Updated: Best Netflix TV shows: 25 great television series on Netflix

Best Netflix TV shows: 25 great Netflix TV series

Netflix

Netflix’s transition from a DVD rental service to a streaming behemoth has been impressive to watch. The company has sunk tons of money and effort into making itself into the Number 1 destination for on-demand content that it isn’t just a place to watch things, it also creates them. So much so that the big TV and movie studios are rightly running scared.

While Netflix slowly makes a land grab for movies, it’s perhaps its television output that is the reason most people have an account. There’s a ton of TV content to feast upon – too much to ever consider watching in one lifetime.

This is why we’ve created a guide to the best Netflix shows in the US right now. We’ll keep this list constantly updated with the latest television shows that you should be watching and also tell you why.

1. Daredevil

Best Netflix shows

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.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

2. Archer

Archer

Given that Archer is set at the International Secret Intelligence Service (unfortunately abbreviated as ISIS), recent terror atrocities have meant the animation has been getting headlines for the wrong reasons. But don’t let this unlucky nomenclature put you off. Archer is a brilliant send-up of spy movies of yore, complete with some of the best voiceover talent – many of which have been pruned from the cast of Arrested Development. While the fifth season ‘reboot’ wasn’t the success it should have been, Archer is still one of the best cartoon comedies around.

Seasons on Netflix: 5

3. Arrested Development

Arrested Development

If it wasn’t for Netflix, Arrested Development would have stayed as a three-season wonder. The streaming giant decided to take a gamble and fund a fourth season of Mitchell Hurwitz’s brilliant family comedy and we are glad it did. While splitting the family up for most of the season meant some of the spark had disappeared – this was done to fit in with the actors’ busy schedules – the fourth season proved that there was still a lot to like about the dysfunctional Bluth family. Filled with season-long in-jokes, perfect site gags and spot-on wordplay, Arrested Development is a comedy that needs to be watched on repeat – and even then you will find something new to laugh at.

Seasons on Netflix: 4

4. Futurama

Futurama

In honor of Netflix pulling the plug on Battlestar Galactica (we all make mistakes), we’ve decided to use the fourth spot in our list to give a nod to a show that’s no stranger to getting the pink slip.

Created, written and well-loved by animation legend Matt Groening, you might have wrote Futurama off as filler content for Fox’s Sunday night programming block. If that sounds like you, you inadvertently did a major disservice to creativity, humor and passion Groening poured into every panel year after year for over a decade. Futurama is funny, witty and has the uncanny ability to poke fun at cultural icons without sinking to juvenile mud-slinging. Each time the series got the axe broke our heart a little more, which didn’t get the mending it needed until the final episode of the final season. So just as Fry asks Leela to go around one last time, we ask you on behalf of the wildly beautiful, if perhaps somewhat strange, cartoon to give it one more go.

Seasons on Netflix: 10

5. Mad Men

Mad Men

Mad Men is more addictive than the cigarettes Don Draper is trying to market us. If you’ve never watched it, essentially Mad Men is a show about everything we now consider taboo in glaringly harsh light. Set in 1960s America, inter-office intercourse is par for the course, along with ashtrays overflowing with cigarettes, sexism at the highest levels and a complete disregard for morals so long as it serves the characters on their climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his assistant Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) shock and entertain us by showing the lifestyles of the advertising executives who got the public to buy cigarettes long after they knew the health risks.

Seasons on Netflix: 6

6. Black Mirror

Black Mirror

There’s no better person to portray not-so-distant future dystopias than Charlie Brooker. He’s been holding a warped mirror up to the ridiculous nature of the world’s media for years, mixing cutting comments with comedy, but Black Mirror sees him entering darker territory. Each series is just three episodes long but they are all standalone treats, twisting reality in their own unique way while commenting on things we seem to hold dear today – namely technology and television.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

7. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

More addictive than the meth pushed by Walt and Jessie, 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.

Seasons on Netflix: 5

8. Narcos

Best shows on Netflix

Narcos, Netflix’s newest original drama starring Wagner Moura as famed cocaine dealer Pablo Escobar, is about as addictive to watch as the substance it revolves around. Each episode illuminates Escobar’s backstory while bringing him one step closer to his inevitable demise, all the while showing a somewhat endearing man consumed by his own ego. 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.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

9. Jessica Jones

Best shows on Netflix

If you thought Daredevil was dark for Marvel, wait until you watch Jessica Jones. A show set in Hell’s Kitchen that follows a troubled, alcoholic vigilante (sound familiar?), Jones takes subject matter too mature to show elsewhere and plops it in with an insane backstory and a few twists that turn the knife and leave you clicking on the next episode.

Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter plays a superb lead character, coming off as intelligent and witty, without succumbing to gross stereotyping. You won’t find Galactus or any other world-threatening villain here, but the one the writers went for is cold-blooded and depraved in a way few others are. If you’ve already gobbled up Daredevil and like your comic stories with a bit more grit, booze and sex scenes, you won’t need to hire a private investigator to discover your new favorite show on Netflix.

Check out our Jessica Jones review

Seasons on Netflix: 1

10. Louie

Louie

If you like Louis C.K.’s stand up, you’re going to love Louie. It’s dark. It’s funny. It makes us look at ourselves and our situations and just think “Huh, I guess it could be a lot worse.” Each episode is divided into two parts: a stand-up segment where Louie tells jokes to a faceless audience and a fictional vignette that either refutes or enforces the previous joke. So how can a comedian’s life, even a fictional version of it, be funny? We have no idea, but it just works.

Seasons on Netflix: 3

11. Master of None

Best Netflix TV Shows

As smart and funny Parks and Recreation is, the show doesn’t do a great job with Aziz Ansari’s character. He comes off as one-dimensional, shallow, egotistical and unrealistic barring two or three episodes where he gets the spotlight. 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. Like Louie, Master of None covers the oddities of everyday life, incorporating all the heartfelt moments and awkward situations that come with the territory.

Seasons on Netlflix: 1

12. Sense8

Best Netflix TV shows

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 directing duo. Sense8’s disparate batch of characters means this is a show that has a lot in keeping with Cloud Atlas, where different genres nestled uneasily against each other. But it’s a brave show and one that suits the lavish cinematography the Wachowskis are famed for.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

13. 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, Cards’ first season boasted direction by David Fincher and acting by Kevin Spacey and was addictive television. The reason: Netflix positively wanted you to binge watch, putting all episodes up at once. Now in its third season, Netflix’s Card trick is still impressive and shows just how far Netflix has come, given it’s shot in both 4K and HDR.

Seasons on Netflix: 3

14. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Initially made on a shoe-string budget, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia first season had a cult following, but low viewing figures meant it was destined to be a one-series wonder. Thankfully, everything changed when Season 2 was eventually green-lit, thanks to some big-time star power. Danny De Vito joined for a 10-episode run that was extended because he loved it so much. He’s still in the show that’s now in its 10th season, bringing with him huge viewing figures. The antics of Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney, the show’s creator), Charlie (Charlie Kelly) and Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson) won’t be for everyone – at its darkest the show’s ‘comedy’ themes range from nazism to drug abuse – but stick with it and this deliciously depraved classic will reward you.

Seasons available on Netflix: 9

15. Firefly

Firefly

After he had produced the perfect female lead in Buffy and before he was Hulk smashing with The Avengers, Joss Whedon created a short-run sci-fi series that has spawned not only a massive cult following but, quite astonishingly, a movie. The reason it was such an underground success was because Firefly takes the Star Wars framework of making space messy, where everything is a little rough around the edges – including the crew. It even has its own Han Solo in the form of Nathan Fillion’s Malcolm Reynolds. Whedon’s witty words permeate the whole of Firefly, which is not so much a space opera but a space rock opera.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

16. Making a Murderer

Best Netflix Shows

True crime stories are so hot right now, evidenced by the immense popularity of the podcast Serial and HBO’s The Jinx. Netflix’s original series Making a Murderer however, is probably the hottest of them all, documenting and recounting the trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, two working-class Americans accused of the murder of 23-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. Over its 10 episodes, the show exposes the failings of the Wisconsin justice system in blood-boiling detail. Having spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Steven Avery is exonerated based on new DNA evidence. However, shortly after his release, he becomes the prime suspect in Halbach’s murder, and Avery is put through the ringer once again by law enforcement figures that seem to have it out for him. What follows is an anger-inducing sequence of events that involve forced confessions, unconvincing (and possibly planted) evidence, dodgy lawyers and a complete presumption of guilt from almost everyone involved. Compelling, infuriating and tragic, we guarantee you won’t be able to stop watching Making a Murderer once you’ve started.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

17. The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Most shows that take place after the apocalypse dry up after a season or two, typically because things can only go from bad to better so many times before the survivors set up a new utopia. It’s good then that The Walking Dead isn’t like most shows. Sure, sometimes situations go from bad to better, but that’s only before things fall apart and the situation becomes even more dire than when the episode started. Oh, and the old joke about main characters always being safe when they’re in a room together? That doesn’t apply here. No one is safe, and that’s what makes The Walking Dead a show that works season after season, episode after episode.

