50 Best Shows to Binge Watch on Netflix – January 2019
In the era of streaming television, no single platform has offered an easier way to watch your favorite shows—including exclusive properties—than Netflix. There’s enough shows on Netflix that you’ll never be able to plow through all of them before something new comes out. In fact, Netflix has made it so easy to watch your favorite content, from crime dramas to stand-up comedy, that the internet entertainment company has invented a whole new term for television on its own: the binge watch. Whether you’re up until 2 in the morning streaming old seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, or you’re spending your weekend watching the newest Marvel superhero crime shows, Netflix has got you covered for all your entertainment.
But with so many shows streaming on the platform, what should you watch? In this time of peak TV, it’s harder than ever to determine the good from the great—and luckily, we’ve done that for you right here. So settle in for a day of laughing, crying, and keeping your eyes glued to the screen. These are 50 of our favorite streaming shows on Netflix, updated monthly with new suggestions and new shows. And let us know in the comments below about your favorite streaming sensation!
Charlie Brooker might be best known as a presenter and broadcaster on British television, but Brooker is also the creator of one of the best science-fiction shows on television. A modern day Twilight Zone, Black Mirror first started airing in 2011 in Britain, but it wasn’t until the series moved to Netflix in 2014 that it began to grow in popularity Stateside. The show, which recently premiered its fourth season, has now hit nineteen full episodes of varying length (ranging from a breezy 41 minutes to a full 89-minute, movie style film), each with different actors, writers, and plot that takes place in a not-so-distant future, exploring our paranoia, our modern society, and how the future of technology might lead us down terrifying paths. Most of the show isn’t meant to be watched lightly, typically featuring a sense of cynicism and dark satire, but a few episodes—”San Junipero” in particular—highlight their happy endings in a way that subverts expectations. If you’re a fan of science-fiction or anthology series, you’ll fall in love with Black Mirror. A new season should premiere sometime before the end of this year.
When Jess (Zooey Deschanel), a teacher with a positive, upbeat attitude, comes home to find her boyfriend cheating on her, she needs to find a new place to live. Responding to an ad for a new roommate on Craigslist, she arrives at a loft in Los Angeles hoping to move in, only to find three guys living there: Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr., though the character of Coach is replaced in the following episode by Winston). The series starts as Jess learns to move on with her life, but quickly becomes a show about much more. Essentially a romantic-comedy sitcom, New Girl is secretly one of the best sitcoms of the 2010s, and if you haven’t started watching it, there’s never been a better time than now. Season six was recently added to the Netflix library; the seventh and final season recently wrapped its run in May of this year.
Romantic comedy fans, rejoice—you aren’t out of luck. While Crazy Ex Girlfriend takes the tropes of the classic rom-com and flips them on their head, fans of more traditional, if slightly raunchy, comedy set up by the likes of When Harry Met Sally will fall in love with Lovesick, a British import co-produced by Netflix with three seasons streaming on our favorite service. The show was probably best known for its original name, Scrotal Recall, which picked up a lot of flack when the first season premiered in 2014. Don’t let it fool you, though, because the name change was a good way to get new viewers onto this excellent love story about a man going back through his romantic history to figure out where it all gone wrong (and, well, also to let his past lovers know about a certain health concern). Lovesick has three seasons streaming on Netflix, which gives you plenty of time to fall in love with Dylan, Luke, and Evie if you haven’t already. Definitely check this one out; it’s the definition of a hidden gem.
The Punisher has a mixed history on the big screen. The first Punisher film, made in 1989 and starring Sylvester Stallone as Frank Castle, was released to negative reviews and a poor box-office return. In 2004, Thomas Jane stepped into the role for some mild success, though once again, a poor critical reception. A sequel was planned and subsequently cancelled, and the series was rebooted for the silver screen just four years later, with Punisher: War Zone, directed by Lexi Alexander. The film tanked at the box office, and Frank Castle was finally hung up to dry by the studios until 2016, when he was unleashed as a supporting character in season two of Netflix’s Daredevil. Now Castle is back with his own show, played by The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal, also recently seen in last summer’s sleeper hit Baby Driver. Though not lauded by critics, most agree this is the best adaptation of the character yet, with the 13-episode first season having premiered in November 2017. If you’re a fan of the Marvel universe or its characters, you’ll enjoy the gritty take on Marvel’s vigilante. It doesn’t quite hit the highs of Jessica Jones, but we’re excited to see something new coming from Marvel and Netflix.
