The 50 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

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The 50 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

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Netflix adds original programming at such a steady clip that it can be hard to keep up with which of its dramas, comedies and reality shows are must-sees. And that’s not including all the TV series Netflix picks up from broadcast and cable networks. Below is our regularly updated guide to the 50 best shows on Netflix in the United States. Each recommendation comes with a secondary pick, too, for 100 suggestions in all. (Note: Netflix sometimes removes titles without notice.)

We also have lists of the best movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, along with the best TV and movies on Hulu and Disney+.

‘Murder Among the Mormons’ (2021)

This fascinating three-part docu-series starts as a tale of murder, covering a series of Salt Lake City bombings that shook up the Mormon community there back in 1985. The co-directors Jared Hess and Tyler Measom quickly shift the focus to the accused bomber, Mark Hofmann, a mercurial local businessman who had an unusual moneymaking scheme, serving as a broker for rare documents related to the church’s early history. What emerges is a fascinating story about the foundations of religious faith, examining the lengths to which some leaders will go to avoid a potentially devastating scandal. (For another absorbing true-crime documentary set in and around a strict religious community, stream “The Keepers.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Nadiya Bakes’ (2021-present)

The talented and personable home baker Nadiya Hussain won the sixth season of the internationally popular cooking competition “The Great British Baking Show” in 2015, then capitalized on her newfound fame by writing books and becoming a TV host. Her latest series, “Nadiya Bakes,” takes her back to her “Baking Show” roots as she makes traditional cakes, tarts and biscuits, dressed up with colorful fruits and bold flavors. The show is both beautiful to look at and filled with Husain’s warm and exuberant personality. Our critic said that it’s “so sunny and cheery it might be the cure for seasonal, and perhaps even clinical, depression.” (Also stream “The Great British Baking Show,” where infectiously likable contestants are the norm.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Last Chance U’ (2016-present)

This moving and tense docu-series features faltering college football hopefuls, now attending smaller universities in hopes of bouncing back from the academic, discipline and injury problems that have derailed their dreams. There’s also a spin-off, “Last Chance U: Basketball,” which applies the same premise to a different sport. Each iteration of the show balances stories about the players with a look at their tutors and coaches, detailing how they all adjust their hopes, their expectations and their definitions of “success.” Our critic wrote, “Alongside the show’s ability to engender simmering loathing for broken systems is its love for its subjects.” (For another engaging series about athletes, try “The Last Dance,” a documentary about the Michael Jordan Era of the Chicago Bulls.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Orange Is the New Black’ (2013-19)

Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about serving time in a minimum security women’s prison, “Orange Is the New Black” is a remarkable showcase for its eclectic cast, depicting a wide spectrum of social classes and sexual orientations. The series was created by Jenji Kohan, who, as our critic wrote, “plays with our expectations by taking milieus usually associated with violence and heavy drama — drug dealing, prison life — and making them the subjects of lightly satirical dramedy.” (For another lively dramedy about feisty women, watch “GLOW,” about the 1980s rise of pro wrestling.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Never Have I Ever’ (2020-present)

For “Never Have I Ever,” the creator of “The Mindy Project,” Mindy Kaling, draws on her own teenage experiences as a first-generation Indian-American who very much wanted to be part of the popular crowd. This clever and heartfelt sitcom is set in the modern day, but it should still be relatable to anyone who can remember the family pressures, personal traumas and unrealistic expectations that keep some kids from ever feeling “cool.” Our critic said this show “moves like a teen comedy and has a sort of ‘Mean Girls’ gloss on high school in terms of its anthropology of teendom and its school aesthetic.” (For another wonderful coming-of-age dramedy, try the latest TV adaptation of “The Baby-Sitters Club” novels, the kind of show the characters on “Never Have I Ever” would love.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘The Sinner’ (2017-present)

