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Netflix is the biggest streaming service in the game. Among its huge offering of shows and movies are numerous Netflix originals. These are shows produced by the streamer itself. They range in tone and quality from low-budget comedies and reality TV to prestige dramas and period shows. So, what are the best Netflix shows of all time?
Read on for our picks of the very best. And if you don’t have a Netflix subscription already, you can sign up by hitting the link below.
There’s no easy way to choose the best Netflix shows of all time. Do we go by critical reception? Should it be all based on awards? Maybe a reader poll? What if we went purely subjective and chose our own personal favs?
“Bestness” is just not a measurable quality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lay down a few ground rules.
See also: The best original shows on every service
Instead of pretending to have a definitive answer, we’ve combined a few of these approaches to offer a list of shows that are celebrated as the best by a fairly broad consensus. The list below is mostly made up of Netflix shows with high IMDb ratings, numerous awards (Emmys, Golden Globes, etc.), and high viewership according to Netflix itself. We’ve added our own secret sauce to the process too, though, assessing whether older titles that were big hits still hold up, whether poor marketing buried some secret gems, and whther less successful titles developed fierce fan followings.
Lastly, we’ve let our personal tastes sneak in a bit too.
So, with all of that in mind, here are the very best Netflix shows of all time.
One of Netflix’s earliest original series, Orange Is the New Black received 12 Emmy nominations in its first season and won four throughout its seven-season run. Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, the series chronicles a woman’s experience in a minimum-security federal prison, including the relationships she forms with her fellow inmates.
Ozark is a gripping thriller and family drama. The series stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as a couple trying to hold their family together when they move from Chicago to the Ozarks where they run a risky money laundering scheme for a Mexican drug cartel. It’s one of the best Netflix shows of all time and one of the streamer’s more successful originals.
Considered by many to be Netflix’s flagship original series, Stranger Things has been one of the streamer’s most popular shows since it premiered in 2016. When a young boy goes missing in a small town in Indiana, his friends discover a government conspiracy involving monsters from another dimension in this cosmic horror series inspired by classic stories of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and more.
Cancelled after three seasons, GLOW nevertheless developed a vocal fanbase and garnered great reviews throughout its run. Starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron, the show offers a fictionalized history of the 1980s women’s wrestling circuit, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, following the big personalities involved as a diverse group of women broke into the male-dominated wrestling industry.
A reboot of the 2000s Bravo reality makeover show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer Eye follows the Fab Five, a group of five queer hosts, each with a different specialty (food and wine, grooming, fashion, culture, and design). In each episode, the hosts visit a new “hero,” someone nominated to be helped by the Fab Five to meet their goals and be their best selves. It’s a feel-good show that has won numerous awards and earned a loyal fanbase.
A dramatization of Queen Elizabeth II’s life, career, and reign, The Crown is based on the true history of the British monarchy. With different actors taking on the roles of royals at various stages in history, the series lays out the drama and politics surrounding the British seat of power. It’s one of the streamer’s big awards winners and among the best Netflix shows of all time.
A huge hit, with planned spinoffs, Bridgerton is an epic romance set in the British Regency era. Inspired by Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, the series follows the Bridgerton siblings on their quests for love and happiness. The rules of high society don’t always make it easy. And there’s a town gossip, whose popular newsletter keeps everyone on their toes.
One of the best Netflix shows of all time is also its most-watched series. The Korean original Squid Game became a massive, global hit when it dropped in 2021. The series follows contestants in a deadly competition. All are desperate for the cash prize, meaning they’ll compete through demeaning and dangerous trials, seeking to be the last living contestant to claim the reward. This skewering of capitalism struck a chord with viewers and became a zeitgeist-defining show.
The Wachowskis earned a huge cult following for their globetrotting sci-fi series Sense8, cancelled after two seasons but revived for a feature-length finale following fan outcry. In Sense8, a group of strangers from around the world find themselves suddenly psychically connected to one another. With their new abilities, they have to work together, each contributing a unique skill-set, to outwit the shadowy organization that wishes them harm.
Earning a loyal fanbase that petitioned for its revival after cancellation like Sense8, The OA is a stunning supernatural sci-fi series that is easily among the best Netflix shows of all time. Brit Marling stars as a woman who suddenly returns home after a years-long disappearance. With mysterious new abilities, she sets out to recruit others to help her on a secret mission. Blending multiple realities and a compelling mystery, The OA is well worth seeking out.
The son of a sex therapist sets out to earn cash at school offering relationship advice in this smart, funny, and moving Netflix series. The comedy-drama sees the school and community rocked by a sexual revolution. Kids and adults alike begin to question the status quo and explore their desires more fully. This leads to both healthier relationships and scrutiny from the school board and local media.
The Witcher is one of Netflix’s most popular shows. The fantasy drama is based on the books of Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. It follows a mutated monster hunter who travels a fictional land selling his services to those who need them. But it’s the people he encounters who he must watch out for.
Adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman has been a major Netflix success story. Will Arnett leads an all-star voice cast that includes Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins, and more. BoJack is a horse who used to star in a popular sitcom, the series explores celebrity, middle age, and mental health with a shocking amount of maturity and nuance — combined with absurdist dark humor. BoJock Horseman is easily one of the best Netflix shows of all time, and with six seasons, there’s plenty of it to keep you going for a while.
One of Netflix’s most successful non-English productions, Dark is a German sci-fi thriller that has drawn many comparisons to Stranger Things. Spanning generations, the series follows a town unravelling as long-buried secrets emerge when a child goes missing.
With David Fincher serving as executive producer and frequent director, Mindhunter is one of the buzziest original Netflix shows and one of the streamer’s best of all time. It’s also on indefinite hiatus after two successful seasons, giving it a vocal fanbase demanding more. The series follows an FBI team in the 1970s as they develop the earliest iteration of criminal profiling by interviewing serial killers — many based on real, historical criminals like Ed Kemper and Charles Manson — to better understand them.
Grace and Frankie — A sitcom starring screen icons Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie follows the unlikely friendship between two aging women dealing with the fact that their husbands have left them to start a relationship together.
The Haunting of Hill House — Mike Flanagan has become a Netflix mainstay with his acclaimed horror series and movies. Among his best projects is The Haunting of Hill House, a limited series about a family haunted by their pasts.
American Vandal — This mockumentary series is one of the most clever parodies of the true crime boom, which included Netflix’s own Making a Murderer.
I Think You Should Leave — Tim Robinson’s sketch comedy series has been turned into countless memes and recognized by the Television Critics Association, the Emmys, the Hollywood Critics Association, and more.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power — A wonderful re-imagining of the classic Saturday morning cartoon, She-Ra sees a girl joining a rebellion against an oppressive army when she gains powers of her own.
Lupin — These lists can get pretty US-centric, and while Lupin didn’t hit Squid Game-levels of attention, it’s a major Netflix original out of France. A gentleman thief sets out to avenge the death of his father, taking on a wealthy family.
The Queen’s Gambit — The story of a young chess master making her mark on a competitive, male-dominated world captivated audiences in this Netflix limited series.
Those are the 15 best Netflix shows of all time, and a few extras worth checking out.
What’s your favourite Netflix show? Let us know in the comments.
The best Netflix shows of all time: 15 top picks – Android Authority
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