Best Netflix shows (May 2021): the best Netflix TV series revealed
The best Netflix TV shows you should be watching.
Netflix is home to so many excellent TV shows these days, which means it was tough for us to come up with a list that didn't run into the hundreds for our best Netflix shows guide. But we did it, and thousands of you have already had your say about the best Netflix series around.
UPDATE: It's May which means that the end of Lucifer Season 5 is heading to Netflix this month. Currently top of our best Netflix TV Shows list, the final part of Season 5 will have 10 episodes and this will mean that there would have been 93 episodes in total. After that there will be a sixth and final season of the show to look forward to. Which makes sense, given 6 is the number of the devil.
We've chosen a wide selection of Netflix shows that you should be watching right now. There's ones that will make you chuckle (Santa Clarita Diet, RIP), those that will make you scratch your head (The OA, RIP) and shows that, despite flying below the radar, already have a huge fanbase (Lucifer).
Below you'll find the Netflix TV shows you should all check out, even if it's just for a one-episode taster.
For all your other Netflix needs head to the following guides:
- Best Netflix documentaries
- Best cult movies on Netflix
- Best movies on Netflix
- Best crime dramas on Netflix
- Best horror movies on Netflix
- Best Netflix Originals
- Best Netflix stand-up shows
We hope you’re sitting comfortably. Already have a favourite? Vote below!
Additional reporting: Jon Mundy
The best Netflix shows
1. LuciferAvailable to buy on Amazon
Lucifer was originally a Fox production. The show was cancelled. But its horde of “lucifan” followers were so passionate, Netflix was persuaded to give it an all-new afterlife. Well, to take on the fourth season.
Lucifer Morningstar is a free agent who consults with the LAPD. He also happens to be the devil. The series is propelled by a so-slick-it’s-greasy lead performance by Tom Ellis. And for those who like a little weight behind their TV concepts, the character comes from Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed The Sandman comics.
2. Stranger ThingsAvailable to buy on Amazon
Every now and then a piece of pop culture explodes so brightly, you feel you’re missing out if you end up just one episode behind the rest of the people at your office. Stranger Things was one of these cultural grenades back in 2016.
It’s a supernatural mystery that follows a gang of kids teleported (not literally) right from an 80s adventure movie. Stranger Things is drenched in Steven Spielberg charm. It’s also funny, scary and deliciously moreish. The third season of Stranger Things arrived on July 4, 2019 and although there's less mystery – we know a little about The Upside Down and the Mindflayer now – it's possible the best season yet, with fantastic acting, tension, just enough horror and a whole load of 80s nostalgia.
3. After LifeStream Now (Netflix)
This latest effort from Ricky Gervais is the perfect vehicle for the British comic’s particular brand of shtick. After his wife dies tragically, a near-suicidal Tony (Gervais) resolves to live without restraint, saying and doing whatever he wants - no matter how painful or offensive that might be to the people around him. You either love or hate Gervais, but a lot of people seem to think After Life is the best thing he’s done since The Office.
4. OzarkStream now (Netflix)
While it was originally billed as a lesser Breaking Bad, over the course of three seasons Ozark has proven itself as one of the tensest dramas on Netflix. About a family who must launder millions of money for a drug kingpin, the show goes to places you don’t expect.. Then even further still. It’s mesmerising television.
5. The Umbrella AcademyAvailable to buy on Amazon
Based on the comic book series by Gabriel Bá and Gerard Way (who once fronted emo band My Chemical Romance, fact fans), The Umbrella Academy is a delightfully off-kilter take on the superhero genre. At its heart is a dysfunctional family of super-powered misfits, who must put their differences aside and come together to avert the impending apocalypse. Any series that features ’90s R&B star Mary J. Blige as a dog mask-wearing assassin has to be worth a look.
