The Best Shows to Binge-Watch on Netflix Right Now (May 2021)

With a seemingly endless library of shows to binge on Netflix — ranging from nail-biting thrillers and side-splitting comedies to fascinating documentaries and classic sitcoms — there’s so much to choose from that it can be difficult to decide what to watch. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best shows currently available to stream on Netflix.

We’ve also rounded up the best movies on Netflix, the best shows on Hulu, the best shows on Amazon Prime, and the best shows on Disney+.

jurassic world camp cretaceous

Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous

Dinosaur-loving kids who are a little too young for the Jurassic World franchise don’t have to miss out on all of the gasping, screaming, and roaring with this animated series that manages to be entertaining for all ages. Camp Cretaceous maintains some continuity with the Jurassic films as it follows Darius Bowman (Paul-Mikél Williams) and five other kids who win a trip to visit Camp Cretaceous on Isla Nublar. Naturally, things go awry, and a dinosaur jailbreak leaves the teens stranded on the island and forced to rely on each other for their own survival. Certain scenes may be a little intense for younger viewers, but it’s still a family-friendly adventure.

Created by: Zack Stentz
Cast: Paul-Mikél Williams, Sean Giambrone, Kausar Mohammed, Jenna Ortega
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

selena: the series

Selena: The Series

The late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez had only a relatively short life, but her legend has endured for over two decades. As Selena, Quintanilla-Pérez became the “Queen of Tejano music” and one of the most influential Mexican-American singers and celebrities. The Walking Dead actress Christian Serratos steps into the role of Quintanilla-Pérez in Selena: The Series, Netflix’s two-part original series that offers a dramatization of Selena’s childhood rise to fame, struggles, and ultimately her untimely demise.

Created by: Moisés Zamora
Cast: Christian Serratos, Ricardo Chavira, Seidy Lopez
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix



Hollywood has glamorized spies for decades, but films and television shows aren’t known for their accurate depictions of real spies. Netflix’s Spycraft aims to change that by taking a documentary approach to its subject matter while breaking down how modern spies conduct their business. Episodes are dedicated to drone warfare, poisons, covert ops, recruitment, and even “sexspionage.” In some ways, being a spy hasn’t changed much at all. But the tools of the trade are only getting more advanced.

Created by: Henry R. Schlesinger
Cast: Dylan Berry
Number of seasons: 1

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Adaptations of video games don’t have a great history, but Netflix struck gold with Castlevania, its animated series based on Konami’s game franchise of the same name. The series is penned by acclaimed comic book writer and novelist Warren Ellis and follows the trio of vampire hunter Trevor Belmont, half-vampire Alucard, and sorcerer Sypha Belnades as they attempt to stop the legendary Vlad Dracula Țepeș from destroying humanity with an army of monsters. Ellis’ compelling script, combined with the series’s beautiful, stylized Japanese animation and a voice cast led by Richard Armitage (Trevor), James Callis (Alucard), Graham McTavish (Dracula), and Alejandra Reynoso (Sypha), make Castlevania a unique, fascinating saga told over four critically-praised seasons.

Created by: Warren Ellis
Cast: Richard Armitage, James Callis, Graham McTavish, Alejandra Reynoso
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

pretend it's a city

Pretend It’s a City

Pretend It’s a City is not the first documentary that Martin Scorsese has made about writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz. The first documentary, Public Speaking, came out about a decade ago. Pretend It’s a City takes things even further with a bigger spotlight on Lebowitz herself. Although Scorsese often engages in conversations with his subject, Lebowitz carries most of the spotlight with her occasionally unconventional opinions. She can be a lot to take in, but Lebowitz never shies away from expressing herself.

Created by: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Fran Lebowitz, Martin Scorsese
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

This Is a Robbery

The March 18, 1990, robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is the largest art heist of all time to remain unsolved, with the culprits behind the robbery — which is estimated to involve more than $500 million in stolen works of art — still unknown, with no arrests made and none of the stolen art recovered. The details surrounding the infamous heist are chronicled in this four-part documentary series directed by Colin Barnicle and co-produced by Barnicle and his brother, Nick. Filmed over a seven-year period, the series features interviews with just about everyone involved with the event in one way or another, from the security guards who let the robbers into the museum to the FBI investigators put on the case, offering a fascinating account of one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of both the art world and the world of high-stakes crime.

Created by: Colin Barnicle, Nick Barnicle
Cast: NA
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

firefly lane

Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane is the latest sensation from Netflix that features two lead actresses, Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, as lifelong friends Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey. In the present, Tully is a wildly successful TV talk show host, while Kate is a divorced housewife who wants to rebuild her life. Tully and Kate have pulled each other through some tough times before, and they’ll do it again. We even get to see Tully (Ali Skovbye) and Kate (Roan Curtis) as their friendship grows.

