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Best shows on Netflix: 40 great Netflix TV series

Written by 260Blog

Welcome to TechRadar's always-updated selection of the best shows on Netflix – 40 TV shows that showcase the best Netflix series available in the US. 

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.

Taking a long trip somewhere and unsure if you'll have an internet connection? No problem! You can now download shows for offline viewing or save them to an SD card if you have an extra one handy. 

OK, without further ado let's dive into the best shows on Netflix! 

Slathered with a fantastic dose of black comedy, Santa Clarita Diet is sort of like if the show Dexter met Modern Family. It stars Drew Barrymore as the stereotypical TV mom, with one simple, but quite interesting difference: she likes eating people. This brand-new show on Netflix is a great send up of the family sitcom, taking all the tropes that make Modern Family and the like so successful, then turning them on their head, and then eating their head. And be warned: when things are eaten it's all very grizzly – so much so that it could give The Walking Dead a run for its money. Timothy Olyphant also stars in the show as the dad who is happy for his wife to be a flesh eater, and kills it. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1

This awkward rom-com has been penned by Judd Apatow and it's yet again another hit for Netflix Originals. It's a similar bedfellow to Master of None, but it improves on the themes of dating, love and city life with characters that are more rounded and a touch more believable as they fail, give up and start over again in rapid succession. Community's Gillian Jacobs is great as the prim Mickey, while Paul Rust is effortless as slacker Gus. The show stealer, though, is Apatow's uber talented daughter Iris who plays a frankly horrible child star.

The 'will they, won't they?' shenanigans continue in the second season – those expecting a plot-heavy season will be disappointed, though, as Love meanders through its storylines – which is no bad thing (and more realistic) if you ask us.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

The words 'food porn' get thrown around a lot these days, and typically are preceded by a hashtag and proceeded by us viciously rolling our eyes. But Chef's Table is the real deal – 4K footage of some of the best chefs in the world making their signature dishes and doling out morsels of philosophy to keep your mind just as engaged as your stomach. 

Parts of the show come off as a bit too heady for the source material and are prone to veering a bit off course (there's multiple scenes where a particular chef talks about polygamy for some odd reason) but overall most of the chefs come off as genuinely eccentric masters of their craft. 

Seasons on Netflix: 3

Dave Chappelle has been out of the spotlight for some time now. He disappeared close to a decade ago, leaving his stage career and multi-million dollar TV show on Comedy Central. It was hard to understand what would make him crack, and even harder to understand why he'd leave the stage for so long. Thankfully, Netflix, being a regular patron of the arts at this point, has given Chappelle a new lease on life and a spot among its Netflix original comedy specials. The good news is that Chappelle hasn't lost a beat – he's still outrageous, opinionated and comes to the table with an attitude that's best described as sorry-not-sorry. He's the person that would both defend Bill Cosby while mocking him two seconds later. He'll say things to make you laugh and, for however long after, make you think. It's comedy at the highest caliber. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Fresh from giving horror anthologies a new spin with American Horror Story, creator Ryan Murphy has taken this idea and expanded it into the world of crime. The first series of American Crime Story focuses on the very public case of OJ Simpson and the death of his wife Nicole. It's superb TV, dramatising what was one of the most engrossing true stories to come out of the '90s. Cuba Gooding Jr is great as OJ but it's the supporting cast that steals the show. Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, John Travolta and Courtney B Vance ham it up to the max and it makes for some of the most entertaining television in years.  

Seasons on Netflix: 1

If you ask the execs at Netflix what their most successful show of 2017 has been, they'll point you to 13 Reasons Why, a serialized adaptation of the Jay Asher novel of the same name. And while the series can be a bit one-note at times (hey kids, don't be a bully), it's easy to sympathize with each and every member of the high schoolers the show portrays. The mystery of who, exactly, Tony (played by Christian Navarro) is helps push the series past some dull interludes while the genuinely cute romance between Hannah, the girl who commits suicide, and Clay, the boy tasked with finding out why, is both adorable and a compelling enough reason to flip from episode to the next.  