This arty mystery series began as an adaptation of a Petra Hammesfahr novel, following one dogged detective’s investigation into the motives for a murder committed on a crowded public beach. Subsequent seasons have introduced new stories and new characters, making “The Sinner” more of an anthology drama, anchored by Bill Pullman’s recurring performance as a sullen sleuth drawn to inexplicable crimes. “The Sinner” is one of the more thoughtful procedurals on TV today, with the pulpy plots serving as a hook for muted studies of grief and shame. Our critic called it “intriguing and stylish.” (For a different take on secrets and redemption, try “Unorthodox,” an adaptation of a memoir about a woman escaping her strict religious community.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘The Chase’ (2013-15)

Multiple versions of this quiz show have been popular both in Britain (where the original series has aired for over a decade) and the United States (where ABC’s current version features the former “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer). Netflix carries two seasons of the now-defunct first American version of “The Chase,” hosted by Brooke Burns. Here, the supersmart Mark Labbett, nicknamed “The Beast,” is the designated “chaser,” tasked to outguess the contestants in order to keep them from winning big money. With its challenging questions and its intense cat-and-mouse format, “The Chase” has long been one of the best modern game shows. (For another challenging trivia game, turn to “Jeopardy!,” available on Netflix in episode “collections” that rotate regularly.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Lupin’ (2021-present)

In the early 20th century, Maurice Leblanc wrote dozens of stories about the mysterious gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. In the new French adventure series “Lupin,” Omar Sy plays Assane Diop, the son of a Senegalese immigrant and a fervent fan of Leblanc’s books. The twisty and action-packed plot jumps between the past and the present to explain why the crafty Assane is so determined to use his heist-planning mastery to wreck the reputation of a powerful family. The Times called this show “fleet-footed” and “deliberately old-fashioned,” adding that “For fans of the original stories, Easter eggs abound.” (For another fun and popular French series, watch the showbiz dramedy “Call My Agent!”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘City of Ghosts’ (2021-present)

Most TV series aimed at young children tend to be repetitive and remedial, designed to teach a few simple lessons while keeping the little ones engaged. But there’s much more going on in “City of Ghosts,” a show that offers a relaxed and informative tour through the history and culture of Los Angeles. Created by Elizabeth Ito (a veteran of TV animation who previously worked on “Phineas and Ferb” and “Adventure Time”), “City of Ghosts” is about a team of elementary school-aged paranormal investigators who interview friendly ghosts and the people they haunt. The visually striking blend of photographs and drawings — coupled with the use of real, off-the-cuff audio interviews — gives this delightful cartoon the feel of a documentary. (For another educational kids’ show filled with creativity and heart, stream “Carmen Sandiego.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Bridgerton’ (2020-present)

The accomplished TV producer Shonda Rhimes and her longtime “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” writer Chris Van Dusen bring their formidable facility for melodramatic storytelling to this soapy historical romance — the television equivalent of a page-turner. Based on Julia Quinn’s series of Jane Austen-inspired novels, the show is set in Regency Era London and is concerned with various high-stakes lovers’ games among the aristocracy. With its multiracial cast and its steamy bedroom scenes, “Bridgerton” satisfies as both a provocative social commentary and a sensationalistic potboiler. Our critic called it “a reliable story in fancy modern packaging.” (For another addicting take on British high society, watch “The Crown.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘The Good Place’ (2016-20)

It’s difficult to describe this fantastical metaphysical sitcom without spoiling its surprises. It’s ostensibly about a selfish young woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who with a handful of other iffy humans lands in a cockeyed version of the afterlife, managed by the cheerful kook Michael (Ted Danson) and his humanoid supercomputer, Janet (D’Arcy Carden). But with his philosophical digressions and fantastical comic inventions, the creator, Michael Schur, keeps viewers guessing all the way to the clever and emotional series finale. And even without the crazy plot twists, the show provides food for thought. Our critic wrote, “Mr. Schur seems to have found a deeper idea behind the show’s premise: Is acting good the same as being good?” (The offbeat mystery series “Evil” offers another unique and clever take on how to be virtuous in a morally murky modern world.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Survivor’ (2001-present)

