari’s own life, the show even features the former Parks and Recreation actor’s real-life mother and father as Dev’s parents in the show. Even if you haven’t dabbled in Ansari’s prior work (you should, too, he’s absolutely hilarious) Master of None is sure to please with its witty dialogue, multidimensional cast of characters, and relatable storylines. It appears Netflix has once again struck gold.

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‘BoJack Horseman’

Bojack Screen
Bojack Screen

Netflix’s original animated comedy features voices from some of the brightest stars on TV today (i.e., Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul). Comedian Amy Sedaris also lends her voice to this raucous show about a washed-up celebrity horse who attempts to reignite his stagnant career. Ridiculous in all aspects, BoJack Horseman is good for some hearty laughs at the expense of the commonplace celebrity lifestyle. Season 1 starts off goofy, but by the first season finale, the show evolves into a shockingly sad, yet still hilarious examination of depression and pop-culture.

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‘Archer’

Archer Photo 2
Archer Photo 2

Archer isn’t your average animated series. It’s like a hybrid between Arrested Development and every spy flick ever. The show whirls around ISIS, an international spy agency that deals with global crises. Considering the spy agency is essentially a pressure cooker that is Sterling Archer’s mother, Malory Archer (Jessica Walter), and Archer’s ex-girlfriend, Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), most events are just opportunities to screw over co-workers. The show is cynical, with rapid-fire dialogue and characters unlike anything else on Netflix.

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‘Love’

From the comedic brilliance of Judd Apatow comes Love, a Netflix original sitcom about what it’s really like to date in the 21st century. Starring Community alum Gillian Jacobs and stand-up comic Paul Rust — who also co-created the show — Love centers primarily on these two characters as they attempt to facilitate a loving relationship despite their laundry list of differences. While exploring the exhilaration of new love, the awkwardness of growing up, and everything else a new relationship throws at 30-somethings, Apatow pulls no punches with Love. All three seasons are now available.

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‘Arrested Development’

Cult-classic sitcom Arrested Development is the story of a wealthy family that lost everything, and has spent five seasons losing even more. The show follows the Bluths, a dysfunctional clan of fools and sociopaths who lose their fortune after patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) goes to prison. George’s middle son, Michael (Jason Bateman), the only marginally decent Bluth, must keep the family business running — and keep the family together. Arrested Development relies on snappy dialogue, memorable characters, and dense scripts with plenty of jokes that get better with every viewing. After a long hiatus, Netflix revived the show for a fourth season that got mixed reviews for splitting up the many characters, but season 5 (the first half, with the second to come later) seems to have righted the ship, returning to the ensemble nature of the first three seasons.

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‘Portlandia’

Portlandia Photo
Portlandia Photo

Given Digital Trends is headquartered mere blocks from the Portlandia sculpture in downtown Portland which the show is named after, sometimes the deadpan humor — nearly always done at the expense of Portlanders — is a send-up of hipster culture so dead-on it hurts. Even so, the show represents a landmark success considering you’ll laugh more than you’ll wince as Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein guide you through their version of Portland, which is only slightly zanier than the real thing. It’s scripted, but the two stars leave plenty of room for improvisation and cameos.

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‘Parks and Recreation’

Parks Photo
Parks Photo

What started out as a sitcom done in the typical, post-Office mockumentary style turned into something truly amazing. It’s a hilarious study of the comical residents of Pawnee, Indiana. The show centers on public servant Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), an excitable midlevel official in the parks and recreation department, along with a team that diligently works to make the city of Pawnee a better place for everyone. The cast is filled with some of the biggest names in comedy including Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, and Rashida Jones.

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‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Photo
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Photo

Kimmy Schmidt, portrayed by Ellie Kemper of Bridesmaids fame, is one four women rescued from an underground bunker where she was imprisoned by a polygamist cult leader. She then goes to work as a nanny for a socialite, Jane Krakowski, in the hustle and bustle of New York City. Although the Netflix original sitcom’s premise doesn’t exactly scream “hilarious,” it’s blanketed with co-creator Tina Fey’s comedic timing, and often comes off as a spiritual successor to 30 Rock. Watching Kemper haphazardly adjust to the foreign complexities of the modern world, such as emojis and hashtags, is more than inviting — even if she does occasionally exhibit some PTSD from her 15 years underneath the Indiana soil.

