The 30 best shows on Netflix

Gem Seddon
An image from Friends - one of the best shows on Netflix

Firmly in the midst of the holiday season, now’s the time to get your watchlist ready and primed for epic bingeathons galore! With our picks of the best shows on Netflix you won’t be spending needless hours poring over the endless choices on offer: you’ll be cosied up with a mug of cocoa on the couch, in your comfiest sweats with a brand new show queued up and ready to roll. And trust us: there’s a lot of shows to catch up with before the year is out.

Aside from all of the Netflix Original shows like Mindhunter and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and everything else that’s new on Netflix, there are the classics. The old faithfuls that you can’t seem to get enough of, you know, the ones that feel as warm and comforting as your old blankie on a crisp wintry morn. Well, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone. So why wait, take this holiday season to re-binge the maniacal drug antics of Breaking Bad, the maniacal booze antics of Mad Men, and of course, Friends. In fact, now is THE time to catch up with the best shows on Netflix, because, like that comedic six, some won’t be around in 2020. 

Just to reiterate: binge Friends NOW! It leaves Netflix on January 1, 2020. 

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30. American Horror Story

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-8 (US), 1-9 (UK)

The show: Dark and torrid are two adjectives that could describe any season of FX's anthology series. And it's rather bleak too. Still, that's the allure of Ryan Murphy, who has a way of hooking you into the corroded corners of humanity by crafting tales of unbelievable madness. Each season begins anew, with a fresh story, location, and characters – although many of the same actors return. The 2018 season, Apocalypse, unites several of the previous cast, and still maintains its own sense of WTF-ery.

Why it's worth a watch: Mixing up each of its seasons by throwing out new scenarios with the same cast brings a unique feeling to American Horror Story. You sense a familiarity to proceedings, as you recognise the actors, yet things are off as their new characters are likely vastly different. Simply put, it’s unlike any other horror series. It’s weird, it’s black as night, and it’s baffling. This won't just give you sleepless nights – it will make your days pretty jarring too. 

Read more: Best American Horror Story seasons, ranked!

29. Bodyguard

Bodyguard

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1

The show: Whenever a show takes one country by storm, not long after the rest of the world asks: when can we see it, please? After hitting the UK and becoming one of THE biggest water cooler shows of the year, Bodyguard is now here for US viewers to devour in one sitting. I mean, weekend. Keeley Hawes stars in this six-parter as Home Secretary and Conservative MP Julia Montague, who is under the protection of police sergeant David Budd (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden), a war veteran with PTSD. He will do anything to ensure Julia’s safety, as that’s his job, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy: he loathes everything she stands for...

Why it’s worth a watch: Pure, can’t-tear-your-eyes-away entertainment that’s bound to have you saying “just one more episode before bed.” This is sterling television, a well-crafted crime thriller, which is what the BBC does best, that gets better and better with each episode. Don’t believe me? It’s officially the BBC’s most watched TV drama since records began.

Read more: Let’s talk about the Bodyguard TV series ending - 7 questions we have after THAT finale

28. Supergirl

Supergirl

Region: US

Season(s): 1-4

The show: Forget your dreary, downbeat superheroes. Supergirl, both the show and its title character, are replete with optimism and hope, steering this adaptation into new terrain. Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, a twentysomething news reporter who struggles to ignore her abilities when there’s always justice to be served, and good to be done! Packed with great action sequences - alright, season 1 wavers a little on this front - and unique twists on DC comic lore, this is a blast of fun in a typically dark arena of entertainment. Each season incorporates a 22-episode long arc, that ropes in Kara’s adoptive sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), her long-time friends Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) and Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). 

Why it’s worth a watch: Another small-screen superhero series? Following in the footsteps of The CW’s caped crusader-centric shows, Supergirl manages to be both a loyal adaptation of the character and a wholly entertaining show in its own right. It's a fun and compelling series that explores current social issues without bringing down the atmosphere. Season 4 warrants massive praise for tackling an alien immigration storyline along with a deftly-handled transgender character played by a transgender actor.