Seasons on Netflix: 1

The Jim Carey movie of the stories by Lemony Snicket was passable. But given there are 13 books on the exploits of Count Olaf and the Baudelaire children -Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – it made sense that Netflix would want to make a show out of it. Focusing on the first four books, the series nails the dour atmosphere of the books, with Patrick Wharburton popping up as Snicket to berate the viewer, much like the books. But it's because of Neil Patrick Harris' evil Count Olaf that the show really shines. He's not as hammy as Carey but manages to be menacing while still having a blast.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Freddie Highmore was one of the sweetest child actors around in his younger years, playing cherubic children in the likes of Finding Neverland and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now he's a fully fledged adult he's taken a much darker turn as future Psycho psycho Norman Bates in the show Bate Motel. A prequel of sorts to the Psycho movies, Bates Motel is a fantastic spin on the horror tale, ramping up the relationship Bates has with his mother – a cold and calculating Vera Farmiga – and sprinkling breadcrumbs along the way that point to how he became who he became. 

Seasons on Netflix: 4

Is The Crown Netflix's crowning glory? Not quite, but it is a sumptuous look at one of the world's most famous families: the Royal family. 

Charting the early years of the relationship between the Queen (Claire Foy) and Prince Philip  (former Doctor Who Matt Smith), the show was written by Peter Morgan and, at £100 million, is one of the most expensive TV series ever made. Which means there's enough pomp and ceremony to keep those pining for a Downton Abbey replacement happy.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

We'll admit that we were a little disappointed when we heard director Guillermo Del Toro was making a show called Troll Hunters that it wasn't a spin-off of the excellent Scandinavian documentary, but this animated show is a delight. It stars the vocal talent of Ron Perlman, the late Anton Yelchin and Kelsey Grammar and focuses on a teenager who is chosen to be the guardian of Arcadia, a town overrun with trolls. Part one is out now and features some beautiful animation from DreamWorks.

Seasons on Netflix: 1 (Part one)

The OA rounds off what has been an exceptional year for television on Netflix. Co-created by and starring the ever-brilliant Brit Marling, the show consists of eight episodes that rival Stranger Things for, well, strangeness. Marling is a blind woman who comes back after disappearing for many years. Her sight is restored and she has a tale to tell. Although there are eight episodes they vary wildly in length – from 70 minutes to 30 minutes. The whole thing has been made to make you feel uneasy and it does a great job of that.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

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: 2

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: 6

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

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.

Seasons on Netflix: 10

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: 7

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: 3 

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

Narcos is that wonderful thing: a TV show that doesn't scrimp on controversy. Based on the exploits of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar, the show examines the criminal's rise to the top of one of the biggest drug rings the world has seen, while constantly trying to avoid the clutches of the DEA.

Uncompromising, uncomfortable but completely unforgettable, Narcos is exactly the sort of thing that Netflix should be commissioning. It's also the sort of thing that HBO would have snapped up just a few years ago – which is very telling as to where television is today. 

The second season of Narcos is out now! 

Seasons on Netflix: 2

 And there was us thinking that Daredevil's subject matter was dark. Jessica Jones is another tale set in Hell's Kitchen that may be under the Marvel banned but is about as far removed from the bromance of Thor and Iron Man that you are likely to see. 

Breaking Bad's Krysten Ritter is superb as the titular Jones, a private detective with superpowers and super issues. This is nocturnal noir that moves in the same circles as Daredevil – figuratively and literally as both characters will eventually team up in the Defenders. It may not have the bone-crunching violence that Daredevil is famed for, but there's enough booze, sex and black humor on the screen to make this a cracking comic-book caper that's strictly adults only. 

A second season has been announced and it has also been revealed that shooting of The Defenders will happen later this year. 

