Best Netflix TV shows: to binge-watch on Netflix

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Best Netflix TV shows: to binge-watch on Netflix

Best Netflix shows: Chappelle's Show

(Image credit: Comedy Central)

All three seasons of Chappelle’s Show have just been added to Netflix. This sketch comedy show was phenomenally popular when it was released in the early ’00s, before it suddenly ended – and while some of the jokes have inevitably dated, many others are still hilarious (the GTA in real-life sketch, for example). Dave Chappelle’s comeback kicked off a few years ago, and he remains one of comedy’s most impactful voices – having all three seasons of the series to binge goes nicely alongside his four Netflix original comedy specials.

Best Netflix TV shows: to binge-watch on Netflix

Seasons on Netflix: 3

The Queen’s Gambit

(Image credit: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX)

This seven-episode miniseries is the latest great Netflix show – and while the subject of chess might not sound exciting, The Queen’s Gambit manages to weave it together with a tale of self-actualization, romance and drug abuse. Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Beth Harmon, an orphan trained to play chess by a talented janitor, before she challenges the very male-dominated chess scene with her skills. Essentially, her talents land her a slightly better life, but not without a price.

Even if you don’t really know how to play chess, these competitive scenes are exciting to watch in The Queen’s Job, and Taylor-Joy does a great job of bringing to life a character whose exceptional talents hide the fact that she’s constantly grappling with addiction. Based on the novel of the same name, this adaptation counts Scott Frank as one of its co-creators, who previously made another of the best Netflix shows – the Western drama Godless.

This is a great Netflix binge watch: seven episodes is just the right number. Well worth watching.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Unsolved Mysteries

Best Netflix shows: Unsolved Mysteries

(Image credit: Netflix)

If you like factual entertainment – and that’s a loose description in this case – Unsolved Mysteries is very well-made junk food. The mysteries in question range from the genuinely curious to the ludicrous, but all of it makes for easy viewing. The second season, just released on Netflix, focuses on everything from alleged spirits seen following a tsunami to the bizarre death of a White House aide. Worth watching – with a pinch of salt.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

Best Netflix shows: Ratched

(Image credit: Netflix)

Ratched can firmly and fairly be called a ‘guilty pleasure’. The latest show from American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy is his best Netflix effort yet by far – essentially a prequel to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ratched (Sarah Paulson) blackmails her way into working at an experimental psychiatric facility, which houses killers and other colorful characters. It’s extremely violent at times, but also campy – not dissimilar to American Horror Story, really. Featuring the likes of Vincent D’Onofrio, Sharon Stone and Cynthia Nixon in its supporting cast, Ratched is a huge hit for Netflix – it’s no wonder Ratched season 2 is already confirmed.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

The Great British Baking Show

(Image credit: thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk)

Netflix’s range of food shows are world-beating, from The Chef Show to Sugar Rush. This Great British Baking Show, a popular import from the UK, is a long-running favorite, now rolling out weekly in its eighth cycle. It’s about a bunch of amateur bakers competing to be the best, with themed weeks to navigate around bread, biscuits and other foodstuffs – it can get dramatic, but it’s a deeply comforting show to watch. A massive hit in the UK, US viewers have taken to it, too. This year’s hosts are mainstay Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding, Prue Leith and Matt Lucas.

Seasons on Netflix: 8

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Best Netflix shows: The Haunting of Bly Manor

(Image credit: Netflix)

The follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House – and listed separately on Netflix – The Haunting of Bly Manor is the latest horror series worth adding to your watch list. ‘The Haunting’ series is now an anthology, with many members of the same cast popping up again in this new ’80s-set season, including Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Henry Thomas. This goes down more of a romantic route – an au pair (Pedretti), looking after two orphaned children, begins to uncover ghostly happenings in Bly Manor that reveal the location’s history. The first season is well worth checking out, too, if you missed it in 2018.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

Schitt’s Creek

Best Netflix shows: Schitt's Creek

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Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek has caused an upset at the 2020 Emmy Awards by beating the likes of The Good Place and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel to the Outstanding Comedy Series award. And why not? Eugene and Dan Levy’s sitcom about a rich family forced to move to a town they once purchased as a joke is both hilarious and heartwarming – and has slowly gained a big following through its presence on Netflix. Netflix has now added the sixth and final season of the series, and it really is one of the best Netflix shows.

Seasons on Netflix: 6

The Good Place

Best Netflix shows

(Image credit: NBC Universal)

At last, Netflix has the fourth and final season of afterlife-themed sitcom The Good Place to watch after it finished on NBC earlier this year. While the first season is still its strongest – a big twist means that seasons 2 and 3 spend a lot of time treading water – it’s one of the funniest TV shows around when it comes to raw joke writing. And the characterization of its four leads – Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason – is the reason to keep watching.

If you’ve never seen it before, the show starts with Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) being sent to heaven after her death, despite being a pretty awful person during her lifetime. The mystery of how she ended up there, in a neighborhood under the stewardship of the entity Michael (Ted Danson), is slowly unpicked into a much deeper plot.

