The 75 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

September 2017

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The 75 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

Scattered among the best TV shows on Netflix are more and more of the streaming platform’s own original series. Watching TV on Netflix has gotten better and better as the service continues to add to its impressive catalog of network and cable series, not to mention the proliferation of flashy Netflix originals. In fact, the company that spent its formative years as a way to see movies has since become into the world’s primary enabler of binge-watching.

Our list of what to watch on Netflix is here to help you find the next TV series to devour, and we’ve looked through the enormous catalog (USA only, sorry) to find these recommendations. If you’ve ever wondered “what should I watch on Netflix?” You’ve come to the right place.

You can also check out the Best Movies on Netflix, the Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime and the Best TV shows on Hulu.

Here are the 75 best TV shows on Netflix:

75. Chewing Gum

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Creator: Michaela Coel
Stars: Michaela Coel, Robert Lonsdale, Danielle Walters, Tanya Franks
Network: E4 (U.K.)

In the series premiere of Chewing Gum, Tracey (Coel), raised fundamentalist and still a virgin at 24, asks her best friend to give her a makeover “like Beyoncé’” to convince her deeply religious (and just as deeply closeted) fiancé to finally have sex with her. He rejects her for being openly desirous of sex, saying she looks like if a Barbie doll “rolled around in the mud then turned into a negro.” When that fails, she falls into bed with a new, white boyfriend, Connor (Robert Lonsdale). Tracey leans into and explores a sexuality that’s weird, cartoonish, and ultimately doesn’t even involve penetrative sex—Chewing Gum is instead preoccupied with the awkwardness and anxieties of sex, ignoring whether it’s unflattering and uninterested in whether or not it’s empowering. It’s about honest sexual expression and the joy of learning not to care when you can’t meet a lofty standard, and there’s real pleasure in discovering Tracey’s sexual absurdity. Season Two comes to the streaming service April 4. Sidney Fussell

74. Sense8

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Creators: The Wachowskis, J. Michael Straczynski
Stars: Tuppence Middleton, Brian J. Smith, Doona Bae, Aml Ameen, Max Riemelt, Tina Desai, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Freema Agyeman, Terrence Mann, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Daryl Hannah
Network: Netflix 

There is no bigger WTF TV show in the world right now than Sense8. This globe-trotting and glitzy sci-fi series, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (co-directors of The Matrix trilogy) and former Babylon 5 showrunner J. Michael Straczynski, drops us into a world where eight strangers in different parts of the planet are somehow psychically and emotionally linked. Through the first season’s 12 episodes—and the recent Christmas special follow this assortment of confused and beautiful people as they try to understand this connection, use their newfound abilities to help one another, and engage in not one but two blissfully queer orgies. As wacky and over-the-top as Sense8 can often get, the series remains important as it deals with issues of sexuality and gender identity through the work of trans actress Jamie Clayton and performers Miguel Silvestre and Alfonso Herrera’s portrayal of a gay couple in Mexico City. Robert Ham

73. A Series of Unfortunate Events


Creators: Mark Hudis, Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, Presley Smith
Network: Netflix 

When Netflix announced its adaptation of Daniel Handler’s beloved, quirky books, my main question was this: Is A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptable to the screen without losing the idiosyncrasies that make it so charming? Fortunately, director Barry Sonnenfeld, Neil Patrick Harris as the evil Count Olaf, and Handler himself (as screenwriter) rose to the challenge magnificently. The Series, whose first season contains eight out of a planned 26 episodes, doesn’t consistently hit the emotional heights of Netflix’s best fare, but it more than makes up for this paucity with solid acting, abundant wit and a visual aesthetic that is wholly unique in television—a hybrid of Tim Burton’s gothic glee and Wes Anderson’s diorama cinema. Book-readers will delight at the faithfulness of the adaptation, and while first-timers may take a tad longer to get their feet wet, the colorful menagerie of characters and the dogged perseverance of the Baudelaire orphans should win them over. Zach Blumenfeld

72. Marvel’s Luke Cage

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Creator: Cheo Hodari Coker
Stars: Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Erik LaRay Harvey, Rosario Dawson, Theo Rossi
Network: Netflix 

