The 50 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

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Netflix adds original programming at such a steady clip that it can be hard to keep up with which of its dramas, comedies and reality shows are must-sees. And that’s not including all the TV series Netflix picks up from broadcast and cable networks. Below is our regularly updated guide to the 50 best shows on Netflix in the United States. Each recommendation comes with a secondary pick, too, for 100 suggestions in all. (Note: Netflix sometimes removes titles without notice.)

We also have lists of the best movies on Netflix, Max and Amazon Prime Video, along with the best TV and movies on Hulu and Disney+.

Contestants don’t meet in person until they have gotten engaged on the Netflix reality dating series “Love Is Blind.”Credit…Netflix

‘Love Is Blind’ (2020-present)

This popular reality dating series is framed as a social experiment, intended to determine if physical attraction is a necessary component of a sturdy relationship. Couples embark on a series of get-to-know-you outings while blindfolded, until they are ready to get engaged. The pair then sees each other for the first time, after which the viewers follow them and other newly matched-up couples in the weeks leading up to their weddings. According to a Times Opinion editor, “Watching the series is like playing a surreal version of ‘The Game of Life’: The most basic universal stages of adulthood — or in this case, courtship — are condensed into a convenient quickie narrative for viewers’ consumption.” (The reality dating series “The Ultimatum” also features contestants who are being pushed to the altar.)

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‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (2023)

The writer-director Mike Flanagan returns to the literary horror of his Netflix favorites “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” with this spooky mini-series, which riffs on multiple Edgar Allan Poe characters and stories. Part social satire and part gothic melodrama, the show stars Bruce Greenwood as the head of a scandal-plagued, opiate-peddling family, whose rise and fall is told via flashbacks. A strong cast includes Carl Lumbly, Mark Hamill, Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell and Henry Thomas, who bring personality and humor to an otherwise grim tale of greed and revenge. (Flanagan also created “Midnight Mass,” a Stephen King-like mini-series about supernatural phenomena in a tiny fishing village.)

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‘Lupin’ (2021-present)

In the early 20th century, Maurice Leblanc wrote dozens of stories about the mysterious gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. In the French adventure series “Lupin,” Omar Sy plays Assane Diop, the son of a Senegalese immigrant and a fervent fan of Leblanc’s books. The twisty and action-packed plot jumps between the past and the present, teasing out the reasons why the crafty Assane is so determined to use his heist-planning mastery to wreck the reputation of a powerful family — and considering the consequences if he succeeds. The Times called this show “fleet-footed” and “deliberately old-fashioned,” adding that, “For fans of the original stories, Easter eggs abound.” (For a different kind of action series, try the Israeli thriller “Fauda.”)

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Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in “Outlander.”Credit…Starz

‘Outlander’ (2014-present)

“Game of Thrones” gets more attention, but “Outlander” has been just as successful at adapting a sprawling book series — and at mixing political intrigue with high fantasy. Based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels about a time traveling 20th century English doctor (Caitriona Balfe) and her romance with an 18th century Scottish rebel (Sam Heughan), the show offers big battles, wilderness adventure and frank sexuality. It has a rare historical scope as well, covering the changing times and factional conflicts in Europe and the Americas, across centuries. Our critic wrote that it should appeal to viewers who “have a weakness for muskets, accents and the occasional roll in the heather.” (The post-apocalyptic zombie drama “The Walking Dead” is another addicting epic fantasy television series.)

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Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson in “Sex Education.”Credit…Sam Taylor/Netflix

‘Sex Education’ (2019-23)

Some of Netflix’s best original series are about teenage life but not really made for the teens themselves — or at least not made for them to watch with their parents. In the funny, raunchy British dramedy “Sex Education,” Asa Butterfield and Emma Mackey play unpopular teenagers who struggle with their own sex lives yet find they have valuable insights into their classmates’ hangups, which they dispense to their desperate peers in paid therapy sessions. Our critic described the show as “timely but not hamfistedly topical, feminist, with a refreshing lack of angst about its subject.” (If you enjoy these kinds of mature teen antics, you should also stream “Derry Girls.”)

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‘One Piece’ (2023-present)

Since 1997, the manga series “One Piece” has followed the adventures of a friendly, superpowered young pirate captain named Monkey D. Luffy, who leads his stylishly attired Straw Hat crew on a quest for a legendary treasure. The comics have inspired movies, video games and a long-running anime; and it has now been adapted into a live-action series with an international cast, led by Inaki Godoy as Luffy. Colorful and action-packed, this “One Piece” is like a cartoon come to life. Our critic said it “excels at capturing the spirit of the original.” (The anime version of “One Piece” is also on Netflix, with over 100 episodes available.)