Created by: Maggie Friedman
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Sarah Chalke, Ben Lawson, Beau Garrett
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

Shadow and Bone

Netflix adapted Leigh Bardugo’s popular Grisha novels for this fantasy adventure series set in a world divided by darkness. Jessie Mei Li portrays a young woman who discovers she is a “Grisha” — able to wield magic and create light in darkness — and soon finds herself caught up in a war against powerful forces, both internal and external, in her kingdom of Ravka. Although the series leans into its YA literature roots, it also takes Bardugo’s saga in some new directions, offering plenty of surprises for fans of the novels and earning praise for its spectacular visual effects and fantastic world building.

Created by:  Eric Heisserer
Cast: Jessie Mei Li, Archie Renaux, Ben Barnes
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

altered carbon netflix

Altered Carbon

An adaptation of a popular cyberpunk novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is set a few hundred years in the future, by which point humanity has developed the technology to download a person’s consciousness into computers. People can now transfer themselves into new bodies, called “sleeves,” effectively making themselves immortal — provided they have the money. Into this world steps Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), a former soldier who has spent the last 250 years in cold storage. He is back, in a new sleeve, courtesy of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), a wealthy man who wants Takeshi to find the man who killed Bancroft’s previous body. Altered Carbon draws on classic noir elements, as Takeshi explores a grimy city where everyone seems to have a hidden agenda.

Created by: Laeta Kalogridis
Cast: Chris Conner, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Joel Kinnaman
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

lucifer on netflix


Tom Ellis is quite literally the devil in this loose adaptation of the Lucifer comic book series. After leaving hell behind to chart a new path in his life, Lucifer encounters Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) and quickly falls for her. To remain a part of Chloe’s life, Lucifer helps her solve murders in Los Angeles with his talent for making suspects give up their secrets. No one can say that Lucifer isn’t open about who and what he is. But it takes a while for Chloe to realize that she really has partnered up with the original fallen angel.

Created by: Tom Kapinos
Cast: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

fate: the winx saga

Fate: The Winx Saga

If you’ve never seen the animated series Winx Club on Nickelodeon, then don’t worry. Fate: The Winx Saga is a live-action adaptation of that show, but it isn’t dependent upon previous knowledge of the characters or their world. Instead, it’s a reinvention of the Winx storyline with a more YA tone and a much darker take on the material. Abigail Cowen headlines the series as Bloom, a young fairy from Earth who is now on Otherworld and enrolled at Alfea to learn how to control her powers. There’s a definite Harry Potter vibe here for fans who are looking for a magic school fix.

Created by: Brian Young
Cast: Abigail Cowen, Danny Griffin. Hannah van der Westhuysen, Elisha Applebaum
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

the twilight zone netflix

The Twilight Zone

One of the most influential television series of all time, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is an anthology series, with each episode telling a unique story in the realms of sci-fi, horror, or some mix thereof. Each story follows characters caught up in strange, often cruel circumstances beyond their comprehension. Written during a particularly hot part of the Cold War, many episodes — particularly those written by Serling — serve as parables, exploring social and political issues of the 20th century. Take, for example, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, set on a cozy, suburban block where the power mysteriously goes out one night, causing the neighbors to turn on one other. Or It’s a Good Life, about a small town cut off from the world, whose inhabitants must bow to every whim of a tyrannical tyke. Don’t let the archaic props and special effects deter you — The Twilight Zone is every bit as brilliant today as it was when it first aired.

Created by: Rod Serling
Cast: Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts
Number of seasons: 5

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the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

Waffles + Mochi

When good friends Waffles and Mochi decide to leave their frozen home to learn about foods that aren’t served on ice, they find a new home full of friendly people at a supermarket run by former first lady Michelle Obama. The pair work at the supermarket while also traveling around the world on adventures that teach them all about the origins and importance of various foods. As adorable as it is educational, the kid-friendly Waffles + Mochi also features an impressive list of guests from across the spectrum of famous chefs, foodies, and celebrity food experts.

Created by: Erika Thormahlen, Jeremy Konner
Cast: Michelle Zamora, Piotr Michael, Michelle Obama
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix



The creative team behind The Simpsons and Futurama reunited for Disenchantment, an animated comedy that tackles the fantasy genre. Unlike its predecessors, Disenchantment also seems to be building toward a larger story for the series. The focus falls on Princess Tiabeanie, aka Bean (Abbi Jacobson); her personal demon, Luci (Eric Andre); and Elfo (Nat Faxon), the half-Elf who is desperately in love with Bean. There’s something rotten in the kingdom of Dreamland, and someone close to Bean may be behind the plot to unseat the royal family. The latest batch of episodes also sends Bean beyond the confines of Dreamland, in addition to providing some answers to long-standing mysteries within the show itself.