For over 20 years now, the reality competition series “Survivor” has been one of the genre’s best, combining cleverly designed physical challenges with fascinating schemes and sabotages. Originally designed as a social experiment — isolating a cross-section of Americans in a remote outdoor location, where they must both work together and compete to avoid elimination — the show has evolved over the course of its 40 seasons, staying ahead of the newer players who grew up watching and theorizing about “Survivor.” Netflix currently carries only two seasons, both of which exemplify the gamesmanship and the interpersonal drama that makes the series so addicting. (For a different kind of survivalist docudrama, try “You vs. Wild,” an interactive series in which viewers get to choose what the host, Bear Grylls, does in various difficult situations.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Twin Peaks’ (1990-91)

Before David Lynch teamed up with Mark Frost to create this twisted mystery series, he was already renowned as a one-of-a-kind experimental filmmaker, marrying nightmarish surrealism with deadpan parodies of Hollywood melodrama in movies like “Blue Velvet.” Set in a Pacific Northwestern logging community, “Twin Peaks” begins with the discovery of a teenage girl’s corpse. Over the course of the show’s strange and unforgettable first two seasons, the investigation into the murder leads the residents of this creepy town into dark conspiracies involving alternate universes and ancient evils. In a Times article about the recent third season (not available on Netflix), Finn Cohen called the first run “appointment television before the Binge Age.” (For another exciting example of mind-bending TV, stream “Russian Doll,” a science-fiction dramedy about a woman stuck reliving the same day.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Jane the Virgin’ (2014-19)

This spoof of the Latin American soap operas known as telenovelas also wholeheartedly embraces their schtick. “Jane the Virgin” starts as the story of an aspiring writer who is accidentally impregnated through an artificial insemination mix-up. The show then gets wilder, with at least one crazy plot twist per episode — all described with breathless excitement by an omnipresent, self-aware narrator. Our critic called it “delicious and dizzyingly arch.” It’s also emotionally affecting, featuring a nuanced portrait of three generations of Venezuelan-American women in Miami. (For another wild mix of heart-tugging melodrama and wacky comedy, try the musical series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Pretend It’s a City’ (2020)

What if two lively and opinionated New Yorkers — the venerable filmmaker Martin Scorsese and the irascible humorist Fran Lebowitz — spent a few hours gabbing away about the highs and lows of urban life? In the seven episodes of “Pretend It’s a City,” Scorsese goads his old friend into sharing her anecdotes and complaints while he laughs along infectiously. Scorsese — who directed the series as well — also frames Lebowitz’s stories against lovely shots of New York City, turning even her gripes into paeans. The Times called this show “a tantalizing snapshot of New York in full bloom, along with Lebowitz’s lively and unapologetic commentary on what it means to live there.” (For another funny and insightful series featuring celebrity pals chatting, watch Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘History of Swear Words’ (2020)

At once informative and playfully naughty, this six-part docu-series has serious scholars and smart-aleck comedians sharing what they know about some of the most taboo words in the English language. The actor Nicolas Cage — a prodigious on-screen cusser — serves as the host and the narrator for these short, snappy episodes, each of which combines genuine historical detail and academic inquiry with lighthearted jokes and commentary. Although the show’s tone is giggly, “History of Swear Words” presents some spirited conversation about why some kinds of speech have traditionally been labeled “adults only.” (For a more serious docu-series, about history, culture and scandal, watch “Dirty Money.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Cobra Kai’ (2018-present)

A revival of the “Karate Kid” franchise, this fan-friendly series — which packs “a surprising emotional punch,” according to Bruce Fretts — brings back the film’s original hero and villain, still played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. The show has enormous nostalgic appeal, but it is more complicated than the usual “underdogs versus bullies” story. Instead, “Cobra Kai” gets into the family histories and socioeconomic circumstances that made these characters who they are. It’s at once a knowing throwback and an attempt to look at a beloved old kids’ movie through fresh eyes. (For more retro ’80s vibes, watch the docu-series “High Score,” about the evolution of video games.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Supernatural’ (2005-2020)

This series, which was the longest-running fantasy show in the history of American TV by the end of its 15th and final season, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as the brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, two demon-fighting paranormal investigators with a troubled family history. From the start, “Supernatural” is an entertaining mix of “case of the week” stories and longer arcs, in the spirit of “The X-Files” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” But the series becomes even more enjoyable a few seasons in, once it becomes more winking and self-referential — or, as The Times put it in 2011, “extremely loose and with an immeasurable dosage of snarky imperiousness.” (For more paranormal melodrama, stream “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (2005-08)