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‘New Girl’

New Girl Photo
New Girl Photo

Zooey Deschanel plays the quirky Jess in this Fox comedy about a woman who moves into a loft in L.A. with three guys she meets online. While Jake Johnson’s Nick character serves as the second lead behind Deschanel, it’s performances from Max Greenfield (Schmidt) and Lamorne Morris (Winston) that steal the show. This single-camera sitcom perfectly blends elements of drama into its comedic writing, and remains one of the wittiest shows on TV. To top things off, it even created its own drinking game called “True American.” What other show has that on its résumé?

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‘With Bob and David’

BobandDavid1
BobandDavid1

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross team up again for the Netflix-exclusive sketch comedy show With Bob and David. Much like their earlier HBO series Mr. Show with Bob and David, the new series features the over-the-top, yet wildly hilarious comedy stylings of its titular creators and writers. The Netflix comedy should be heavy on the kind of outrageous spoofs and hilarious writing that fans of Cross and Odenkirk have come to expect.

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‘Documentary Now!’

documentary now image 2
documentary now image 2

The creation of Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, Documentary Now! is a series of fake documentaries, with each episode spoofing a particular famous work, such as The Thin Blue Line or Grey Gardens. Hader and Armisen were two of SNL’s greatest chameleons, and they adapt to the new roles of each episode perfectly. What really elevates the show, aside from the leads’ great comedic timing, is their commitment to the homages. Whether skewering the slick, in-your-face style of Vice documentaries or the mythmaking of Nanook of the North, their fake documentaries are near-perfect emulations of the real things. Few shows reinvent themselves so often and so effortlessly.

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‘Disenchantment’

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, is back with a new show, this time on Netflix. Disenchantment is a sort of fantasy counterpart to the sci-fi Futurama, following a trio of misfits on their adventures throughout a magical realm. The show’s protagonist is Bean (Abbi Jacobson), a princess whose father, King Zøg (John DiMaggio), wants to marry her off to the prince of a neighboring kingdom. Bean would rather drink, party, and find her own way in life, however, and after meeting a fiendish demon named Luci (Eric Andre) and a bubbly elf named Elfo (Nat Faxon), Bean decides to strike out with her newfound friends in search of adventure. Like Futurama and The Simpsons before it, Disenchantment has a rough first season, but the witty writing and excellent cast bode well for its future.

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‘GLOW’

GLOW
GLOW

The job market isn’t great for aspiring actors, so when Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) answers a call for “unconventional women,” she ends up trying out for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, an all-female wrestling league overseen by washed-up director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). Wilder’s former friend Debbie Gilpin (Betty Gilpin) also tries out, and Sylvia decides to make the two the center of the league’s story: Gilpin the heroic “Liberty Belle,” and Wilder as the villain “Zoya the Destroya.” What follows is a raucous story of misfits chasing their dreams, complete with a melange of ’80s tropes, including cocaine-fueled parties and hokey montages. One scene even busts out Stan Bush’s Dare, which, if you haven’t seen The Transformers: The Movie, is an absolute gem.

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‘Jane the Virgin’

Television has been a wild medium in the last decade or two, but even within the modern standards of creativity, Jane the Virgin stands out, blending the nonstop drama and ludicrous plot twists of telenovelas (Latin American soap operas) with the wit and jubilance of modern sitcoms. Jane the Virgin follows Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), a woman who, due to her grandmother’s strict upbringing, begins the series deeply afraid of losing her virginity, even to her fiancé. After a mixup at the hospital, Jane becomes artificially inseminated by accident, and the father is none other than Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni), the wealthy owner of the hotel where Jane works. That’s just the first of many twists the show deals out, as it plays with the usual tropes of soap operas. It’s a show with heart, too, boasting memorable characters and touching moments.

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Sci-fi

‘Altered Carbon’

An adaptation of a popular cyberpunk novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is set a few hundred years in the future, by which point humanity has developed the technology to download a person’s consciousness into computers. People can now transfer themselves into new bodies, called “sleeves,” effectively making themselves immortal — provided they have the money. Into this world steps Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), a former soldier who has spent the last 250 years in cold storage. He is back, in a new sleeve, courtesy of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), a wealthy man who wants Takeshi to find the man who killed Bancroft’s previous body. Altered Carbon draws on classic noir elements, as Takeshi explores a grimy city where everyone seems to have a hidden agenda.