6. Better Call SaulAvailable to buy on Amazon
There was a lot of trepidation when it was announced that Breaking Bad was getting a prequel, and even more so that it was to be a comedy. It turns out, though, that when Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan started writing the show, it turned into something entirely different. Shot at a glacial pace (especially when compared to Bad), Saul is a superb comedy drama that has the DNA of its meth-infused sibling but is its own thing entirely. The entire cast is top notch, but Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn are mesmerising as the legal eagles who go about things in very different ways.
7. MindhunterStream now (Netflix)
We were hoping for a third season of Manhunter to tie up some loose ends but it’s unlikely we will get this now, as David Fincher has gone on to other things. That doesn’t stop the first two seasons of this show being fantastic television. It’s a brooding, terrifying look at serial killers that rarely shows anything graphic. It’s what’s implied and that is a whole lot worse.
8. The Queen's GambitWatch now (Netflix)
This fantastic limited series is about an orphaned girl who turns out to be a chess genius. Played with aplomb by Anya Taylor-Joy, it's a brilliant series that looks lavish and is brilliantly acted. Netflix has a surefire hit on its hand with this one.
9. Peaky BlindersStream now on Netflix
Peaky Blinders may not have started out on Netflix, like many of the Netflix Originals shows on this list, but that's where you can stream all five seasons right now. The show is set in Birmingham and begins in 1919, following the story of the Shelby family or 'Peaky Blinders' gang, a fictional crime family loosely based on a real 19th century urban youth gang of the same name.
10. The WitcherAvailable to buy on Amazon
Based on the hit series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski - which have also spawned a successful series of games - The Witcher is one of the biggest budgeted TV shows on Netflix. Henry Cavill is Geralt, the Witcher, someone who travels the Continent hunting monsters that threaten the world. It's a lot of fun and perfect for those looking for a Game of Thrones replacement. There are just eight episodes, but if the show is a success then expect it to run and run.
11. Black MirrorStream Now (Netflix)
Black Mirror is from the fevered brain of Charlie Brooker and boy does it turn a harsh light on technology and the potential dystopian futures that might only be a few years awa. The first two series were three episodes long and contain some fantastic episodes - including The National Anthem. Season 3 and 4 were boosted to six episodes apiece and if you haven't seen San Junipero then grab the tissues and watch season 3's immaculately told love story. A Christmas special and Bandersnatch, an interactive episode, are also included as is the brand-new fifth season, which stars Miley Cyrus as a future pop star. Bizarre, brilliant and sometimes brutal, Black Mirror is as subversive a TV show there is right now.
12. Sex EducationStream Now (Netflix)
The new season of Sex Education has landed. The series follows a group of young people trying their best to navigate sex, friendships, relationships and their own identities. It's been written with a lot of input from sex and relationship experts and young people, so it feels fresh, genuine and extremely watchable.
13. The CrownStream Now (Netflix)
Now Season 4 of The Crown is here, the series has undergone a time shift, with Claire Foy's queen being replaced by the brilliant Olivia Coleman who is now joined by a young Princess Di (Emma Corrin) and Prince of wales. If you're new to the show, you have two superb seasons to catch up on, which recount the romance between Prince Philip and Elizabeth, and so much more. This is a lavish soap opera that's well worth your time. Although, we still can't get over Gillian Anderson as Thatcher. It, er, makes us rethink everything.
14. UnbelievableStream Now (Netflix)
Unbelievable is the latest hard-hitting US drama to land on Netflix, based on the true story of Marie Adler. With a cast that includes Toni Collette, Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever, the series tells the tale of a teen accused of making a false rape allegation and the two detectives who chance upon her rape case whilst investigating a new pattern of attacks. It's a gritty, hard-hitting series that will keep you holding on until the very last episode to see how things pan out. It's got the right pace, right cast and carries a truly harrowing message.
15. The Good PlaceAvailable to buy on Amazon
The creators of The Good Place have announced that the show is to end after Season 4, which is a real shame as this is one of the funniest and cleverest comedies around. Set in the afterlife and, well, saying more would be spoiling things. The main ensemble comprises the likes of Kristen Bell and Ted Danson and the whole thing is one big philosophical conversation.
