The Best British TV Shows on Netflix

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The Best British TV Shows on Netflix

Despite the many issues streaming services like Netflix are now facing, access to countless shows from abroad remains a high point of the streaming era. And perhaps no country has had a bigger impact on the American TV landscape over the last decade and change than the United Kingdom. So we’ve scoured the Netflix library for our favorite shows from Great Britain, whether they originally aired on UK channels like BBC and ITV or are Netflix originals set in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, in order to bring you the best Netflix has to offer. From historical dramas and dark comedies to nature documentaries and our favorite baking competition, these are 25 of the best British series you can stream on Netflix right now.


The Great British Baking Show

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Created by: Love Productions
Stars: Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Netflix

Known across the pond as The Great British Bake-Off, the appeal of the wildly popular reality TV series—most seasons of which are now available on Netflix—is its refusal to go in for dramatic contrivances. Against Fox’s Gordon Ramsay-hosted properties, Chopped, even Top Chef, with their constant backbiting and broken dreams, the contestants on GBBS are sunny, mutually supportive amateurs (albeit extraordinarily skilled ones); in any given episode, the worst crisis is judge Paul Hollywood pressing a finger into a scone and pronouncing it “underbaked” (or literally pronouncing it “overwerked and oonderbaked”). Even with new hosts and new judge as the series moved to ITV from the BBC, GBBS remains a wonderful, inspiring, refreshing, whimsical and altogether happy series. —Matt Brennan and Allison Keene


The Crown

Created by: Peter Morgan
Stars: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Jeremy Northam, Victoria Hamilton, Anton Lesser, Matthew Goode
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

In its first two seasons, creator Peter Morgan’s lavish treatment of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II hinges on Claire Foy’s utterly captivating performance as the flinty monarch; the impeccable period detail; a sense of historical scope that outstrips its forebears, Morgan’s 2006 film The Queen and 2013 play The Audience. But to call The Crown simply “lavish” seems unfair. Rather, as time marches on from the early days of Elizabeth’s reign, we move into the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the Profumo affair of 1963. Through the series, its elaborate, thoughtful style and episodic structure fleshes out the supporting characters, including Elizabeth’s husband, Philip (Matt Smith), and sister, Margaret (standout Vanessa Kirby), by turning the focus away from the queen herself. It’s a surprisingly full-throated examination of Britain’s public life, and its public figures’ private ones.

The second chapter of Netflix’s opulent celebration of the monarchy opens in 1964 and concludes with her Silver Jubilee in 1977. In an era of binge, Morgan’s historical drama distinguishes itself as a series devoted to episodic storytelling, almost acting like an anthology within itself. To that end, Season 3 introduces us to a new cast to reflect the new timeframe: Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies is Prince Philip, Margaret transforms into Helena Bonham Carter, and we are introduced to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty). In Season 5, the show transforms yet again as the royals age and time marches on. Imelda Staunton takes over as Elizabeth, Jonathan Pryce portrays Philip, and Lesley Manville is the new Margaret. Meanwhile, Dominic West succeeds O’Connor as Charles, while Elizabeth Debicki steps into the shoes of Princess Diana (portrayed in Season 4 by Emma Corrin).

The weight of the crown itself is felt throughout the series, mainly in how unhappy it makes all of these very privileged people who constantly consider “the life unlived.” Each of these serve as a brief glimpse of possibilities that are never allowed to materialize because of the realities of position and duty, but that sacrifice in the face of something greater becomes increasingly harder to defend as the years go on. But Elizabeth is at a point where all she knows is that she must simply carry on. And so, indeed—as the series takes great pains to argue—must the crown. —Matt Brennan and Allison Keene



Created by: Paul Tomalin
Stars: Amaka Okafor, Shira Haas, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Kyle Soller, Tom Mothersdale, Michael Jibson, Stephen Graham
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