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‘Dark’

Although it drew a lot of comparisons to Stranger Things (due to the small-town setting and teenage protagonists), the German Netflix original Dark is its own thing, a strange, high-concept story set in a town where everyone has their secrets. Dark begins in Winden, a small, wooded town near a nuclear reactor. Teenager Jonas (Louis Hoffman) returns to school, having spent time getting therapy following his father’s suicide, only to find the town in a state of shock over a new tragedy: The disappearance of his fellow student, Erik Obendorf. Erik is not the first child to go missing in Winden’s history, nor will he be the last, and Jonas and his friends soon find themselves on the edge of a mystery that spans generations. Dark is an eerie drama, dense with mysteries and complicated characters.

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‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’

Star Trek Photo
Star Trek Photo

For those of you unacquainted with perhaps the most popular sci-fi television series of all time, there’s not much we can say, other than Netflix has all seven seasons of Star Trek: Next Generation. Created in 1987, 21 years after the original series, the show follows the exploits of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his space-faring crew upon the new USS Enterprise. Despite Netflix’s omission of the rest of the Star Trek library and Paramount’s decision to end the show prematurely, there’s still 187 episodes lined with Romulans and the Borg, not to mention an entire world of adventure with which to expand your cult-classic knowledge. After all, it did manage to live long and prosper.

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‘Black Mirror’

Black Mirror Photo
Black Mirror Photo

Each episode of Black Mirror tells a single story, with a theme of modern and near-future technology running through each unnerving tale. It’s often compared to The Twilight Zone for its episodic nature, and just like that classic series, some of the stories will leave you sitting and staring at a blank television, wondering what you just watched. Beyond all of the thought-provoking, mind-bending, and world-building, the acting and aesthetic is smart and nuanced, and will leave even the best spoiler guessers out there reeling from the sharp twists and turns in every episode.

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‘Arrow’

Arrow Photo
Arrow Photo

Yet another television show drawing from the pages of popular comics, CW’s Arrow takes its influence from the DC Comics character Green Arrow. Actor Steven Amell tackles the lead as playboy billionaire Oliver Queen, who soon takes up the role of the Green Arrow to subdue crime in the fictional setting of Starling City. Netflix offers the first four seasons of this highly regarded show.

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‘Sense8’

Sense81
Sense81

From the — sometimes — brilliant science fiction minds of Andy and Lana Wachowski comes Sense8, a sci-fi drama concerning eight strangers who suddenly find themselves connected to one another. After enduring an awakening of sorts, these strangers now have the ability to communicate and share knowledge and skills with one another. A much different take on the sci-fi genre and one featuring a diverse lineup of characters, Sense8 continues to show the Wachowskis’ and J. Michael Straczynski’s incredible knack for dense storytelling.

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Action and mystery

‘The Sinner’

Unlike a lot of detective stories, The Sinner leaves no ambiguity as to whodunit. Early in the first episode, viewers witness Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) stab a man to death on a crowded beach. The mystery before Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) is why she did it — Cora herself has no memory of the crime. What unfolds is a unique procedural, one in which the culprit’s mind is the mystery, and the show focuses on teasing out who she is and what spurred her actions. Season 1 is a self-contained story, so the show does not get bogged down in questions that take years to answer.

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‘Castlevania’

Video game adaptations have a spotty record, probably because they tend to be cash grabs rather than earnest attempts at art. Netflix’s Castlevania succeeds — despite its flaws — because of the great passion for the source material that is apparent throughout. The show begins with Dracula’s (Graham McTavish) love affair with a human woman, Lisa (Emily Swallow). After a corrupt bishop executes her on charges of witchcraft, Dracula unleashes his demonic hordes on the countryside, butchering people indiscriminately. It falls to Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last, drunken son of a famed vampire-hunting clan, to stop the slaughter. Castlevania is a violent show, with savage fight scenes and gore, but Warren Ellis‘ script has plenty of levity. The first season is short — it consists of a mere four episodes — and not every character gets proper development, but it’s a damn good start. Season 2, which will be notably longer, drops on October 26.

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‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

best shows on netflix chilling adventures of sabrina header
best shows on netflix chilling adventures of sabrina header

If you were around in the ’90s, you likely remember Sabrina the Teenage Witch, an adorable little sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart that ran off and on for seven seasons before viewership began to wane and it officially received the ax in ’03.

