In depth: Best TV shows to stream right now

Best TV shows

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The best TV shows are fragmented. At one time you could use TV Guide to find anything and everything on TV. But, now that we’re increasingly switching to services like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu and Amazon for our televisual goodness, finding the best shows to watch each week has become a full-time job.

There’s a whole lot of choice out there at the moment when it comes to finding something awesome to stick on your lovely big-screen TV, which is by no means a bad thing. But with so much to choose from and no one to guide you, you have to do all the discovery yourself.

Hence why Apple, Google and Amazon are trying to make discovery the center point for their different devices and operating systems.

But, here’s an idea: You could always just let someone you trust do it for you, though. Like us.

We’ve put together the best shows and movies on each of the streaming services (see: Best Amazon Prime Instant Video shows and the Best Netflix TV shows) which makes us essentially TV gurus.

Using our smart, culture-savvy opinions and some help from you guys in the comments we’ve parsed through the streaming services to find you the best TV shows in every genre to highlight the shows we think you should be watching and a few which you might not have paid attention to before.

Best drama shows

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

More addictive than the meth pushed by Walt and Jessie (apparently, ahem), Breaking Bad is brilliant binge-watching television. The initial plot is simple: a straight-laced teacher is told he has cancer and to make sure he leaves his family with the best possible life, he turns to drug making and dealing. There’s method to his madness as he ends up being pretty good at it.

Creator Vince Gilligan has created such a good group of characters, he is currently mining the same world again with Better Call Saul. But that has some way to go reach the highest highs that Breaking Bad offers.

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 5

Best of the rest

Best TV Shows

The Affair

“The Affair is the perfect example of an idea taken from a rough notion to a polished, enticing series.”

Where to get it: Showtime Anytime

Seasons available: 2

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Mad Men

Mad Men

“The show is at its best when it just focuses on its extremely flawed and brilliantly portrayed characters. “

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 7

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24

24

“The show has always played on the spectre of real terrorist atrocities, but with a hyperreal edge that kept it firmly within the ‘entertainment’ genre.”

Where to get it: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 8

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Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

“Consistently brilliant television and up there with the best programmes around, even if the only thing you know about American Football is that it’s a poor person’s rugby.”

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 5

Best comedy shows

Community

Community

Community is the series that just won’t die. And many have tried to kill it. Now heading into its sixth season, it was looking rocky for the comedy when Season 4 was announced, without show runner Dan Harmon, but it survived with its dignity almost intact and was back to its best for Season 5. Set in a community college, Community follows a rag-tag group of adult learners and is so packed through with in-jokes, parodies and surreal humor that it’s hard to believe each episode is just 20-odd minutes long.

Where to get it: Hulu

Seasons available: 5

Best of the rest

Best TV Shows

Seinfeld

“Probably one of the most quotable shows to ever be created, Seinfeld is a classic that anyone with a funny bone in their body needs to watch.”

Where to get it: Hulu

Seasons available: 9

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Modern Family

Modern Family

“Consistently hilarious for six seasons now, using The Simpsons’ method of showing good ol’ family values through, well, good ol’ family dysfunction.”

Where to get it: Hulu

Seasons available: 2

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Best TV Shows

How I Met Your Mother

“A winning combination of actors and actresses like American Pie’s Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris, HIMYM is one of the must-watch sitcoms of the last decade.”

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 9

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Best TV shows

Master of None

“Master of None takes Ansari out of Amy Poehler’s shadow and brings him into his own, showing audiences a side of the comedian that anyone in their mid-20s or early 30s can relate to.”

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

Best Sci-Fi / fantasy shows

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

The fantasy genre on television was floundering before Game of Thrones came along. Prised from George RR Martin’s towering tome, GoT is a masterpiece of storytelling. It’s part Godfather (warring families, copious bloodshed), part Tolkien (freaking dragons), and it gets better with each season. This is the crown jewel for both Sky and HBO, and is now one of the biggest shows in the world, with a budget to match. The series is now at a crucial point, as the show’s plots overtakes those in the books. Keeping avid readers sweet will be a tough challenge but for those who just know this world through the TV show, it makes for riveting television.

Where to get it: HBO Now

Seasons available: 4

Best of the rest

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Battlestar Galactica

“This reworking of the kitsch ’70s show could have been a disaster but under the helm of showrunner Ronald D Moore, it turned out to be one of the best things made for TV.”

Where to get it: Hulu

Seasons available: 4

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Firefly

Firefly

“Firefly takes the Star Wars framework of making space messy, where everything is a little rough around the edges – including the crew.”

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

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Vikings

Vikings

“Yes, it takes a number of liberties with its source material but the acting is top class, as is the cinematography.”

Where to get it: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 3

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Best TV Shows

Sense8

“The Wachowski siblings have been more miss than hit lately – Cloud Atlas was brave but flawed, Jupiter Ascending was just flawed – but Sense8 sees something of a return to form for the duo.”

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

Best horror shows

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead has been reanimated more times than the zombies that harangue the group of survivors we have all come to know and love. Initially created with Frank Darabont at the helm, he left after the first season then his replacement was eventually replaced and their replacement replaced.

