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The 10 Best Netflix Shows and Original Series to Watch Right Now

7 Mins read
  • It’s the weekend, or a sick day, or just a regular Tuesday night, and you need to binge-watch something. You don’t just want it, you need it. Where to begin? Fear not — we’re here to help. Below you’ll find an ever-expanding recommended list of TV shows available on Netflix, curated by us TV-obsessives. The mix covers a myriad of genres, lengths, countries of origins, and much more, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all excellent.

If it’s movies you’re looking for, check out our curated list of the Best Movies on Netflix Right Now. Or if you’re looking for a specific kind of TV show, follow the links to our shorter, genre-specific lists below:

But if you want the full monty, peruse our picks for the best series and TV shows on Netflix right now below.

The Umbrella Academy

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Steve Blackman and Jeremy Slater

Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore, and Justin H. Min

The Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy is the perfect antidote to those fatigued by the glut of superhero movies and TV shows. Based on the graphic novel series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, the story revolves around seven children with extraordinary powers who were adopted by a strange (and very rich) man who trained them to be heroes. Their troubled upbringing drove them apart, but they reunite at the beginning of the first season when their estranged father turns up mysteriously dead. Not only that, but their brother — who’s been missing since they were children — appears via time travel and warns them the apocalypse is coming in a matter of days. This show is extremely joyful and funky and weird, giving weight each of its disparate characters while carrying on a compelling serial mystery all its own. If you want a show that’s fun and mysterious and a little spooky, check this one out.

Hannibal

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Image via NBC

Created by: Bryan Fuller

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Michael Pitt, Richard Armitage, and Gillian Anderson

I guarantee you’ve never seen a show quite like Hannibal, and if you’re into artfully told serial killer stories with strong sexual tension, you’re gonna love it. Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, the show began as a Hannibal Lecter series of sorts—Mads Mikkelsen plays forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter who is called upon by gifted criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the Behavioral Sciences unit of the FBI to help track down a serial killer. Will and Hannibal develop a wildly inappropriate, deeply bonded relationship, which only further complicates matters when Will begins to suspect that Hannibal might have a role to play in these murders. And for Harris fans, the show covers various beloved storylines from his Lecter books (like Red Dragon). One part crime procedural mystery, one part twist-filled psychological thriller romance, and one part full-on horror story, Hannibal is a wholly unique series that gets weirder and weirder as it goes on, but keeps you enraptured the entire time. You’ll soon start to wonder how in the world a show this graphic, this poetic, and this strange aired on NBC for three seasons.

Community

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Image via Sony Pictures Television

Creator: Dan Harmon

Cast: Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Danny‌ Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian‌ Jacobs, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, John‌ Oliver

One of the best comedy shows of the 21st century, Dan Harmon’s Community is an inventive, emotional act of meta sitcom storytelling that defies any easy categorizing and qualification. The basic set-up follows the odd-ensemble students of Greendale, an increasingly ridiculous community college, where the study group bonds and embarks on increasingly ridiculous misadventures. But it’s so much funnier, weirder, and more heartfelt than you’d expect, the the genre-bending meta-narratives that made Harmon’s animated sci-fi Rick and Morty such a celebrated success on full display.

It’s one of the most touching shows out there about finding your people, delivers some of the highest laugh-a-minute payoff in comedy TV, and it embraces the full range of its talented team to skip from genre-to-genre without flinching. Community had the Russo Brothers before the MCU, Community did Meow-Meow beans before Black Mirror did ‘Downfall’, and it highlighted Donald Glover’s polymath gifts long before Childish Gambino became a household name. Fortunately, Netflix now has all six seasons so it’s the perfect time to catch up (or re-watch for the umpteenth time). But if six seasons is too big of a commitment and you don’t know where to start, head over to Greg’s fantastic rundown of the best Community episodes.

 

The Witcher

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich

Cast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Eamon Farren, and Anya Chalotra

The Witcher is an absolute blast and a half. The fantasy series is indeed very fantasy—it’s more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously and whole-heartedly embraces all aspects of fantasy storytelling and gaming, including fun side-quests, POV battles, and even a bard who follows Henry Cavill’s titular human/creature hybrid around singing songs about his glories. The show’s first season follows three stories destined to converge: Cavill’s Witcher is a muscle-for-hire monster hunter who begins to question why so many princesses have been turning into creatures; Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check; and princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is on the run after the sacking of her city, but harbors secrets of her own. Steeped in lore and world building but always engaging, The Witcher is a perfect kind of binge-viewing show.

