It’s a new year, and 2021 has brought with it a host of new Netflix shows to add to your watchlist. Yes, that’s right, even more new shows have been added to the streamer over the holiday period. But with so much choice, how do you know where to start? Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ve done our research to find the best Netflix shows on offer and compiled them all into this handy list. From raunchy period drama Bridgerton to Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai, we’re sure you’ll find something here that you fancy watching. Whether you’re in the mood to laugh or cry, there should be a TV show here to scratch that itch.
Below, you’ll find our frequently updated list of the best Netflix shows that you can stream right now. Plus, everything in this list is available to watch on both sides of the pond, so viewers in the US and UK can enjoy our top picks.
You've seen period dramas before – but not like this. From super-producer Shonda Rhimes comes Bridgerton, a flirty, feisty Netflix series that centres on the Bridgerton family. One of the daughters, Daphne, is of age to find a husband and ends up 'pretending' to fall in love with one of England's most eligible bachelors, just so everyone will get off her back. Of course, things do not go to plan.
Yes, it's a scandalous yet heartfelt love story; one that features colourblind casting, taught relationships, and lots of bonking – and we mean lots. No wonder, then, that it's quickly become one of Netflix most-watched shows.
Dead To Me
A tragicomedy’s that twists and turns with the best of them as polar opposite pals Jen and Judy struggle through life, bonded through loss. A masterful blend of dark thrills and laugh-out-loud one-liners.
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are both sensational as the central duo, while James Marsden turn as Steve and, in the second season, Steve's twin brother is pure excellence. You won't be able to stop watching.
This Eddy delivered on the promise of its international calibre. Written by screenwriting supremo Jack Thorne and with episodes directed by Damien Chazelle, Houda Benyamina, Laïla Marrakchi and Alan Poul, This is a gritty yet vibrant bop around the Paris jazz scene.
André Holland plays Elliot, the struggling manager of a Parisian nightclub. However, his business partner owes some people some money, and things quickly become even more difficult. And then Elliot's estranged daughter, Julie, shows up. It's one thing after another, but this music-enthused series grooves at its own tempo, slowing things down for reflection and, of course, a few jam sessions.
Netflix has a raft of great animated shows, and one of the best is Big Mouth – the cartoon sitcom about the horrors and wonders of puberty. Based on comedian Nick Kroll’s own adolescence in suburban New York, the series follows a group of seventh-graders who are accompanied by hormone monsters that take the form of not-so-helpful shoulder angels. Yes it's a cringe-worthy and bonkers as that all sounds. More importantly, though, it's absolutely hilarious.
Alongside Kroll, it features the voices of a host of big-name comedians including John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, and Jordan Peele. If those names aren't enough to get you excited then, well, turn back now, you're not worthy of this excellent Netflix comedy.
The Queen's Gambit
There's a reason The Queen's Gambit became Netflix most-watched limited series when it was released. The show, about an aspiring chess champion played by Anya Taylor-Joy, may have a slightly bland premise (who wants to watch hour-long episodes about chess?) yet the series is riveting. Not only that, but with such an anchoring central performance and charming supporting cast, this series about one of the slowest board games ever created is one of the best Netflix shows you can watch. Checkmate!
The Haunting of Hill House/Bly Manor
The Haunting of Hill House was Netflix's first must-see horror. A retelling of Shirley Jackson’s terrifying novel, the series was helmed by Mike Flanagan, whose previous Netflix features Hush and Gerald’s Game, and follows the Crain family as they move into the remote Hill House. With the intention of renovating it and flipping it before they buy their real home, the Crains discover that the house has other plans. Fleeing in the middle of the night, the story picks up decades later as the scattered family is drawn together again by that darn house...
Hill House is absolutely terrifying – and its follow-up, The Haunting of Bly Manor, strikes a surprisingly different tone. First off, while the actors are the same, they all play completely different characters as the series adapts Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. There are still ghost aplenty in Bly Manor, another haunted house story, but there's a romance at the centre of this series that's quite surprising. Saying that, you'll still be scared of turning the lights off at night after finishing this one.
