Netflix has garnered a reputation in recent years for being the go-to destination for TV streaming. That’s because the service has a little something for everyone — dramas, comedies, documentaries, mockumentaries, and anything else you might think up. But finding the next great show to watch on Netflix can be difficult. Don’t worry though, we’ve done the research to deliver you our list of the best shows on Netflix.
Style Over Substance Fantasy Series
1. The Witcher
I think most would admit that the first season of Netflix’s mega-budget The Witcher was far from perfect -- there were pacing issues, instances of acting inconsistency, and plenty of questionable moments of dialogue.
However, for many who stuck with it, The Witcher proved worthwhile in the end. Henry Cavill is great in the role of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia, even if he does take the “witchers don’t have emotion” maxim too much to heart. But with plenty of room to grow, it seems likely that The Witcher will only continue to grow in the seasons to come.
Seaside Detective Series
Broadchurch is a British crime series that follows detective Alec Hardy’s (David Tennant) investigation into crimes in a quaint, seaside town. It’s an excellent show that's received near universal praise from critics -- not only for Tennant’s and co-star Olivia Coleman’s excellent performances, but for great writing and cinematography as well.
Confoundingly, and in spite of already being in the English language, Broadchurch was adapted as Gracepoint for American audiences -- a near shot-for-shot remake of the original. Oh, and if that’s not weird enough, David Tennant also stars in Gracepoint in almost exactly the same role.
Ansari’s Best Work
With roots in the best Woody Allen movies, Master of None deftly weaves stories of isolation, fame, and relationships to excellent effect. Aziz Ansari serves the series’ co-creator and lead star in a role that’s largely based on himself.
The second season of Master of None continued to blend original storytelling with a reverence for the classics by bringing the action to Italy to mimic seminal moments in Italian Neorealism.
Bonkers Imagery and Story
Cary Joji Fukunaga made a name for himself directing the first season of True Detective and the Netflix original movie Beasts of No Nation -- both visually enthralling pieces of entertainment. He followed up those efforts with the bizzaro, other-wordly show Maniac.
Maniac is about two young people who become intertwined with one another during an ambitious drug-trial. Each episode follows their journey into a sort of shared subconscious that spans genres like fantasy, thrillers, noir and more.
A New Groundhog Day
5. Russian Doll
Russian Doll is, as its title implies, a series of unraveling new layers to something that’s different yet seems the same. Natasha Lyonne serves as co-creator and star of the series that was a smash-hit with critics in 2019.
A second season of Russian Doll has already been ordered by Netflix but there’s currently no definite release date.
Portland’s Finest Sketch-Comedy
From the get-go, it’s clear that Portlandia is unlike any other show that’s ever been made. As Fred Armisen serenades us to the tune of a nostalgic song of the 90’s, we’re transported into a truly singular setting -- that of Portland, Oregon.
Through eight seasons, Portlandia runs the gambit of the uber-hipster city’s culture from the eyes of creators Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel. Portlandia is no doubt one of the most binge worthy shows on Netflix.
Captivating Heist Series
7. Money Heist
After years of toiling away in obscurity, Money Heist has finally found widespread appeal with international audiences.
Money Heist, or as it’s referred to with Spanish speaking viewers La Casa de Papel, follows a mysterious man named the Professor and his elaborate heists on financial institutions. Since Money Heist debuted on Netflix in late-2017, it’s become one of the most popular shows in the world.
Absurdist American Sitcom
From Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation), The Good Place is a sitcom series that follows a struggling young woman’s journey into the afterlife. After being mistaken for a hero with the same name, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) must convince others that she belongs in “the good place.”
Through four seasons, The Good Place offers plenty of twists and turns -- with ethical, epistemological, and intimate implications.
One of Gilligan’s Best Shows on Netflix
9. Breaking Bad
The course of television history was changed forever with Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston stars in the show as a high-school teacher turned meath kingpin who will do anything necessary to get what he wants.
Breaking Bad is one of the most tangibly depressing shows ever made. There’s something innately disturbing about the story of Walter White and his tragic family. That’s a testament to the show’s excellent writing and direction though.
GLOW, AKA the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling continues the trend of Netflix finding hits in the unlikeliest of places. This Netflix original series stars Alison Brie as an actress-turned-wrestler who desperately attempts to find a “Hollywood” career.
Beyond the superficial action on the mat, GLOW has lots to say about corruption in the entertainment industry and the empowerment of women.
An Unexpected Monster Hit
11. Stranger Things
The Stranger Things pilot script expertly laid the groundwork for one of TV’s most surprising hits. Netflix is known to pump out original series like no one else. Most of their series are duds, but every now and then, one of them strikes a chord with audiences.
Stranger Things not only struck a chord, but it turned the amp to 11 and rocked an entire set.
12. Mad Men
Mad Men is one of the most critically lauded shows of the 21st century, and for good reason -- an argument can be made that it’s the greatest show of all time.
Through seven seasons, we see a masterfully constructed character arc; that of ad-executive Don Draper. Screenwriters can surely find a lot to learn from the witty dialogue and great character development in Mad Men. Production designers should also check it out to see how the team expertly recreated the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Engrossing Zombie Thriller
The South Korean feudal-zombie thriller Kingdom was one of the most pleasant surprises in television over the past few years.
Far richer in subtext than one might expect, Kingdom simply makes great use of its allegorical conflict of famine, both natural and supernatural.