Seasons on Netflix: 4

Cobra Kai

Best Netflix shows: Cobra Kai

(Image credit: Sony)

Once a YouTube original, Netflix recently snapped up the rights to Karate Kid continuation TV show Cobra Kai. Set 34 years after Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) was defeated by Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), the former opens the Cobra Kai dojo once more to teach a new generation of kids how to fight. This sparks Johnny and Danny’s old rivalry.

If you love Karate Kid, this show is a lot of fun, and both its leads are in surprisingly great condition considering they’re each performing fight stunts in their fifties. Cobra Kai season 3 is on the way to Netflix in early 2021, but for now you can get caught up with seasons 1 and 2 – it’s one of the best new recent Netflix shows.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Best Netflix shows: Avatar The Last Airbender

(Image credit: Nickelodeon)

Considered one of the great modern animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender is set in a world where a select few can ‘bend’ the elements (fire, water, air and earth) to their will. Aang, a young boy and the last of his people, is the ‘Avatar’, who will journey to harness all four elements and keep the peace between the nations of his world. It’s an anime-infused, beautiful-looking series that’s worth checking out, even if you feel like you might be a little too old for a kids’ cartoon.

The sequel series The Legend of Korra is now available on Netflix, too, as of August 2020, so you’ll have plenty of episodes to get through if it turns out to be your sort of thing.

Seasons on Netflix: 3

The Umbrella Academy

Best Netflix shows: The Umbrella Academy

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix showed it didn’t need to collaborate with Marvel to make a great superhero show, as this quirky adaptation of the Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá-created series of comics proves. In Umbrella Academy, superpowered siblings – the Hargreeves – reunite after their adopted father is murdered, and together face a possible apocalypse.

With an excellent ensemble cast that includes the likes of Ellen Page and Robert Sheehan, this breezy and fun show almost makes up for the lack of new Marvel content coming to Netflix. The Umbrella Academy season 2 is available now, too, taking the Hargreeves somewhere else entirely, and it’s even better than the first season, and The Umbrella Academy season 3 has just been confirmed by Netflix.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

The Last Dance

Best Netflix shows: The Last Dance

(Image credit: Jonathan Daniel / Stringer)

Finally released on Netflix in July 2020, The Last Dance is the biggest and best sports documentary of the year. With comprehensive access and unseen footage from the time, this eight-part series focuses on Michael Jordan’s basketball career, specifically his final season playing for the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98.

The talking heads here include Jordan himself, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who each discuss their role in the team’s unstoppable run. Even if basketball isn’t really your thing, the insight here into what made such a successful team is fascinating, as are the unpleasant clashes behind the scenes. It’s one of the best Netflix documentaries you can watch right now.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Dark

Best Netflix shows: Dark

(Image credit: Netflix)

Dark is a dense, time travel-infused show that’s utterly enthralling once you’ve given it a chance. We recommend watching all three seasons of this now-complete Netflix sci-fi show in one extended session over the course of a few weeks, just so you can follow the events of what’s going on closely. We also advise not reading much else about it: go in and be surprised by how well-plotted and cast this German-language series is.

This is the best Netflix show to watch right now if you’re looking for a drama that’ll give your brain a workout.

Seasons on Netflix: 3

New Girl

Best Netflix shows: New Girl

(Image credit: Fox)

Netflix US hasn’t had Friends all year, but if you’re missing that sitcom, New Girl is probably its closest relative on the streaming service. With a surprisingly prolific 145 episodes, New Girl (at first) is about Jess (Zooey Deschanel), who moves in with three unusual housemates after her boyfriend cheats on her. Those housemates are Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris).

New Girl can get a little repetitive, especially with that many episodes under its belt, but later seasons are mixed up by the return of pilot episode star Coach (Damon Wayans Jr) and the addition of Megan Fox to the cast when Deschanel takes maternity leave. This is one of the best Netflix shows if you just want something light and fun to have on in the background.

Seasons on Netflix: 7

Halt and Catch Fire

Best Netflix shows: Halt and Catch Fire

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Halt and Catch Fire is about the earliest days of computing, and a group of geniuses challenging IBM at their own game. Really, though, it’s the basis for an intense character-led period drama set in the ’80s, with a fantastic ensemble cast (Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy and Mackenzie Davis, among others).

Halt and Catch Fire is often compared to Mad Men, since both aired on AMC in the US, and each is a period drama about an important American industry with similarly deep character development. Unlike Mad Men, though, it was immensely overlooked during its initial run, and is definitely one of the best Netflix shows around right now, even if it’s fair to call it a hidden gem.

Seasons on Netflix: 4

Hannibal

Best Netflix shows: Hannibal

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Television)

Netflix US has added all three seasons of Hannibal to stream, and you’re in for a treat if you’ve never seen it. While this crime thriller was cancelled after season 3, that doesn’t actually matter: this adaptation of Thomas Harris’ books about cannibal Hannibal Lecter tells a complete story. FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) works closely with psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) to solve cases involving serial killers, while Lecter commits heinous crimes in secret.

What starts as a stylish procedural, though, becomes a more complex, serialized show in season 2. By season 3, which adapts the Red Dragon story, Hannibal becomes wonderfully avant-garde, essentially crafting a bizarre and bloody romance between Graham and Lecter. Creator Bryan Fuller imbues this show with his own sense of style, and the fantastic supporting cast features the likes of Laurence Fishburne and Gillian Anderson.

 

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