In 2013, you could count the number of Netflix original series that existed on one hand. Nine years later, that number is, well, a little higher. Over that time, the streaming giant became a huge player in the entertainment world, developing a massive catalog of content spanning all genres, for all audiences, in as many languages as the translators can manage.
The below list, spotlighting 100 of the best offerings to come from Netflix since those earliest days, does its best to represent how Netflix has provided a home for near-countless series that might never have gotten a greenlight anywhere else, amplifying new takes and new voices just as a new hunger for innovative storytelling on television was being discovered. (For those curious about the rules here, the shows included had to have originated on Netflix, eliminating continuations like Arrested Development and Black Mirror.)
The entertainment industry was a very different place before Netflix became a purveyor of original content — and more than any other single company, Netflix was responsible for those changes. Debates may wage for decades as to whether or not all of those changes were good ones. But the 100 shows below represent 100 reasons why we’re glad Netflix got in the game.
— Liz Shannon Miller
100. Emily in Paris
What do you get if you mix Sex in the City, the ever-annoying Instagram algorithm, and a Rainbow Unicorn Bang energy drink into a blender? You’d get Emily in Paris, arguably one of Netflix’s most polarizing series of recent memory. Lily Collins’ Emily Cooper is Carrie Bradshaw for millennials and Gen-Zers who live on their For You Page, albeit ditzier and more ignorant as an American in Paris who can’t speak a syllable of French. Some say it’s corny; really, it’s camp. Come for the extravagant outfits, but stay for the soapy, tumultuous, and sex-driven decision making. — Rachael Crouch
Working from Sean Hayes’s idea for a gay James Bond, showrunner Gabe Liebman’s animated farce features a team of LGBTQI+ secret agents tasked with using their special skills to save the world. With a voice cast featuring Wanda Sykes, Patti Harrison, David Harbour, Laurie Metcalf and more, Q-Force is a treat for anyone who’s ever brunched in West Hollywood and/or can appreciate a reference like “Call me Miss Congeniality, honey, cos I’m a femme top with a gun.” — L.S.M.
98. Selling Sunset
When it comes to reality TV, it’s hard to name a show that is juicier than Selling Sunset. This series follows the Oppenheim Group, a Los Angeles real estate firm that sells mega high-priced properties. Of course, because this is a reality show, that isn’t all there is to it: drama and scandal runs rampant in its four seasons.
If that isn’t enough to sell you on Selling Sunset, it was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Unstructured Reality Program, and has two spin-offs courtesy of Netflix: Selling Tampa, (basically Selling Sunset but in Florida), and Selling the OC, which is set on California’s Newport Beach. So if you’re looking to peak behind the curtains at the world of the rich and famous, you’re looking for a healthy dose of drama and catfights, or you just want to look at beautiful houses for a while, Selling Sunset is without a doubt the show for you. — Aurora Amidon
97. Turn Up Charlie
No one ever went broke betting on the dramatic and comedic potential of teaming up a precocious small child and a gruff adult disillusioned with the world. Turn Up Charlie, created by Idris Elba and Gary Reich, stars Elba as a struggling D.J. whose new nannying gig might help relaunch his music career — provided he can survive serving as caretaker to the irrepressible Gabrielle. While it received a lukewarm critical reception upon its premiere, Elba’s undeniable charms (and solid EDM tracks, created specifically for the show) make this a pleasant low-key watch. — L.S.M.
Most shows set during the post-apocalypse can be pretty dour experiences, but there’s a level of pure glee built into this short-lived series about a teenager (Colin Ford) who honestly finds life in the chaotic ruins of Glendale, California to be a lot better than the before times. Just going to say this: There are 99 other shows on this list, but this is the only one where Matthew Broderick plays an actual cannibal. Tune in for the wild genre riffs, stay for one of the post-apocalypse’s greatest innovations: American Ninja Idol. — L.S.M.
95. History of Swear Words
You get six episodes of Nicolas Cage and guests — ranging from pop culture personalities like Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, Jim Jefferies, and Isiah Whitlock Jr., to legitimate scholars like Elvis Mitchell and Mireille Miller-Young — discussing the secret history of profanity with playful poise, archival footage, and colorful historical reenactments. What more could you want? — Jordan Blum
Lacking the pure irreverence that’s made The Simpsons and Futurama classics, Disenchantment is in some ways Matt Groening’s undervalued stepchild. But that’s not entirely fair. It’s a very different type of show, one that actually seeds an intricate storyline throughout its seasons rather than the general sitcom setup of those other series. In that, it arguably exceeds Groening’s past cartoons, as following Bean, Elfo, and Luci becomes more than just “what wacky thing will these characters do next” and begs for investment in true arcs. Along with Groening’s trademark humor, some wonderfully inventive animation, and a stellar cast (Abbi Jacobson, Eric André, Nat Faxon), it’s a fun, funny fantasy that, given the chance, will wrap you up in its magic. — Ben Kaye
93. Lost in Space
The Space Family Robinson got a Martian-level facelift in Netflix’s three-season chronicle of their quest to join the rest of humanity on Alpha Centauri. It suffered from the same pacing and tonal problems as any Netflix show, but made up for it with Parker Posey as a wily, manipulative take on Dr. Smith and the Internet’s favorite thicc robot. — Clint Worthington
92. W/ Bob and David
Despite their increasing mainstream fame, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have never let go of their semi-surrealist sketch comedy roots. Nowhere is that more evident than W/ Bob and David, the spiritual successor to their classic HBO series Mr. Show. While not reaching the cult status of the latter, W/ Bob and David still effectively showcased and evolved their absurd humor for a mainstream audience that has finally caught up to their sensibilities. — Erin Brady
91. Never Have I Ever
Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher gave us a whole new type of teen girl hero in Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a Sherman Oaks high school student coping with her grief over her father’s passing and her determination to finally get herself a boyfriend, all while dealing with the pressures of school and family expectations. Devi is smart, funny, complicated, and flawed, and thanks to Ramakrishnan’s winning performance it’s impossible not to root for her. The supporting cast, including Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Darren Barnet, Jaren Lewison, Helen Hong, Ramona Young, Lee Rodriguez, and John McEnroe as Devi’s inner monologue, is also packed with standouts whose own stories have gotten only richer over the first two seasons. — L.S.M.
