22 of the best TV shows to watch on Netflix

The best TV shows to watch on Netflix UK

There's more to Netflix than just rewatching all ten series of Friends. Netflix has changed the way we watch television. The streaming service's arsenal of TV shows is so vast and addictive that binge-watching has now become the norm.

It is home to scores of old favourites that you'll never tire of re-watching (The IT Crowd, The Thick of It, all of Star Trek), shows that have found a new lease of life on the streaming platform (Arrested Development, Black Mirror), and R-rated shows that would have been passed over by more traditional TV networks.

More pertinently, Netflix's Original content consists of superb new shows like Stranger Things and GLOW, and the mighty Marvel TV shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Punisher) - all available to watch in glorious Ultra HD 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision.

With so much content on there, we've picked out some of our favourite TV shows (Full HD and 4K, old and new) that you should be watching on Netflix too.

Making a Murderer

Available to stream in Full HD

One of the most compelling documentary series to land on Netflix, Making a Murderer revisits the story of Steven Avery, who's exonerated of an attempted murder charge after serving 18 years of an attempted murder case, only to be convicted of another murder case two years later. 

The documentary raises questions about his conviction and the handling of the case by Wisconsin police, while also examining the case of his nephew Brendan Dassey, who's convicted of involvement in the same crime.

After making headlines around the world, and subsequent further twists in the tale, season two of Making a Murderer starts on 19th October.

Words by Joe Cox

Better Call Saul

Available to stream in 4K

One of the many charms of Breaking Bad was the vivid nature of its characters, be they pivotal or periphery. And as such, it was crying out for a spin-off series.

Better Call Saul tells the backstory of uber-shallow attorney Saul Goodman, who’s known by his given name of Jimmy McGill throughout series one and two, only becoming known as Saul (’s all good, man) after his latest brush with disbarment towards the end of series three. And, sure enough, it's compelling.

The storytelling is fast, tight, dramatic and humorous throughout, and the picture quality – Better Call Saul is shot, scanned, mastered and edited in 4K – is lustrous and prodigiously detailed. As a demonstration of what 4K can be, you can’t do much better. And season four has just gone live.

Words by Simon Lucas

The Good Place

Available to stream in Full HD

What happens after you die? For Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) you wake up in the eponymous Good Place: a pseudo-Heaven that caters to your every whim. Unfortunately for Eleanor, she’s there by mistake.

The ‘false utopia’ trope isn’t new, but it’s rare to see it executed as well as The Good Place does. Eleanor’s existence causes absurdist natural disasters – giant ladybirds, flying shrimp, and snapping flowers – as Heaven tries to right itself, so she must learn to be ‘good’ from a deceased ethics professor, Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) in order to survive.

The writing is fantastic, and there are twists galore in every episode, as what starts as a simple mistake spirals to cosmic proportions.

Words by Adam Smith

Stranger Things

Available to stream in 4K HDR

A missing kid, a small town, a secret government lab, a girl with supernatural powers, bikes, Dungeons & Dragons and walkie-talkies.

Stranger Things ticks all the 80s Spielberg-era film tropes, but the Duffer brothers (Mike and Ross - writers, producers and directors of the show) veer away from saccharine pastiche and instead deliver a well-written, tightly woven plot that’s as exciting and involving as it is filled with pop culture, sci-fi, horror and nods to 80s music.

But what really gets you truly invested in the show are the characters. From the core cast of extremely likeable kids to Winona Ryder’s worried mother and the grumpy Sheriff Hopper, they’re established so quickly you know them, like them and are invested in their lives right from episode one.

The show even manages to tie up the main plot satisfyingly in the first eight episodes – but leaves just enough loose threads dangling to draw us back into the equally arresting series two.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

GLOW

Available to stream in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision

That’s ‘GLOW’, as in an acronym for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which was an entirely real professional wrestling series in the 1980s. Well, ‘real’ in the same way that WWE is ‘real’, which is to say highly scripted and ridiculously OTT.

This two-season Netflix comedy-drama casts Community’s Alison Brie as a struggling actor turned unlikely wrestler who, through a series of unfortunate and painfully embarrassing events, finds herself cast as GLOW’s chief baddie. Her former best friend becomes her arch nemesis both in and out of the ring.

This is an extremely funny and silly show, with more slapstick than The Three Stooges in a rake factory, but it’s also poignant and offers an unusual, interesting take on the experiences of women in the US after the feminist movement of the ‘70s.

This is particularly true in the second season, which uses its diverse cast of characters to bring in broader themes that tug on the heart strings as much as the funny bone.