Netflix’s reboot, though also based on Archie Comics series of the same name, takes a different approach to the source material. It looks to be a darker, more brooding adaptation in the vain of Riverdale — a CW standout also set in the so-called “Archie-verse” — one that offers up horror and style in equal measure. Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) takes on the titular sophomore Sabrina Spellman, who must grapple with both high school and the occult alongside her boyfriend (Ross Lynch) and cat, Salem. Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings) and comedian Caroline Rhea help round out the cast, along with

Coming October 26

‘Luke Cage’

netflix_marvel_luke_cage_031
netflix_marvel_luke_cage_031

Luke Cage opens on a Harlem barbershop, the clients and barbers talking about the New York Knicks, the value of taking Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick in the draft, and whether Pat Riley or Phil Jackson is the greater coach. The first words out of the titular superhero’s mouth?

“’Cause the Knicks played like men when Pat Riley was head coach.”

It is a strangely specific way to begin a show about a crime-fighting superhuman, but an appropriate one given Luke Cage is not merely about heroes and villains slugging it out. This is a show about life and politics in Harlem as much as anything else, one which pits the old-school virtues espoused by Cage (Mike Colter) against the rapacious business practices of local mob boss “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali). Rooted in black culture, the show also draws heavily on rap and funk music, as well as the literary heritage of Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin.

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‘Stranger Things’

stranger things image 2
stranger things image 2

The opening sequence of Stranger Things lays out the series’ sci-fi aspirations clearly: A scientist flees down an empty hallway, pursued by some unseen force that eventually nabs him as he waits for elevator doors to close; it then cuts to a group of kids playing D&D in a suburban basement. From Alien to E.T. in a matter of seconds. The show is a stew made of various influences from the ‘80s. A mysterious creature and a secret government agency, a group of kids having adventures around their rural town, teens experimenting with sex, drugs, and peer pressure.

There are pieces of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Hughes strewn throughout Stranger Things, and the result is a show that will feel immediately familiar to people who grew up with that source material. The show is not shallow in its emulation, either. The acting and direction are superb, giving even the most derivative scenes some heft.

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‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’

After the massive success of Daredevil’s first season, Netflix decided to tap into yet another Marvel character with Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Breaking Bad alum Krysten Ritter hops into the virtual shoes of the titular Jessica Jones, a somewhat troubled young woman who possesses a particularly enhanced set of powers that make her a menace to criminals. Alongside Ritter are David Tennant as the mysterious and evil Kilgrave, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, and Carrie Ann Moss as a hard-nosed lawyer named Jeri Hogarth. Not just for comic book fans, Marvel’s Jessica Jones is a wild good time.

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‘Sherlock’

Sherlock Photo
Sherlock Photo

Not all adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic novels are good. Thankfully, Sherlock is terrific right out of the gates. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title role in this modern reimagining of Sherlock’s London exploits. Charm and elementary brain work come standard, but unlike most past renditions of the crime drama, many criminals manage to outwit Holmes. Still, Cumberbatch delivers a Sherlock that is surprisingly brawny and moody, with a dependable Watson (Martin Freeman) to match.

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‘Daredevil’

Daredevil Photo
Daredevil Photo

This Netflix-produced show strikes gold. Daredevil brings the Marvel Universe to the small screen in a big way. While movie adaptations of Marvel’s blind lawyer-by-day, blind crime-fighter-by-night never quite lived up to expectations, Drew Goddard’s episodic version garnered near-universal acclaim. Charlie Cox — who plays the iconic Daredevil — headlines an impressive cast that also features Vincent D’Onofrio and Rosario Dawson. Gritty, expertly produced, and packed to the brim with action, Netflix’s Daredevil is one you won’t want to miss.

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‘Broadchurch’

Broadchurch Photo
Broadchurch Photo

When an 11-year-old boy is killed, the coastal town of Broadchurch is subjected to the onslaught of media attention. At only eight episodes, this British show is easy to binge in a weekend, with twists and turns that will keep you watching. David Tennant stars as the testy head investigator of the murder, who finds himself dealing with high emotions and high stakes in his search to find the person who would commit an unthinkable act.

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‘One-Punch Man’

One-Punch Man
One-Punch Man

Superheroes can be a little boring, can’t they? Does anybody really doubt, when a bank robber comes face to face with Superman, that the ensuing fight can go any way but one? One-Punch Man takes the one-sided nature of superheroes to its extreme conclusion, following Saitama (Makoto Furukawa), a hero so powerful he can defeat any foe with a single punch. Being unstoppable leads Saitama to a profound sense of ennui, however, and he must seek out stronger and stronger opponents in order to feel alive. One-Punch Man is a hilarious parody for fans of superheroes or anime, and it doesn’t hurt that the action is rendered in smooth, colorful animation.

