The nights are drawing in – which means your social life in the coming months will increasingly consist of early nights and Netflix binges. To help you avoid scrolling through its huge catalogue, the Pilot TV and Empire team has hand-picked the 60 best shows streaming on Netflix right now – a list of series you’ll (probably) love, whether you’re after nostalgic comfort-viewing, cutting-edge comedy, searing emotional dramas, puppet fantasies, or foreign-language horror. From BBC classics to Netflix Originals, to soon-to-be cult favourites, below are the best shows on Netflix.
With its stark depiction of a sexual assault and its physical and emotional aftermath, Unbelievable is unflinching and uncomfortable by necessity. But it’s also deeply empathetic, telling the story of Marie, a young woman whose report of sexual assault is muddied by a male police force who don’t take her trauma and conflicting emotions into account. Played by Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever, Marie’s predicament feels heartbreakingly real. But along comes Merritt Wever’s Detective Karen Duvall who, in investigating another sexual assault case, might be able to untangle the thread along with Toni Collette’s formidable Detective Grace Rasmussen. A gripping, and sadly all-too-necessary, story of the power of believing women.
The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance
A true marvel of the streaming era – Netflix plumped up the cash to fund what so many traditional studios surely wouldn’t have, a revival of the cult Jim Henson puppet fantasy in the most ambitious puppeteering production of all time. Where the original movie ran for 90 minutes, this prequel show – set 1000 years before the events of the film – takes place over 10 hour-ish episodes. Returning to the land of Thra, populated by good-hearsing Gelflings, evil bird-like Skesis, and all kinds of other furry and fearsome beasts, it somewhat lives up to its ‘family-friendly Game Of Thrones’ billing – even daring to bump off characters you’ve come to root for. It’s a miracle that it exists – and a joy to watch.
When They See Us
Ava DuVernay’s miniseries tells the story of the ‘Central Park Five’ – a group of five teenagers of colour who were accused of beating and raping a 28-year-old white jogger in Central Park, New York in the spring of 1989. Their forced confessions, wrongful conviction, and life in prison is told across four episodes, each directed by the Selma filmmaker, with incredible performances across the board – particularly from Jharrel Jerome, who won an Emmy for his role as Korey Wise. Once you’ve watched all four episodes, follow it up with a viewing of the Oprah Winfrey-presented When They See Us Now – a one-off special talking to DuVernay, her cast, and the real Central Park Five.
Across two series, Lisa McGee’s sitcom set in 1990s Northern Ireland has secured itself as Britain’s favourite new comedy. While The Troubles provide a serious back-drop to events, the foreground remains gut-bustingly funny, its lovable cast – Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn – delivering lightning-fast gags at a rate of knots. A perfect mixt of warmth, wit, and the occasional wee English fella
Its Groundhog Day premise might sound familiar, but Natasha Lyonne’s Russian Doll – co-created with Amy Poehler – has its own wild spirit. That’s often down to Lyonne herself, who puts in a hilariously misanthropic turn as New Yorker Nadia, who can’t seem to survive her own 36th birthday bash. Across eight 30-minute episodes, the show deeply explores its time-twisting conceit with unexpected turns that make this entirely bingeable – though its level of attention-to-detail demands multiple rewatches. Witty and melancholic in equal measure, with an ending to ponder long after the final credits roll.
Dead To Me
Black-as-pitch chuckles and killer thrills crash into this drama based around friendship and loss. Not an obvious combination of elements, but like the rather different Grace & Frankie (also on Netflix), at its heart Dead To Me is an odd-couple sitcom. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini star as the mismatched pair who strike up a friendship at bereavement counselling sessions. It’s a relationship that proves more tangled than is immediately apparent. And there will be bumps in the road. Ten perfectly formed half-hour episodes keep the momentum strong, with more certainly to come.
The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
After the gripping dramatisation of the O.J. Simpson case (see further down this list), the American Crime Story lot take a different approach for Season 2 – this one opens with the titular murder of a fashion giant, and then tracks his killer’s timeline backwards episode by episode, exploring the other deaths that led up to Versace’s assassination. Darren Criss is brilliantly unsettling as the unravelling Andrew Cunanan, with Ricky Martin proving a surprisingly strong screen presence as Versace’s grief-stricken partner Antonio D’Amico. Just as the O.J. series explored wider themes of race in America, Versace opens a wider lens to explore institutionalised and internalised homophobia along the way.
