Audiences are on the verge of obsessive behavior when it comes to streaming must-see TV shows in binge-able servings. Peak TV constantly vying for our eyeballs doesn’t make it easy when it comes to adding series to our Netflix queue. So, what should you binge? Relax. We got ya covered.
Whether you’re looking for a lazy Sunday, a long holiday weekend on the couch, or something to have on in the background, here are 15 essential TV series that all self-respecting fans of the medium should binge. While there’s at least a fabillion shows on Netflix gunning for your attention, this mix of classic faves and Netflix originals are plenty to tide you over.
However, if you’re fixing for a movie or three to watch, our list of the Best Movies on Netflix Right Now is tailored for you.
Editor’s Note: This article was last updated on September 5. Recent additions include Brand New Cherry Flavor, Lupin, and I Think You Should Leave.
Brand New Cherry Flavor
Created by: Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion
Cast: Rosa Salazar, Catherine Keener, Eric Lange, Manny Jacinto, Jeff Ward
If you’re looking for a binge-worthy show that keeps you hitting play on the next episode on pure WTF-factor, Brand New Cherry Flavor is the wild, constantly unpredictable show for you. Co-created by Channel Zero and The Act‘s Nick Antosca, Brand New Cherry Flavor is arguably even more bingeable than his last two hits thanks to its ever-expanding, always evolving world of mysteries and horror. Alita: Battle Angel star Rosa Salazar plays an ambitious and gifted filmmaker who heads to L.A. after some unknown tragedy, strikes up an immediate kinship with a powerful producer, and watches it all go sour in an instant after he steals her film. Seeking revenge, she turns to an eccentric cat-witch, played with delicious scenery-chewing fervor by the great Catherine Keener, invoking a curse that introduces her to a whole new world of wonders… and pain. It’s a twisting, turning, often shocking reinvention of the revenge story and one that keeps you glued to the screen for all 8 episodes. – Haleigh Foutch
Created by: George Kay and François Uzan
Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Clotilde Hesme, Vincent Londez, Soufiane Guerrab, Shirine Boutella
Netflix’s big international breakout of 2021, Lupin isn’t just one of the most addictive shows of the year, it’s one of the most critically acclaimed. Inspired by Maurice Leblanc’s literary gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, Lupin stars Omar Sy as Assane Diop, a clever and charismatic thief in his own right, using his skills to seek vengeance against the wealthy family that framed his father. Lupin‘s mysteries are as gripping as Sy’s magnetic performance, and you’ll find yourself finished with the first batch of episodes faster than Diop picks a lock – but not to worry, Netflix released Part 2 in a hurry, just a few months after the series’ winter premiere, meaning you’ve got 10 episodes of breathless heists, puzzling mysteries, and sweet sweet vengeance to enjoy while we wait for news on Season 3. – Haleigh Foutch
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
Created by: Zach Kanin and Tim Robinson
I Think You Should Leave is not the longest binge-watch you can dive into, but minute-for-minute, joke-for-joke, it is one of the funniest shows you can binge on any streaming service right now. Best known for his work in Detroiters and Saturday Night Live, Tim Robinson co-created this short-episode sketch comedy series, with a long list of top comedy voices as executive producers, including The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone. The result is one of the most deranged and brilliant comedy shows of its time, a complete clusterfuck of nightmare characters, impossible scenarios, and escalating stakes that never ever go where you expect. Featuring an endless roster of recognizable guest stars, from Steven Yeun to Bob Odenkirk, I Think You Should Leave is an instant classic of sketch comedy, and if you’re looking to laugh – really hard – easily one of the best shows to binge-watch on Netflix. – Haleigh Foutch
Dead to Me
Created by: Liz Feldman
Cast: Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden
Secrets are poison. They’re also sometimes essential (and messy) building blocks to complicated but necessary relationships — at least that’s part of the thesis the excellent Dead to Me tries to convey with some of the best writing and performances of the Peak TV.
