Streaming services are known for having award-worthy series but also plenty of duds. Our guide to the best TV shows on Netflix is updated weekly to help you know which series you need to move to the top of your queue. They aren’t all sure-fire winners—we love a good less-than-obvious gem—but they’re all worth your time, trust us.
Feel like you’ve already watched everything on this list you want to see? Try our guide to the best movies on Netflix for more options. And if you’ve already completed Netflix and are in need of a new challenge, check out our picks for the best shows on Hulu and the best shows on Disney+. Don’t like our picks, or want to offer suggestions of your own? Head to the comments below.
Four detectives. Four time periods. Four murders? Maybe—but only one body. This time-twisting thriller—adapted from the comic of the same name by writer Si Spencer and artists Tula Lotay, Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, and Phil Winslade—hops from Victorian London to a dystopian future and back again, as the same corpse is found in the same spot in each era. The only thing stranger than the impossible crime itself is the conspiracy behind it, one that spans decades, impacting and linking every figure investigating the body. A brilliantly high-concept sci-fi crime drama, Bodies is one of the best one-and-done limited series to hit Netflix in years.
Think you know Astro Boy? Think again. In 2003, Naoki Urasawa (Monster, 20th Century Boys) updated original creator Osamu Tezuka's hugely influential "The Greatest Robot on Earth" story arc for his manga Pluto, opting for a more adult approach. The focus shifts from the heroic boy robot to grizzled cybernetic detective Gesicht as he investigates a series of murders of both humans and robots, each victim left with makeshift horns crammed into their heads. Meanwhile, Atom (Astro's Japanese name) is recast as a former peace ambassador, effectively a propaganda tool rolled out at the end of the 39th Central Asian War, still dealing with trauma from the experience. This adaptation is not only a faithful recreation of Urasawa's retelling, but is stunningly animated to a standard rarely seen in Netflix's original anime productions. With eight episodes, each around an hour long, this is as prestigious as any live-action thriller the streamer has produced, and a testament to both Tezuka and Urasawa's respective geniuses.
In the 17th Century, Japan enforced its "sakoku" isolationist foreign policy, effectively closing itself off from the world. Foreigners were few and far between—so when Mizu (voiced by Maya Erskine) is born with blue eyes, nine months after her mother was assaulted by one of the four white men in the country, it marks her as an outsider, regarded as less than human. Years later, after being trained by a blind sword master and now masquerading as a man, Mizu hunts down those four men, knowing that killing them all is the only way to guarantee her vengeance. Exquisitely animated—which makes its unabashed violence all the more graphic—and with a phenomenal voice cast bolstered by the likes of George Takei, Brenda Song, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Kenneth Branagh, Blue Eye Samurai is one of the best adults-only animated series on Netflix.
If you like your TV moody and brooding, the sci-fi series Dark is for you. The first German-language Netflix original series (there’s an option for English dubbing, though the original language version is superior), Dark opens with a secret liaison, a missing teenager and a spooky-looking cave, which rather sets the vibe for the rest of the show. What initially appears to be a straightforward mystery investigation soon turns into an ambitious time travel plot with bucket loads of atmosphere. A tight 26 episodes, spread over three seasons, the more you watch, the more you see how appropriate the title is.
Talking about sex with your parents is always awkward, but for teenager Otis (Asa Butterfield) it's even worse: His mother Jean (a captivating Gillian Anderson) is a renowned sex therapist who won't stop talking about sex, leaving Otis himself ambivalent toward it. Still, something must have sunk in, and after helping a fellow student navigate a sexual conundrum, Otis finds himself almost accidentally running his own sex therapy clinic on campus. While the situations are often played for laughs, over its four seasons Sex Education thoughtfully explores intimacy, sexuality, and relationships in tender and even profound ways. With a fantastic ensemble cast including incoming Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa as Otis' best friend Eric and Emma Mackey as love interest Maeve, this UK-set and Welsh-filmed coming-of-age dramedy has proven itself one of Netflix's best series.
