We’ve all been overwhelmed by streaming TV choices, only to give up and watch something you’ve already seen. But this curated list of the best shows on Netflix is here to narrow down your choices and help you figure out?exactly which titles you want to sample next.?
Though Fisher Stevens is best known to some TV fans as Succession’s intermittently competent comms pro Hugo, he also has a thriving career as a documentarian. The subject of his new four-part docu-series (thanks to matchmaking by Stevens’s former collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, apparently) is world-famous soccer star David Beckham, who gives Fisher and his crew unprecedented access to tell the story of his life—and of his love, wife Victoria Beckham.
Comedy writer Charlie Brooker stepped out of his primary genre for this sci-fi anthology series. In the style of The Twilight Zone, each episode tells a self-contained story, generally about a dystopic application or evolution of technology we are familiar with. (The titular Black Mirror refers to the look of a TV, computer, or phone screen when it’s turned off.) What if you lived in a bunker and pedaled a stationary bike for hours on end to earn “merits” for your food and entertainment? Can a computer simulation permit our consciousness to outlast our physical forms? What if a popular streaming platform eavesdropped on your phone and turned your life into a drama series starring a CGI Salma Hayek? These are just a few questions raised over Black Mirror’s run, which will continue soon: in November, the show was picked up for a seventh season.
Before Bob Odenkirk was the mopey chair of a university English department in AMC’s Lucky Hank, Sandra Oh—whose feature film Quiz Lady premieres on Hulu November 3—was the put-upon chair of a much better university’s English department in Netflix’s original limited series, The Chair. Ji-Yoon (Oh) is the first-ever woman of color to run the department, and takes over just in time for her recently widowed friend Bill (Jay Duplass) to succumb to an in-class meltdown, causing a scandal Ji-Yoon has to deal with instead of enacting changes the department actually requires to stay relevant. Excellent performances make this one of the best comedies and best dramas on Netflix.
Among his many other credits, writer Peter Morgan has defined himself as an interpreter of current events, particularly in the U.K., from The Special Relationship (about Tony Blair and George W. Bush) to Frost/Nixon (about the televised interview the former conducted on the latter) with many stops in between. When The Queen, about the eponymous monarch’s reaction to the death of Princess Diana, became a critical and award sensation, a series follow-up about the royal family was the obvious next step. Since 2016, The Crown has chronicled the entire professional life of Queen Elizabeth II, starting just before her coronation and extending into the adulthood of her most famous grandchildren. One of the most controversial titles on Netflix—particularly if you ask a member of the family being portrayed—it’s also one of the most lavish. The sixth and final season has been split into two parts: the first four episodes dropped mid-November, with the six remaining premiering December 14.
With the holiday season upon us, the time is finally right to check out, or revisit, one of the most charming romcoms on Netflix. Adapted from Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s YA novel series Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares, the show revolves around the titular characters (Austin Abrams and Midori Francis, respectively) not quite meeting, but deepening their knowledge of each other through notes and dares in a notebook that they take turns leaving in locations all over New York City. And: it’s Christmas!
Producer/director Jeong Jong-yeon would already be a reality TV legend if all he’d done was The Genius, a fiendishly complex game of skill, strategy, and insight. But we’re lucky he’s gone on from fiendish to diabolical with The Devil’s Plan. Twelve extremely impressive contestants—including an MIT-trained lawyer, a professional poker player who studies biomedical sciences on the side, and an actor/inventor/MSc in evolutionary psychology—face off in tests of their intelligence…but there’s a social game too. Watch along and ponder how far YOU might get.
Gossip Girl and Euphoria are so local. If you’re looking for a scandalously sexy teen drama, you need ?lite. Set at and around fictional high school Las Encinas, in Madrid, the show follows three scholarship students as they mix and mingle with their rich peers. And if you also miss Pretty Little Liars, good news: there’s a mystery story, too. The seventh season just arrived October 20.
Roderick Usher (played, at various ages, by Zach Gilford and Bruce Greenwood) and his twin sister Madeline (Willa Fitzgerald and Mary McDonnell) had humble beginnings and big ambitions. Roderick’s employment at an unethical pharmaceutical company gave them an opening to take some advantage to advance themselves…but maybe there was some supernatural intervention involved, too. Mike Flanagan’s latest spooky series takes inspiration not just from the titular short story, but the entire Edgar Allan Poe oeuvre, to tell the story of the Usher family, and the various terrible ends their many members come to.
