Best Overall | Drama | Comedy | Romance | Action & Adventure | International | Horror | Thrillers | Sci-Fi | Kids | Documentaries | Best TV Shows
Netflix has a treasure trove of terrific movies that you can stream right now, but if you’re looking for more than just a two-hour commitment, it’s also got a boatload of great TV shows you can delve into to keep yourself occupied for days — or even weeks — on end. If you just finished a good series and need a new one to fill the void, Netflix is the place to go, given the service’s phenomenal mix of classic, current, and original programming. Below, we’ve rounded up the best shows on Netflix right now, so you can binge without having to hunt for the right title.
‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’
One of the most infamous trials in American history gets a dramatic interpretation in this limited series, which follows the trial of former football star O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the prime suspect in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. After a televised high-speed chase that captivated the nation, District Attorney Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) brings charges against him, leading to the highly publicized murder trial. The show examines the case from many angles, bringing in the perspectives of the major players in the case, including Simpson, Clark, and Simspson’s legal team — Robert Shapiro (John Travolta), Rob Kardashian (David Schwimmer), and Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance). Like the case that inspired it, The People v. O.J. Simpson is dramatic, emotional, and ultimately leaves the viewer wondering where the truth lies.
Set in New York in the 1960s, Mad Men follows one of the city’s most prestigious ad agencies on Madison Avenue. The agency is doing well, but as the industry grows, the competition begins to stiffen. The agency tries to survive in a time when everything, including the ad industry, is undergoing a radical shake-up. The two protagonists are the enigmatic Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a self-made executive whose childhood seems to always get in the way of his happiness, and ultra-terse Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), a former secretary who works her way up the corporate ladder.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a high-school chemistry teacher diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. To secure his family’s finances before he dies, White uses his chemistry background to cook and deal premium blue meth. His partner is former student and burnout named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Breaking Bad is teeming with moral consequences and family issues, and fittingly, it’s as addicting as the crystal meth White produces in his beat-up van in the desert.
‘Better Call Saul’
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul takes fans of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad back to the New Mexico desert for a look at Saul Goodman’s origin story. Before Goodman became the quirky, crooked lawyer Walter White played like a fiddle, he was Jimmy McGill, an aspiring lawyer who just couldn’t seem to keep his hands clean. The show is set six years prior to the events of Breaking Bad, and throws out the convention that a spinoff must pale in comparison to its source material. It also proves Gilligan and company remain at the top of their game.
The Sopranos actress Edie Falco stars in this drama/dark comedy about a drug-addicted nurse who leans on the help of Xanax and Percocet to help her through her days. Thing is, for as strung out and tweaked as she is, she’s one hell of a nurse. Strong-willed and determined, Jackie Peyton (Falco) navigates through a busy New York City hospital while consistently breaking the nursing Code of Ethics. Despite her many flaws and errant behavior, Jackie operates at such a high level you’d have a hard time knowing she’s ever ingested any opiates at all. Nurse Jackie dominated the Showtime airwaves when it ran for seven seasons, and for good reason — this is one wildly addictive show.
To paraphrase Tolstoy, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way; the Rayburns are unhappy in quite a few. Bloodline opens with an aerial shot of the Florida Keys, and that coastal setting proves important. While the waves and forests are beautiful, they conceal dangers. The show’s central family is — on the surface — happy and successful, one of the pillars of Monroe County. However, when prodigal son Danny (Ben Mendolsohn) returns after years away, the skeletons in the family’s closet start to rattle. Bloodline is a slow-burning story, taking its time to establish the characters and their relationships before turning up the heat, and this allows the tension to ratchet up considerably. The character-driven drama is anchored by the fraught relationship between Danny and favorite son John (Kyle Chandler), with both Mendolsohn and Chandler giving titanic performances.
‘The West Wing’
Quite possibly the best political drama of all time, The West Wing follows fictional President Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and his staff as they fight various personal and political battles through his two terms as president. Critics and people close to the White House praised the show for its accuracy and Aaron Sorkin’s razor-sharp dialogue, and even now, the show lives on through multiple Twitter handles for several West Wing characters. Netflix offers all seven seasons.
An A&E exclusive, The Returned is a French supernatural thriller set in a tiny mountain town that’s experiencing rather odd occurrences with its deceased — they somehow keep coming back to life. However, this isn’t your typical zombie fare, but rather, the dead come back to life as if nothing’s happened at all. Car crash victims reappear in town, unharmed and emotionally stable despite the horrific way in which they passed. As the resurrected people attempt to live ordinary lives, those around them try to pick up the pieces and find out exactly what’s going on.
‘Friday Night Lights’
Director Peter Berg’s Friday Night Lights never excelled in terms of viewership, but it was frequently lauded for its deep characterization and emotional portrayal of heartland America throughout its five-season run. The series is based around a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillion, Texas, and as such, it frequently deals with family troubles, drugs, racism, and the range of problems students encounter while growing up. It’s not so much the acting that renders it sublime — though, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are standouts — but the realistic writing and accompanying cinematography. We only wish Billy Bob Thornton could have made the crossover from Berg’s film of the same name.