Time for our favorite Halloween tradition: a new Mike Flanagan horror miniseries, a staple of spooky season since 2021's Midnight Mass. This year, Flanagan treats viewers to not just an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's title work, but rather several of the master of macabre's pieces, brilliantly woven into a tapestry of terror. Like the title's source, this eight-episode event hangs on twin siblings Roderick and Madeline Usher, here reimagined as the rulers of a shady pharmaceutical empire, now with a sprawling family of descendants and squabbling heirs. The fun twist is that each member of the Usher clan is adapted from characters found in Poe's other works, including The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death, and, of course, The Raven. As they start falling victim to a variety of unsettling deaths, leaving the family founders to watch in despair as their empire crumbles, Poe fans will delight in spotting the references. It's not just for grown-up goths or erudite emos though—everyone will get a creepy kick out of this delectably gothic twist on Succession.
Imagine a supernatural figure appeared and told you precisely when you were going to die—what would you do? Now imagine if this wasn't a one-off personal experience, but society as a whole were aware of such warnings from beyond. How do you think the world would react? Forget the trio of giant smoke demons bursting into reality to drag foretold victims to hell, the societal shifts are the real hook of this striking South Korean horror series from Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho. With the series split into two arcs—one set in 2022, the other in 2027—it delves into complex theological issues such as the nature of sin and humanity's propensity to put faith in all the wrong places, making for one of the most innovative horror shows in years.
Adapted from the horror comic of the same name—itself a disturbingly dark reimagining of the light-hearted Archie Comics character—Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sees Kiernan Shipka as half-human, half-witch teenager Sabrina Spellman, caught between the mortal and supernatural worlds as she navigates her dual heritage. With four seasons to its run, it's the first season that most lives up to the "chilling" moniker, diving deep into Satanic imagery and lore, and exploring themes of determinism and inevitability as Sabrina weighs up whether to sign her name—and soul—in the Book of the Beast. Frequently unsettling, it's the closest to true horror the show comes, while later seasons up the camp factor and delve into schlocky territory, with warring witch clans, mystic doppelgängers, and an extremely meta fourth season that manages to fit in cameos from the 1990s Sabrina the Teenage Witch sitcom. It's never less than thoroughly entertaining popcorn horror though—and with Michelle Gomez at her scene-stealing best as the gloriously vampy Madame Satan throughout the show, it's perfect for a Halloween marathon.
Netflix screwed up the pitch on Disenchantment. Coming from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, it was presented in opposition to his later Futurama, lazily swapping sci-fi for fantasy. Go in with that expectation and you’ll be disappointed—this is a far more structured and arc-based show. Over the course of five seasons, it charts the journey of Princess Bean, who yearns to be free from her royal obligations to Dreamland, taking her from drunken troublemaker to reluctant hero. Incredibly reluctant. “Would rather stay a drunken troublemaker” reluctant. With the aid of her personal demon, Luci, and a besotted elf bestie named Elfo, Bean flips the kingdom on its head, unearths ancient secrets, and battles her greatest enemy: her mom. A far cry from the gag-a-minute approach of its creator’s earlier work, Disenchantment can be a bit of a slow burn at times, but with its drier comedy and rejection of an episodic status quo, it’s one of the most interesting adult animated comedies to come out of the US in years.
Gamera has never enjoyed the same respect that fellow kaiju Godzilla has. While the latter has earned the epithet “King of the Monsters” and movie franchises in both its native Japan and the US, Gamera is perhaps best known as the subject of loving ridicule on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here’s a secret though: Gamera is rad. He’s a giant, fire-breathing turtle with an impenetrable shell, one who can fly and become a flame-spewing, razor-edged, aerial spinning top of doom. Oh, and he’s also, canonically, “friend to all children.” It’s this latter point that serves as the basis for Gamera Rebirth, the first new project for the turtle titan in 17 years. Set in 1989 Tokyo, this CG anime series follows youngsters Boco, Joe, and Junichi—and their bully Brody, an American whose parents work on a military base—as the world is besieged by hordes of monsters, with the barely understood force of nature that is Gamera the only thing that can stop them. Rebirth’s format is unusual—45 minutes per episode, a rarity in anime—but it allows each episode to spotlight one of the signature enemy kaiju from the classic films in greater depth and pack in enough city-smashing action that you’ll be left asking "Godzilla who?"