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‘Band of Brothers’ (2001)

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced this mini-series adaptation of the World War II history book by Stephen A. Ambrose about the experiences of a company of parachute infantrymen, from basic training through the end of the war. Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston give standout performances as two of Easy Company’s officers, in a drama that tells the story of the regiment’s progression across Europe, one grueling battle at a time. Our critic wrote, “It balances the ideal of heroism with the violence and terror of battle, reflecting what is both civilized and savage about war.” (The same creative team also made an equally excellent mini-series about another World War II combat theater: “The Pacific.”)

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“Wrestlers” explores Ohio Valley Wrestling, a scrappy company that has nurtured several famous wrestlers.Credit…Netflix

‘Wrestlers’ (2023-present)

The team behind the richly detailed Netflix sports documentaries “Last Chance U” and “Cheer” heads to Kentucky to spend time with the performers of the Ohio Valley Wrestling league, where the veteran wrestler and promoter Al Snow works with a roster of small-time athletes to find ways to boost business. As always, the series’s director and producer, Greg Whiteley, finds drama not just in his subjects’ big, life-changing moments but in their smaller everyday decisions. In a Times article about the show, Chris Vognar writese, “Whiteley is always after what is real, which in this case sets up a rich irony: a painstakingly authentic look at an endeavor often derided for being fake.” (Be sure to watch the series that made the “Wrestlers” creative team’s reputation: “Last Chance U.”)

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‘Who Is Erin Carter?’ (2023-present)

This British mystery-thriller grabs audiences from the first episode. In it, a seemingly ordinary mom and teacher (Evin Ahmad) shows off the deadly moves of a secret agent when she finds herself in the middle of a robbery near her new home in Barcelona. When news gets out about what happened, some people who knew Erin Carter in her former life — and a few who didn’t — try to use her past against her. The show combines cat-and-mouse action with domestic melodrama, as the heroine tries to keep her secrets from her husband and daughter. (“You” is another well-acted, well-written potboiler about a person who is not quite who he seems to be.)

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‘Shameless’ (2011-21)

Based on a British series of the same name, this adults-only dramedy tracks the ups and downs of the Gallagher family, a motley bunch of underclass Chicagoans who take care of one another and hustle to get by, mostly without the help of their reckless, selfish alcoholic patriarch, Frank (William H. Macy). The premise sounds grim, but “Shameless” is full of dark wit and warm humanity. It has terrific performances, too — led by Emmy Rossum as the Gallagher’s oldest sister and de facto caretaker, Fiona. Our critic said, “You’ll relate to their struggles, their addiction to chaos and their disdain for rules of polite society.” (For another raucous show about wanton misbehavior, watch “The Mick.”)

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Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick size each other up in “Painkiller.”Credit…Keri Anderson/Netflix

‘Painkiller’ (2023)

Matthew Broderick plays the Purdue Pharma president Richard Sackler in “Painkiller,” a six-episode mini-series based on reporting by Barry Meier and Patrick Radden Keefe. In the framing scenes, Uzo Aduba plays an investigator who spends years looking into the widespread overprescribing of opioids, tracing the problem back to the drug companies who misled doctors — and thus patients — about the addictiveness of palliative pills. A star-studded cast (including Taylor Kitsch, Tyler Ritter, West Duchovny and others) is interwoven into angry and sometimes gruesome stories about ordinary people whose careers and families were wrecked by OxyContin. (For another exciting, socially relevant political drama, watch the Danish series “Borgen.”)

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‘Alice in Borderland’ (2020-22)

Based on a Haro Aso manga series, this wild Japanese science-fiction thriller is set in a ruined parallel-universe version of Tokyo, where a group of mischievous gamers are drafted into seemingly silly contests, vying for the right to play again another day. The flashy visual style and the sometimes shocking danger inherent in the games makes “Alice in Borderland” comparable to the likes of “The Hunger Games,” “Battle Royale” and Netflix’s popular Korean thriller “Squid Game,” though this show has a uniquely dark tone and acerbic wit. It is both a grand spectacle and a pointed take on how and why young people escape from reality. (For another fictionalized version of an extreme reality competition, watch “Squid Game.”)

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A scene from the difficult-to-describe but hard-not-to-love “BoJack Horseman.” Credit…Netflix

‘BoJack Horseman’ (2014-20)

It’s hard to explain “BoJack Horseman” to the uninitiated. It’s a showbiz satire about a self-absorbed former TV star trying to mount a comeback. It’s an existential melodrama about the fear of fading relevancy. Oh, and it’s a cartoon in which that former star is an alcoholic horse. The creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg uses this sneakily soulful story about a rich has-been as a way to comment on the soul-sucking grind of show business and to illustrate the insidiousness of addiction and mental illness — but peppered with jokes. Our critic wrote: “The absurdist comedy and hallucinatory visuals match the series’s take on Hollywood as a reality-distortion field. But the series never takes an attitude of easy superiority to its showbiz characters.” (“Powerpuff Girls” is another creative animated series, but for a younger audience.)