Created by: Matt Groening
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Eric Andre, Nat Faxon
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

alice in borderland

Alice in Borderland

This Japanese series based on the manga of the same name by Haro Aso follows an aimless gamer named Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) who suddenly finds himself and his two best friends transported to an eerily empty Tokyo where they’re forced to compete in deadly games to survive. A mix of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games with a fascinating mystery and a talented cast, Alice in Borderland earned praise from critics and general audiences alike for its clever first season and was renewed for a second season just two weeks after the show’s Netflix. Its underlying premise will keep you guessing, and so will the sense of creeping dread as key characters are killed off — sometimes in gruesome fashion — from one episode to the next.

Created by: Shinsuke Sato
Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Yūki Morinaga, Keita Machida
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

pacific rim: the black on netflix

Pacific Rim: The Black

An animated spinoff of the Pacific Rim film franchise, Pacific Rim: The Black is set in Australia after the monstrous Kaiju have overrun the continent. A pair of siblings discover an abandoned Jaeger — one of the giant robots built to battle the Kaiju — and attempt to use it to find their missing parents, forcing them to contend with both Kaiju and desperate human survivors who want the Jaeger for themselves. The animated series is aimed at the same audience as the films and not only offers plenty of giant robot-vs.-monster brawls, but also expands the franchise’s mythology quite a bit.

Created by: Greg Johnson, Craig Kyle
Cast: Calum Worthy, Gideon Adlon, Erica Lindbeck
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

halt and catch fire on netflix

Halt and Catch Fire

How does one of the best shows of the decade get lost on a network? By contending with The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Mad MenHalt and Catch Fire carved out its own identity in this ‘80s period piece that chronicled the rise of personal computing, video games, and the internet. If you’ll pardon the expression, the series really catches fire in the second season when Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna Clark (Kerry Bishé) launch their own gaming company. Meanwhile, Donna’s husband, Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), and the enigmatic Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) had compelling stories of their own. This is a show that deserves a second chance to find its audience.

Created by: Christopher Cantwell, Christopher C. Rogers
Cast: Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

ozark on netflix


In Ozark, the Byrde family has a knack for getting into overwhelming trouble. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) had a scheme to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. And when that goes wrong, Marty packs up his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), and their kids for an abrupt move to the Ozarks — where he proceeds to set up an even more dangerous money laundering operation. In addition to starring in the series, Bateman has made a name for himself behind the camera as an Emmy-winning director. There’s only one more season to come, so now is the right time to catch up on Ozark’s twists and turns.

Created by: Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

Black Mirror

Each episode of Black Mirror tells a single story, with a theme of modern and near-future technology running through each unnerving tale. It’s often compared to The Twilight Zone for its episodic nature, and just like that classic, some of the stories will leave you sitting and staring at a blank television, wondering what you just watched. Beyond all of the thought-provoking, mind-bending, and world-building, the acting and aesthetic are smart and nuanced and will leave even the best spoiler guessers out there reeling from the sharp twists and turns in every episode.

Created by: Charlie Brooker
Cast: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

This brilliant animated series that premiered in January 2020 defied expectations in many ways, including the decision to release all three 10-episode seasons in the same year. Created by Radford Sechrist and produced by DreamWorks Animation, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is set in a post-apocalyptic world where giant, mutated animals rule the surface of Earth while humans are forced to live underground to survive. When a young girl named Kipo decides to leave her underground shelter to search for her father, it kicks off an amazing adventure filled with action, emotion, humor, and one of the best soundtracks you’ll hear in an animated series. (A pair of scholarly wolves voiced by GZA and John Hodgman, rapping about the creation of the universe? It’s in there.) Smart, inclusive, and full of cheer-worthy moments, Kipo is the sort of series children and adults can genuinely enjoy together.

Created by: Radford Sechrist
Cast: Karen Fukuhara, Sydney Mikayla, Coy Stewart, Deon Cole
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix



For anyone in search of a gripping mystery with darkly emotional overtones, Broadchurch is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. It’s centered on the small English town of Broadchurch, which is rocked by the senseless murder of an 11-year-old boy named Danny. Police detectives DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) are on the case, but they each have secrets of their own. The search for Danny’s killer takes a high toll on both Hardy and Miller, as well as the entire town. But even when the murderer stands revealed, the story is just beginning.

Created by: Chris Chibnall
Cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

never have i ever

Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever is a coming-of-age dramedy about a young woman who, after the death of her father, decides she wants to change her life and elevate her social status. However, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), an Indian girl raised in America, finds that her family and friends aren’t fully on board with this renaissance. Considered a standout in a crowded field of coming-of-age dramedies on Netflix, Never Have I Ever delightfully balances the traditional perils of high school like teen romance and popularity with the challenges of grief, being a first-generation American, and finding yourself in a crowd of loved ones.