There’s nothing quite like queueing up a show you know very little about and immediately finding yourself sucked into a world that is, for lack of a better term, completely bonkers. Such is the experience many have had with Bodies, a science-fiction crime drama based on the graphic novel of the same name by Si Spencer. The mind-bending limited series follows detectives in four different eras, all of whom are investigating what appears to be the same murder of a man who is found naked in an alley in London. Taking place in 1890, 1941, 2023, and 2053, the show transports viewers to these different versions of London, slowly drawing connections across the decades as the detectives unravel a massive conspiracy that threatens the future of Great Britain. —Kaitlin Thomas



Created by: Ronald D. Moore
Stars: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan
Original Network: Starz

Watch on Netflix

Based on Diana Gabaldon’s immensely popular book series, Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a nurse in 1940s England who, while on a holiday to Scotland, gets transported back through mystical stones to the 1740s. There, as she fights for survival and a way home, she meets a tall, dark and handsome Highlander name James Fraser, and the rest is history. Except that Outlander actually does a really wonderful job of tracking the couple’s place throughout history, providing tense, riveting and yes romantic storytelling along the way. The series’ truly wonderful cast is augmented to the stratosphere by its leads, whose chemistry will make you believe in love at first sight. Full of battles, political intrigue and gorgeous on every level, the show is a wonderfully cozy (and sexy) adventure. From its hauntingly beautiful theme song by Bear McCreary onwards, Outlander will transport you to its dangerous, surprising world as quickly as those magical stones. —Allison Keene



Created by: Jed Mercurio
Stars: Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes, Gina McKee, Sophie Rundle
Original Network: ITV

Watch on Netflix

In Jed Mercurio’s exquisite actioner, there are no rooftop chases, no ticking clocks, no fisticuffs with the villain’s henchmen. Instead, the six-part series finds suspense in watchful camerawork and careful pacing, and it’s this thorough control that makes Bodyguard worthy of your next TV obsession: It refuses shortcuts, rejects ellipses, until it approaches the effect of real time. Rather than treat this as a gimmick though, star Richard Madden and directors Thomas Vincent and John Strickland use the technique to create potent echoes of protagonist David Budd’s torturous vigilance, and indeed the nation’s. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, David receives an assignment to protect Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), a rising political star with her eye on 10 Downing Street—and a reputation as a national security hardliner. The result is an ingenious layering of form atop function, all within the context of a taut political thriller: The series is less 24 or House of Cards than Homeland at its most momentous, stripped of all but its hero’s ability to see what others miss. —Matt Brennan


Derry Girls


Created by: Lisa McGee
Stars: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn
Original Network: Channel 4

Watch on Netflix

The lovely, silly, funny, and emotional Derry Girls is a brief series (its three seasons total just 19 episodes in all) focusing on a group of schoolgirls in Northern Ireland in the ‘90s, during the last days of the Troubles. But in Lisa McGee’s series, that darkness is relegated to the background. Instead, the more traditional teen conflicts of school life and being boy crazy take center stage, along with lots of incredibly specific language and jokes about both that region and that time (you will definitely want to watch with subtitles on). Derry Girls is a warm and funny time hop carried by a dreamy ‘90s playlist and the gigantic charisma of its wee leads. —Allison Keene




Created by: Chris Van Dusen
Stars: Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Adjoa Andoh, Jonathan Bailey, Nicola Coughlan, Polly Walker, Julie Andrews
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

All hail Bridgerton, Netflix’s lush, swoony adaption of a set of romance novels. The thirsty series focuses on a London family with eight children, all of whom were blessed with good genes and five (or six?) of whom are currently of marriageable age. And thus, in this Regency-era setting, the game is afoot with the quippy, mysterious gossip Lady Whistledown as our guide. There are balls and rakes and other things that had a completely different meaning in the 1800s, but one thing that has not changed is how electrifying the buttoning of a glove or the slight touch of hands can be in the right context. The show also gets pretty explicit at times, but does so with a nearly revolutionary female gaze for a period drama. As such, it is as pearl-clutching as one can get (and not a show to watch with one’s family). Of course, Bridgerton isn’t perfect, but it’s a candy-colored, gloriously anachronistic romp that brings a new vivacity to bonnet dramas (leaving most of the bonnets aside, for one), and is great fun. —Allison Keene


