As we officially welcome the glorious, sun-dappled days of summer - woo! - we also usher in the sweltering heat. Yes, it’s that time of year when the weather can oscillate from chilly to hot in the blink of an eye, so it’s very important to have a list of go-to activities on hand to cool you down. Let’s not beat about the bush: I’m talking about slinking down into the couch for a serious Netflix and chill sesh. But you need to know which are the best shows on Netflix, and that’s where this here article can help. To assist you in this frankly dire quandary, I’ve hunted high and low to come up with the 25 absolute best shows on Netflix. And I tell you: there are a LOT of series beloved by critics and fans alike, across a host of genres, so it’s not the easiest of tasks. But I’ve done it anyway! Luke Cage season 2 tops this week’s list of recommendations (woo!) alongside the rather excellent Doctor Who spin-off, Class.
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25. Luke Cage
The show: Netflix's Marvel universe kicked off with the likes of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Then along came Luke Cage. We first met the bulletproof hero back in JJ season 1, and here he is taking charge down in Harlem. His debut season finds the towering hero come under attack from a vicious gangster Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes and his even more duplicitous cousin Mariah Dillard, while season 2 finds him getting to grips his new found ‘fame’ and figuring out how to take down an even worse baddie...
Why it's worth watching: More than a superhero series, this is a show in harmony with the Harlem community. Producers brought in a slew of talented African-American actors, pulled together a sublime soundtrack (seriously, the theme? Yeah, might not seem much at first but you'll be humming it soon), and really let rip. It's in a league of its own, and completely overshadows the other Defenders’ Netflix shows. Yes, I went there.
24. Queer Eye
Region: UK, US
The show: Queer Eye For the Straight Guy returns in rebooted form and it’s better than ever. Scratch that; it’s actually a lot better than a makeover reality show has any right to be. Like the 2003 original run, this fresh take follows one hapless guy in desperate need of a makeover who is aided in his quest by five gay men. Armed with a desire to refashion the man in question, the quintet set about changing his life for the better in each of their chosen areas. The results are life-changing, and you will undoubtedly cry. A lot.
Why it’s worth watching: This is more than reality series about fashion. In the years since the original debuted, the stakes have changed considerably, shaping the show into a more socially-relevant piece of entertainment. It’s funny and heart-breaking at the same time.
23. Arrested Development
Region: UK, US
The show: What started as a quirky, cult comedy, quickly got dragged into the mainstream, and now you’d be hard-pushed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Arrested Development. Beginning with the dysfunctional Bluth family in dire straits as family patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) gets carted off to jail, leaving Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) responsible for the rest of the clan, who have never worked a day in their lives.
Why it’s worth a watch: Aside from the superb deadpan narration by Ron Howard, one of the best reasons to tune in is Jessica Walter. As entitled matriarch Lucille Bluth, she takes her lines and turns them into comedy gems, thanks to her brilliant deliveries and facial expressions. This one here is my favourite. And, with the final season now available, there’s no better time to get acquainted with the Bluths.
22. The Magicians
The show: Syfy’s been hammering out some absolute corkers in recent years. Along with the likes of The Expanse, the genre network has also delivered a crackin’ adaptation of Lev Grossman’s book series, The Magicians. Like the novels, the series is based at Brakebills University, a school for magical studies, and follows the adventures of Quentin Coldwater. As you can probably guess with a name like that, Quentin’s packin’ some serious talent, but he actually enrols at the university to become a trained magician. It’s not until he’s there that he learns the magical tales he was told as a child are based on a real place that’s not all sweetness and light. This magical world is pretty dangerous...
Why it’s worth watching: Imagine if Harry Potter hadn’t started his academic career until he was 18, and then throw in a tonne of pop culture references. That’s The Magicians, which Vanity Fair referred to as “the fantasy equivalent of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.” Seriously. Get watching now.
Region: UK, US
The show: The one where all the twentysomethings can afford spacious Manhattan apartments. Yes, I’m talking about Friends! Upon its debut in 1994 the show became an instant hit, and even now some 14 years after its finale aired, it is still considered one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. It’s hard to disagree, really, as the series continues to get better with age, following the lives of Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Joey, and Chandler as they navigate through good times and bad. Oh, and numerous Thanksgiving mishaps, of course.