Marvel’s third Netflix venture isn’t perfect—the structure of its villain hierarchy needed some serious recalibration—but it is good, very good in fact, and most of all it’s ballsy. Who writes a superhero show around a naked discussion of what it means to a black American in 2016? Luke Cage is obviously a Marvel product, but it’s also the product of its creator, Cheo Hodari Coker, and its cast, including Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, and Erik LaRay Harvey (plus appearances by Frankie Faison, Ron Cephas Jones and, of course, Method Man): The series has more flexibility in addressing its subject matter thanks to its platform, but it’s hard to imagine that it’d speak as loudly or as boldly even on Netflix without Coker driving the narrative forward. Even though he stumbles during the show’s midsection, his errors don’t add up to more than an inconvenience: Luke Cage blends its source material with a wide range of influences, from jazz to rap to horrors ripped straight from the headlines, and churns out a yarn that’s as powerful as it is irresistibly poppy. Andy Crump

71. Grey’s Anatomy

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Creator:   Shonda Rhimes  
Stars: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw, Jesse Williams, Sarah Drew, Katherine Heigl, Isiah Washington, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr.
Network: ABC

Now that Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland are such a force in the TV world, it’s hard to imagine there was a time before her landmark dramas were a staple in our viewing schedules. Premiering as a mid-season replacement way back in March 2005, Grey’s, now in its thirteenth season, first appeared to be nothing more than an ER wannabe. But Rhimes perfected the art of a well-told soap opera, seamlessly weaving personal strife, romantic hookups (never have supply closets seen so much action) and complex medical cases. She broke ground with a multi-racial cast, same sex couples, and one of TV’s first bi-sexual characters. The series has survived multiple cast changes, the behind-the-scenes drama the often eclipsed the on-screen shenanigans and fickle fans who threatened to quit the show when McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) died. We take shows like Grey’s for granted, but when you are still successful after 13 seasons, you are doing something magical. So, relive the show from its nascent early days or discover it for the first time. Grey’s is my ultimate comfort-food TV, and I bet it will become yours too. Amy Amatangelo

70. Jane the Virgin

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Creator: Jennie Snyder Urman
Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Justin Baldoni, Yeal Grobglas, Jaime Camil, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Anthony Mendez
Network: The CW

A virgin perfectionist with a heart of gold shouldn’t be this watchable. However, add a pinch of the ol’ impregnated-by-artificial-insemination storyline, mixed in with the possible threat of a grandmother’s deportation, all while the protagonist is trying to rock both a writing career and motherhood, and you’ve got one of the most fascinating TV characters of the year. What’s great about Jane is that she handles everything with an impressive sensibility, and you can’t help but fall for her optimistic outlook on life. If there’s a will, there’s a way and Jane takes the cards she’s dealt in life, and never forgets or forsakes the deep goodness Abuela instilled within her. We watched as this character celebrated life’s big moments with everything from dance-offs to earnest weeping, without any embarrassment for her vulnerability—but don’t get on her bad side. The second season of Jane the Virgin has treated us to an even more protective Jane who will swiftly go to battle for the people she loves. Iris A. Barreto

69. Call the Midwife

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Creator: Heidi Thomas
Stars:Vanessa Redgrave, Bryony Hannah, Helen George, Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Laura Main, Judy Parfiti
Network: BBC

“Midwifery is the very stuff of life,” proves this incredibly moving, often provocative series, based on the memoirs of British nurse Jennifer Worth. Set in 1950s London—read: pre-choice, not pro-choice—Call the Midwife focuses on the nurses and nuns who work at a convent in the East End. Vanessa Redgrave narrates the experiences of Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), a privileged young woman who must quickly adapt to life in an impoverished district, where medical resources are precious and newborns are plentiful. Predictably meticulous in period detail, the ensemble drama brims with joy and compassion while maintaining a bracingly unromantic grip on pregnancy and parenthood. Disease, labor complications and tragedies like miscarriage, stillbirth and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are common—along with domestic violence, rape and unwanted pregnancy—yet the show warms as many hearts as it breaks. Call it feminist, call it what you will, Call the Midwife is brave television. Amanda Schurr

68. The Good Place

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Creator: Michael Schur
Stars: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper
Network: NBC

Some of the best sitcoms in history are about bad people. M.A.S.H., Seinfeld, Arrested Development: It’d be hard to argue that the majority of their characters aren’t self-involved, intolerant or downright assholes. It’s far, far too early to enter The Good Place into any such pantheon, but it’s relevant in pinning down why the latest comedy from Michael Schur (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) feels simultaneously so cozy and so adventurous. Fitting into a middle ground of sensibilities between occupational comedies like NewsRadio and the sly navel-gazing of Dead Like Me, The Good Place is the rare show that’s completely upfront about its main character’s flaws, creating a moral playground that tests Eleanor’s worst impulses at every turn. Played by Kristen Bell at her most unbridled, she’s a vain, impish character—the type of person who’ll swipe someone’s coffee without a second thought, then wonder why the universe is plotting against her. She’s a perfect straight woman in an afterlife surrounded by only the purest of heart, but the show doesn’t hold it against her. If anything, following in the grand tradition of sitcoms, the show knows that we’re all bad people at one time or another. Michael Snydel

67. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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Creators: Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna
Stars: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Gabrielle Ruiz
Network: The CW

Don’t let the name keep you from tuning into this one—creator/star Rachel Bloom (who was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on the show) addresses it before the theme song’s even over, responding to choruses of “she’s the crazy ex-girlfriend” with lines like “that’s a sexist term” and “the situation’s more nuanced than that.” And it is: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a clever musical-comedy (think Flight of the Conchords, if they leaned more heavily on musical theater) about Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer who turns down a partnership at her New York firm to follow her ex-boyfriend Josh to West Covina, California and try to win him back. But it’s more complicated than that: along the way Rebecca learns to address some of the neuroses she’s been carrying around since childhood and gets sidetracked (depending on how you look at it) by a sort of Sam and Diane “will they/won’t they” thing with Josh’s friend Greg. Her “crazy” is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always presented smartly and sensitively—never what you might expect from a show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Bonnie Stiernberg

66. GLOW

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Creators: Liz Flahive, Jenji Kohan and Carly Mensch
Stars: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Sunita Mani and Marc Maron
Network: Netflix 

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I did not grow up watching wrestling on Saturday mornings. But just as I didn’t have to understand football to love Friday Night Lights, I don’t need to know what an atomic drop is to adore GLOW. A nearly unrecognizable Alison Brie (credit the ‘80s hair and eyebrows for her transformation) stars as Ruth Wilder, an aspiring actress who finds her perfect role in the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. What she lacks in skill, Ruth makes up for in pluck. Her frenemy, former soap star Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), becomes her perfect foil. Marc Maron is hilarious as their world-weary producer and Sydelle Noel is a stand out as stunt woman-turned-trainer Cherry Bang. Come for the ridiculous costumes, makeup and hair. Stay for the surprisingly poignant show about female empowerment. Amy Amatangelo

65. Gilmore Girls


Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Stars: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Edward Herrmann, Liza Weil, Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia, Sean Gunn, David Sutcliffe, Chris Eigeman, Matt Czuchry
Networks: The WB, The CW, Netflix 

Our fearless TV editor Matt Brennan recently embarked on a journey. Having never seen Gilmore Girls before, he watched all 154 episodes of the original plus the four new installments of A Year in the Life. (You can read his hilarious stream-of-consciousness here). And I have to admit I was jealous. For me, the original show is now a distant and beloved memory. Oh, the joy of discovering it for the first time! I envy all of you who will watch as Lorelai (Lauren Graham), her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) and family matriarch Emily (the incomparable Kelly Bishop) honestly portray three generations of strong women. It’s the only show you can watch with your teenage daughter and your mother and be assured you will all be equally entertained. In addition to the deft storytelling, there’s the never before or since matched rat-a-tat banter and pop-culture references that infuse all the dialogue. And the love stories! Lorelai and Luke (Scott Patterson) are one of TV’s greatest love stories. And will you be #TeamJess, #TeamDean or #TeamLogan? Even if I didn’t love the (very) flawed A Year in the Life and kind of despised the final four words, I still was so happy to see my friends in Stars Hollow again. The show became a part of my life. And it will become a part of yours too. Amy Amatangelo

64. Riverdale


Creator: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Stars:: K.J. Apa, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Madelaine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, Ashleigh Murray, Mädchen Amick, Luke Perry
Network:: The CW

This is the way I’ve been selling Riverdale to friends who have not yet wised up and started watching it: it’s Gossip Girl meets Twin Peaks, but with the characters from Archie Comics. That alone should be enough to suck them in, but if they need more convincing, I add that Luke Perry plays Archie’s dad, Molly Ringwald plays Archie’s mom, Skeet Ulrich plays Jughead’s creepy hot dad (who is also the head of the local gang, the Southside Serpents), and for the first third of the season, Archie is boning his music teacher, Ms. Grundy—who, unlike in the comics—where she’s an elderly white-haired lady—goes around wearing heart-eyed sunglasses and picking up teen boys. It’s ridiculous and campy in all the right ways (hey, this is a CW teen drama, after all), but there’s also a compelling murder mystery driving the plot (“Who killed Jason Blossom?” is Riverdale’s “Who killed Laura Palmer?”), with new twists and turns peppered in along the way. Bonnie Stiernberg

