Best Shows on Netflix Right Now, Ranked for Filmmakers - Featured (Dec_ 2020)

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. 

Absurdist American Sitcom

1. The Good Place

The Good Place  •  Trailer

Created by Michael Schur

Starring Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, and Ted Danson

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. In the end, The Good Place proves to be quite a profound take on bold themes relating to love and life.

Best TV Shows on NetfliX

Critic Review Highlight

“A comedic appraisal of philosophy, morality, and the meaning of life. All of this was made palatable to network TV viewers with the help of winning stars, joyful puns... and a lightness of tone that kept things defiantly frivolous.” - Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic

Rod Serling’s Sci-Fi Classic

2. The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone  •  Trailer

Created by Rod Serling

Featuring an Anthology Cast, Including William Shatner, Charles Bronson, and Carol Burnett

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. 

Best Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“Serling turned small towns, suburban homes, and city streets into staging grounds for the nightmares his audience was already having.” - Noel Murray of The AV Club

Style Over Substance Fantasy Series

3. The Witcher

The Witcher  •  Trailer

Created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, Based on the Books of the Same Name by Andrzej Sapkowski

Starring Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, and Anya Chalotra

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. 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. And with plenty of room to grow, it seems likely that The Witcher will only continue to gain traction in the seasons to come.   

Top Netflix Shows

Critic Review Highlight

“The [action] is of a kinetic and impressively top-shelf variety, Cavill's Geralt moving like a man possessed as he rends flesh from bone and engages in some surprisingly balletic bouts of swordplay.” - Isaac Feldberg of Fortune

Seaside Detective Series

4. Broadchurch

Broadchurch  •  Season 2 Trailer

Created by Chris Chibnall

Starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman

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 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.

Best Netflix Series

Critic Review Highlight

“It's everything great drama should be -- riveting, raw, heartbreaking, funny and very, very smart.” - Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Prequel Better than the Original

5. Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul  •  Trailer

Created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould

Starring Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Sheahorn, Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito

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 – oh and can we finally give Rhea Sheahorn the Emmy she deserves for her incredible performance as Kim Wexler?

Great Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“The best show on TV remains - emphatically - the best.” - Verne Gay of Newsday

Mockumentary Netflix Series

6. American Vandal

American Vandal  •  Trailer

Created by Tony Yacenda and Daniel Perrault

Starring Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck, Jimmy Tatro and Travis Tope

True-crime documentaries have spread like wildfire in recent years, almost to the point of self-parody – but American Vandal satirizes the true-crime doc to perfection.

Not since the primes of Christopher Guest and Michael McKean’s collaborations have we seen such brilliant use of the mockumentary format.

Best Netflix Series

Critic Review Highlight

“I went into American Vandal's premiere expecting to laugh; I didn't, much. But by the time I got to the sneaks-up-on-you-poignant closing scene of its finale, I was moved.” - Glen Weldon of NPR

One of Gilligan’s Best Shows on Netflix

7. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad  •  Pilot Trailer

Created by Vince Gilligan

Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and Dean Norris

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

Best Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“Breaking Bad managed to be the sum of its parts, foregrounding compelling details involving the twisted nature of Walt's universe that made its reasonably tidy conclusion beside the point.” - Eric Kohn of IndieWire

Engrossing Zombie Thriller

8. Kingdom

Kingdom  •  Trailer

Starring Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-na, and Kim Sang-ho

The South Korean feudal-zombie thriller Kingdom was one of the most pleasant surprises in television over the past few years in large part due to some great performances and enrapturing cinematography.

Far richer in subtext than one might expect, Kingdom simply makes great use of its allegorical conflict of famine, both natural and supernatural.

Top Netflix Shows

Critic Review Highlight

“As the epidemic widens in scope, unleashing tsunamis of sprinting zombies on the land, Kingdom turns into a mordantly funny epic about how large-scale governmental mismanagement is amplified by class inequities.” - Matt Zoler Seitz of New York Magazine/Vulture

Sorkin’s Expert TV Epic

9. The West Wing

The West Wing  •  Trailer

Created by Aaron Sorkin

Starring Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, and Janel Moloney

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.

