Last Updated: January 12th
There are plenty of good TV series on Netflix Instant (and you can find more with these secret codes). If you’re trying to figure out what to watch next, here’s a great place to start with a look at 50 of the best shows on Netflix right now, ranked (including some of the best Netflix original series). You can also find recent changes, including new seasons and removed shows, at the bottom of this list.
50. Atypical (1 of 1 season)
Atypical is the kind of single-camera sitcom that would feel right at home among ABC’s family sitcoms like Speechless, Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat and The Goldbergs (in fact, creator Robia Rashid previously worked as a producer on The Goldbergs). It’s a charming coming-of-age show about Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old from Connecticut with high-functioning autism. He’s arrived at an age when he’s decided that he’d like to date and have sex. The first season — a batch eight half-hour episodes — covers his awkward encounters with women, his inappropriate crush on his therapist, and his relationship with the teenage girl he eventually asks to prom. It also deals with the challenges of his parents. His father (Michael Rapaport) is trying to figure out how to truly connect with his son for the first time while his mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) aims to find her own identity apart from being the mother of an autistic child. It’s the older sister (Brigette Lundy-Paine) who is the real stand-out of Atypical. Like the big sister in the film and book series, Wonder, she aims to both support her brother while also carving out a life of her own separate from Sam. It’s not a groundbreaking series, and it has been criticized for its stereotypical depiction of autism, but it nevertheless funny, heartwarming, and very sweet.
49. American Vandal (1 of 1 season)
In theory, American Vandal sounds silly and sophomoric, and it is, but it’s also a genuinely brilliant, incredibly clever, smartly written satire of true-crime documentaries. It plays just like any other true crime docuseries — interviews, investigations, multiple suspects, and numerous conspiracy theories — only the crime here is not a murder. It’s a high-school student who has been accused by the school board of spray painting dicks on 27 cars, a crime that threatens his ability to graduate. It’s a brilliant whodunnit that just happens to also be the best parody of 2017.
48. Weeds (8 of 8 seasons)
Before Walter White, there was Nancy Botwin, a suburban housewife turned pot dealer to take care of her kids after her husband dies. Weeds is a light comedy that grows progressively darker over the course of the series as the stakes are raised, but the show works best in its early seasons when it’s just a grieving mom (Mary Louise Parker) out of her depth trying to sell dime bags in a conservative suburban community. It’s funny, offbeat, and irreverent, and populated with an amazingly funny supporting cast (Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins, Romany Malco). Weeds, however, loses its allure in later seasons as Nancy Botwin works herself up the chain from small-time pot dealer to distribute to international drug kingpin and forgets about why she got into the drug business in the first place: To provide for her kids.
47. Ozark (1 of 1 season)
Ozark, from part of the team behind Ben Affleck’s The Accountant, is the latest example of what I call stress-watching television. A combination of Breaking Bad and Bloodline, Ozark sees a money launderer (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Laura Linney) move from Chicago to backwoods Missouri in an effort to clean $8 million in three months, lest their entire family be killed by a Mexican drug cartel. It’s not a fun show, and it’s barely entertaining, but like Bloodline, it’s the kind of series where the viewer is anxious to binge through it just to see if the antagonists will survive and how. It’s a seedy, well-written, well-acted series, and Bateman is terrific, but the entire point of Ozark is to put the viewer through the wringer: It’s tense, and stressful, and we don’t watch for resolution; we watch for relief.
46. Riverdale (1 of 2 seasons)
Riverdale is a dark teen comedy based on characters from the Archie comics. It mixes in elements of a conventional teen drama — romance, small-town life, and the high-school ecosystem — with a compelling, adult murder mystery. The series takes place in a small-town with a 1950s vibe (despite being firmly set in the present) where a high-school teenager is found dead under mysterious circumstances that implicate much of the community as suspects. Riverdale is powered not just by the mystery, but by characters who are instantly likable (Betty, Veronica, and Jughead are all standouts) and easy to invest in. The mystery is so incredibly intriguing that it’s almost impossible not to get wrapped up in it as the storyline guides us through numerous red herrings. It’s a madly addictive series, occasionally campy, and just self-aware enough not to take itself too seriously.
45. Scandal (6 of 7 seasons)
Shonda Rhimes’ ABC series Scandal feels as though it were written for Netflix’s binge-watching model. Especially in its early seasons, it’s a hard show to turn away from. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a head of a D.C. consultant firm that fixes public relations nightmares for her wealthy and powerful clients, mostly politicians. She’s also romantically involved with the President of the United States, whose election campaign she worked on. In the early seasons, at least, it’s a madly addictive soap opera that chews through plot at an almost ridiculous clip. Unfortunately, the show loses some of its luster in later seasons as it tackles large-scale government conspiracies and morphs into something akin to Alias crossed with 24, although its considerably talented ensemble cast keeps viewers hooked even when the plotlines lose their thread.