90. Too Hot to Handle
Netflix has cracked the code on what makes good trash television – isolating a group of obnoxious hot people from society and letting them do their thing. Too Hot to Handle is perhaps the trashiest of the streamer’s dating show fare, which is ironic given how its premise hinges on the rule that nobody can be intimate with each other. However, how entertaining can a reality dating show be if all the rules are followed? Sexy and messy times await for anyone who wants to resist temptation for $100,000. — E.B.
89. A Series of Unfortunate Events
The second attempt at Lemony Snicket’s macabre children’s novels managed to deliver a quirky (and complete) adaptation that satisfied both its young fans and very-much-adult original audience alike. Though Neil Patrick Harris never delivers a reaction this elite, he nails the menacing Count Olaf while baby Sonny took a big bite out of our hearts. — Bryan Kress
88. Brand New Cherry Flavor
One of the common complaints against Netflix’s original library is that the majority of its titles aren’t particularly risky or unique. Brand New Cherry Flavor is the bizarre, bloody, and downright weird outlier of this belief. With all of its outlandish plot diversions and eyebrow-raising sex, its core tells a powerful and unfortunately relatable story of female creativity at the whims of patriarchal capitalism. Given its divisive reaction upon release and subsequent TikTok infamy, Brand New Cherry Flavor is a uniquely chaotic experience that needs to be seen to be believed. — E.B.
87. The Floor Is Lava
One of the benefits of Netflix’s throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach is a multitude of bizarre game shows that in another time would have just been a Saturday Night Live game show sketch. The best of these is The Floor is Lava, a sort of Double Dare-style obstacle course version of the classic game every bored kid has played on their furniture at home. — Al Shipley
86. Magic for Humans
Magician and former Food Network host Justin Willman packages dense topics like fear and fatherhood into digestible episodes with man-on-the street crowd-pleasers, child-led focus group tricks, and the occasional social experiment that might make participants wish they could stay invisible. No matter what, you’ll never hear the name Susan the same again. — B. Kress
85. The Chair
One of Netflix’s more recent endeavors, The Chair is a fun and poignant half-hour comedy-drama that you can easily whip right through. Set at the fictional Pembroke University, the show follows Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh), a professor who has been freshly appointed as the chair of the school’s English department. In her new position, she must navigate and attempt to transform an administration that holds an abundance of outdated customs and views.
Unsurprisingly, Oh’s performance is excellent, and the show is worth watching just for that. It’s a plus that it also takes a fresh look at academia, which is a subject often unexplored in TV. For now, there’s only one season, but due to The Chair’s largely positive reviews, there is hopefully a second lurking on the horizon. — A.A.
There are so many elements of this underseen Canadian-produced historical drama to recommend it. First of all, there’s the time and place: Focused on the fur trade in late 1700s North America, the series plays like Deadwood with more snow and only slightly less cursing. Plus, there are the bonkers epigrams, with each episode introduced by quotes from sources including Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Beyonce, Ice-T and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But the biggest thing to recommend it is a solid cast led by Jason Momoa, proving years before Aquaman just how compelling a leading man he can be. — L.S.M.
83. Anne with an E
CBC’s 2017 adaptation of Anne of Green Gables was a bit darker and more grounded than previous incarnations: It gave its titular dreamer (a lovely AmyBeth McNulty) a torturous childhood, for one thing. But it still carries that same spirit of imagination and pastoral adventure as the books, and its three short seasons find plenty of hope amid its defiant, endearingly modern take on the material. — C.W.
With stellar performances from its diverse cast, Narcos chronicles the rise of the cocaine trade in Colombia and abroad, centering around Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel. It also highlights the war on drugs from the perspective of law enforcement, politicians, and civilians; allowing the viewer to empathize with all parties involved. The original three-season series was so popular that a spin-off, Narcos: Mexico, was created — ensuring plenty of Narcos content going forward. — Okla Jones
81. Dash & Lily
What could be more delightful than Christmas in New York? The knowledge that no matter what time of year or wherever you might live, you can experience the joys of the city at its best through Dash & Lily.
The sweetly sincere adaptation of Rachel Cohn & David Levithan’s book Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares stars Austin Abrams and Midori Francis as the titular teenagers, whose holiday breaks get tangled up together after one of them stumbles across a notebook of dares left behind by the other. While the show was canceled after the first season, those eight episodes remain a delightful time capsule to be enjoyed year-round. — L.S.M.
80. Dead to Me
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini anchor this twisty dark comedy thanks to their truly magnetic chemistry. While the main plotline itself is a bit bonkers — a ticking time bomb of sorts that will eventually explode — the clever writing pays attention to the details in female friendship. The pacing may not be the smoothest when compared to many other shows on this list, but it remains incredibly watchable and, often, tons of fun. — Mary Siroky
79. Teenage Bounty Hunters
Our titular Teenage Bounty Hunters are two gun-toting, churchgoing private school girls (Anjelica Bette Fellini and Maddie Phillips) who stumble into an after-school job under the tutelage of seasoned skip tracers (Kadeem Hardison and Method Man). Few of Netflix’s many one-season wonders deserved renewal more than this unorthodox coming-of-age story, especially because the finale ended with an inspired twist. — A.S.
Making brilliant use of the controlled chaos of improv, Krister Johnson’s murder-mystery parody show throws Will Arnett, as grizzled detective Terry Seattle, and a different celebrity guest partner (who doesn’t know the script) into a different kooky mystery every episode. The improv-friendly folks (Conan, Kumail) are good, but the real joy comes from left-fielders like Sharon Stone and Marshawn Lynch. — C.W.
Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs’ modern love story follows their messy but honest path from irresistible companionship to mutual, unconditional acceptance. The series has some great musical moments, particularly Gus’ bizarre band meetings that result in theme songs for movies like While You Were Sleeping, but the finale’s swoon-worthy resolution nabs its most enduring needle drop with Wilco’s “You and I.” — B. Kress
76. The Eddy
Produced and in part directed by La La Land helmer Damien Chazelle, The Eddy continues the cause of championing jazz music while uniting Chazelle with Moonlight star Andre Holland. Holland leads an international cast as Elliot, a former musician running a jazz club in Paris. While there are enough dramatic twists to push The Eddy occasionally into thriller territory, the show excels most as a collection of vibes, with a soundtrack featuring original songs from Glen Ballard and Randy Kerber. — L.S.M.
