The show: Judd Apatow returns to the small screen for a delightfully brash, irreverent and often quite sweet series on life and love in L.A. Things kick off when the kind-hearted Gus (Paul Rust) encounters the outspoken Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and the pair start hanging out. The series finds the pair exploring the boundaries of friendship and romance, while roping in some absolutely bananas standalone episodes into the mix. It’s very funny and cringeworthy as hell.
Why it’s worth a watch: Sure, it may sound like a million other shows, but there’s a blast of energy and pep to Love that sets it apart from its competitors. Even after the pair make mistake after mistake, you can’t help but still like them and long for them to figure their shit out. And with season 3 being its final season, now’s as good a time as any to get caught up with Gus and Mickey.
Region: UK, US
The show: From The CW maestro Greg Berlanti comes a series that’s unlike any of his superhero outings. Based on the creepy-as-hell Caroline Kepnes novel - which I highly recommend - the show tells the tale of indie bookstore manager, Joe (Penn Badgley), who falls into a deep obsession with one of his customers, Guinevere Beck. This isn’t your typical love story - far from it. Joe’s desire pushes him to a new level of stalking that will make you shake your head in disbelief. This is the type of “romance” that would tantalise Patrick Bateman or Dexter Morgan. Joe’s dogged pursuit of Beck is rife with seriously questionable behaviour… that makes for binge-tastic television.
Why it’s worth a watch: With cliffhanger endings to every episode, and the feeling that Joe is about to get caught ANY second, You is exactly the type of show that makes you want to keep watching. Think of it as a cross between Dexter and Desperate Housewives.
Region: UK, US
The show: Atypical is a coming-of-age dramedy that follows Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum as he searches for love and independence. While Sam is on his journey of self-discovery - and to find himself a girlfriend - the rest of his family must grapple with change in their own lives as they all struggle with what it really means to be normal. Jennifer Jason Leigh in particular shines as his mother, Elsa, Michael Rappaport plays his dad, and newcomer Brigette Lundy-Paine knocks it out of the park as his smart-mouth sister Casey.
Why it’s worth a watch: For some reason, Atypical has yet to achieve the same level of notoriety as other Netflix Originals, but it absolutely deserves to be your next binge. Aiming to highlight what the autism condition is truly like, without being derisive, is a challenge. Atypical matches that by being warm and funny and thoroughly well-intended, showing how this one family lives their life, and how Sam’s traits are present in his day-to-day. Did I say it was really funny, too?
12. Sex Education
Region: UK, US
The show: Why beat about the bush? Sex Education opens on two teenagers going at it. But something’s not quite right: the young man, whose attention is elsewhere, can’t finish, so he fakes it. That perfectly sets the scene for Netflix’s most daring - and laugh-out-loud funny - teen series to date. The show pans back and we meet Otis Milburne (Asa Butterfield), an introverted high schooler whose mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is a sex therapist. Before long, Otis swallows his constant embarrassment at discussing carnal matters with his mother, and begins to dispense advice to his schoolfriends.
Why it’s worth a watch: Visually, it’s stunning. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly Sex Education takes place: the lighting harks back to the 1980s, as do a lot of the style and clothing choices, and there’s a curious lack of smart phones too. But certain elements signify it’s happening now. This beautiful blend of epochs works remarkably well, because when it comes to high school and the best friends we had back then, it doesn’t feel like time’s really gone by at all, does it?
11. Orange is the New Black
The show: Based loosely on the memoir of Piper Kerman, Orange Is The New Black was one of Netflix’s first binge hits. Viewers gobbled up the tale of a rich, privileged white woman from New York thrown into prison for drug trafficking. While the show begins around Piper’s story, it soon fans out to incorporate all of the women she encounters behind bars. Every episode, for the first few seasons at least, dives back in time giving flashbacks to flesh out these women’s lives, showing the decisions - or lack thereof - that led them to Litchfield Correctional.
Why it’s worth a watch: There’s so much to love about this series. From the phenomenal casting decisions that deliver us numerous women of colour, who have fully realised back stories, to the frankly bananas story arcs of the later seasons, to the LGBTQ flourishes, to the sheer horror of corporate incarceration, Orange always delivers riveting television that you won’t be able to stop watching.