Why it’s worth watching: This is great feelgood TV, that performs so well and stands up to repeat viewings because the main cast is just so darn likeable. From the first episode, each of the six leads carves out a unique spot in the show without coming across like caricatures. Sure, Ross may get a tad whiny in later seasons, but hey, he’s been through a lot. They were on a break, right?
Read more: The 25 best Friends episodes ever
Region: UK, US
Season(s): 1-2 (US), 1 (UK)
The show: Forget your dreary, downbeat superheroes. Supergirl, both the show and its title character, are replete with optimism and hope, steering this adaptation into new terrain. Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, a 24-year-old assistant who struggles to ignore her abilities when there’s always justice to be served, and good to be done! Packed with great action sequences - alright, season 1 wavers a little on this front - and unique twists on DC comic lore, this is a blast of fun in a typically dark arena of entertainment.
Why it’s worth watching: Another small-screen superhero series? Following in the footsteps of The CW’s caped crusader-centric shows, Supergirl manages to be both a loyal adaptation of the character and a wholly entertaining show in its own right. A fun and compelling series that dabbles with current social issues without bringing down the atmosphere.
19. Orange is The New Black
The show: Loosely based on the real-life experiences of Piper Kerman, this comedy-drama from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan is like nothing else on the streaming platform. That's probably because it's a Netflix Original - and by 'eck, original it certainly is. The first season follows Kerman's memoir closely, as Taylor Schilling's Piper Chapman enters the prison system after being convicted of aiding a drug trafficker - her ex, played by That '70s Show's Laura Prepon - who also happens to be incarcerate in the same prison...
Why it's worth watching: Once the show diverts from the true story, it becomes a wild mash of interesting plotlines. Piper's still in the mix, but there's a rich cast of fully fleshed out characters who we learn lots of secretive tidbits about through flashbacks. And, season 6 (!) now scheduled to arrive on July 29, so you’ve got time to catch up.
Season(s): 1-2, plus the 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 with Netflix Original Sense8. Plucking ideas from 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 telepathically 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 watching: This series was missed by most upon its initial release, but its die-hard fans love it so much they demanded a proper finale after the show was axed post-season 2. The feature-length conclusion, clocking in at 2.5 hours is now available, so if you haven't seen it yet, now is the time to catch up.
The show: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures proved that there’s a way to craft a decent Doctor Who spin-off without it being a blatant carbon copy. Class, aimed at a YA audience, follows the same tack and revolves around four students at Coal Hill School who find themselves dealing with more than your usual adolescent dilemmas. Their school problems are much worse than mere heartache and forgotten homework: this quartet of teens have to deal with otherworldly threats. In a very cool premise, their school is kinda like Sunnydale High, as due to the Doctor’s love of time travel, the barriers of space and time are worn thin and something’s trying to bust in...
Why it's worth watching: A fun riff on the Who universe that splinters off on its own, Class has a “UK Buffy” feel to it and manages to throw in sufficient nods to the main series without it being suffocated. This is a ridiculously entertaining show that will hopefully find its audience now its on Netflix.
16. Wynonna Earp
Region: UK, US
Season(s): 1 (UK), 1-2 (US)
The show: Another comic book adaptation set to win you over with its epic mash-up of blood, action, and comedy. Wynonna Earp is based on the IDW comic series that follows the great granddaughter of legendary gunslinger Wyatt Earp. After returning to her hometown of Purgatory following the mysterious death of her uncle, Wynonna reluctantly takes on the role bestowed upon Earp’s heirs: she becomes a demon hunter. Together with her sister, she joins forces with a cop and an old pal of her grandfather’s to kick the butts of the Revenants - the resurrected souls of the men Wyatt Earp killed.
Why it's worth watching: A supernatural western with a female led, a slew of solid female supporting characters and a big dollop of horror? Yep, as a blend of Buffy, Supernatural with a touch of Westworld, this series is perfect for genre hounds. It helps that it’s also really funny.