Stranger Things is both a loving tribute to 1980s science-fiction and horror, while also telling the story of four children growing up in the ’80s who find their town hides supernatural secrets. The story begins when Will, one of the four boys returning home after a night of playing Dungeons and Dragons, goes missing without a trace, leaving behind a lost girl with a shaved head in his place. With twists and turns, gruesome murders, and a mystery as thrilling to solve as it is to watch play out, it’s no wonder Stranger Things was a breakout hit when it first premiered in the summer of 2016. Featuring outstanding performances from Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Will’s mother Joyce and the town’s police chief Jim Hopper, respectively, plus breakout stars Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard (who you may recognize from 2017’s It adaptation), Stranger Things is a must-see piece of entertainment. Two seasons are currently streaming, with a third on the way next summer.
If you’re into crime and serial killer dramas, Mindhunter just might be your newest obsession. This Netflix original series premiered in October and is based on the nonfiction book of the same title, detailing the profession of John Douglas, a legendary figure in the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit. Douglas was previously the model for Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs, and with Mindhunter on Netflix, we finally get to see some of his stories and tales adapted for the small screen. Jonathan Groff portrays Holden Ford, a special agent for the FBI in the 1970s working for that very same Serial Crime Unit, trying to solve serial killers by delving into the mind of some of the worst murderers in the United States. The cast also includes Anna Torv, previously seen on Fringe, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, and Colton Smith. Produced by Charlize Theron and David Fincher, the latter of whom also directed four episodes of the series, his second Netflix show after previously working on season one of House of Cards. Mindhunter will be back for a second season in 2018.
Over the last few years, the true crime genre has seen something of a renaissance in popular culture. Though true crime has been around for decades as both a film and literary art form (think Helter Skelter or Capote’s In Cold Blood, of which the latter has spawned three different film adaptations), both season one of Serial–a weekly podcast covering the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee–and Netflix’s own Making a Murderer have brought new fans to the genre. It was only time until someone stepped up to parody the tropes of a true crime series, and that’s exactly what American Vandal intends to do. Shot as a mockumentary, Vandal tells the story of a high school prank gone wrong, with several faculty cars tagged and vandalized. The series plays its subject matter straight-faced, with a sophomore from the school investigating whether the accused senior was responsible. American Vandal spawned from two creators who previously worked on Funny or Die and CollegeHumor, so if you’re in the mood for a full satire of the true crime craze, it’s a perfect show to binge. Two seasons are currently streaming. Despite critical praise and high popularity on social media, Netflix cancelled the show after its second season.
BoJack Horseman is set in an alternate reality where humans and anthropomorphic animals co-exist together. BoJack is the washed-up star of a ’90s sitcom titled Horsin’ Around, a show similar to Full House in nearly every regard. Though early episodes deal with his plan to return to stardom and relevance by writing an autobiography, BoJack Horseman isn’t just another animated adult sitcom. This show focuses on celebrity culture, drug abuse, anxiety and depression in a way no other show has quite managed to do. Though we’re living in a golden age of dark comedies (see also: You’re the Worst, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), BoJack Horseman stands out not just as the best of the bunch, but one of the best Netflix original series to date. Despite a slow start in early episodes, the back half of the first season one sees the BoJack team find their footing, and season two onwards is must-watch television. The fourth season of this Emmy-nominated show just premiered on Netflix, and all five seasons are streaming on Netflix, with a sixth coming in 2019.
Though the UK version of The Office broke new ground and comedy and helped cement a new genre of television—the mockumentary—it was the US version of the show, adapted by Greg Daniels, that has found a lasting impact in the United States. Following a rough first season that essentially retells the stories from the first season of the UK show, The Office managed to find its feat in season two by lightening up on the cringe humor from boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell, in his breakout role) and focusing more attention on the love story between Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer). The show has found a lasting legacy with fans looking to fall in love all over again with the characters, and despite having run a full nine seasons on NBC, the popularity of the show online seems to be at an all-time high. If you haven’t checked out The Office, it’s a perfect binge-watch before the proposed (but not guaranteed) reboot airs next season on NBC.
A few minutes watching the pilot of this musical-dramedy and you’ll be hooked. This incredibly original series was written by screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and sketch-comedy and YouTube star Rachel Bloom, who stars as Rebecca Bunch in a role that has garnered Bloom a Golden Globe for Best Actress in 2016. Rebecca leaves an amazing career in New York after she runs into an ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), who she went to summer camp with when she was 16. Convinced her happiness lies with Josh in West Covina, California, she leaves behind a promotion at her New York law firm to follow Chan back to his hometown. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has won over millions of fans online, with a killer soundtrack and the ability to make you laugh and cry all at the same time. Make no mistake—this is one of the best shows on television right now. All three seasons are currently streaming on Netflix; a fourth and final season of eighteen episodes is currently airing on the CW.