75. Inventing Anna
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month and a half, chances are you’ve heard of Inventing Anna, AKA Netflix’s newest craze. The miniseries, created by Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes, dramatizes the real, stranger-than-fiction life of fake heiress Anna Delvey.
Based on Jessica Pressler’s renowned New York Magazine article, “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People,” the show watches Delvey (played impeccably by Julia Garner) con the elites of New York City into thinking she’s a German heiress. In doing this, she successfully scams them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Naturally, the show is a complete blast to watch. We already knew that Rhimes knows how to keep her audiences entertained — it’s just a bonus that the story is effortlessly wild. — A.A.
74. Living with Yourself
Paul Rudd plays Miles Elliot as a miserable crank like his character in This Is 40. But then he gets cloned at a strip mall spa (just go with it), and Miles’s clone is like every other Paul Rudd character, relentlessly charming. Living with Yourself is an existential comedy about self-image, but it’s also a clever interrogation of the appeal of one of our most effortlessly likable movie stars. — A.S.
73. Santa Clarita Diet
What would you do if your spouse became an undead monster who feasts on human flesh? If you’re Joel (Timothy Olyphant) in Santa Clarita Diet, you help your zombie wife Sheila (Drew Barrymore) keep her bloody new lifestyle a secret, and find people that maybe deserve to be devoured. Horror comedy has never been this heartwarming. — A.S.
Guillermo del Toro made his name on fantasy films that would give your children nightmares, but his first animated series is cute and kid-friendly while still esoteric and original. Trollhunters featured Kelsey Grammer as a six-eyed troll, as well as the late Anton Yelchin, who recorded dialogue for over 40 episodes before his tragic 2016 death. — A.S.
71. House of Cards
Arguably Netflix’s most significant series, the critically acclaimed House of Cards follows congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) on his Macbeth-ian rise through the political ranks. Deception, greed, and selfish ambition are his primary motivators, and during its six-season run we see just how steep a price it is to gain power, and how fleeting it is after its attained. — O.J.
70. Rhythm + Flow
Regarding Rhythm + Flow, let’s get the bad out of the way first: T.I., Chance The Rapper, and Cardi B are certainly not the ideal judges for a hip-hop reality competition show. But none of the judges’ odd antics can successfully take away from the sheer amount of talent that Rhythm + Flow boasts.
The series allows for contestants to dig deep and share their authentic experiences week to week, with no censorship and very little time to pull it all together. The resulting competition is a riveting and genuinely inspiring love letter to the art of hip-hop — watching these contestants battle it out with their own ingenuity and vulnerability, all while staying true to their identity as artists and MCs, is some damn good television. — Paolo Ragusa
69. Shadow and Bone
Adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s series of young adult novels, Shadow and Bone gets everything right about the fantasy genre. Throughout the plucky and lovable cast of leads and generous world-building, Ben Barnes is a standout as the brooding General Kirigan as the show digs into beloved tropes unabashedly — give us enemies to lovers to enemies again, yes! — without veering into territory that feels cheesy or overdone.
While there still hasn’t been a confirmation on the Season 2 release date, we know it’s coming, and that there’s much more worth exploring in the Shadow and Bone universe. — M.S.
68. Waffles and Mochi
It’s hard enough to get kids to eat their vegetables, but Netflix’s culinary take on Sesame Street — in which a yeti-waffle hybrid and her BFF, a lump of sentient rice paste, learn about food with the help of Michelle Obama — is an exceedingly charming attempt to get young ones interested in where their food comes from. — C.W.
67. Masters of the Universe: Revelation
In a world where there are not one, but two concurrent reboots of He-Man running — both on Netflix, no less — it’s hard to pick which one is more innately valuable. But in significantly revamping the show’s lore, raising the stakes to bloody new heights, and giving us Mark Hamill in the role of Skeletor, Kevin Smith’s grittier version (which shifts focus from Adam to Teela, a move that made all manner of Redditors mad) easily wins out. — C.W.
66. Nailed It!
Sure, it’s exciting to watch top-of-the-line bakers create cakes worthy of an exhibit in the Smithsonian. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to see a portrayal of the kitchen experience that harkens a little closer to the average amateur baker’s reality. Enter Nailed It!, the show where contestants compete for $10,000 doing the same thing you were during the 2020 lockdown: butchering a cute Pinterest cupcake recipe. They just made it look so easy… — Jonah Krueger
65. Midnight Mass
Like its two predecessors, Midnight Mass exudes Mike Flanagan’s characteristically superb mixture of gothic frights, emotional payoffs, and philosophical meditations on life, love, and everything in-between. Specifically, its use of vampirism, religious extremism, and communal division harkens back to the allegorical genius of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. It’s unforgettable. — J.B.
64. Love, Death & Robots
It’s best to think of Love, Death & Robots as Black Mirror meets Heavy Metal, an anthology of animated CG short stories positing more visually imaginative worlds than live-action is often capable of producing. They’re not all winners — some feel more like video-game cutscenes designed for hormonal teens — but masterworks like “Zima Blue” and the hilarious “All Through the House” are well worth your time. — C.W.
63. Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous finds Netflix adapting the beloved action-adventure franchise for a younger audience. Who didn’t love dinosaurs when they were little? While Camp Cretaceous is by no means perfect, it holds the Spielberg-ian tradition of humor, poignancy, and fantasy at its core. — R.C.
Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, Hollywood brings a very modern twist to the Golden Age of Hollywood: Rather than accept the fact that the real Hollywood of the 1940s was a brutally racist, sexist, and homophobic community, Murphy and Brennan just rewrite history itself, telling the story of a fictional film production that breaks down barriers for everyone involved. At turns sexy, goofy, inspiring, and earnest to the brink of cheesiness, Hollywood is a quixotic charmer, anchored by an incredible cast including David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Laura Harrier, Joe Mantello, Dylan McDermott, Jeremy Pope, Holland Taylor, Samara Weaving, Jim Parsons, and Patti LuPone. — L.S.M.
60. Last Chance U
Sports documentaries can be tricky. It’s all too easy to fall into familiar formulas: the underdog’s upset, the rise and fall of a legend, the retelling of “the big game.” Last Chance U expertly navigates around these canned narratives to present a wholly unique look into pre-professional athletics, focusing on junior college athletics programs giving student athletes a “last chance” at getting back into Division I. The novel premise and the genuinely surprising twists and turns of each season make for an entertaining watch, even for those who couldn’t care less about football. — J.K.
