Can you remember a time before Netflix? When you had to sit through 10 ad breaks, check a weekly TV guide or pay for a VPN to access half of your favourite shows?
They were definitely not the best of times, but now we have Netflix in Australia and, with it, a whole world of opportunity.
Netflix has brought us some absolutely stellar series and the streaming platform is now pumping out so much content it’s almost too hard to know where to start. To help you on your journey, we’ve compiled a list of the top Netflix series you need to watch at least once in your life.
Top Netflix drama series
The Night Agent
The story of FBI Agent Peter Sutherland’s race to put an end to a deadly White House conspiracy took Netflix by storm, with The Night Agent quickly becoming the top show on the platform at the time of release. Fans of The Bodyguard and Homeland should definitely check it out.
In Netflix’s hit political drama The Diplomat, Keri Russell stars as Kate Wyler, the new US ambassador to the United Kingdom. Amidst this new career, she must manage her high-profile job, mediate international crises and maintain her marriage to a political star.
Netflix’s creepy drama The Watcher is based on a true story about a family that moves into their new house in New Jersey and begins receiving letters from an anonymous watcher. The series stars Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale.
Anatomy of a Scandal
If you love political dramas, then Anatomy of a Scandal was made for you. The series follows the wife of a high-ranking British MP whose life begins to unravel after her husband’s secrets come to light and he is accused of a terrible crime.
This one is the top TV series in the world right now on Netflix, with over 75 million hours viewed. That many people can’t be wrong, right?
Ozark is a dark Breaking Bad-style drama you will absolutely get addicted to.
Jason Bateman stars as a financial planner who relocates his family to a summer resort community and has to launder $500 million over five years to please his drug lord boss.
The fourth and final chapter of Ozark dropped in 2022 so you can binge the whole thing now.
It’s hard to find a more wholesome teen romance than Heartstopper, particularly one that also happens to be queer. The series, based on the web comic of the same name, follows the burgeoning romance between high schoolers Charlie and Nick who learn that their friendship is becoming something more.
Heartstopper is a whirlwind eight episodes of young LGBTQ+ love that you won’t regret watching.
Behind Her Eyes
The British supernatural psychological series Behind Her Eyes took Netflix by storm when it was released.
The show follows a single mother as she begins an affair with her psychiatrist boss and befriends his mysterious wife. It’s a love triangle with a heavy dose of mind games which you just cannot look away from.
Starring Simona Brown, Eve Hewson and Tom Bateman, Behind Her Eyes is based on the best-selling book of the same name. You can catch all six episodes of the show on Netflix now.
Queen of the South
Another top Netflix series based on a bestselling book, Queen of the South, wrapped up with a fifth and final season.
After a cartel kills her boyfriend, Teresa Mendoza is forced to flee her home in Mexico. She crosses the border into the US and vows to avenge her boyfriend’s death and bring down the leader of the drug trafficking ring.
All five seasons of Queen of the South are streaming now.
The Queen’s Gambit
Who knew a game of chess could be so interesting? But The Queen’s Gambit makes it so.
The miniseries follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy who takes on the world’s most elite chess players. The series is a poignant look at the struggles of addiction and the prejudices facing a woman in a male-dominated field in the ’50s and ’60s.
The Queen’s Gambit is raking in awards nominations right now for Best Limited Series and high praise for Anja Taylor-Joy as the literal chess queen, Elizabeth Harmon.
The Regency-era period drama of Bridgerton took over the internet when it launched in late 2020.
The tale of wealth, lust and power hooked fans in as the eight Bridgerton siblings seek love in London’s high society. Produced by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), Bridgerton made waves for its progressive and diverse portrayals of an era that was anything but.
You can catch up on both seasons of Bridgerton on Netflix right now.
Now that Squid Game is the most-viewed Netflix series of all time, it should come as no surprise that the show has made its way to this list.
The violent Korean drama pits hundreds of contestants against each other in a series of children’s games with a deadly twist, all for the chance at a huge cash prize.
Squid Game will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish and you’ll soon realise why it’s taken out the top spot on Netflix.
Maid is a dark yet gripping look at single parenting and living in poverty.