In a triumph of on-the-nose conceptualizing, La Révolution spins an alt-history romp in on-the-cusp-of-revolt France, where the cruel aristocracy become literal “blue-bloods,” thanks to a contagion that turns them into inky-veined, dandyish fiends ravenous for human flesh. A plucky reformist contessa who sympathizes with the commoners’ plight—first being exploited by the ruling class, and then being eaten by them—allies with forces both rebel and supernatural as she tries to prevent the undead disease spreading from the elite of Versaille to the whole of France’s upper crust. The melding of surprisingly great production values and a cast that’s clearly enjoying themselves elevates this above your standard zombie nonsense—and it’s subtitled, which definitely means it’s art house, right?
Netflix: License one of Japan’s best SF dramas in years. Also Netflix: Do nothing, literally nothing, to promote it, not even create an English subbed trailer. Which is where WIRED comes in—Pending Train is a show you (and Netflix) shouldn’t sleep on. When a train carriage is mysteriously transported into a post-apocalyptic future, the disparate passengers’ first concern is simply survival. Between exploring their new surroundings and clashing with people from another stranded train car over scarce resources, one group—including hairdresser Naoya, firefighter Yuto, and teacher Sae—begins to realize that there may be a reason they’ve been catapulted through time: a chance to go back and avert the disaster that ruined the world. A tense, 10-episode journey, Pending Train offers a Japanese twist on Lost, but one with tighter pacing and showrunners who actually have a clue where they want the story to go.
Mark one up for persistence: After numerous anime adaptations ranging from “awful” to “not too bad,” Netflix finally strikes gold with its live-action take on the global phenomenon One Piece. Despite fans’ fears, this spectacularly captures the charm, optimism, and glorious weirdness of Eiichiro Oda’s beloved manga, manifesting a fantasy world where people brandish outlandish powers and hunt for a legendary treasure in an Age of Piracy almost verbatim from the page. The perfectly cast Iñaki Godoy stars as Monkey D. Luffy, would-be King of the Pirates, bringing an almost elastic innate physicality to the role that brilliantly matches the characters rubber-based stretching powers, while the crew Luffy gathers over this first season—including swordsmaster Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu), navigator and skilled thief Nami (Emily Rudd), sharpshooter Usopp (Jacob Romero Gibson), and martial artist chef Sanji (Taz Skylar)—all brilliantly embody their characters. A lot could have gone wrong bringing One Piece to life, but this is a voyage well worth taking.
If you're a fan of Norse mythology but Marvel's Thor got too goofy for you with Love and Thunder, this Norwegian fantasy drama may be more to your liking. Set in the present day, young Magne Seier (David Stakston) finds he is the reincarnation of the god of thunder just in time to take a stand against the sinister Jutul family, whose polluting factories blight his hometown of Edda. No, the show is not subtle with its references, nor its environmental message, but it's a fun reimagining of myth, especially as more members of the Norse pantheon start cropping up. Best of all, with only three six-episode seasons and an actual ending—no surprise cancellations here!—it's a nicely digestible binge-watch.
Based on the comic American Jesus by writer Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) and artist Peter Gross (Lucifer), The Chosen One follows 12-year-old Jodie (Bobby Luhnow), raised in Mexico by his mother Sarah (Dianna Agron). While the young boy would rather hang out with his friends, his life—and potentially the world—changes forever when he starts exhibiting miraculous powers, attracting dangerous attention from sinister forces. While this could have been yet another formulaic entry in Netflix's expansive library of supernatural teen dramas (the Stranger Things vibe is particularly strong), the decision to shoot on film and in a 4:3 aspect ratio make this a visual delight, unlike almost anything else on the streamer at present. There's an English dub, but stick to the original Spanish with English subs for a better viewing experience. (Confusingly, there's another show with the exact same title on Netflix, a 2019 Brazilian series following a trio of relief doctors in a village dominated by a cult leader—also worth a watch, but don't get them confused!)
