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The Best TV Shows On Netflix



Summer television schedules can leave much to be desired. If you’ve already caught up with last season’s best television, and you’re still staring at a mostly empty DVR, consider digging a little deeper into some past beloved series. Beat the heat this holiday weekend by pouring yourself a mojito and spending a little time in air conditioning binge-watching the best TV shows Netflix has to offer. 

We’ve combed Netflix’s massive library, and here are our top picks to suit any mood.


If you’re looking for ...

 ... a workplace comedy with brains: Parks and Recreation


This 30-minute ensemble comedy starring Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) and Adam Scott (Party Down) delivers big laughs alongside plenty of heart. For a show about politics, Parks and Rec manages to avoid snark and cynicism. Instead, the cast -- which also includes Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe, Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza -- wrings jokes out of the lovable quirks embedded in their characters.

Alternative: Tina Fey’s 30 Rock reinvented the genre with a legendary sitcom that’s spawned some of the most memorable characters and gags ever on television.


... teenage drama with a twist: Teen Wolf


If you’re seeking the most shirtless hunks per capita, look no further.  Sure, it’s True Blood for One Direction fans, but just because the supernatural drama is easy on the eyes, doesn’t mean it’s totally torture for your brain. The writing here is sharp enough to make you forget you’re watching a show from MTV.

Alternative: Pretty Little Liars offers mystery that’s one part Jawbreaker and one part Degrassi: The Next Generation.


... something to blow your mind: Lost


Often imitated, but yet to be replaced, this serialized drama succeeded where so many of derivative shows failed. (R.I.P. FlashForward, The Event, Terra Nova.) Not only did the series break ground in delivering an epic, sprawling, sci-fi mystery, but it also paved the way for so many other series to advocate for the opportunity to negotiate a set end-date so that they can adequately tell their stories. Fans are still debating the merits of the series’ ending, so there’s no time like the present to form your opinion.

Alternative: Get weird with David Lynch’s classic Twin Peaks.


... handsome space crusaders: Torchwood


A spin-off of Doctor Who, this series follows Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) as he and his team of alien-hunters complete their work for the Torchwood Institute. Aimed at a more adult audience, the show has a darker tone, as well as a deeper exploration of Captain Jack’s bisexuality.

Alternative: Despite being kid-friendly, the long-running Doctor Who successfully executes some of the most rich, complex storytelling across any genre.


 ... a reason to laugh until it hurts: Portlandia


Comedy duo Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (guitarist for legendary punk back Sleater-Kinney) deliver biting satire that cut straight to the bone of contemporary hipster culture. With sights sharply set on the citizens of Portland, Oregon, their commentary could easily be applied to Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Austin and many other hip locales.

Alternative: The recently released, Netflix-exclusive fourth season of Arrested Development starts out slow, but reveals its brilliance as viewers hit the halfway point. It’s well worth sticking with.


... a nostalgic teenage experience: Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and geeks

It helped launch the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps and Judd Apatow. This cult favorite, canceled before its first season even finished airing, follows two groups of high school students in the year 1980. 

Alternative: Instead of a show from the 2000s about growing up in the ‘80s, kick it old-school with a show from the ‘80s about growing up in the ‘60s, The Wonder Years


... current critical darlings: Mad Men


We’ve made no secret about our love for AMC’s dense drama. As the show gets ready to embark on its final season in 2014, start getting up to speed on what many believe to be the best television shows of all time. The series first two seasons are particularly slow burns, but it’s easy to get immersed in the gorgeous set design and costumes.

Alternative: Catch up with Breaking Bad before it launches the second half of its final season this August.


... an animated show for grown-ups: Archer


It looks like a Roy Lichtenstein painting come to life, and it sounds like a naughty version of Get Smart. This spy comedy has very modern sensibilities under a cool, retro aesthetic. Not to mention it’s got Arrested Development’s brilliant Jessica Walter (as Mallory Archer) doing an even more over-the-top take on a booze-soaked, overbearing mother. Plus, there’s great voice work done by Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer and Chris Parnell.

Alternative: Bob’s Burgers showcases so many hilarious performances from outstanding comedians (John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Sarah Silverman, and still more) it deserves its own Earwolf podcast.

What are your favorite shows on Netflix to marathon?

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  1. Make sure to check out Jane Campion's fantastic miniseries TOP OF THE LAKE starring Elisabeth Moss as well!

    Posted by: Josh | Jul 3, 2013 11:05:17 AM

  2. Wow! That is a pretty good list! I assume the worst when it comes to favorite TV shows. Kudos for Freaks and Lost, I bet lots of people will have crap to say about their additions.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Jul 3, 2013 11:08:34 AM

  3. Wow! That is a pretty good list! I assume the worst when it comes to favorite TV shows. Kudos for Freaks and Lost, I bet lots of people will have crap to say about their additions.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Jul 3, 2013 11:08:34 AM

  4. While I love Archer and H. Jon Benjamin, I just don't get Bob's Burgers. I would suggest the Venture Bros as an alternate. Per capita, it has the most sexually-liberated cast currently on TV.