Cunk on Earth

Created by: Charlie Brooker
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Documentary satire is a niche field, but a very satisfying one. If you have watched and loved David Attenborough-hosted series like Planet Earth or, really, any educational investigation of history or the environment, then the “teachings” of Philomena Cunk (Diane Morgan) in Cunk on Earth are a must. Interviewing experts on a variety of topics from world religions to the dawn of man to the creation of the nuclear bomb, Morgan queries professors and historians in a flat, northern-England accent and deadpan delivery. But her provocative questions are not meant to play out as a prank; she asks with child-like ignorance, is prone to unrelated tangents, and her understanding is filled with misinformation that, she often notes, comes from YouTube videos. Most of the experts are game to the challenge of finding her underlying interests and simplifying their responses, but the unique way Philomena sees the world and describes it is what makes Cunk such a treasure. The short and heavily meta series is full of laugh-out-loud moments, but Philomena’s perspective will occasionally make you reconsider your own understanding and biases of world events. Her casual skewering of America in particular is a highlight, but no one is left unscathed by her surprisingly insightful reading of history. —Allison Keene



Created by:: Alice Oseman
Stars: Kit Connor, Joe Locke, William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Corianna Brown, Kizzy Edgell
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

One of Netflix’s biggest breakout hits, Heartstopper is a queer rom-com that follows the love story of outcast Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and rugby-star Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). The tagline for the series says it all: “Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.” And fall in love they do, in half-hour episodes across a vast array of classic high school scenarios. Based on the Alice Oseman graphic novels of the same name, Heartstopper has gotten across-the-board praise for its depiction of queer joy and queer heartbreak, especially through its diverse ensemble cast featuring lesbian characters Tara (Corianna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), and trans character Ellie (Yasmin Finney). It has resonated deeply with audiences, too, as its uniquely heartwarming story gives a whole new meaning to feel-good TV. —Anna Govert


Lookwood & Co.

Created by: Joe Cornish
Stars: Ruby Stokes, Cameron Chapman, Ali Hadji-Heshmati
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

With approximately 1 million recent TV series populated by teens fighting supernatural baddies, how do you choose which ones are worth your while? Well, you might start with one developed by the writer and director of 2011 indie sci-fi comedy Attack the Block. Joe Cornish adapted Lockwood & Co. from Jonathan Stroud’s YA novels about a psychic detection agency in an alternate London where ghosts run amok and only certain young people can fight them. Ruby Stokes plays Lucy Carlyle, a talented runaway ghost-hunter who finds her place at a newly established—and adult-free—outfit run by the posh upstart Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman) and his socially challenged friend George Karim (Ali Hadji-Heshmati). The show is better written and more original than the vast majority of series trying to carry the mantle of Buffy into the streaming era. —Josh Jackson


Call the Midwife

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

Watch on Netflix

“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. Wonderfully 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


Monty Python’s Flying Circus

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Created by and Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Netflix

And now for something completely different! The British sketch comedy, which ran from 1969 to 1973, is so beloved that it’s since become the subject of questions on the British citizenship exam. Provocative, irreverent, and profoundly weird, its send-up of the isle’s culture and institutions—particularly the elite, educated class from which the troupe’s own members hailed—take merciless aim at authority in every conceivable form, all with a dash of surrealism and Terry Gilliam’s sublime animations. Its arrival on Netflix is nothing less than a godsend. —Matt Brennan


Sex Education

Created by: Laurie Nunn
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

You’re an insecure, bright, sensitive teenage boy (Asa Butterfield) with a wildly uninhibited sex-guru mother (Gillian Anderson), an absentee dad (the epically hilarious James Purefoy), a chronically foot-in-mouth bully-magnet best friend, a limited social life and a clinically interesting fear of your own penis. You have a stealth crush on your school’s official Way Too Precocious girl, who’s hard up for money. So, naturally, you open a sex clinic for high-school students in an out-of-service school lavatory, right?