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‘Norsemen’ (2016-20)

For those who could use a respite from all the gray-toned, heavy-handed, relentlessly violent historical dramas on TV, “Norsemen” is a gift. This Norwegian comedy looks a little like the dark and dramatic series “Vikings” but crossed with a typical American workplace sitcom, where the hardscrabble lives of ancient warriors and slaves are reframed as something kooky. The locations are as breathtaking as anything in the “Game of Thrones” universe, but the characters and stories are more down-to-earth. Our critic said the show “puts contemporary words and ideas in the mouths and brains of 8th-century marauders to hilarious effect.” (“Lillyhammer” is another fun Netflix comedy set in Norway.)

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‘Kleo’ (2022-present)

Set in the waning years of the Cold War, this revenge thriller has Jella Haase playing Kleo Straub, an East German secret agent who is released from prison after the fall of the Berlin Wall and immediately embarks on a mission to punish all the former colleagues who betrayed her. Like “Killing Eve,” “Kleo” combines chases and gunfights with poignant character moments and a clever sense of humor as the heroine adjusts to a culture that has changed dramatically. Our critic wrote, “If you like zesty murder-quest shows but your true love is spotting funky lamps, weird wallpaper and unusual housewares in the background, your time has come.” (For a German action-drama set in a different era, stream “Babylon Berlin.”)

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Henry Cavill is a monster hunter with a heart of gold in “The Witcher.”Credit…Katalin Vermes/Netflix

‘The Witcher’ (2019-present)

This adaptation of the novels and short stories by Andrzej Sapkowski provides plenty of rip-roaring pulp adventure. Henry Cavill plays the masterly monster hunter Geralt (Henry Cavill), who travels the land plying his trade while crossing paths with aristocrats and peasants. The show’s focus is mainly on intense sword-and-sorcery action — with the amusingly jaded Geralt at the center — but there is complexity to the storytelling in “The Witcher,” thanks to the hero’s fascinating history and a narrative that weaves together different timelines. Praising Cavill, our critic said he “brings a convincing physical presence and some wry humanity and emotional depth.” (For another imaginative and absorbing fantasy series, watch the postapocalyptic road trip adventure “Sweet Tooth.”)

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‘Sweet Magnolias’ (2020-present)

Based on a series of Sherryl Woods novels, this ensemble drama is about the lifelong bond between three strong South Carolina women: an attorney, Helen (Heather Headley); a chef, Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott); and a recently divorced woman, Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher). Across three seasons, “Sweet Magnolias” has also spent a lot of time following the lives and problems of these ladies’ kids, co-workers and romantic partners, in lengthy story lines filled with heartbreak and triumph. The show features multiple melodramatic plot-twists; but it’s the picturesque southern backdrops and complicated characters that have kept fans watching. (For another emotionally affecting drama set in a charming small town, stream “Gilmore Girls.”)

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Mohammed Amer stars in “Mo.”Credit…Netflix

‘Mo’ (2022-present)

The stand-up comic Mohammed Amer turns his memories of growing up as a Palestinian refugee in Houston into a well-balanced mix of comedy and drama in his series “Mo.” Amer plays the title character: a burly, wry, Muslim American hustler, trying to make a life for himself while staying off the government’s radar because his citizenship status is shaky. The show thoughtfully explores what it’s like to grow up in a country — and to embrace much of its culture — while often being made to feel unwelcome. Our critic wrote, “The show slides among English, Spanish and Arabic — and between goofy and serious — to create a rich and vivid portrait.” (The high school dramedy “On My Block” tells similar stories about young people who sometimes feel excluded from the American dream.)

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‘Insecure’ (2016-2021)

The writer and actress Issa Rae brought some of her own experiences to the “hangout sitcom” genre with this sharp and raunchy series about young Black women balancing boyfriends, friendships and career ambitions in Los Angeles. Rae plays Issa Dee, who alongside her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), tries to be a positive force in the world and figure out her future — while also having fun and making mistakes. Our critic wrote, “Its stories of buppie frustration and romance, set in Los Angeles, aren’t revolutionary, but they’re funny and moving, powered by Ms. Rae’s ear for dialogue of a kind of crystalline, pitch-perfect profanity.” (The sketch series “Key & Peele” also often finds the humor in the lives of middle-class Black professionals.)

