The best TV series on Netflix

Best Netflix series: Orange is the New Black

What’s the best TV show to watch on Netflix? We’ve all been there, scrolling through all the TV series on Netflix, wondering what to check out. Maybe a Star Trek rewatch? Or perhaps something lighter, like a makeover reality show? The choice paralysis on streaming services is real, and sometimes it eats into that precious watching time.

We’re here to help you be a little more decisive, by giving you the very best of the best of what Netflix is offering in terms of long-form, episodic entertainment. You can watch everything on this list front to back via your Netflix subscription, and if you’re not in the market for a binge, there’s a few that are great for sticking on a random episode to relax to as well.

Comedy, period drama, cooking, some choice sci-fi series, an anime series, it’s all here, and in many cases, you’ve multiple seasons to dive into. Doesn’t matter if you just need some escapism, or you finally have a quiet evening and want to engage in some heady concepts. Pop the kettle on, eh?

What are the best series on Netflix?

  • Stranger Things
  • Aggretsuko
  • Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun
  • Come Dine With Me
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Better Call Saul
  • Queer Eye
  • Orange is the New Black
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
  • Bojack Horseman
  • The Crown
  • Riverdale
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Dark
  • Community

Stranger Things (2016 – present)

Best Netflix series: Stranger Things

One of the breakout hits in Netflix’s original programming, Stranger Things is a wonderful celebration of pop culture and genre. Set in the ’80s, a group of Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed kids find themselves on an actual fantastic adventure when one of them is sucked into another dimension.

Soon, another child with psychic abilities shows up, dubbed Eleven, and everything continues to get weirder from there. Full of little era-specific nods, it’s the characters, young and old, that make it so watchable. David Harbour’s gentle detective Jim Hopper, and Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers give their younger co-stars a run for the spotlight. An awesome synthwave soundtrack seals the deal.

Aggretsuko (2016 – 2018)

Best Netflix series: Aggretsuko

Retsuko is a red panda who lets out all the pent up aggression from her boring office job singing heavy metal at karaoke. That should already be enough to convince you, but if it isn’t, her ongoing attempts to find contentment despite social anxiety and other emotional struggles definitely will.

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Based on a character from the Japanese company Sanrio – the owner of Hello Kitty – Aggretsuko is a charming oddity that switches from unassuming workplace sitcom to death metal on a whim. Like our protagonist, the art seems simple at first, but give it a chance, and you’ll see there’s much more to learn.

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun (2020)

Best Netflix series: Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun

Australian absurdist comedy at its finest. Aunty Donna are a troupe that have spent the better part of the last decade touring and making web-series, before finally making it big on Netflix with their own sketch show. Mark Samuel Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zachary Ruane play themselves as housemates, but also recur as various characters, like Nervous Looking Man, Tiny Man, and Mark’s Mother.

The humour is inane, and gags move quickly from simple conversation into musical numbers and choreographed routines.It’s all delivered with a good heart though, and if you need an uplifting chuckle, this is one big ol’ house that’s worth a visit.

Come Dine With Me (2005 – present)

Best Netflix series: Come Dine With Me

Several contestants host each other for a three course meal, and whomever is rated the highest wins a cash prize of £1,000. Cooking for others is hardly easy on the nerves to begin, nevermind when it’s for strangers who stand between you and enough for a good holiday. The duress brings out all the competitiveness you’d expect, and quite a bit more besides.

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On TV since 2005, there’s been 45 seasons of this now, and the format is still rich in weird memes and brilliant moments. You’ve likely seen the “What a sad little life you lead, Jane” clip, and trust us, there’s plenty more where that came from. Dave Lamb’s narration makes it like sitting with an old friend for a cuppa.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 – 1999)

Best Netflix series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Of the three Star Trek series in the ’90s, Deep Space Nine offers the best overall consistency in character, plotting, and themes. Shifting away from starships to the titular space station, we’re led by Commander Benjamin Sisko, who’s given the uneasy task of helping co-manage the Cardassian-designed, Bajoran-owned hub.

Consequence has greater value in this iteration of the cosmic franchise, where ramifications carry episode-to-episode without softly resetting. As such, politics and philosophy find more air, and many of the crewmates, from Colm Meaney’s Miles O’Brien to Armin Shimerman’s Quark to Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax, are more rounded. Give it a try, even if sci-fi isn’t generally your thing.

Better Call Saul (2015 – present)

Best Netflix series: Better Call Saul

When it was announced, it sounded like a cynical cash grab on Breaking Bad’s popularity. For the last six seasons, Bob Oderkirk has been proving that assumption wrong at every turn. Jimmy McGill’s gradual transformation into Saul Goodman is a slow-burn examination of how we can become gradually distorted without necessarily realising it’s happening.

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Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould make connections to Walter White’s eventual arrival clear from moment go, intertwining White and Goodman’s destinies. Funnier and surprisingly heartfelt, it consistently finds interesting ways to build out the existing drug-running mythology.

Queer Eye (2018 – present)

Best Netflix series: Queer Eye

Sometimes, all you need is a good makeover to get back on track. Each episode, the Fab Five – Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness – come in to look at how someone’s living, and find ways to help them find happiness.