16. DarkStream now (Netflix)
This German thriller is one of the best sci-fi shows we have seen in years. It starts off as a simple missing person’s tale and balloons into something far more, where everyone is hiding a secret and the truth is continually kept out of reach. A third and final season has been revealed, which should answer some of the (many) questions we have. Brilliant stuff.
17. Schitt’s CreekStream now (Netflix)
In these times of unease, a show about bankruptcy doesn’t sound like the easiest watch but this is wonderful TV. If you are looking for something that is easy to watch, packed with lovable characters, and is actually complete, then look beyond the terrible title and you will find something sublime.
18. FargoStream now (Netflix)
All three seasons of the Fargo TV show are available to stream and each of them are a masterclass in how to do TV. Taking place in different timelines, they are all standalone but hint at each other throughout. The series is packed with talent, too, with Billy Bob Thornton, Ewan McGregor and Kirsten Dunst all starring. If we had to choose, the second seasons would be our favourite but each is a fantastic take on the Coen Brothers classic movie.
19. The FallStream now (Netflix)
One of the best shows about serial killers of all time, The Fall is a dark take on the genre pushing our preconceptions of what a serial killer should look and act like. Gillian Anderson is brilliant as the detective on the hunt for a murderer, but it is Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector who is the real standout here. It’s a shame he went from this to those crap 50 Shades movies as he’s an utter acting talent.
20. UnorthodoxStream Now (Netflix)
A four-part limited series based around the Orthodox Jewish religion, Unorthodox, is a show worthy of your attention. Following a 19 year-old woman who flees her arranged marriage in favour of a less restrictive life, the plot sees her husband (and his outlawed cousin) set out to find her and bring her back to their community in Williamsburg, New York. Discovering what life is like outside her insular, NY community, will she be able to start afresh? You'll have to watch to find out.
21. Money HeistStream now (Netflix)
Initially meant to be a story in two (very long) parts, Money Heist has been shifted into a much more palatable TV format and is continuing to be one of the most intriguing shows on Netflix. It’s premise is essentially the good bit of any heist movie: focusing on some high-octane heists and the people chosen to do them. This Spanish-language show is one of the most frenetic you will watch, and all the better for it.
22. Cobra KaiStream now (Netflix)
Cobra Kai was originally a YouTube Red show but now it's landed on Netflix, it's a must watch. Following Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, both are now well into middle age and trying find their lives entwined once more when Lawrence decides to set up a Dojo in town once more. With loads of call backs to the original films, this is a brilliant burst of nostalgia that manages to balance both drama and comedy really well. The third season of Cobra Kai is available to stream now.
23. Locke & KeyAvailable in Paperback on Amazon
It's here! And we don't write that lightly. Locke & Key has been in development hell for getting on a decade now, with Fox creating a pilot for the show starring Miranda Otto. That never worked out (for some reason they chose to greenlight Alcatraz instead), but now Netflix has taken a punt and we are so glad they did. Based on Joe Hill's fantastic comic book, Locke & Key is about a family whose father is murdered. They go and live in his old estate and spooky things start to happen. All 10 episodes are available to stream now.
24. Jessica JonesAvailable to buy on Amazon
And like that, the Marvel TV universe has ended with the release of Jessica Jones: Season 3. It's a fitting end to the story of Jessica Jones, but not the entire arc of what went before it. But, we don't care, the best thing of Marvel on the small screen has been Jessica Jones. Her dark past, the brilliance of David Tenant in the first series, her relationship with her sister in the second, everything about the show is great - and her ability to swig back the whisky and continue working is nothing but superhuman, so we have to also applaud her for that.