One that will no doubt be appealing to the gamers among you. Netflix's docuseries takes you back to the earliest days of videogames. From the local arcade to the first-ever game cartridge, creator France Costrel sheds light on the legacy of the engineers, inventors, and creators whose stories have yet to be told.
The six-part series includes interviews with the developers of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Atari and more as it examines how at-home gaming became the norm it is today. Along with fun animated segments, High Score provides perfect nostalgia partnered with a 20th-century gaming education. Fun and educational – just like Brain Training!
There’s a good chance Cobra Kai, the sequel series to The Karate Kid, passed you by. Originally tucked away on the rarely-used YouTube Premium service, Cobra Kai is set over three decades after the events of the original movie and sees Daniel’s one-time bully/karate opponent Johnny Lawrence reform his ways and re-open the Cobra Kai dojo.
Now, it’s all on Netflix and is a sobering, bittersweet take on growing up, moving on from the past, and whether previous successes are truly the things that define you. There’s plenty of fan service for Karate Kid fans, including appearances from some of the original cast, but it’s a series that stands alone in its own right even if you aren’t familiar with the source material. So, what are you waiting for? Chop chop. It’s time to catch up on one of the most overlooked shows of the past half-decade.
Read more: Everything we know about Cobra Kai season 4
This seven-episode limited series hails from Ocean's Eleven director Steven Soderbergh and Logan screenwriter Scott Frank. A gritty western set in a small mining town, Godless stars Jeff Daniels as notorious crook Frank Griffin, the leader of a bunch of outlaws desperate to locate defector Roy Goode, played by Jack O'Connell. The twist? Goode's holed up in a town populated entirely by women. Following a mine accident that killed most of its male residents, the women including Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery who won't take any shit from Griffin, are doing just dandy on their own. For Netflix's first Western this is gritty stuff.
A town of women who go up against bloodthirsty gangs of marauding men – what’s not to love about this series? Crafted deliberately as a limited series (that’s a one season and done), Godless has a razor sharp focus: there’s not a moment to waste, and none of it is. By far the biggest reason to tune in are its two leads, Dockery and Meritt Wever, who scored her second Emmy for her performance.
The Umbrella Academy
Netflix’s most overlooked superhero show – well, until season 2 came along and quickly became one of the most-watched series of 2020. The series centres on a group of superhero siblings who are all miraculously born at the same time from mothers who were not actually pregnant. The first series is a twist-filled joyride, and the second is somehow cooler, crazier, and crackles with more energy than its debut – with lessons having been learned from last year’s semi-stumble out of the blocks.
If you’re looking for a larger-than-life comic book adaptation to fill a superhero-sized void in your life then The Umbrella Academy is the show for you. Plus, this instantly adds to your emo-credentials, as My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way wrote the source material.
Read more: Everything we know about The Umbrella Academy season 3
Charting the rise and fall of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, Narcos features two DEA agents, Murphy and Pena, trying at nothing in the war against drugs. But they’ve met their match: Pablo is infinitely resourceful, Colombia is a country with dangerous people around every corner and it only gets worse from there. This is an American-Spanish show that will have you on the edge of your seats 99% of the time. The other 1% if you learning Spanish swear words, which is always fun.
Even if you know Pablo Escobar’s story, Narcos has been suitably embellished so every episode carries as many twist and turns as possible with it. That extends to its seasons, too. Each one does something different without straying too far from its main theme of ‘catch the bad guy.’ Without wanting to go into spoiler territory, the show turns everything upside down far sooner than you might think, too. This is a binge-worthy drama that’s an expert at keeping you on your toes.
Seeing as you’ve binged the hell out of Stranger Things multiple times, you’re gonna need something similar to tide you over until more episodes arrive. Enter Dark. From the outset, this German-language Netflix original makes no bones about its intentions: to be creepy, eerie and as Lynchian as possible. And that's not just because it’s odd, but, because like a certain David Lynch created TV show, this delves into the rotten underbelly of seemingly perfect small-town life. In this case, it’s the tale of two missing children that stirs up trouble for a mysterious community.
You’re unlikely to see anything else quite like it. Sure, it may share ideas with some popular shows (there’s missing children, time travel, and other supernatural oddities) but Dark packs a lot of unique pieces into its puzzle.