One of the shows that put UPN on the map?and survived to the CW era,?Girlfriends—created by award-winning?Moesha producer?Mara Brock Akil—revolves around four friends in Los Angeles. Lawyer Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) is the hub to whom the other characters are all connected. Toni (Jill Marie Jones) is a real estate agent who’s been Joan’s friend since high school; Lynn (Persia White) roomed with Toni and Joan at UCLA, and despite her five post-graduate degrees has struggled to zero in on a career; and Maya (Golden Brooks) starts out as Joan’s assistant. If you’ve never watched the show, or just haven’t revisited it since its series finale in 2008, dig in: there are eight big seasons of this outstanding comedy series waiting for you.
Three Michigan moms—sisters Beth (Christina Hendricks, now starring in The Buccaneers on AppleTV+) and Annie (Mae Whitman); and Ruby (Retta), their friend since all three were teens—run into pressing financial difficulties at the same time. What if they solved all their problems at once by robbing the supermarket where Annie works? Seems like a winning plan until they find out the store is entangled in a complex criminal operation, and that the only way they can avoid disaster is to let themselves get recruited to work in it themselves. Treat yourself to four seasons of one of Netflix’s best crime dramedies.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sNKe1pYYuFs" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Ten-ish years into the reality competition boom, a show came along that was the exact antithesis to the cutthroat gamesmanship of Survivor or even Top Chef. The amateur contestants of Britain’s The Great British Baking Show are genuinely warm and helpful to each other; the hosts and judges are gentle and encouraging; and everyone’s striving to produce their very best work in order to win an engraved glass cake stand and absolutely no cash at all. A new season of the Holidays spinoff arrives December 8.
If you’re curious about President Barbie’s exploits before she took office, look no further than this HBO original sitcom, recently arrived on Netflix. Issa Rae adapted her web series, Awkward Black Girl, into this sitcom about Issa (Rae), a non-profit staffer stumbling through her post-college years in Los Angeles. Yvonne Orji, currently on Hulu in Vacation Friends 2, is Issa’s best friend Molly, who seems to have her life together as a successful attorney, but still has as much to learn about love as her less polished pals.
Lev Grossman’s novel series provides the basis for this long-running fantasy series, which originally ran on Syfy, and revolves around the Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy. But this is no Hogwarts: though Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) enrolls with the simple goal of learning to use magic, he soon finds out that the Fillory And Further novel series he’s loved all his life is no mere story: it’s based in true events, and offers a warning about other worlds that could impinge on his. Fortunately, his classmates are smart and talented, and maybe they can triumph if they combine all their powers.
Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, And A Mother’s Will To Survive provided the source material for this limited series. Alex (Margaret Qualley) is a young mother whose decision to leave her abusive boyfriend Sean (Nick Robinson) is fraught with peril: severely limited finances, a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, and insufficient support from the people closest to her. Alex’s determination to create a safe and happy life for her daughter Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet) and to become a writer keep her pushing through extremely challenging obstacles.
Chris Coelen is already known to Netflix subscribers who love dating shows as the executive producer of Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum. But before either of those, there was Married At First Sight. Based on a Danish format, the show delivers exactly what you think: two strangers—who’ve applied to be on the show, and get matched by relationship experts, based on compatibility gleaned from detailed questionnaires and in-person interviews—meet at the altar, get married on the spot, and let cameras document what happens next. (Amazingly, the show has a better track record than, for instance, the Bachelor franchise?) Already on the platform are Season 12, set in Atlanta, and 13, which filmed in Houston; Season 14, the show’s second time shooting in Boston, arrives on Netflix December 14.
The 1995 non-fiction book Mindhunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit provides the inspiration for this scripted series, created by playwright Joe Penhall and executive-produced and frequently directed by David Fincher. FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, currently on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) partner with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) to pioneer the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit. As part of their work, they visit prisons to interview some of the era’s incarcerated serial killers, most notoriously Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton), David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam (Oliver Cooper), and Charles Manson (Damon Herriman). Though we only got two seasons, true crime fans will call this one of the best crime shows on Netflix.