It also looks fabulous, particularly in 4K HDR. And on a decent system, it sounds great too, with the sights and sounds of the ‘80s wrestling scene proving a gaudy but grimy, nostalgia trip.

Words by Tom Parsons

Daredevil

Available to stream in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision

Matt Murdock is Daredevil: lawyer by day, vigilante by night. He uses his heightened senses (he’s also blind) to solve cases and fight criminals in the crime-riddled Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City.

It’s the first of the Marvel-Netflix collaborations, and it’s a world away from the colourful, family-friendly superhero movies. Netflix’s platform allows Marvel to explore its darker heroes (or anti-heroes) and storylines, allowing a more faithful adaption of the source material. It captures the tone perfectly.

Daredevil is dark – visually and tonally – and brutally violent in a way that’s both thrilling and shocking (you actually see blood!).

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s impact is referred to offhandedly, but Daredevil is a much more personal, human and complicated story, with Matt trying to help people and get rid of criminal underworld boss Wilson Fisk, all the while dealing with personal demons. And ex-girlfriends. And ninjas.

The writing is mature, the characters are compelling (Karen Page, Foggy Nelson and The Punisher are particular highlights) and it looks gorgeous. In 4K HDR, the dark, gloomy palette and incredibly choreographed bloody fight scenes are nail-bitingly tense.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Dark

Available to stream in 4K

As Netflix extends its tentacles ever further, it’s no surprise to see Originals content appearing from outside of America. So if you don’t want to binge another US show, and you’ve had your fill of Nordic Noir, you could do a lot worse than Dark, a moody Netflix Originals drama from Germany. (Make sure you watch it in the original German audio with subtitles, though).

There’s more than a whiff of Stranger Things, thanks to a cast comprising an inquisitive group of teenagers, but this is a far gloomier, altogether more menacing affair. Set in a small German town that appears to be half scary rainforest and half mysterious nuclear power plant, the story centres around a series of disappearances which begin to seem all too familiar to some of the town’s older residents.

While the overarching story may be a slow-burner, Dark wastes no time dropping in timely tidbits of information, peeling back the many layers of the plot at regular intervals to keep you suitably close to the edge of your seat. Throw in dark caves and hidden tunnels, mad professors and mysterious contraptions, and there’s every reason to race through the 10 episodes.

Words by Joe Cox

Star Trek: Discovery

Available to stream in HDR

This new Star Trek prequel (set roughly a decade before the original series) centres around the Klingon-Federation war, follows the crew on board the USS Discovery and, oddly, is available to stream in HDR, but not 4K.

It’s such a shame, as the vibrant colours of space, the costumes and the ship’s pristine interiors deserve to be seen in higher resolution. Some of the space scenes - especially from the first two cinematic episodes - are just beautiful. At least HDR gives the gorgeous display of colours a chance to shine.

It takes a few episodes before it starts to feel like Trek (and it never fully does), but it’s an enjoyable watch at all times whether they're fighting Klingons or messing about with their new 'spore drive' (faster-than-light travel using mushrooms).

Meanwhile, Jason Isaacs has the most fun as Lorca - a brilliant tactician who is more interested in waging war than doing 'the right thing'. Not knowing whether he can be trusted or not is an unusual trait to have in a Starfleet Captain, but we're intrigued. Picard, he is not.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Rick and Morty

Available to stream in Full HD

How do you even begin to explain a show like Rick and Morty?

In its simplest form, it’s an adult animated series following the adventures of mad scientist Rick and his teenage grandson Morty as they go on interdimensional adventures.

But it’s so, so much more than that. It’s the zaniest, most nihilistic, surreal and bizarre animated show ever. Rick (an alcoholic, egomaniacal genius) and his Machiavellian schemes always land the easily distressed Morty (and often, the world) in some form of hideous mortal danger.

The dimensions they pass through and the creatures they meet are beyond surreal – to the point where you don’t know whether to applaud the creators’ inventiveness or wonder if they need a bit of a lie-down. There are so many one-liners, sight gags and sly references it would take dozens of repeat viewings before you caught them all. It’s such an inventive, densely packed yet humorous show it becomes its own mad creation.

And amongst all this, they manage to tackle teen romance, divorce, betrayal, abandonment and existential crises as Morty’s domestic family life is torn apart because of Rick’s selfish actions. It’s great.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Power

Available to stream in 4K

Sex, drugs and 50 Cent – but don’t let that put you off. The rapper may have bankrolled production, and he plays his not-insignificant part capably, but Power is much more interesting than the generic ‘guns and gangstas’ drama it may appear at first glance.