63. The Wonder Years

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Creators: Carol Black, Neal Marlens
Stars: Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano
Network: ABC

The Wonder Years is a family show, and yes, a few of its episodes inch dangerously close to after-school-special territory, but make no mistake: revisiting this late-’80s/early-’90s staple as an adult is just as—if not more—enjoyable than watching it the first time around. It’s unabashedly nostalgic, but it chronicles the ups and downs of Kevin Arnold’s, Winnie Cooper’s and Paul Pfeiffer’s adolescence against the backdrop of the Vietnam era and our nation’s changing social landscape with a maturity most shows geared towards kids lack. The tiny childhood moments that stick with us are treated with the respect they deserve. We laugh when Kevin’s brother Wayne gets him in a headlock and calls him “scrote” for the umpteenth time (try sneaking that by the Nick at Nite censors nowadays!) or when Kev squares off with his mortal enemy Becky Slater, and we cry when Kevin’s occasionally distant father struggles to relate to his teenage kids. And sorry, but if you don’t hold your breath when Kevin puts that letterman jacket over Winnie’s shoulders, you’re dead inside. Music geeks will appreciate the incredible soundtrack as well; the series was only just recently released on DVD because licensing all the songs that appeared on the show (a veritable greatest hits collection from the likes of Dylan, The Beatles and Motown’s finest) had proven nearly impossible. But if you don’t have the cash to throw down for the complete series box set, thankfully, there’s Netflix to keep this classic coming-of-age tale alive as well. Bonnie Stiernberg

62. Documentary Now!

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Creators: Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, Rhys Thomas
Stars: Fred Armisen, Bill Hader 
Network: IFC 

Last year, Documentary Now! was more consistently brilliant than in its fine first season, in part because the creative team—including stars Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, writers Seth Meyers and John Mulaney and directors Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono—regularly found legitimate pathos beneath the comedy. Instead of merely parodying famous documentaries, they used each half-hour episode to quickly sketch recognizable and believable characters, focusing on their pain and humanity as much as their humor. The Spalding Gray satire “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything,” the bleak Salesman parody “Globesman,” and the two-part Robert Evans riff “Mr. Runner-Up: My Life as an Oscar Bridesmaid” were among the best episodes of any show in 2016; all three work on multiple levels, as satire, as layered character studies, and as well-crafted faux-documentaries that could easily pass as the real thing if you didn’t know any better. Garrett Martin

61. Peaky Blinders

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Creator: Steven Knight
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Iddo Goldberg
Network: BBC

Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill star in this rock ’n‘ roll gangster drama—music from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey and the White Stripes adds a modern touch to the period proceedings—set in 1919 in the West Midlands industrial city of Birmingham. Murphy is a soldier-turned-ambitious kingpin of the Shelby crime family. Neill is the equally ruthless inspector out to dismantle his organization, who enlists a lovely mole (Annabelle Wallis, also of Fleming) to aid his campaign. (Tom Hardy joins the cast in the second season.) As the steely, azure-eyed Tommy Shelby, Murphy brings his trademark quiet intensity to a multidimensional antihero, one of several thoughtful characterizations in the Shelby clan. As for the gang’s/ show’s namesake, picture razor blades sewn into the brim of its wearers’ caps and you’ll get the head-butting, eye-gouging extent of Peaky Blinders’ viciousness. Amanda Schurr

60. Frasier

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Creators: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, Peri Gilpin, Moose
Network: NBC

Many classic sitcoms are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show soon became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frasier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself. Jim Vorel

59. The Killing

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Creator: Veena Sud
Stars: Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman
Networks: AMC, Netflix 