South Korea’s brilliant cinematic horror tradition makes a stunning transition to serialised storytelling in Kingdom – a zombie drama set in the medieval Joseon period. Sure, the undead-walking thing might seem a little played-out by now, but Kingdom is a brain-munching show with actual brains, telling an allegorical, socially-conscious story with fantasy-horror tropes. A relentlessly tense flesh-eating epic, with eye-popping cinematography to boot. File it alongside Train To Busan in your big book of must-watch Korean zombie tales.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead
30.years after returning from the Deadite-infested medieval wasteland of Army Of Darkness, Ash Williams is middle-aged and still working his days away as a shop clerk. Of course, it’s not long before the forces of evil are back and Ash is loading his boomstick once again. Packed with gore and gags, this Sam Raimi-produced sequel series is a blast – and while the show was recently axed (or should that be chainsawed?) at the end of its third season, Netflix is giving the show a fresh lease of life over here in the UK. Call it Necronomiconflix.
Crime stories tend to hinge on a whodunnit mystery – a body is found, and the intrepid detective has to work out the perpetrator. But anthology show The Sinner is a whydunnit – in each series you know who’s committed the central crime but you don’t know why, and neither necessarily do they. Enter Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) who digs into the past to uncover motives, traumas and secrets behind their acts of violence. A welcome and bingeable twist on a long-running genre format, that delivers even more in its second and third series.
The Haunting Of Hill House
Filmmaker Mike Flanagan has quietly made a name for himself in recent years as one of today’s best horror directors – a reputation he cements by directing all ten episodes of his brilliant take on Shirley Jackson’s iconic ghost story. The result is an incredibly assured family drama that frequently goes bump in the night, weaving emotional storytelling into a series about grief, loss, and the various forms that ‘ghosts’ take in people’s lives. Its characters are complex, its storytelling gripping, and Flanagan sets up perfectly-timed jolts with care. Look carefully in the background for bonus ghosts loitering in the titular mansion’s many dark corners. You can also stream the follow-up, The Haunting Of Bly Manor, which takes The Turn Of The Screw and gives it a twist, featuring several cast members from Hill House.
In a huge shock for fans of Netflix’s Marvel series, the streaming service cancelled Daredevil. Watch the three series it produced to see why that was such a travesty – cast the Ben Affleck dud movie out of your mind and make way for Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, mild-mannered lawyer by day, goon-smacking vigilante by night. He might be blind, but the radioactive accident that ravaged his retinas also pumped up his other senses. Season 1 brings impressively gritty world-building in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, establishing an engaging trio in Matt, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), and with an endlessly watchable uber-villain in Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). Season 2 has highs (The Punisher, a pulpier tone) and lows (baggy story), but the whole thing kicks into top gear for the gripping Season 3. Are you sure you can’t do more of these, Netflix?
After bagging Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey for True Detective Season 1, Cary Joji Fukunaga reeled in Emma Stone and Jonah Hill for his Netflix limited series Maniac. It’s one of those the-less-you-know-the-better series, but the basic gist sees Annie (Stone) and Owen (Hill) sign up for an experimental drug test. What follows is a stunningly creative trip that switches up from episode to episode in constantly surprising ways. It starts a little slow, but stick with it and reap the stylish rewards.
Before Serial, The Jinx, and Making A Murderer, there was The Staircase – a true-crime documentary series about the death of Kathleen Peterson whose body was found at the bottom of her stairs by her novelist husband Michael. He says he found her there after she fell down the staircase – except there’s way too much blood, and various circumstances don’t add up. Netflix not only picked up the existing 10-episodes, but also added three new instalments exploring new developments in the case. If you’re into true crime, this is a must-see.
The one with Ross and the leather pants! The one with the teeth whitening! The one with unagi! The one with ‘pivot’! The one where Ross says the wrong name at the altar! The ones about people other than Ross! They’re all here for comfort bingeing, years after Channel 4 betrayed the nation by stopping their endless re-runs. Sure, certain gags haven’t aged too well, but this is still one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
This one-off British crime drama series didn’t get enough attention at the time, but deserves a wider audience on Netflix. Stellan Skarsgård stars as DI John River, trying (and failing) to get over the death of fellow officer Stevie (Nicola Walker) who was killed on the job. As he digs around the circumstances of her death, he sees her everywhere and she won’t stop talking to him – both as his voice of conscience, and his nagging doubts and anxieties. A touching drama, intriguing mystery thriller, and a must-see for anyone who’s ever wanted to see Stellan Skarsgård riding around East London on the DLR.