While Season 2 of Netflix’s Emmy-winning period drama might have been slightly less horny than Season 1, Bridgerton remains a solid charmer from Shondaland, adapting Julia Quinn’s novels for a lush and immersive look at Regency England that puts women’s stories first. With the power to create new stars like Regé-Jean Page out of thin air and also change the way we look at period dramas, full stop, Bridgerton is a television force that will likely be around for years to come. — L.S.M.
59. The Witcher
That earworm of a song aside, The Witcher stands out amongst Netflix originals for its bold plotting choices (maybe a little too bold, leading to Season 2’s simplified approach to timelines) and a career-defining performance by Henry Cavill as Geralt, a surly and haunted demon-fighter with his own internal demons to battle. Of all the shows that have launched in the last ten years that owe at least a tip of the hat (perhaps even the tossing of a coin) to Game of Thrones, The Witcher arguably improves the most on the horny swords-and-sorcery genre to which it belongs. — L.S.M.
58. Sex Education
Sex Education is one of Netflix’s most streamed shows, and when you hear the premise, that only makes sense. The series follows awkward high-schooler Otis (Asa Butterfield) who gains notoriety among his peers when he starts to share information pertaining to the birds and the bees, as gleaned from his sex therapist mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson).
Unsurprisingly, Sex Education is chock-full of awkward moments, satisfying romances, and general high school hijinx. So far, the show has three seasons, but has been renewed for a fourth — and based on its large fanbase and critical acclaim, the fourth more than likely won’t be the last. — A.A.
57. The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale
Many clip shows have tried to eat The Soup’s lunch since its cancellation in 2015 — just tune into MTV at any time of the day — but no one has reached the same heights as Joel McHale’s relentless, and sometimes literal, punching-down (can a man of his stature hit anywhere else?) until Netflix’s soft reboot. — B. Kress
56. The Haunting of Hill House
It’s a brilliantly imaginative adaption of Shirley Jackson’s novel, as well as a remarkable Netflix series debut from genre great Mike Flanagan. Brimming with impeccable acting, writing, direction, and production, Hill House’s non-chronological structure, exquisite atmospheres, and three-dimensional characters culminate in some of the most poignantly tragic storytelling in modern horror. — J.B.
Molly Smith Metzer’s limited drama series Maid is one of the best things that Netflix has to offer at the moment. Based on Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, the show follows a young mom named Alex (Margaret Qualley) on a painstaking journey to become self-sufficient after leaving her abusive boyfriend Sean (Nick Robinson). The show is equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking, and is bound to pull you in from the first episode. — A.A.
Netflix’s first Brazilian original series set the bar high for future originals: Arriving just early enough in the 2010s to feed off the fever for young adult dystopian tales like The Hunger Games, the four-season series is set in a brutal world where 97 percent of the population lives in poverty, with their only hope being the opportunity to participate in “The Process,” a rigorous set of trials which eventually select a chosen few to go to the “Offshore” and live in luxury. Things get complicated as the newest group of recruits begins to challenge the whole system, though — creating a captivating ride. — L.S.M.
53. Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj was certainly similar to HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, but with a much larger emphasis on its Gen Z, actively-online audience. It’s one thing to have the courage to take on these massive subjects, but it’s the way Minhaj and his talented team dealt with the nuance and complexities of these issues that illuminated why they were happening in the first place.
Minhaj did the impossible by taking a novel’s worth of material and compressing it into digestible, entertaining, and incredibly informative content. With hope, something will emerge from Patriot Act’s shadow to light the torch once again. — P.R.
52. Inside Job
Executive produced by Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch, Shion Takeuchi’s clever and quirky adult animated series offers up a behind-the-scenes look at the mysterious secret forces which control our universe. How fictional the show actually is remains a mystery, but between its stellar voice cast (including Lizzy Caplan, Christian Slater, Clark Duke, Tisha Campbell, Andrew Daly, John DiMaggio, Bobby Lee, and Brett Gelman), dynamic animation, twisty plotting, and hilarious riffs on classic conspiracy theories, Inside Job’s first batch of episodes was a joy, and the next part can’t come soon enough. — L.S.M.
51. Pretend It’s a City
An oddball amongst Netflix’s vast documentary series offerings, Pretend it’s a City is Martin Scorcese’s love letter to New York City and Fran Lebowitz. The series’ beautifully shot cinematography captures the charm of the city while making it a character in its own right. Lebowitz’s dry, observational cultural wit keeps the viewer on their toes, with Q&A cameos from Alec Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Spike Lee, and David Letterman acting as icing on the cake. — R.C.
50. Salt Fat Acid Heat
In Salt Fat Acid Heat, James Beard Award-winning Samin Nosrat follows in the footsteps of celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown as she travels the globe in an epic quest to define the basic building blocks of delicious food. The result is just as delectable as the food Nosrat presents. Best watched while hungry. — J.K.
This French import, a modern adaptation of the Maurice Leblanc stories about the famed gentleman thief, became one of Netflix’s biggest non-English series early in the pandemic, and for good reason. Everyone loves a heist, and Omar Sy’s suave, playful take on the character (a second-gen Senegalese immigrant who takes homage from the original Lupin books) pairs well with the swooshy, frenetic Louis Leterrier camerawork. — C.W.
This deeply underrated miniseries boasted a star-studded cast and a trippy, vaguely futuristic world to get lost in. Justin Theroux giving us his unhinged best? Julia Garner, Sally Field, and Sonoya Mizuno? Emma Stone and an arguably career-best Jonah Hill in countless costume changes? Check, check, and check. Maniac simmered a bit under the radar, but it’s not too late to give the easily binge-able story a spin. Plus, writer and creator Cary Fukunaga knows exactly what he’s doing with a camera, a compelling plotline, and a handful of stellar actors. — M.S.
In the words of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, “Work sucks, I know.” Aggretsuko embodies exactly that ethos, though favoring more aggressive death metal aesthetics to Blink-182’s optimistic pop-punk. Netflix’s adaptation of the Japanese original net animation is just as satirical and cynical as its source material, and, come on, who doesn’t want to see a cute anime panda channel their inner Chuck Schuldiner and rage out? — J.K.