Best Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“It is as much about the world we live in now as it is about the world as it was then. In fact, it might be even more relevant today than it was 10 years ago.” - Brian Moylan of The Guardian

A New Groundhog Day

10. Russian Doll

Russian Doll  •  Trailer

Created by Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler

Starring Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett, and Elizabeth Ashley

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.

Netflix TV Shows

Critic Review Highlight

“There are a whole lot of ideas here -- a few thrown against the wall to see if they'll stick -- but the real pleasure of this four-hour head trip are the performances. Lyonne is outstanding.” - Verne Gay of Newsweek

Best Shows on Netflix Right Now

11. Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinder  •  Trailer

Created by Steven Knight

Starring Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, and Paul Anderson

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.

Perhaps no show on television today oozes with style more than Peaky Blinders. Every facet of the show is layered with incredible period detail and expressive production decisions. Cillian Murphy gives a career performance as Thomas Shelby, the head of the peaky blinders. 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.

Best Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“There's ample drama to be found in this particularly tumultuous moment in British history, and some will no doubt appreciate the unhurried pacing.” - Brian Lowry of Variety

Wrestling Dramedy

12. GLOW

GLOW  •  Trailer

Created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch

Starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, and Marc Maron

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.

Best TV Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“With Madonna-meets-Xanadu art direction, Glow creates a vivid world of high-cut leotards and failed ambition.” - Lauren Carroll Harris of The Guardian

An Unexpected Monster Hit

13. Stranger Things

Stranger Things  •  Trailer

Created by Matt and Ross Duffer

Starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, and Millie Bobby Brown

The Stranger Things pilot script expertly laid the groundwork for one of TV’s most surprising hits, which follows a series of supernatural events in small-town America. 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.

Netflix TV Shows

Critic Review Highlight

“Stranger Things might feel like a mere retro roller coaster were it not for that slow drip of sorrow and trauma, the residue of Reagan-era anxiety about the nuclear family.” - Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker

Winding Documentary Netflix Series

14. The Staircase

The Staircase  •  Trailer

Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

Featuring Michael Peterson and David Rudolf

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 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.

Best Netflix Series Ever

Critic Review Highlight

“If The Staircase is a puzzle, it's one that still works no matter how you decide to arrange the pieces.” - Steve Greene of IndieWire

Serial Killer to Lumberjack 

15. Dexter

Dexter  •  Trailer

Developed by James Manos Jr., Based on Jeff Lindsay’s Novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, and David Zayas

“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 a once highly revered show – but showrunner Clyde Phillips will have another chance to stick the landing with a greenlit miniseries.

Good Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“[A finale], which, in some ways, felt like a cop-out, closed the book on the groundbreaking series and on a final season that won't likely be remembered as one of its best.” - Chuck Barney of The Mercury News

21st Century Animation

16. Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman  •  Trailer

Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, and Aaron Paul

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. 

Best Netflix Shows Ever

Critic Review Highlight

“The emotional generosity of the series extends right up until that final, lovely, lingering moment.” - Erin Qualey of Slate

Captivating Heist Series

17. Money Heist

Netflix  •  Money Heist Crossover

Created by Álex Pina

Starring Úrsula Corberó, Álvaro Morte, Itziar Ituño, and Pedro Alonso

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.

After years of toiling away in obscurity, Money Heist has finally found widespread appeal with international audiences and critics.

Best Netflix Shows List

Critic Review Highlight

“It's utterly ridiculous. And we couldn't stop watching.” - Pauline Bock of the New Statesman

Bonkers Imagery and Story

18. Maniac

Maniac  •  Trailer

Created by Patrick Somerville, Based on Maniac by Espen PA Lervaag, Håakon Bast Mossige, Kjetil Indregard, and Ole Marius Araldsen

Starring Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, Justin Theroux, and Sonoya Mizuno

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.  

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.