25. Lost in SpaceAvailable to buy on Amazon
Based on the 1965 series of the same name (which was actually a reimagining of the novel, The Swiss Family Robinson), this modern-day reimagining of the space adventure is a must-watch for science-fiction fans. Sure some of it can feel a little cheesy at times, but it's full of alien adventures, gorgeous visuals of space and lots of edge-of-your-seat tension as the Robinson family battle all of the things space throws at them.
26. It's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaAvailable to buy on Amazon
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia first aired back in 2005, which means it's been running for 15 whole years! The latest season was released at the end of 2019, so if you're looking for a dose of laugh-out-loud comedy we recommend taking a trip to Paddy's Pub in South Philadelphia.
27. CommunityStream now on Netflix
If you want to watch something light and fun at the moment we don't blame you. That's why it's perfect timing that all six seasons of laugh-out-loud comedy series Community have landed on Netflix. You'll recognise most of the cast as they're all great comedy actors, including Donald Glover and Alison Brie. The show is about life at a community college in the fictional town of Greendale, Colorado.
28. Dead To MeWatch now on Netflix
There isn't a better duo than Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate right now - and a recent Emmy nomination proves this. They star in Dead To Me, a brilliant show about a widower (Cardellini) looking for the person who ran over, and killed, her husband. What ensues is not what you think and it's brilliant. There's two seasons on Netflix with a third on the way.
29. GLOWStream Now (Netflix)
GLOW is one of the best shows on Netflix right now. It's a heady mix of spandex and weighty issues. Set in the 80s and loosely based on the true events of the TV show, this is a neon-lit look at what happens when woman start to dominate in what was a men-focuse world, with fantastic results. Season 3 has just begun.
30. Derry GirlsWatch now on Netflix
A fantastic series that's set around The Troubles in Ireland, but told through the eye of school kids who just want to have fun. The first series is available on Netflix and is a fantastic, hilarious watch - it also manages to handle themes like the IRA and Catholicism with aplomb, not missing a comedy beat.
31. Sons of AnarchyWatch now on Netflix
Sons of Anarchy is up there with the likes of Breaking Bad and The Sopranos when it comes to event TV. It's about the exploits of a biker gang but it is so much more than that - it lays out like a Shakespearean tragedy slathered in blood and violence. So, just like a Shakespearean tragedy, then.
32. Chilling Adventures of SabrinaAvailable in Paperback on Amazon
Based on the Archie comic book series, and less so on the 90s TV show Sabrina The Teenage Witch, this Netflix Originals series may look like a kids show, but it's got all the right ingredients to make it a dark and compelling binge watch for all ages. It follows the story of Sabrina Spellman, a half-witch, half-human, who feels like she doesn't quite fit into the devil-worshipping world of her coven or the local high school for humans either. The first season is entertaining, but it isn't until the recently-released second season that it gets much more unsettling and addictive.
33. ArcherStream now (Netflix)
Now 10 seasons long, Archer is a fantastic animated series that’s based on the annoyingly good spy Archer and his motley crew at the intelligence agency he works for. Playing to the same beat as Bond, Archer is misogynistic, alcohol-soaked but ultimately a likeable rogue. The show is fantastic in its scope and gets weirder as the seasons go on, parodying other genres and mutating into something quite different. There’s another season in the works but that’s been delayed by Covid-19.
34. HannibalStream now (Netflix)
A show that was cut off in its prime. Hannibal is a beautiful, horrific masterpiece. Using the Hannibal movies as a stepping off point, Mads Mikkelsen is truly terrifying in the titular role. There’s rumours that another season could happen - until then, switch on and be prepared to bask in exceptional, blood-soaked television.
35. SnowpiercerStream now (Netflix)
The show of the film that wasn’t seen in the UK until recently, as The Weinstein Co decided not to give it a U release, expands on the mythos of Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho’s premise: humanity is all-but gone - what’s left is living on a train whizzing through a land ravaged by a second ice age. Turning some of the movie on its head, this is a solid attempt at sci-fi. We’re only a few episodes in but it’s a lot of fun.