There aren't many shows that are able to make you cry every episode. Queer Eye happens to be one of those. The reality show follows five men from the LGBTQ+ community as they makeover a different person – or, as they are called on the show, "hero" – each episode. The Fab Five all have different speciality areas (food, fashion, culture, design, and grooming) and very different personas.
While that may not sound too emotional, just give the first episode a whirl. Seeing a divorced 57-year-old learn to properly look after himself and come to embrace the Fab Five is a remarkably endearing opener. As the show goes on, the "heroes" become more and more diverse, and each one has a moving story. You'll laugh. You'll cry. And you'll pick up some great tips on self-care and self-love. Yaaas!
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
Are you ready to enrol at Greendale Community College? Community transformed over its lifetime on NBC – and one season on Yahoo – going from an innocuous comedy about the interactions of some college students who had lost their way in life to a show that broke TV rules at every turn. Over the course of Community's six seasons we get to know a dysfunctional study group – played by a group of then-unknown actors, including Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Joel McHale – as they struggle to succeed in a demotivating community college.
Community twists and turns in ways you don't expect. There are episodes shaped after Ray Liotta narrated crime movies, paintball homages to A Fistful of Dollars, and an informative documentary about historical pillow fights. If you haven't then check out this great American feel-good sitcom. And remember to cross your fingers and pray for #SixSeasonsAndAMovie.
Read more: the best Community episodes, ranked!
The Last Dance
Charting the Chicago Bulls' 1997/98 season, The Last Dance frames that fateful year with archival footage and interviews with Michael Jordan and some of his closest allies and enemies. Yet, despite being about basketball, you certainly don't need to be a major fan or the sport to be gripped by this 1- episode documentary.
The joint ESPN/Netflix production dives deep into what makes one of the biggest icons of the 20th Century tick: the feuds, the fights with front office, and the family stories all feature heavily here. It's all presented in a way that lets you learn as you go, without being condescending. Plus, if you are into b-ball, then you can rest easy in the knowledge that you're seeing a hidden side of one of the sport's greatest dynasties. Hundreds of hours of previously unseen footage were used for The Last Dance, and it offers a unique, complex take on the man they once called "Air."
Better Call Saul
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
Remember the screwy lawyer from Breaking Bad? This show's all about him - Saul Goodman. Things begin after the climactic events of that series, in the present day, and immediately jump back to before he became Saul. Six years prior he was known as Jimmy McGill. A likeable, good-hearted guy who dallies loosely with the law, he goes to bat for his low-income clientele with the help of fixer (and Breaking Bad regular) Mike Ehrmantraut. It's terrific getting to see the pair in their early days and discover what happened before Jimmy turned into Saul.
It's hard to imagine a Breaking Bad spin-off being able to cap the brilliance of that groundbreaking series. Thanks to the superb performance by Bob Odenkirk, who delves into practically every emotional state in its first season alone, and Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, it's just as good – if not better.
When someone says the word "mockumentary", your mind may immediately flock to classics such as This is Spinal Tap or Best in Show. Both are deliberately over-the-top chucklefests. American Vandal, on the other hand, is a different beast. A satirical docuseries that’s played completely straight, it taps into the true crime craze that’s seen an uptick in recent years and puts a new spin on it. The first season begins in the aftermath of a crime at a high school, when 27 teachers find that their cars have been vandalized by a student with a penchant for spray paint and dick pics. No, seriously. If that’s not bonkers enough, season 2 follows a poop epidemic.
Much like how Making a Murderer became an addictive series that everyone and their mother had an opinion about, American Vandal operates in the same way. One high schooler takes on the role of documentarian and tries to figure out who’s really to blame. Easily one of the best Netflix Original shows. True crime has never been so damn bingeable!
The binge-watch series of the last few years. The Duffer brothers cobbled together a patchwork of '80s references then siphoned all of that into a killer plot about government experiments on members of a small town in Indiana. Things come to a head when a young lad, Will Byers, goes missing, causing his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder), the sheriff (David Harbour), and Will’s friends to consider the strangest possibility – that there's a parallel world to ours replete with horrific monsters and demons simply itching to get at you.