Much like a Demogorgon in the night, Stranger Things crept out of nowhere and took us all by surprise. A curious little sci-fi drama which doffs an affectionate cap to 1980s Amblin-era sci-fi, while standing assuredly on its own two feet, the Duffer Brothers’ curious concoction quickly became the water-cooler TV show of 2016, and followed itself up with an equally strong second season. Stock up on Eggos and get up to speed on one of Netflix’s biggest original hits before Season 4 lands next year.
Netflix’s first German original series is a smart and sophisticated marvel, starting as a mystery thriller and looping itself in constantly unexpected ways. It’s part Stranger Things (but way moodier), part Twin Peaks (but way more German), and totally mind-bending – burrowing even further down its multi-chronological rabbit holes in the second season.
Lost in Space
With Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek getting their own gritty overhauls in recent years, it was only a matter of time before ‘60s sci-fi Lost in Space got the same treatment. The focus here isn’t on knotty politics but all-out adventure: the Robinson family become intergalactic castaways when their space ship crashes on their way to colonise a new planet. All the usual elements — The Robot, Dr. Smith, that famous John Williams score — are present and accounted for, but with new twists along the way.
Wild Wild Country
Already seen Making a Murderer? Get stuck into this documentary series. It’s not a crime mystery, but it’s a truly compelling account of an orange-robed cult group who suddenly popped up in an all-American town in 1980s Oregon, and the tension that it caused with the locals. A must-watch to join in all those watercooler conversations.
Star Trek: Discovery (plus The Original Series, The Next Generation, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise & The Animated Series)
Netflix have breached the final frontier. They have gone where no streaming platform has dared to go before. Not only have they have added the entire Star Trek back catalogue to UK Netflix, but they’ve also co-produced the gritty new Discovery. Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer are ready and waiting to beam you up for more Starfleet adventures than you can shake a phaser at. And Michael Burnham is on hand to take you down a somewhat darker path with Discovery, currently two seasons strong (with the third airing now) and heading in a very interesting direction. Resistance, as they say, is futile.
The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story
The rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, the star footballer accused of murder, felt like a real-life soap opera in the early ’90s. It’s a wonder, then, that it’s taken this long to tell the story in full operatic scale on the small screen, with a legion of stars (Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Cuba Gooding Jr.) lining up to reenact the ‘Trial Of The Century’ in nail-biting detail. You’ll probably know how the story ends, but you haven’t seen it told like this before.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
“Un-breakable! They alive, dammit!” Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s absurd earworm of a theme tune will grab you from minute one; Tina Fey’s razor-sharp writing and Ellie Kemper’s eternally sunny performance will keep you there. Somehow finding the funny side of kidnapping, Fey’s follow-up to 30 Rock flits nimbly and confidently between goofy surrealism and painful subject matters; here, the belly laughs come with a point to make. You can also find the interactive spin-off film that wraps any dangling plot threads up even as it spins its own story.
Let’s play the Don Draper drinking game! All you’ll need is an inexhaustible supply of scotch, an equally infinite stock of cigarettes, a talent for sparkling advertising copy, a healthy dose of misogyny liberally applied to a parade of easily-tossed-aside women, a mysterious double-life past, a spare liver (just in case), and more scotch. Drink every time something morally ambiguous happens!
If you ever needed an example of the sort of show only Netflix would be brave enough to commission, we present The OA. An eight-part drama about restored blindness, interdimensional travel, near death experiences, angels, Fritzl-level kidnapping, and magic interpretative dancing? It is, by creator/star Brit Marling’s own admission, pretty out there. It’s also an example of the sort of show that could only be watched on Netflix: a strange little oddity that sneaks its way onto your watchlist and suddenly morphs into a 4am bingewatch. The mystery and intrigue is addictive, the execution is always surprising; a proper ending, sadly, is currently denied us as the show has been cancelled after two seasons.
