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Best Netflix series: 30 amazing TV series worth binge watching on Netflix UK

TechRadar logo TechRadar 15/06/2020 Samuel Roberts
a person looking at the camera: Best Netflix shows © Provided by TechRadar Best Netflix shows

Looking for the best Netflix shows? Netflix UK has a number of the best TV series to stream right now, with arguably better shows than you'll find on its US cousin. This wasn't always the case, but in recent years, the combination of big Netflix originals and massive licensed shows (Friends, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Always Sunny) have given it the edge. 

This is the best streaming service in the UK for TV, on balance, and below we've captured the best shows on Netflix so you know what to watch. Sure, it won't have The Mandalorian season 2 or The Boys season 2 this year, but plenty more highlights are coming in 2020. 

We update this list every week with new entries to make sure you've always got a bunch of cool stuff to add to your watch list. The best series on Netflix include The Witcher, Rick and Morty, Friends and much more. Below, you'll find a mix of comedies, dramas, documentaries and reality TV shows.

Ready? These are the best shows on Netflix.

Rick and Morty

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Rick and Morty's popularity in the UK exploded because it was so easy to access on Netflix, and as of this week, season 4 will be available to stream. It's one of the best Netflix series if you're after an adult animated sitcom with ambitious sci-fi storytelling and a lot of laughs. It's got a lot in common with Futurama, but it's attracted the kind of passionate following that show never had, and 60 more episodes are planned in future, starting with Rick and Morty season 5.

Seasons on Netflix: 4 (from 18 June)

Friends

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We could pretend there's no joy in watching Friends in 2020, but there is, even if all of the op-eds calling out its badly-aged jokes about sexuality, relationships and the very existence of Ross are completely on the money. The fact is, Friends is still the ultimate go-to comedy for a lot of people, a reminder of a time when everyone was watching the same damn thing, and it's still extremely easy to binge. 

You can burn through eight episodes on a lazy Saturday morning without realising any time has passed. So, we have to admit it is one of the best Netflix series, even if the last season is terrible, and the show wastes about 2.5 years steering us into a Joey/Rachel dead end only to have no real payoff. 

Seasons on Netflix: 10

Schitt's Creek

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The Rose family used to be fabulously wealthy. But, once they lose everything, they have to rough it in a town called Schitt's Creek, a place they once bought for a laugh. Available on Pop TV with a cable subscription in the US, this is one of very few sitcoms that gets funnier and better with each series on UK Netflix. Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, and Daniel Levy feature in an impressive cast of characters that experience true, emotional arcs as the show progresses, making Schitt's Creek the perfect next binge for those who've exhausted the likes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Always Sunny, and The Good Place. 

Seasons on Netflix: 6

White Lines

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After the body of her missing brother, Axel Collins, turns up in a washed up desert in Spain years after he went missing, Zoe (Laura Haddock) heads to Ibiza to find out what happened to him, and gets drawn into the island's underworld. Meanwhile, we see Axel's story in flashback, as the threads converge. This Netflix drama from Money Heist creator Álex Pina is surprisingly soapy, a dual-language sex, drugs and nonsense drama that's nonetheless entertaining. White Lines is seemingly very popular in the UK, where Ibiza is a favourite holiday destination for a certain generation. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1

The Crown

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Is The Crown Netflix's crowning glory? It could be, as a sumptuous look at one of the world's most famous families: the Royal family. Charting the early years of the relationship between the Queen (Claire Foy) and Prince Philip (former Doctor Who Matt Smith), the show was written by Peter Morgan and, at £100 million for its first two seasons, is one of the most expensive TV series ever made. Which means there's enough pomp and ceremony to keep those pining for a Downton Abbey replacement happy.

Season 3 recast the Queen as Olivia Colman and Prince Philip as Tobias Menzies. It's as engrossing as ever, though an end date of season 5 has been set for one of the best Netflix UK shows. That season will feature Imelda Staunton as the Queen. 

Seasons on Netflix: 3

Black Mirror

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Five seasons of Black Mirror are available now. This tech-focused sci-fi anthology show is known for being incredibly dark, though occasional episodes throw some levity in. After two series, the show moved from Channel 4 to Netflix, which came with a big infusion of budget and even Hollywood stars. 

Slight repetition begins to set in with later seasons and your mileage for downbeat , but it's still one of the best Netflix shows, particularly if you like anthology series like Tales of the Unexpected or The Twilight Zone. Check out Bandersnatch, too, an interactive episode containing over two hours of footage. 