Of course you do.

Netflix’s Sex Education is a decidedly raunchy and thoroughly adorable coming-of-age dramedy. While it’s not exactly afraid of well-worn tropes, it also doesn’t rely on them to a detrimental degree… and it has Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist, which would be enough for a lot of us even if nothing else about the show worked. Luckily, that isn’t the case: A testament to the power of character development, the series is riveting. None of its superbly crafted characters waste a single frame. —Amy Glynn


Feel Good


Created by: Mae Martin and Joe Hampson
Stars: Mae Martin, Charlotte Ritchie, Lisa Kudrow
Network: Channel 4/Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Few shows in recent memory have been as emotionally affecting or as funny as the dark romantic comedy Feel Good. Co-created by Mae Martin and Joe Hampson, the semi-autobiographical show depicts the relationship between a fictionalized version of Mae, a comedian and recovering addict, and George (Charlotte Ritchie), a school teacher who’s previously only ever dated men. The series’ excellent first season details the couple’s meet cute and subsequent romance, and it only gets better in Season 2. With just 12 short episodes, Feel Good wastes no minute of its run time as it tells a beautiful story about love and identity while digging into deeply complex issues related to trauma, addiction, recovery, and sexuality. Although it can be heartbreaking to watch Mae slowly and reluctantly peel back the layers of their pain, the show has no shortage of laughs. It’s both subtle and not, never shying away from depictions of queer sex or the long-lasting effects of trauma. The result is a show so good you almost can’t believe it exists, let alone that we were blessed with two seasons of it. —Kaitlin Thomas


The English Game

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Created by: Julian Fellowes, Tony Charles, Oliver Cotton
Stars: Edward Holcroft, Kevin Guthrie, Charlotte Hope, Niamh Walsh, Craig Parkinson, James Harkness
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Taking place in the 1870s, the six-part miniseries The English Game (from Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes) introduces us to the true story of two players from opposing sides who will change the game in critical ways. The first, brashly handsome Arthur Kinnaird (Edward Holcroft), has dominated the field for years playing for the Old Etonians—whose team has not only won four FA (Football Association) cups at this point, but who also double as FA board members and chairman. (You see the problems already.) The second, Fergus Suter (Kevin Guthrie ), is a wee Scottish powerhouse who has been brought to play for Darwen FC, a northern mill-town club, before being wooed by Blackburn.

The larger question that The English Game tackles (pun partially intended) is one of inclusion. Who is this game for? It was crafted by wealthy Englishmen, but are they the future of it? We know they answer is “no,” but it’s something in the 1870s that was only just beginning to become clear. Fergus and Love—two of the best players in the game—are Scottish and working class. This is already revolutionary. But their play style is also evolving from the one the Old Etonians employ. Fergus encourages his teammates to move out farther and pass more, something we’ve seen Spanish players in just the last decade take to an exceptional art form.

The miniseries format makes The English Game an easy investment, and one that everyone can enjoy. But it’s also a story whose questions are still very relevant today (regarding hooliganism, playing for money versus pride, the role of amateur clubs). Its answers are, too. Who is the game for? That is clear enough: anyone who loves it. When speaking of the growing numbers of supporters in the stands or those anxiously sitting at pubs waiting for scores, characters note again and again that it “gives them hope and pride and so much more.” And that’s what makes it not just The English Game, but the beautiful one.—Allison Keene