Read more: 10 reasons why Supergirl defies our expectations 

27. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Region: UK

Season(s): 1-5

The show: If you haven’t heard about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s brush with death, then here’s the short version: Fox canceled it, fans took to social media, and 30 hours later NBC picked it up for another season. That’s how you make sure your favourite series gets to go out right, and for viewers who have come to love the cast of oddballs at Brooklyn’s 99th precinct, it was the only option. Andy Samberg leads the superb line-up of characters as Jake Peralta, a carefree NYPD cop who works alongside a quirky crew of detectives. 

Why it's worth a watch: The fact that its die-hard fan base pulled together to rescue it from the axe is perhaps the biggest endorsement you could want for a show. Oh, and it’s really funny, which is what you want out of a sitcom really, isn’t it? Nine-Nine!

26. Wynonna Earp

Image credit: Netflix

Region: UK, US

Season(s):  1-3

The show: Another comic book adaptation set to win you over with its epic mash-up of blood, action, and comedy. Wynonna Earp is based on the IDW comic series that follows the great granddaughter of legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp. After returning to her hometown of Purgatory following the mysterious death of her uncle, Wynonna reluctantly takes on the role bestowed upon Earp’s heirs: she becomes a demon hunter. Together with her sister, Wynonna joins forces with a cop and an old pal of her grandfather’s to kick the butts of the Revenants - the resurrected souls of the men Wyatt Earp killed. 

Why it's worth a watch:  A supernatural western with a female lead, a slew of solid female supporting characters, and a big dollop of horror? Yep. As a blend of Buffy and Supernatural, with a touch of Westworld thrown in for good measure, this series is perfect for genre hounds. It also helps that it’s very funny. 

25. Orange is The New Black

Image credit: Netflix

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-7

The show: 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...

Why it's worth a watch: 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. 

24. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-4

The show: 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 a lot more to this eccentric comedy from 30 Rock creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock than meets the eye. 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.

Why it's worth a watch: 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.

23. Halt and Catch Fire

Halt and Catch Fire

Region: US

Season(s): 1-4

The show: On the surface, its premise sounds remarkably similar to Silicon Valley. However, where that series takes place in the present day, Halt and Catch Fire is fixed firmly in the '80s. Kicking off at the height of the personal computer revolution, it revolves around Cardiff Electric, a fictional software company that receives a much-needed juju boost with the advent of a new trio played by Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy and Mackenzie Davis. All three are top of their field, and aim to outwit their competitors by reverse engineering a PC. 

Why it's worth a watch: History buffs, rejoice. This quirky series is fiction, of course, yet it begins in the Silicon Prairie of Texas in the '80s, and steal inspiration from the era to fuel its plottings. The real-life tales of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are two such industry figureheads. Using their stories to explore what happened behind-the-scenes during the '80s personal computer boom, the show fleshes out into its own world and is as bingeable as they get. One of the best shows on Netflix you’ve never seen.

22. Jessica Jones

Image credit: Netflix

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-3

The show: Marvel's second Netflix Original series is a dark, gripping drama about a private investigator with super-powers who just wants to curl up with a bottle of Jack and be left alone. The world comes knocking with a problem, and it's up to Jessica Jones to track down the hellish man responsible... who just happens to be a familiar face. Along for the ride is trusty comrade Trish Walker, whose talk show sheds a little too much light on the ‘supers’ for Jessica’s taste, and neighbour Malcolm, who is desperate to help Jessica put her demons to rest. As is often the case, her past returns to haunt her…

Why it's worth a watch: Kristen Ritter's performance as the eponymous hero, who resists her calling at every turn, is truly stunning to watch. Each episode charts her inner struggle to winning effect, and sheds a light on the true consequences of trauma. And with season 3, the last ever of the Marvel-Netflix superhero shows, now available, it's time to get caught up.