46. Feel Good
It takes true talent to make a story about addiction and abuse so funny. Fortunately, Mae Martin seems to have talent to spare. The two-season dramedy kicks off with stand-up comic Mae (Martin) developing a connection with the ostensibly straight George (Charlotte Ritchie), before their love story gets complicated by Mae’s personal demons. Anchored by Martin’s fearless, soul-baring performance, along with the always incredible Lisa Kudrow as Mae’s mother, Feel Good is one of those shows you might stumble across on a lazy Saturday afternoon and find yourself bingeing from beginning to end before the day is through. — L.S.M.
45. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
In an age of endless and overextended reboots, the Jim Henson Company spent a ton of Netflix’s money on a prequel series with genuine scope, technical ambition, and invention. It’s also an all-time great puppet show: Age of Resistance retains the creative soul of the 1982 cult classic, expanding but not damaging its all-puppet world with modern technology. — Jesse Hassenger
44. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
For the honor of Grayskull, cartoonist ND Stevenson reimagined a toyetic old cartoon as a funny and gorgeously drawn anime-influenced sci-fi-fantasy epic, full of casual inclusivity and complex relationships — none more than the fraught but not quite broken bond between She-Ra and her frenemy Catra. To the chagrin of some arrested ‘80s kids, it runs circles around the original. — J.H.
Puzzle-box sci-fi TV rarely sticks the landing, especially in an age where a show’s lifespan is hardly a guarantee. But Baran bo Odar’s twisty time-travel series, about a small German town that might hold the secret to saving the world, somehow makes a kind of perverse sense among the fragmented universes, characters interacting at different ages, and more. — C.W.
42. The Kominsky Method
Known typically for his wildly popular multi-cam work, veteran writer/producer Chuck Lorre stepped behind the camera for the first time to tell the story of Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas), an acting teacher really feeling his age after a friend’s passing. With a comedic touch that’s far more subtle than Two and a Half Men, Lorre, Douglas, and co-star Alan Arkin craft a surprisingly touching rumination on getting older, especially how it means saying goodbye to loved ones as well as dreams along the way. — L.S.M.
41. Blown Away
Netflix’s glass-blowing reality competition show Blown Away is undoubtedly the first of its kind — while Netflix’s model allows for traditional reality competition shows to exist as alternatives to the usual network-oriented ones, Blown Away is in an entirely different class. It’s a lot like The Great British Bake Off, especially considering its wholesome and supportive competition environment, but the physically grueling task of blowing glass is something for which many viewers have no reference point — and the resulting art pieces created from eight hours in a hot shop are nothing short of astounding and deeply inspired. — P.R.
40. One Day at a Time
The progressive TV series reboot is something of a mixed bag, but for every nu-Gossip Girl, there’s something as warm, inviting, and refreshing as Gloria Calderón Kellett’s spirited update of the classic Norman Lear sitcom, this time about a Puerto Rican family trying to get by in Miami. It was that rarest of multi-cam sitcoms — funny without being smarmy, organically political when it needed to be, and, well… Rita Moreno. Say no more. — C.W.
39. The Get Down
A retelling of hip-hop’s origins that never feels rushed to leave the bright lights of New York’s bustling dance halls thanks to creator Baz Luhrmann’s hyper-stylized portrayal of Bronx culture in the 1970s. This remarkable one-and-done season somehow let the record skip on its stellar cast featuring Justice Smith, Jaden Smith, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Shameik Moore. — B. Kress
38. Lady Dynamite
This delightful two-season comedy satirizes conventional sitcoms tropes while implementing the sort of unfiltered zaniness found in numerous Adult Swim titles. Naturally, that’s par for the course, considering the surrealist self-deprecation of star Maria Bamford’s stand-up comedy. Strengthened by several lovably bizarre side characters, Lady Dynamite is essentially an amusingly relatable fever dream. — J.B.
37. Big Mouth
Like many adult animated programs, Big Mouth is deceptively sophomoric because its explicit crudeness sometimes masks its thoughtful earnestness. Indeed, the plights of puberty that the main children — and their hormone monsters — go through are as hilariously vulgar as they are heart-warmingly honest. Just don’t let your kids watch it! — J.B.
This Spanish teen drama became an international hit because, well, horny teens doing murder is irresistible in any language. Elite is just as compelling as any American teen soap, with an incredibly charming cast, no shortage of surprises and twists, and enough intrigue to fuel four seasons, with a fifth on the way. — L.S.M.
35. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
Can a dystopia be adorable? This DreamWorks animated series proves the answer is yes, presenting a 23rd century where mutated animals, or “mutes,” have risen up and forced humans to live in underground burrows. With eye-popping neon colors, creative monster designs, and a scrappy cast of kids surviving on the surface, make Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts into a surprisingly charming apocalypse. — A.S.
34. The Haunting of Bly Manor
Mike Flanagan’s follow-up to Hill House is arguably better. Based on a few Henry James stories, it retains several actors from its predecessor yet veers closer to Victorian romantic drama. It’s all excellent, though, using both literal and figurative ghosts to yield plenty of terrifying happenings and heartrending twists. — J.B.
33. Song Exploder
The podcast-turned-Netflix docuseries Song Exploder offers some remarkable looks at how the biggest artists created some of their biggest singles. Hrishikesh Hirway is always a thoughtful and engaging podcast host, but on the Netflix version, Hirway and the Song Exploder team find ways to incorporate intimate on-camera interviews, various guests and band members, and actual footage of artists writing and recording the song.
Not only do you get these one-of-a-kind behind-the-scenes details, you get to watch the artist truly connect with the words they wrote, the melodies that spun out of them, and the distance between their careers now and the humble origins of a massive song. It’s one thing to listen to Michael Stipe discuss “Losing My Religion” or Trent Reznor break down “Hurt” — but it’s an even more intimate and gratifying opportunity to see them react to their own genius in real time. — P.R.
32. Neo Yokio
Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig’s love letter to anime and big Toblerones was a masterclass in understated tones and uptown aesthetics, with Jaden Smith’s dry, flat delivery utilized perfectly for the preppy protagonist Kaz’s blasé confidence and melodramatic heartbreak. The titular setting’s ingeniously submerged downtown scene also might not be as distantly futuristic as it seems. — B. Kress
31. Squid Game
It was the game of Red Light, Green Light heard around the world: Squid Game was 2021’s cultural phenomenon and became Netflix’s most-watched piece of content ever. The bloody, unflinching commentary on capitalism had viewers glued to the screen despite the stomach-churning violence, thanks to a combination of incredible central performances (including a breakout moment for Jung Ho-yeon), frighteningly enchanting production design, a tense score, and a plot nearly impossible to pause.
