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.
Based on a novel by Margaret Atwood (itself based on a true story), Alias Grace begins with a mystery. Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) is serving a sentence for murder, for which her male accomplice was hanged. Grace has numerous supporters, who hire Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) to interview Grace and hopefully reveal a truth that will absolve her. Grace’s story takes her from Ireland to Canada, where she works as a servant for the wealthy man she will allegedly kill. The show is no mere whodunit — as a member of the lower class, and a woman, Grace navigates social hierarchies that grasp at her every moment of every day. In its examination of Grace’s story, her dismal past, and the shifting views society takes of her, Alias Grace weaves a tale about what it is to be a woman in a world governed by men.
In 1977, cultural earthquakes have toppled faith in the American ideal, and the agents of the FBI face an unfamiliar kind of criminal: The serial killer, whose crimes have no basis in reason as far as the agency can see. Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) believes that, with enough research, the FBI can make sense of the seemingly senseless violence. Together with the Behavioral Science Unit agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), Ford travels the country, interviewing imprisoned serial killers to understand what drives them, but gazing into the abyss starts to gnaw at them. From director David Fincher, Mindhunter is a sleek, eerie production, with a focus on the nature of criminal psychology, rather than grotesque violence.
‘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.
‘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’