What to Watch on Netflix

TV Lists Netflix
Share Tweet Submit Pin
What to Watch on Netflix

“What should I watch on Netflix tonight?” It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves when the responsibilities of the day are done and we just want to relax. We’ve tried to answer that with our lists of the best movies, TV shows and stand-up comedy on Netflix, but we also wanted to give you a more personal curated list of recommendations. Each month, we’ll update this guide with fresh picks from the Paste Staff.

From comfort TV with the return of an iconic cooking show to the final season of one of our favorite crime families to a new animated adventure, we’ve got something for everyone.

Best New Shows

Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend


Creator: Daniel Calin
Stars: Alton Brown, Kristen Kish, Mark Dacascos
Genre: Food, Reality

Watch on Netflix

When it comes to the genre of televised cooking competition series, Iron Chef exists on its own hallowed tier. There had been influential cooking series before the Japanese invented a wonderfully wacky mode of over-the-top haute cuisine presentation in the 1990s, and there will surely be great competition shows to come. But Iron Chef is special to a lot of foodies out there; a gloriously unhinged celebration of culinary creativity that has helped to give rise to countless TV food personalities in the last few decades, while simultaneously highlighting truly groundbreaking kitchen wizardry. Although countless cooking competition shows that followed the U.S. debut of Iron Chef America have no doubt found healthy niches of their own, there’s a certain sense of prestige to the shared dream of Iron Chef—to come into Kitchen Stadium and triumph over one of the culinary gladiators on their own turf—that gives it a weird sense of gravitas that has never quite been replicated. A series with that kind of enduring goodwill was bound to see another reboot at some point, and that time has come with the June 15, 2022 premiere of Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend on Netflix, kicking off a new era (and new format) of the legendary series’ legacy. It’s largely indistinguishable from Iron Chef America at its best, having made only a few welcome organizational changes, while inserting a season-long meta-competition that gives each episode additional stakes. In short, it’s still the Iron Chef we know and love, and the cooking (and absurdist pageantry) is as breathtaking as ever—once a trendsetter in the world of American food programming, now an elder statesman that has lost none of its knife-edged precision. Here’s hoping we get more Netflix seasons, and a higher episode count, so the foodies among us can truly embrace televised gluttony like we so badly wish to do. —Jim Vorel

First Kill


Creators: Felicia D. Henderson, Emma Roberts, Karah Preiss
Stars: Imani Lewis, Sarah Catherine Hook, Elizabeth Mitchell, Will Swenson, Aubin Wise, Jason Robert Moore
Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Watch on Netflix

Twilight. The Vampire Diaries. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. True Blood. It’s safe to say that vampire romance has been done to death, pun intended. However, we’ve never seen a vampire romance quite like Netflix’s First Kill: A sapphic Romeo and Juliet-inspired story set in a world where fair Verona is Savannah, Georgia, and the Capulets and the Montagues are elite vampires and ruthless hunters. First Kill, based on the short story of the same name written by series creator V. E. Schwab, follows teenage vampire Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) and teenage vampire-hunter Calliope (Imani Lewis) as they navigate a star-crossed romance in the midst of an ages-old feud. From showrunner Felicia D. Henderson and executive producers Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss, First Kill seeks to unravel the powerful Fairmont vampire clan, led by matriarch Margot (Elizabeth Mitchell) and her husband Sebastion (Will Swenson), while simultaneously disrupting prestigious slayers Talia (Aubin Wise) and Jack Burns (Jason Robert Moore). In eight hourlong episodes, vampires, hunters, monsters, and mothers all fight for the right to call Savannah their home. More than anything, First Kill is a whole lot of fun. It’s campy, it’s quippy, and it’s melodramatic; everything you could ever want from a modern, teenage, Shakespearean vampire story. —Anna Govert


Returning Favorites

Peaky Blinders


Creator: Steven Knight
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Iddo Goldberg
Genre: Crime drama

Watch on Netflix

Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill star in this rock ’n‘ roll gangster drama set in 1919 in the West Midlands industrial city of Birmingham (music from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey and the White Stripes adds a modern touch to the period proceedings). 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

Better Call Saul


Creator: Vince Gilligan
Stars: Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks
Genre: Crime drama

Watch on Netflix

When Bob Odenkirk showed up towards the end of the second season of Breaking Bad, playing sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, it was a small shock to the system for anyone who had long appreciated his work as a writer and a comic actor on series like SNL and Mr. Show. Little did we know that this was only the beginning of a tragic and hilarious tale that would start to take on the scope of an epic Russian novel. This prequel to Vince Gilligan’s meth drama has accomplished the nearly impossible, expanding upon the source material of Breaking Bad with dynamic and sometimes heartbreaking results. And give full credit to Odenkirk (and his co-stars Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks) for further bringing to life how shaky a person’s morality can be, especially when there are great gobs of money involved. —Robert Ham


Best New Movies

The Sea Beast


Director: Chris Williams
Stars: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dan Stevens, Kathy Burke
Genre: Animation, Adventure