Created by: Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Jaren Lewison
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

russian doll on netflix

Russian Doll

Natasha Lyonne brings her signature comedic stylings to this comedy-drama as Nadia, a woman stuck in a time loop who keeps reliving the same day over and over again, each time dying in increasingly freakish ways. She eventually discovers another man going through the same thing, and together, they try to figure out how to get out of the recurring nightmare. Earning four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, the mind-bending series will keep you puzzled and have you guessing all the way through. It’s the kind of series with lots of water-cooler-chatter potential by the end.

Created by: Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler
Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

cobra kai

Cobra Kai

YouTube’s loss is Netflix’s gain! Cobra Kai is the sequel series to the original Karate Kid films, with William Zabka and Ralph Macchio reprising their respective roles as Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. Three decades earlier, Daniel and Johnny were rivals. Now, their rivalry has extended to the next generation. The third season forces Johnny and Daniel to pay the price and even reintroduces a few characters from The Karate Kid Part 2. But even if the kids of the Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do dojos can move past the enmity of the past, John Kreese (Martin Kove) is ready to escalate things even further.

Created by: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz. Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

schitt’s creek

Schitt’s Creek

Even Netflix couldn’t have predicted that the final season of Schitt’s Creek would sweep the Emmy Awards for comedy in 2020. But this little Canadian comedy has turned into a TV powerhouse, thanks in part to Netflix itself. The father-and-son duo of Eugene and Dan Levy created and starred in Schitt’s Creek for six seasons. The show follows the formerly wealthy Rose family after they lose their fortune and circumstances force them to move to a small town they once purchased as a joke. On the surface, that may sound shallow. But this is a comedy that has a lot of heart to go with its side-splitting moments and unique characters. The final episode even nailed the landing for the series, which is always a rarity. This month, Netflix is adding the sixth season, which completes the show’s run. But now it’s ready to be discovered by a new audience.

Created by: Eugene Levy, Dan Levy
Cast: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy
Number of seasons: 6

Watch on Netflix



The longest-running American live-action fantasy series in TV history, Supernatural follows brothers Sam and Dan Winchester — played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively — as they hunt all manner of ghosts, demons, and monsters across America. Mixing stand-alone “monster of the week” adventures with season-long story arcs that built an impressively deep mythology around the show, Supernatural kept fans coming back with its infectious chemistry and colorful cast that grew as the series progressed. A scripted television series has to be doing something right to run for 15 seasons without being canceled, and Supernatural finally ended its 327-episode run in November 2020 with the sort of satisfying, well-received series finale that few shows receive.

Created by: Eric Kripke
Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles
Number of seasons: 15

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

The Last Dance

In the fall of 1997, the Chicago Bulls had won five of the last seven NBA championships and were primed to earn their second three-peat of the ’90s. Nonetheless, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Jerry Krause seemed fully prepared to fire coach Phil Jackson and begin rebuilding the franchise after the 1997-98 season, despite the opposition of the world’s greatest player, Michael Jordan. That fall, the Bulls allowed a film crew to follow them as they embarked upon what Jackson deemed “The Last Dance.” This 10-part docuseries chronicles that season and contextualizes it in Michael Jordan’s remarkable, world-changing career. Following Jordan from being cut from his high school basketball team, through his illustrious college career and battles with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, all the way to his iconic game-winning shot in the 1998 NBA Finals, The Last Dance is one of the most immersive and exciting sports documentaries of recent memory, even though Jordan’s production company had the final editorial say. The series doesn’t shed much light on the many controversies that followed Jordan throughout his career, but it does help solidify just what an enormous, transcendent icon Jordan really was.

Created by: Jason Hehir
Cast: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

she'ra's modern reboot

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

In the ‘80s, She-Ra was He-Man’s sister and the star of her own animated series and toy line. Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power isn’t as interested in selling toys as it is building upon relationships. The series completely reimagined the story to center around Adora and Catra, a pair of orphans raised by the evil Horde army. When Adora finds her power through She-Ra’s magic sword, it sets her against her best friend, Catra, who also happens to be the person she loves the most. This series broke new ground for animated LGBT themes and characters and carved out a place for itself in the hearts of fans.

Created by: Noelle Stevenson
Cast: Aimee Carrero, AJ Michalka, Karen Fukuhara
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

community on netflix


NBC never quite knew what to make of Community, but the series found a devoted audience that embraced its hilarious blend of pop culture comedy. Future Marvel directors Joe and Anthony Russo helmed several memorable episodes that earned them a chance to hit the big screen. But this show belongs to its mismatched study group as portrayed by Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, and Chevy Chase. Despite several personality clashes, the group becomes a makeshift family. Ken Jeong and Jim Rash also steal a lot of scenes as Dean Pelton and Ben Chang. We’re still waiting for a Community movie, but all six seasons are on Netflix.

