Last Updated: March 22nd
Even if you lost the accents, you can almost always spot the British TV shows – the pacing is slower and more deliberate, the seasons are “series” with fewer episodes, and the humor is as dry as old bread. The best British series spark innumerable remakes here in America, while the UK seems to only want our reality television. They work well as binge-able Netflix series as long as you’re willing to focus a little bit more than usual. Sure, you might need to pay a little more attention to them, but just look at how many series you can get through in one sitting! Thankfully, the streaming service has a wide variety to choose from, from crime thrillers to absurd comedy. So sit back with a pint and enjoy the 15 best British shows on Netflix right now.
The Detectorists (2 series)
It might be easy to write off the premise of two grown men who spend the majority of their time traipsing across open fields waving metal sticks around as boring, but all you have to do is give The Detectorists an episode or two to get hooked. The series centers on Lance (Toby Jones) and Andy (Mackenzie Stone), two metal detectors (sorry, “detectorists”) who are proud members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club as they spend their days digging up rubbish in other people’s property. The Detectorists could have easily gone ultra-comedic by snickering at asocial weirdos, but it treats its protagonists as just regular blokes with girlfriends, friendships, and aspirations who just happened to be passionate about their hobby. Crook (who also wrote and directed the series) and Jones and their delightful banter, and the series’ comforting music and sprawling landscapes make its 13 episodes fly by, almost too quickly.
Sherlock (3 series)
In a world chockfull of Sherlock Holmes iterations, Sherlock manages to stand out, with no little thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch’s striking charm, Andrew Scott’s crazed, over-the-top Moriarty, and the tight writing that fills its ten 90-minute mini-movies. Despite the familiar structure — Holmes and Watson crack an uncrackable case with plenty of quips and eye rolls — each episode keeps viewers guessing, laughing, and maybe feeling a little slow for not deducing as fast as the master sleuth. Packed with winks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works and the intense fanbase behind it, Sherlock still manages to tell complex crime stories and breathe new life into the 130-year-old character.
The Office (2 series and a special)
The king of uncomfortable British comedy, The Office keeps it short and sweet with its treasure trove of workplace situations and peak Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant wit. The mockumentary follows David Brent (Gervais) in his quest for fame, approval, and a laugh at the expense of his actual job and the employees counting on him to avoid downsizing. Fans of the American version may not be as keen on the melancholic tone of the original, but there’s a place in your Netflix queue for both the hilarious, digestible Michael Scott and the cringe-inducing, delusional David Brent. The payoff of the series finale is enough for any new watcher to dig in to the hysterically painful moments. But if you need more convincing, you’ve got the best dance scene of all time.