Our Planet


Created by: Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, Colin Butfield
Narrated by: David Attenborough
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Coming from those who have helmed previous installments of the Planet Earth series, the engrossing Our Planet is specifically a call for conservation. The fantastic globe-trotting nature documentary keeps to a general pattern in each episode: introduce something wonderful, educate us about it, and then explain why it’s dying or being put in peril because of climate change. Our Planet holds back a little in terms of showing the demise of charismatic megafauna, a long-time staple of nature docs, because its desire is to make us feel connected enough to this planet to do something about the problems facing it (and ultimately us). But there is certainly plenty to make us feel queasy about the stakes. Though it is a little more overt in terms of an agenda than its Planet Earth (and Blue Planet) predecessors, Our Planet is similar in that it utilizes the most cutting-edge camera technology to capture this world in all of its splendor. It is absolutely breathtaking—and incredibly urgent. —Allison Keene




Created by: Howard Overman
Stars: Cara Theobold, Susan Wokoma, Lewis Reeves, Arinze Kene, Riann Steele, Luke Allen-Gale, Tony Curran, and Charlie Archer
Original Network: E4/Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Buried deep within Netflix’s library is the one-season gem Crazyhead. A horror-comedy from the creator of Misfits, the series stars Cara Theobold and Susan Wokoma as Amy and Raquel, two strangers with the ability to see demons. They initially band together to help Amy save her roommate, who has become possessed. But they quickly find themselves caught in a much larger battle to save humanity from demons who want to bring about the end of the world. What makes the six-episode series stand apart from the rest of the save-the-day genre, though, is its high energy, unfiltered sense of humor, and two untrained heroines who barely know what they are doing from one moment to the next. It leads to a viewing experience that is familiar and yet unpredictable, but one that is always full of laughs. —Kaitlin Thomas


The End of the F—ing World

Created by: Charlie Covell, Jonathan Entwistle, Lucy Tcherniak
Stars: Alex Lawther, Jessica Barden, Gemma Whelan, Wunmi Mosaku, Steve Oram, Christine Bottomley, Navin Chowdhry, Barry Ward
Original Network: Channel 4/Netflix

Watch on Netflix

James (Alex Lawther) is 17 and kills enough small animals that he truly believes he’s a psychopath. Alyssa (Jessica Barden) is 17 and kills nothin—not that her words lack for trying. Both are unbelievably good at being at the wrong intensity levels for normal human interaction: Barden goes loud and acerbic, while Lawther shuts down so completely it’s hard to tell if he was born or simply emerged from Britain’s collective post-punk sigh, like a Promethean clay figure stirring from Athena’s breath. But The End of the F—ing World doesn’t want your morbid fascination. Or, unlike almost every other show with similar subject matter, it doesn’t want it to stay morbid. A show about a boy bent on killing his road trip partner as the two high schoolers run away from home sounds more like the grisly true-crime TV we’ve been groomed to enjoy since news channels realized fear, violence and tragedy attracted eyeballs. Yet the The End of the F—ing World gives the middle finger to this Nightcrawler-esque worldview, finding hope in a world of psychopaths, within the context of a TV landscape that loves them. —Jacob Oller


Last Tango in Halifax


Created by: Sally Wainwright
Stars: Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker
Original Network: BBC One / PBS

Watch on Netflix

On the surface, Last Tango in Halifax looks like a sweet but slight story of two British widowers who knew each other in childhood and who find each other again to rekindle a lost love. But the series is truly an engrossing ensemble drama with a witty and charming sense of humor, as it tells the sprawling story of a now-blended Yorkshire family and their many personal conflicts (and reconciliations). Sally Wainwright’s series can take soapy twists and turns, but it’s always anchored by outstanding performances from the four leads and a cozy sense of home (home meaning either the posh side of the family or the farmer side, depending). Last Tango in Halifax is an easy and comforting binge-watch. —Allison Keene




Created by: Joe Barton
Stars: Takehiro Hira, Kelly Macdonald, Y?suke Kubozuka, Will Sharpe
Original Network: BBC Two