Watch on Netflix

When cartographers allowed their senses of imagination and self-preservation to fill the unexplored regions of their maps, they used to warn of creatures like lions, elephants and walruses. Creatures beyond understanding, with teeth and trunks and tusks easy to caricature into danger. But we mostly remember that when you sail to the faded edge of knowledge, there be dragons. The Sea Beast deftly hones this ancient human fear into a sharpened spear tip, striking at ignorance. Its swashbuckling adventure navigates a sea filled with massive critters sure to whet kids’ appetites for piracy, Godzilla films and exciting animation. The first movie from longtime Disney story staple Chris Williams after leaving the House of Mouse for Netflix, The Sea Beast is, to paraphrase Jared Harris’ Ahab-like Captain Crow, all piss and vinegar. That the film even alludes to the phrase, and drops a few other lightly-salted lines you might expect from some seasoned sea dogs, is indicative of its separation from the sanitized juggernaut. It looks violence in the eye; it isn’t afraid to make its threats real. All rightfully so. Telling a tall tale of hunters—mercenary crews funded by a colonialist crown to take out the kaijus populating the ocean—wouldn’t be right without at least a little edge. Our way into the world, the young Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator), has experienced its dangerous realities firsthand: Her parents went down with a ship, leaving her as one of dozens of hunter orphans. But that hasn’t stopped her from lionizing her martyred family (something explicitly encouraged by the monarchy) and seeking her own glory. Stowing away on Crow’s ship, the Inevitable, she and the capable Jacob (Karl Urban) find themselves confronting the legendary ambitions they’ve built up in their own heads. Williams and co-writer Nell Benjamin immediately drop us into the Inevitable’s quest to take out Crow’s toothy and horned Red Whale, dubbed the Red Bluster, with total confidence that there’s no time like maritime. As our eyes roll and pitch across the impressively realistic waves and our ears try to follow the meticulously detailed helmsmanship, the hunting scenes ensnare us like the catch of the day. We understand the hierarchy of the diverse crew, the honor code among hunters, the tactics needed to take down imposing creatures that look like Toho turned their greatest hits into Pokémon. It’s savvy and respectful writing, put into legible action by Williams’ skilled hand, that trusts in its setting and subject matter to be inherently cool, and in its audience to greedily follow along. By the time the lances are flying, the cannons are firing and the creatures are dying—or are they?—you’re as deeply hooked as any dad watching Master and Commander. A delightful new-school deconstruction of old-school Romantic adventure that never compromises on the lushness of setting, color and emotion inherent in the latter, The Sea Beast rises to the front of Netflix’s animated offerings like a high tide. —Jacob Oller

Hustle


Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Starring: Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangómez, Queen Latifah, Ben Foster
Genre: Sports Drama

Watch on Netflix

Hustle is unlike any other Adam Sandler movie. Mind, it’s quite like any number of other movies: An underdog coach figure takes on an immensely talented athlete whose background nonetheless makes him an underdog, too. There are training montages, supportive-yet-worried family members and clearly delineated antagonists. Counterintuitively, Hustle is possibly the most normal movie Sandler has ever made; it’s practically an alternate history where he fits himself into classic Hollywood star vehicles rather than building his own out of NYU and SNL buddies. He plays Stanley Sugerman, a longtime scout for the Philadelphia 76ers whose dream of coaching basketball seems further away as he moves through his 50s. On a scouting trip in Spain, he has a chance meeting with Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez)—an enormous, undiscovered raw talent—and brings him back to the U.S., convinced that Bo has a future in the NBA. The slickster (Ben Foster) newly placed in charge of the team isn’t sold; will this friction cause Stanley to strike out on his own? This is not a suspenseful movie, at least not regarding its final outcome. In the moment, though, Hustle is an involving sports drama with a pulse and sense of humor. It seems strange at first, to consider how many basketball movies focus on wheeling, dealing and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, rather than the climactic, bombastic gameplay of baseball or football. But like He Got Game and High Flying Bird (if not in their league), Hustle understands that the impossible speed and grace of basketball is difficult to capture cinematically. Instead, the movie concentrates on how an adrenalized love for the sport spills over to everyone in the orbit of these gifted players. If it’s no longer surprising that Sandler is a good, steady actor, it’s still fun to find out he can find new ways to play to the cheap seats. —Jesse Hassenger


International Gems

RRR


Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Stars: Victoria Justice, Adam Demos, Luca Sardelis, Samantha Cain
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Watch on Netflix

This action-packed historical drama is the most expensive film in Indian history and already one of the biggest box office hits. N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan play two Indian revolutionaries pitted against the imperial British Raj. Released in March of 2022, RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt) follows the two men and their very different paths to revolution. Komaram Bheem (Rao) is the champion for a rural tribe trying to rescue a stolen daughter and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Charan) is the police officer tasked with catching him when the pair form an unwitting friendship after teaming together in a daring rescue of a young boy. But this is Bollywood, so while trying to fulfill their opposing missions, they also show up arrogant British officers with a full-fledged dance off. It’s a riotously fun and twisty journey celebrating two heroes of Indian independence. —Josh Jackson

Call My Agent!