10. House of Cards
The show: In a world full of seedy politicians and sordid scandals, Frank Underwood stands at the very top. House of Cards, based on the UK BBC series of the same name, sees the senator try and scheme his way to the White House while throwing everybody under the bus on his way. His only equal? His wife, Claire, who’s just as conniving and calculating as he is. The Russians, the President, the American people – all bend to the will of the Underwoods.
Why it’s worth a watch: Don’t be scared off by the political undertones of this show. This is as hammy as hammy gets. Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall to hilarious effect and each episode is filled with an entire soap opera season’s worth of kills, thrills, and spills. It makes the current POTUS look tame by comparison. Oh, and you probably won’t feel comfortable in a train station ever again. So, there’s that.
Season(s): 1-2, plus a feature-length finale
The show: After dallying with sci-fi on and off for their entire cinematic career, The Wachowskis take their vision to the small screen. Sense8 plucks ideas from the sci-fi canon to tell a sprawling story, with a dash of Heroes, a drop of Lost, and a whole heap of WTF? The story follows eight people from different locations across the globe who suddenly find themselves mentally connected. Skills, experiences, thoughts, are all shared between the group, who come to depend on that vast pool of resources because - naturally - they’re being hunted by a shady organisation.
Why it’s worth a watch: This series became such a hit upon its initial release that die-hard fans demanded a proper finale send-off after the show was axed. With a two-part finale accomplished, proof that fans can reignite a cancelled show, there’s still hope for more stories in this world. Come on Browncoats!
8. The Haunting of Hill House
The show: Horror maestro Mike Flanagan, who scared the bejeezus out of us with Hush and Oculus, brings a fresh take to Shirley Jackson’s genre classic. One of the series producers dubs it “Six Feet Under with ghosts” and that’s easily the most accurate description. Making the material his own by rewriting the main story, the show follows the Crain family in the ‘90s as they move into the ramshackle Hill House with plans to flip it. Shortly after their arrival, they learn that the house has other plans for them that can’t be stopped simply by moving away. Despite their efforts to flee, when the series flits back and forth with them decades later, the evil from within its walls still has them in its clutches...
Why it’s worth a watch: Reworking the story so that we follow a married couple and their four children across the years works a treat. Leaping timelines are a great device to slowly let this story unravel. Pathos and scares are the perfect match, at times, you’ll hold your breath while a tear slides down your cheek. How Flanagan and his crew of writers balance the emotional fallout of the Crain family by the hair-raising horror of the house’s ghosts, is sheer genius. Come for the horror, stay for the heartbreaking soliloquies.
The show: Big hair and killer pile-drivers. That’s what you can expect plenty of with this Netflix Original. A 1980s period piece with a neon-tinged edge, G.L.O.W. is inspired by the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling league. Community’s Alison Brie leads the gang as Ruth, a young, down-on-her-luck actress as she attempts her final chance to break into show business. Her plan? Join G.L.O.W. and wrestle her way to the top. Marc Maron takes control as the show’s producer desperate to make cash from a fleet of women pretending to pummel one another senseless.
Why it’s worth a watch: On the surface, it might seem like it’s all about a performative sport that’s about silly moves. Underneath? G.L.O.W. dives into the truth of these women’s lives, what drives them to seek out wrestling work, how they manouevre through their day-to-day when they’re on TV at night. Ruth and Debbie (Betty Gilpin)’s relationship in particular delivers some of the show’s most brutal hits.
6. BoJack Horseman
The show: The animated show about a horse. BoJack Horseman is a washed-up ‘90s sitcom star famous for playing the dad in Horsin’ Around. Decades later and he’s trying to put his career back on track with the help of his best friend Todd, his ghost writer Diane, and his agent and former girlfriend Princess Carolyn. She’s a cat, by the way. Will Arnett voices the lead stallion, whose constant self-destructive behaviour leads him into shadier situations with each progressive season.
Why it’s worth a watch: Bojack Horseman might be Netflix’s riskiest series. It’s a comedy, certainly, and it’s jokes are plentiful, but like all good chucklefests that amusement skirts a fine line between humour and poignancy. For Bojack, his life might appear perfect - he’s wealthy and famous - and yet his struggle is real. The show never makes light of what he or the people closest to him are going through. I mean, they’ll still make jokes about it, though.