Travelers is something of a hidden gem, albeit one that's increasingly less hidden as people realize the genius of this tight, entertaining Canadian sci-fi series. Run by Brad Wright, one of the cocreators of Stargate SG-1, the show follows a team of time travelers sent back to “the 21st” to prevent the postapocalyptic future from which they came. The twist is how they travel. The travelers have their consciousness transferred into the bodies of people shortly before their death, adopting their identities and living their lives between missions. It's an often thrilling, sometimes complicated watch that perfectly treads the line between serious sci-fi and accessible entertainment..
Arguably the most joyful show on Netflix is back for another school year of teen drama and heartfelt romance. With Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) now officially dating, this long-awaited second season starts off with Nick struggling to come out as bisexual—but it’s openly-gay Charlie’s parents who seem to struggle the most with their relationship. Meanwhile, Elle (Yasmin Finney) and Tao’s (William Gao) will-they-won’t-they saga continues to sizzle, and a school trip to Paris turns into a crucible for everyone’s emotions. Although it steps into slightly darker terrain this season, the brilliant adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novels continues to be an utter delight—the show younger LGBTQ+ viewers need now, older ones needed years ago, and that everyone needs to watch whatever your sexuality.
While this latter day sequel to The Karate Kid films of the 1980s started life on YouTube Red (remember that?), it’s really come into its own since moving to Netflix. Picking up decades after Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence’s iconic fight at the end of the first movie, the debut season of Cobra Kai finds the tables turned, with Daniel living the charmed life while Johnny is washed up. Yet after defending his young neighbor Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) in a fight, Johnny finds new meaning by re-opening the eponymous karate dojo and guiding a new generation of students. As the series progresses, the stakes get higher—and frankly, increasingly, gloriously, ludicrous—as rival martial arts schools start cropping up all over California and alliances are forged and broken with alarming regularity. It’s all presented a little bit tongue-in-cheek, and with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their 1980s roles, the show is an unabashed love letter to the classic action flicks, but thanks to some seriously impressive fights and stunt work, and with a younger cast you can’t help but root for, it’s a retro-styled delight. With a sixth and final season in the works, now is the perfect time to binge the first five.
British comedy alert: This might not be for you. If, however, you appreciate drier-than-a-desert humor and cringe-inducingly awkward interviews, this is a must-watch. A perfectly framed lampoon of globe-trotting documentaries, Cunk on Earth sees host Philomena Cunk (in reality, comedian Diane Morgan) exploring world history, from the development of agriculture through to the space race, offering deranged insights and skewering real-world experts with incredibly stupid questions along the way. Morgan’s relentlessly deadpan delivery alone makes this five-episode series worth a watch, but it’s those interviews that make this comedy gold.
To those in the northern hemisphere, this Australian supernatural drama might be one of the best kept secrets of the last decade. Centred on a small town in Victoria, an entire community is shaken when seven people rise from their graves, seemingly in perfect health but with no memory of who they are or how they died. As police sergeant James Hayes (Patrick Brammall) and local doctor Elishia McKellar (Genevieve O'Reilly) try to contain and examine “The Risen,” Hayes’ world is rocked when he learns his own late wife Kate is among them. Over the course of three seasons and 18 episodes, the reasons for the dead’s return is teased out, starting with simply “how” and “why,” but building up to something that questions the rules of reality. A fantastic ensemble cast and brilliant pacing make this a must-see.
