Welcome to the Age of Netflix. The streaming giant has officially saturated the most prestigious and most lowly places of TV and film—from Oscar nominees for Best Picture to bingeable reality shows. If you want to keep up with what’s best on Netflix, specifically when it comes to television offerings, you have to be checking that feed on a near-nightly basis.
Instead of sifting through what’s trending, what’s popular, and what’s new, you can just check this (shorter) list and stay up to date on Netflix’s best TV series. And even if you get through this list and still aren’t quite sure, check back soon. Netflix is always expanding.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness
If you haven’t yet succumbed to the Tiger King hype, now is the time. Netflix’s bizarre seven-part documentary series tackles big cat ownership in America as it follows Joe Exotic, a tiger breeder and private zookeeper in Oklahoma, through his various campaigns for office, polygamous marriages, music videos, and vicious feuds. With a cast of characters whose wild quirks and crimes must truly be seen to be believed, the show is as engrossing as it is flawed. At the very least, it’ll take your mind off the news cycle for a few hours.
Unorthodox is the story of a young Hasidic Jewish woman who flees from her life in Brooklyn, her community, and her arranged marriage to start anew in Berlin. The four-part series is based on Deborah Feldman’s memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, and is Netflix’s first foray into Yiddish content. The show is a nuanced, thoughtful portrait of a community and what it means to be an individual within it. The cast’s wonderful performances make it a gripping watch from start to finish.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Whether or not you’re into sports, Netflix’s documentary mini series, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, is a haunting portrait of the NFL star who became a convicted murderer. The documentary revisits the 2015 murder of Odin Lloyd for which Hernandez was found guilty, as well his trial for the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado for which he was acquitted.
Sex Education brings all of the same endearing characters and retro vibes to Season Two while also highlighting the very real issues associated with the show’s namesake. While Season One entertained us with many honest and uncomfortable stories of budding teen sexuality, this season got even more real and made even more of a statement by addressing things like female pleasure, consent, asexuality, anal sex and the epidemic of misinformation surrounding STDs. It’s somehow hilarious and touching and powerful all at the same time, making it an absolute must-watch for 2020.
If you like thrills, murders, and being confused, The Stranger is an engaging—albeit overly complicated—mystery, with many a spooky storyline to follow. Based on Harlan Coben’s novel of the same name, The Stranger mostly follows a—you guessed it—stranger, who goes around town revealing people’s secrets. The stranger’s motive varies—sometimes she blackmails people for money, others she tries to help by revealing truths. If you like crime and the occasional pop-up, The Stranger definitely won’t bore you.
The Pharmacist manages to be about three different series in one. It starts out as a murder mystery documentary about the shooting of a 20-something white man attempting to buy crack cocaine. But Netflix’s limited docuseries wraps up the mystery around that murder by the end of Episode Two. From there, the series dives into how one pharmacist in New Orleans managed to blow the opioid crisis crippling his community wide open. A stirring portrait of the drug issues in our country right now, The Pharmacist is the rare limited series that manages to reinvent itself twice over by the time its six episodes wrap up.
The Circle, on paper, seems like a really, really terrible idea—a reality show centered on a group of seemingly loud, very online humans brought into an apartment complex, kept in isolation, and only allowed to communicate through a social media network called, you guessed it, The Circle. The trick is, you can also catfish your fellow competitors, adding an additional layer to the game.
No one has ever wanted to be “on mat” more than they do after watching Cheer. Following the insanity behind competitive cheerleading (specifically the Navarro College cheerleading team based out of Navarro Community College in Corsicana, Texas), the series reveals just how grueling and extreme the sport of cheerleading can be. For a select group of athletes, Navarro represents the pinnacle of their craft, and they only have a limited amount of time to reach excellence. As insightful as it is compelling, Cheer is one of Netflix’s most alluring offerings this year. You’ll never question the power of a cheerleader again.
Love Is Blind
Netflix’s serialized reality dating show Love Is Blind is The Circle meets Married At First Sight—incredibly watchable in an I-want-to-tear-my-eyeballs-out sort of way. The show brings 30 Atlanta singles to a set specially built for ‘blind’ dating–the men and women live in separate quarters and go on dates in small pods where they are separated by a glass wall and can only hear each other speak.
Gentefied is the beautiful result of what happens when companies like Netflix allow communities to tell their own story. Latinx from top to bottom, Gentefied is a peek inside a California neighborhood that is seeing the firsthand effects of gentrification. Most complexly, it also asks its three main characters exactly what their role is when it comes to the neighborhood’s ever-changing population. As hilarious as it is thoughtful, Gentefied feels like the little engine that could, and that little engine is delivering a dose of representation that the streamer could really use.