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A scene from “The Dragon Prince.”Credit…Netflix

‘The Dragon Prince’ (2018-present)

Although it is aimed at children, the animated adventure “The Dragon Prince” features one of the most fully realized fantasy universes of any TV series of recent years. Set in a magic-filled world where humans, elves and dragons warily coexist, the story follows three younger heroes working to bring peace to their land, despite dangerous political machinations and the stirrings of war. A lot of action and plot are packed into the first three seasons, which constitute the series’s first arc (of three) and culminate in a big battle. Seasons 4 and 5 — subtitled “Mystery of Aaravos” — pick up the saga a few years later and cover an old, bitter struggle between light and dark magic. (Also recommended for the younger animation and fantasy fans: “Kung Fu Panda: Dragon Knight.”)

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‘Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of the American Gladiators’ (2023)

In this five-part mini-series, some of the original cast and crew of the 1990s syndicated TV phenomenon “American Gladiators” look back at one of the original reality competition shows, which pitted amateur jocks against buff models and bodybuilders in over-the-top combat games. The directors Jared Hess and Tony Vainuku go behind the scenes with Gladiators like Dan Clark, Debbie Clark and Lori Fetrick (known as Nitro, Storm and Ice), who tell entertainingly dishy stories about all the hookups and drugs that kept them going during the show’s rise to international popularity. (“Arnold,” about Arnold Schwarzenegger, is another docu-series about a bodybuilder who became an internationally famous entertainer.)

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Jenna Ortega (snap snap) in a scene from “Wednesday.”Credit…Vlad Cioplea/Netflix

‘Wednesday’ (2022-present)

Tim Burton joins with the “Smallville” producing team of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar for this spinoff of the long-running pop culture phenomenon “The Addams Family,” which features the elaborate gothic sets and cartoonish style beloved by fans of the franchise’s previous TV shows, movies, stage productions and original cartoons. “Wednesday” stars Jenna Ortega as the Addams family’s stubbornly deadpan, gloom-and-doom-loving teenage daughter, who unflappably handles the stresses of adolescence and the supernatural weirdness happening in and around her high school. Our critic wrote of Ortega’s performance, “She gets at the small core of poignancy that’s there among the soap opera machinations and routine scary creature battles.” (The Japanese drama “The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House” is another series about youngsters adjusting to a new culture.)

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‘Trailer Park Boys’ (2001-2018)

This raunchy Canadian sitcom ran for 12 seasons, winning fans around the world for its mockumentary-style stories about cocky low-level criminals who stumble their way through various half-baked schemes. When “Trailer Park Boys” began, its sense of humor fell in line with various cleverly dopey ’90s comedy favorites: Jim Carrey, Kevin Smith, “Beavis & Butt-Head” and the like. Over time, though, the misadventures of Julian (John Paul Tremblay), Ricky (Robb Wells) and Bubbles (Mike Smith) started having even more in common with vintage comedy like the Three Stooges and “The Honeymooners,” where the simple aspirations of the heroes are just as central to the show as all the silliness and swearing. (“Kim’s Convenience” is another beloved Canadian comedy on Netflix.)

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Aaron Paul in a scene from Season 6 of “Black Mirror.”Credit…Netflix

‘Black Mirror’ (2011-present)

Created by Charlie Brooker, the science-fiction anthology series “Black Mirror” is like a 21st century version of “The Twilight Zone,” with a roster of guest stars featuring some of today’s most talented character actors, telling stories drawn from our modern technophobic anxieties. The episodes are slyly plotted and openly cautionary, challenging the audience to ponder how artificial intelligence, social media, computer-generated images and climate change are warping our perceptions of reality. In 2016, our critic called it “hands down the most relevant program of our time.” (For another exciting example of mind-bending TV, watch “Russian Doll,” a science-fiction dramedy about a woman stuck reliving the same day.)

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‘Suits’ (2011-19)

One of TV’s longest-running legal dramas is about a brilliant law school dropout named Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), who is hired as an attorney at a high-powered New York firm thanks to Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a rainmaker with loose ethics. Meghan Markle — yes, the actress who married Prince Harry — plays Rachel Zane, a principled paralegal who falls for Mike and helps protect him from his many rivals, both inside and outside the offices of Pearson Specter. Our critic wrote that the show is primarily about “the snappy banter among the ever-circling pool of sharks at Pearson Specter and the schadenfreude of watching them tear one another apart on a weekly basis.” (“The Lincoln Lawyer” is another entertaining show about a lawyer who makes some tricky moral choices.)