One of the hottest new series from last fall, NBC’s The Good Place tells the story of Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who’s woken up to find she’s dead and in heaven—or rather, “The Good Place,” as it’s called. Kristen Bell plays Eleanor, a woman who finds herself in a place she doesn’t deserve to be. Also starring is Cheers‘ alumni Ted Danson as Michael, the creator of “The Good Place,” a man trying to make his residents as happy as possible in the afterlife. This series comes from creator Michael Schur, fresh off co-creating both Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn-99. Any fans of his previous work—he also wrote and acted on The Office, where he played Dwight’s cousin Mose Schrute—will find plenty to love here. Just don’t read too much into the plot online—serious spoilers abound. Seasons one and two is currently streaming on Netflix; season three is currently airing on NBC.
You might remember the long-running Archie series of comics from your childhood, featuring the titular character and his friends Betty, Veronica, and Jughead shopping, studying, dating, and playing in their band. Riverdale invites you back to the world of Archie as you’ve never seen it before. Falling somewhere between Degrassi and Twin Peaks, Riverdale begins when one of Archie’s classmates is found murdered over summer break, causing the town of Riverdale to change in ways never presented in the comics. It turns out everyone—especially the adults—has something to hide. The show takes a bit to start up, devoting a bit too much time in its early episodes to a misguided plot involving one of Archie’s teachers, but once the show refocuses itself around episode four, you’ll be hooked from beginning to end. Don’t sleep on this one: both seasons are currently streaming on Netflix right now, with season three currently airing on the CW.
And now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one man who had no choice but to keep them all together. No, it’s not Arrested Development—it’s Ozark, a new crime drama from Netflix starring Jason Bateman. He plays Marty, a self-employed financial adviser who lives with his family in Chicago. While there, he and his partner begin laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. Marty is forced to relocate his family to the Missouri Ozarks after one of his money laundering schemes goes south. The show isn’t perfect, and has drawn its fair share of comparisons to Breaking Bad (especially with Bateman, a comedic actor, taking on a dark dramatic role, as Bryan Cranston did before him), but with some excellent performances and incredible cinematography, any fans of Bateman, Breaking Bad, or crime thrillers won’t want to pass up this excellent Netflix original. Season one and two are currently streaming, with a third season on the way in 2019.
In all honesty, this show shouldn’t have worked. The original Wet Hot American Summer, first released in 2001 to middling reviews and poor box office returns before slowly but surely growing into a cult classic, is like lightning in a bottle. Nearly every line or action in the film is quotable (“You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.”; “The phone! The phone! Where’s the—phone!”; several other quotes we can’t mention on a family-friendly site), the cast is filled with incredible names you’d recognize immediately (Amy Poehler! Bradley Cooper! Paul Rudd! Molly Shannon! Christopher Meloni! Elizabeth Banks! The voice of H. Jon Benjamin!), and it’s basically endlessly rewatchable. So when this prequel series set at the start of the 1981 summer covered in the film hit just as hard as the original, we were as shocked as anyone. Fans of the original must see this continuation of a cult classic. Once you’re done binging your way through First Day of Camp, don’t forget to check out Ten Years Later, the continuation of the show that premiered in 2017.
At this point, Grey’s Anatomy has almost become the ultimate binge experience. With 293 episodes streaming over thirteen full seasons, Grey’s is something of a legend at this point. The show takes place at fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, following the life and career of Meredith Grey from her time at the hospital as an intern, who eventually becomes a resident and rises through the ranks through the hospital. The show is filled with with drama, crushing life choices, and dozens of characters who come and go. Grey’s isn’t a perfect show, occasionally diving a bit too-much into saccharine plotlines and a lot of character deaths. But the show is well made, with great performances from nearly every actor. Plenty of the cast has gone onto bigger and better things after leaving Seattle Grace, and Shonda Rhimes, the creator and showrunner, has found massive success following the creation of Grey’s Anatomy. Overall, it may not be a show for everyone, but it’s probably the binge-iest show on the platform today. Season fourteen wrapped its run on ABC in May, and is now streaming on Netflix.
Bloodline is not a show for everyone. It’s a slow-paced drama, and though watching the pieces on this chessboard move slowly throughout three full seasons, it can be a bit of a slog for someone looking for action-based entertainment. Still, this Netflix original thriller follows a dysfunctional family of hotel owners in Monroe County, Florida, and if you can get over the slow pace of the story, is really quite good. When Danny, the black sheep of the family, comes home, no one is happy to see him. Skeletons will be brought out of closets, and family will consider unthinkable crimes. The series stars Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame, which earned him an Emmy nomination for his performance in season one. The series, which just closed out its third and final season, also stars Ben Mendelsohn (who also received an Emmy nom) and Linda Cardellini of Freaks and Geeks fame.