Liz Feldman’s half-hour dramedy is basically the TV equivalent of bite-sized, but each episode packs a feast of rich storytelling as the recently-widowed and very angry Jen (Christina Applegate) slowly befriends an eccentric-but-good-hearted Judy (Linda Cardellini) at a grief counselling group. Jen would rather spend time finding the person responsible for killing her husband in a hit-and-run than do trust fall-y exercises or share her feelings. But emotional catharsis seems like a golden age compared to the truths and lies Jen uncovers and confronts, as her relationship with Judy goes from zero to best friends/accomplices. To say any more would ruin the sincere joy of watching the effortless twists and gut-punch drama unfold. Applegate and Cardellini each deliver career-best work here, with the former’s Lead Actress Emmy nom much deserved.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and Whoopi Goldberg
How Star Trek: The Next Generation survived two of the most uneven (and bad) seasons of genre television ever to become an all-timer sci-fi show is nothing short of a mini-miracle.
Credit the late Michael Piller for stepping in as showrunner in Season 3 and steadying the Enterprise-D and her crew on the way to a seven-season run (all in syndication!) that concluded with a Best Drama Emmy nom and one of the greatest and most satisfying series finales in all of television. Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard managed to become as iconic and essential to Trek as his predecessor, Kirk, as Next Gen tackled more character and thematically-driven space-bound drama than The Original Series. But when the show fired phasers and photon torpedoes, it did so with must-see impact. (For proof, watch the classic “Best of Both Worlds” two-parter that pit Picard against his nemesis the Borg, and “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”) The series also gets credit for achieving a type of world building that was novel then that we take for granted now. It enriched and deepened the franchise by extending the boundaries of the Final Frontier to include complex characters like Worf and his complicated (and almost Game of Thrones-ian) relationship with the Klingon Empire. We also saw the show explore the inner lives of its ensemble (especially Data and La Forge) with the same level of care as it did its space action.
Next Gen isn’t a perfect show, but Seasons 3 and 4 are among the most perfect runs of any series. While its “Mission of the Week” structure may feel dated in our increasingly serialized way of binging shows, Next Gen’s character-first approach to story — and spectacle — more than hold up.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Created By: Michael Piller and Rick Berman.
Cast: Avery Brooks, Rene Aberjonois, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor, Michael Dorn, Nicole de Boer, Mark Alaimo
Before Marvel, Star Trek was doing the shared universe thing. From the jump, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did a crossover in its pilot with Captain Picard sort of passing the torch to the passionate and “man of the body” Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks), reluctantly taking charge of a space station in the ass-end of space to avoid having to grieve the loss of his wife in the battle of Wolf 359 against the Borg — a battle that Picard’s Borgified self, Locutus, oversaw. That instant tension in a “no conflict” 23rd Century, coupled with the station-bound drama and action, immediately set DS9 apart from previous Trek incarnations — along with its darker aesthetic and slower burn narrative.
Like Next Gen before it, DS9 suffered a bumpy first two seasons before giving way to a then-almost-rebellious act of serialized storytelling with the introduction of big bads the Jem’Hadar and the Dominion. The ensuing war Sisko and his crew find themselves on the front lines of with one of Trek’s most formidable adversaries gives way to mini serialized arcs that rocket to a series finale that makes for a very rewarding and action-packed binge-watch.
Created by: Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy
Cast: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Chris Elliott, and Jenn Robertson
If Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm had a three-way with Beverly Hillbillies, their offspring would be Schitt’s Creek.
Addictive, sweet and hilarious in equal measure, this sitcom has emerged as our favorite Canadian export with a unique and comical family of wealthy celebs forced to relocate to small-town life after they’re defrauded by their shifty business manager. While adjusting to life in the titular town, patriarch Eugene Levy and his wife, the exceptional Catherine O’Hara, find themselves in increasingly quirky and comical situations that have endeared them to a fiercely-loyal fan-base.