The whole cast is terrific (this writer personally was very pleased to see Winona Ryder back in the thick of it). However, it's the young leads who steal the show. Scurrying around Hawkins on their bikes in the dead of night and hunkering down in basements trying to find their missing pal, they will melt your hearts, especially Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven.
Read more: everything we know about Stranger Things season 4
Forget the 2003 misfire – this is the Daredevil fans have been waiting for. The first of Marvel’s Netflix universe charges out of the gate, Daredevil is a blustering blend of brooding character drama, hyperreal action and some of the best villainy since Heath Ledger embodied the Joker. Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and Steven S. DeKnight (Blade) acted as showrunners on the early seasons, which received universal applause for its uncompromising take on blind lawyer-turned-do-gooder Matt Murdock.
Daredevil boasts some of the most adventurous stunt choreography ever seen in a TV series. Yes, I'm on about that season 1 corridor fight sequence. It's simply breathtaking to witness Murdock’s athletic prowess – because you know, he’s blind. The ambition of this first season has yet to be bettered elsewhere in the Netflix Marvel universe.
The Good Place
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
On the surface, former Parks and Recreation showrunner Michael Schur's show sounds similar-ish to Dead Like Me. Someone dies, experiences the afterlife, and embraces the comedy of the situation. It's not quite the same, though. Instead, it combines the cheerful glee of Parks with the existential WTF?-ness of something like Lost. Kristen Bell stars as Eleanor Shellstrop, a self-centred individual who is gifted to quite a pleasant post-life existence alongside her soulmate.
As well as being really, really funny and introducing us to yet another hugely talented group of actors, it also packs some great dramatic twists and turns that you won't see coming. Better get stuck in now before its fourth and final season lands.
An anthology series, each episode serves as a standalone story that investigates a particular piece of tech and how they could lead to mankind's downfall. For the most part, Charlie Brooker's dystopian sci-fi show is set just a few years into the future, a place where our every technological whim is accounted for. The decision to set it so close to our own time has made it one of the most-talked-about shows in years.
While it's often described as sci-fi, Black Mirror packs in elements from every genre imaginable. Depending on the story, a particular episode may be romantic, action-packed, or creepy. One thing they all have in common, though, is that they're all downright terrifying.
Unbreakable Kimmy Smidt
When it first dropped in 2015, Kimmy Schmidt’s theme song was all anyone could talk about. And yes, while it’s a hummable-as-fudgin’-heck, there’s more to this eccentric comedy from 30 Rock creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. A zany sitcom with heart and silliness in equal amounts, the show begins with New York newbie Kimmy Schmidt starting with a fresh slate after spending the previous fifteen years trapped in a doomsday cult led by the deranged Reverend Gary Wayne Gary (an eerily-good Jon Hamm). Now in the big city, Kimmy discovers a new-found joy for living, that’s got a distinct ‘90s edge.
It's as if 30 Rock never ended. But with added Carol Kane, who absolutely slays it as Kimmy's wiseass landlady, Jane Krakowski, who continues to be one of the funniest comics on the small screen, and the musical genius who gave us Peeno Noir and Boobs in California, Titus Andromedon.
Orange is The New Black
Loosely based on the real-life experiences of Piper Kerman, this comedy-drama from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan is like nothing else on the streaming platform. That's probably because it's a Netflix Original – and by 'eck, original it certainly is. The first season follows Kerman's memoir closely, as Taylor Schilling's Piper Chapman enters the prison system after being convicted of aiding a drug trafficker – her ex, played by That '70s Show's Laura Prepon – who also happens to be incarcerated in the same prison...
Once the show diverts from the true story, it becomes a wild mash of interesting plotlines. Piper's still in the mix, but there's a rich cast of fully fleshed-out characters who we learn lots of secretive tidbits about through flashbacks.
Everyone has, at some point in their lives, experienced the soul-crushing, please-swallow-me-up-Earth awkwardness of discussing the birds and the bees with their parents. It’s a rite-of-passage. Now, take that feeling, and mutiply it by a thousand, and you’re somewhat close to the embarrassment at the heart of Sex Education. A Netflix Original starring Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn, a sex therapist, the series revolves around her son, Otis played by Asa Butterfield. Unlike his chatty, open, mother, Otis’ is a little backwards in coming forwards, until he and his friends assemble their own sex therapy clinic for their classmates.