    Posted by: Bollux | Jul 3, 2013 11:29:42 AM

  5. Hemlock Grove!! Werewolves, pretty mens, ‎Lili Taylor, & Famke Janssen in killer outfits!

    Posted by: D | Jul 3, 2013 11:39:13 AM

  6. Shameless from the UK! F***king brilliant!

    Posted by: samuel | Jul 3, 2013 11:42:03 AM

  7. @Bollux: I think Bob's Burgers is an acquired taste. I was resistant to it in the early episodes, but now I absolutely adore that show. But, I do agree, Venture Bros is an excellent watch, but I think Netflix only has the first season. :(

    Posted by: DLRnATL | Jul 3, 2013 11:44:35 AM

  8. How do you mention both Archer and Bob's Burgers, mention nearly all the voice talent from both shows, and somehow manage to not mention H. Jon Benjamin?

    Posted by: CGerard | Jul 3, 2013 11:48:20 AM

  9. I second Shameless from the UK!

    Posted by: Keppler | Jul 3, 2013 11:48:57 AM

  10. Hemlock Grove is possibly the worst thing ever--poor acting, directing, writing, and cinematography. How some actual actors ended up on the show is beyond me; they way they are just as bad as the "newer" actors, I'm guessing lobotomy.

    Posted by: Unruly | Jul 3, 2013 11:57:37 AM

  11. I watched the first 5 episodes of "Mad Men" on Netflix. I have never watched a show that was this slow and dull. The characters looked like they were moving in a fog. And, there was way too much smoking. I know, the cigarettes are electronic, but still.

    Posted by: Jellybean | Jul 3, 2013 12:21:42 PM

  12. Definitely check out Top Of The Lake... and House of Cards is outstanding as well.

    Posted by: kaccompany | Jul 3, 2013 12:47:32 PM

  13. Sherlock is excellent, although each episode is more like a short movie than a television episode. I find the longer, sustained story lines to be very compelling.
    On a much more guilty pleasure sort of tack, Supernatural is dope, and the Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki will never cease to be uncomfortably attractive.

    Posted by: Ben | Jul 3, 2013 1:05:12 PM

  14. Archer is my favorite show on TV. House of Cards is excellent as well, though be sure to catch the original British version from 1990.

    Posted by: Gary | Jul 3, 2013 1:09:32 PM

  15. no mention of "breaking bad?"

    Posted by: alguien | Jul 3, 2013 2:40:43 PM

  16. I'm started to binge watch "The Shield" recently on Netflix. I missed it while it was on air, and I'm finding it as good as everyone said it was.

    And if you don't have Netflix, the free version Hulu has some great shows too. My fav, the UK show "Misfits." Really low budget, fun, Sci-fi action series.

    Posted by: scrufff | Jul 3, 2013 2:47:49 PM

  17. Being Human - UK and US versions - they are both great!

    Posted by: JD | Jul 3, 2013 3:20:54 PM

  18. I LOVE Teen Wolf and was even surprised when my Mum said "You're father and I love that show". LOL. Alas it's moved from free-to-air here to pay TV, so now we just buy the DVDs of the seasons. Same with Pretty Little Liars.

    Posted by: Andrew | Jul 3, 2013 3:50:44 PM

  19. Teen Wolf is also very gay positive. The top jock's best friend is openly gay.

    Posted by: JJ | Jul 3, 2013 5:06:21 PM

  20. MISFITS on Hulu is hilarious.

    Posted by: Brian | Jul 3, 2013 5:16:50 PM

  21. forgot "Breaking Bad."

    Do check out "The Fall" with Gillian Anderson and that yummy Jamie Dornan and that tall glass o' water Ben Peel.

    Also, while you're on Netflix..."House of Cards." Corey Stoll is so cute and talented.

    Posted by: Martin Haro | Jul 3, 2013 7:12:15 PM

  22. You forgot: "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil"!!!!!

    Posted by: Le_Tigre | Jul 3, 2013 7:20:31 PM

  23. As others have already mentioned: The UK version of SHAMELESS is amazing.

    Posted by: Chicklets | Jul 3, 2013 8:29:10 PM

  24. Shameless, UK version - right on Samuel and Keppler! Need to revive this show or get them to agree to a movie wherein all the cast come back... miss Sheila? I sure as hell do!

    Posted by: Paul | Jul 3, 2013 11:34:07 PM

  25. Thanks for the recommendations. I enjoyed Copper - handsome rugged men, prostitutes, politicians, business tycoons along with an anti slavery storyline. Diverse characters and historically intriguing. Good wet dream material too.

    Posted by: Mike A | Jul 4, 2013 12:15:28 PM

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