Peter Morgan is an unofficial documenter of the British royal family, with work on like The Queen and The Special Relationship opening up the palace doors to the big screen and small alike. So it goes with his latest creation, this gleefully scurrilous costume soap opera about Her Maj’s early years. Beginning with a character vomiting into a toilet bowl on the morning of Elizabeth II (Claire Foy)’s marriage to dastardly foreigner Prince Philip (Matt Smith), this is not a show that’s shy about breaking the perceptions of what a royal costume drama should be. Binge the first three seasons, with the fourth (the second featuring Olivia Colman as HRH) due on 15 November.
Rick And Morty
At first look, Rick And Morty is a goofy Back To The Future pastiche for overgrown children direct from the Cartoon Network late-night strand Adult Swim. But there’s more to this show than colourful aliens and dick jokes. Spawned from the brains of Justin Roiland (Adventure Time) and Dan Harmon (Community), few shows are as gigantically world-building in their science-fiction ambitions. Many episodes take in infinite Ricks and infinite Mortys from an infinite multiverse; many episodes also feature the character Mr. Poopy Butt Hole. Think Twilight Zone crossed with Ren & Stimpy.
TV remakes should always be taken with a heavy pinch of gritting salt. But Noah Hawley’s FX show breathes new life into the Coens’ cult classic, taking you down the expected retread route before severely twisting it on its head. Season 1 saw Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton head into the snowy Minnesotan plains, with Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons heading up Season 2, and Season 3 boasting the likes of Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the cast. The fourth, with Chris Rock starring, is airing in the US, so expect that before too long.
One of the most bizarre projects Netflix has financed so far, this anime-inspired cartoon from Vampire Weekend singer Ezra Koenig is an acquired taste. But for anyone on its wavelength, the story of Kaz Kaan (a melancholic fashion-forward eligible bachelor from a wealthy Neo Yokio dynasty, plus freelance demon slayer) will be a wry, witty and genuinely unique hit. Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon and Jason Schwartzman voice major roles, while the likes of Peter Serafinowicz, Steve Buscemi, and Stephen Fry pop up for guest appearances.
Inside No. 9
Enamoured with the anthology style of Black Mirror? Your next binge-watch should be Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s dark comedy, which conjures up an entirely new premise, setting, and cast every week. Each episode takes place in a different ‘number 9’ — a house, a dressing room, a restaurant — with a tone ranging from all-out comedy to bleak horror. A special mention to ‘A Quiet Night In’ and ‘The 12 Days of Christine’ — but each instalment is a 30-minute marvel in its own way.
Will Arnett lends his vocal talents to this darkly comic look at the life of disenchanted actor-slash-horse, BoJack. It’s quirky, colourful (the trippy titles are evidence enough) and meta as they come, but the further you progress, the more tragic BoJack’s longing for the limelight becomes. You might find the show difficult to get on with at first, but stick with it – we promise it’s worth it.
Constant quoting and uncontrollable fits of laughter are just two of the things you’ll blame FX’s Archer for – but you’ll be very glad it exists. Following the antics of Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and his International Secret Intelligence Service (aka ‘ISIS’, swiftly dropped in Season 6) coworkers, this adult animation boasts in-joke payoffs like no other. The stellar voice cast includes Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler and Jessica Walter as alcoholic boss – and mother – Malory Archer.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Paddy’s Pub is owned by ‘The Gang’: essentially four friends and Danny DeVito. And by ‘friends’ we mean a group of people who inflict pain and hardship on each other just because they can. If you’re after short, sharp bursts of alcohol-infused, televised anarchy from five utterly irredeemable bastards, Always Sunny is undeniably the one for you.
In a list drawn up by the BFI at the turn of the century, Fawlty Towers was decreed the greatest British television show ever made. It’s tricky to argue with that assessment. John Cleese and Connie Booth’s delectable farce is the biggest noise ever to come out of Torquay. With Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs also onboard, Fawlty Towers became one of the BBC’s biggest ever hits. (Just don’t order the Waldorf salad.)
The Thick Of It
“I’d love to stop and chat to you but I’d rather have Type 2 diabetes” – and that’s pretty much the only quote from Malcolm Tucker we can write without censorship… Before Peter Capaldi swapped swears for the keys to the TARDIS, his profanity-spewing policy enforcer was his crowning glory.