This Netflix original series traces the rise and fall of real-life drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), and the U.S. and Colombian authorities who worked to bring him down. The series has a documentary sensibility, and is very true-to-life when the showrunners must have been tempted to sensationalize things. The show doesn’t have many sympathetic characters, but the tense writing and strong performances will keep you invested. The show has made a lot of changes since its premiere, and throughout its three seasons, some shocking cliffhangers have changed the entire course of the show. Three seasons are currently streaming, and a spin-off of the show titled Narcos: Mexico premieres November 16th.
Perhaps appropriate for a series with the word “Fire” in the title, Halt and Catch Fire is a slow-burn series, one that starts slow but ramps up as the series continues down its four full seasons. A period drama set in the 1980s and 1990s, Halt and Catch Fire follows a fictionalized account of the computer revolution at the end of the 20th century. The first two seasons are set in the Silicon Prairie in Dallas-Fort Worth, while the third and final season move to Silicon Valley. Lee Pace (The Fall, Pushing Daisies) stars as Joe MacMillan, a technology entrepreneur and former IBM employee who joins Cardiff Electric at the start of the show. Scoot McNairy (Gone Girl, 12 Years a Slave) and Mackenzie Davis (Tully, Blade Runner 2049) also star as Gordon Clark and Cameron Howe, respectively, and Davis in particular has been critically-acclaimed for her performance.
This musical drama chronicles the birth of hip-hop and the death of disco, set in the South Bronx in 1977. The show was created by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann, whose specific art design and style has won over fans of his aesthetic worldwide. Though the series initially suffers from a slow burn, the show is both creative and visually-inspired, with a diverse cast led by Jaden Smith and Jimmy Smits. The show finished airing after two “parts,” making it a perfect weekend binge for fans of musical dramas and R&B alike. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “It suffers from a 90-minute pilot that will be divisive in its aesthetic choices–think West Side Story, not Spike Lee–but rises again in the next two episodes to give all the crazy a chance at becoming something really good.” If you had a strong opinion about Moulin Rouge or 1996’s Romeo + Juliet, you’ll probably feel similarly about The Get Down; series co-creator Baz Luhrmann directed both of those films in his signature bombastic style.
A romantic comedy developed by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust, Love is a down-to-earth look at dating that explores the nature of romantic relationships through a variety of characters. Stars Rust and Community‘s Gillian Jacobs are forced to navigate their newly-formed relationship. The series isn’t perfect—it suffers from a number of problems we’ve seen with other Apatow productions, including an overlong pilot—but if you’re in the mood for some dark romantic comedy in the vein of You’re the Worst or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you’ll find plenty to love here (no pun intended). Three seasons, are currently streaming on Netflix, with the third season also having served as the final season of the show.
The name was a bit of a non-controversy when Netflix first announced the show in 2017, especially since the show is based on a film of the same name first released without any major internet controversies in 2014, but regardless, the show itself is truly excellent. Dear White People comes from the director of the original film, Justin Simien, who took the ideas he originally developed in the film and remade them into this 10-episode season of television. The show follows a crew of black students at a historically-white university, where they must deal with social injustice, finding their way in life, romance, and yes, a bit of racism from some of the other students. Starring Logan Browning as college-radio host Samantha White (the name of the show comes from her radio program, something that manages to get her into some serious hot water), the entire cast here is excellent, as is the cinematography and editing. Two seasons of the show are currently streaming, with a third season on the way.
For those who have finished all nine seasons of The Office but want more from the same brilliant minds of writers will have to check out Parks and Recreation if you haven’t already. Developed by Greg Daniels (The Office) and Michael Schur (a writer on The Office, creator of The Good Place and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Parks and Rec started life as a spin-off to The Office before being developed into its own thing. The series follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the deputy director of the Parks and Rec department in Pawnee, Indiana, as she attempts to use her powers in the government to turn her town into a better place to live. Much like The Office, the first season of Parks and Rec is a rough start to what would eventually become an incredible series, with the writers refocusing Poehler’s character behind the scenes to make her more intelligent between the first and second seasons. Where The Office can occasionally seem cold or cruel, Parks and Rec has a massive, beating heart under the series, filled with compassion and humor. With an all-star cast including Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, and Nick Offerman, this is absolutely a must-see series.
Grace and Frankie is the ideal example of how you can start a show with a rocky beginning, and eventually—through finding your own footing as an independent show, become critically acclaimed and lauded for your representation and sense of humor. The show stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as Grace and Frankie, respectively, two retired women whose husbands work together as successful divorce lawyers. At the start of the show, their husbands—played here by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston—leave their wives after announcing they’ve fallen in love with each other, leaving the two women to deal with their incoming divorces with each other. Despite Grace and Frankie’s mutual dislike of each other, the two women band together to try and navigate the next phase of their lives. Four seasons are currently streaming, with a fifth premiering in January.