Henry Cavill's final season as monster hunter Geralt of Rivia is here, continuing the hit Netflix adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski's novels. The newest season finds Geralt, ally Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and trainee witcher Ciri (Freya Allan) on the run, evading those who would use Ciri's ferocious potential for their own sinister purposes. Everything gets ramped up in season 3, with improved fight choreography—Allan is particularly impressive—complex political machinations, and more for supporting characters such as bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) to do beyond compose catchy earworms. It's still a bit (unintentionally?) campy at times, but for a high-fantasy binge watch, it's one of the best shows around.
Based on the novels of Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone follows orphan Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) as she learns she is the long-fabled Sun Summoner—the one person who may be able to disperse “the Fold,” a wall of shadow that has bisected the country of Ravka for decades. As Alina struggles to master her newfound abilities, she becomes the centerpiece in a deadly game as rival forces seek to control or kill her before she can change the world. With two eight-episode seasons to its name so far, Shadows and Bone builds a rich universe filled with compelling characters and interesting twists on fantasy staples, one perfect for fans of YA fiction or those who prefer the layered complexity of Game of Thrones.
As creator Charlie Brooker recently told WIRED, “Black Mirror wasn't meant to be ‘this is what’s going on in technology this week.’ It was always designed to be a more paranoid and weird and hopefully unique show.” And that it is, but rather than displaying what’s going on in technology as it’s happening, the show has a way of beating its viewers to the paranoid punch, addressing dystopian anxieties before they even happen. (Black Mirror was talking about AI long before your mom ever heard of ChatGPT.) Netflix just released the sixth season of Brooker’s show, and if you haven’t watched, now may be the time. How else will you know what you’ll be worried about five years from now?
On the planet Etheria, Adora loyally serves the Horde, rising through its ranks with her close friend Catra by her side, until the discovery of a strange sword transforms her into the legendary warrior She-Ra. Learning the truth about the oppressive forces she's served her whole life, Adora joins the Rebellion against the Horde—but can she really turn her back on everything she's ever known? And will Catra ever forgive the betrayal? Developed by ND Stevenson—whose own Nimona delighted viewers as an animated movie on Netflix—the modern She-Ra reimagines the 1980s classic, eschewing the original's connection to He-Man and episodic structure in favor of its own unique mythology and long-form storytelling, packed with complex characters, high stakes, and some powerfully emotional moments. Perfect for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra, this dazzlingly animated five-season action-fantasy is as compelling for older fans as it is younger viewers—and some of the best LGBTQ+ representation to be found in any medium doesn't hurt either.
A prequel spin-off to Bridgerton—the Shondaland-produced Regency era historical romance that continues to break Netflix viewership records—Queen Charlotte takes viewers back to 1761, exploring how a young Charlotte (India Amarteifio) meets and marries George III (Corey Mylchreest). In typical Bridgerton fashion though, there’s far more going on than a period love story, with the spirited Charlotte initially trying to escape the arranged marriage before learning to navigate the corridors of power—and manage George’s deteriorating mental health. Interspersed with scenes in Bridgerton’s “present day” 1817, where the now-formidable stateswoman Queen Charlotte (a returning Golda Rosheuvel) deals with a succession crisis to the throne, this limited series is compulsory viewing for fans of the series, and a great entry point for anyone yet to be wooed by its charms.
By the waning years of the 21st century, a comet strike has all but wiped out humanity, while pollution has gotten so bad that even breathable air is a rarity. In what remains of Korea, the all-powerful Cheonmyeong Group controls everything, forcing the poor to serve as couriers delivering resources to the privileged rich, isolated away from the desert wasteland the surface has become. Yet one courier, the legendary and enigmatic “5-8” (Kim Woo-bin), is on course to deliver a revolution. With dashes of Mad Max, The 100, and even Hideo Kojima's bizarre sci-fi courier game Death Stranding, Black Knight will be familiar to fans of the postapocalyptic genre. But its thrilling chases, brutally well-choreographed fight scenes, and darkly beautiful scenery make it compelling viewing, while its class and governance themes provide some depth beyond the spectacle.