One of the more satisfying fantasy adventure sagas of the 21st century is this TV cartoon, which originally aired on the kids’ channel Nickelodeon for three seasons. The 61 episodes of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” tell the story of four rival nations — each devoted to one of the elements — and of the reluctant young peacemaker who travels through various magical regions, training to master his powers while also trying to keep his world from descending into chaos and oppression. Our critic called the show “a loving pastiche of allusions and inspirations: anime, Kung Fu flicks, world mythologies, Native tribes, Studio Ghibli films.” (For another beautifully illustrated and emotionally resonant animated adventure, stream “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.”)

Watch it on Netlix

‘Song Exploder’ (2020-present)

Like the podcast of the same name, the documentary series “Song Exploder” has musicians describing in detail what went into the recording of some of their best-known work. Each half-hour installment relies mainly on interviews with the writers and performers — including R.E.M., Alicia Keys, Dua Lipa and Nine Inch Nails — who listen to isolated tracks from their mixes with the host, Hrishikesh Hirway, and then get into the nuts and bolts of the creative process. The Times recommended the podcast to anyone “in the mood to get granular about the craft of songwriting.” This TV adaptation lives up to its source. (The decades-spanning “Break It All: The History of Rock in Latin America” is another excellent, in-depth musical docu-series.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Ozark’ (2017-present)

In this darkly comic Emmy-winning crime drama, Jason Bateman plays a shady money-manager who moves his family to a Missouri resort community, where they all adjust to a new culture while still dealing with their patriarch’s criminal associations. Bateman is also a producer and a director on the series and has been canny enough to give his co-stars room to shine. Julia Garner is especially strong as a damaged young femme fatale, while Laura Linney gives one of the best performances of her career as a wife making impossible choices to keep her loved ones safe. Our critic said, “The show isn’t a tragedy — most of the time, it’s a satirical (though quite violent) culture-clash caper with pretensions.” (For a lighter take on small-town melodrama, watch “Virgin River.”)

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‘Selena: The Series’ (2020-present)

This lively musical biography covers the short life of the Tejano singing sensation Selena Quintanilla, following her rise from low-paying gigs to multiplatinum album sales. (Netflix has released nine of a planned 18 episodes.) What sets this series apart from so many other celebrity origin stories — as well as from the 1997 big-screen biopic “Selena” — is that each episode focuses quite a bit on Selena’s family, which provided her first backing band and was an enduring motivational force. Ricardo Chavira gives a fine performance as the driven patriarch Abraham Quintanilla, whose obsession with finding the right formula to make his daughter famous generates a lot of the plot in this fascinatingly detailed backstage drama. (For a fun series about a fictional band of young rockers, watch the supernatural comedy “Julie and the Phantoms.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’ (2020)

In this rollicking action-comedy, Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini play the teenage sisters Sterling and Blair Wesley, who stumble onto a part-time job as “interns” for the bounty hunter Bowser Simmons (Kadeem Hardison) after they accidentally capture one of his targets. While juggling their complicated romantic lives and their studies at a private Christian school by day, the Wesley girls end up getting an education in their friends’ and neighbors’ secret lives by night. Our critic called the show “quirky and naughty and funny, the show so many teen shows think they are but aren’t quite, satirical and earnest often in the same scene.” Netflix canceled it after one season, but that one season is a hoot. (For more clever and colorful adventures, stream the animated “DC Superhero Girls.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Big Mouth’ (2017-present)

Netflix has become a haven for adult-oriented animated series, written and voiced by comedians who know that sometimes raunchy jokes are even funnier when delivered by cartoons. Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jenny Slate and Jessi Klein are among the comics involved in “Big Mouth,” which follows a group of junior high schoolers who are tormented day and night by the monsters who embody their uncontrollable adolescent impulses. Our critic calls it “more sweet and insightful than its hormone-drenched premise might lead you to believe.” Now four seasons into its run, the show remains as refreshingly honest as it is hilarious. (Also funny and frank: the comedian Bill Burr’s animated “F Is for Family.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Blood of Zeus’ (2020)