Omari Hardwick is excellent as ‘good guy’ New York drug kingpin James ‘Ghost’ St Patrick, whose attempts at going straight seem destined to be thwarted at every turn – not least by himself.

Naturi Naughton, as the power behind the throne, and Joseph Sikora, as Ghost’s brother in arms, both manage to portray the dichotomy of the double life with aplomb, as the crew juggles running an international crime syndicate with family life and, in the case of Ghost, an affair with an FBI agent. And all while the net is closing…

The story moves along at an impressive pace, helped by multiple plot twists, a steady turnover of supporting characters, and a solid hip-hop soundtrack.

Words by Joe Cox

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Available to stream in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision

The sister show to Daredevil, Jessica Jones is even less superhero-ish and goes even darker at times. It’s not quite as bloody, but the themes of sex, rape and PTSD are more disturbing, and the noir cinematography makes it look like it’s always raining.

Jessica Jones is a former superhero turned private investigator, whose sarcasm, drinking and misanthropic, tough-girl attitude hide a past trauma that comes back to haunt her.

Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg crafts a series that doesn’t shy away from dealing with difficult topics, balancing bar fights and mind-control powers with female relationships, friendships and violence.

Jessica may not be entirely likeable, but her wry humour and the occasional glimpse of her deep affection for best friend Trish makes her a female anti-hero worth rooting for. Also, actress Krysten Ritter’s eye-rolls at anything that annoys her are a thing of beauty.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Marco Polo

Available to stream in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision

As far as streaming 4K HDR content goes, Marco Polo came in pretty much at the source. The show, one of the trailblazers for the new technologies, made its Netflix debut in late 2014. It may fall short of the best as far as plot and script go (although it’s a perfectly fun ride), but visually it is stunning.

Our titular hero finds himself at the Mongol court of Kublai Khan. At first a prisoner, Marco soon proves his worth to the Khan and gains his trust – although, inevitably, he manages to wind up a number of the great ruler’s closest confidants along the way. It's a reasonably entertaining, satisfyingly gory romp – and absolutely lovely to look at.

Words by Jonathan Evans

The Crown

Available to stream in 4K

What's on the checklist of an award-winning series? A star cast? Love? Secrecy? A royal seal of approval? The Crown has all of these.

Based on the Laurence Olivier Award-winning play The Audience, The Crown replays the early days in the life of Queen Elizabeth II, leading up to her coronation in the 1950s and beyond. The production shows the trials and tribulations the Queen has endured through national crises and family scandals, her struggle to maintain the traditional values that had set her up to fail, and the battle to keep the monarchy relevant in a fast developing post-war Britain.

Words by Kayleigh Pavelin

Cowboy Bebop

Available to stream in Full HD

Cowboy Bebop follows the misadventures of four intergalactic bounty hunters as they bag fugitives while looking for something, anything, to eat.

That’s one of the great things about Cowboy Bebop. It’s not about saving the galaxy, it’s just four people hustling for a living.

Creator Shinichiro Watanabe brings depth to these characters, shading in their backstories and developing their relationships to the point where the last of 26 episodes comes, you’ll be sad there’s no more. It’s a series that borrows from numerous sources but, like Yoko Kanno’s truly outstanding soundtrack, it synthesises these styles into one mesmerising whole.

There hasn’t been anything like Bebop and it's likely there never will be.

Words by Kobina Monney

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Available to stream in 4K

Based on the 13-book series by Lemony Snicket, this weird gothic comedy follows three orphans Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as they flit from guardian to guardian in the hopes of escaping the nefarious Count Olaf, who is looking to steal the Baudelaire’s enormous fortune left to them by their late parents.

It’s a jolly romp from one stylised location to another, with the occasional threat of child murder to keep you interested.

There’s a thread of nostalgia running through it too, reminding you how it felt when adults were unable to see the world as you did – much like how the Baudelaires are unable to convince anyone of the danger they’re in.

Come for the weird mesh of time periods that is its aesthetic, stay for the cynical narration and the mystery of the secret society behind the orphan’s strife. Series two arrives on 30th March.

Words by Adam Smith

Bojack Horseman

Available to stream in Full HD

Bojack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett) is an actor (and a horse) famous for a past TV role on a popular show (Horsin' Around). He's rich and professionally unfulfilled, with a laundry list of character defects.

Bojack is a more mature comedy than you might expect, functioning as satire on Hollywood with a sense of humour that plumbs some unfathomably sad depths.