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‘Justice League’ (2001-06)

The animation producer Bruce Timm spent the 1990s making superhero cartoons that were as eye-catching and sophisticated as the era’s best comic books, with “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Superman: The Animated Series” winning over even the most skeptical genre fans. In the 2000s, Timm and his team shifted to the more ambitious “Justice League” and its sequel “Justice League Unlimited,” telling multipart stories in which Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and a smattering of lesser-known DC Comics champions — some of whom no one had animated before — battle some potentially world-ending threats. The series is stylish, smart and exciting — one of the best comic book adaptations in any medium. (For more tales from the DC Universe, watch the long-running, recently completed live-action series “The Flash.”)

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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in a scene from “Never Have I Ever,” which is inspired by the life of Mindy Kaling.Credit…Isabella B. Vosmikova/Netflix

‘Never Have I Ever’ (2020-23)

In this clever and heartfelt sitcom, the writer and actress Mindy Kaling — the creator of “The Mindy Project” — draws on memories of her own experiences as an Indian American teenager who very much wanted to be part of the popular crowd. Set across three years of high school, “Never Have I Ever” covers the family pressures, personal losses and unrealistic expectations that keep a smart, likable California youngster named Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) struggling to realize her romantic dreams. Our critic said this show “moves like a teen comedy and has a sort of ‘Mean Girls’ gloss on high school.” (Another Kaling series, “The Mindy Project,” is also available on Netflix.)

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‘Seinfeld’ (1989-98)

“Seinfeld” is often referred to by its creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, as “a show about nothing,” but that is only partly true. Ostensibly about a self-absorbed stand-up comic (Seinfeld) and his cranky friends, the series became one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1990s thanks to its impressively intricate plots, which convert life’s minor annoyances into complicated and absurd adventures. Reviewing the early episodes, our critic praised Seinfeld himself, saying he is “fascinated with minute details and he collects them with a keen sense of discernment.” (Seinfeld keeps exploring his persnickety obsessions while interviewing some of the funniest people in showbiz in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”)

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Tim Robinson in “I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson.”Credit…Netflix

‘I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson’ (2019-present)

The former “Saturday Night Live” and “Detroiters” writer and performer Tim Robinson created (with Zach Kanin) this fast-paced and funny sketch series, which is steeped in the comedy of obnoxiousness. Nearly every segment is about how people react when someone in their immediate vicinity behaves rudely or strangely. The show is both a sharp depiction of how social mores sometimes fail us and — through three seasons now — a reliable generator of viral memes. Our critic wrote that Robinson “channels a recognizable brand of Midwestern ticked-off-ness: a freak-out that bursts through his mild exterior like a volcano erupting out of a lake of mayonnaise.” (For another divine comedy about hellish human behavior, watch “The Good Place.”)

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‘Chimp Empire’ (2023)

Like a lot of the nature documentaries on Netflix, the four-part “Chimp Empire” takes such a close-up look at its subjects that viewers may feel like as if they were being transported to a wondrous fantasy world, populated by fictional creatures. Unlike those other docu-series, this one tells a story that feels more like a pulp thriller than an ecology lesson. The director James Reed (an Oscar winner for co-directing “My Octopus Teacher”), with the help of Mahershala Ali’s narration and some astonishingly vivid cinematography, delivers a gripping tale about rival chimpanzee families battling for control of their territory in Uganda’s Ngogo rainforest. (“Our Planet” is another visually splendid nature series, equal parts educational and beautiful.)

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Corey Mylchreest and India Amarteifio in the Netflix prequel series “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,” which creates a partly fictionalized back story for the Charlotte of “Bridgerton.” Credit…Nick Wall/Netflix

‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’ (2023)

The “Bridgerton” producer Shonda Rhimes has taken a more active creative role in this prequel mini-series, writing or co-writing every episode. Golda Rosheuvel reprises her role as King George III’s wife, who is also the unofficial arbiter of who among England’s aristocracy will make suitable mates. But the story mostly follows a younger version of Charlotte (India Amarteifio) as she arrives in London to marry the King and has to navigate through the harsh and sometimes bigoted judgments of courtly society. (Charlotte is of mixed racial heritage in the series.) As with “Bridgerton,” “Queen Charlotte” is filled with scheming and betrayals; but it is also anchored by a belief in real romance, expressed in grand gestures and steamy passion. (For another addicting take on royalty, watch “The Crown,” about the life of England’s Queen Elizabeth II.)

