If you’re like me and love TV, then Netflix has become a pretty important staple in your life. We’re all busy. Real life takes a lot out of your day, and when you get home you don’t want to waste time watching “Bad TV.” You want to watch something worthwhile. Below are 10 of the best shows currently streaming on Netflix right now. They are all addictive in their own right and brilliantly made.
I know some of you might take offense that I haven’t included The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural and Sherlock on this list. Among others. The fact is I assume most of the Hypable readers actively follow these fandoms, so I’m trying to show some other options. By all means though, if you have not seen these shows, stop reading and do so immediately. Good God what are you thinking.
10. The IT Crowd
One of the great things about Netflix is that one can watch international shows whenever. Most of the people in the US don’t venture out of the States for other shows. Hypable readers actually do and so I’d like to start this list off with a little gem of a show from the UK. The IT Crowd is not your typical office show. It’s not flashy, it’s not gimmicky, it is intelligent and very specific.
The show takes place in the offices of Reyholm Industries, a fictional British corporation, and it focuses on the lives of the three IT support team members located in the basement of the company. The team is led by Jen Barber played by Katherine Parkinson, who poses no real computer skills but uses her “people skills” to keep the department afloat. Roy and Moss tie as my favorite characters on the show. I love them both deeply and simply cannot choose.
Roy played by Chris O’Dowd (yes from Bridesmaids) is a somewhat jaded individual; he spends most of his time avoiding any actual work, but seems to always get the short end of the stick on assignments. He’s always screwing something up or getting into trouble. Then there’s Moss, played by Richard Ayoade, who is a better version of Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory). Moss is a genius, he is awkward but absolutely the nicest and most respectful individual you could ever meet. The show has some insanely ridiculous plots but they seem to make it work. I would have never watched this show had it not been for Netflix, so I pass it on to you.
9. 30 Rock
Ah, Liz Lemmon, you beautiful fool. 30 Rock was magic in its first few seasons. The chemistry between Liz and Jack was unquestionable and it even made me like Tracy Morgan as an actor. Tina Fey plays Liz Lemmon, a successful TV writer on the hit show TGS. On paper she seems to have her life pretty set, she’s got a great job, a great apartment, but she also can’t have a relationship last for more than 3 months, she has terrible taste in men, and her co workers simply drive her crazy.
Enter NBC television executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and Liz’s mentor. In any scenario Liz and Jack would hate each other, one is a liberal feminist woman, the other a corporate conservative executive, but here the characters take the best of themselves and help each other out. Jack teaches Liz to be strong and Liz teaches Jack to be kind. Based loosely on Tina Fey’s time at SNL, 30 Rock manages to be entertaining and connect with the audience on an emotional level.
You want Liz to get her life together and you want Jack to stop being so put together, the comedy duo of Fey and Baldwin wins every time. The show’s won 3 “Outstanding Comedy Series” Emmys and both Fey and Baldwin have won Emmys respectively for their roles. Netflix has the first 5 seasons streaming; the show is now on its 6th season on NBC.
8. Arrested Development
“Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.” The Bluth family is the one family that is more dysfunctional than yours will ever be. Some say this is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time and those people would be correct. Jason Bateman stars as Michael Bluth, the most well intentioned, sane person in his family who tries to keep everything from falling apart when his father and CEO of The Bluth Company is arrested for “creative accounting,” leaving Michael in charge.
The driving force of the show is the interaction between Michael and his family. At one point in time I have claimed that each character on the show “was my favorite.” That is the power of this show, there isn’t one character that isn’t carefully brought to life both by the writers and the actors who portray them. The most notable of which are Michael’s older brother, Gob, a struggling magician played to perfection by Will Arnet; Michael’s son George Michael played by a young Michael Cera, a completely straight edge if somewhat awkward teenager; and Tobias Fünke, Michael’s brother-in-law and legitimately one of my favorite characters portrayed by David Cross, a former psychiatrist turned aspiring actor turned Blue Man group member.
Yes, I couldn’t make that up if I tried. The show was cancelled by Fox after 3 seasons but Netflix has picked it up for another season, the new episodes should debut sometime next year. Definitely get to know the Bluth family before they return for another crazy season.
7. Battlestar Galactica
This is undoubtedly the greatest science fiction show of the past decade. Based on the 1979 show of the same title Battlestar Galactica came out of nowhere and changed the game. It gave the Syfy Channel a legitimate critical and commercial hit and it did what science fiction does best, show us our world as it is now.
Part odyssey and part political drama, the show explored everything from technology, religion, war and what it means to be human. It-s rare that a science fiction show has a beginning and end since most shows get cancelled and we are left with cliffhangers, but Battlestar Galactica ended up giving its audience one of the most satisfying finales I’ve seen in a long time. Combining some of the best special effects in recent TV history and unforgettable characters, this is truly one show that cannot be missed.
Joss Whedon’s 2003 short lived science fiction series has since become a cult classic. Lasting only 14 episodes, it connected with its audience in those 14 episodes more than some shows do in 4 or 5 seasons. Led by Captain Mal Reynolds, the crew of Serenity tried its best to stay under the Alliance’s radar. A rag tag group of people lost in more ways than one ended up becoming a family and ended up giving the rest of the universe hope as well.
The show gave us Nathan Fillion, Christina Hendricks and Summer Glau, some of the most famous TV actors today. Serenity, the 2005 feature film based on the series, did an amazing job at tying up the loose ends and story lines from the series. It is also one of the best science fiction films of the past decade. It’s one of my favorite films. And while the crew of Serenity had its goodbye, fans of the show still hope for another season, a sequel to the film, a webseires or anything really. But until then, we’ll just keep rewatching this one on Netflix.