Better Call Saul
Long before Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) crossed paths with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, he was struggling lawyer James McGill. Saul’s slow burn nature may not sit quite right with new viewers, so we heartily recommend working your way through all five seasons of Breaking Bad first. The pleasure in this prequel is revisiting characters (hello Mike Ehrmantraut) we’d always wanted more backstory on.
American Horror Story
Another series, another spooky story. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s horror anthology (a far cry from your previous work on Glee, boys…) features a repertory cast including Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Angela Bassett. Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show, Hotel, Roanoke, Cult, and Apocalypse – aka Seasons 1-8 – are streaming, if you’re feeling brave enough.
Orange Is The New Black
When Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) finds herself behind bars for a crime she committed a decade earlier, her life becomes a messy merry-go-round of exes, current fiancés and trying to avoid becoming a prison wife. Based on the real Piper’s memoirs, a diverse cast transform this quick-witted comedy drama into essential viewing. As for the standouts amongst the inmates? It’s a tough one, but Uzo Aduba’s Crazy Eyes, Samira Wiley’s Poussey and Yael Stone’s Lorna Morello are right up there.
The infamous Northern gang are the focus of Steven Locke Knight’s post-Great War drama. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy with a perfect Brummie twang) is the cool but deadly leader of the pack, crossing paths with the police and Winston Churchill on his rise to notoriety. Drawing comparisons to Boardwalk Empire, Series 2 ramped up its star wattage by adding Tom Hardy and Noah Taylor into the mix.
Line Of Duty
Series 1 dealt with corruption within the force. Series 2 dealt with an attack on the force. Combined, the separate threads secured this drama as one of BBC Two’s best shows of all time, with Gina McKee, Lennie James, Keeley Hawes and Neil Morrissey each bringing their A-games. The first four series are on the streaming service, with the fifth recently concluded on the BBC.
Seasons 1-3 of Arrested Development may just be the funniest thing ever created: Will Arnett as an egomaniac magician, Liza Minnelli as a vertigo-suffering neighbour, and David Cross spending the majority of Season 3 pretending to be ‘Mrs. Featherbottom’. And that barely scratches the surface of this dysfunctional family comedy that swaps a laughter track for a Ron Howard narration. This year the difficult fourth season (with each episode following a different character) was ‘remixed’ into 20-minute instalments closer to the original format, while the entire cast was properly reunited for the new Season 5.
Sons Of Anarchy
First rule of SAMCRO? You don’t talk about SAMCRO. Actually, that’s not true, although you definitely don’t want to bad mouth the members of the Sons Of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original to their faces. Or to their mums’ faces, for that matter. Charlie Hunnam’s Jax is the main focus, struggling with his responsibilities to his Hells Angels-esque clan and new baby in this hard-hitting, high intensity, who’s-going-to-die-next crime saga.
We’ve already mentioned The Man With No Fear. Now it’s time for The Girl Who Will Join Him In The Defenders, aka Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter). It may have a lighter colour palette, but Jones deals with much darker material: rape, PTSD, and being in a controlling relationship with a positively bonkers David Tennant. Jones spends most of her time as a private investigator trying to escape her superhero past, but the sparks really fly when Ritter gets fighty with love interest and man of steel, Luke Cage (Mike Colter). The second season delved into the origins of Jones’ powers.
Though it is tempting to believe, given recent events, that life is one giant Black Mirror episode, we can rest assured that it remains primarily a work of fiction. After calling Channel 4 home for its first two series, Charlie Brooker’s gloriously bleak anthology series jumped ship to Netflix for its third and fourth series, dealing with everything from reality television to memory implants to futuristic funeral homes with a wry, cynical, darkly satirical eye. The feature-length (and then some) Bandersnatch arrived over Christmas last year. Season 5 is also now available.
Planet Earth II/Planet Earth/The Blue Planet/Human Planet/Frozen Planet
A large chunk of BBC documentaries and original programming are available on Netflix UK, but few come close to this quartet. Whether it’s the sea, the sky, or the icy arctic tundra, when it comes to David Attenborough, we don’t need to give a reason. Planet Earth II is on there now too, which is the perfect work-out if you’ve just picked up a 4K HDR telly.