Part of Netflix’s line of original anime, this stylish and action-packed series combines elements of classical Greek mythology with modern epics like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones.” The story follows Heron, a young hero who learns that he is actually a demigod and that he is destined to play a vital part in a long-gestating war against world-conquering demons. Fast-paced and ultraviolent, “Blood of Zeus” is a concentrated dose of adult fantasy. Our critic wrote, “The eight episodes are fantastically engrossing, and the imagery is gorgeous, adding layers of beauty to righteous rage.” (For another innovative animated adventure, watch “The Liberator,” which tells the true story of a U.S. Army officer during World War II.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Outlander’ (2014-present)

“Game of Thrones” gets more attention, but “Outlander” has been just as successful at adapting a sprawling book series — and at mixing political intrigue with high fantasy. (Netflix carries Season 1-3; all five seasons to date are on Starz.) Based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels about a time traveling 20th century English doctor (Caitriona Balfe) and her romance with an 18th century Scottish rebel (Sam Heughan), the show offers big battles, wilderness adventure and frank sexuality. It has a rare historical scope as well, covering the changing times in Europe and the Americas across centuries. Our critic wrote that it should appeal to viewers who “have a weakness for muskets, accents and the occasional roll in the heather.” (The German science-fiction series “Dark” features a similar mix of earnest drama and time-travel.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ (2020)

Based on a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis — an eclectic writer best-known for “The Hustler” and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” — the seven-part mini-series “The Queen’s Gambit” is about a chess prodigy who struggles with addiction and self-doubt while rising through the international ranks in the 1960s. Anya Taylor-Joy plays the young master, who has a tough childhood she finds hard to shake, even as she’s clobbering her competition. The creators, including Scott Frank, bring just enough ornate visual style to frame Taylor-Joy’s outstanding performance as a woman who gets lost whenever she looks beyond an 8×8 grid. Our critic wrote, “Frank wraps it all up in a package that’s smart, smooth and snappy throughout, like finely tailored goods.” (For more of Frank’s work, watch his western mini-series “Godless.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ (1969-74)

The British sketch comedy troupe Monty Python combined the cheekiness of old English music hall comics with the surrealism and self-awareness of the psychedelic era. Their series, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” ran for four seasons from 1969-74 and was syndicated around the world, popularizing an absurdist approach to humor — and to life — that has inspired countless sketch comedians. Although the original show is 50 years old now, it “hasn’t aged a bit.” (The “Mr. Show” creators, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, were clearly inspired by Monty Python, as evidenced by their Netflix series “w/Bob & David.”)

Watch it on Netflix.

‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ (2020)

A more modernized take on the 1898 Henry James novella “The Turn of the Screw” — a frequently adapted tale of creeping paranoia — “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is set at a sprawling old estate where an au pair named Dani (Victoria Pedretti) keeps seeing strange apparitions in the shadows. The gothic drama was created by the acclaimed horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan (“Hush,” “Doctor Sleep”), and like his previous Netflix adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” this latest literary spook-show is as much about having characters confront their past traumas and their broken family relationships as it is about literal ghosts. It’s as moving as it is unnerving. (Stream “The Haunting of Hill House” too; the two series stand alone, but they do share some subtle connections.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Schitt’s Creek’ (2015-20)

The Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek,” created by the father-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, took a while to find an audience. But by the end of its six-seasons, TV buffs and critics had fallen for this tale of a wealthy, spoiled family forced to move to a small town after they go broke. In 2020, the series set a record by sweeping all of the major Emmy Awards in the comedy category, cementing the legacy of its snarky-but-humane exploration of ordinary life. In a Times article about the final season, Lara Zarum noted its “daffy charm” and the “winning combination of its characters’ caustic wit and the show’s fundamental warmth.” (For a different take on working-class woes, watch the recent remake of the TV classic “One Day at a Time,” which follows an eclectic and very funny Cuban-American family.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Borgen’ (2010-13)