Seasons on Netflix: 5 (and Bandersnatch)

Better Call Saul

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So how do you follow up on one of the biggest shows in history? This is how. Better Call Saul is a prequel masterclass to the famous Breaking Bad, filling in the murky backstory of the garishly-dressed hustler lawyer, Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, and gradually crafting characters engrossing, unpredictable, and engaging enough to justify its existence in its own right.

This tale of Jimmy's descent into the criminal, drug-infested circles of Albuquerque takes place eight years before that of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, and is often slower and less action-packed than Breaking Bad. However, the rewards for sticking with it will be profound as we head into the final chapter, Better Call Saul season 6.

Seasons on Netflix: 5

The Last Dance

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The best thing about The Last Dance, a documentary series following the Chicago Bulls on their historic 97/98 NBA season, is that you don't need to know anything about basketball to watch it. The worst is that it's hard to like the players and staff at its centre.

That said, it's engrossing for basketball fans and complete newcomers alike as it charts the meteoric rise of the one of the best and most famous basketball stars to ever play: Michael Jordan. Whether you're a fan of the game or not, watching the man play is mesmerising, even if he's not much of a charmer behind the scenes.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Life on Mars

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After being hit by a car in present day London, police officer Sam Tyler wakes up in Manchester in 1973, where he's paired with the brutish DCI Gene Hunt. Sam has to figure out how and why he traveled back in time, while solving a mystery from his parents' past. 

While the second series doesn't hit the highs of the first in terms of how it explores themes of class and identity in the '70s, Life on Mars is a great cop show, and it remains one of the best British genre shows of the past two decades. Its '80s-set spin-off, Ashes to Ashes, also featuring the Gene Hunt character, has been added to Netflix too. They're both well worth watching, especially with reports of a follow-up series on the way. 

Series on Netflix: 2

Unorthodox

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This moving four-part story takes us to a world that'll be unfamiliar to many of us: the culture of Satmar Hasidic Jews. Loosely based on the 2012 memoir of the same name by Deborah Feldman, Unorthodox follows Esther, a woman who escapes from an arranged marriage in Brooklyn to start a new life in Berlin with a group of bohemian musicians. 

While it has the action-packed cat-and-mouse feel of a thriller, Orthodox can be a challenging watch, and it asks worthy questions about religion and the way society treats women. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Community

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The NBC comedy favourite returns to Netflix UK after an extended absence. This sitcom about a community college study group starts as a more conventional show about its ramshackle educational setting, but reaches the next level when it starts experimenting with pop culture parodies and high-concept episodes.

If you're new to the show, keep watching until season 1's action extravaganza 'Modern Warfare', which firmly establishes Community's identity for later years. Some seasons are fantastic (2, 3 and 5), some are just quite good (1 and 6) and one is worth avoiding entirely (4). 

Seasons on Netflix: 6

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

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The newest Netflix sensation is a true crime documentary miniseries about the bizarre big cat scene that exists on the fringes in America. Primarily focused on Joe Exotic, the now-incarcerated owner of a big cat zoo in Oklahoma, it explores people's bizarre fascination with exotic animals, and the kinds of characters this scene attracts.

This documentary subtly and cleverly draws parallels between the personalities who collect and exhibit big cats in the US, and why their followers get involved in that business. What starts as a show about an eccentric wannabe celebrity escalates into darker and stranger territory before you know it. You need to watch this. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Locke and Key

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We waited patiently for a Netflix adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez' excellent comic, and it was worth it. Set in the unsettling house of horrors that is Keyhouse, three siblings move in after their dad's murder and discover magical keys that unlock mysterious powers. 

Locke and Key season 2 isn't guaranteed, but we're crossing our fingers for more creepy original stories to complement the adapted ones from the comic.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Sex Education

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Sex Education feels like a beautiful culmination of Netflix’s push for progressive and diverse programming. Set in the picturesque British countryside, Sex Education follows the misadventures of the students, faculty and parents of Moordale Secondary School as they navigate the turbulent waters of sexuality. The show has resonated deeply with fans thanks to its balance of heartwarming character work and informative approach to topical issues such as varied sexual identities, gendered power structures, family dynamics and so much more.

Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield lead a stellar cast of fresh faces in this unmissable deep dive into the various ways we express ourselves as sexual beings. Sex Education season 3 is on the way. 

Seasons on Netflix: 2

The Witcher

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The Witcher is the perfect fantasy drama to watch right now if you're still hurting over the end of Game of Thrones (whether that's because you miss watching it, or because you didn't like the ending). Based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski, this eight-episode first season introduces us to monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), witch Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) and Princess Cirilla of Cintra (Freya Allan), whose lives are destined to collide in a world at war. 