Creator: Fanny Herrero
Stars: Camille Cottin, Thibault de Montalembert, Grégory Montel, Liliane Rovère, Fanny Sidney, Laure Calamy, Nicolas Maury, Stéfi Celma, Assaad Bouab
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Watch on Netflix

A fast-paced French comedy-drama about a Parisian talent agency and the lovably infuriating folks who staff it. Created by Fanny Herrero, Call My Agent (also known as “Dix Pour Cent” —ten percent) is excellent at balancing and integrating both its character work and Actor of the Week storylines, where real French celebrities (some of whom, in later seasons, are more well-known to American audiences) play heightened versions of themselves. A behind-the-scenes look at French movie making, Call My Agent is just as focused on the various personal dramas at ASK—an agency at war first with a rival agency and then with itself—and its lopsided “work is life” mentality. With four short seasons (each running six episodes), the series is entertaining simply as a clever take on the industry, but what makes it truly great is how it grounds that storytelling in relatable characters and the never-ending carousel of their triumphs and woes. In other words, oui, worth the subtitles. Allons-y! —Allison Keene


Documentaries Worth Your Time

I Am Not Your Negro


Director: Raoul Peck
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Raoul Peck focuses on James Baldwin’s unfinished book Remember This House, a work that would have memorialized three of his friends, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. All three black men were assassinated within five years of each other, and we learn in the film that Baldwin was not just concerned about these losses as terrible blows to the Civil Rights movement, but deeply cared for the wives and children of the men who were murdered. Baldwin’s overwhelming pain is as much the subject of the film as his intellect. And so I Am Not Your Negro is not just a portrait of an artist, but a portrait of mourning—what it looks, sounds and feels like to lose friends, and to do so with the whole world watching (and with so much of America refusing to understand how it happened, and why it will keep happening). Peck could have done little else besides give us this feeling, placing us squarely in the presence of Baldwin, and I Am Not Your Negro would have likely still been a success. His decision to steer away from the usual documentary format, where respected minds comment on a subject, creates a sense of intimacy difficult to inspire in films like this. The pleasure of sitting with Baldwin’s words, and his words alone, is exquisite. There’s no interpreter, no one to explain Baldwin but Baldwin—and this is how it should be. —Shannon M. Houston

The Tinder Swindler

tinder-swindler.jpg Year: 2022
Director: Felicity Morris
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 114 minutes

Watch on Netflix

In 2019, Norwegian newspaper VG published an article titled “The Tinder Swindler,” which sent shockwaves through the general public on par with The Atlantic’s “The Truth About Dentistry,” or the New York Times’ “Who is the Bad Art Friend?” The article follows a man named Shimon Hayut who spent years of his life posing as Simon Leviev, the heir to a behemoth Israeli diamond fortune. He adopted this persona to court women on Tinder and, once he has earned their trust, to trick them into loaning him hundreds of thousands of dollars—money he would then use to woo his next victim. As is the case with most popular IP, “The Tinder Swindler” was picked up for adaptation at lightning speed, and developed into a documentary by the masterminds behind Netflix’s Don’t Fuck with Cats, the deep-dive miniseries into the stranger-than-fiction story of the rise-and-fall of a porn-star-turned-cat-torturer-and-maybe-cannibal. Directed by Felicity Morris, The Tinder Swindler is not dissimilar to Don’t Fuck with Cats in that it is delightfully high-concept, bringing with it a similar frenetic energy and playful teasing out of twists. More than anything The Tinder Swindler has its finger on the pulse of what viewers want in a true crime documentary. At just under two hours, it doesn’t drag on longer than it needs to. It is short, snappy and succinct. It also effortlessly fits in everything we look for in a doc like this: A retelling of the crime and the investigation (the latter being, in this case, even more interesting than the former), non-distracting reenactments and an engaging tone, which Swindler accomplishes by whipping around the globe to exotic locations—all paired with a lively soundtrack. —Aurora Amidon


Stand-Up Gold

Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual

Watch on Netflix

Kim Booster keeps the laughs coming throughout Psychosexual. The comedian quickly takes command of the room, shushing the crowd’s cheers or asking the camerawoman Janice (Is that her real name? Who knows, but it sounds good yelled from the stage) to zoom in on a particular audience member. His crowd work and rapport with the attendees make Psychosexual feel more electric and spontaneous than other comedy specials, which can fall into static, predictable patterns. And Kim Booster’s easy connection with the audience can’t be understated—he even gets one guy to share what he uses to clean up after masturbating. Not just any comedian could do that.—Clare Martin

Richard Pryor: Live in Concert

Watch on Netflix

Richard Pryor’s Live in Concert is the ur-stand-up film. It wasn’t the first stand-up routine to be released as a long-form video, but it was the first to be released in theaters, and as the greatest single work of the greatest stand-up comedian in history, it’s probably the best stand-up special of all time. Pryor’s extremely dark material—he pulls from his impoverished upbringing in a brothel, his addictions and heart attack, and the unending racial turmoil in America—shouldn’t be funny, but his ability to turn this pain into unforgettable comedy is a kind of real-life alchemy. Despite all the things in this world that limited Pryor’s freedom, from drugs to race to health, he comes off as the freest and most clear-eyed observer of what it means to be human and alive during these 78 minutes. —Garrett Martin