Check out our Jessica Jones review

Seasons on Netflix: 1

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: 5

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 Netflix: 1

If your life needs a bit more blood and poetic justice in it, check out Dexter, a show about a Miami detective who not only solves homicide cases, but commits them, too. Known previously for his work on HBO’s Six Feet Under, Michael C Hall’s devious, semi-sociopathic persona shines through in his role as the lead character. The show manages to cut deep, often giving you a dozen reasons to care about a man who kills for all the right reasons.

Seasons on Netflix: 8

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: 4

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: 10

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

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

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: 6

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 humor. 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: 4

Before we continue on with recommendation, Shameless comes with a warning: this show, a dramedy about a poor family in Chicago, really is shameless. Frank, played by William H. Macy will scheme his way to his next drink … even if that means taking his own kids’ lunch money. If you have ethical problems watching less-than-admirable people doing whatever it takes to make ends meet, Shameless isn’t for you.

All that said, those that don’t mind a bit more … unscrupulous cast of characters will seriously enjoy Shameless’s grittier, sex- and money-driven take on the Modern Family comedy.

Seasons on Netflix: 4

When it comes to TV and movies, the ’80s is the nostalgia decade of the moment. Whether it’s Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special that plays like a Steven Spielberg film, if Spielberg still made films like he did in the Eighties, or The Goldbergs and Red Oaks mining the decade for laughs, filmmakers can’t get enough of the shell suits and Sony Walkmans.

Stranger Things is another brilliant homage to this era. Leaning heavily on Spielberg, John Carpenter and Stephen King the story revolves around a small town, a group of friends, a missing person and a dodgy science lab. Writing anything else would give away the myriad twists in a show that is full of brilliant creepy fun.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

ESPN might’ve had the world of sports documentaries well in hand with its 30 for 30 series. But that was before Netflix got the crazy idea to make one of its own. Inspired by an article in GQ magazine, Last Chance U follows student athletes who are one step away from never playing football again. On top of the pressures on the field, students face problems in the classroom where class absences and the fear failing hit harder than a defensive lineman. It’s gritty, heart-wrenching and exactly the kind of series that gives you something to root for all while biting your nails.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

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: 3

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: 7

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

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 a 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

Luke Cage is the latest addition to Netflix's impressive and growing Marvel TV show offering. Marvel has created a rich cinematic universe and although some of its TV shows (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter) have struggled to stay on their feet others like Jessica Jones and Daredevil have flourished. 

Luke Cage is more in the same vein as Jessica Jones and Daredevil, with less light-hearted superhero fun and more hard-hitting themes, violence, and grit. Viewers who lamented the fact that they didn't get to see more of him in Jessica Jones will enjoy the opportunity to find out more about what makes his character tick here. Don't worry if you haven't watched Jessica Jones, it's not a requirement to understand or appreciate anything about Luke Cage. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Proving that the UK can match the US when it comes to well-made drama, Peaky Blinders is a great-looking modernist take on the Peaky Blinder gangsters of 1920's Birmingham. Occasional dodgy accents aside, the show is a complete success thanks to lead actor Cillian Murphy as Tommy, the head of the Shelby crime family. Now in its third season, the show was perked up massively with the inclusion of Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons in series two – so it's great that Netflix offers up the first two seasons of the show. 

Seasons on Netflix: 3

While it never quite reaches the highs of the original Scandinavian drama on which its based, the US version of The Killing is still a great watch and it's all thanks to the chemistry of the two leads Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden and Joel Kinnaman' Stephen Holder. While the original drama only managed three seasons, thanks to Netflix saving the show the US Killing has four series, all of which are based around different deaths in and around Seattle. 

Seasons on Netflix: 4

Part travel show, part culinary adventure, Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown is best described as chicken soup for the soul. Bourdain's travels gives us hope in the world as he travels this massive blue orb learning, eating and drinking with the people he meets along the way. If you're looking to take a vicarious vacation, check out this show.

Seasons on Netflix: 6

Source: TechRadar

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