Being a pro athlete didn’t pan out for Colt. Now he’s helping his dad and brother keep the family ranch afloat, and figuring out how he fits into the family. With a heavyweight cast including Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott, and Debra Winger, The Ranch has gained a reputation for sensitivity and strong performances, as well as a focus on red-state situational comedy. This also marks the second time Kutcher and Danny Masterson have shared the screen together, following their performances as Kelso and Hyde on That 70’s Show. The Ranch has aired two full seasons, with part one of season three—featuring the departure of Danny Masterson—premiered in June. The show has been renewed for a fourth season.
DC Comics has had better luck with its TV shows than its big-screen adaptations lately (at least until Wonder Woman came out), and Arrow is one of their strongest offerings. Wealthy scion Oliver Queen returns home with incredible archery skills and a desire to fight crime, in many ways representing a small-screen Batman. Arrow has all the makings of great binge-watching, from a brooding protagonist to colorful, melodramatic plotting, and fun secondary characters who absolutely steal the show. Six seasons, including the most recent season, are currently streaming on Netflix right now; season seven will premiere on The CW this fall.
Though the show’s been off the air for more than a decade now, Gilmore Girls still stands strong as an incredible series for anyone in love with sharp writing and a spot-on mix of comedy and drama. The show follows the titular girls, Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory, whose lives are changed forever when Rory is accepted to a prestigious private high school. When Lorelai can’t afford to cover the payment and enrollment fee to the school, she returns to her parents, from whom she’s been estranged since becoming pregnant with Rory at sixteen. Her parents, Emily and Richard, agree to help on one condition: they must be allowed back into the lives of their daughter and granddaughter. Gilmore Girls‘ first three seasons make up some incredible drama, and while the back of the show doesn’t quite hit the highs of Rory’s life at high school, it’s still a show worth bingeing. Bonus: Netflix brought the show back for a four episode reunion last year, titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
The first of many Marvel-Netflix partnerships, Daredevil follows the adventures of Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day and masked vigilante by night. As Murdock fights crime in his spare time in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, he faces down organized crime and eventually more supernatural threats. Daredevil set the bar for Marvel’s Netflix offerings, with strong performances, visual style to spare, and impressive martial arts action. Daredevil is far from a perfect show, but it is one of the first Marvel series on television to truly work. Along with the Defenders crossover season, there are three seasons of Daredevil now streaming on Netflix. Unfortunately, the series was officially cancelled after its third season.
Sometimes referred to as the “best show you haven’t seen,” Rectify might even be a show you haven’t heard of. It aired on the SundanceTV network over four seasons from 2013 to 2016, a premium cable channel that is only in about 50 percent of households in the United States, but all four seasons are currently streaming on Netflix. The show follows Daniel Holden (played by Aden Young), a man imprisoned as a teenager for the rape and murder of his girlfriend Hanna. After spending 19 years on death row, DNA evidence from his trial contradicts the prosecution’s case, and Holden is allowed to return home to Paulie, Georgia, where he grew up. The show also stars Abigail Spencer (Mad Men) as his sister Amantha and J. Cameron Smith as his mother Janet. The show is a southern gothic drama, slowly unfolding over four seasons, and made several best-of lists during its entire run.
The original One Day at a Time ran for nine years from 1975 to 1984, and was developed by TV legend Norman Lear (and created by Whitney Blake and Allan Manings). When Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce decided to recreate the original sitcom for Netflix, they chose to rework the entire show to focus on a Latinx family consisting of single-mother Penelope (Justina Machado), her children Elena and Alex, and her mother Lydia (played by EGOT winner Rita Moreno, one of twelve people ever to manage to win all four awards). Together, they help Penelope manage her love life, family life, and her difficulties adjusting to normal life after being involved with the military and going back to school. One Day at a Time is regarded as one of the best shows on television right now, and with two seasons currently streaming, you have plenty to catch up on. The show was renewed for a third season in March.