In the big picture, Squid Game also introduced many viewers to the caliber of content coming out of South Korea, offering a doorway for users to dig into more programs beyond their native languages. A second season is coming — what revelations are to follow? — M.S.
Joe Swanberg’s mumblecore ode to Chicago covered a lot of ground in its three short seasons on Netflix, charting the challenges of modern love through a variety of lenses spanning age, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. There are open marriages, craft-brew bromances, middle-aged women looking down the barrel of perpetual singledom. And at the center of it all is the City of Broad Shoulders, captured in all its imperfect glory. — C.W.
29. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is the reboot that we didn’t know we needed: Based on the original world and characters of Michael Showalter and David Wain’s 2001 cult classic, Netflix’s eight-episode mini series is much more refined — and even more memorable — than the original film. As always with Showalter and Wain, their performative, heavily satirical edge when spoofing every genre possible creates a comedic formula like no other. — P.R.
A true story of an orthodox Jewish woman leaving her community, Unorthodox is at once tense and joyful. The fish-out-of-water story is propelled by Shira Haas’ incredibly engaging performance, providing a sound emotional core and a natural sense of spiritual progression for the entirety of the mini-series. As a result, Unorthodox is one of the most emotionally complex, binge-worthy true stories of the past few years. — J.K.
27. Tuca & Bertie
A spiritual spinoff of BoJack Horseman that quickly went its own way, the show charts millennial malaise through the waters of an animated animal-led city, and the two avian besties (Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong) trying to muddle through. Its rescue by Adult Swim after a swift one-season cancelation is a boon to us all, allowing showrunner Lisa Hanawalt another chance to let her characters explore emotional and interpersonal wounds every late-twentysomething can relate to, from moving in with your boyfriend for the first time to grappling with career anxiety. (Problems even birds face.) — C.W.
26. The OA
Ask anyone who’s seen The OA to explain the plot of The OA and you’ll soon realize the plot of The OA isn’t really the point of The OA. It’s more about the emotional journey that Brit Marling, the show’s co-creator and star, takes the viewer on across two gripping, occasionally inscrutable seasons.
With a stellar supporting cast featuring Sharon Van Etten, Phyllis Smith, Ian Alexander, and Jason Isaacs, The OA touches upon themes of spirituality in ways that feel authentic, namely because certainty — coherent answers about where exactly this is all headed for example — isn’t necessary to keep the faith. — Spencer Dukoff
25. Money Heist
This Spanish drama, created by Álex Pina, might be one of the greatest heist series ever made. The five seasons of Money Heist (or as it was known originally, La casa de papel) track the execution and aftermath of not one but two epic-scale feats of thievery, committed by an unconventional team of misfits brought together by The Professor (Álex Pina). Lots of secrets are revealed and lots of betrayals unfold as “Tokyo” (Úrsula Corberó) and her fellow robbers execute the Professor’s elaborate schemes, culminating in an ending that was as happy as it was full of surprises. — L.S.M.
24. The Queen’s Gambit
Developed from Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name, The Queen’s Gambit is centered around child prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), who arrives as an orphan at the Methuen Home for Girls after the tragic death of her mother. The series follows Harmon as she struggles with addiction, copes with her genius, and grows in her womanhood through the intellectual game of chess. — O.J.
23. The Umbrella Academy
Netflix’s adaptation of graphic novels written by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way hit it out of the park. The series is strange in all the best ways — ok, except for whatever is going on between Allison and Luther, maybe — and the chaotic, colorful world of the Hargreeves family is overall a blast.
Aidan Gallagher is particularly delightful as the nearly unhinged Number Five, while Elliot Page, Robert Sheehan, and Justin H. Min pull at the heartstrings. Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy took things in a different direction from Season 1, and the cliffhanger ending has things teed up for a completely bonkers third chapter. — M.S.
For four seasons, we’ve watched the Byrdes’ suspenseful-filled trek from Chicago to the Ozarks after a money-laundering scheme goes awry. Amidst opposition from all sides — Mexican drug cartels, local criminals, and the Kansas City Mafia — they still managed to survive and changed the world’s perception of the “normal” suburban family. — O.J.
The Matrix Resurrections may have been a Matrix sequel on paper, but in spirit, it felt more like a follow-up to the Wachowskis’ genre-hopping, gone-too-soon Netflix experiment. Following eight people around the world who find themselves at the center of a psychic cluster, sharing thoughts and feelings and abilities (and orgasms!), it’s a beautiful ode to connectivity, queerness, and freedom that was too open-hearted for this world. — C.W.
20. Chef’s Table
Chef’s Table, one of Netflix’s first original documentary series, remains one of their best. More than just food porn, the show is an in-depth look at some of the world’s most genius (and at times unhinged — who can forget Blue Hill’s Dan Barber breeding his own vegetables?) chefs. At times, these culinary trailblazers’ stories are both better and stranger than fiction.
Dark childhoods, massive breakthroughs, tales of overcoming poverty and abuse and medical ordeals (Grant Achatz’s battle with tongue cancer was a particularly specific horror) — this show has it all. And of course, the food cinematography is just unparalleled. — Gab Ginsberg
19. Orange Is the New Black
In 2016, Orange is the New Black was Netflix’s most-watched original series, and for good reason. Based on a memoir by Piper Kerman, the show follows a young woman who is sentenced to a year in minimum-security federal prison for a crime she committed years ago. There, she reconnects with an old flame, and makes her fair share of friends and enemies (and frenemies).
During its run, the series earned an impressive collection of accolades, including a heap of Emmys and Golden Globes, and while Netflix has produced many original series since then, it’s likely the case that OITNB still holds the title of most binge-able. — A.A.
18. Grace and Frankie
It would be sacrilege to say that Grace, Frankie, and their ex-husbands, who are now each other’s husbands, are the modern-day Golden Girls. But Netflix’s longest-running scripted series (the upcoming finale will bring them one episode over Orange Is The New Black’s total) features TV’s funniest quartet of pugnacious senior citizens since Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia went off the air. — A.S.
