If you’re new to Netflix or have already binged on your entire watchlist, we’re here to help. Here’s our pick of the best TV shows that you can stream on Netflix right now, from comedy series to action-packed sci-fi and beyond.
What Netflix lacks in good films (at least, compared to its US counterpart) it more than makes up for with television shows you can become hopelessly addicted to.
No matter what your taste, we’ve delved into the Netflix TV series selection to find some of the most entertaining offerings. Here’s our top choices for your next binge marathon session, and check out our pick of the very best Netflix Original shows to see which exclusive series you can enjoy on this streaming service in the UK.
Best Netflix shows
Archer, for those of you who’ve been living in a Soviet-style gulag for the last eight years, is an animated comedy chronicling the exploits of an international spy ring, whose number one agent in the field is Sterling Archer, an oversexed alcoholic cretin who gets by thanks to his dashing good looks, undeniable skills and the fact that his overbearing mother Malory happens to be head of the agency.
The seemingly unending string of one-liners, anachronistic setting and the show’s propensity to set up events purely so they can become running gags in later episodes (although perhaps not literally in the case of Ray Gillette) mark it out as one of the best comedy shows from the last ten years.
Inside No. 9
Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith of League of Gentlemen fame have crafted yet another brilliant original series in Inside No. 9. Like the awesome Black Mirror, which can also be streamed on Netflix, every episode is a stand-alone tale set inside some kind of ‘number 9’ establishment. These can range from the hilarious to the harrowing, although even the more serious episodes usually offer some uncomfortably dark humour. Plenty of twists and some brilliant set-pieces make for an essential watch.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
This disturbingly hilarious US sitcom certainly pokes and prods the boundaries of taste, with such classic episode titles as ‘Charlie wants an abortion’ and ‘The gang gets racist’. The main characters, played by comics including Charlie Day and Danny DeVito, are some of the most horrible, selfish people you’ll ever see portrayed on screen. Yet watching them all double-triple-cross each other and eventually get their well-deserved comeuppances is always satisfying, not to mention funny as f**k.
Rick and Morty
If you still haven’t seen Rick and Morty, and you like any kind of bad taste comedy, then you need to get on it right now. This might look like some silly kids cartoon on the surface, but Morty’s adventures with his alcoholic, angry grandfather are definitely adult-only.
Whether the hapless pair are traversing a dangerous theme park housed inside a homeless person, or diving into alternate realities with Morty’s clueless father Jerry in tow, things always get very surreal and very fricking funny.
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
One of the sharpest wits in Britain today, Stewart Lee’s brilliant stand-up shows are always on-point and hilarious. His sardonic statements direct to camera, often about how stupid his own audience is, never grow old. You’ve got all three seasons of awesome comedy available on Netflix right now, so crack open a cold one and get ready for a binge.
Better Call Saul is one of our favourite Netflix Original shows, and we’re immensely happy that the show which first introduced us to Saul Goodman, Breaking Bad, is also available to stream.
Chemistry lecturer Walter White finds himself facing a premature death, and fears what will happen to his family when he’s no longer around to support them. Using the pseudonym ‘Heisenberg’, Walter begins to lead a double-life as a drugs chemist to raise some extra funds. However, this leads him down a harrowing path, one which threatens to destroy everyone who gets close to him. Sometimes tense, often hilarious and always gripping, Breaking Bad is one of the best things ever to happen to television.
Top of the Lake
If gritty character-driven crime dramas are your thing, they don’t come much darker than Top of the Lake. Elisabeth Moss is the Kiwi cop living in rural New Zealand, when a young girl attempts to drown herself. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when secrets are unearthed and the locals turn vigilante, demanding justice for past crimes.
Some excellent performances and a gripping story packed with twists make for a truly enthralling mini-series.
If you were disappointed by the recent X-Files reboot (or you loved it and you want another hit of mordant FBI sci-fi) then we suggest that you check out Fringe, all five seasons of which are available to stream now.
Set in and around the Bureau’s fictional Fringe Division, the series stars Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek fame, Anna Torv (Mistresses) and John Noble (Denethor from Lord of the Rings), who work together to solve crimes that don’t appear to have a rational or worldly explanation. Along the way they encounter mysterious glyphs, parallel worlds, Zeppelins anchored to the Empire State building and a David Bowie reference and Leonard Nimoy.
Fringe has developed a cult following since its conclusion and with good reason. We’re still hopeful for a feature length conclusion to the whole thing but given that J.J. Abrams might be kind of busy with those Star Wars films, we’re prepared to wait.