Created by: Dan Harmon
Cast: Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover
Number of seasons: 6

Watch on Netflix

song exploder

Song Exploder

Have you ever wondered what it took to create some of your favorite songs? Hrishikesh Hirway’s popular podcast, Song Exploder, gets the answers straight from the artists themselves. The TV incarnation of the show is back for a new season on Netflix, with episodes on The Killers, Nine Inch Nails, Dua Lipa, and Natalia Lafourcade. Naturally, the first season is also available, with spotlight episodes for R.E.M., Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Ty Dolla $ign.

Created by: Hrishikesh Hirway
Cast: Hrishikesh Hirway
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

the umbrella academy on netflix

The Umbrella Academy

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Gerard Way, this superhero series follows the lives of seven of 43 children born to women who mysteriously never knew they were pregnant until they went into labor. It turns out they are superheroes, and when these seven children are adopted by an eccentric billionaire, he turns the siblings into a superhero team called The Umbrella Academy. Later, however, the children become estranged from one another and their father. But when they discover he has died, they reconnect for his funeral. Warnings of a pending apocalypse prompt them to band together again to stop it, though it isn’t without clashing personalities and plenty of familial dysfunction.

Created by: Steve Blackman
Cast: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Mary J. Blige
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)

Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan

At times, this docuseries about the warring clans of 16th-century Japan feels more like an edgy action film than a traditional documentary, but the six-part series does a masterful job of exploring the political drama and intrigue of the Sengoku period — one of the most tumultuous eras of feudal Japan’s history. The series follows the rise (and, often, violent fall) of several prominent historical figures whose paths shaped the nation at a time when samurai, warlords, and powerful families were engaged in a near-constant civil war, and does so with a combination of historical (and graphic) reenactments and expert commentary. History lessons this deep have rarely been this intense, or compelling.

Created by: Simon George, Matthew Booi
Cast: Masayoshi Haneda, Masami Kosaka, Hideaki Itô, Hayate Masao
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

twin peaks netflix

Twin Peaks

This cult classic of the early ’90s came from the mind of director David Lynch. After homecoming queen Laura Palmer is murdered, FBI agent Dale Cooper arrives in the small Washington town to investigate. Weirdness ensues, featuring everything from homicidal demons and cryptic dreams to doppelgängers of dead people and an FBI agent who really likes cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.” Twin Peaks was a revelatory series in its heyday, and it still holds up thanks to its uniquely eccentric characters and memorable moments, even if the murder mystery fizzles out eventually.

Created by: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

the best shows to binge-watch on netflix right now (may 2021)
Eric Liebowitz / Netflix

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It’s four seasons, plus a fun choose-your-own-adventure-style interactive special, full of silly hilarity. The sitcom takes a serious premise — a girl is kidnapped and kept in an underground bunker for 15 years until finally being rescued — and makes it funny. Now 29, Kimmy has been completely cut off from the real world and still has the attitude of a 15-year-old girl living in the ’90s. But despite emerging to a world filled with negativity and stress, she is determined to live life to the fullest and make every moment count, which prompts her to move to The Big Apple in hopes of fulfilling her dreams … whatever they may be. While Kimmy, played by Ellie Kemper, is the title character, the real star of the series is arguably her lazy, effeminate, eccentric, and judgmental roommate and friend Tituss (Tituss Burgess). With a cast that also includes comedic icons like Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski, along with Jon Hamm in a recurring role, it’s an unconventional, sugary-sweet, and uplifting comedy full of color and old pop-culture references that will make you smile.

Created by: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Cast: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

breaking bad netflix

Breaking Bad

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 a 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.

Created by: Vince Gilligan
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

stranger things

Stranger Things

The opening sequence of Stranger Things lays out the TV show’s sci-fi aspirations clearly: A scientist flees down an empty hallway, pursued by some unseen force that eventually nabs him as he waits for elevator doors to close; it then cuts to a group of kids playing D&D in a suburban basement. From Alien to E.T. in a matter of seconds. The show is a stew made of various influences from the ‘80s. A mysterious creature and a secret government agency, a group of kids having adventures around their rural town, teens experimenting with sex, drugs, and peer pressure.

There are pieces of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Hughes strewn throughout Stranger Things, and the result is a show that will feel immediately familiar to people who grew up with that material. The show is not shallow in its emulation, either. The acting and direction are superb, giving even the most derivative scenes some heft.