It follows Alex, a single mother who turns to house cleaning to make money as she escapes an abusive relationship and tries to make a better life for her daughter. The series stars Margaret Wualley, Andie MacDowell and Nick Robinson.
This Spanish-language thriller is all about, you guessed it, a money heist that is orchestrated by a mysterious mastermind and his band of thieves.
The fifth season of Money Heist was the final one for the series, finally answering the question: will the group pull off their ambitious plan?
If you’re partial to a true-crime drama with a sinister serial killer, look no further than The Serpent.
Inspired by true events, The Serpent follows notorious murderer and conman Charles Sobhraj as he and his girlfriend travel Asia in the 70s, committing a spree of crimes on the ‘Hippie Trail’.
A charming awkward bookstore owner becomes dangerously obsessed with a new love interest and uses social media and other means to become as close to her as possible. And that’s just the start of the wild ride that is Netflix’s You.
If you’re up for a dark psychological thriller that pushes the boundaries of normal social conventions, You is your show.
Tommy Shelby and the Peaky Blinders run into all kinds of trouble as they navigate life as a crew of gangsters based in Birmingham. Starring Cillian Murphy in the leading role, this is a show made for folks who have obsessed over shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad in the past.
Say what you will about the royals, but they make for some damn good drama in The Crown.
The Crown follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II as she guides her family and the country through the troubles and traditions of the evolving world.
Inventing Anna is the definition of when truth is wilder than fiction. The story of an Instagram-famous socialite who scammed her way to the top of New York’s elite circles blew up headlines worldwide and you can find out why in this Netflix series.
Top comedy shows
You may know the story of the Karate Kid, but Cobra Kai tells the other half of that story.
Set 34 years after the events of the original film Cobra Kai brings back Ralph Macchio and William Zabka as their iconic characters who reignite their rivalry when Johnny Lawrence decides to reopen the Cobra Kai karate dojo.
Five seasons in and the Netflix series is a total favourite among Karate Kid fans both old and new.
There hasn’t been a better teen drama out of Netflix than Sex Education.
On the surface, the show follows Otis, a socially awkward high school student, who becomes the school’s resident sex expert thanks to the advice he garners from his sex therapist mother.
But underneath that, Sex Education is so much more thanks to its diverse and accurate depictions of teenage sexuality. This show doesn’t shy away from awkward topics and it’s literally the sex education we all could’ve used in high school.
We’re all familiar with the concept of Groundhog Day, but Netflix’s top comedy-drama series Russian Doll really gives it new meaning.
When Nadia Vulvokov gets stuck in a time loop of repeatedly dying on the same night, she sets out to solve the mystery and meets someone who is experiencing the exact same thing.
Brought to you by Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Leslye Headland (Sleeping With Other People), Russian Doll is the perfect comedy, sci-fi, mystery hit that you can finish in under a day.
Emily in Paris
Can you get through life without binging Emily in Paris? Yes. However, it is one of Netflix’s most popular shows and has even earned itself a Golden Globe award, so why not see what all the fuss is about?
The story follows Emily, a marketing executive from Chicago, who is hired by a firm in Paris to provide a new perspective. It’s returning for more seasons, too.
Big Mouth is the crudest, funniest, most accurate animated series there is about kids going through puberty. It is, quite frankly, disgusting as hell. But it’ll also have you snort-laughing at the antics of these tweens.
Created by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, there are seven ridiculous seasons of this show so far, and they’re all worth your attention.
Never Have I Ever
Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, Never Have I Ever is the new coming-of-age teen story taking Netflix by storm. The series follows Devi, a 15-year-old American-Indian girl, as she tries to change her social status at high school.
Grace and Frankie
In Grace and Frankie two unlikely friends, Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), come together after their husbands leave them for each other and announce they are getting married. Their friendship begins to grow as they are forced to live together and help each other through trying times of family drama, romance and work.
The delightful Netflix comedy series Derry Girls follows a group of young students in Ireland in the 1990s as they deal with the ups and downs of high school during a time of political conflict in their country.