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Fred Armisen, left, and Bill Hader in “Documentary Now!”Credit…Tyler Golden/IFC

‘Documentary Now!’ (2015-present)

The former “Saturday Night Live” writers and performers Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader are part of the core creative team for this esoteric comedy series, which parodies documentaries. But “Documentary Now!” isn’t intended to mock movies like “The Thin Blue Line” and “Original Cast Album: Company.” The show is made by super fans, who can imitate these films’ characters and quote every line while also understanding what makes them special. Our critic wrote that the “humor comes from satirizing the subjects of the documentaries, not the films themselves.” (The similar mockumentary series “American Vandal” parodies true-crime documentaries, following earnest Middle American high school kids who gravely investigate the most puerile of crimes.)

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In “The Diplomat,” Keri Russell plays a no-nonsense ambassador and Rufus Sewell her smoother husband.Credit…Alex Bailey/Netflix

‘The Diplomat’ (2023-present)

In this smart and energetic drama, Keri Russell plays a foreign policy expert who lands a surprise appointment to become the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom as part of a larger plan to see if she has to stuff to be vice president. Created by Debora Cahn (a writer-producer who worked on “Homeland” and “The West Wing”), “The Diplomat” is concerned with the ways protocol complicates politics; and it features winning performances by Russell and by Rufus Sewell, who plays the new ambassador’s headline-grabbing husband. Our critic called the show “a political thriller laced with romance and written, with some success, in an Aaron Sorkinesque high-comic, high-velocity style.” (The showbiz dramedy “Call My Agent!” is another savvy, fast-paced series about managing powerful people’s egos.)

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‘Firefly Lane’ (2021-23)

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke play longtime best friends in this heart-tugging melodrama, which tells a sprawling story about the struggle to maintain a tight bond while leading very different lives. Heigl’s Tully Hart is a popular Seattle TV talk-show host who survived a tumultuous childhood. Chalke’s Kate Mularkey grew up as a nerdy kid in a relatively stable home, but she has found her own adulthood as a wife and mother to be naggingly unfulfilling. Based on a Kristin Hannah novel, “Firefly Lane” is set across multiple decades and contains narrative surprises in nearly every episode, frequently presenting conflicting perspective on these two BFFs. (“Dead to Me” is another twisty series about a complicated friendship between two women.)

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Steven Yeun in “Beef.” Most of the major characters are shaped by their family and upbringing.Credit…Netflix

‘Beef’ (2023-present)

A road-range incident boils over into an epic feud in “Beef,” a darkly comic thriller about how the pressures of modern life can curdle into envy and frustration. Steven Yeun plays Danny, a hard-working, self-employed contractor who has an unpleasant encounter in a parking lot with Amy (Ali Wong), a more successful small business owner who is overwhelmed with personal and professional stress. The two strangers charge into an escalating war of revenge that brings some renewed purpose to their lives, even as it threatens to wreck everything they have. Our critic wrote, “What makes this one of the most invigorating, surprising and insightful debuts of the past year is how personally and culturally specific its study of anger is.” (“The Watcher” is another offbeat mini-series about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary hostility.)

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‘Arrested Development’ (2003-19)

One of the most influential sitcoms of the 21st century, “Arrested Development” is ostensibly about an entitled and clueless California family that suffers hard times when its patriarch is thrown in jail. But describing the premise alone does not even begin to capture the complexity of a show packed with so many sight gags, puns and double entendres that sometimes jokes set up in one episode do not land until several episodes later. This series gets funnier as its dense story of privilege and presumption gets more tangled. Our critic wrote, “The humor lies in balancing the characters’ loopiness with sly, satisfying digs at the rich.” (“Community” is another classic TV sitcom dense with self-reference.)

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‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal’ (2023)

This three-part documentary is partly about the high-profile trial of Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina attorney who was convicted of the 2021 murder of his wife, Maggie, and his adult son Paul. The directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason broaden that story though to include scandals from years earlier — including when Paul crashed a boat after drinking excessively, resulting in the death of a young woman. “Murdaugh Murders” relies heavily on emotionally charged interviews with the many people who have crossed paths with Alex and his kin over the years. They describe a politically connected and frequently reckless family accustomed to getting its way. Our critic called it “an unbeatable crime story.” (“Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey” is another true crime docu-series about the abuse of power in a tight-knit community.)

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Michael Aloni, left, and Hila Saada in a scene from “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.”Credit…Netflix

‘The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem’ (2021-present)

Based on the best-selling novel by Sarit Yishai-Levi, this domestic melodrama is set in multiple time periods and shows how the region that would become the State of Israel changed in the 1920s and ’30s, as the Ottoman Empire gave way to the British mandate. Swell Ariel Or plays the title character: the pretty and popular Luna, who is the grown daughter of a doting father, Gabriel (Michael Aloni), and a resentful mother, Roza (Hila Saada). While covering the secret romances and internal conflicts of Luna’s family, “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” also depicts tensions between different ethnic groups, focusing especially on the divisions between the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews. (For a different take on how faith and culture intersect, try “Unorthodox,” an adaptation of a memoir about a woman escaping her strict religious upbringing.)