O’Hara isn’t the show’s only scene-stealer; Levy’s real-life son, Daniel Levy, plays his fictional one on the show and the actor gives each episode the exact amount of whatever it needs to make you laugh. There is not one bad or weak episode of this show — an extra perk to one of the most binge-friendly series out there.
Creator: Elizabeth Meriwether
Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Lamorne Morris, and Hannah Simone
Netflix may not boast the robust catalogue of sitcom classics they used to, but it’s still home to one of the best, most lovable, and most consistently laugh-out-loud funny sitcoms of the 21st century – New Girl. The surface plot summary posits that Zooey Deschanel‘s Jessica Day moves into an apartment with four single guys after a breakup, but the show quickly moves past the initial set-up to become a full-blown ensemble hangout comedy, and it’s all the better for it. When it’s at its best, every single cast member is firing on full blast, and as the series evolves, it settles more and more into its strengths, making it one of the most emotionally rewarding and endlessly entertaining sitcoms to rewatch over and over again. – Haleigh Foutch
Created by: Laurie Nunn
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Alistair Petrie
The awkwardness of being a teenager facing very adult problems — love, sex, family, identity — has never been funnier or more poignant than the UK-set Sex Education.
Anchored by a young ensemble of crazy-relatable group of high school characters, lead by Asa Butterfield’s awkward Otis, each of the first season’s brisk eight episodes chronicles the messiness of high school that Otis tries to navigate by starting an unofficial therapy practice for students in a school that considers him as “other.” Otis is almost as good (if not better than) his mother (Gillian Anderson), a licensed therapist with a complicated emotional and sexual history. Their relationship, and all the friction therein, serves as Sex Education’s beating heart — one the show wears on its considerable sleeves without (thankfully) veering into melodrama or contrivance.
The show’s wit and charm are only rivaled by how accurate it captures the terrible privilege of this stage of growing up — the ups and downs and gains and losses of kids finding themselves to be just as adult and unsure as those adults raising them. Frank and R-rated, Sex Education is a refreshing take on the very familiar “coming of age” high school tale. One of the best first seasons ever.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Created by: Ryan Murphy
Cast: Darren Criss, Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin, Cody Fern, Finn Wittrock, Judith Light, and Jon Jon Briones
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is arguably Ryan Murphy’s greatest creative achievement.
Despite its 1997-based narrative surrounding the real-life murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) by the hands of a very disturbed and sad man named Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss), Assassination feels timeless with its themes of fame and the cost emotionally-vulnerable and self worth-deficient people will pay to achieve it.
Criss’ Cunanan is a broken-not-sprained man child, a liar and a charmer struggling to make his life mean something by way of taking that of another. There’s almost a Psycho/Norman Bates quality to the way Cunanan is dramatized, with Criss’ fearless, vulnerable performance proving transcendent in a way that we often feel like we’re watching what really happened. That we’re not watching a character based on a real person, but rather the real thing — tears and rage and all.
With a propulsive narrative that reaches back in time to highlight key persons and events leading up to Versace being gunned down outside his home, Assassination achieves an almost Memento-like affect with its drama that resonates long after the credits role. While bingeing, make sure you pause playback if you have to grab something or go to the bathroom. You won’t want to miss a frame.
Created by: Vince Gilligan
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and Giancarlo Esposito
Breaking Bad sits up there with The Sopranos as one of the most game-changing TV series ever made.
Vince Gilligan and his writing staff prided themselves, week in and week out, on putting themselves and their characters constantly in corners and finding ways to weasel them out. This approach created nailbiting, slow-burn tension and gripping drama as the tragedy of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) — a has-been high school chem teacher-turned-prideful drug lord — hooked many onto Breaking Bad’s addictive brand of “crime doesn’t pay” storytelling.