Speaking of delightful high school series, Australia actually has a pretty good one of its own in the rebooted classic Heartbreak High. The new rendition follows a diverse up-and-coming cast of teenagers who are navigating the tricky world of high school education paired with plenty of loves and losses.
Top Netflix sci-fi and fantasy series
Fitting into the supernatural mystery realm of Netflix is Wednesday, another one of the streamer’s most successful shows to date.
Starring Jenna Ortega as the classic Addams Family character, Wednesday follows the titular character’s time at boarding school, where she seeks to prevent a killing spree and solve mysteries that date back to her parent’s time at school.
Stranger Things is hands down one of the best sci-fi shows on Netflix. It blends a nostalgic ’80s small-town mystery with the terrifying sci-fi creatures of your nightmares and original characters you can’t help but love.
Season one starts with the disappearance of Will Byers but slowly unravels into a global conspiracy as his friends investigate and uncover shady government secrets far bigger than their small Indiana town.
Stranger Things is moving into its fifth and final season, so you can catch up on the other seasons now without fear of an unresolved cliffhanger.
The Witcher has been successful in both the book, video game and now TV series forms.
Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a shunned magically enhanced human, who slays monsters for a living. After roaming the continent for years killing beasts, Geralt gets wrapped up in the wars between kingdoms and becomes linked by destiny to Princess Ciri of Cintra.
The Witcher is a rollicking ride for fans of fantasy, the supernatural and horror.
Shadow and Bone
You can’t deny that young adult fantasy books make for good watching and Shadow and Bone was long overdue for an adaptation.
Finally, Netflix took the initiative and brought us the stunning Shadow and Bone series, which perfectly blends two series of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books. Both fans of the novels and newcomers will find something to love in Shadow and Bone’s epic fantasy tale, so what are you waiting for?
The Umbrella Academy
A family of estranged superheroes reunite after their father’s death and uncover the shocking secrets that make up their history. The Umbrella Academy is a strange ride from start to finish, and it encapsulates everything from time travel, to crazy cults, to dance parties.
You’ll fall in love with this cast of characters played by an all-star cast including Elliot Page, Aidan Gallagher, Robert Sheehan and Tom Hopper.
Adapted from the popular DC comic, Sweet Tooth is set in a post-apocalyptic world where hybrid human and animal babies have emerged.
One of these such hybrids is Gus, a nine-year-old who searches for a new beginning after his father’s death with the help of a gruff protector.
Neil Gaiman’s seminal comic book series The Sandman has finally found its way onto the screen in this adaptation, which is a faithful adaptation endorsed by the author himself.
Tom Sturridge stars as Dream, a member of the Endless, who is captured by humans for decades and must escape and restore his kingdom of the Dreaming. Along the way he comes into conflict with many intriguing characters including Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie), Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman) and his siblings.
Arcane is not only one of the best shows on Netflix, but is also one of the best shows, period.
The animated steampunk series is an adaptation of Riot Games’ hit online game League of Legends and has truly broken the curse of video game-to-screen adaptations. Arcane has a dazzlingly realistic animation style with intriguing characters and a story that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Best reality series
Netflix has rebooted the cult classic series The Mole for a new generation. The reality show sees twelve players compete in challenges while trying to identify the one among them who is sabotaging their missions.
Too Hot To Handle
Netflix’s library covers a huge range of genres, and that includes reality TV.
The dating series Too Hot To Handle puts forward a new concept where a bunch of hot singles are stuck together on an island and must abstain from sex if they want a shot at a $100,000 prize.
It may sound like a simple sacrifice for a huge chunk of cash, but not for these people. Season 2 of Too Hot To Handle recently dropped on Netflix so get amongst it.
Love is Blind
The synopsis for this series reads: “Singles try to find a match and fall in love — without ever seeing each other face-to-face, as emotional connection attempts to conquer physical attraction.”
This combination of factors results in some of the most drama-filled and romantic (?) reality TV watching you could ask for. We’ve got a number of seasons now in a handful of international cities – the only question remaining is when is it coming to Aus?
Did you find your next binge-watch obsession on this list? If the answer is yes then you can find all these epic series over on Netflix right now.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.
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