Terrace House isn’t a series for everyone. If you have any sort of reservations about watching a show with subtitles, or you aren’t a fan of reality television, this might not be the series for you. First airing in Japan over eight seasons from 2012 to 2014, Terrace House was rebooted and co-produced by Netflix for a new series in 2015, titled Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City. The show follows six Japanese young adults as they move into a house together, a similar premise to dozens of American reality shows. Where shows like Jersey Shore or Big Brother would make a spectacle out of it, this show simply follows their standard lives without making big deals out of the drama that follows the young adults. It’s ostensibly a show “about nothing,” but both Boys and Girls in the City and the follow-up, Aloha State, are unquestionably addictive, inspiring, and at times a bit heartbreaking. These are ordinary people with big dreams, and where other reality shows may stage fights or false drama, the cast of Terrace House unquestionably cares for each other—even when they disagree. This show isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a comfort blanket of a reality show, this is the one for you. The newest series, Opening New Doors, airs weekly on Netflix.
Cheers is not just a great sitcom—it’s considered one of the best shows of all time, consistently topping best-of lists by dozens of publications (TV: The Book by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, for instance, lists the show as number four, considering it in an “inner circle” show along the likes of Breaking Bad, The Simpsons, and The Sopranos). Starring Ted Danson as Sam Malone and Shelly Long as Diane Chambers, the show perfected the original will-they-won’t-they long before the likes of Friends and The Office. Cheers also managed to be one of the earliest examples of a sitcom with a serialized storyline, beginning in the third season with the introduction of Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane, Diane’s love interest at the time. In addition to Danson and Long, the show also starred Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger (known to Pixar fans for his cameos in each film), and Nicholas Colasanto; later seasons added Woody Harrelson, Bebe Neuwirth, and Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe.
In this Marvel superhero story, Mike Colter plays Luke Cage, an ex-con with unbreakable skin and super strength who also made an appearance as a short-term love interest on Jessica Jones. Luke wants to live a quiet life, but his determination to right wrongs makes him a reluctant hero of Harlem—and a target for local gangsters with big plans. When Pop, the barber he works for, is murdered, this serious and soulful man becomes the reluctant hero, righting some of the wrongs in the neighborhood. That means he has to come up against Cottonmouth Stokes, the gangster who runs a nightclub—and the neighborhood. This third series from Netflix and Marvel stands out with both a thoughtful focus on its largely African-American cast and a winking 70s Blaxploitation aesthetic. It’s tons of fun, and season two just premiered on Netflix in June. The show was cancelled after its second season.
This sitcom was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and stars Ellie Kemper (of The Office) in the title role. 29-year-old Kimmy was rescued from a Doomsday Cult after spending 15 years as an underground hostage, held by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (played by Jon Hamm). She moves to New York to begin her life as an adult, and we get to follow her as she discovers our weird modern world with enthusiasm and zany naivete. Any fans of Fey and Carlock’s previous show, 30 Rock will find plenty to love here, including actress Jane Krakowski, who played Jenna Maroney on Fey’s previous sitcom. The show has three full seasons streaming on Netflix, with the back half of the fourth and final season premiering in January.
The Magicians takes an adult, intensely cynical look at the tropes of some famous children’s fantasy books. Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) is a graduate student addicted to a Narnia-type book series, who discovers the world of the books is more than just escapism. He ends up at an elite school for young magicians (sound familiar?), makes a bunch of misfit friends, and ends up transported to the universe of his favorite fantasy novels. Meanwhile his childhood friend Julia (Stella Maeve) breaks into the world of magic by less traditional means. Two seasons are currently streaming on the service, with season three recently having wrapped up on SyFy.
Like Cheers and Frasier, Friends is a must-watch sitcom from the late 20th century of television when sitcoms were the most-popular shows on the air. The show aired for ten seasons from 1994 to 2004 and featured an ensemble cast, including David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry. Known as a hangout sitcom, the show follows six friends—Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross—as they try to navigate their lives while living in New York City. The show begins as Rachel flees from her wedding day, only to run into Monica, her childhood friend. Monica invites Rachel to move in with her, and slowly becomes acquainted with Monica’s group of friends, including Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, and Monica’s brother Ross. With its own central will-they-won’t-they and some legendary writing, Friends is still considered a classic today.
In this spin-off/prequel to Breaking Bad, we see the early-2000s origin story to Saul Goodman, the skeezy lawyer Walter White used in the original show, played by Bob Odenkirk. Though a follow-up series to Breaking Bad about Odenkirk’s comic-relief character seemed like an odd decision when the show was first announced, three seasons in, some critics have argued the show surpasses its predecessor. We wouldn’t go that far: the two shows, despite sharing a creative team and the same DNA behind the camera, are incredibly different. While the first show chronicled the downfall of family man Walter White, this show is far more comical, with a focus on Goodman’s—here still known as Jimmy McGill—law practice, and his relationship with his brother. Mike Ehrmantraut, played by Jonathan Banks, also returns from the original show. While the tone of Better Call Saul varies wildly from its Bad origins, Saul is a must-watch for fans of the first show. The first three seasons of Better Call Saul are currently streaming; season four aired in August on AMC and should be on Netflix sometime next year.