Jefferson Grieff (Stanley Tucci) is a former criminology professor on death row for killing his wife, telling his story to a journalist named Beth (Lydia West). Harry Watling (David Tennant) is an unassuming English vicar, tending to his parishioners. The two men are a world apart—until a horrific misunderstanding leads to Watling trapping a friend of Beth's in his basement. As Watling's situation and mental state deteriorate, Beth turns to the killer for help finding her friend. Created and written by Stephen Moffat, this tense transatlantic thriller has just a dash of The Silence of the Lambs, and with a cast at the top of their game, it’s gripping viewing. Best of all, its tight four episodes mean you can binge it in one go.
They’re baaaaaack! After what feels like far, far too long, the Fab Five return for another dose of more-than-a-makeover magic. Season 7 sees Karamo, Jonathan, Bobby, Tam, and Antoni bringing their unique skills to New Orleans, where they help a frat house clean up their toxic masculinity, revive stagnant relationships, and teach a teacher to love herself as much as her students—and that’s just a taste. Prepare to ugly-cry all over again.
If there's a West Wing-shaped hole in your life, look no further than The Diplomat—a tense geopolitical thriller elevated beyond the norms of the genre by a superb central performance by The Americans' Keri Russell as Kate Wyler, newly appointed US ambassador to the UK. Far from being an easy assignment in a friendly country, Kate's role coincides with an attack on a British aircraft carrier, leaving her to defuse an international crisis before it escalates into full-blown war. It's a job that might go easier if her own special relationship with husband Hal (Rufus Sewell) weren't fraying, as his resentment at being demoted leads him to interfere in her efforts. One of Netflix's biggest hits of 2023, The Diplomat has already been renewed for season two.
Based on the comic book by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth is set 10 years after “The Sick,” a viral pandemic that killed most of the population and led—somehow—to babies being born with part-human, part-animal characteristics. The first season follows Gus, a half-deer hybrid boy who leaves the wilderness in search of his mother, and “Big Man” Tommy Jeppard, a grizzled traveler who becomes his reluctant guide, protecting him from surviving humans who hate and fear the hybrids. The newly dropped second season takes things into darker territory, merging Gus and Jeppard’s path with the once-disparate storyline of Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar), a scientist researching the origins of The Sick—and its connections to Gus. Part sci-fi, part fantasy, part mystery, Sweet Tooth offers viewers a postapocalyptic dystopia unlike any other.
Based on the novels of Caroline Kepnes, You is an often deeply disturbing tale of obsession. The first season follows Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a bookstore manager in New York who falls in deranged love at first sight with aspiring author Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail), while the second sees him relocate to Los Angeles, where heiress Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti) becomes the focus of his attention. However, as their twisted relationship evolves, Love proves to have dark desires of her own. Often shocking, You is a gripping thriller that hits the same sinister sweet spot as early (read: good) seasons of Dexter.
It’s a few years old at this point, but Netflix’s update of the classic 1960s sci-fi show is one of the rarest entries on the service now—a genre show that the streamer can’t cancel after one season, because it’s already completed its three-season run. That means you can settle in to this glossier take on the Robinson family and their desperate attempt to survive on an alien planet without fear of a permanent cliffhanger or a never-coming conclusion. The stakes are far higher in this reboot though, with the Robinsons trapped on a dangerous alien world after an attempt to evacuate a doomed Earth goes disastrously wrong. Stranded, with no way to reunite with the colony mission they were once part of, the family’s fate may rest with a strange robot befriended by youngest son Will—but unlike in the original show, this robot caused the disaster that stranded them. With less saccharine family dynamics than the original, less camp (with the arguable exception of Parker Posey, stealing scenes as the nefarious Dr. Smith), and a more ambitious long-form story stretching across its three seasons, Lost in Space is a strong update for modern viewers.
When slacker Ryohei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) is mysteriously transported to a deserted Tokyo, his keen gaming skills give him an edge navigating a series of lethal games that test intellect as much as physical prowess. Yet after barely scraping through several rounds, Arisu is no closer to uncovering the secrets of this strange borderland, or to finding a way home—and the stakes are about to get even higher. Not only are Arisu and his allies Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya), Kuina (Aya Asahina), and Chishiya (Nijiro Murakami) faced with another gauntlet of sadistic games, but they find themselves caught between rival card suit “courts” vying for power—and not everyone can be trusted.