The Danish political drama “Borgen” became a favorite of TV fans around the world back in the days when foreign-language shows were often available only on hard-to-find DVDs or marginal cable channels. Now Netflix is making the series more widely available, with a new English dub. That should help a larger audience discover this riveting fictional story about Denmark’s first woman prime minister (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) and how she struggles to maintain her ideals and optimism. Our critic wrote, “It is remarkable how much suspense and psychological drama the show squeezes out of cabinet shuffles and health-care-reform bills in a small Scandinavian nation.” (For an equally addicting political thriller about a different era and country, stream “Babylon Berlin.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Greenleaf’ (2016-20)

The political machinations and personality clashes inside a predominately Black megachurch generate the drama in “Greenleaf,” a soapy-but-realistic story about how one powerful Memphis family balances its Christian faith and worldly desires. The strong cast is led by Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, an inspiring pastor whose propensity for sin challenges his warring children, who debate whether the good he does justifies his mistakes. Our critic wrote that it “has the kind of 3-D depiction of faith you can get only from a family whose life is religion.” The series recently completed its fifth and final season; all of them are now available on Netflix. (For another richly detailed show about an American institution, watch “The Game,” about professional football players and their families.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘When They See Us’ (2019)

As a producer and director, Ava DuVernay has tackled the Civil Rights Movement, in her Oscar-nominated film “Selma,” and racial bias in the American criminal justice system, in her Emmy-winning documentary “13TH.” In her four-part mini-series “When They See Us,” she dramatizes the story of the Central Park Five, who were convicted of raping and almost killing a jogger in New York City in 1989, then exonerated in 2002. Salamishah Tillet wrote that the Five “emerge as the heroes of their own story — and if we pay heed to the series’s urgent message about criminal justice reform, ours too.” (For another politically pointed true-crime drama stream “Unbelievable,” which examines gender bias in policing)

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‘Hannibal’ (2013-15)

Although this dark and bloody crime series takes its name from its villain, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) — the brilliant psychiatrist and incorrigible cannibal introduced in the novels of Thomas Harris — the show is just as much about Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), the F.B.I. profiler whose investigations lead him into Lecter’s orbit. Over the course of three increasingly intense and operatic seasons, these two men circle each other in grim plots that incorporate elements of gothic horror and abstract art. Our critic was unimpressed with the early episodes of Season 1 but still praised its “superior production values” and “stylishness,” which become only more grandiose later on. (For another smart and artful take on the serial killer genre, stream “Mindhunter.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘She’s Gotta Have It’ (2017-19)

With his 1986 feature, “She’s Gotta Have It,” the writer-director Spike Lee established his reputation as an ambitious and imaginative artist, equally adept at raunchy comedy, romantic melodrama, social commentary and lyrical interludes. The TV adaptation of the movie is just as generously eclectic. Lee and his writers use the original’s story of a sexually liberated woman and her many suitors as a foundation for a freewheeling exploration of how Black bohemian life in today’s Brooklyn differs from life there in the ’80s. Our critic said, “More expansive than interior, more defiant than dreamy, it’s a vibrant if uneven work in heated conversation with itself.” (For another exciting and creative take on contemporary Black culture, watch “Dear White People.”)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ (1993-99)

Of all the older “Star Trek” series, “Deep Space Nine” today feels the most ahead of its time. Set near a wormhole connecting distant quadrants of the galaxy, the show deals frankly with the tricky politics of a remote outpost where different species warily interact. It’s a complex kind of space western: like “Gunsmoke” with phasers. And while mostly episodic, “Deep Space” does feature longer story arcs and subplots, more akin to 21st century television. Our critic called the whole “Star Trek” franchise “part of our national mythology, a continuing megastory whose characters come to represent our abstract ideals.” (Some of the concepts and characters on “Deep Space Nine” were introduced on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which is also on Netflix.)

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‘Pose’ (2018-present)

Set amid the New York City “drag ball” scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the exuberant drama “Pose” is groundbreaking for the way it employs a large cast of transgender women playing transgender women. The series deals with serious issues — including the devastation of AIDS and the way the city’s economic boom of the ’80s bypassed the marginalized — but it is surprisingly optimistic, emphasizing the community fostered by these underground fashion and dance competitions (hosted by the acid-tongued Pray Tell, played by Billy Porter). Our critic wrote that “Pose” “stands, bold and plumed, and demands attention.” (For a perspective on the mainstreaming of L.G.B.T.Q. culture since the 1990s, watch the makeover show “Queer Eye.”)