Created by: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

when they see us

When They See Us

Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us tells the story of Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris), Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse), Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome), and Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez): Five young Black men who were falsely accused of rape and sexual assault in the infamous Central Park Five case. After serving years in prison, they became known as The Exonerated Five when the real rapist was caught. But the injustices suffered by these men and their families extended far beyond prison walls. It’s a difficult story to relive, but it’s also one that needs to be told.

Created by: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Jharrel Jerome, Asante Blackk, Jovan Adepo, Michael K. Williams
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

the witcher netflix

The Witcher

A lone swordsman rides into town, a grotesque beast slung over his horse. The townsfolk cast scornful glances, although he’s slain the monster that plagued them. He’ll get no thanks; at best, the bounty he was promised in full. Such is the life of a witcher. Based on the popular fantasy series, Netflix’s The Witcher follows Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a monster hunter with magical powers: A witcher, to use the parlance of his world. Over decades, Geralt hunts monsters for gold, crossing paths with the cunning sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the refugee princess Ciri (Freya Allen), whose fate is bound tightly to his own. Bloody battles, complicated characters, and memorable songs — courtesy of the bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) — are just some of the charms this dark fantasy series has to offer.

Created by: Lauren Schmidt
Cast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

chilling adventures of sabrina

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Netflix has wrapped up its adaptation of Archie Comics’ horror comic Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Unlike the previous lighthearted TV series, Chilling Adventures offers a much darker take on Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka). She’s half-human and half-witch, and Sabrina may be destined to be the dark bride of Lucifer himself. However, Sabrina pulls back against the evil in her life and finds love with Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), a descendent of witch hunters who has picked up some of his family’s skills.

Created by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis
Number of seasons: 4

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Sometimes, finding the best TV shows means going international. For example, the French series Lupin is an exciting update on Maurice Leblanc’s legendary gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin. In a clever twist, the Lupin stories exist within the world of this show, and they inspire a man named Assane Diop (Omar Sy) to adopt the Lupin persona as his own to avenge his wrongfully accused father. Assane certainly has the skills of a master thief, but pursuing his revenge turns out to be far more dangerous and complicated than he anticipated.

Created by: George Kay, François Uzan
Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Clotilde Hesme
Number of seasons: 1

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Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton romance novels have become a buzzy original series on Netflix, thanks to showrunner Chris Van Dusen and mega-producer Shonda Rhimes. This is an alternate history tale that on the Bridgerton family, as well as their eight children, as they vie for position and romantic matches in London’s high society. In particular, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) is pursued by several potential suitors, even though she may have her eye on Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), the Duke of Hastings. But there are some significant obstacles in their way.

Created by: Chris Van Dusen
Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Adjoa Andoh
Number of seasons: 1

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Dark is one of Netflix’s most ambitious sci-fi series to date, but you’ll have to read the subtitles unless you’re fluent in German. Regardless of its original language, Dark presents an engrossing missing children mystery that starts in the present but soon expands into the past and the future as the implications of time travel tear four families apart. The end of the world is also in play, but even the Earth as we know it may not be the only battleground. There are a lot of twists and turns to follow, so you’ll want to pay close attention to this one.

Created by: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Andreas Pietschmann, Maja Schöne, Gina Alice Stiebitz
Number of seasons: 3

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Deborah Feldman’s memoir Unorthodox was lightly fictionalized in the TV miniseries of the same name. It follows Esther “Esty” Shapiro (Shira Haas), a 19-year-old woman who escapes both her unhappy marriage and her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn to find a new life for herself in Germany. Esty’s estranged husband, Moishe Lefkovitch (Jeff Wilbusch), follows her in an attempt to get her to come home. However, Esty is extremely dedicated to completing her own journey, even when it doesn’t always work out as intended.

Created by: Anna Winger, Alexa Karolinski
Cast: Shira Haas, Amit Rahav, Jeff Wilbusch
Number of seasons: 1

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Mindhunter flew under the radar during its two seasons on Netflix, but this stylish crime thriller still deserves to find a wider audience. The series is set in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, at a time when the FBI was struggling to understand how the minds of serial killers functioned. Agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), take it upon themselves to study these men as they attempt to build the criminal psychology field from the ground up.

Created by: Joe Penhall
Cast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

the great british bake off

The Great British Bake Off/The Great British Baking Show

There are many cooking reality competition shows, but there’s only one Great British Bake Off. Although Netflix calls it The Great British Baking Show, it’s the same lovely program that has run for 11 seasons. However, only a selection of episodes from eight seasons are currently available. Regardless, the show still captures the quest of amateur bakers to impress the judges and out-bake each other to win the show’s final prize.