It’s always worth revisiting Bottom. Easily Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson’s finest work together, all three seasons are here in their entire foul glory, which means you can stream the episode with the Wombles, the episode with the fake money and (the crowning achievement) the episode set entirely on the top of a big wheel.
Andy Samberg is the hot-shot cop who solves any crime that comes his way, no matter how devious. All while trying to earn the respect of his robot-like chief, Ray Holt, and soaking up the excessive praise from the ultimate kiss-ass, Boyle.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is like a machine gun, firing non-stop quips and visual gags. The majority actually land, mostly thanks to the excellent cast (who deservedly earned a Golden Globe award for their efforts).
Season two of this brilliant crime drama has just landed on Netflix UK and it’s just as much of a treat as the near-perfect first. Smart twists, shocking moments and truly believable characters make Fargo one of our favourite crime shows of all time.
Only Billy Bob Thornton can be this menacing while dropping the kids off at the pool.
Best Netflix Original shows
Netflix now produces its own exclusive TV shows, which you can’t stream on demand from any other video services. These include comedies, dramas and even horror series, so there really is something for everyone.
Check out our round-up of the best Netflix Original series for our full recommendations, but here’s a taste of some of our favourites.
If you haven’t already dived into the surreal and hilarious world of Bojack Horseman, an anthropomorphic alcoholic actor who just happens to be a horse, then what are you waiting for? Beneath the rapid-fire gags and colourful menagerie of characters, there’s some real heart in this show; Bojack isn’t frightened to tackle big subjects like depression and terminal illness, but it thankfully never gets too dark or serious and there’s always another killer gag around the corner.
If you’ve not seen it yet, why not? If you have then why are you here and not watching it on a never ending loop? Yup, Marvel’s first major series as part of its deal with Netflix is, as you’d imagine, brilliant.
The show deviates from the usual light-hearted Marvel world and treads into decidedly DC-level-dark territory. But it does it oh so well. This isn’t another origin story but a new way to transition comics from the page to the screen. It manages to hold the charm of each character, the depth of ongoing storylines and the gorgeous visual identity that would let you recognise it immediately, from any scene. Oh and there’s a whole bunch of awesome, ass-kicking fight scenes too.
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer chronicles the story of Steven Avery, a man who wrongfully spent 18 years in prison for the rape and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen and was then arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach – which he may or may not be guilty of. This ten part documentary examines both cases, initially picking apart the Beerntsen case before moving on to cover Avery’s current incarceration and the evidence surrounding this.
Something of a distant cousin of West of Memphis (which is still on Netflix, by the way) and The Jinx (which is still on Now TV), Making a Murderer is a compelling, unsettling and provocative watch that offers no easy answers.
Better Call Saul
Fan of Breaking Bad or just enjoy dark comedy? This is for you. Created as a prequel to the immensely popular Breaking Bad, this tells the story of lawyer Saul Goodman’s descent into a life of crime.
Played by comedian and actor Bob Odenkirk, the subtle yet brilliantly devised laughs somehow sit next scenes that can get pretty dark. It hasn’t got to Breaking Bad levels of evil yet, staying more light hearted which is great for those who want a more easy watch. That’s not to say the cleverly written storylines are anything short of brilliant though.
Orange Is The New Black
This is a Netflix Original show that has gone from strength to strength with the last season – to use the technical term – kicking all the ass. It’s another drama comedy but this one is a female led cast set in a women’s prison. It starts off telling the tale of a wealthy girl who makes a few wrong moves and ends up in over her head but the show has since developed into so much more.
This is now a show with a massive cast but somehow everyone remains as strong, memorable characters. A combination of great writing and acting manage to make a prison bound show endlessly entertaining.
Yup it’s another Marvel show on the list, and it’s another hit. Well received but not as loved by some as Daredevil this sits in the same universe but with very little cross-over – for now.
Expect this Netflix Marvel world to grow, weave together and cross into movies. It’s almost a sly move by Disney owned Marvel as it could cause you to suffer from ATMO (Afraid To Miss Out) syndrome which will keep you watching. Either way the tale of a heroine with an alcohol problem, mental hang-ups and super strength was always going to be a winner.
Watch out for former Doctor Who actor David Tennant who plays a captivating bad guy as Kilgrave.
This Netflix Original tells the semi-true tale of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar and his Medeillin Cartel. It plays out from both the criminal perspective as well as the US DEA officer’s viewpoint for a well balanced and captivating display.
While this is based on true events it’s not entirely accurate so be sure to remember to take it all with a pinch of salt. Also be ready to spend even more time reading up on what happened as this becomes a historical study exercise beyond the show itself.
A second series has been commissioned for a 2016 release so if you’ve not seen it yet this is your chance to catch up.