Last update: June 13, 2020.
Netflix has a treasure trove of terrific movies that you can stream right now, but if you’re looking for more than just a two-hour commitment, it’s also got a boatload of great TV shows you can delve into to keep yourself occupied for days — or even weeks — on end. 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 Netflix, the best shows on Hulu, the best shows on Amazon Prime, and the best shows on Disney+.
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 FisherCast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Jaren LewisonNumber of Seasons: 1
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 with the original showrunners, there’s no better time to watch than now.
Created By: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan KonietzkoCast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mako Iwamatsu, Mae WhitmanNumber of Seasons: 3
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 FlanaganCast: Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate SiegelNumber of Seasons: 2
Based on a novel by Margaret Atwood (itself based on a true story), Alias Grace begins with a mystery. Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) is serving a sentence for murder, for which her male accomplice was hanged. Grace has numerous supporters, who hire Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) to interview Grace and hopefully reveal a truth that will absolve her. Grace’s story takes her from Ireland to Canada, where she works as a servant for the wealthy man she will allegedly kill. The show is no mere whodunit — as a member of the lower class, and a woman, Grace navigates social hierarchies that grasp at her every moment of every day. In its examination of Grace’s story, her dismal past, and the shifting views society takes of her, Alias Grace weaves a tale about what it is to be a woman in a world governed by men.
Created By: Mary HarronCast: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Rebecca LiddiardNumber of Seasons: 1
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 KnightCast: Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Helen McCroryNumber of Seasons: 7
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 PenhallCast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna TorvNumber of Seasons: 2
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 CollinsCast: Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Karamo BrownNumber of Seasons: 5
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 GilliganCast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna GunnNumber of Seasons: 5
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 GouldCast: Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan BanksNumber of Seasons: 5
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 McKinnonCast: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-CameronNumber of Seasons: 4
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 its 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.
Created By: John LoganCast: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva GreenNumber of Seasons: 3
Following a number 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.
Created By: Allan CubittCast: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, John LynchNumber of Seasons: 3
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 MorganCast: Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Matt SmithNumber of Seasons: 5
A civil war might not seem like the best setting for a jaunty coming-of-age comedy, but Derry Girls shows that hijinks can ensue even in times of violence. Set in Derry, Northern Ireland, during The Troubles, the show follows a group of teenage friends — neurotic Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her cuckoo cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), crass Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and Michelle’s English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn) — as they go about their daily lives as students at an all-girls school (James is attending because, due to his English accent and awkward demeanor, he might get bullied at the boy’s school). Although the show is very conscious of the conflict raging around the cast — a bomb scare early in the first episode leads to griping about how it will affect traffic — the focus is on the characters, each lovably obnoxious in their own way, and their rapid banter.
Created By: Lisa McGeeCast: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola CoughlanNumber of Seasons: 3
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 NunnCast: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti GatwaNumber of Seasons: 3
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 ChaiklinCast: Joe Exotic, Carole BaskinNumber of Seasons: 1
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 you’ll find.
Created By: Charlie CovellCast: Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther, Steve OramNumber of Seasons: 2
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.
Created By: Dan Perrault, Tony YacendaCast: Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck, Jimmy TatroNumber of Seasons: 2
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 SchurCast: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela JamilNumber of Seasons: 4
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 McKennaCast: Rachel Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin, Vincent Rodriguez IIINumber of Seasons: 4
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 YangCast: Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena WaitheNumber of Seasons: 2
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-WaksbergCast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison BrieNumber of Seasons: 6
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, the streaming giant 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.
Created By: Mitchell HurwitzCast: Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de RossiNumber of Seasons: 5
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.
Created By: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan KriselCast: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Kyle MacLachlanNumber of Seasons: 8
Parks and Recreation
What started out as a sitcom done in the typical, post-Office mockumentary style turned into one of those truly amazing TV shows. 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.
Created By: Greg Daniels, Michael SchurCast: Amy Poehler, Jim O’Heir, Nick OffermanNumber of Seasons: 7
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 MeriwetherCast: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max GreenfieldNumber of Seasons: 7
With Bob and David
Bob Odenkirk and David Cross team up again for the exclusive sketch comedy show With Bob and David. Much like their earlier HBO series Mr. Show with Bob and David, this show 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.
Created By: David Cross, Bob OdenkirkCast: David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, John EnnisNumber of Seasons: 1
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 MenschCast: Alison Brie, Marc Maron, Betty GilpinNumber of Seasons: 4
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 KalogridisCast: Chris Conner, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Joel KinnamanNumber of Seasons: 2
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 FrieseCast: Karoline Eichhorn, Louis Hofmann, Jördis TriebelNumber of Seasons: 3
Star Trek: The Next Generation
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 the 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.
