What shows to watch on Netflix

Whether you’re completely new to streaming or just don’t know what to watch next, this guide will highlight the best shows on Netflix. 

Netflix is the world’s largest video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service with over 158 million members, and its popularity has even sparked the “Netflix and chill” meme. Cord cutters leaving traditional TV providers for greener pastures will find that Netflix has a substantial edge over its competitors when it comes to original programming. And unlike traditional providers, you can stream your favorite shows from a variety of devices like smartphones and tablets. 

Netflix is known for its award-winning series House of Cards, Master of None and The Crown. When it comes to provocative dramas, there are very few premium streaming services that can compete with these big-budget Netflix originals. Although, if you are looking for the latest re-runs of Saturday Night Live or live sports coverage, you will probably want to check out Hulu or YouTube’s plans instead. This guide will help you figure out what to watch on Netflix. 

Netflix original shows 

Narcos 

The story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar fascinated the world, stirring various urban legends about organized crime. Narcos takes a look at both Escobar and the Drug Enforcement Agency as its agents pursue him. This highly acclaimed Netflix series follows the progression of the drug trade. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 94%
  • Genre: Drama 
  • Number of seasons: 3
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Michael Peña, Roberto Urbina and Pedro Pascal

BoJack Horseman 

On the outside, BoJack Horseman is an animated TV show like Family Guy or The Simpsons. But if you stick around, you will find a deeper world with complicated characters all trying to live their best lives while dealing with issues like alcoholism and depression. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 95% 
  • Genre: Animation 
  • Number of seasons: 6
  • Rating: MA15+
  • Featured actors: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie and Paul F. Tompkins 

The Crown 

True accounts and dramatizations of various Royal family members’ lives are on display in this show in which the goings-on of Queen Elizabeth II’s household take center stage. This popular Netflix show follows the queen as she grows from a normal teenager into an imperial monarch. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 90%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 5
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Olivia Colman, Claire Foy, Vanessa Kirby, Tobias Menzies and Matt Smith

Stranger Things 

In this blast-from-the-past series inspired from ’80s smash hits like ET and The Goonies, strange government experiments and supernatural occurrences overcome a small town in 1983 Indiana. A group of boys struggles with a friend’s disappearance, and a little girl appears seemingly from out of nowhere in this tension-filled show. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93% 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 91% 
  • Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy 
  • Number of seasons: 4
  • Rating: TV-14 
  • Featured actors: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo 

Shows that are classics 

Star Trek 

This series generated one of the most die-hard fandoms in all of science fiction. With iconic performances from William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Celia Lovsky, the show follows the USS Enterprise as it scours the universe for new civilizations. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 88%
  • Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy 
  • Number of seasons: 3
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • Featured actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Celia Lovsky, David Soul and DeForest Kelley

Cheers 

This timeless sitcom follows the lives and loves of the regulars at Cheer’s, a local Boston bar. Ted Danson stars as Sam Malone, the establishment’s teetotaling bartender. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 90%
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Number of seasons: 11
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • Featured actors: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, Woody Harrelson and Kelsey Grammar

The Twilight Zone  

In this anthology series, Rod Serling, the show’s host and creator, presents a new predicament in every episode. The Twilight Zone spans countries, cultures, galaxies and dimensions. The stories are often cautionary tales or descriptions strange, life-altering events that forever change the weekly protagonist. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 96%
  • Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror 
  • Number of seasons: 5
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • Featured actors: Rod Serling, William Shatner, Charles Bronson, Cloris Leachman and Robert Redford

The Andy Griffith Show 

The Andy Griffith Show is an American classic that follows the antics of the townspeople of Mayberry, North Carolina. Sheriff Andy Taylor struggles to keep the peace in an otherwise peaceful town. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 94% 
  • Genre: Comedy 
  • Number of seasons: 8
  • Rating: TV-G
  • Featured actors: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Francis Bavier and Ron Howard

Docuseries 

Wild Wild Country 

Constructed mostly of amazing archival footage and a few key interviews, this series recounts a utopian society led by a famed guru in the heart of Oregon. Tensions escalate between commune residents and locals, and a leadership schism in the compound soon follows. Events eventually lead to a showdown with law enforcement. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 88% 
  • Genre: Documentary, Crime 
  • Number of seasons: 1
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Osho, Ma Anand Sheela, Jane Stork and George Meredith

The Keepers 

The Keepers is an exhilarating true-crime series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It explores the unsolved murder of a nun five decades ago and that crime’s relationship to a larger, more sinister operation. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: N/A 
  • Genre: Documentary, Crime 
  • Number of seasons: 1
  • Rating: TV-MA 
  • Featured actors: Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub and Virginia Anzengruber

Dirty Money 

Every episode of this series presents a different story exposing the greed and corruption of corporations from around the world. The show is created by documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney who is known for his films Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief and Taxi to the Dark Side. Each episode dissects a crime until all that is left is the truth. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 90% 
  • Genre: Documentary, Crime 
  • Number of seasons: 2
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Featured actors: Walter Archer, Victoria Avila and Alberto Ayala

Planet Earth II 

Planet Earth II is the follow up to the successful Planet Earth documentary series. David Attenborough earned a Primetime Emmy Award in 2019 for the show’s narration. The docuseries examines life in all its forms on Earth and covers the will to survive.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 97% 
  • Genre: Documentary 
  • Number of seasons: 1
  • Rating: TV-G 
  • Featured actors: David Attenborough 

The takeaway 

Netflix regularly invests in and creates new original series. With the impending releases of Narcos: Mexico season two and the fourth season of Stranger Things, make sure to sign up fast so you can catch the best moments of these popular shows. Netflix offers a 30-day free trial period, giving you plenty of time to see if its service is right for you. And you can cancel your account any time without a hassle.

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.