If the recently-concluded WGA strike left you with an appetite for TV chat that not even the return of Stephen, Seth, John, and the Jimmies can sate, Netflix has you covered with this multiply Emmy-nominated talk show. For each short season of what is practically an event series, David Letterman—the original host of both Late Night and The Late Show—curates a tiny group of guests with whom he spends an entire episode for an in-depth conversation. Past guests include Tina Fey, Jay-Z, Howard Stern, and Barack Obama, giving his first interview after leaving office. The rhythms are definitely different from what you’re used to seeing Dave do, but it’s still a joy to see it done by one of the greats.
How did Pablo Escobar go from a comparatively low-level smuggler to one of the world’s most notorious drug kingpins to…uh, his death at the hands of an international law enforcement task force (spoiler)? Steve Murphy—a real DEA agent, since retired, who worked on the case—is portrayed here by Boyd Holbrook, who also narrates the story of the DEA’s investigation into Escobar (Wagner Moura); Murphy’s DEA colleague Javier Pe?a is played by future Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal. The series was followed by a companion series, Narcos: Mexico, in 2018.
Shea Serrano, formerly a journalist and critic at Grantland and The Ringer, has had a big year as a TV creator: his semi-autobiographical sitcom Primo premiered on Freevee this spring and delighted everyone to whom I evangelized about it. His film Miguel Wants To Fight dropped on Hulu in the summer. And in October, he expanded his reach into Netflix with the comedy series Neon. Co-created by Serrano and Max Searle, it revolves around three friends who move from Fort Myers to Miami with the goal of breaking into the world of reggaeton music; Tyler Dean Flores crosses over from embodying the titular character in Miguel to play Santi, the aspiring musical artist whose friends Felix (Jordan Mendoza) and Ness (Emma Ferreira) believe in him enough to try to help him make it.
Samin Nosrat’s cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat was a runaway bestseller, a critical hit, and a multiple award winner. Turning her framing device into a documentary series was the logical next step. Each of the four episodes in Netflix’s take covers one of the titular topics, and doubles as a travelogue: “Fat” brings Nosrat to Italy; “Salt” to Japan; “Acid” to Mexico; and closes with “Heat” in Berkeley, California, and at the legendary Chez Panisse, where Nosrat’s career began. Even if you don’t have the resources to take similar journeys yourself, there’s still lots to learn for the home cook; it’s one of the best educational shows on Netflix.
Most high school students are unambiguously compelled by the idea of sex. Not so British secondary school student Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield): as the son of sex therapist Jean (Gillian Anderson) — who, despite being determinedly sex-positive, hasn’t always set a great example for how to comport oneself in relationships — Otis’s feelings are more complicated. The supporting cast features Barbie alums Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, and Connor Swindells, among many other luminaries. The fourth and final season wrapped things up in September.
American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball followed the triumph of that film’s reception with another domestic drama. In Los Angeles, Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins) and his son David (Michael C. Hall) work together in the family business: a funeral home. When Nathaniel suddenly dies, his prodigal son Nate (Peter Krause) returns to pay his respects; his sense of duty overcomes his reluctance, and he stays to work with his brother, who’s not especially thrilled about it. A centerpiece of HBO’s golden years, Six Feet Under is one of the most acclaimed shows on Netflix.
Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) is a gambling addict crushed both by his personal debt, and by his daughter’s imminent move to the U.S. with his ex and her new husband. When a mysterious stranger approaches him, seemingly by chance, and offers him the opportunity to play a series of games with the possibility of winning an unimaginable cash prize, it seems too good to be true. Turns out: it is! The first season was a massive ratings and critical hit; the second is in the works, and Squid Game: The Challenge—an unscripted game show adaptation—premiered last month.
“An Unbelievable Story Of Rape,” a Pulitzer-prize winning article by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, inspired this fact-based miniseries in which rape survivor Marie (Kaitlyn Dever, whose new suspense film No One Will Save You is currently streaming on Hulu) reports her assault to her local police department. Under pressure by the detective handling her case, Marie recants, whereupon she is charged with filing a false report. Years later and in another state, Detectives Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) pursue the man who may turn out to be Marie’s assailant.
Since its inception as a streaming destination, Netflix has been on the cutting edge of breaking comedians. The latest showcase for standup comedy is Verified Stand-Up, a 10-episode series, with each episode dedicated to a short set by a different comic on the rise. Performers include Sabrina Wu (Joy Ride), Dulcé Sloan (The Daily Show), Nimesh Patel (the first Indian-American writer on Saturday Night Live), and many more. Get on board with them early and impress your friends by being on the cutting edge of the comedy scene!