Best Netflix Shows of All Time

Critic Review Highlight

“Maniac plays with genre and dramatic expectations to gain insight into the human condition in ways that other programs can't touch.” - Brain Tallerico of RogerEbert.com

Heart-Pumping Miniseries

19. Bodyguard

Bodyguard  •  Trailer

Created by Jed Mercurio

Starring Richard Madden, Keeley Hawkes, and Sophie Rundle

Bodyguard made waves upon release for its graphic depictions of violence, terror, and PTSD – told through the story of David Budd, an Afghanistan war vet who becomes the bodyguard for the British Home Secretary.

Richard Madden’s pronunciation of Ma’am is just one reason to check out Bodyguard – there are dozens more. Bodyguard was also a favorite of critics in 2018, with many citing its difficult subject matter as timely and unforgettable.

Good Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“Madden plays Budd like a time bomb poised to detonate, revealing a man scarred by his wartime experiences. Hawes is excellent as the hawkish politician and Mercurio keeps the twists coming through to the finale.” - Debi Ekner and Melinda Houston of The Sydney Morning Herald

Ansari’s Best Work

20. Master of None

Master of None  •  Trailer

Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang

Starring Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu, Lena Waithe, and Alessandra Mastronardi

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.

Best Netflix Series

Critic Review Highlight

“Aziz Ansari nails modern love, modern families and cultural assimilation in a potent comedy that often camouflages its depth with Ansari's quick wit and snappy patter.” - Eric Deggans of NPR

Sixth Times the Charm

21. The Last Dance

The Last Dance  •  Trailer

Directed by Jason Hehir

Featuring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson

The Last Dance chronicles the Chicago Bulls’ sixth and final championship season, including interviews with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson, Barack Obama, Carmen Electra and many, many more. The Last Dance shows us what people – particularly the people in the Chicago Bulls organization in the 1990s – sacrifice in order to achieve the highest degree of success.

There’s a reason why Michael Jordan is considered the greatest player of all-time – no athlete in American sports, save for Tom Brady, Bill Russell and Kobe Bryant, were so committed to winning that they’d risk everything for it.

Best Drama Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“So I want my comrades in sports indifference to trust me when I say The Last Dance... is gripping television.” - Heather Schwedel of Slate

Jason Bateman’s Best Netflix Series

22. Ozark

Ozark  •  Trailer

Created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams

Starring Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, and Julia Garner

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. The show follows a family of four who are forced to relocate to the Ozarks to launder money for a drug cartel.

Aside from the show’s stellar acting, perhaps its most notable strength is its cinematography and signature color grading. Ultimately, Ozark has proven to be one of the best series on Netflix[1] .

Yes, more KW mentions in the body like this and we won't have to stuff them into headings so much.

Best Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“Bateman strikes the right mixture of guilt, terror and glib intelligence to make us reluctantly root for him.” - Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Portland’s Finest Sketch-Comedy

23. Portlandia

Portlandia  •  Trailer

Created by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel

Starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein

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 all through the eyes of creators Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel. Portlandia is no doubt one of the most binge worthy shows on Netflix.

Good Shows on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“Portlandia is not to everyone's taste, but it's an eccentric, surprising little microbrew of a show.” - James Poniewozik of TIME Magazine

The American Office Sitcom

24. The Office (U.S.)

The Office  •  Trailer

Developed by Greg Daniels, Based on a Series from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant

Starring Steve Carrell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer

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 Shows to Watch on Netflix

Critic Review Highlight

“Even though its later seasons never lived up to its groundbreaking early explorations of contemporary work culture, what The Office leaves us with are memories of television comedy at its best.” - Kevin Craft of The Atlantic

Familiar Courtroom Drama With Style

25. The People v. O.J. Simpson

The People v. O.J. Simpson  •  Trailer

Starring Cuba Gooding Jr. Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta

Featuring the most unlikely of all-star casts, The People v. O.J. Simpson captivates through ten episodes. Although many are familiar with Simpson’s infamous murder trial, the actors here breathe new life into all 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

Critic Review Highlight

“The series feels hyper-real, hypnotic, and more relevant now than ever.” - Tim Molloy of The Wrap

UP NEXT

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!

Up Next: Best Movies on Netflix →
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