With this in mind, it’s amazing that not only has the show consistently managed to improve season after season it has become one of the most successful series ever. Yes it sometimes slumps along slower than a zombie with its legs hacked off but give it time and it will reward you with more drama than you can shake a bloody stump at.

Where to get it: Netflix

Seasons available: 5

Best of the rest

Best TV shows

American Horror Story

“From asylums to haunted inns to the circus, no place (or time) is safe in this popular horror anthology series.”

Where to watch it: Netflix

Seasons available: 4

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Best TV shows

Hannibal

“If you like gore-fest crime scene investigation shows like Dexter, Hannibal is so good it’s scary. Too bad there’ll never be a season four…”

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 2

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True Blood

True Blood

“The tales of Sookie Stackhouse were Twilight-esque books but the show found gold in the idea of a town that learns to respect vampires.”

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 5

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Best TV Shows

Grimm

“Fairy tales for adults and probably the closest we’ll ever get to a TV adaptation of Fables.”

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 4

Best superhero shows

Daredevil

Daredevil

When it comes to superhero movies, Marvel are bossing DC thanks to the rich tapestry it has weaved with its cinematic universe. Its TV shows, as fun as Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter are, haven’t had the same success as DC’s The Arrow or The Flash. Thankfully Daredevil has come along to change all this. Released in one binge-watching dose, Daredevil is superb television, regardless if you are a superhero fan or not.

Matt Murdoch’s (Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox) rise from blind lawyer to vigilante is brutal and steeped in realism. The reason it works so well is that it doesn’t shy away from being violent – each crack and crunch is a world away from Ben Affleck’s terrible movie version. And special mention has to go to Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, his best role since the tortured Private Pyle.

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

Best of the rest

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

“If you thought Chris Nolan’s Batman movies were dark, let us tell you about Jessica Jones. She’s another messed up detective with superpowers, but with a whole lot more Marvel baggage.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

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Gotham

Gotham

“Given that the best thing about the Batman mythos is, er, Batman, Gotham really shouldn’t work. But it does, even if it does take a while to get into.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

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Heroes

Heroes

“Sure, it went seriously downhill after the first season, but what a first season that was. Watch that, then you’re free to move on and pretend the rest never happened.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 4

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Arrow

Arrow

“The plot is very Batman: billionaire playboy turns superhero after a life changing turn of events, but bats are replaced with bows as Oliver Queen cleans up his city.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 3

Best crime shows

Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy

Seemingly always vying for the top spot of Best Recently Finished Drama (we may have made up that award) with Breaking Bad, Sons Of Anarchy is a long brooding menace of a show that deserves your attention. Centred on a motorcycle gang that live by their own rules (you can probably guess what their name is from the title) the show is positively Shakespearean in its storytelling and will have you gripped from episode one.

While Ron Perlman steals the show as Clay, Charlie Hunnam’s Jax is one of the best tortured souls you will see on any television show. Beware that only six series are currently streaming on Amazon Prime – you will have to wait a little while before the fitting final season heads to the service.

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 7

Best of the rest

Brooklyn Nine Nine

Brooklyn Nine Nine

“Give it three episodes and you will be hooked and it’s all because the characters are hilarious and the dialogue first class.”

Where to watch: Hulu

Seasons available: 3

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Best TV shows

Narcos

“If you’re looking for something to fuel your hangover now that Breaking Bad is caput, Narcos is a much-needed prescription that’ll scratch your itch.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 1

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Best TV showsBosch

“Created by Michael Connelly but brought to life by actor Titus Welliver, the series follows LA Homicide detective Harry Bosch and features enough grit to pave the longest of driveways.”

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 2

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The Blacklist

The Blacklist

“While the supporting cast isn’t quite up to Spader’s magnificence, this is one of the most enjoyable shows on Sky at the moment.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 2

Best political shows

The West Wing

The West Wing

Aaron Sorkin’s stock as a screenwriter may be a little low at the moment, thanks to the saccharine nature of The Newsroom, but if you want to remember him at his best then The West Wing is for you. Not only does it have the best cast ever assembled for a television show – led by the fantastic Martin Sheen – it’s also a series that has influenced many programmes since. A winner of 26 Emmys, The West Wing showed that network television can be just as good as cable TV. A must watch.

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 7

Best of the rest

House of Cards

House of Cards

“If there ever was a poster boy for Netflix, House of Cards would be it. Funded completely by the streaming service, boasting direction by David Fincher and acting by Kevin Spacey.”

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons available: 3

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Best TV Shows

Veep

“Veep is perfect satire. Its comedic take on the presidency and politics in this country is both laugh-out-loud funny and extremely terrifying.”

Where to watch: HBO Now

Seasons available: 4

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The Newsroom

The Newsroom

“The show if anchored brilliantly by Jeff Daniels’ news anchor as the show takes us behind the scenes of a news show that is trying to bring the truth to US TV screens.”

Where to watch: HBO Now

Seasons available: 3

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Alpha House

Alpha House

“It has a political edge but the back stabbing is replaced with a little bit of rib tickling. John Goodman is superb as one of four US senators shacked up in the same house.”

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Seasons available: 2

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