Seasons on Netflix: 4

18. Orange is the New Black

Orange is the new Black

It may have never reached the heady heights of House Of Cards, but Orange Is The New Black is another show that proves Netflix is now up there with HBO when it comes to offering decent programming.

Set in a woman’s prison, Orange doesn’t shirk the big issues of violence and rape but manages to mix these with a heady dose of black humour. Oh, and its first series was actually more popular than Cards which is a surprise as Netflix’s advertising has always been very Spacey heavy.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

19. How I Met Your Mother

How i met your mother

How I Met Your Mother filled the laugh track-filled void in our lives where Friends used to be. A winning combination of actors and actresses like American Pie’s Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris, set against a few dozen plot twists and red herrings, set the stage for one of the must-watch sitcoms of the last decade. Getting sucked into Ted Mosby’s search for the one is a heartfelt and earnest affair as you root for everyone to succeed and the group to keep it together for one last season. Whatever you think of the final season, the on-screen chemistry feels downright natural and Ted’s struggle, albeit a bit drawn-out and convoluted, is relatable on the most basic of levels.

Seasons on Netflix: 9

20. Gotham

Best Netflix TV shows

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. The first few episodes tease, tease and tease again the potential villains that permeate Gotham but once character arcs take over and the endless knowing nods dissipate, the show comes into its own.

We really hope that the second season has fewer side plots and focuses more on the Sean Pertwee’s Alfred and the superb Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

21. Better Call Saul

Best Netflix TV shows

Vince Gilligan made no secret of the fact he wanted to re-visit the world of Breaking Bad and, while many were apprehensive that it was ‘too soon’, we shouldn’t have been worried. Yes, there was always a fear that Better Call Saul would turn out to be what Joey was to Friends but it has thankfully more Frasier to Cheers. This all thanks to Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of Saul Goodman, the corrupt lawyer who – despite the world he is in – has his heart is in the right place, even if he is consistently in the wrong place.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

22. Sherlock

Sherlock

It shouldn’t work but it really really does. This modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories is as good as it gets. Benedict Cumberbatch is everything you want in a Holmes – someone that wallows in wit, weirdness and warmth. While Martin Freeman plays Dr Watson as he plays all his characters – he’s the everyman that has to learn how to deal with his extraordinary colleague. Episodes are scarce but each one is feature length, which gives them time to breath. Let’s just hope these two superstars can find time in their busy schedules to keep doing the show.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

23. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

We always knew Amy Poehler was funny. Sketch after sketch on Saturday Night Live proved she had the comedic timing of a professional stand-up mixed with the creative capacity of an executive producer. Each episode of Parks and Rec is a chance to see Poehler do what she does best, with an excellent supporting cast of Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and Rashida Jones behind her every step of the way. While we were sad to see the show come to a heart-wrenching conclusion this year, the finale in February was the perfect excuse to go back and binge-watch the entire series from start to finish.

Seasons on Netflix: 6

24. Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy

There’s very good reason Sons of Anarchy is the highest rated show on FX ever – its Shakespeare-esque plot (think Hamlet on bikes), following the tumultuous lives of a motorcycle gang, has everyone who watches it gripped. The show ended in 2014 after seven glorious seasons – although later seasons could never quite reach the glory days of one to three – and is perfect fodder for those looking for another Breaking Bad-style fix.

Seasons on Netflix: 6

25. Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks

On the list of shows that were tragically cut down before their prime, Number 1 is Firefly. Number 2, however, is Freaks and Geeks, the show that served as a launching pad for some of our favorite stars in comedy today. Brash, mischievous and hysterical, James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen provide a perfect counter-balance for the tepid (and completely loveable) Linda Cardellini.

The show scores the last spot on our list and in our hearts because at the end of the day we’ve all been Cardellini’s character, Lindsay. We’ve all been picked on, called a nerd and genuinely loved something – whether that’s cellphones, computers, televisions, whatever. And just when you think you’ll never fit in, the right group of people somehow find their way into your life.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Related News