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‘The Midnight Gospel’ (2020-present)

The animator Pendleton Ward follows up his cult favorite kids’ series “Adventure Time” with something very different: a cartoon that combines surrealism and docu-realism, pitched to broad-minded grown-ups. The comedian Duncan Trussell provides the voice of the hero, Clancy Gilroy, a podcaster who travels across dimensions and through the universe, interviewing strange creatures in dangerous places. The illustrations are trippy, influenced by pulp science-fiction; but the dialogue is mostly casual and earnestly philosophical. The result is a show that on the surface looks like a mature animated fantasy but is actually a sweet and strange inquiry into what it means to be alive. Our critic called it “expansive and full-hearted and cathartic.” (For more TV-MA animation, try the eye-popping anthology series “Love, Death & Robots”.)

Watch it on Netflix

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (2015-20)

Easily the most upbeat sitcom ever made about a woman who escaped from an oppressively patriarchal religious cult, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” stars Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, who somehow keeps her youthful enthusiasm when she arrives in New York City after 15 years imprisoned in a bunker. A stellar supporting cast — including Tituss Burgess as Kimmy’s perpetually jobless roommate, Carol Kane as her activist landlord and Jane Krakowski as her overprivileged boss — brings range to this show’s unusually sunny, zingy vision of 2010s New York. Our critic wrote, “The series leavens wacky absurdity with acid wit and is very funny.” Don’t miss the series’s epilogue either: an experimental interactive movie called “Kimmy vs. the Reverend.” (The “Kimmy” creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, also produced the equally hilarious but under-seen sitcom “Great News.”)

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‘Fauda’ (2015-present)

This intense thriller was cocreated by its lead actor, Lior Raz, who plays an IDF agent drawn out of retirement by the prospect of taking down a terrorist he thought he’d already killed. That one mission leads to unexpected complications and further side operations, some of them involving the hero’s going undercover with his adversaries. The matter-of-fact scenarios in “Fauda” are an attempt to reflect the tricky politics and daily sacrifices of crime-fighting in Israel. Our critic wrote that its story “spirals out in increasingly messy strands of betrayal and violence.” (For another crime drama about cultures in conflict, try “Giri/Haji.”)

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‘The Twilight Zone’ (1959-64)

The Emmy-winning television writer and producer Rod Serling said he created this creepy science-fiction anthology series in part because he was tired of having TV executives nix the social commentary in his scripts. With “The Twilight Zone,” Serling and a handful of top fantasy writers riffed on paranoia, prejudice, greed and alienation in twisty stories about inexplicable supernatural phenomena. Some of the best episodes have stuck with viewers for decades, coloring the way they see the world. In a Times appreciation, the writer Brian Tallerico called the show, “an indelible part of the cultural lexicon.” (For a 21st century spin on “The Twilight Zone,” watch “Black Mirror.”)

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‘Gentefied’ (2020-present)

Set in the rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, this lively dramedy follows the dreams and disagreements of three very different cousins, all of whom have their own ideas about how to keep their grandfather’s taco restaurant afloat. Savvy and often funny, “Gentefied” offers a snapshot of a Mexican-American culture in transition, in which deeply rooted traditions are threatened by economic and social change. Our critic wrote: “The show’s likability carries it through its rougher patches. This series puts a lot on its plate, and somehow, it all comes together.” (For another addicting show about Angelenos’ aspirations, watch the teen melodrama “On My Block.”)

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‘Better Call Saul’ (2015-present)

The “Breaking Bad” prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” covers the early days of the can-do lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) as he evolves into the ethically challenged criminal attorney “Saul Goodman.” Throughout the show, Jimmy crosses paths with another “Breaking Bad” regular, the ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), during Mike’s first forays into the Albuquerque drug-trafficking business. In this frequently surprising and incredibly entertaining crime saga, these two very different men discover the rewards and the perils of skirting the law. Our critic wrote, “Cutting against the desperation and violence that frame it, ‘Saul,’ in its dark, straight-faced way, is one of the funniest dramas on television.” (Also a must-see? “Breaking Bad,” of course.)

