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Last week, we ranked the 25 best series on Netflix. If you’ve seen them all already, then we applaud your television consumption habits. Once you’ve worked your way through them, you might want to dig in deeper, into some classic series, or some of the less well-known shows, or even quite a few shows that had incredible stretches of episodes but weren’t quite as good in their entirety as the series on the former list. Presented alphabetically this time, we’ve run down the next 25 best series on Netflix (for a total of 50, so you’ll never be wanting for Netflix recommendations).
Alias (5 of 5 seasons) — Before Lost but after Felicity, J.J. Abrams gave us the action-packed conspiracy theory drama Alias, which he initially described as an ass-kicking Felicity (it was nothing like that). Jennifer Garner was fantastic in the lead, and the storylines were immensely compelling… for a while. The first two seasons are outstanding, the second two season were pretty good, and the final season was a big bowl of butt. Throughout, however, Garner’s costume changes were always worth tuning in for.
Awake (1 of 1 seasons) — A nifty, little seen Kyle Killen series that aired on NBC for one season, the premise involved a police officer who suffered a car crash with his wife and son. After the accident, whenever he’d fall asleep, he’d wake up in either a world in which his son survived, or a world in which his wife survived, and it depicted all the little differences in each universe. The catch? He had no idea which one was real. It was wound a bit too tightly around its procedural format, but when it let go and focused on its mythology, it was a wickedly fascinating series, and though it only survived the season, the season finale felt like a series finale.
Battlestar Galactica (4 of 4 seasons)– Battlestar Galactica arguably belongs on the top 25 series on Netflix, based on the first season alone, one of the — if not the — single best seasons of sci-fi television, ever. The only thing that kept it out was that it slowed down after the first season, became a bit unmoored, and delivered a controversial, if not unsatisfying ending to a sci-fi drama that often dragged for huge stretches. That said, the acting was excellent, and for its time (just a decade ago), it felt breathtakingly original.
Cheers (11 of 11 seasons) — One of television’s all-time best sitcoms, Cheers is one of the most relaxed, amusing, and warm sitcoms you could ever have the privilege of watching. It may feel a little dated now, especially if you’re not a fan of laugh tracks, but the warmth of the series is timeless.
Childrens Hospital (2 of 5) — A web series packaged and eventually produced for Adult Swim, Children’s Hospital often makes no sense whatsoever, but it packs more laughs in its 10-minute episodes than many sitcoms pack in a season. The cast of regulars is great, but the cast of cameos that stop by is even better. It’s one of those shows where it’s impossible to consume only one at a time; in fact, if you’re not careful, you may end up watching all 18 episodes available on Netflix in one sitting.
Damages (5 of 5 season) — Created by Todd Kessler — a writer on The Sopranos — the Glenn Close character is actually based on David Chase, and if the character is any indication, Chase was a monster to work for. Each season centers around one major case, and the quality of the show depends on the season (one and five are the best). That said, Glenn Close is ruthless, brutal, and brilliant throughout, and Rose Byrne is not bad either, plus the series fetched some of the best recurring characters you’re likely to see on television (including John Goodman, Chris Messina, and Timothy Olyphant, among many others).
Dexter (8 of 8 seasons)– Michael C. Hall is absolutely terrific as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami police department, who moonlights as a serial killer trying to keep his two lives separate. There’s a great opening season, a fantastic fourth season, and in between the two, a couple of decent season. Do yourself a favor, however, and don’t bother with the final four seasons. It’s a testament to how good the first and fourth seasons were that it still gains a place upon this list, despite one of the worst final seasons in television history.
Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 (2 of 2 seasons) — A very funny, and very sharp sitcom that gets a lot of mileage out of James Van Der Beek playing himself. It’s not just a one-joke show, however. At its center is a sturdy and sexy odd-couple relationship that can get dark, nasty, and absurdist, in all the best ways. Alas, it was just too good for network television to last beyond two seasons, though many of the episodes available on Netflix never aired on ABC.
Frasier (11 of 11 season) — A spin-off of Cheers, Frasier was a sophisticated sitcom (despite the laugh track) that centered on a pompous psychiatrist with a call-in radio show. It is easily one of the best acted sitcoms in television history (it holds the record for the most Emmy nominations ever for a half-hour comedy), but it’s also a very comfortable show that weaves in amusing farce and some great fish-out-of-water episodes.
Fringe (5 of 5 seasons) — Yet another J.J. Abrams created series on this list, and yet another J.J. Abrams series was had terrific runs, and dismal ones. Fringe was brilliant, except when it wasn’t, and while it pushed the boundaries of sci-fi, it often overstepped its limits (SOUL MAGNETS). Still, even when the series wasn’t entirely up to snuff, John Noble was always around, and never failed to enliven each and every episode.
How I Met Your Mother (8 of 9 seasons) — Another up-and-down series that started off as a cute sitcom with a semi-interesting premise that hit its stride for about five seasons, and struggled through its later seasons once the premise had completely run its course and narrating character became a completely insufferable douche. Still, even in the later seasons, How I Met Your Mother has enough moments to keep you chugging along, even if it’s often only background noise.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (8 of 9 seasons) — Take the misanthropy of Seinfeld and triple it, then triple it again, and you’ve basically set the tone for It’s Always Sunny, the wildly brilliant sitcom from FX (now FXX) that seems to be fueled by insanely hilarious minds that have been warped by paint huffing. When the series is on — and it often is — nothing on television is funnier, raunchier, and awesomely offensive.
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