5. Prison Break
Michael Scofield is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever seen on TV. He’s your standard leading man, calm, cool and collected, and he plays the brooding hero role to perfection. However Michael is also a hardened criminal and for the most part he ends up ruining a lot of lives. This is something you need to make peace with because you will undoubtedly fall in love with him. Prison Break is the story of Michael Scofield, a brilliant structural engineer who gets himself thrown into jail in order to break out his brother, Lincoln Burrows, a death row inmate framed for murder.
That’s as much as I’m going to tell you because the story is so much more than that. Before Supernatural’s Sam and Dean, you had Michael and Lincoln, two brothers that would do literally anything to save each other no matter the cost. This is one of those shows you can’t just watch on the side, you become fully obsessed with it and its characters. Come for the prison break, stay for Michael, Lincoln, and the boys. The show has some of the best characters I’ve seen and every season is crazier than the last. It’s absolutely addictive, so be warned. You will be obsessed.
There’s also a nice surprise for all you Walking Dead fans, the show’s female lead is played by Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes), only she’s awesome here and you don’t want her to get eaten by zombies.
Before The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle and every other supernatural teen romance show, there was Roswell. The story of Liz Parker, a normal girl who falls in love with Max Evans, an alien teen. Loosely based off the real life 1947 Roswell, New Mexico alien crash, the show follows Max, Isabel, and Michael, three alien teens who desperately try to keep their alien identity a secret.
It has some great government conspiracy plots, a great backstory to the Roswell crash and so much more. This was the first show I was ever obsessed with, a perfect mixture of teen angst and alien drama, it features some of the most notable TV actors of today from Shiri Appleby (Life Unexpected) Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), Nick Wechsler (Revenge) Emilie de Ravin (Lost, Once Upon a Time) and so many more. The show is perfectly 90s, so if you’re feeling nostalgic and you want to see some real honest to goodness teen drama, then watch this show.
In 3 seasons this show managed to suck you in and break your heart all at once. I still watch this every time Stefan and Elena just can’t get their lives together, because I’ll always have Max and Liz.
I can’t imagine watching this show when it aired live because every episode of its 8-season run ends in a virtual cliffhanger. I caught 24 this past summer, I thought it would be a fun action show to watch on the side. I was so wrong. 24 sucks you in and doesn’t let go. So that when its 2 a.m. in the morning and you’ve just watch 4 episodes in a row, you convince yourself that you’ll watch one more episode. Just one. This is the story of Jack Bauer a Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent in Los Angelos. Jack Bauer is literally the most badass man in the world.
No matter your political views, you will root for Jack because he is a hero, someone who cares about others above himself. While the politics of the show are dense, it’s important to know that in a Post 9/11 world, the show does not portray 2-dimensional “bad guys,” but rather complex characters, complex villains and complex story lines. There’s never an easy choice and you’ll enjoy yelling at your TV, telling characters what to do. Sadly, they can’t hear you.
2. Doctor Who
The longest running science fiction show in the world. For those of you that haven’t seen this show, go now. Stop reading and go watch it, then come back for the rest of this list. The Doctor is a Time Lord (an alien) who travels through time and space in his spaceship (the TARDIS). Along the way, he picks up people to travel with him and generally saves the universe from destruction. Sounds like a lot, right? It is, but it’s also flawlessly done.
You know when you watch something and you can’t explain why, but it just works. It just sticks with you. This is that show. There’s just something so special about the Doctor, he’s a tragically lonely man who can live forever and he has every reason to step back and let the universe be, but his moral sense just won’t allow him. He saves the world time and time again because it’s the right thing to do. He helps people because it’s just who he is.
There’s a lot to be said about that. TV is moving forward and these days you have leads who are less and less heroes and something else entirely, they straddle that line between good and evil, which makes for compelling TV but sometimes you just need a good old hero. And that’s the Doctor. You can understand why it’s one of the longest running shows in the world.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel
What can be said about Buffy and Angel that hasn’t already been said by people smarter than me? Not a whole lot so I’ll keep it short. Buffy is simply the best television show I have ever seen. For 7 seasons, Buffy, the slayer, and her friends battled the forces of evil and saved the world a lot. Praised for its strong portrayal of women, heartbreaking story lines, unforgettable characters, and some of the best episodes of TV, Buffy came out of nowhere and changed television forever.
Nowhere else would you find a show that includes both a silent episode and a musical. It featured one of the first lesbian couples on Network TV and dealt with the topic of identity better than any other show. There are literally hundred of papers written on the show, a favorite amongst academia. The show paved the way for some of the most successful TV writers today from Jane Espenson (Battlestar Galactica) David Fury (Lost, 24) Drew Goddard (Lost) Marti Noxon (Glee) and Tim Minear (American Horror Story, Terriers) as well as a slew of actors.
The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Lost, Glee, Alias, these shows all took something from Buffy. From its serialized drama, its monster of the week format, and, yes, even its musical episode. It did musicals before Glee, hell even before High School Musical. Arguably the greatest work Joss Whedon has ever done, Buffy became one of the most influential shows of the past 25 years.
I include here both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel because the two go hand in hand. There are countless cross over episodes, story lines and characters, that you really need to see both to do it justice. If you watch nothing else on this list, watch Buffy and Angel and then promptly come to the comments section to discuss!
What other shows are you watching on Netflix? Do you agree with the list? Sound off in the comments section and follow me on Twitter @FC429 I’d love to hear your reactions to these shows!