Watch on Netflix

BBC Two’s Giri/Haji is one of the best surprises we’ve had in a while. The international thriller starts when a Tokyo detective, Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira), is tasked by a prominent Yakuza crime family—in conjunction with the police force—to secretly go to London in search of his brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka ), who he thought died a year ago. The hope is that bringing Yuto back will stop a sprawling war that he helped kickstart among the Yakuza factions. But like Kenzo’s investigation into Yuto’s disappearance and faked death, Giri/Haji is full of unexpected twists, not just in its narrative but in its form. It’s dark and violent at times, but also funny and full of heart. At the center of the story is the tale of two brothers, yet it’s also about forged family and discovering the truth about one’s self. The gang war is the framework for the story, which plays out in many ways like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (as far as a variety of different crime bosses all marching toward one another); and yet, one of its most moving scenes takes place during a quiet, makeshift Yom Kippur dinner regarding atonement. The series is stunning. And, crucially, funny. Though it would be wonderful to spend more time in this world with a second season, there is a palpable and beautiful sense of healing that has ended this one. —Allison Keene


Peaky Blinders

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Created by: Steven Knight
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Annabelle Wallis, Paul Anderson, Iddo Goldberg, Sophie Rundle, Joe Cole, Finn Cole, Natasha O’Keeffe, Tom Hardy
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Netflix

Running for six seasons, Peaky Blinders is one of the first global success stories of the Streaming Era. It traces the rise of Cillian Murphy’s formidable Thomas Shelby, a soldier-turned-ambitious kingpin of the Shelby crime family and the leader of the series’ titular gang, between the two world wars. In the first season of the rock ’n‘ roll gangster drama, which is set 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), Tommy faces off against a ruthless inspector (Sam Neill) out to dismantle his organization and a lovely mole (Annabelle Wallis) he’s enlisted to aid his campaign. New seasons introduce new foes as the Shelby family becomes more and more powerful, but as the steely, azure-eyed Tommy, Murphy anchors the series by bringing his trademark quiet intensity to a multidimensional antihero, one of several thoughtful characterizations in the Shelby clan. —Amanda Schurr and Kaitlin Thomas


Black Mirror

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Created by: Charlie Brooker
Original Network: Channel 4 (UK)

Watch on Netflix

There are times in most of our lives when we see our technological world as more of a dystopia than a utopia. The way it curbs our freedom, diminishes our privacy, and subjects us to anonymous attacks can feel like an unforgivable violation. But the worst part is, we’re complicit—we’ve accepted the intrusion, and in some cases, or even most cases, we’ve become addicted. The ubiquity of technology is a reality that we can’t fight against, and to maintain our sanity, we have to accept it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth questioning, which is exactly what Black Mirror is all about. The title is nearly perfect, as explained by creator Charlie Brooker: “The black mirror of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.” The job of this show is to reflect our society in an unflattering light, and it does it with a new cast and a new story in each episode. This is not fun watching—it’s mostly horrifying—but even if our brave new world is inescapable, the show represents a kind of protest that feels more necessary than ever. —Shane Ryan




Created by: Tom Edge
Stars: Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings
Original Network: Channel 4 (Season 1)/Netflix (Seasons 2-3)

Watch on Netflix

With an original title like Scrotal Recall, you’d be forgiven if you bypassed this gem of a British comedy before it was renamed and rebranded as Lovesick. But the punny original is quite fitting, as the show follows a twentysomething named Dylan (Johnny Flynn) as he tracks down his former sexual partners in the wake of being diagnosed with chlamydia. It’s a setup ripe for comedy and self-reflection as Dylan revisits past relationships and flings through a series of flashbacks. But what ultimately makes the show an addictive watch is the undercurrent of angst and romance running through it as Dylan attempts to come to terms with the fact he might have missed his chance with his best friend Evie (Antonia Thomas). Although she once harbored a crush on Dylan, she is now engaged to someone else. This missed connection, in conjunction with the shallow shenanigans and sexual escapades of the duo’s other friend Luke (Daniel Ings), makes for a perfect storm of romantic tension and lowbrow comedy, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from pressing play on the next episode to find out what happens next. —Kaitlin Thomas