But really, the show's appeal lies in its monster-of-the-week episodes, where Geralt is tasked with slaying a fantasy creature of some kind, usually with a big twist that prevents each kill from being nice and straightforward. This show makes for easy viewing with the perfect star in Cavill and a great ensemble, and it's no surprise that The Witcher season 2 is on the way.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

The Umbrella Academy

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Based on the comic books written by My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy is Netflix's latest superhero original. 

After 43 babies are born to women who showed no signs of pregnancy, seven are adopted by billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who trains them to save the world using their powers. 

After the family becomes estranged, they are reunited once more when their father dies and are forced to come to terms with their past and the danger that lurks in their future. 

Fronted by Ellen Page, The Umbrella Academy is flamboyant, dark, and gratifyingly violent: all the ingredients you need for a great superhero series. The Umbrella Academy season 2 should be with us this year.

Seasons on Netflix: 1

Star Trek: Discovery

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Well, this series went to places we never thought it would. Set before the exploits of the Starship Enterprise, the show features a fair few characters from older Trek projects. But while the original series had shades of light, this is a much darker look at space exploration. 

Sonequa Martin-Green is great as the first officer who has a past intrinsically linked to a Star Trek character we know and love – although Discovery is clearly at its best when it's tackling new parts of Trek lore, as the weaker parts of season 2 proved. Star Trek Discovery season 3 is coming in 2020, too, presumably to Netflix UK as well.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

Top Boy

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Top Boy is a gritty story of two drug dealers in East London. If the name sounds familiar, it's because it's the third season of the series, which was cancelled by Channel 4 a whole six years ago. It took time, and the intervention of music superstar Drake, but we're grateful it finally made it back to our screens. Season 4 will arrive in 2020.

Season on Netflix: 1

Stranger Things

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Stranger Things is a brilliant homage to '80s pop culture. Leaning heavily on Spielberg, John Carpenter and Stephen King - so much King - the story revolves around a small town, a group of friends, a missing person and a dodgy science lab. Writing anything else would give away the myriad twists in a show that is full of brilliant creepy fun.

Season 4 of Stranger Things is already in the works, following a third season that was arguably the show's best yet.

Seasons on Netflix: 3

When They See Us

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Created by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, this hard-hitting drama follows the story of five teens - four African American men and one Hispanic - who were accused of attacking and raping a woman in New York in 1989. It's a gut-wrenching story that shines a light on systemic racism in the US.

Season on Netflix: 1

Russian Doll

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Orange Is The New Black's Natasha Lyonne stars in this dark comedy as Nadia, who keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party in a surreal time loop – much like Groundhog Day. 

With its cynical and witty examination of living and dying, Russian Doll switches rapidly between laugh-out-loud hilarity and devastating sadness – it's a must-watch, and one of the best Netflix shows to date. A second season is in the works. 

Seasons on Netflix: 1 

Bojack Horseman

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Yes, Bojack Horseman is hilarious. Yes, it’s the best thing Will Arnett has done since Arrested Development. And, yes, it should be the next thing you watch if you are into anthropomorphic comedy about a once great TV star who has fallen on hard times. It’s all of that, but it’s also a pretty accurate portrayal of depression and should be celebrated as such.

For those who are worried it may be too dark for them, fear not - there's loads of slapstick humour, word play, and stunning animation to keep everything balanced. The complete run is now available to stream. 

Seasons on Netflix: 6

Orange is the New Black

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Orange is the New Black has now ended its seven-season run, and it's one of the first Netflix Originals that put the streaming service on the map. This is a compelling women's prison drama with a fantastic ensemble cast, and while it's pretty funny in places, it naturally gets pretty dark given its subject matter. 

Seasons on Netflix: 7

Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad is must-watch TV and one of the reasons Netflix has risen to the popularity it has in the UK. Picking up the streaming rights to this show was a winning decision, especially when it risked being forgotten by UK broadcasters.

Breaking Bad is ostensibly about a high-school teacher with cancer who goes on to sell meth to pay for his hospital bills. It goes without saying, if you haven’t yet spent time with Walter White and Jesse, do so now! But, be warned, the show is as addictive as the stuff Walter is peddling. 

Fans of Breaking Bad probably already know that a Breaking Bad movie, called El Camino, has been released on Netflix. Technically not a TV show, we think it's more like a satisfying long final episode than a movie anyway. You'll also want to check out the spin-off Better Call Saul, mentioned above, which Netflix screens exclusively in the UK. 