With its willingness to kill off main characters at a moment’s notice, the first season of this gripping adaptation of Haro Aso’s manga kept viewers on tenterhooks throughout. As the long-awaited second season leans further into its twisted Alice in Wonderland imagery, expect more shocking developments in this taut thriller.
After a minor indiscretion at her "normie" school—releasing flesh-eating piranhas into a pool of swim-team bullies—the dismal doyenne of the Addams Family is sent to the imposing monster boarding school of the Nevermore Academy. Initially desperate to escape the horror high school cliques—goths are vampires, jocks are werewolves, and stoners are gorgons—and her alarmingly peppy roommate, Wednesday is soon drawn into a prophecy dating back decades, and a murder mystery that incriminates her own family.
It's easy to see the influences—Wednesday is equal parts Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale, and Smallville (no surprise, given that it's created by the latter's Alfred Gough and Miles Millar)—but it's all elevated by Jenna Ortega's brilliantly macabre and deliciously deadpan performance as Wednesday herself, not to mention the visual sensibilities of director Tim Burton. With a phenomenal supporting cast, including Catharine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán as Morticia and Gomez Addams; Fred Armisen as deranged Uncle Fester; Gwendoline Christie as Nevermore's Principal Weems; and the cinematic Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci, as a botany teacher, this latter-day Addams Family spinoff is a post-Halloween treat.
Let's be honest: Animated series based on video games often run the gamut from cheap cash-ins to half-decent if forgettable tie-ins, inaccessible to anyone but hardcore devotees. In contrast, Arcane stands apart from the crowd by making its connections to Riot Games' League of Legends almost optional. While its central figures, orphaned sisters Vi and Jinx, are playable characters in the game, viewers don't need foreknowledge of their story to enjoy this steampunk saga of class war, civil uprising, and the people caught in between. With a gorgeous painterly art style, strong characters, and frequently shocking story beats, Arcane defies its origins to become one of the best animated series in years—and it has racked up plenty of awards, including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, to prove it.
The Sandman is one of the most beloved comic series of the past 40 years. A dark fantasy about dreams, reality, stories, and the mercurial relationship between them, Neil Gaiman's books have endured as essential reading for goth teens and literati alike. While attempts to bring the saga of Dream of the Endless—sometimes known as Morpheus, immortal embodiment and master of the nightlands, fierce and terrible in his wrath—to the screen have been underway practically since the comic debuted in 1988, this long-in-development Netflix adaptation is worth the wait. It’s a perfect translation of the first two graphic novels in the series and follows Dream (a sombre and imposing Tom Sturridge) as he restores his power and kingdom after being held in captivity for a century by occultists who snared him instead of his sister Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). Fittingly, the show has a dreamlike pacing to it, blurring the lines between episodic narratives and longer arcs, and it is as likely to leave viewers crying over a gargoyle’s fate as it is to shock them with the sadistic actions of an escaped nightmare-turned-serial killer named the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook). The Sandman’s journey to the screen might have been the stuff of restless nights, but the result is a dream you won’t want to wake up from.
Adaptation: a word that here means “perfectly translating a deliciously dark series of young adult novels to a visual medium without sacrificing any of the otherworldly strangeness of the source material”—right down to the carefully considered dialog and fourth-wall-breaking bookends delivered by Lemony Snicket himself (or, if you’re picky, Patrick Warburton). Netflix’s take on Snicket’s 13-book series is a spectacular accomplishment, telling the full saga of the desperate Baudelaire orphans—Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny—as they repeatedly escape the machinations of the foul Count Olaf (a scene-stealing Neil Patrick Harris) in the wake of their parents’ suspicious deaths. Forget the truncated 2004 movie version—this three-season masterpiece is the definitive vision of Snicket’s macabre world.