Impressions, impressions and more impressions are order of the day in Michael Winterbottom’s sitcom. Playing fictional versions of themselves, Rob Brydon heads off on a gourmet tour of England’s restaurants in place of Steve Coogan’s now ‘ex’ girlfriend. Series 2 sees them head to Italy, but the laughs and bittersweet realisations still come thick and fast. Season 3 headed to Spain, while The Trip To Greece has yet to appear.
Master Of None
New York City life sure has its obstacles for 30-year-old actor, Dev (Aziz Ansari). Post-Parks And Recreation, the comedian continues to dominate the small screen, this time in the self-penned Netflix Original. Real life situations are given a comic spin (Ansari’s parents roped in to play his fictional ma and pa) as Dev navigates romance, stereotypical casting and death.
Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and friends take police rivalry to the next level in the hopes that Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) might just crack a teeny tiny smile in this hilarious cop comedy. Serious bromances and office roleplay prevent the gang from doing much actual work, though when they do, they’re pretty good at it. There are guest stars aplenty, but it’s Terry Crews’ sensitive tough guy who steals the show.
Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) and Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jensen) serve as our thesp guides during this mock, behind-the-scenes peek at the extras industry – but whether their friendship will survive sudden fame is another matter entirely. Very funny, yet very bittersweet, Gervais employed a bunch of his movieland friends for Extras, including Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet, and the late, great David Bowie.
Are you familiar with the one who knocks? Have you ever wished someone an A1 day? If not, you need to start Breaking Bad immediately. It may seem like an irrational decision to start selling meth after a terminal cancer diagnosis, but Walter White (Bryan Cranston) takes to it like a pro. Assisted by unruly former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Walter spirals into darker territory with each passing season. So addictive it should be illegal.
The first two seasons of Richard Curtis and Ben Elton’s historical sit-com (the medieval one and the Elizabethan one, plus A Christmas Carol) can currently be found amongst Netflix UK’s TV ranks. The monarchs may change (mad Brian Blessed gives way to even madder Miranda Richardson), but Blackadder’s bite remains.
Knowing Me, Knowing You/I’m Alan Partridge
Did you know Alan likes ABBA? Well, he really does. So much so, in fact, that he named his (definitely not real) talk show after one of their songs. I’m Alan Partridge goes a step further, following Alan’s post-Knowing Me exploits as he presents on Radio Norwich. If Alpha Papa was your introduction to Partridge, you’ll be wanting to dig through the Parchives, pronto. (Just make sure cringe-o-meters are set to stun.)
The Good Place
It may look a tad twee and formulaic, but The Good Place is as daring and original as TV sitcoms get. Focused around Kristen Bell’s morally-challenged – and definitely-not-meant-to-be-in-Heaven – Eleanor, each twenty-minute episode is peppered with laughs, philosophy, and oodles of Ted Danson. We won’t say too much, but there are plenty of layers to The Good Place. Beware: this is a rare comedy you’ll want to avoid any spoilers for.
If you don’t know your Pablo Escobars from your El Chapos, it’s time to brush up on your narcotics history. Another Netflix Original, Narcos stars Wagner Moura and Boyd Holbrook as Escobar and DEA agent Steve Murphy respectively. Pedro ‘Oberyn Martell’ Pascal also pops up amongst the intense performances and ludicrous amounts of cocaine. Follow-up Narcos: Mexico is also worth watching.
Making A Murderer
Whether you’re yet to start this bingeing phenomenon, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Steven Avery by now: a man freed for a crime he didn’t commit after 18 years, only to be put behind bars for something else. Could he really have been wrongly accused twice over? The first of Netflix’s original programming that truly begs to be watched in one sitting, Making A Murderer proved that it’s possible to create event television without making a show’s launch an event in itself. The show continues in Making A Murderer: Part 2, reckoning with the original run’s role in re-sparking interest in the murder, and following idiosyncratic lawyer Kathleen Zellner as she picks up Avery’s case.
©Sex Education © Netflix
Therapist’s son Otis (Asa Butterfield) starts doling out sex advice to his schoolmates, all the while navigating his own tough road through puberty. Call it a “cumming of age” story if you must, but lurking within all the naughty chatter is a sweet, beating heart and characters that keep you watching. Plus, Gillian Anderson rules. That is all.