17. Saturday Morning All Star Hits!
Life was so much simpler when we were able to wake up on Saturday morning and turn on our favorite cartoons. That cherished memory, and all the weird aspects of it that we somehow forgot as adults, were condensed into Saturday Morning All Star Hits!, a humorous and slightly disturbing nostalgia trip courtesy of Brigsby Bear’s Kyle Mooney and Dave McCary.
The show is chock full of absurd sadness that Mooney’s various characters convey damn near flawlessly. Much like the cartoons that inspired it, Saturday Morning All Star Hits! is more than it seems on the surface. — E.B.
The first episode of Unbelievable is so harrowing that it comes as a massive relief in the second episode when two detectives, played by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, start collecting clues on an unusual serial rapist case. The friction between the detectives’ differing methods and personalities drives the story, but you can feel them inching closer and closer to justice, apart and then together. — A.S.
15. The Crown
Since it premiered on Netflix in 2016, The Crown has maintained a spot as one of the most riveting prestige dramas available to stream. Covering the epic reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the show is excellent fodder both for history buffs and people who simply want to indulge in a rocking-good story.
The show’s all-star cast has so far included Claire Foy and Olivia Colman playing Elizabeth, Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies playing Prince Philip, and Vanessa Kirby and Helena Bonham Carter playing Princess Margaret — with yet more great names to come in the final two seasons, including Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth Debecki, and Dominic West. — A.A.
14. Dear White People
Over the course of four seasons, creator Justin Simien alongside showrunners Yvette Lee Bowser (Seasons 1-3) and Jaclyn Moore (Season 4) expanded upon his 2014 breakout film of the same name for an unconventional comedy that took on race relations on college campuses with wit and charm.
Between the compelling performances by an ensemble including Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton, Antoinette Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson, and Marque Richardson, some fearless experimentation with genre, and each season’s show-within-a-show parodies that took on Scandal, The Handmaid’s Tale, and more, Dear White People was in a class of its own. — L.S.M.
13. Alias Grace
Director Mary Harron and writer Sarah Polley worked together to adapt Margaret Atwood’s bestselling historical novel about an infamous 1843 double murder which led to the lifelong imprisonment of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) — a true Canadian dream team of talent. Harron has a fine eye for both period details and violent mayhem, and Polley’s scripts highlight the story’s most important themes as Grace’s life story rolls out on screen. If you’re an American Psycho fan and you haven’t watched Alias Grace, well, you’re missing out. — L.S.M.
12. Russian Doll
In the decades since 1993’s Groundhog Day, stories of a character living the same day over and over have become their own genre, but Russian Doll stands tall as the best time-loop tale since the Bill Murray classic. It keeps you guessing, especially when Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) realizes someone else is reliving the same day, but her strange, hilarious metaphysical journey doesn’t have one simple destination. — A.S.
11. American Vandal
It’s honestly astonishing that streaming services kept cranking out one formulaic true-crime docuseries after another, after American Vandal spent two genius seasons ripping apart the genre with side-splitting precision. A pitch-perfect mockumentary with its finger on the pulse of not just our current glut of true crime, but of the way social media has complicated the politics of adolescence. — C.W.
10. The Baby-Sitters Club
Some might be surprised to see this modern-day adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s classic book series for girls ranked so highly on this list. Those people probably didn’t actually watch showrunner Rachel Shukert’s brilliant take on a group of plucky young women who decide to work together to babysit the kids of their small Connecticut town.
Carefully crafted for a younger audience, The Baby-Sitters Club doesn’t just feature themes of inclusion and teamwork, but takes on issues faced by people of all ages, including love, grief, gender identity, blended families, social injustice, and so much more.
Never pandering, always positive in spirit, the BSC girls (an incredibly well-cast ensemble including Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Xochitl Gomez, Vivian Watson, Kyndra Sanchez, and Anais Lee) captured what it means to be 13 years old in today’s world, in ways that felt both authentic and also universal.
Its cancellation after two seasons stings (especially because today’s pop culture isn’t exactly bursting with options for teen girls). But Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn wouldn’t want us to mourn — they’d want us to appreciate what we did get. (While maybe also petitioning Netflix for a wrap-up feature film.) — L.S.M.
09. Master of None
Aziz Ansari’s wistful, artful sitcom was a continuation of the Louie mold, telling sensitive, semi-autobiographical stories centered around its creator’s anxieties. Then, like its inspiration, it fell victim to the complicated fallout from the cancellation of its central figure (though Ansari’s fall from grace wasn’t quite as comprehensive as C.K.’s).
But the show’s probing power lingers on anyway, from its stylistic Criterion-porn odes to films like The Bicycle Thieves and Scenes From a Marriage to its bittersweet look at the complications of life, dating, and identity filtered through Ansari’s specific concerns as a second-generation Indian immigrant. Master of None is a show about the ways we try to honor our wants and needs while respecting the expectations others place on us — a premise that the Ansari-directed Moments of Love season explores just as beautifully with him only on one side of the camera. — C.W.
08. Queer Eye
Updating the 2000s-era Queer Eye for the Straight Guy for the Trump era was always going to be a dicey proposition: After all, the public’s grasp on sexuality had long evolved past the point where gay men were seen as swishy novelties. But Netflix’s revamp of the series made some smart adjustments to the formula: take the focus off of just straight guys, make it less judgy and more self-help-y, and assemble an electric new Fab Five that audiences will obsess over (and turn into brand-happy superstars of their own; hi, JVN!).
Say what you will about the show’s occasional blind spots (the Hillbilly Elegy-level gawking at poor white trash was a problem for a while), but the home/hair/wardrobe makeovers — and Karamo’s weighty counseling of each episode’s “hero” — remain absolute obsessions each time. — C.W.
The criminal profilers behind the FBI’s nascent Behavioral Science Unit become character studies of their own in David Fincher’s gripping psychological thriller Mindhunter. Jonathan Groff gives a career-defining performance as the obsessive and antisocial special agent Holden Ford, who so often feels like a mirror to the serial killers he interviews.
The comparisons never come off as heavy-handed; instead, they’re coiled around Fincher’s strained tension and dulled by his signature murky gaze. Its second season brings in splashier subjects like Charles Manson and the Son of Sam David Berkowitz, but nothing quite tops Cameron Britton’s eerie, Emmy-nominated performance as Ed Kemper. — B. Kress
GLOW is not the true story of the real Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling, which became a cult TV hit in the late ‘80s. But the fictionalized sitcom about a different scrappy set of female wrestlers became something of an MTV-era A League of Their Own.