Developed by Deadpool director Tim Miller, Love, Death + Robots is perhaps Netflix’s most daring animated offering to date. In this anthology series, where the only common thread is each episode’s unique interpretation of that eponymous trio of themes, viewers are treated to wild concepts that include deadly gladiatorial twists on Pokémon-style beast battles, sentient yogurt, super-powered exoplanetary colonists, and adorable robots that have outlived humanity only to be confused by the world we’ve left behind. Wildly experimental, Love, Death + Robots isn’t afraid to play around with animation styles and genre, allowing a phenomenal roster of creators—including David Fincher, making his animation directing debut—freedom to tell whatever stories they want. The show is brimming with ideas and practically vibrating with visual energy, and you never know what you’re going to get—which is half the fun.
Netflix's nostalgic sci-fi/horror series is back for its fourth season, set six months after the Battle of Starcourt and with its core cast separated for the first time. The Byers family and Eleven are off in California, Hopper is still (somehow) in a Russian prison, and the remaining crew are home in Hawkins, Indiana, about to face down a terrifying new threat—high school. Oh, and another incursion from the horrific Upside Down. The Duffer Brothers continue to offer up plenty of 1980s nostalgia for viewers who grew up on a diet of Spielberg, Lucas, and Craven, while upping the stakes with a significant new threat. Expect drama, scares, and—of course—plenty of Dungeons & Dragons as the cult show roars toward its fifth and final season.
In Russian Doll, Nadia has one very big problem: Time keeps breaking around her. Season one finds Nadia—played by Natasha Lyonne, who is also a cocreator on the show—dying at her own birthday party, only to wake up there over and over again, trapped in a Groundhog Day-style loop until she can unravel her personalized knot in the space-time continuum. Things only get stranger in season two, where Nadia finds herself traveling back in time to 1982 and inhabiting the body of her own mother—currently heavily pregnant with Nadia herself. Both seasons are funny and thought-provoking, reflecting on personal and generational trauma, all without overegging the potential for philosophical musing.
Produced in Korea, Squid Game blends Hunger Games and Parasite with a battle-royal-style contest. Hundreds of desperate, broke people are recruited to a contest where they can win enough money to never need to worry about their debts again. All they have to do to win the ₩45.6 billion ($35.8 million) jackpot is complete six children’s games. But it’s not that simple: All the games have a twist, and very few people make it out alive. Squid Game is intense, brutal, and often very graphic, but it is also completely gripping. Netflix’s dubbing isn’t the best in this instance, but the nine episodes are compelling enough to make up for it.
Arsène Lupin, the belle epoque burglar created by French novelist Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900s, is reinvented as Assane Diop, a first-generation Frenchman with a mania for Lupin books and a grudge against the powerful forces who decades ago framed his father for a theft he didn’t commit—and led him to die in prison. Pairing drones, social media bots, and hacking skills with traditional tools of the trade like fake beards, picklocks, and quick wits, Diop hunts down his adversaries as he searches for the truth about his father’s fate. In his spare time, Diop also tries to patch together a crumbling marriage and build a better rapport with his son. Worth watching in the French original, this five-episode series’ strength lies in the dialog, the character development, and the charismatic performance of Omar Sy as Assane. The actual escapades and daring heists are beautifully choreographed, but a lot of the mechanics—how a certain piece of legerdemain worked, when an impenetrable building was infiltrated—are left to the viewer's imagination.
From executive producer Shonda Rhimes comes a period drama that also happens to be Netflix’s most-watched series ever. Bridgerton is set during the Regency period in England and follows the powerful Bridgerton family as they navigate love, marriage, and scandal. Incredibly entertaining, the show is based on a series of novels, each of which focuses on a different Bridgerton sibling. The first series follows eldest sister Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and her turbulent marriage to one of London's most eligible bachelors, Duke Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). The second season explores the relationship between Daphne's brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), the woman he chooses to marry, and the family and societal dramas this sets in motion.