I hear it all the time: finding great Netflix shows can be tough. There are many good Netflix shows — and bad ones too — and the density of them all makes it really difficult to sift through it all to watch the best Netflix shows.
Yes, we regularly update a roundup of just that, all of the best shows on Netflix. But that roundup has over 60 shows, and we know sometimes people want a list that's a little more digestible. A little more personal.
Which is how I've built this list. I looked at my viewing history, then crossed off all the Stranger Things and Squid Games because they're too obvious. I then thought about the shows that I wish I could see again with a fresh set of eyes. To experience these amazing shows without knowing what would come next.
So, I've selected a range of shows that I think shows off a fair bit of what I love about Netflix. This batch has an excellent drama series, an unexpected reality TV show, an amazing sitcom, one of the best shows of the last decade and a sketch comedy show that's a treat.
And they're not all "from" Netflix: this batch has two Netflix Originals, one import that has a larger legacy that Netflix could pull from and two licensed shows that are ultimately rewatchable.
Maid is the best Netflix drama in years
You may remember Margaret Qualley from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, where she had an instant way about herself when she hopped into Brad Pitt's car. But after you see Maid, you'll always see her as Alex, a single mother who is dealing with poverty, homelessness and an emotionally abusive relationship. Qualley's performance, which is often simmering (or at full-boil) with tension, is the kind of thing that sticks with you, further humanizing every stranger you've ever seen going through something terrible in public.
On top of all that, Alex's mother Paula (Andie MacDowell, Qualley's real-life mother) is going through her own drama, with an untrustworthy beau. Throughout Maid (which is inspired by Stephanie Land's memoir of the same title), the series shows us all the different ways that trauma can effect and hurt, as well as how it's passed down generationally. One of the most intense shows this side of The Bear (one of the best shows on Hulu), Maid is a 10-episode limited-series that demands to be seen.
Seasons: 1 (10 episodes)
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I Think You Should Leave is one of the best sketch comedy shows on Netflix
Even if you've never seen I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, you've probably seen some of its best moments. For example, you've probably seen a meme of a guy in a hot dog costume, dedicated to finding out who's responsible for "this situation." And that one sketch is a prime example of why you should watch I Think You Should Leave.
The context of that scene, and how it lingers on its awkwardness, is absolutely amazing. In this one scene, Tim Robinson plays this hot dog-costumed man with a shockingly unearned confidence, one that even tricks those around him.
That's only one of dozens of moments from the series that will linger with you for weeks if not months. A fair warning that there is some adult humor in this show, especially when you get to the haunted house tour. But I Think You Should Leave will stay with you for a while, and it's one of those shows you won't stop quoting with friends. Oh, and once you get through the whole of the series, don't worry: a third season is already officially announced.
Genre: Sketch comedy
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Old Enough! is a total gem and surprise
While I'm no reality TV expert, random unique unscripted programming can find its way into my heart. And Old Enough! is the perfect representative to put on this list. This odd series is about young kids in Japan whose parents think need a little push into their independence. And whent I say young, I mean that these are two- to four-year-olds going off on errands by themselves (with a camera crew). One has to go grocery shopping and remember everything, while another has to simply make juice.
A hit for over 30 years on Japan's Nippon TV, Old Enough! even has narration that takes the challenges slightly seriously. When we're told that two-year-old Horoki's "errand actually requires a one-kilometer journey each way," and that this "distance is a new record for a solo errand at two years and nine months!" you'll chuckle at the prospect of someone treating these kids miniature missions like a sport. It's adorable, and a welcome change of pace from most reality TV.
Watch it on Netflix
Better Call Saul is the show that you really ought to have seen by now
You know how I said I wasn't going to recommend anything obvious? Nothing that has been over-exposed? I'm not sure if I lied or not. Better Call Saul has, for six seasons now, been that show you're told you need to watch. That said, I don't know if enough people are taking that advice. For some reason, maybe it's the fact that Bob Odenkirk doesn't have the sex appeal of the Euphoria kids, Better Call Saul still feels like a show reaching for a bigger audience.
Which is why I love the fact that its first five seasons are on on Netflix. In those five seasons, you'll get to know Jimmy McGill (Odenkirk), the lawyer who slowly loosened his morals enough to become Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad. But we don't really need to talk about Breaking Bad, and you don't need to have seen that series to know what's going on here. Throughout the six seasons of Better Call Saul, knowledge from Breaking Bad only enhances the ride here and there — it's far from necessary. Better Call Saul is like Andor in that way: it's a great show that just so happens to exist in the same universe with some of the same characters as a much-more-famous show.
Why should you hit play (and keep hitting play) on Better Call Saul? Because Jimmy's relationship with his Chuck (Michael McKean) makes for some of the most amazing drama I've ever seen. Because the reveal of Jimmy's addiction to pulling off cons makes for an amazing game of "will he get caught?" And because Rhea Seehorn, who plays attorney Kim Wexler, puts in some of the best performances in modern TV. I can't tell you why Better Call Saul is under-seen, but I can tell you that you need to watch it — now. Maybe people are waiting until season 6 is on Netflix. Were I to watch all five seasons on Netflix before season 6 arrived? I'd just buy the dang sixth and final season on demand. That's how good it is, you'll be happy to buy the finale.
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Community is one of the best sitcoms of its era
Going to college is fun. Going to a community college filled with wild and weird people who do things extra-odd? Well, it can be fun, but that's provided you're watching the action from home — and not actually enrolling in Greendale.
An excellent, and still under-praised, sitcom, Community is about a bunch of dysfunctional human beings at a community college where the mascot is literally called "the Human Being." And its premise is relatively simple. Disbarred lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) enrolls at Greendale, because he thinks his friend Dr. Ian Duncan (John Oliver) who teaches there will help him cheat his way back to the world of law.
Here, Jeff meets many weirdos, and forms a study group with six of them: Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), an activist he wants to bed, pop culture obsessed Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), Annie Edison (Alison Brie) and Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) who went to high school together, pious mother Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) and the hyper-insensitive wet-wipes magnate Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase). They all have to deal with a Spanish class taught by the seemingly-inept Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), and slowly form friendships.
But Community thrives when it goes outside the classroom. One week there's a paint-ball tournament taken way too seriously, the next there's a need to lock down the study room because of a missing pen. Then, there's the stop-motion animation episode, which is in a league of its own.
Beloved recent sitcoms such as Parks and Recreation, The Office and Modern Family all get their flowers, and Community? Well, it got six seasons (and a Community movie is coming soon), and it should have your eyes watching (or re-watching) now.
Watch it on Netflix
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