As anti-heroes go, they don’t get more interesting (or evil) as White. What started as an exercise to provide a fiscal cushion for his family in the wake of Walt’s fatal cancer diagnosis becomes a chronicle of one man’s ambitions and pride eroding away at his moral and ethical core like the very cancer infecting his body. Once the cancer enters remission, Walt’s (ahem, Heisnberg), plan to be the meth kingpin of Albuquerque creeps past its original scope and collects quite the body count. Dragged along the way is Jesse, played by the Emmy-winning Aaron Paul, as Walt and Jesse’s relationship finds new ways to go to the brink before ultimately breaking. While the series was released before bingeing became a thing, it’s definitely best experienced in one long watch. But be warned: When it’s over, you’ll wish you get it all back for the first time. (Thankfully, we have a movie coming in October to look forward to.)
Better Call Saul
Created by: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks, Michael McKean
The best spinoff since Frasier, Better Call Saul achieves a level of quality that arguably surpasses its mothership series, Breaking Bad.
On paper, a “Saul Goodman Begins” show seems like a noble misfire at best, a shoulder shrug at worst. But creators and Breaking Bad colleagues Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are pathologically incapable of delivering nothing short of excellent, with Saul being a train we know exactly how it wrecks but can’t help but take our seats and watch.
“Slippin’” Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) practices public defender law in the shadow of his brother, Chuck, and the law firm with his name on it. Sibling rivalry barely covers the McGill brothers’ complex relationship, which slowly jack knifes into tragedy as everything and everyone Jimmy cares about gets caught in the wake of his quick schemes and morally-bankrupt ways. Jimmy is a “nice” guy capable of cutting corners to get ahead without feeling too bad about it. That’s almost worse than a chem teacher wanting to be a drug dealer, especially when Jimmy’s choices have consequences for the only person who truly believes and loves him, fellow lawyer Kim Wexler (the exceptional Rhea Seehorn.)
Sips not gulps when it comes to bingeing Better Call Saul, savor it because we may never get a show this excellent again.
The Good Place
Created by: Michael Schur
Cast: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and D’Arcy Carden
If Lost and every college philosophy class made a TV show, it would be The Good Place.
Not since 30 Rock has a sitcom achieved such an inspired joke-a-minute approach to its story, which — in Good Place’s case — is seemingly more concerned with using the trappings of a network sitcom to Trojan Horse in a highly astute examination and discussion of what it means to be a moral and ethical person.
We know, that doesn’t sound very funny — but it is! Seriously, the internet is not steering your wrong about this show set in the Afterlife. Kristen Bell plays Eleanor, a recently-deceased woman and terrible person who has seemingly landed in the “good place” by a literal biblical error. There, she finds her Wizard of Oz-esque band of companions to help her navigate life after death and uncover the truth about where she really is. With architect Michael, played by a never-better Ted Danson, and her very smart (but stuck in his head) soulmate Chidi (the crazy-talented William Jackson Harper), Eleanor starts a very hilarious and inspiring way to redeem her life after death. Often in brilliant and laugh-out-loud ways.
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine
Watching Stranger Things is like mainlining nostalgia.
The Duffer Brothers’ ode to Amblin, Stephen King, and ‘80s sci-fi/horror made an instant dent in pop culture with its Goonies by way of John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg story about the telekinetic Eleven (breakout star Millie Bobby Brown), the young D & D fans charged with protecting and befriending her, and the slimy, reality-breaking creatures from the Upside Down our young heroes must team up and defeat. Equal parts mystery thriller and “hang out” show, Stranger Things is at its best when it’s just two characters talking in a room like you or your friends would if faced with events that would make Mulder and Scully blush.
You take away all the exceptional special effects and fist-pumping, edge-of-your-seat set pieces, all the action, and what you’re left with is the reason why fans are so hooked on this show: The characters. You can’t get this dynamic anywhere else on television. That, coupled with Stranger Things being designed to take advantage of Peak TV’s binge-friendly landscape, makes Netflix’s hit show one of the medium’s all-time greats.