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Diane Morgan stars in “Cunk on Earth.”Credit…Netflix

‘Cunk on Earth’ (2023)

For over a decade now, the English comedian Diane Morgan has played a character named Philomena Cunk: a gravely serious television host whose documentaries about culture and history get most of the facts hilariously wrong. The five-part series “Cunk on Earth” — created by the “Black Mirror” mastermind Charlie Brooker — is an excellent introduction to Morgan’s sly, knowing spoof of the stubbornly ill-informed. As Cunk talks with real historians about the evolution of human civilization, her ignorance serves as a biting satire of a certain kind of TV personality, who uses pomposity to mask incuriosity. Our critic wrote, “The show’s comic strategy is simple but relentless.” (Nearly every modern absurdist TV parody owes a debt to the seminal British series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” which is also available on Netflix.)

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Tituss Burgess and Ellie Kemper in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”Credit…Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (2015-20)

Easily the most upbeat sitcom ever made about a woman who escaped from an oppressively patriarchal religious cult, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” stars Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, who somehow keeps her youthful enthusiasm when she arrives in New York City after 15 years imprisoned in a bunker. A stellar supporting cast — including Tituss Burgess as Kimmy’s perpetually jobless roommate, Carol Kane as her activist landlord and Jane Krakowski as her overprivileged boss — brings range to this show’s unusually sunny, zingy vision of 2010s New York. Our critic wrote, “The series leavens wacky absurdity with acid wit and is very funny.” (The “Kimmy” creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, also produced the equally hilarious but under-seen sitcom “Great News.”)

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Guillermo del Toro in one of the introductions to an episode of “Cabinet of Curiosities.” He created the series with the goal of highlighting stories, storytellers and filmmakers he loves.Credit…Netflix

‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’ (2022-present)

The Oscar-winning director-producer Guillermo del Toro is both the host and the creator of this high-class horror anthology series, which features tales of suspense and the supernatural rooted as much in character and atmosphere as in shocks and gore. An ace team of adventurous directors (including Jennifer Kent, Panos Cosmatos and Ana Lily Amirpour) and quirky actors (including Essie Davis, Crispin Glover and Tim Blake Nelson) tackle original scripts and adaptations of short stories by the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Henry Kuttner. (For another visionary, auteur-driven anthology series, watch “Love Death & Robots.”)

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William Zabka in “Cobra Kai.”Credit…YouTube

‘Cobra Kai’ (2018-present)

A “30 years later” sequel to the hit 1984 movie “The Karate Kid,” this fan-friendly series — which packs “a surprising emotional punch,” according to Bruce Fretts in The Times — brings back the original’s hero and villain, still played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. The story sees them facing off against each other again as mentors to a new generation of karate students. The show has enormous nostalgic appeal, but it is also more complicated than the usual “underdogs versus bullies” story. Instead, “Cobra Kai” gets into the family histories and the socioeconomic circumstances that made these characters who they are. (“Raising Dion” is another family-friendly action-adventure story.)

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Jason Bateman in “Ozark.”Credit…Jackson Davis/Netflix

‘Ozark’ (2017-22)

In this Emmy-winning crime drama, Jason Bateman plays a shady money manager who moves his family to a Missouri resort community, where they adjust to the culture while finding themselves increasingly beholden to criminals. Bateman is also a producer and a director of “Ozark” and is canny enough to give his co-stars room to shine. Julia Garner is especially strong as a damaged young femme fatale while Laura Linney gives one of the best performances of her career as a wife making impossible choices to keep her loved ones safe. Our critic said, “The show isn’t a tragedy — most of the time, it’s a satirical (though quite violent) culture-clash caper with pretensions.” (For another gritty take on crime cartels, watch “Narcos.”)

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Millie Bobby Brown in the new season of “Stranger Things,” which features longer episodes and older kids but many familiar moments and themes.Credit…Netflix

‘Stranger Things’ (2016-present)

The first season of the retro science-fiction series “Stranger Things” arrived with little hype and quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation. Viewers were enchanted by this pastiche of John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Hughes, all scored to ’80s pop. Subsequent seasons have upped the scale of this story of geeky Indiana teenagers fighting off an invasion of extra-dimensional creatures from “the Upside-Down,” while maintaining the focus on likable characters in a familiar milieu. The show has the look and feel of a big summer blockbuster from 30 years ago — “a tasty trip back to that decade and the art of eeriness,” our critic noted, but “without excess.” (If you prefer ’90s teen nostalgia, try “Everything Sucks.”)