Joel Kinnaman. That’s the reason you need to watch The Killing. In world-weary, recovering addict Detective Stephen Holder, Kinnaman created one of television’s most intriguing, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and hilarious characters. It’s worth it to binge watch The Killing for Kinnaman’s nuanced performance alone. Seriously. The first two seasons focus on Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder investigating the murder of teenage Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay) in rainy, murky Seattle. Michelle Forbes brings a palpable anguish to grieving mother Mitch Larsen. Billy Campbell is riveting as sketchy politician Darren Richmond. The show will keep you guessing with red herring after red herring. Holder and Linden are unlike any other cop pairing on TV. The Killing is a show whose parts (fantastic performances) were always greater than its whole (at times confusing, circuitous story telling). But the parts are terrific. The third season features a brilliant performance by Peter Sarsgaard as death row inmate Ray Seward and keep an eye out Bex Taylor-Klaus as homeless teen Bullet. Her performance was so great that I’m still waiting for her to become the next big breakout star. Joan Allen’s mysterious Colonel Margaret Rayne is at the center of the show’s fourth and final season. By now you’ve probably heard how outraged fans were when the first season finale failed to offer a satisfying conclusion. But behold the beauty of binge watching—you can just view the first two 13-episode seasons as one big 26-episode one. And viola! There’s nothing to be upset about. Amy Amatangelo

58. One Day at a Time


Creators: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce
Star: Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz
Network: Netflix 

I can’t remember a time I loved something the way I love the new One Day at a Time. Part of my affection stems from the fact that the show was such a discovery. It arrived January 6 of this year with almost no hype. I write about TV for a living and I barely knew it was premiering. Almost immediately I dismissed the show as yet another ill-advised remake. How wrong I was. The comedy is a pure delight. A throwback to the defining comedies of the 1970s with a modern twist, the show deftly tackles some hot-button issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, wage inequality and teenage sexuality amid real conversations about generational differences and Cuban heritage and traditions. Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) is fantastic as the recently separated veteran raising her two adolescent children with the help of her mother Lydia (living legend Rita Moreno) and her landlord Schneider (Todd Grinnell). Moreno gives an amazing speech in the series 12th episode that should easily nab her an Emmy nomination this year. But above all the show is funny and grounded. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to watch this gem one day at a time. Amy Amatangelo

57. Scandal


Creator:   Shonda Rhimes  
Stars:   Kerry Washington, Guillermo Díaz, Joe Morton
Network: ABC

When so much of a show’s plot is made up of infuriatingly dramatic cliffhangers, it can be deeply satisfying to experience a series, like Scandal, on Netflix. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, have no clue what a Gladiator in a suit is, and don’t know whether you’re Team Jake or Team Fitz, there’s no time like the present. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a lawyer and crisis management expert who represents high-profile politicians and other clientele in Washington D.C. AKA the people running this great nation, who always seem to find themselves in the midst of a scandal. Based on real-life D.C. fixer Judy Smith (the former Bush Administration aide who has represented folks like Monica Lewinsky, Kobe Bryant, and former Senator Larry Craig), Pope is a formidable character, often as much of a scandalous megalomaniac as her clientele. Sure, Rhimes (also the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) draws on many-a-cliche for this series—endless love triangles, characters killed off at a moment’s notice, etc. But Scandal is, simultaneously, a refreshing and forward-thinking experience, with a black woman at the head of a very bizarre Scooby gang (brought to us by Weeds actor Guillermo Díaz, along with Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, and Columbus Short), one of the first gay villains on television, and a stark quality that seeks to peel the mask off of American politics. Funny, sexy, downright frightening at times, and complete with an amazing ‘70s soundtrack for every episode, Scandal is the stuff Netflix binge-watching dreams made of. Shannon M. Houston

56. Love

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Creators:   Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust
Stars: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty
Network: Netflix 

If you’re a fan of Undeclared or Freaks and Geeks, you should make it your business to give Judd Apatow’s latest series, Love, a try. In a lot of ways, it feels like what would happen if Sam Weir and Kim Kelly wound up dating in their 30s—we meet Gus (Paul Rust), a dorky on-set tutor for the child star of a witch-themed teen drama, and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), a radio producer struggling with her sobriety, as they’re both reeling from tough breakups and watch as they fall for each other. Like anything Apatow’s got his name on, there’s an underlying sweetness here and an incredibly strong cast (Claudia O’Doherty steals pretty much every scene she’s in as Mickey’s roommate, Bertie), and the addiction plot lends some dramatic muscle. The characters are complicated (and not always likable), but hey, so is love. Bonnie Stiernberg

55. The League

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Creators: Jeff Schaffer, Jackie Marcus Schaffer
Stars: Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Stephen Rannazzisi, Paul Scheer, Jon Lajoie, Katie Aselton
Networks: FX, FXX