Created by: David Hare
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Nathaniel Martello-White, Jeany Spark, Nicola Walker, John Simm, Billie Piper, Hayley Squires
Original Network: BBC Two

Watch on Netflix

This four-episode prestige crime series takes place in London over the course of four days, after the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man. Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan portrays Kip Glaspie, a detective inspector who refuses to accept this killing as a simple random murder and seeks out the darker truth hidden in the shadows. There are also a host of political, racial, and social implications to the murder that are all given full consideration by the whip-smart dialogue, elevating this series into a thoughtful, compelling work. —Mike Mudano and Allison Keene


Top Boy


Created by: Ronan Bennett
Stars: Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson, Micheal Ward, Shone Romulus, Malcolm Kamulete, David Omoregie
Original Network: Channel 4

Watch on Netflix

What do you get when an alleged former IRA bomber from the Falls Road in Belfast (who spent time in the infamous Long Kesh prison on charges of murder) becomes a respected novelist and, in his 50s, creates a TV show based on gang culture in East London? This singular biography, belonging to Ronan Bennett, yields Top Boy, the UK’s slightly less ambitious answer to The Wire. The first two seasons aired in 2011 and 2013, making the show’s return in 2019 one of the most unlikely TV events in recent memory. This is more than welcome—amidst the stifling realism and cruelty of the fictional Summerhouse estates, there is poetry (like The Wire, the patois is a delight) and vulnerable humanity, subject always to the grinding machinery of systemic violence. Sharon Duncan-Brewster is excellent as Lisa, the resilient mother of Ra’Nell, who was the star until the creators realized what they had in Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson, two real-life rappers who are spectacular as Dushane and Sully—friends and enemies fighting for oxygen and power in a world that is loath to give up either for very long. —Shane Ryan


The Last Kingdom


Created by: Bernard Cornwell, Nick Murphy
Stars: Alexander Dreymon, Toby Regbo, David Dawson, Tobias Santelmann, Emily Cox, Adrian Bower
Original Network: BBC Two

Watch on Netflix

Set in the 9th and 10th centuries when a united England was just a dream, The Last Kingdom is based on Bernard Cornwell’s historical fiction series The Saxon Stories, which follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the son one of the seven kingdoms of the Heptarchy, who is captured as a boy and raised by Danish Vikings. Originally produced for BBC Two, Netflix picked up the series after two seasons, continuing the story through the eighth book of the series. In the show, Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) is pulled in two directions by his loyalties to his Danish adoptive brother Ragnar the Younger (Tobias Santelmann) and the Saxon ruler of Wessex, King Alfred (David Dawson), who has promised to restore him to Bamburgh Castle. It’s a gripping tale of politics and war that should scratch that Game of Thrones itch without the magic and weird choices for late-series character development. —Josh Jackson


Jack Whitehall’s Travels with My Father


Created by: Jack Whitehall
Stars: Jack and Michael Whitehall
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

A travel series that highlights different countries and cultures around the world and delivers plenty of laughs along the way? That’s Jack Whitehall’s Travels with My Father, a travel/road trip docuseries that ran for five seasons. In many ways the show is an excuse for the popular English comedian to spend more time with his father while experiencing what he describes as a delayed gap year. But while Jack thrives in experiencing authenticity in his travels, his father, former producer and talent agent Michael Whitehall, is in his late 70s in the first season and does not like to travel at all. He is very much the straight man to his son, and the result is a memorable addition to the travel show genre that sees the duo visit Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Western United States, and Australia. —Kaitlin Thomas

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