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Bob Odenkirk in “Better Call Saul.”Credit…Ursula Coyote/AMC

‘Better Call Saul’ (2015-present)

The “Breaking Bad” prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” covers the early days of the can-do lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) as he evolves into the ethically challenged criminal attorney “Saul Goodman.” Jimmy occasionally crosses paths with another “Breaking Bad” regular, the ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), during Mike’s first forays into the Albuquerque drug-trafficking business. Throughout this incredibly entertaining crime story, these two very different men discover the rewards and the perils of skirting the law as they anger powerful enemies and make trouble for their own allies. Our critic wrote, “Cutting against the desperation and violence that frame it, ‘Saul,’ in its dark, straight-faced way, is one of the funniest dramas on television.” (Also a must-see? “Breaking Bad,” of course.)

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Logan Browning, left, and Antoinette Robertson as fellow students in “Dear White People.”Credit…Adam Rose/Netflix

‘Dear White People’ (2017-21)

This lacerating social satire loosely adapts the 2014 film by Justin Simien about a group of African American students managing microaggressions and intra-racial infighting at a mostly white Ivy League university. The show addresses modern collegiate controversies using character-driven, episodic storytelling and a sharp sense of humor; over the course of its run it becomes more daring, culminating in a final season that employs flash-forwards and musical interludes. Our critic wrote that “Dear White People” “keeps the movie’s essence but recognizes that TV is not just the movies with smaller screens and longer run times.” (For another look at contemporary Black culture, watch Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It.”)

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Stephen Satterfield, left, and Jessica B. Harris on the first episode of “High on the Hog.”Credit…Netflix

‘High on the Hog’ (2021)

Based on a book by the culinary historian Jessica B. Harris, this docu-series connects African recipes to American recipes, by way of the experiences of slaves and their descendants. Hosted by Stephen Satterfield, “High on the Hog” is both a vibrant travelogue and a valuable education, going in-depth into the reasons ingredients like rice, ham, okra and yams have become staples. In an essay for the Times, the James Beard award-winning food writer Osayi Endolyn called the series “an incredible reframing of history that reintroduces the United States to viewers through the lens of Black people’s food — which is to say, American food.” (For another globe-hopping culinary docu-series, watch “Salt Fat Acid Heat,” hosted by Samin Nosrat.)

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From left, Vicky Jeudy, Taylor Schilling and Dascha Polanco in “Orange Is the New Black.”Credit…Barbara Nitke/Netflix

‘Orange Is the New Black’ (2013-19)

Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about serving time in a minimum security women’s prison, “Orange Is the New Black” is a remarkable showcase for its eclectic cast, depicting a wide spectrum of social classes and sexual orientations. The series was created by Jenji Kohan, who, as our critic wrote, “plays with our expectations by taking milieus usually associated with violence and heavy drama — drug dealing, prison life — and making them the subjects of lightly satirical dramedy.” (For another lively dramedy about feisty women, watch “GLOW,” about the 1980s rise of pro wrestling.)

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Gina Rodriguez in a scene from “Jane the Virgin.”Credit…Kevin Estrada/CW

‘Jane the Virgin’ (2014-19)

This spoof of the Latin American soap operas known as telenovelas also wholeheartedly embraces their shtick. “Jane the Virgin” starts as the story of an aspiring writer who is accidentally impregnated through an artificial insemination mix-up. The show then gets wilder, with at least one crazy plot twist per episode — all described with breathless excitement by an omnipresent, self-aware narrator. Our critic called it “delicious and dizzyingly arch.” It’s also emotionally affecting, featuring a nuanced portrait of three generations of Venezuelan-American women in Miami. (For another wild mix of heart-tugging melodrama and wacky comedy, try the musical series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”)

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Aunjanue Ellis and Ethan Herisse in “When They See Us.”Credit…Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

‘When They See Us’ (2019)

As a producer and director, Ava DuVernay has tackled the Civil Rights Movement, in her Oscar-nominated film “Selma,” and racial bias in the American criminal justice system, in her Emmy-winning documentary “13TH.” In her four-part mini-series “When They See Us,” she dramatizes the story of the Central Park Five, who were convicted of raping and almost killing a jogger in New York City in 1989, then exonerated in 2002. Salamishah Tillet wrote that the Five “emerge as the heroes of their own story — and if we pay heed to the series’s urgent message about criminal justice reform, ours too.” (For another politically pointed true-crime drama stream “Unbelievable,” which examines gender bias in policing)

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