Don’t let all the fantasy football talk deter you if you’re not into sports. For all its NFL-star cameos and inside-baseball terminology, The League, at its heart, is really just a show about a group of friends who like to compete with and talk smack about each other. It’s basically Friends, if Ross and Chandler were allowed to call each other “shit-sippers” on primetime network TV. This semi-improvised show is wonderful, weird and features a bunch of people who are very funny but usually relegated to more bit roles in TV and movies (Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Katie Aselton, etc.). And when it comes to the show’s smack-talking bros, there’s a favorite for everyone, be it crass, sex-obsessed loose cannon Rafi or Kevin and Jenny, who despite occasionally playing the goofy-dad/smart-mom TV-cleaning-product commercial dichotomy, will remind you of all the things you liked about the good relationships you’ve been in. The shortened first season plays more like a TV miniseries and will take you less than an afternoon. It’ll be worth it. Lindsay Eanet

54. Parenthood

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Creators:   Ron Howard, Jason Katims
Stars: Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger, Savannah Paige Rae, Sarah Ramos, Max Burkholder, Joy Bryant, Miles Heizer, Mae Whitman, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Tyree Brown
Network: NBC

Parenthood has always been a good drama, but this season it became a great one. The NBC series is palpably real. The Bravermans are us. Each week, the show provides insight into what it’s like to be part of an extended, loving and meddling family while giving viewers the opportunity for a nice cathartic cry. Family dramas are the hardest type of one-hour programming—they must keep viewers engaged without a weekly patient to cure, crime to solve or case to litigate. That’s why a family drama frequently will turn to the television trope of giving a lead character a disease. But what Parenthood has done with the Kristina (Monica Potter) story arc this season has been profound. The series thrives when it demonstrates the minutia of life. While Kristina has been battling breast cancer, she’s also been dealing with life’s smaller moments. Life, the show subtly points out each week, doesn’t stop for cancer. So often on TV, a disease will befall a character only to be wrapped up in one or two episodes after a few requisite maudlin moments. But Kristina is living with cancer and Potter is giving the performance of her career. She evokes empathy from the viewer while never allowing the viewer to pity Kristina. Parenthood has quietly become one of the best shows on TV. Amy Amatangelo

53. A Different World

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Creator:   Bill Cosby  
Stars: Lisa Bonet, Jasmine Guy, Marisa Tomei, Dawnn Lewis, Loretta Devine, Kadeem Hardison, Mary Alice, Darryl M. Bell, Sinbad, Jada Pinkett
Network: NBC

This Cosby Show spin-off had a rocky start, but after writing out Denise Huxtable and hiring Debbie Allen to oversee it before the second season, it turned into one of the most distinct sitcoms in TV history. Instead of focusing on one member of a beloved TV family in a new setting, it refocused on the setting itself, a historically black college called Hillman that was a fictional stand-in for Howard University. Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison might’ve lead the ensemble as Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne, but it was a true ensemble, with a cast that reflected the diversity of black life in the late ’80s and early ’90s. It also often dealt with social issues that The Cosby Show and other sitcoms at the time shied away from, and usually without the schmaltz you’d expect from “very special” sitcom episodes. Garrett Martin

52. The Guild

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Creator: Felicia Day
Stars: Felicia Day, Vincent Caso, Sandeep Parikh, Amy Okuda, Robin Thorsen, Jeff Lewis
Networks: YouTube, Xbox Live

It’s no secret that we have a bit of a crush on Felicia Day. From her starring role in Joss Whedon’s straight-to-internet supervillain musical spectacular, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, to her more than two million followers on Twitter, she’s an Internet force to be reckoned with. She’s also a writer/co-producer/actress/etc. for a well-known and industry-defying web series called The Guild. Turns out, we might also have a crush on The Guild itself. The web series follows the sordid on- and off-line lives of a band of gaming misfits as they go from being anonymous avatars to being present in each others’ lives. The ensemble that Day and other producers scrabbled together are not only incredibly funny in their own individual rights, but they work together well—from snarky Amy Okuda as Guild dissenter Tinkerballa down to Sandeep Parikh’s obsessive, sheltered and socially-deficient gnome warlock Zaboo. Every character seems almost tailored to each actor/comedian’s strengths, which maximizes the potential for hilarity. Whitney Baker

51. Luther

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Creator: Neil Cross
Stars: Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Paul McGann
Network: BBC

Idris Elba  as a sad, violent, and genius detective, tracking down the weird serial killers of London? It’s a formula that should work, and does. It was recently announced that the show is done after three series of three episodes each (though apparently there will be a feature film), and that length seems perfect. Also, Alice Morgan is one of the coolest criminals in any detective show. Shane Ryan

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