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‘Night on Earth’ (2020)

Special low-light cameras give this six-part nature documentary a look and feel unlike that of any other show of its kind. “Night on Earth” features footage from around the world, shot under the cover of darkness, during times of day when some animals mate and hunt. The series’s muted music and its soft Samira Wiley narration — paired with the ghostly images of creatures moving stealthily through the night — give it a uniquely otherworldly affect. The unusual style makes the wilderness seem all the more magical and precious. (For another perspective on the natural world, watch the docu-series “Our Planet,” which emphasizes the effects of human progress and climate change on the animal kingdom.)

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‘Derry Girls’ (2018-present)

The Northern Irish playwright Lisa McGee pulls some bawdy coming-of-age comedy out of her own experience of growing up in Londonderry in the early ’90s, during a time of intense sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. A cast of very funny young women bring zany energy to McGee’s rapid-fire dialogue and fast-paced stories, which are more about typical teenage high jinks than about bombings and riots. Our critic said the show “revels in the humor of specificity, the kind of exacting precision that somehow winds up feeling universal.” (For another lively take on unconventional women, stream the medical melodrama “Call the Midwife,” set in ’50s and ’60s London.)

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‘Stranger Things’ (2016-present)

The first season of the retro science-fiction series “Stranger Things” arrived with little hype and quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation: Viewers were enchanted by its pastiche of John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Hughes — all scored to ’80s pop. This story of geeky Indiana teenagers fighting off an invasion of extra-dimensional creatures from “the Upside-Down” has the look and feel of a big summer blockbuster from 30 years ago — “a tasty trip back to that decade and the art of eeriness,” our critic noted, but “without excess.” (If you prefer ’90s teen nostalgia, try “Everything Sucks.”)

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‘I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson’ (2019-present)

The former “Saturday Night Live” and “Detroiters” writer and performer Tim Robinson created (with Zach Kanin) this fast-paced and funny sketch series, which is steeped in the comedy of obnoxiousness. Nearly every segment is about how people react when someone in their immediate vicinity behaves rudely or strangely — an astute depiction of how social mores sometimes fail us. More than anything, though, this show is just hilarious: “Netflix’s first great sketch comedy,” Jason Zinoman wrote for The Times. (For more twisted humor from a comedian with a strong personality, watch “Lady Dynamite.”)

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‘American Crime Story’ (2016-present)

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, who created “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” bring dramatic verve to real-life celebrity murder stories in this anthology crime series, working with a team of talented collaborators. Season 1, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” and Season 2, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” both feature unconventional narrative structures and star-studded casts; and offer fresh insight into well-known crimes. About “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” our critic wrote, “Its triumph is to take a case that divided the nation into teams and treat everyone, vulture or victim, with curiosity and empathy.” (For a more down-to-earth take on American crime, watch the equally superb “American Crime.”)

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‘BoJack Horseman’ (2014-20)

It’s hard to explain “BoJack Horseman” to the uninitiated. It’s a showbiz satire about a self-absorbed former TV star trying to mount a comeback. It’s an existential melodrama about the fear of fading relevancy. Oh, and it’s a cartoon in which that former star is an alcoholic horse. Our critic wrote, “The absurdist comedy and hallucinatory visuals match the series’s take on Hollywood as a reality-distortion field. But the series never takes an attitude of easy superiority to its showbiz characters.” (One of the “BoJack” production designers, the cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt, also created the wonderful Netflix animated series “Tuca & Bertie.”)

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‘Halt and Catch Fire’ (2014-17)

This thoughtful drama depicts the early years of the digital age, starting in the mid-80s, when personal computers and the internet became an integral part of our everyday lives. “Halt and Catch Fire” empathizes more than glamorizes, following the punishing step-by-step of four visionary engineers and programmers — sometimes partners, sometimes rivals — as they try (and often fail) to get their projects funded and shipped: “Failure,” our critic wrote, “from this show’s perspective, is not the end; it’s how people level up.” (For a different take on techies, stream the British sitcom “The IT Crowd.”)

Watch it on Netflix


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