With so much great content available, finding the best shows on Netflix can be a daunting prospect. Here are 10 great TV shows, including Netflix originals and acquired series, that are worth your time and attention to stream.
The Best Shows on Netflix
The multi-talented Rachel Bloom is dazzling in every aspect of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which she co-created and stars in. Bloom also co-wrote most of the songs in this musical dramedy, which features several original musical numbers in every episode.
Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) is a woman in crisis who follows her ex-boyfriend across the country in a misguided attempt to restart her life. The show chronicles Rebecca’s journey toward a healthier mental state via lots of catchy, funny, sad, exuberant, and unforgettable songs.
Justin Simien adapts his 2014 movie Dear White People into this series set on an elite college campus, where students of color struggle to find a place within the white-dominated institution. Simien tackles serious issues of race and class, but he also includes plenty of humor, taking a satirical approach to the systemic racism that his characters face.
Expanding from a feature film into a series also allows Simien to focus more on character development and to broaden the range of perspectives, depicting more nuances within the campus communities of color.
A tribute to the 1980s professional wrestling league known as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, GLOW takes a fictional approach to the real-life personalities involved. These ladies find empowerment and artistic fulfillment in creating over-the-top characters for wrestling matches while still facing the sexism of their era. The creators lovingly replicate the glorious cheese of ’80s professional wrestling while always treating their characters with respect and good humor.
What starts out as a sitcom about a misfit accidentally admitted into heaven turns into a hilariously profound meditation on existence. In The Good Place, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) discovers that she might be in the wrong afterlife before finding out a whole lot more about the arbitrary nature of the universe.
Alongside Michael (Ted Danson), a supernatural being who’s fascinated with humans, Eleanor and her friends ask alternately deep and silly questions about morality and mortality and receive equally ridiculous and profound answers.
Based on a Venezuelan telenovela, Jane the Virgin features all of the outlandish twists and turns of that genre along with a more sensitive, grounded approach to its characters. Gina Rodriguez stars as the title character, who becomes pregnant thanks to a doctor’s mistake with an insemination procedure.
But the show is about far more than that initial, far-fetched setup with its focus on Jane’s working-class family and her romances with hotel magnate Rafael (Justin Baldoni) and earthy cop Michael (Brett Dier). Creator Jennie Snyder Urman brings humor and heart to what could have just been a cartoonish soap opera.
One of Netflix’s earliest original series, Orange Is the New Black adapts Piper Kerman’s nonfiction book about her experiences in a women’s minimum-security prison. However, the show expands far beyond its version of Piper (played by Taylor Schilling).
Via flashbacks from multiple perspectives, creator Jenji Kohan explores the lives of dozens of women from various backgrounds, all of whom have ended up in prison for different reasons and with different prospects. The result is a sprawling, multifaceted drama, all within the walls of one federal prison.
Natasha Lyonne co-created and stars in clever time-loop dramedy Russian Doll, about a software engineer stuck reliving a single day (that happens to be her birthday) over and over. Lyonne and her collaborators find amusing new ways to approach the time-loop genre, balancing sardonic comedy with existential musings and a mystery that builds over the course of the first season.
Lyonne’s Nadia confronts her issues and gains a better understanding of her relationships, even if no one around her can see that emotional growth.
The original Star Trek was canceled after just three seasons, but its growing, dedicated fan base allowed creator Gene Roddenberry to return to Starfleet with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Even more so than the original series, The Next Generation cemented Star Trek as an enduring franchise, with seven seasons of adventures for the new crew of the starship Enterprise, led by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart).
Roddenberry and subsequent creators expand the Star Trek universe of alien civilizations and strange phenomena while sticking to the original spirit of exploration and discovery.
Sure, Netflix has its popular original series Black Mirror, but nothing can touch Rod Serling’s groundbreaking sci-fi anthology. The Twilight Zone produced dozens of classic standalone stories in its five-season run, from “To Serve Man” to “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” to “Time Enough at Last” and many more. The Twilight Zone influenced decades of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy creators, and its stories are still captivating and surprising.
From creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stars Ellie Kemper as the title character, who emerges from being held captive by a doomsday cult for 15 years. The naïve Kimmy must readjust to life in the real world, or at least, in the funhouse version of New York City that the show creates. Fey and Carlock effectively deal with Kimmy’s trauma while keeping the show goofy and fun, full of supporting characters with just as much weird emotional baggage as Kimmy herself.