But don’t let that put you off. It’s also a deft comedy (with some star names lending their voices), frequently hilarious and with more substance to chew on than your typical zany animated humour.

Words by Kobina Monney

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Available to stream in Full HD

The longest-running show you’ve never heard of (unless you have), It’s Always Sunny... has racked up 134 episodes of hilarity in its 12-year lifespan.

It’s a feat made all the more impressive by the two-dimensionality of the characters and setting: four narcissistic young adults (and Danny Devito) run a failing dive bar in Philadelphia. And that’s about it. There’s no real depth or development and they rarely stray far from the bar.

But the situations are just so stupid and the characters so amusingly unpleasant it just never gets dull. It’s even funny enough to outweigh the pain of having to watch the first couple of seasons in fuzzy 4:3. Just don’t go in expecting anything even vaguely high-brow.

Words by Tom Parsons

Disenchantment

Available to stream in Full HD

A new animated series from the creator of The Simpsons and Futurama? Sign us up right now.

Disenchantment - created by Matt Groening and with Simpsons alumni Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley on board - follows the hijinks of young Princess Bean, the very un-princesslike boozy, rebellious heir to the throne of Dreamland, as she goes on adventures with her elf friend Elfo and personal demon Luci. Dubbed “The Simpsons meets Game of Thrones”, expect plenty of spoofing and riffing on medieval, fantasy and fairytale genres over two lots of 10 episodes, thanks to Groening’s trademark animation style and a great voice cast on board.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Wild Wild Country

Available to stream in Full HD

Wild Wild Country is the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (also known as Osho) and his arrival in Antelope, Oregon in 1981 – in one of his fleet of Rolls-Royces, accompanied by his orange-clad and relentlessly smiling followers – until some time after his death in 1990.

It’s a story of a man who was a mystic, guru and spiritual leader (according to his people), and/or a criminal, a cultist and a terrorist (according to the people of Oregon and, eventually, federal authorities). It’s a story of idealism, mistrust and paranoia, a story of criminality (from the poisoning of some salad bars to conspiracy to commit murder), of charismatic personalities and of several thousand (mostly bewildered) homeless people. It’s a story of political machination, of the largest fraud case in United States history and, perhaps most oddly of all, of Nike.

As such, its six one-hour episodes are compulsory viewing. And the incidental soundtrack (by the likes of Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado and Timber Timbre) is well worth it too.

Words by Simon Lucas

Altered Carbon

Available to stream in 4K

This newly commissioned cyberpunk show - based on a 2002 novel of the same name - doesn’t land until 2nd February, but we’re cautiously interested.

The premise: roughly 350 years or so into the future, technology has advanced to the point where, instead of dying, you can simply digitise and upload your consciousness into a brand new body (called a ‘sleeve’) – essentially you live on as an immortal .zip file.

The plot: an elite soldier, Takeshi Kovacs, is hired by the wealthy Laurens Bancroft and given a second chance at life (and a new body) if he can figure out who murdered Bancroft himself.

It's not an entirely new concept (see Doctor Who, Black Mirror, Dollhouse), but the trailer shows us a well-designed and stylised future landscape with interesting (and hopefully in-depth) world-building along with plenty of sex, violence and sci-fi tropes.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Dark Tourist

Available to stream in Full HD

Two weeks of sun, sea and endless cocktails isn’t everybody’s idea of the perfect getaway. For millions of ‘dark tourists’, the ideal holiday is to visit macabre sites notorious for death and destruction - Auschwitz, the location of the Charles Manson family murders, or places nuked by nuclear devastation, for example.

Kiwi journalist David Farrier explores the 'dark tourism' phenomenon in eight amusing (we mean darkly comic) 40-minute episodes, witnessing some grisly sights (a voodoo festival and mummification) and meeting some, err, interesting people (Charles Manson’s pen pal, Pablo Escobar’s hitman and vampires). A weirdly addictive post-dinner (definitely post-dinner) watch.

Words by Becky Roberts

Black Mirror

Series 1-4 available to stream in 4K

Every episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror can be summarised as: “What if [insert technology here], but more and bad?”

That’s not a criticism. Each episode is a healthy mix of entertaining and emotionally distressing, showing us what would happen if our technologically infused lifestyle took one wrong turn. And now with four series available, this includes smartphone tracking, robot dogs, storing memories, interactive RPGs, Tinder, and advanced medical research.

The variety between episodes, even if they’re on the same general theme, means that every single one has a different tone. Some are a jolly good romp, others will make you hesitate before you next reach for your smartphone, but all have a little twist that keeps you hooked until the end.

Words by Adam Smith