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Reality TV and documentaries

‘Dark Tourist’

When people think of vacations, they likely think of visiting famous landmarks, fancy restaurants, or gorgeous beaches, but some people are drawn to a different sort of exploration. So-called “dark tourists” seek out the macabre corners of the world, skipping the Eiffel Tower and heading straight for the Catacombs, and David Farrier’s travel series Dark Tourist follows the journalist as he ventures into these eerie places. Each episode, Farrier visits a different country, looking for sites associated with death, disaster, even war. In Japan, for example, he joins a guided tour of a ghost town abandoned after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, where the tourists bring their own Geiger counters, panicking slightly as they pick up more radiation than they expected. In another episode he visits Medellin, home of drug lord Pablo Escobar, where an industry has sprung up around veneration of the dead crime boss. Dark Tourist is a unique exploration of places and cultures out of the mainstream, and a journey into humanity’s fascination with death and destruction.

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‘Dirty Money’

Netflix’s documentary series Dirty Money brings together a number of documentarians, including Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and Erin Lee Carr (Mommy Dead and Dearest), to delve into the shady dealings of big businesses around the world. Each episode features a different director tackling a different subject, ranging from the outrageous (the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the payday loan industry) to the strange (a massive heist of maple syrup, which gives the filmmaker a chance to examine the cartel-esque nature of Quebec’s maple syrup industry). Dirty Money is an incisive examination of the behavior businesses will engage when nobody is looking — and sometimes, even when people are.

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‘The Staircase’

Long before Making a Murderer, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s The Staircase pioneered the format of true crime miniseries, following an ongoing murder case with incredible access to the defense and — for a while at least — the prosecution. The Staircase examines the trial of crime novelist Michael Peterson, who stood accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen. Peterson claimed Kathleen fell down the stairs after drinking; the prosecution thought otherwise. The facts of the case make rendering judgment difficult to begin with, and the case gets murkier as the prosecution zeroes in on Michael’s bisexuality as a motive. The series — which originally aired in 2005, and got new episodes in 2012 and again in 2018 — examines the case from varying perspectives, and while it won’t necessarily convince viewers of Peterson’s guilt or innocence, it provides a fascinating window into a contentious trial.

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‘Explained’

News site Vox has been publishing short, informative “explainer” videos for a while now. Explained, Vox’s new series on Netflix, offers longer, deeper dives into the topics of the day. Episodes — generally between 15 and 20 minutes in length — target a range of subjects, including the evolution of monogamy, the racial wealth gap in the United States, even the rise of K-pop. Explained makes use of interviews with experts, clever infographics, and other tools to convey information, and the show’s breezy attitude keeps even the most academic topics from getting too dry.

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‘Evil Genius’

Netflix continues its string of gripping true-crime documentaries with Evil Genius, which examines a case that is so bizarre it seems like the plot of a movie. As detailed in the first episode, the case begins with a robbery. A man named Brian Wells walks into a bank with a bomb attached to his chest via a locked, metal collar. The police apprehend Wells after he makes his escape, and he tells them that he is a hostage; a group of people ambushed him and fastened the collar around his neck, giving him instructions to follow — including robbing the bank — to get the key that would unlock the collar. The device explodes before the bomb squad arrives, leaving the police to figure out just what happened. If you aren’t familiar with the case, Evil Genius is a strange ride, full of shady characters and betrayals, but even those who know the details can appreciate the series’ compelling analysis of the twisted story.

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‘Wild Wild Country’

The documentary series Wild Wild Country follows a fascinating yet obscure episode in American history: The rise and fall of the Rajneeshpuram, a religious community that sprang up in remote Central Oregon in the 1980s and was built around the teachings of a guru named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The group’s cultish tendencies grated on the locals, and as tensions rose, the Rajneeshees became more militant, attempting to hijack the voting process in Antelope, Oregon, and even staging a bioterror attack. Wild Wild Country makes extensive use of archival footage, as well as interviews with the people who lived through the conflict. The perspectives of the former Rajneeshees are intriguing; many look back fondly on their time in the community. Rajneesh’s lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, is a particularly fascinating character. Expertly crafted and highly informative, Wild Wild Country is a sharp exploration of how cults develop, and why they create friction with mainstream America.