Fresh and easy to binge due to its fun, young cast, you may go in expecting crass humour – and you’re going to get some along with the heartfelt life lessons learned by its core crop of kids. Less concerned with preaching, the series is all about opening your mind and embracing our differences, which, may sound sentimental, yet it’s really anything but.
Read more: everything we know about Sex Education season 3
The Crown charts the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the start of her reign up until the present day. Well, it will. This Netflix Original kicks off shortly before her Coronation, and up to its current season's end, which finds her at an interesting precipice in her role as sovereign and as wife and mother. The series weds top-notch drama with an array of great performances, led by Claire Foy – and later Olivia Colman – as the young monarch. It sheds light on unseen parts of the Queen’s duties, and the troubled dynamic of juggling a public and private life, starting with her marriage to Philip, and dealing with her father, George.
The early years of the current English monarch? Sounds great, but not for you, right? Bit too Downton? Seriously, don’t miss out on this brilliant series: this is a superb character drama that packs in loads of historical factoids and a rollicking good story. Without a doubt one of the best shows on Netflix. Plus, we can all do with more Olivia Colman in our lives.
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
Ah, how the wealthy fall. Schitt’s Creek, a one-liner packed gem of a show, knows that its title is the punchline in many an anecdote, and recycles it as the punchline for its premise. The Rose family, led by video store tycoon Johnny (Eugene Levy) and his histrionic former soap opera star wife Moira (Catherine O’Hara), find themselves on hard times, losing their fortune when their business manager swindles them. All that’s left is the small town of Schitt’s Creek, purchased as a joke, that becomes the family’s new home. Manipulative, spoiled, and bratty, the Rose family relocates and struggles to settle in with the natives.
Based on its premise alone, Schitt’s Creek works magic. Throw in comedy class acts Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, whose on-screen chemistry forces each other to raise their game, and you’ve got gold. It’s not all about the guffaws, though, with many tender moments emerging as the Rose family find themselves changing in their new surroundings.
Tuca & Bertie
A Netflix Original that slipped under many radars. Tuca and Bertie hails from Lisa Hanawalt, one of the animators behind Bojack Horseman who steps out to tell an altogether different story. Ali Wong and Tiffany Haddish provide the voices for Tuca and Bertie – a self-assured, carefree toucan and an anxious songbird. The pair live in the same apartment building in Bird Town, a lush and vibrant metropolis that appears plucked from a kids cartoon. Make no mistake: Tuca and Bertie is definitely not for kids.
The notion of not tuning in to a series because of its early cancellation is, frankly, bananas. While we only got one season of this absurdist comedy that’s no reason to skip over it: its weirdness is part of its charm; its way of luring you in before revealing how damn smart it is. Instead of retreading similar terrain to Bojack, it explores the women at its heart, how they struggle with sobriety, singledom, and employment in a world geared towards men.
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
What do you get when you throw Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy on the screen together? The Dark Knight fanfic come to life? Well yes, that, but I was referring to the brilliant Peaky Blinders. Set in 1919, the series takes its name from a particular street gang that took charge of Birmingham, England shortly after the Great War. Using whatever means necessary to rise through the criminal ranks is war veteran Thomas Shelby, who – along with his family – forms the focus of this gripping crime drama.
A show that’s dubbed the British Boardwalk Empire deserves checking out for that comparison alone. If you’re a fan of that HBO series, you’ll love what kicks off in this historical gangster masterclass, and if you’re not? Peaky Blinders captures an era and location that’s seldom given much screen time and makes you wonder why the hell not? Prepare to binge the entire thing.
Judd Apatow returns to the small screen for a delightfully brash, irreverent and often quite sweet series on life and love in L.A. Things kick off when the kind-hearted Gus (Paul Rust) encounters the outspoken Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and the pair start hanging out. The series finds the pair exploring the boundaries of friendship and romance, while roping in some absolutely bananas standalone episodes into the mix. It’s very funny and cringeworthy as hell.