Sorkin’s Expert TV Epic
14. The West Wing
The influence of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing on television production, screenwriting, and American politics can’t be quantified. Through seven seasons, The West Wing was one of, if not the most popular show on television.
Although Sorkin had established himself before 1999 with scripts for A Few Good Men and The American President, it wasn’t until he created The West Wing that he rose to national prominence. Today, Sorkin is one of the most revered screenwriters in the world, and a one-time Academy Award winner for his The Social Network script.
Mockumentary Netflix Series
15. American Vandal
True-crime documentaries have spread like wildfire in recent years, almost to the point of self-parody. American Vandal satirizes the true-crime doc to perfection though.
Not since the prime of Christopher Guest and Michael McKean’s collaborations together have we seen such brilliant use of the mockumentary format.
Jason Bateman’s Best Netflix Series
Ozark is the show that stole the thunder from the Netflix originals of years past, like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Through three seasons, Ozark has proved that it’s one of the best series on Netflix.
Aside from the show’s stellar acting, perhaps its most notable strength is its cinematography and signature color grading.
Rod Serling’s Sci-Fi Classic
Perhaps no show on television has done more to change the course of storytelling than The Twilight Zone Creator Rod Serling has become a near mythical hero in science-fiction and screenwriting circles. Through the show’s five season run, Serling wrote a staggering 92 scripts -- some of which are considered among the best episode scripts ever written.
With over 130 episodes available on Netflix, there’s a little something for everybody. If you’re looking for a curated playlist to help you decide on which ones to watch though, check out our list of the best Twilight Zone episodes of all time.
Familiar Courtroom Drama With Style
Featuring the most unlikely of all-star casts, The People v. O.J. Simpson simply captivates through ten episodes. Although many are familiar with Simpson’s infamous murder trial, actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta breathe new life into the integral players.
Schwimmer, Paulson, and Travolta in particular are enrapturing in their roles, largely in part to some excellent hair and makeup from the team at FX.
Best Shows on Netflix Right Now
19. Peaky Blinders
Perhaps no show on television today oozes style more than Peaky Blinders. Every facet of the show is layered with incredible period detail, and expressive production decisions. Take the haircuts for example -- it’s funny to hear that the most iconic part of the show’s character designs were almost rejected by the actors.
Peaky Blinders is a captivating look at a family of criminals in Birmingham, England during the underexplored period between World War I and World War II. Cillian Murphy gives a career performance as the head of the peaky blinders, Thomas Shelby. Oh, and the show just happens to have one of the best recurring title sequences of all time, featuring the enrapturing music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Prequel Better than the Original
20. Better Call Saul
When it was announced that Vince Gilligan was going to follow up Breaking Bad with a prequel series focused on Saul Goodman, many responded with a healthy dose of skepticism. Not because Saul wasn’t an interesting character but because many wanted to see Gilligan do something “new.”
Although Better Call Saul is a prequel, it still feels very new. Most of the show takes place in the past, but we also see momentary glimpses into the events after Breaking Bad. This gives us something to be unsure of and adds a foreboding sense of doom to the events of the past. Ultimately, Better Call Saul is Gilligan’s most refined work and the current best show on television.
Serial Killer to Lumberjack
“Tonight’s the night” is what blood-spatter expert/serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) says to begin the first episode of what would become one of the most notorious shows in existence. For years, Dexter was regarded as one of the best shows on television.
The fourth season of Dexter is still largely viewed as one of the single best seasons of a show ever made. Of course, John Lithgow aided that season with an incredible performance, but Dexter was never more focused than it was then. In the end, Dexter floundered to give resolution to its title character, which resulted in the dismissal of the once highly revered show.
Richard Madden’s pronunciation of Ma’am is just one reason to check out Bodyguard -- there are dozens more. Bodyguard made waves upon release for its graphic depictions of violence, terror, and PTSD.
Bodyguard was also a favorite of critics in 2018, with many citing its difficult subject matter as timely and unforgettable.
21st Century Animation
23. Bojack Horseman
Has there ever been a more surprising animated hit than Bojack Horseman? This original series from Raphael Bob-Waksberg makes true use of the operative word “original.” Bojack is unlike anything that came before it, and it may be a long time before we see something that matches its signature blend of style and story.Through six seasons, Bojack delved into some deep subject matter and went further than most shows in how it showed the depths of depression
Winding Documentary Netflix Series
24. The Staircase
The best true-crime docuseries on Netflix isn’t Making a Murderer or Wild Wild Country, it’s the oft looked past The Staircase. With a story that twists and turns with near reckless abandon, The Staircase is a rare docuseries that never lets up.
The Staircase is about the life of Michael Peterson, a man who was charged for the murder of his wife by way of pushing her down a staircase. But nothing is as it seems in the show, and the filmmakers do a great job of driving us down veering and intertwining paths.
The American Office Sitcom
The Office has found a long, enduring second life on Netflix -- although it won’t be long before the series returns to NBC on the Peacock streaming service.
But The Office is comfortably at home on Netflix for the time being. The Office pilot script didn’t do a great job of setting up the show, but as time went on, the series picked up great momentum and became a fan-favorite for millions of viewers. The Office is no doubt one of the best shows to binge on Netflix.
Best Movies on Netflix
Netflix has a lot of great shows but it also has plenty of amazing movies. In this next article, we break down the best movies that are on Netflix right now. Make sure to check back on this article as we update each month as movies come and go from the service!