The Crown follows the early life of Queen Elizabeth II, first beginning as she marries Prince Philip in 1947, and intends to cover the entirety of the Queen’s life before the show wraps up. Based partially on the 2006 film The Queen, Peter Morgan (writer of the 2006 film) creates a world that covers the drama and intensity of ruling in the aftermath of World War II. The series has been acclaimed for its production value and performances, as well as its immaculate cinematography. Each season seems ready to cover about a decade of time in total, with plans in place for both season two and three. Claire Foy (Rosewater) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) play Elizabeth II and Philip, respectively, and are joined by John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. Seasons one and two are currently streaming, with season three set to premiere sometime in 2018. Olivia Colman (Peep Show, The Lobster) and Tobias Menzies (Outlander) will take over for Foy and Smith.
From the creator of cult TV classics like Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Better Off Ted comes Santa Clarita Diet. This horror-comedy series stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as a married pair of real estate agents living in Santa Clarita, California. While trying to close on a house, Sheila (Barrymore) begins to vomit extensively. When the emergency room fails to take her in, they return home, only to discover that Sheila lacks a heartbeat and is, effectively, dead. Now driven by her ID more than anything else, Sheila, Joel (Olyphant), their daughter Abby, and their neighbor Eric must protect Sheila’s zombie secret from the world—which becomes all the more difficult when Sheila kills their friend Gary in the backyard. The show has two seasons streaming; in May, the show was renewed for a third season to stream in 2019.
Eight strangers from around the world find that they are psychically linked to each other’s minds, experiencing whatever the other seven feel. This strange but promising premise comes courtesy of the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas). It shuffles a diverse, interesting cast in creative ways, making for lots of intriguing, unexpected developments. Despite the complicated plot, the fanbase grew a cult following over its first two seasons of production. The show was unexpectedly cancelled after those two seasons, but public outcry from the show’s massive fan base led to the greenlighting of an upcoming two-hour Netflix original movie in 2018 to wrap up the show’s plotlines. That full-length film premiered on June 8th, 2018 to wrap up the show; that film is now streaming.
Master of None represents the culmination of much of Aziz Ansari’s stand-up, which focuses primarily on relationships and dating in the 21st century. Ansari, who also co-created and writes the show along with Alan Yang, stars as Dev Shah, an actor living in New York who hasn’t seen much success over his career. In the first moments of the show, we find him hooking up with a girl named Rachel, an incident that ends with a trip to the drug store for Plan B. The show revolves around Dev’s relationships with both his friends and women, including Rachel, and see him exploring career options, trying new things, and even travelling the world. With some incredible cinematography, acting, and specific standalone episodes like the Emmy-winning “Thanksgiving” or “New York, I Love You,” Master of None represents a must-watch. The first two seasons are streaming on Netflix.
A cult-classic, Shameless offers some of the best entertainment to be had on television today. It’s about the Gallaghers, a family of six kids raised by the oldest, Fiona (Emmy Rossum). Dad Frank (William H. Macy) is a hopeless alcoholic, Mom Monica (Chloe Webb) split, and the kids have to use their heads to survive as they straddle the law and their own morality. The extremely gifted ensemble includes Cameron Monaghan as Ian, the gay son who comes out in the pilot. The entire family are super-industrious and the show never ceases to surprise. Eight seasons are currently available for streaming, and the eighth season premiered on Showtime back in November; it will likely premiere on Netflix later this year.
Originally produced as a Crackle Original, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee became a Netflix Original when its nine Crackle seasons made the move to Netflix in January of 2018. The show’s premise is simple enough: each episode involves comedian Jerry Seinfeld introducing a vintage car of his choice and a guest comedian. As they drive around to get coffee, Jerry and his guest talk about anything that comes up, occasionally causing the show to take some pretty strange detours. The episodes have been shuffled and recreated from its original nine seasons into four “collections,” each with a cute name like “First Cup” or “Late Night Espresso.” Every episode from Crackle’s nine seasons is currently streaming with the exception of the Seinfeld reunion episode; season ten features twelve episodes and premiered on July 6th.
This hit show, based on Robert Kirkman’s comic series by the same name, follows a group of survivors through a bleak and violent zombie apocalypse. Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is our protagonist, swinging between hero and antihero as he tries to protect himself, his son, and the group that forms around him. The show is at its best when the characters manage to find moments humanity in spite of all the carnage—although some of the carnage makes for great TV, too. The first seven season of the show, following Rick Grimes and his constantly rotating group of friends and followers, are streaming on Netflix. Season eight recently wrapped on AMC; look for it later this year on Netflix.