36. LupinStream (Netflix)
Lupin is fantastic television and the most popular thing on Netflix right now. There is a little bit of Sherlock Holmes mixed into the French procedural crime drama that focuses on a bank robber who takes advantage of his place in society to complete his crimes. Also, the fashion in the show is a masterclass - we expect its own clothing range soon!
37. The Thick of ItStream now (Netflix)
The Thick Of It is a show that comes up at least once a day on Twitter in reference to the actions of the current government. That’s how good this parody is - it’s pretty much just one step removed from real life which is both hilarious and seriously worrying. Peter Capaldi always gets singled out as Malcolm Tucker but every single person in The Thick of It is comedy gold.
38. The Haunting of Bly Manor / Hill HouseStream now (Netflix)
While the scares aren't as damn-right scary as The Haunting of Hill House, this (s)equal to the show is a fantastic lesson in gothic suspense. Based around Henry James' The Turn of the Screw - as well as some other stories threaded together - we see a group of people who are told a story about an au pair and her experiences with a family living in Bly Manor in 1987. It's nine episodes long with one episode completely defying convention and it's all the better for it. We rate The Haunting of Hill House the same as this show, so count this as a vote for both of them
39. SpacedWatch now on Netflix
Although it lasted a mere two seasons, Spaced's legacy was far bigger. Directed by Edgar Wright and written by Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes, the show about housemates and their landlady is a bizarre, surreal slice of pop culture. Its full of whip-smart movie references and whip pans and is just a joy to watch. The first series is the best and despite its relatively low budget, Wright uses a Hollywood eye to make this show look fantastic.
40. MisfitsStream now (Netflix)
Originally airing on Channel 4, Misfits is a fantastic TV show about superheroes that aren't always that super. While Boys (on Amazon Prime) is getting all the accolades for showing off superheroes with flaws, it was done first (and better) in Misfits.
41. Bojack HorsemanAvailable to buy on Amazon
Described as a tragicomedy, because it's a laugh-out-loud series in many ways, but it also deals with some very big issues, including trauma, drug dependence and depression - this is far from "just a cartoon". It follows the story of Bojack Horseman, who was a big celebrity back in the day but is now feeling tired, washed-up and like he has no real place in the glitz and glamour of showbiz anymore. The show is a huge hit and features the voices of Will Arnett, Aaron Paul and Amy Sedaris.
42. AwayStream now (Netflix)
Away is a slow burner but stick with it and you are gifted a fantastic, realistic look at what a mission to Mars would do to the people on board the spaceship and the people left behind. Hilary Swank stars and is great as the stoic commander. When things go wrong, and they definitely do, the drama grips but even in its quieter moments, the show is epic.
43. KingdomStream now (Netflix)
One of Netflix's real hidden gems, Hidden is a fantastic social commentary on Korea, all put through the lens of 16th Century politics and, well, zombies. Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) is investigating an illness that has overcome his father. While investigating he comes across a building packed with dead bodies. They belong to the person who is treating his father and, the kicker is, they won't stay dead for long.
44. Top BoyWatch now on Netflix
We have rapper Drake to thank for the resurrection of Top Boy - a show about the goings-on of drug dealers on the streets of London. He financed a new series (with another on the way). This one and the original two series (now called Top Boy: Summerhouse) are available and they're a fantastic watch. Both star Ashley Walters and Kano as two dealers who rule over their estate - until a newcomer comes along and tries to upend things
45. Russian DollStream Now (Netflix)
Russian Doll takes the classic Groundhog Day conceit and runs with it, not stopping for breath until it crashes into a hip New York party. Natasha Lyonne plays Nadia, a hard-living programmer who finds herself dying and repeating the same day again and again (and again). What could have been tired and formulaic fare turns out to be one of the freshest and funniest shows of recent times. Let's hope this same energy is maintained for the recently-announced second season.