We all get stuck in a rut on occasion; Queer Eye is all about helping to dig each other out. It’s a kind, quick-witted show where it doesn’t matter your circumstances, what matters is what happens next. Comfort watching for days when it all feels very dark and grey.

Orange Is the New Black (2013 – 2019)

Best Netflix series: Orange is the New Black

Debuting back in 2013, this prison drama was pivotal in establishing Netflix as a major force in original televised entertainment. Since then, it’s gone on to be nominated for numerous awards, including 12 Emmy nominations, and tell a fulsome story about the systemic failures inherent to American jails.

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At the start, Piper Chapman is given a short sentence for transporting drug money for her partner. From there, we meet and live with a range of inmates and officers, each contributing to the narrative tapestry in a unique way. Jenji Kohan adapted the story from the book by Piper Kerman, but the seven seasons go well beyond Kerman’s memoir.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

Best Netflix series: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Somehow improves on one the best adventure movies ever made by making it longer, and reproducing its world in greater detail than before. Three Gelflings lead an uprising against the vulturous Skekis to protect the realm of Thra from being darkened. If all that sounds a bit daft, the monumental craft on display in the puppetry and sets is more than worth watching for anyway.

Co-produced by The Jim Henson Company and Netflix, the castles, forests, and mountains need to be seen to be believed. Snot dribbles out of noses, dozens of characters move individually, and even the wheels on carriages have quirks to look out for. An accomplishment.

Bojack Horseman (2014 – 2020)

Best Netflix series: Bojack Horseman

Come for the self-deprecating jokes, stay for the intensely candid commentary on self-destruction. The titular former child star tries to retake control of the limelight by publishing a ghost-written autobiography. The only problem is, that still means completely excavating the past and all the personal problems therein.

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Don’t let the pastelles and animal-headed characters fool you, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s psychological comedy-drama has a tendency to blindside you with its bleakness. Bojack himself is a walking calamity who always seems one step behind his problems, and his nihilism colours the entire worldview. Heavy, but brilliant.

The Crown (2016 – present)

Best Netflix series: The Crown

Humanising the British monarchy is no easy task, and many of us scoff at the notion. The Crown manages it without coming across too pompous, instead quietly aware of the overall perception, and not making any excuses for it.

Behind the cynicism lies the simple truth that Queen Elizabeth II and her family lead a singular existence. All that privilege and internal drama makes for great TV, and by travelling up through the ages, Peter Morgan manages to hone in on exactly why we can’t stop paying attention: we love to hate them. Here too, you may loathe each and every one, and you’ll find it just as hard to turn away.

Riverdale (2017 – present)

Best Netflix series: Riverdale

Archie comics reimagined for the 21st century as a YA romantic drama about serial killers, generational conspiracy, and staying in shape for the high school football team. Everything in Riverdale High is life or death, whether that’s getting stabbed, or whatever Betty and Jughead are fighting about at any given moment.

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Overwrought narrative arcs are complemented by spectacularly moody lighting, like the characters all set up the scenes themselves for full impact. Savvy of its influences, Molly Ringwald, Luke Perry, and Skeet Ulrich feature as parents, passing the baton of teen angst and hickeys.

RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 – present)

Best Netflix series: RuPaul's Drag Race

One of the filthiest and funniest shows readily available for viewing. Drag icon RuPaul’s game show to find the best queens in the known universe is great for all occasions. Got a promotion? Time for RuPaul. Break up? Time for RuPaul. Just remembered it’s a Wednesday? Time for RuPaul.

Insults are passed around like cheap cocktails, and the creativity ranges from desperate to delicious. Nina Flowers and BeBe Zahara Benet make the first season more than watchable, but if you want to see the series at its best, Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano, and Courtney Act in season six is a particular high. Forget star signs, ask people who their favourite queen is to learn all about them.

Dark (2017 – 2020)

Best Netflix series: Dark

The age of streaming has allowed greater experimentation and wider access to non-English language projects. Dark, a time-travel epic unravelled across three seasons created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, is the exact kind of thing that’s benefitted from a global platform like Netflix.

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Each ten-episode season is a puzzle in itself, jumping from timeline to timeline without any semblance of explanation. You meet characters, then their younger selves, then their older selves, charting strife, grudges, and unrequited romance through the generations. Watching can feel like work, but this is a project that’s most rewarding.

Community (2009 – 2015)

Best Netflix series: Community

We’ve all been there: people find out your law degree isn’t actually legitimate, so you go back to college to earn a real one. Happens to everyone! While at Greendale Community College, Jeff Winger founds a study group in the hopes of impressing fellow student Gillian Jacobs. She brings some friends, and despite his disappointment, Winger grows fond of the company.

Dan Harmon’s ensemble comedy about adults navigating high education uses a very comedically tight cast to navigate the hare-brained realm of university life. Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, each adds distinct cadence to the rhythm, and does some of their best work through the six seasons.

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Anthony McGlynn

Staff writer

Updated: Aug 09, 2021


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