Breaking Bad

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Image via AMC

Created by: Vince Gilligan

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and Giancarlo Esposito

It’s entirely possible that Breaking Bad will go down in history as the most influential TV drama ever. Creator Vince Gilligan makes good on a single story arc over the course of five seasons: Taking chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from Mr. Chips to Scarface. That arc tracks, but along the way we get an engaging, twisty, character-rich story that can vacillate between deeply emotional and edge-of-your-seat thrilling. The show begins with the mild-mannered White receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis and opting to go into the crystal meth trade to put together some money to leave behind to his family. But as the story wears on and obstacles arise, Walter White morphs into something far more dangerous and terrifying—or was it always there, bubbling under the surface?

Schitt’s Creek

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Image via PopTV

Created by: Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy

Cast: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Chris Elliott, and Jenn Robertson

Imagine a less cynical Arrested Development crossed with an inverted Beverly Hillbillies, and you’re close to Schitt’s Creek—one of the most joyful shows on all of television. The Canadian sitcom tells the story of a wealthy family who loses everything when they’re defrauded by their business manager. The only thing they do own is a tiny, backwoods town the patriarch (Eugene Levy) bought for his son (Daniel Levy) as a joke gift back in 1991, and they’re then forced to move there and live out of a motel. They slowly begin to accept their new lives and even love their new town, despite their many, many quirks. The comedy is delightful, anchored by a phenomenal performance from Catherine O’Hara as the family matriarch, a former soap actress in denial about her social status. It’s also a delightfully forward-thinking series, as the son’s pansexuality is met not with scorn or judgment, but with full loving embrace. Hilarious, witty, and oh-so-sweet, Schitt’s Creek is the perfect show for when you need a pick-me-up.

Watch Schitt’s Creek Here

Love, Death and Robots

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Tim Miller

Executive produced by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and legendary filmmaker David Fincher, the animated anthology series Love, Death & Robots is kind of the perfect catch-all for sci-fi fans. Each episode hails from a different writer and director, and the theme holding them all together is the idea of sci-fi technology. As a result you get a wide range of tone from uber-violent to romantic to hysterically funny. All in all, though, there’s just some really great sci-fi storytelling in here.

Maniac

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Patrick Somerville

Cast: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sally Field, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne, Julia Garner and Billy Magnussen

The limited series Maniac is unlike anything else on television, made all the better by the fact that True Detective and Bond 25 helmer Cary Fukunaga directed all 10 episodes. The series takes place in a slightly more advanced version of Earth in which two depressed and despondent individuals—played by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill—take part in a mind-bending pharmaceutical trial meant to cure them of their ills. The trial sees them mentally living out various different fantasies and scenarios, which then gives Fukunaga the opportunity to traffic in various genres as Stone and Hill play different versions of themselves in everything from a Coen Brothers-esque crime story to a Lord of the Rings-like fantasy world. It’s admittedly a little uneven, but the performances are fantastic and it’s a truly unique spin on a sci-fi drama.

The Great British Baking Show

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Image via PBS

If only all reality TV was this good.  Rather than stuff the competition with people who “aren’t here to make friends” and cut each others throats for a cash prize, The Great British Baking Show is all about people being nice to each other as they attempt various baking challenges to win the title of Britain’s best amateur baker.  With the help of charming lead hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and thoughtful judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, there’s plenty of humor and a surprising level of intensity as you anxiously hope the contestants’ baked goods can come to fruition.  My fiancée introduced me to this show, and while I was hesitant at first, I’m obsessed with it now.  Try not to devour the series all at once.

The Haunting of Hill House

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Image via Netflix

Creator: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Carla Gugino, Michael Huisman, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Elizabeth Reaser, Victoria Pedretti, Lulu Wilson, Timothy Hutton, Violet McGraw, Julian Hilliard,

Hush and Gerald’s Game filmmaker Mike Flanagan delivers his most ambitious Netflix project yet (and that’s really saying something when you’re talking about someone who successfully adapted Gerald’s Game) with The Haunting of Hill House. Inspired by Shirley Jackson’s seminal ghost story, the series carries over almost none of Jackson’s narrative (though occasionally too much of her prose), and focuses instead on the haunted lives of the withering Crain family. Bouncing back and forth between the summer the Crain’s spent in the titular haunted mansion and the years of grief and family trauma they endured in the aftermath. Flanagan has proven in previous works that he’s got a knack for upsetting visuals and well-composed scares, but his great success in The Haunting of Hill House is the way he ties the scares into a rich, intertwining tale of family tinged with tragedy. Led by a spectacular ensemble, the series veers between emotional revelation and moments of horror that give you full-body chills. It’s the most moving and honest portrayal of mortality and grief this side of Six Feet Under, but it’ll give you a whole lot more nightmares.

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