Making a serious romantic comedy-drama out of a genre as impenetrable as telenovelas seemed impossible, but Jane the Virgin manages to not only adapt a Venezuelan telenovela, it also manages to satirize and praise the entire genre and create a fantastic show in the process. Gina Rodriguez stars as the titular Jane, a 23-year old student who has been taught from the time she was young to save herself for marriage. In a mix-up, she accidentally becomes artificially inseminated during a routine medical checkup. Split between her boyfriend who has no interest in raising a child, and the child’s donor, her boss and former teen crush, Jane must adjust to pregnancy and motherhood throughout the show. As with most telenovelas, Jane uses twists and turns to its advantage to create an incredible comedy-drama. The show has been praised by critics, and you can find out why by streaming the first four seasons on Netflix. The fifth and final season, picking up following the show’s explosive season four finale, will premiere on the CW early next year.
Starring a cast of heavyweights, the show takes place in London of the 1890s. It’s a shameless mashup of 19th-century monster stories: Dracula, Dorian Gray, werewolves, and Frankenstein and his monster all play major roles. The core cast consists of Timothy Dalton as an aging adventurer, the brilliant Eva Green as a woman locked in a battle for her own soul, and Josh Hartnett as her tough American bodyguard (another Victorian-era cliche Penny Dreadful plays to the absolute hilt). The show came to an unexpected close after the season three finale, and you can find the entire series available for streaming on Netflix. The show was recently revived for a brand-new spin-off series.
Peaky Blinders tells the story of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy, of Batman Begins and Inception), the brilliant leader behind the Peaky Blinders, an Irish-Gypsy gang in 1920s England. World War One casts a fascinating shadow over this show, as everyone was damaged in some way by the war, and the criminal underworld is still returning to “normal” after the men have come home. Shelby climbs the ranks of Birmingham’s underworld, making big plays while evading a police inspector (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park and Hunt for the Wilderpeople) dispatched by Winston Churchill himself to clean up the town. Tom Hardy (Inception, Dunkirk) joined the cast in season two, and Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Grand Budapest Hotel) is slated to join the upcoming fourth season. The first four series of the show are currently streaming; season five will premiere in 2019.
Often considered one of the best television shows ever made, Breaking Bad follows a supposedly mild-mannered chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides to make some quick money by putting his chemistry knowledge to good use: cooking meth. The show features incredible performances from the lead actors, amazing cinematography and direction, and some tough questions about human nature. Bryan Cranston, then fresh off his comic turn on both Seinfeld and Malcolm in the Middle, starts as Walter White in a shocking performance. The entire series is currently streaming.
Jessica Jones is Marvel’s second comic-based series on Netflix. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is a super-powered private eye who mostly wants to be left alone. The one person who won’t leave her alone is the villainous Kilgrave, an eccentric psychopath with the power to control minds, played by a terrifying David Tennant. Of the four Marvel-based shows on Netflix, Jones might be the easiest to get into: Ritter is wonderful as the lead character, and Tennant shows a side of himself that Doctor Who fans won’t recognize. If you only watch one Marvel show, make it this one—oh, and The Defenders, which sees the return of Jones fighting alongside Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Iron Fist in a war for New York. Two seasons are currently streaming on Netflix; as of December 2018, it remains one of the two remaining Netflix-Marvel shows not officially ended.
It’s not often you see horror done well on television, thanks to the commercial breaks required by networks interrupting the mood and tone of an episode of any given show. Bates Motel manages to make it work, though, serving up psychological horror over five seasons that will shake you to your core. The show serves as a prequel to and a reimagining of Psycho, the 1960 Hitchcock classic that remains a horror staple nearly sixty years after its release. Developed by Carlton Cuse (Lost), Kerry Ehrin (The Wonder Years), and Anthony Cipriano, the show stars Freddie Highmore as a young Norman Bates, and Vera Farmiga as his mother Norma, who purchase a motel following the death of Norman’s father. After an assault leads to Norman murdering a man in defense of his mother, the cover-up leads suspicion and conspiracy to the town of White Pine Bay. As the show continued, it gained critical acclaim for the acting from both leads and for its twists and turns through storytelling. All five seasons of Bates Motel are currently streaming on Netflix.
Starring Jon Hamm as ad-man Don Draper, Mad Men is Matthew Weiner’s tale of corruption and sex throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s at an advertising firm. The series is filled with drama, intrigue, and romance, and tells the story of a man who has it all, and still finds himself unhappy and self-destructive. Actors Elisabeth Moss and January Jones made names for themselves through this show, as did original network AMC. Often called one of the best television shows ever made, any lover of drama or period pieces will find plenty to love here. The entire series is streaming on Netflix.