21. Friends

Friends

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-10

The show: The one where all the twentysomethings can afford spacious Manhattan apartments. Yes, I’m talking about Friends! Upon its debut in 1994 the show became an instant hit, and even now, some 14 years after its finale aired, it is still considered one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. It’s hard to disagree, really, as the series continues to get better with age, following the lives of Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Joey, and Chandler as they navigate through good times and bad. Oh, and numerous Thanksgiving mishaps, of course.

Why it’s worth watching: This is great feelgood TV, that performs so well and stands up to repeat viewings because the main cast is just so darn likeable. From the first episode, each of the six leads carves out a unique spot in the show without coming across like caricatures. Sure, Ross may get a tad whiny in later seasons, but hey, he’s been through a lot. They were on a break, right?

Read more: The 25 best Friends episodes you WILL rewatch again and again and...

Continue to Page 2 for more of the best shows on Netflix

20. Santa Clarita Diet

Santa Clarita Diet

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-3

The show: The sunny suburbs of California get a dose of the undead treatment. But make no mistake - The Walking Dead this ain't. No, these zombies are what Rick and his gang would probably prefer to be dealing with. In Santa Clarita Diet, Drew Barrymore stars as Sheila, a happily-married realtor who one day discovers she's dead and has a major appetite for human flesh. Bit problematic, sure, but it turns out that life as a flesh-eater is actually a lot of fun.  

Why it's worth a watch: Barrymore, who's kinda been out of the limelight for a while, is on top form with some killer comedy timing, but it's Timothy Olyphant, who plays her husband, who really makes this show what it is. It also spins a few new twists on zombie lore that help it stand apart from the competition, and with season 3 having recently dropped, now is the perfect time to catch up on seasons 1 and 2.

19. The Good Place

The Good Place

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-3 (US), 1-4 (UK)

The show: 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, because 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-centered individual who is gifted to quite a pleasant post-life existence alongside her soulmate. 

Why it's worth a watch: 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.

Read more: Holy shirt, if you’ve finished watching The Good Place, we’ve got a lot to talk about

18. Black Mirror

Black Mirror

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-5 and a Christmas special

The show: 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 - along with our ability to completely abuse them. The decision to set it so close to our own time has made it one of the most-talked about shows in years. 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.

Why it's worth a watch: While it's often described as sci-fi, it 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.


Read more: Black Mirror season 4 ending - 6 questions we need answered

17. Fargo

Fargo

Region: UK

Season(s): 1-3

The show: A spin-off/sequel of the Coen brothers movie from the guy who also serves as the showrunner on Legion? That’s got your interest piqued, hasn’t it? For its first season, FX's award-winning anthology series concocted several new story strands, all interwoven to paint an eerily-similar story to the 1996 feature. That's what makes this a perfect series for drama, crime and mystery lovers; you don't need to have seen the film, as this gloriously twisted piece of television stands on its own. Season 2 delves back into the past and season 3 leaps forward again; both tell tales of small-town folk who just can’t quite get a break...

Why it's worth a watch: Drawing out each tale over the course of an entire season is an inspired move, giving time for each character - and their duplicitous ways - time to bloom, and the plot to thoroughly unravel. The cast is also, simply put, excellent. Who knew that Peter Stormare's assassin could be outdone by Billy Bob Thornton? He steals every scene he's in during season 1. Likewise for Kirsten Dunst in season 2.

16. Schitt's Creek

Schitt's Creek

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-5

The show: Ah, how the wealthy fall. Schitt’s Creek, a one-liner packed gem of a show, knows that it’s 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. 

Why it’s worth a watch: 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. Jump on one of the best shows on Netflix right now, before its sixth and final season arrives. 

15. GLOW

GLOW

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-3

The show: The grunts as bare skin slaps onto the canvas, jeers and brouhaha from the over-excited crowd, and simply divine outfits... 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 them in the hopes of making some serious cash. Come for the costumes, stay for the witty repartee.