Created by: David Collins
Cast: Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski
Queer Eye’s most recent season, Season 4, became an instant fan favorite, thanks to the Fab Five’s effortless chemistry and truly inspiring subjects. Ever since Netflix picked up the rights to the former Bravo show, Queer Eye quickly ascended to the top of Peak TV’s most accessible and bingeable shows.
The Emmy-nominated reality series follows food and wine expert Antoni, fashion king Tan, life coach and point man for all things culture Karamo, interior design guru Bobby and the always-funny groomer Jonathan as they embark on a change agent mandate to re-shape and revitalize the lives of their subjects — average citizens struggling to feel seen and heard in a world that they’re not sure knows how to look at and listen to them. The Fab Five set up a posh homebase in a U.S. city and endeavor to do more than just a physical makeover for their lucky subjects. In between home improvement projects, laugh-with-but-never-at asides, and cooking lessons, the Fab Five enrich the lives of everyone they encounter. In every episode, hope goes viral — which is ideal at a time when the world could use strong doses of it. Have at least a box of Aloe-lotioned tissues ready and a shoulder to cry on as you binge. You’re gonna need ‘em.
Created By: Eric Kripke
Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard
If you haven’t seen Supernatural before, we envy you. We wish we could get our first time back.
The CW’s longest-running show, the lone holdover from the WB days, wraps up its epic, “guitar rock”-fueled 15-season run this year, but it’s never the wrong time to catch up on this series.
Starting in 2005, Supernatural centers on two brothers — Sam and Dean Winchester — as they struggle to stop supernatural threats from pushing into our world, using little more than shotguns and faith. Their leather-jacketed, muscle-car adventures effortlessly negotiate various tones in a way that would make other series tap out. Like The X-Files before it, Supernatural evolved from a “Freak of the Week” format to a more serialized show with weekly victories and season-long threats. It also wasn’t afraid to embrace more comedic and very meta storylines, often commenting on the show and its fans itself in ways no show had truly attempted before. The back half of the show’s run has largely been thread through literal Biblical tentpoles — heaven and hell, God and the Devil, angels and demons. How this show got away with turning Sunday School lessons into set pieces and whole seasons worth of episodes, on the network known for targeting the bedazzled cherry cell phone generation, is worthy of at least several studies. How it did so with suspense, legit jump scares, fun, tears, and no shortage of big emotional emotional stakes makes it worthy of your time.
Created by: Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Peter Mullan, and Janet McTeer
The Netflix original series Ozark is frequently one of the streaming service’s most popular shows, and for good reason. Almost like a backwoods version of Breaking Bad, the series opens with Jason Bateman’s life falling apart. He and his family are forced to move from Chicago to the Ozarks to start a money laundering business after he discovers his longtime business partner has been dealing with Mexican drug cartels, and they owe an inordinate amount of money. Bateman’s life is spared when he promises to recoup by opening a vacation destination in the Ozarks, but as he and his family enmesh themselves deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld, the line between good and bad becomes further blurred. It’s pretty thrilling, packed with twists, and the performances are solid. It’s not as tight or as emotionally satisfying as Breaking Bad, but then again what is? In Ozark‘s favor, the show was created with binge-watching in mind, so there are tons of cliffhangers that have you ready to move right on into the next episode. – Adam Chitwood
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
If it’s a comedy you’re looking to binge, you can’t do much better than Community. The NBC sitcom was famous for taking huge tonal swings, and is where Avengers: Endgame directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo cut their teeth exploring different genres. At heart, this story of a mismatched group of adults attending community college is about, well, community. But in practice, Dan Harmon‘s show is a wildly ambitious (sometimes overly so) exploration of human interaction and ego, taking detours to craft action episodes, David Fincher homages, and even a full-on stop-motion animated episode. Bingeing whole seasons at once is a delightful way to experience the range of this gone but not forgotten series. – Adam Chitwood