46. BridgertonStream now (Netflix)
Netflix's answer to Downton Abbey is here and it's fantastic fun. Narrated by Julie Andrews, the show centres on Regency era in England, where eight siblings of the Bridgerton family attempt to find love. Now, this is an authentic slab of costume drama - it's pretty ridiculous in places but Shonda Rhimes has created a bawdy hit and the likes of Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls) are superb.
47. Alice in BorderlandStream now (Netflix)
A second series has already been greenlit, so it's good to know that Netflix is backing this great slab of dystopia. Based on the Manga of the same name, his is a survival tale, focusing on a group of people trying to survive in a deserted Tokyo (seeing the likes of Shibuya Crossing empty is quite something). They have to tackle a series of puzzles and games to survive, making this the Battle Royal/Saw mashup we have always wanted to see.
48. Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of FunStream (Netflix)
Well, this one is simply a joy. Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun is a fantastic Australian sketch show. It's based on a group of mates who live together and the best way to describe it is that it's The Mighty Boosh mixed with Flight of Conchords with more than a sprinkling of Monty Python. It's a must watch and packs in more jokes per episode than most comedies do in a series.
49. The DuchessStream now (Netflix)
Kind of crude in places but worth it because of Katherine Ryan's no-holds-barred portrayal of single mum Katherine, The Duchess is a show that's packed with one liners, things you would love to say if you had the nerve and a hefty amount of snark. It's not for all, but Ryan doesn't care about that - she gives the show a shouty voice that you just can't ignore.
50. The Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceHardcover version available on Amazon
This is superb fantasy. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is the sort of thing Netflix should be doing - expanding on things from our childhood and making them better. Using practical effects and packed with a cast that includes Jason Isaacs, Natalie Dormer, Alicia Vikander, Taron Egerton and Mark Hamill - this is a fantasy prequel story unlike no other and should help you get over your Game of Thrones fix.
51. White LinesStream now (on Netflix)
It's not the most subtle of shows but White Lines is a frenetic look at part capital of the world Ibiza and the rotting underbelly that controls the fun on the island. Packed with outlandish scenes, shaky acting and plot points to shake your head at - it's not perfect but it's bloody good fun.
52. Santa Clarita DietStream Now (Netflix)
This TV show, which was sadly cancelled after its third season, has a concept that sounds cooked up by some drunk friends in a bar. Joel and Sheila Hammond are a normal suburban couple, until Sheila becomes a zombie.
Santa Clarita Diet explores the bizarre and frequently hilarious unwinding of this high-concept premise. Drew Barrymore is brilliant in the lead, flesh-munching role. Why was it cancelled if it was so good? Like most shows that end up canned, Santa Clarita Diet just didn’t attract quite enough eyeballs. But it deserves yours.
53. The OAStream Now (Netflix)
We’ve had a fair amount of craziness in our Netflix series round-up so far, but The OA takes the loony biscuit. The first season was an unexpected combination of abduction escapes, mysterious powers, fledgling cults, and thwarted romance - all with a curious supernatural undertone. Part II is set to be no less strange, as we find out where Britt Marling’s quasi-angelic space cadet warped off to during the dizzying Part I finale.
54. Love, Death & RobotsStream Now (Netflix)
This animated sci-fi anthology series certainly isn’t for the young or easily offended. These 18 short stories are packed full of the kind of sex, violence and downright surreal subject matter that would make your parents tut. There’s a lot of talent behind the series, including executive producers David Fincher and Tim Miller (he of Dead Pool fame). If nothing else, it shows Netflix tries to cater to all markets, no matter how niche.
55. Star Trek DiscoveryAvailable to buy on Amazon
The current iteration of the sprawling Star Trek franchise appears to be ticking along nicely. Season 2 of Discovery has introduced a new captain (Kirk’s predecessor Captain Pike), as well as a certain pointy-eared science officer, who has been given some retconned history by series protagonist Michael Burnham. All in all, Star Trek Discovery is a much slicker and more action-packed take on Gene Rodenberry’s sci-fi universe than you might be used to.