Seasons on Netflix: 5 (and a movie)

The Good Place

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Comedy is in a good place right now and, funnily enough, The Good Place is a perfect example of that. Starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, this off-the-wall comedy focuses on a recently deceased woman who is sent to a heaven-like utopia called the Good Place completely by accident. In order to stay there she goes to any lengths to hide what a terrible person she was when living. 

The fourth season, now complete on Netflix UK, is sadly the last, but it gets a fitting finale, even if the show arguably peaked in its first year. A great cast, clever writing and an original concept make this a must-watch.

Seasons on Netflix: 4

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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Initially made on a shoestring budget, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's first season had a cult following, a kind of modern version of Seinfeld about an amoral group of friends who run a bar together. Then season 2 brought some big star power, with Danny De Vito joining for a 10-episode run that was extended because he loved it so much. 

He's still in the show that's now in its 14th season. The antics of Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney, the show's creator), Charlie (Charlie Kelly) and Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson) won't be for everyone - at its darkest the show's 'comedy' themes range from nazism to drug abuse - but stick with it and this deliciously depraved classic will reward you.

Its 14th season is now on Netflix UK, and Always Sunny shows no signs of going away. 

Seasons on Netflix: 14

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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Following the brilliant but immature NYPD detective Jake Peralta, this Golden Globe-winning series is a laugh-a-minute, with plenty of deadpan jokes, physical comedy, and crackpot characters. The jokes are arguably a little stronger in The Good Place, but hey, it's not a competition. 

With around 20 episodes per season Brooklyn Nine-Nine is ideal for binging, and the sixth season is now available to stream on Netflix.

Seasons on Netflix: 6

Dark

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Dark is a German-language supernatural thriller in which the disappearance of two children in a small town brings the fractured relationships and dark pasts of the people living there to the surface. 

Adding a touch of Scandinavian crime thriller to American drama, so far there are two seasons to watch on Netflix. A third and final season will be available from the end of June 2020.

Seasons on Netflix: 2

Queer Eye

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Need a dose of feel-good TV to help cope with today's rocky political landscape? Check out Queer Eye, a show about being the best you with help from five of the coolest dudes on the planet. The show has five seasons on Netflix UK already and we're still loving the premise of taking people stuck in a rut and hoisting them so they become the self-respecting, self-loving person we all want to be. Werk.

Seasons on Netflix: 5

RuPaul's Drag Race

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It's been going strong for 10 years and 11 seasons, but RuPaul's Drag Race is still giving fierce fans a heavy dose of fabulous. For those not already in the know, the elimination-style reality show sees RuPaul go on the hunt for America's next drag superstar - expect lots of glitter, drama, and fun. 

Now that the show has been picked up by Netflix, its sister show Untucked is also available to stream. You've got 12 seasons to watch. 

Seasons on Netflix: 12

Netflix UK FAQ: quick questions answered

How much does Netflix cost in the UK? There are a few different plans you can choose from in the UK, depending on whether you want to watch in SD, HD, or Ultra HD (4K) – depending on the strength of your internet – and how many separate devices you want to watch on.

Basic: £5.99 per month. With the cheapest membership option, you can watch one one screen at a time in Standard Definition, and download videos to one mobile device. 

Standard: £8.99 per month. This membership allows you to watch in HD on two screens at a time and download videos to two mobile devices.

Premium: £10.99 per month. The most expensive subscription allows you to watch in HD and Ultra HD on four screens at a time, and download videos to four mobile devices. 

How can I get a free Netflix account? Netflix offers new customers a free month of the service as a trial period – simply choose a membership type and payment plan and your first month will be free.

At the end of this period, if you choose to continue watching Netflix, you'll be charged one "low monthly fee" regardless of how much you used the service and on how many devices you watched videos on. 

Netflix will send you a reminder towards the end of your trial period – if you want to cancel your membership, you can do so at any time during this period and you won't be charged. 

Can I watch live TV on Netflix? No – you can only watch films and TV series from Netflix's rather extensive library. If you want to watch live TV in the UK, you can try services like Sky's Now TV, BBC iPlayer, or ITV Hub.

Is Amazon Prime better than Netflix? The answer to that question really depends on the shows and movies you want to watch. Check out our roundup of the best Amazon Prime Video TV Shows for an idea of what you can watch on Amazon Prime. You can also read our Amazon Prime review for more information on what the service offers.

Do you get Netflix free with Sky Q? Netflix can be accessed on a Sky Q box, but it doesn't come for free – you'll still need to sign in with a paid-for Netflix subscription. However, if you opt for Sky's Ultimate on Demand package, it will integrate Netflix billing with your Sky bill, while reducing its cost and unlocking Netflix recommendations within the Sky Q interface. If you're paying for both services, it's well worth combining them in this way as a result.

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