Why it’s worth watching: 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? Plus, GLOW season 2 is even better than the first season!

Read more: Why GLOW is the greatest TV show about wrestling (that’s not really about wrestling)

14. Dead To Me

Dead To Me

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1

The show: Dead To Me is the brainchild of long-time web series comedic genius Liz Feldman that delves into the darkness that emerges during grief. Real estate agent Jen (the always-brilliant Christina Applegate), struggling in the months following her husband’s death, decides to visit a support group and befriends the free-spirited Judy (Linda Cardellini). The pair become fast friends as they work to track down the hit-and-run driver who killed Jen’s husband, despite the massive secret Judy and her ex-partner Mike (James Marsden) are harbouring.

Why it’s worth a watch: Dubbed a black comedy it is certainly black-hole-dark in its depiction of laughter through trauma. Most commendable is the way Dead To Me strikes out into new territory by giving its central characters more than jokes. They’ve got depth. Both Applegate and Cardellini devour their roles, which are meatier than you’d expect for a half-hour series. 

13. American Crime Story

American Crime Story

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-2

The show: Known for his battier-than-a-cave-full-of-bats horror anthology American Horror Story, executive producer Ryan Murphy turns his hand to another strand of cultural obsession: true crime. Taking high-profile cases and giving them the miniseries treatment, season 1 focuses on the O.J Simpson trial and season 2 studies the aftermath of Gianni Versace’s murder. The show’s already snagged a ton of awards for its performances. Sarah Paulson’s season 1 showstopper performance as Marcia Clark earned her the Golden Globe, ditto Darren Criss’s season 2 scene-stealing turn as Andrew Cunanan. Get bingeing early on this before season 3 lands. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Unlike your typical crime documentaries, American Crime Story is a fictionalised account of the events depicted. There are rarely any lulls in the action, with every scene serving as a vital component to the larger story being told. Think of it like a documentary on steroids - you’ll be hooked before the credits roll. 

12. Daredevil

Daredevil

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-3

The show: Forget the 2003 misfire - this is the Daredevil fans have been waiting for. The first of Marvel’s Netflix universe charged out of the gate, offering a blustering blend of brooding character drama, hyperreal action, and some of the best villainy since Heath Ledger embodied the Joker. The first season came from Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and Steven S. DeKnight (Blade), and the show received universal applause for its uncompromising take on blind lawyer-turned-do-superhero Matt Murdock, who vows to rid the streets of its criminal element, no matter the cost.

Why it's worth a watch: It 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. A shame, then, that Netflix has cancelled all their Marvel properties. 

Read more: Everything the Daredevil movie did wrong (that the TV show fixed)

11. The Crown

The Crown

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-3

The show: 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 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.

Why it’s worth a watch: 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, Oscar-winner Olivia Colman has taken over from Foy for season 3 - and we can all do with more Olivia Colman in our lives.

Continue to Page 3 for more of the best shows on Netflix

10. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

Region: US

Season(s): 1-7

The show: Parks and Recreation stumbles a little during its first season, as reflected by its mixed reviews, but the powers-that-be took that advice and ran with it. Trust me, you’ll be laughing all week if you stick with it. Led by the brilliant Amy Poehler, it revolves around the day-to-day experiences of Leslie Knope, deputy director of the Pawnee parks and recreation department, and her misfit bunch of co-workers. Told through a mockumentary-style of shooting, the show uses the pettiness of small-town bureaucracy as its comedic fodder.

Why it's worth a watch: It swerves around the pitfalls of sitcom tedium, thanks to some of the most memorable comedy characters in TV history played by Nick Offerman (who will provide you with one-liners and woodwork advice), Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Chris Pratt. 

9. Stranger Things

Stranger Things

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-3

The show: 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 in season 1 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.