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‘Ugly Delicious’

Chef David Chang has built a career on bucking culinary authority, and his Netflix series, Ugly Delicious, finds the restaurateur waging total war on the concept of “authenticity.” The first episode is a great example of the show’s thesis, as it examines the ways in which chefs around the world have taken a simple dish like pizza and reinvented it. Ugly Delicious is less about gorgeous shots of cooking than it is about the way culture shapes cuisine, and the show is conscious of how different styles of food are tied to ethnicity. A conversation between two Italian-American pizza chefs takes a sorrowful turn as they reflect on the disintegration of the old Italian-American communities, and the fact that pizza is more an American icon now. Although Chang is not always on screen, his presence always comes through in the show’s dynamic energy.

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‘Rotten’

In a globalized world, the food industry has grown so large, its networks so long and tangled, that most Americans probably don’t know where their food comes from. As the documentary series Rotten shows, that’s dangerous, because where there is obscurity, there is fraud. The show makes use of extensive interviews with people in the industries, offering first-person insights into these esoteric worlds. From companies cutting honey with other substances, to companies allegedly using forced prison labor to produce garlic, Rotten uncovers depravity in the strangest places.

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‘Chef’s Table’

netflix-chefs-table-image-1
netflix-chefs-table-image-1

David Gelb, director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, returns to the world of cooking with Chef’s Table, a documentary series where each episode follows a different chef. With Jiro, Gelb found not only a guide to the art of sushi, but a story of fatherhood and the burden of legacy. In Chef’s Table, he similarly presents the chefs not as mere professionals, but complex people whose lives inform their work. The chefs involved include traditional culinary icons such as Massimo Bottura and new-wave chefs like Grant Achatz. Of course, those who crave footage of culinary grace will not be disappointed. Gelb has an eye for the sublime, his camera drifting slowly, gently across completed plates.

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‘Making a Murderer’

MakingaMurderer1
MakingaMurderer1

Heralded as Netflix’s answer to the hit podcast Serial, Making a Murderer tells the tragic story of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, native Steven Avery. After serving 18 years in prison for a horrific sexual assault and attempted murder crime he maintains he never committed, new evidence exonerates Avery, making him a free man. Now 41 years old and looking to clear his name, Avery sues Manitowoc County for a whopping $36 million in damages. However, shortly after filing the lawsuit, Avery’s name is once again tied to a grisly crime, this time the disappearance and assumed death of photographer Teresa Halbach. Coincidentally, Avery faces the same people who wrongfully put him behind bars in the mid-’80s and yet again maintain his innocence. Incredibly riveting yet downright infuriating at times, Netflix’s Making a Murderer is one of the most fascinating true crime documentaries you’ll find anywhere.

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‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’

Cosmos Photo
Cosmos Photo

Carl Sagan’s thirteen-part TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, remains a watershed moment in science television despite being more than three decades old. Fortunately, the 2014 reboot presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson is just as enchanting, detailing the latest revelations regarding time and space in a series of 45-minute installments. The show touches on everything from the first steps of evolution and the impact of paleogeography to electromagnetism and the irreparable consequences of global warming.

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‘Planet Earth’

Planet Earth Photo
Planet Earth Photo

Netflix partnered with the BBC to offer streaming of its smash-hit documentary series Planet Earth. Over the course of 11 episodes, Planet Earth takes viewers to all corners of the globe, allowing them to see the Earth as they’ve never experienced before. From the depths of the open ocean to the jungles of Uganda, this docuseries sheds light on the most fascinating areas of the world. Life presenter David Attenborough superbly narrates Planet Earth’s globe-spanning expedition.

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‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’

BillNyeNetflixTV1
BillNyeNetflixTV1

Bill Nye’s sensational educational program Bill Nye the Science Guy quickly became a household and classroom staple when it debuted in September 1993. During its nearly five-year, 100-episode run, Nye taught a wide range of natural science topics aimed at educating youngsters about everything from the Earth’s core to how the brain works. Nominated for 23 Emmys — and winner of 19 — Bill Nye the Science Guy easily holds up as well today as it did when it aired some 20 years ago.