Created By: Gene RoddenberryCast: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan FrakesNumber of Seasons: 7
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 BrookerCast: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela CoelNumber of Seasons: 5
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 SchmidtCast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya ChalotraNumber of Seasons: 2
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Not far from Riverdale, where Archie Andrews and friends have their hijinks, sits the town of Greendale, a place where, we are told, it seems like Halloween all year round. It’s here that teen witch Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) lives, juggling her ordinary life as a high schooler with her extracurricular activities practicing the dark arts. Sabrina is enjoying the best of both worlds, at least until her 16th birthday, when she must sign away her soul to the Dark Lord and cast off her mortal life. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a fun, occasionally very creepy slice-of-life show, with Sabrina and friends having adventures and dealing with a variety of supernatural threats.
Created By: Roberto Aguirre-SacasaCast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy DavisNumber of Seasons: 4
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 DufferCast: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona RyderNumber of Seasons: 3
In the digital age, it’s easy to let your personal information slip into unsavory hands. For bookseller Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), technology makes it easy to stalk the object of his affections, a woman named Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail). After she buys a book from him, Joe uses her credit card info to get her name, working his way through her social media, learning as much about her as he can so as to seduce her. But although Joe may think he’s got Guinevere figured out, people are never exactly the way they appear in your mind. Despite its dark premise, You is darkly comedic, probing the vapid culture of New York’s bourgeoisie social scene, with characters who are exaggerated examples of millennial excess.
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Sera Gamble
Cast: Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Victoria Pedretti
Number of seasons: 2
The new phenomenon sweeping the millennial audience, Terrace House is a Japanese reality show that, at first glance, will seem familiar to American viewers. Each season, a group of strangers, men and women, move into a house together, where they will live for some time, with their private moments on display for the world. Where American reality shows play up the drama (with moments that seem scripted and editing to emphasize conflict), Terrace House elects to keep things natural. People hang out, shoot the breeze, get to know each other, and just live their lives. Sometimes tensions emerge, but they never feel like the soap opera conflagrations of typical reality shows.
Created By: Masato MaedaCast: You, Reina Triendl, Yoshimi TokuiNumber of Seasons: 1
If you love the best cooking shows but you’re tired of seeing buttoned-up celebrity chefs in pristine kitchens, how about a show that examines the food of the people? Street Food travels the world to explore how chefs from various cultures cook street food. The first season focuses on various Asian countries, including Thailand, Japan, and Singapore, interviewing experts and filming the local vendors. This being a David Gelb production, the cinematography is stunning, and the interviews with local chefs add a personal story to the cuisine on display. Come for the entrancing shots of chicken skewers sizzling on a grill, stay for the insights into the rich customs of cultures of Asian cities.
Created By: David Gelb, Brian McGinnCast: Philip Hersh, Caitlyn Elizabeth, Daniel Lee GrayNumber of Seasons: 1
Salt Fat Acid Heat
In 2017, Samin Nosrat published Salt Fat Acid Heat, a cookbook based around the idea that those four concepts are the fundamental elements with which flavor is built. Nosrat’s culinary alchemy is now on full display in her Netflix series of the same name, which follows the chef as she tours the world, exploring the cuisines of various countries and how they exemplify her grand, unified theory of flavor. In each episode, she focuses on a particular country and element: She studies fat in Italy, salt in Japan, acid in Yucatan, and to demonstrate the magic of heat, she returns to California to prepare a dinner party. What’s most striking about Salt Fat Acid Heat isn’t the knowledge Nosrat already possesses — although she’s clearly erudite — but her endless hunger to learn more, to uncover the essential secrets of each and every dish. Just four elements are all that’s needed to build a world of flavor.
Created By: Samin NosratCast: Samin NosratNumber of Seasons: 1
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.
Created By: Alex GibneyCast: Walter Archer, Victor Avila, Alberto AyalaNumber of Seasons: 2
News site Vox has been publishing short, informative “explainer” videos for a while now. Explained, Vox’s show 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.
Created By: Joe Posner, Ezra KleinCast: Estelle Caswell, Maria Bello, Kristen BellNumber of Seasons: 2
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.
Created By: Maclain Way, Chapman WayCast: Ma Anand Sheela, Osho, Philip ToelkesNumber of Seasons: 1
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.
Created By: David ChangCast: David Chang, Peter Meehan, Aziz AnsariNumber of Seasons: 2
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.
Created By: David GelbCast: Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Bill BufordNumber of Seasons: 6
Making a Murderer
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.
Created By: Laura Ricciardi, Moira DemosCast: Dolores Avery, Steven Avery, Laura NiriderNumber of Seasons: 2
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.
Created By: BBCCast: David Attenborough, Sigourney Weaver, Huw CordeyNumber of Seasons: 1
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 WhiteCast: Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Virginia AnzengruberNumber of Seasons: 1
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 SerlingCast: Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay OverholtsNumber of Seasons: 5
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 LynchCast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen AmickNumber of Seasons: 2
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 FullerCast: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline DhavernasNumber of Seasons: 3