Sure, it may sound like a million other shows, but there’s a blast of energy and pep to Love that sets it apart from its competitors. Even after the pair make mistake after mistake, you can’t help but still like them and long for them to figure their shit out. And with season 3 being its final season, now’s as good a time as any to get caught up with Gus and Mickey.
Dear White People
Justin Simien’s movie, also called Dear White People, earned solid reviews which led to the development of a small-screen adaptation. While there are some differences, as it was recast, the basic premise remains the same. It’s set among a diverse group of students of colou as they navigate a predominantly white Ivy League college, Winchester University, where racial tensions are often swept under the rug. Logan Browning stars as a student who hosts a campus radio show called Dear White People.
As hot-button topic series go, Dear White People charges in full force to tackle some meaty issues. A send up of post-racial America, we’re thrown into a college that throws a blackface party, we’re shown police brutality, racist trolls, the list goes on. It’s also pretty damn funny too, as it weaves together a universal story about forging one’s own unique path.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
The true-crime documentary that has gripped the world, Tiger King's as bonkers as they say. The seven-part limited series follows Joe Exotic – a gay, gun-toting, mulleted, all-American zookeeper who despises a big cat activist named Carole Baskin. We're introduced to a host of colourful characters, including another zookeeper who allegedly has a harem, a man who claims to be the influence for Scarface, and a reality-show producer who's tried to document the whole thing but... well, we won't spoil it here. Oh, and there's a murder mystery as well.
There's absolutely no knowing what's coming next in Tiger King. Each episode adds another twist, and it's almost impossible to stop watching. Plus, after you're done, you can do some armchair detective work and find out where they all are now. Because, yes, this really a true-crime documentary, and not another season of American Vandal.
Jane the Virgin
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
Don’t get hung up on the title of this crackin’ comedy series. Yes, the main character *is* a virgin, yet the show snakes around that fact with its bonkers premise. Determined to not let history repeat itself, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) wants a life altogether different from that of her mother, who fell pregnant as a teen. She works hard, she’s got a great fiance who’s willing to wait until they’re married before consummating their relationship. However, during a routine medical checkup, Jane winds up getting artificially inseminated. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the donor? Yeah, it’s her boss...
A right pickle of a story is the perfect vehicle to explore all of the dilemmas Jane faces. There is a lot of humour, and even more heart to the show thanks to Rodriguez’s award-winning performance. Jane the Virgin tweaks the tried-and-tested soap opera formula to deliver a fresh and very funny look at life.
Grace and Frankie
Comedy vets Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin headline this superbly bingeable sitcom about two women whose ongoing rivalry comes to a head when their husbands reveal they’re in love and want divorces. While Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) try to navigate this life-changing revelation alone, they fast become frenemies who wind up sharing a beach house. Throw in their four kids and their newly-married husbands, and what you’re left with is a modern living situation. What starts as an amusing premise over the seasons sprawls into a ripe comedy setup that’s all about figuring out life, love, career, health, no matter your age, and how our friends are the one thing we can always rely on.
Don’t dismiss this as that show your mom probably watches. Fonda and Taylor might be in their ‘70s and 80s but that doesn’t make them, or their razor-sharp humour, out of bounds for anyone who isn’t. This is brilliantly savvy writing boosted by its lead performances. That also includes Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen as Grace and Frankie’s former husbands, and June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry and Baron Vaughn as their four grown kids.
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
Sherlock has taken the lead in movies and TV shows plenty of times over the years, becoming a recognisable figure in the realm of detective fiction. When it came to crafting a new series for the BBC showrunners Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss gave Doyle's creation a major facelift. Not just in casting Benedict Cumberbatch – an unlikely candidate who totally steals the show – as an almost-superhero, but in the lengthy episode format, that gives greater freedom to the exploits of Baker Street's iconoclastic investigator.
Taking the classic Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic tales and updating them to contemporary London is a masterstroke. Likewise, unshackled from typical modern TV storytelling, the format of Sherlock has each episode running at around 90 minutes.