Created by: Andy Devonshire
Cast: Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding, Matt Lucas
Number of seasons: 8

Watch on Netflix

transformers: war for cybertron trilogy

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy

Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy gives fans of the long-running franchise a more mature take on the “robots in disguise.” The CGI animated series is essentially a prequel to the saga, as the Autobots and Decepticons battle for the soul of their home world, Cybertron. The second season finds Optimus Prime and a few of his allies off-world, while forces from the future offer Megatron the chance to crush the Autobots forever. Meanwhile, the soldiers on both sides of the war have never seemed more human, as they find themselves questioning whether their respective causes are even worth fighting for.

Created by: F. J. DeSanto, George Krstic
Cast: Jake Foushee, Jason Marnocha, Joe Zieja
Number of seasons: 2

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the queen's gambit

The Queen’s Gambit

A compelling chess drama wasn’t on our 2020 bingo card, but Netflix’s skillfully made adaptation of Walter Tevis’ The Queen’s Gambit has given us the series we didn’t know we needed. Anya Taylor-Joy stars as chess prodigy Beth Harmon, a young woman who is driven to become the very best in the world. Beth’s ability to visualize chess movies in her mind brings the game to life in unexpected ways. However, Beth’s inner demons may stand in the way of her ambition.

Created by: Scott Frank, Allan Scott
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Camp, Moses Ingram
Number of seasons: 1

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our planet

Our Planet

Occasionally, we could all use a reminder of just how beautiful our world is, and how close we are to potentially losing the best things about it. Netflix’s original documentary miniseries, Our Planet, reunites the team behind Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, and The Blue Planet for a fresh look at biodiversity around the globe. The miniseries was filmed in 50 countries and showcases spectacular wildlife imagery, while firmly establishing how climate change is affecting these creatures, and, in turn, everyone on Earth. Heed the warning while you can.

Created by: Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey,
Cast: David Attenborough
Number of seasons: 1

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avatar: the last airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender

When it comes to animated series, few rival Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. The beloved series continues to garner a following more than 15 years after its initial release, likely due to the way it deftly balances child-friendly themes with more sophisticated narratives, ones that revolve around war and the oft-ambiguous line between good and evil. The show is centered on the titular Aang, a master of the elements, and four nations, each of which is named after a different element (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water). The main story follows Aang and his companions in their effort to quell unrest and an ongoing feud with the Fire Nation, but the show’s detailed world-building and character development extend well beyond the scope of any one individual. To this day, it’s still considered a masterclass in storytelling, and considering Netflix is currently working on a live-action adaptation, there’s no better time to watch than now. The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, is also on Netflix now.

Created by: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Cast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mako Iwamatsu, Mae Whitman
Number of seasons: 3

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orange is the new black

Orange Is the New Black

One of Netflix’s first breakout original series is still one of its most powerful shows to date. Orange Is the New Black started as a story about Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman who was locked up in prison over some bad choices she made over a decade before the series. But over seven seasons, it became a much richer story about the large cast behind bars as they came together and grew apart. It’s also a scathing indictment of the prison industrial complex that works equally well as both a comedy and a drama. This one is for the ages.

Created by: Jenji Kohan
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew
Number of seasons: 7

Watch on Netflix

american crime story: the people v. o.j. simpson

American Crime Story

The real-life legal saga of O.J. Simpson was both a circus and the trial of the century. The first season of American Crime Story dived into that tale full throttle with The People v. O. J. Simpson. Amazingly, the series offered a very grounded, human take on all of its principal figures. That’s especially true of Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark and Sterling K. Brown’s Christopher Darden, the prosecutors assigned to put O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) behind bars. The second season, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, is also on Netflix. But the two stories have been separated, so you’ll have to click here for that season.

Created by: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Tom Rob Smith
Cast: Sterling K. Brown, Cuba Gooding Jr. Sarah Paulson
Number of seasons: 2

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the midnight gospel

The Midnight Gospel

Comedian Duncan Trussell and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward teamed up for one of the most bizarre animated series on Netflix. The Midnight Gospel is partially inspired by Trussell’s podcast, and he stars in the series as a spacecaster named Clancy Gilroy who interviews guests as their worlds undergo an apocalyptic event by using a universal simulation machine. Few topics are out of bounds, and the comedy goes to some very strange and dark places. That’s par for the course for a series that ends almost every episode with an extinction-level disaster. And yet, it’s still really fun.

Created by: Pendleton Ward, Duncan Trussell
Cast: Duncan Trussell
Number of seasons: 1

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pose on netflix


Pose is one of the rare TV dramas that fully embraces its LGBTQ cast, which is essential to the period and premise of the show. The series begins in the late ‘80s and chronicles the lives of several gay and gender-nonconforming dancers in the ballroom culture scene. But the series also takes a hard look at the HIV and AIDS epidemic, which hits the community hard just when the subculture begins to go mainstream in the early ‘90s. It’s truly a TV show like no other.

Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals
Cast: Evan Peters, Kate Mara, James Van Der Beek
Number of seasons: 2

Watch on Netflix

high score on netflix

High Score

How well do you know the story of video games? From the rise and fall of Atari to the emergence of Nintendo and beyond, Netflix’s High Score proves that there are still surprises to be found in the history of gaming. Throughout the first season, High Score tracks the beginning of the medium and interviews some of the pivotal figures who shaped gaming as we know it, many of whom remain unknown outside of gaming circles.

High Score also takes a deep dive into the console wars of the ‘90s, as well as the roleplaying and fighting genres, before examining the advent of 3D graphics. It doesn’t quite take us to the era of modern gaming, but the series is just getting started.

Created by: France Costrel
Cast: Charles Martinet
Number of seasons: 1

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the haunting of hill house netflix

The Haunting of Hill House

One dark and ominous night, Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas) gathers his children and flees their vast, gothic mansion, leaving his wife, Olivia (Carla Gugino), behind. Olivia dies that night, her death ruled a suicide, and the tabloids run wild with stories of the haunted Hill House. The five Crain children — Steven, Shirley, Theo, Nell, and Luke — all grow up dealing with their trauma in varying ways, whether writing a successful memoir about the haunting of Hill House (Steven), or abusing drugs to numb the pain (Luke). As adults, the Crain siblings are barely on speaking terms, until a tragedy forces them all back together, and back to Hill House. Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House is a character-driven story, delving into the psychological problems of its many protagonists. It’s no mere family drama, though. In addition to their personal demons, there are some very real ghosts haunting the Crains, and Flanagan orchestrates some intense scares in the first episode alone, building tension but also knowing when to bust out a jump scare.

Created by: Mike Flanagan
Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

better call saul netflix

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 before the events of Breaking Bad and throws out the convention that a spinoff must pale in comparison to its material. It also proves Gilligan and company remain at the top of their game.

Created by: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

the crown netflix

The Crown

Britain’s current and longest-reigning monarch is also one of its most unassuming. Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in the aftermath of World War II, at a time when the monarchy had ceded much of its power to Parliament and the Prime Minister. Despite a lack of governmental power, the Queen remains one of the most important heads of state in the world, and civic duties abound. Netflix’s The Crown traces Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) life from her marriage to Prince Philip (Matt Smith) in 1947 to the present day, digging into the web of agendas and alliances the Queen must navigate. Heavy on political intrigue, The Crown is sure to satisfy viewers who appreciate Machiavellian television, as well as those who love TV shows like Downton Abbey. However, the show also has a deeply intimate side, in that it examines Elizabeth’s personal relationships and the toll exacted by her duties as Queen.

Created by: Peter Morgan
Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Matt Smith
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

best shows on netflix tiger king

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

The “crazy true crime” documentary has become the iconic genre of the streaming age, and Tiger King might be the Platonic ideal. The setup is simple enough: Director Eric Goode is making a documentary about a snake dealer in Florida, stumbling from there into the world of big cat owners, and the eponymous “Tiger King” in particular: Joe Exotic, the grandiose owner of a big cat zoo (and country musician) who was convicted in 2019 of trying to put a hit on animal rights activist Carole Baskin. From the moment he appears on screen, Exotic is an outlandish figure, and the story only gets wilder from there.

Created by: Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin
Cast: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on Netflix

the good place netflix

The Good Place

Bureaucratic mix-ups can be a nightmare — just ask anyone who has needed to apply for a passport — but on occasion, they can work out in your favor. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself on the good side of a paperwork snafu when, after dying, she ends up in the Good Place, a serene afterlife neighborhood built by a cosmic architect named Michael (Ted Danson). In reality, Eleanor was an abrasive person who only looked out for herself. Now, to avoid being discovered and sent to the Bad Place, she must learn how to behave like a nice person. The Good Place is an upbeat comedy whose unique setting and surprising plot set it a notch above most sitcoms.

Created by: Michael Schur
Cast: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix

bojack horseman netflix

BoJack Horseman

Netflix’s original animated show features voices from some of the brightest stars on TV today (i.e., Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul). Comedian Amy Sedaris also lends her voice to this raucous show about a washed-up celebrity horse who attempts to reignite his stagnant career. Ridiculous in all aspects, BoJack Horseman is good for some hearty laughs at the expense of the commonplace celebrity. Season 1 starts off goofy, but by the first season finale, the show evolves into a shockingly sad, yet still hilarious examination of depression and pop-culture into the second season.

Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie
Number of seasons: 6

Watch on Netflix

Editors’ Recommendations

Above article first published by . We curated and re-published.

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