The story of two friends who fall out when Ruth (Alison Brie) sleeps with Debbie’s (Betty Gilpin) husband, and then becoming archenemies in the ring, is at the center of GLOW, but a great supporting ensemble frequently steals the spotlight. Netflix’s renewal for a fourth and final season, which was reversed after COVID-19 hit, leaves GLOW’s unresolved story as one of TV’s most frustrating pandemic casualties. — A.S.
05. When They See Us
When They See Us is an account of the lives of five young teenagers — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — after the events surrounding the night of April 19, 1989. The four-part limited series begins with moments of brief optimism, highlighting the innocence of youth, and underrated beauty of New York’s inner city. But then, it tells the story of how they came to be arrested, wrongfully convicted, and sentenced for the rape and beating of Trisha Meili.
Ava DuVernay’s impeccable direction, along with powerful performances from the cast, made When They See Us unforgettable viewing as it allowed viewers to witness the horrific consequences of prejudicial thinking, and the lifelong effects of having your childhood stripped away far too soon. — O.J.
04. Stranger Things
More than any other Netflix show, Stranger Things — which debuted back in July 2016 — has become a pop culture phenomenon, with video games, books, comics, podcasts, and even a theme park attraction bolstering its reign. (Plus, its helped reignite or launch the careers of various members of the cast, as well as influence the look and feel of newer films like Summer of 84 and last year’s Fear Street trilogy.)
Obviously, all of that is well-deserved, as the series expertly engenders 1980s nostalgia amidst mixing the childhood wonder and quirkiness of Steven Spielberg with the imaginative sci-fi and horror of John Carpenter, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.
Virtually every aspect of the series — from its storytelling and characterizations to its soundtracks and special effects — has been consistently terrific across its three seasons, and if the trailers are any indication, Season 4 will likely be the darkest and most affective chapter yet. — J.B.
03. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
At the start of 2015, the stakes were high for Tina Fey. All eyes were on the actor, writer and bona fide comedy icon to follow up 30 Rock (which famously wasn’t watched by very many people, but was almost universally beloved by critics and obviously won a ton of Emmys). Her new show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, found a home at Netflix and would thus premiere on a much bigger stage.
Co-created by Fey and her longtime creative partner Robert Carlock, Kimmy Schmidt follows the titular character (The Office’s Ellie Kemper) as she’s rescued from an underground bunker, where she and several other women were held captive by the evil Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (the incredible Jon Hamm). Kimmy moves to New York City to reacclimate to society, but most importantly, reclaim her agency over her life. A kooky cast of characters (though none more so than the inimitable Kimmy herself) help — and hinder — her along the way.
Honestly, this entry in our list could be entirely dedicated to Titus Andromedon (portrayed by the hilarious and golden-voiced Tituss Burgess), or else used to draw the parallels between the 30 Rock universe (Jane Krakowski is there!), or told simply through GIF-ed quotes that will live on in the zeitgeist (“Hashbrown, no filter”). And if you’ve never seen the show (???) — and are still on the fence about whether to give it a try — skip the trailers and GIF listicles and clips and just watch “Peeno Noir.”
Also, Dong and Kimmy should have ended up together, and it’s a crime that they wrote him off. — G.G.
02. I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson
There is no such thing as a casual I Think You Should Leave fan. You either “just don’t get it” or you’re all in, watching it compulsively and memorizing every line until you’ve slowly but surely geared your entire personality around the show. Tim Robinson is an agent of chaos, taking the joke three or four steps too far until you’ve totally forgotten the initial premise of the sketch.
On paper, the bits don’t necessarily sound that funny. What if there was a channel called Corncob TV that aired a show called ‘Coffin Flop’ that was “just hours and hours of footage of real people falling out of coffins at funerals?” What if a man was ridiculed for having “no good car ideas” during a focus group? What if a college professor reunited with his former students and decided to steal one of their burgers?
But it all works because of Robinson and his rotating cast of collaborators’ commitment to unbridled absurdity, gleefully plumbing the depths of rage and profanity and anti-humor all in the name of an uncomfortable-yet-satisfying laugh. What’s more, it’s a sketch tailor-made for an era of content consumption where everything is instantly meme-ifiable. Tim in a hot dog suit saying “We’re all trying to find the guy who did this” after crashing his hot dog car into a clothing store? That’s the universal reply to any lack of self-awareness online.
And there’s no better stand-in for the existential heaviness of everything than Karl Havoc — a host of a hidden-camera prank show with “too much shit” on him — lamenting, “I don’t even want to be around anymore.” In that way, I Think You Should Leave transcends the realm of mere inside jokes, creating a bizarro lexicon that extends its influence far beyond the context of the show itself. — S.D.
01. BoJack Horseman
Over the course of six seasons, creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg achieved something truly special with BoJack Horseman, a show which might sound like the most absurdly niche program ever made on paper, but transcended those conceptions with writing that drew out the story’s most universal themes.
Will Arnett provides the voice of the titular horse who is also a man, a former sitcom star who, when we meet him at the beginning of Season 1, is just starting to confront the facts of his life as he agrees to work with a ghostwriter named Diane (Alison Brie) on a memoir. Lisa Hanawalt (who would go on to create Tuca and Bertie, seen earlier on this list) designed the show’s rich visual tapestry, drawing upon the concept of a world where human-humans live alongside anthropomorphic animal, one which proves to be an incredibly rich well of pun opportunities.
But that’s only one of the many levels on which BoJack operates, as the show also serves as an incredibly incisive Hollywood satire… and also, somehow simultaneously, a heartbreaking exploration of what it means to be a decent person in a less-than-decent world.
While the show is packed with ingenious sight gags and one-liners, BoJack is one of TV’s most flawed protagonists to date — addicted to everything, defensive to a fault, and forever struggling with doubts and insecurities. The show’s unflinching depiction of his vacillating well-being, through career successes and relapse-induced downward spirals, makes it at times challenging viewing. But beneath all of the toughest moments and hilarious one-liners is a raw and aching heart, one that beats with a rhythm we can all recognize in ourselves. — L.S.M.