Maria Bamford plays a fictionalised version of herself in this delicious dark comedy from Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz and Pam Brady. With a six month recovery stint under her belt following a bipolar diagnosis, Maria moves back to Los Angeles with hopes of kickstarting her comedy career. Interestingly, Bamford didn’t pen any of the episodes herself, with the show’s writers using her real-life experiences as loose inspiration. What sets this sitcom apart from its peers is how it leans into mental health issues without pulling any punches.
This is easily one of the most unique shows you’re likely to ever see. It’s honest, funny, sweet, and never shies away from tricky topics with dismissive gags. Bamford’s delivery and performance are what elevate Lady Dynamite, making it not only one of the best Netflix Original shows, but one of the most ambitious series to grace our screens.
They grunt as their bare skin slaps onto the canvas. Theover-excited crowd. The outfits are divine... welcome to the world of GLOW! Another Netflix Original that’s ripe for bingeing, you’ll dig it whether wrestling is your thing or not. Because, really, it’s about the women involved in this true story and how they face the obstacles life has thrown their way. Alison Brie leads the pack as Ruth, an out-of-work actress who's made some questionable choices, and Marc Maron’s drole, chain-smoking producer, who cajoles performances out of the wrestlers in the hopes of making some serious cash. Come for the costumes, stay for the witty repartee.
For a show that’s based on wrestling, the main heft of what’s so enjoyable isn’t about the sport at all, but the circumstances of these women. Ruth and Debbie’s dynamic in particular is electric. Well, what would you expect with alter-ego names like Zoya the Destroyer and Liberty Belle?
A young woman is woken in the night to the sound of a man breaking into her home. Sounds like the beginning to a typical Netflix true-crime series, right? Unbelievable is anything but typical, subverting the usual TV tropes to provide a fresh angle that refuses to make women victims of the show’s repugnant villain. Toni Collette and Merritt Wever headline this limited series as two detectives from different districts who unite to bring a serial rapist to justice. The tale splits at the beginning to tell two stories across separate timelines. Things begin in Washington state in 2008 when Marie (a superb Kaitlyn Dever) is attacked, and flip back and forward to 2011 to a number of other cases with similar experiences.
Ambitious, driven, compelling. Taking a big risk on a difficult-to-watch topic is what makes this one of the best Netflix shows. Its headlining cast brings pathos and heart to this wrenching story, with Collette and Wever’s characters signalling the vast difference of how women are treated by female police officers as opposed to their male counterparts. This is gripping television that cannot be missed.
Living the same day over and over is a concept we’ve seen a fair amount onscreen. Groundhog Day approaches that design with a mixture of amusement and sadness, and Russian Doll ups the ante by throwing in a dose of 2019 New York and a killer central performance. This ain’t a ‘90s movie, folks. Natasha Lyonne, who you’ll recognise from Orange is the New Black among other things, chain-smokes her way through this sticky predicament as Nadia. It’s her 36th birthday and her friends are throwing her a party in their loft. There’s just one snag: she keeps dying and waking up in the bathroom.
One of the most talked-about Netflix Originals is deserving of all the chatter and acclaim, ‘cause it’s funny as HELL. Come for the inventive premise and stay for the comedic performances.
A failed ‘90s actor spirals through life on a mix of sex, drugs, and trying to deal with depression. Oh, and he’s a horse. Will Arnett voices the anthropomorphic stallion as he sees himself struggling against a tidal wave of self-pity, while also not trying to mess up everything good in his life. His best friend, Todd, voiced by Aaron Paul, often stands by his side – if he’s not knee-deep in another one of his get-rich-quick schemes. It’s also a comedy. Trust me.
It’s done something that very few animated (or live-action) shows have even bothered to approach before: depression. While the show can have you crying with laughter at points, it can also have you crying. It’s a hugely complex look at a self-destructive man (well, man-horse) in a world just as crazy as he is.
Non-Netflix show available in UK/US
Breaking Bad remains one of the best TV shows to emerge in recent years. The killer premise of a chemistry teacher-turned-meth dealer spins out of control across five seasons, as the teacher in question, Walter White, slowly transforms from nice guy to antihero. All the while he hides his illegal shenanigans from his family, making for a slow bubbling tension throughout the entire series.