Why it's worth a watch: These kids! The whole cast is terrific (I 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: 80 Stranger Things season 3 easter eggs you may have missed 

8. The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1

The show: Dubbed by one of its producers as “Six Feet Under with ghosts”, this latest iteration of Shirley Jackson’s terrifying novel is destined to become Netflix’s next must-see horror series. Loosely adapted by Mike Flanagan, whose previous Netflix features Hush and Gerald’s Game certainly showcase his flair for scares, the series 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...

Why it’s worth a watch: This is the horror series you never knew you needed. A beautifully-cast show that plays out like Six Feet Under meets The Conjuring, there is simply nothing else like it. It’s densely-packed with story and scares, both elements so tightly interwoven it’s impossible to imagine this tale being told any other way. Flanagan’s decision to jump back and forth across timelines, with various incidents being shown from different perspectives, is what makes this one of the best shows on Netflix. As we learn over the course of ten episodes just what went down in that house, you won’t be able to look away… no matter how much you want to. And now we know that The Haunting of Hill House season 2 will actually be about The Haunting of Bly Manor story, there's no better time to catch up. 

Read more: The Haunting of Hill House ending explained - everything you need to know after watching

7. Mindhunter

Mindhunter

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-2

The show: 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.

Why it’s worth a watch: 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.

Read more: 5 reasons why Netflix’s Mindhunter isn’t like other shows about serial killers

6. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-5

The show: It’s hard to believe Breaking Bad recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary (!) when it remains one of the best TV shows to emerge in recent times. 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. 

Why it's worth a watch: There’s a reason it’s the biggest watercooler series to arrive in the last decade. 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 a incredibly compelling character.

Read more: Let Netflix convince you that The Walking Dead is a sequel to Breaking Bad

5. Star Trek Discovery

Star Trek Discovery

Region: UK

Season(s): 1-2

The show: It was a risk to set a new Star Trek show several years before the events of the Original Series, but, as it turns out, it was a risk worth taking. Star Trek Discovery explores a whole new realm of the Trek universe through the experiences of science officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). Yep, the captain isn’t the lead here. That’s the first of many smart decisions made by creators Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman, who deliberately avoids rehashing other Trek shows to craft something different, charting the experiences of the USS Discovery crew during wartime in Star Trek Discovery season 1

Why it’s worth a watch: Loaded with expectation, there was every chance that Discovery would fall flat, failing to live up to its significant potential… and then it arrived and blew everyone’s collective socks off. Strong, intelligent casting twinned with some of the most compelling storytelling of recent years, and that doesn’t even touch the twists and turns. With Star Trek Discovery season 2 now streaming weekly you'd better get cracking on this stellar piece of modern television.

Read more: Who is Star Trek Discovery's Red Angel?

4. Mad Men

Mad Men

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-7

The show: This award-winning period piece rides the wave of prestige television, taking a high dive into some seriously low behaviour. A glimpse back into the 1960s era of Madison Avenue advertising execs, those self-dubbed titular mad men, this HBO series explores their hedonistic extra-curricular activities and how that affects the workplace. One of the most celebrated TV shows in recent times follows the employees of reputable agency Sterling Cooper, led by the smooth-yet-troubled Don Draper, as they navigate through the decade.

Why it's worth a watch: Dramatic, funny, insightful - and that's just in the first episode. This is a compelling slice of nostalgic Americana, looking back at a period of great change with knowing winks and uber-cool style. You might find yourself getting frustrated at how misogynistic things are, but it’s rewarding to see trends change as time passes.

3. Russian Doll 

Russian Doll

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1

The show: 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.

Why it’s worth a watch: 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 that should hopefully snag the cast a bunch of awards next year. 

Read more: Russian Doll ending explained - every unanswered question, story thread, and time loop

2. BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-6

The show: 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.

Why it’s worth a watch: 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. 

Read more: Think BoJack Horseman is just 'the sad horse show'? It’s secretly the most grown-up series around

1. Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-4 (UK) 1-3 (US)

The show: 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.

Why it's worth a watch: 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.

Read more: Why Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad - and what other prequels can learn from it