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‘The Keepers’

Netflix’s true-crime streak continues with The Keepers, a haunting investigation into the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a nun and Baltimore school teacher who was found near a garbage dump in the winter of 1969. The documentary follows the efforts of two of her former students — Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub — as they try to uncover why someone would murder her. The Keepers is no simple whodunit, however. The documentary’s focus quickly expands from Cesnik’s murder to the atmosphere of Seton Keough High School, where it becomes apparent that sexual abuse was systemic, a scandal Cesnik may have tried to stop. Those who want a satisfying tale of justice may want to look elsewhere; those who want to see how institutions can work to cover up corruption will find The Keepers to be a disturbing case study.

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Memory lane

‘Twin Peaks’

Twin Peaks Photo
Twin Peaks Photo

This cult classic of the early ’90s came from the mind of director David Lynch. After homecoming queen Laura Palmer is murdered, FBI agent Dale Cooper arrives in the small Washington town to investigate. Weirdness ensues, with everything from homicidal demons and cryptic dreams to doppelgängers of dead people and an FBI agent who really likes cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.” Though it was one of the most popular shows of the entire decade, it was never renewed for a third season — that is, until David Lynch decided he would be revisiting the iconic town as part of a limited series on Showtime.

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‘Cheers’

Cheers Photo
Cheers Photo

Cheers is a series about a Boston bar “where everybody knows your name,” along with the people who hang out and work there. It’s still astonishing to think that nearly every scene in Cheers’ 11 seasons was set in a single barroom, but the show managed to break a bevy of records while it aired, tackling controversial issues such as abortion and homosexuality in its own genre-defining way. Even today, popular culture is littered with references to Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and his iconic bar. And thankfully, Netflix has every season. Cheers, indeed.

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‘Freaks & Geeks’

Freaks Photo
Freaks Photo

Freaks & Geeks is about two unique groups of teenagers dealing with high school life in the ’80s. Like the title suggests, one group is labeled as the “freaks” the other as the “geeks.” The show features many now-famous actors — James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, etc. — and helped propel showrunner Judd Apatow to big-screen directorial fame. The one-season show covers a variety of experiences that define coming of age in America, including drugs, bullying, and more. It was canceled too soon, but you can still watch all 18 episodes.

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Kids

‘The Dragon Prince’

Years after the end of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, writer Aaron Ehasz is back, together with Uncharted writer Justin Richmond, for The Dragon Prince, a fantasy series about two worlds on the brink of war, and the young heroes who must try to restore balance. The show is set in the land of Xadia, where humans live apart from the other, magical species, who resent humanity’s development of “dark magic.” After the humans slay the dragon who maintains the barrier between the two kingdoms, a group of elves set out to assassinate the king’s sons, Callum (Jack De Sena) and Ezran (Sasha Rojen). When the elf assassin Rayla (Paula Burrows) catches the two boys, they reveal that the king still has the egg containing the Dragon Prince. Dealing with themes of intergenerational conflict and prejudice, The Dragon Prince is a young adult series with a lot on its mind.

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‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’

Star Wars Photo
Star Wars Photo

George Lucas’ incredibly popular Star Wars: The Clone Wars is set in the years between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The Clone Wars depicts various locales, characters, and battles within the Star Wars galaxy. Netflix also streams the series’ companion film.

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‘Goosebumps’

Goosebumps Photo
Goosebumps Photo

Like author R.L. Stine’s fabled Goosebumps book series, every episode of the like-minded series features a different cast of characters and horror plot line. Sometimes the show deals with clowns, witches, and otherworldly beings, while other times it addresses dark issues of morality that never end well. Either way, the show serves as a great introduction to the world of horror and features celebrity guests such as Christopher Lloyd and Ariel Winter (among others). There’s no gore, sex, drugs, or anything else unwholesome — but we suggest you screen some of the episodes in advance of your kids.

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‘The Magic School Bus’

Magic School Photo
Magic School Photo

With the Netflix series The Magic School Bus 360° coming to a Netflix queue near you in 2016, there’s no better time than now for your kids to check out Ms. Valerie Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin) and the anthropomorphic school bus that shuttles students to impossible locations. It’s an Emmy-winning show heavily rooted in science that examines everything from the human anatomy to the far regions of outer space, providing kids with a general understanding of how everyday facets of our world function. The National Science Foundation provided the bulk of the funding alongside Microsoft, thus giving it a little more merit, while rock legend Little Richard laid down the title theme song.

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