Just when you think the stakes can't get raised any higher, Mr. White steps up his game, taking his quest to ever-crazy heights of excess. His quietly simmering rage is spectacular to watch thanks to a nuanced turn from Bryan Cranston, who manages to make White an incredibly compelling character.
From The CW maestro Greg Berlanti comes a series that’s unlike any of his superhero outings. Based on the creepy-as-hell Caroline Kepnes novel, the show tells the tale of indie bookstore manager, Joe (Penn Badgley), who falls into a deep obsession with one of his customers, Guinevere Beck. This isn’t your typical love story – far from it. Joe’s desire pushes him to a new level of stalking that will make you shake your head in disbelief. This is the type of “romance” that would tantalise Patrick Bateman or Dexter Morgan. Joe’s dogged pursuit of Beck is rife with seriously questionable behaviour… that makes for binge-tastic television.
With cliffhanger endings to every episode, and the feeling that Joe is about to get caught any second, You is exactly the type of show that makes you want to keep watching. Think of it as a cross between Dexter and Desperate Housewives.
A period piece with no corsets or lofty accents, you say? Mindhunter hails from David Fincher and sets about recreating the fledgling days of serial killer profiling at the FBI. This is not your typical weekly crime procedural. Instead, this dark gem opts for the long, slow burn as Jonathan Groff’s eager agent and his disgruntled colleague (Holt McCallany) stray into dangerous territory: interviewing incarcerated serial murderers. Based on the true story of the first FBI profiler, his personal story is interwoven perfectly during the course of the first season, which tells episode after episode of rich, textured storytelling that’ll get under your skin and stay there.
Decades of crime entertainment – ahem, CSI – have turned all of us into armchair sleuths, and the majority of movies and shows know that. Mindhunter is rewarding as hell to watch for entirely the opposite reason. You’ll be shouting at the TV as the two agents apply their newly-founded techniques to catch active killers.
Atypical is a coming-of-age dramedy that follows Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum as he searches for love and independence. While Sam is on his journey of self-discovery - and to find himself a girlfriend - the rest of his family must grapple with change in their own lives as they all struggle with what it really means to be normal. Jennifer Jason Leigh, in particular, shines as his mother, Elsa, Michael Rappaport plays his dad, and newcomer Brigette Lundy-Paine knocks it out of the park as his smart-mouth sister Casey.
For some reason, Atypical has yet to achieve the same level of notoriety as other Netflix Originals, but it absolutely deserves to be your next binge. Aiming to highlight what the autism condition is truly like, without being derisive, is a challenge. Atypical matches that by being warm and funny and thoroughly well-intended, showing how this one family lives their life, and how Sam’s traits are present in his day-to-day. It's really funny, too?
House of Cards
In a world full of seedy politicians and sordid scandals, Frank Underwood stands at the very top. House of Cards, based on the UK BBC series of the same name, sees the senator try and scheme his way to the White House while throwing everybody under the bus on his way. His only equal? His wife, Claire, who’s just as conniving and calculating as he is. The Russians, the President, the American people – all bend to the will of the Underwoods.
Don’t be scared off by the political undertones of this show. This is as hammy as hammy gets. Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall to hilarious effect and each episode is filled with an entire soap opera season’s worth of kills, thrills, and spills. It makes the current POTUS look tame by comparison. Oh, and you probably won’t feel comfortable in a train station ever again. So, there’s that.
After dallying with sci-fi on and off for their entire cinematic career, The Wachowskis take their vision to the small screen. Sense8 plucks ideas from the sci-fi canon to tell a sprawling story, with a dash of Heroes, a drop of Lost, and a whole heap of WTF? The story follows eight people from different locations across the globe who suddenly find themselves mentally connected. Skills, experiences, thoughts, are all shared between the group, who come to depend on that vast pool of resources because – naturally – they’re being hunted by a shady organisation.
This series became such a hit upon its initial release that die-hard fans demanded a proper finale send-off after the show was axed. With a two-part finale accomplished, proof that fans can reignite a cancelled show, there’s still hope for more stories in this world. Come on Browncoats!