Mae Martin’s day (night?) job is as a stand-up, and she channels both her observational eye and her personal life into this semi-autobiographical series. She stars as a version of herself, who starts seeing Charlotte Ritchie’s George, who is embarking on her first same-sex relationship. Mae’s addict background adds to the pressure, but this is wonderfully played and nuanced.
Henry Cavill slaps on a blond wig and battles monsters in a fantasy setting. Need more? Okay, so it can be controversial at times thanks to a questionable attitude to female nudity (so early Game Of Thrones, that), but The Witcher has fast become a cult favourite, even ear-worming viewers with ‘Toss A Coin To Your Witcher’.
Produced by David Fincher, the show about the FBI’s attempts to track down serial killers dips into history for a darkly flecked peer into the more dangerous sides of the brain. Less focused on killer action and more on the personalities on both sides of the law, it’s a moody brew of drama and procedural.
The stalker thriller gets a millennial update as Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg becomes obsessed with Elizabeth Lail’s wannabe writer Guinevere Beck. And then he dates her! It’s twisty and intense, and much less schlocky than it might seem.
Rescued from the cancellation bin thanks to an intervention from, of all people, rapper Drake, this story of gang life and drug dealing on an East London estate. It feels authentic and natural, and has a style of its own.
The Dragon Prince
Set on a continent riven by a magical war fought between elemental forces, this fantasy show digs deeper than some, with shades of grey on both sides. It’s one the family can enjoy together.
Hailing from Spain (and known there as Le Casa de Papel), this eminently binge-worthy series keeps you hooked with the plot turns and fun heist mechanics. Plus you’ll actually care about the people involved.
Amy Sherman-Palladino created this much-loved, fast-talking series that made stars out of Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. It’s gentle, frothy (though occasionally dramatic) and features two great, if occasionally divisive female lead characters.
Sally Wainwright has long since proved herself one of the UK’s most prolific – and best – TV creators, and this ranks highly among her output. The show stars Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran and Steve Pemberton, and tells the story of a police officer, Catherine Cawood (Lancashire), invested in a painfully personal case. It’s not always easy viewing, but it’s fantastically written and performed.
Before she created I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel brought us Tracey, an awkward, Christian British teenager who longs for a more normal life – to wit, a boyfriend and a chance to break away from her strict preacher mother. It’ll have you cringing as much as you laugh – but in a good way.
A Tokyo detective travels to London to look for his long lost younger brother, now believed to be posing as a Yakuza gangster and wanted for the murder of a Japanese businessman. His family’s honour, and the fragile peace between the warring gangs back home, is at stake. It could so easily be just another crime potboiler, but Giri/Haji (duty/shame) becomes so much more than that.
It took a while for Dan Levy’s comedy to reach the acclaim it has – it just won all the comedy categories at the Emmys for its final season. And indeed, it might take a few episodes to warm up to this story of a rich, entitled family who lose it all and move to the titular small town that patriarch Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) purchased as a lark. But unlike Arrested Development, this squabbling brood shows different shades and sides of themselves as the seasons tick by, growing into characters you actually root for. It’ll warm your heart if you give it a chance.
The increasingly prolific Ryan Murphy, alongside regular collaborators Brad Falchuk, Stephen Canals, brings this series, set in 1980s New York at the height of the AIDS pandemic. The underground ballroom scene, a home and a sanctuary for LGBTQ people suffering discrimination and demonization, is brought to vibrant life. This is not simply a safe space, it’s a place to shine, and the show is just as stylish, loving and jubilant.
The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit
Scott Frank follows up Godless with this crafty, stylish adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel. Anya Taylor-Joy is the sarcastic, troubled Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy whose proficiency with the pieces is only matched by her struggles with addiction. It makes the chess scenes come alive and the drama is just as thoughtful. It might be more of a miniseries, but don’t let that put you off.
Set almost entirely within the confines of a police interrogation room (with occasional trips to the control room or corridors by it), Criminal could be seen as a gimmick –load up a guest star suspect and let the main characters unpeel the layers on their acts. But in reality, it’s a tense, wordy delight, full of great performances before you even get to the likes of David Tennant, Hayley Atwell and Kit Harington. You’ll be glued to the cases, and intrigued by the sprinkling of personal drama between the police officers. Two seasons of the UK version are available now, and there are also variants set in France, Spain and Germany, shot with different casts on the same set.