The 25 best shows on Netflix (July 2018)

15. GLOW

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-2

The show: The grunts as bare skin slaps onto the canvas, jeers and brouhaha from the over-excited crowd, and simply divine outfits... welcome to the world of GLOW! Another Netflix Original that’s ripe for bingeing, you’ll dig it whether wrestling is your thing or not. Because, really, it’s about the women involved in this true story and how they face the obstacles life has thrown their way. Alison Brie leads the pack as Ruth, an out-of-work actress who's made some questionable choices, and Marc Maron’s drole, chain-smoking producer, who cajoles performances out of them in the hopes of making some serious cash. Come for the costumes, stay for the witty repartee.

Why it’s worth watching: For a show that’s based on wrestling, the main heft of what’s so enjoyable isn’t about the sport at all, but the circumstances of these women. Ruth and Debbie’s dynamic in particular is electric. Well, what would you expect with alter-ego names like Zoya the Destroyer and Liberty Belle? Plus, Netflix has just dropped GLOW season 2, so there's no better time to catch up!

Read more: Why GLOW is the greatest TV show about wrestling (that’s not really about wrestling)

14. Archer

Region: UK

Season(s): 1-8

The show: Imagine the animated antithesis of Austin Powers; a secret spy whose suave allure is only matched by his humourous put-downs and seeming ineptitude. That's Sterling Archer, an agent for ISIS (yeah, they later changed the name) whose missions are often thwarted by his own agenda to win back his girlfriend Lara. Along with him for the ride are his misfit co-workers, whose adventures teeter on the brink of silly to downright ridiculous. What do you expect? Creator Adam Reed cut his teeth working on Adult Swim.

Why it's worth watching: The sheer irreverence of Archer is the show's strongest asset. He'll rally against his boss and mother - which he does, frequently - if it means getting a leg up or over. And, while it’s got a lot of seasons under its belt, the series stays fresh by switching up narratives and completely changing eras. 

13. Freaks and Geeks

Region: US

Season(s): 1

The show: Judd Apatow's high school drama wasn't just canceled after only one season - a crime in itself - it was taken off the air *before* its full 18 episodes were even broadcast. That was years before it earned its cult stripes, but if that hadn’t happened? Perhaps we’d have had more than its smattering of episodes. Nevertheless, what we got is gold. A 1980s-set comedy-drama that taps into the struggles of being a high schooler who's neither a popular kid nor a put-upon loser, the show follows the exploits of Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) and her pals.

Why it’s worth a watch:  Apatow's creation is still relevant today, and there is a reason it’s often heralded as one of the best shows to depict the high school experience. It focuses on all the kids who linger on the periphery of either clique (popular and uncool) and how their dysfunctional lives are equally deserving of the spotlight.

12. Mad Men

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-7

The show: This award-winning period piece rides the wave of prestige television, taking a high dive into some seriously low behaviour. A glimpse back into the 1960s era of Madison Avenue advertising execs, those self-dubbed titular mad men, this HBO series explores their hedonistic extra-curricular activities and how that affects the workplace. One of the most celebrated TV shows in recent times follows the employees of reputable agency Sterling Cooper, led by the smooth-yet-troubled Don Draper, as they navigate through the decade.

Why it's worth watching: Dramatic, funny, insightful - and that's just in the first episode. This is a compelling slice of nostalgic Americana, looking back at a period of great change with knowing winks and uber-cool style. You might find yourself getting frustrated at how misogynistic things are; but it’s rewarding to see trends change as time passes.

11. The Crown

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-2

The show: The Crown charts the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the start of her reign up until the present day. This Netflix Original weds top notch drama with an array of great performances, lead by Claire Foy as the young monarch. It sheds light on unseen parts of the Queen’s duties, and the troubled dynamic of juggling a public and private life, starting with her marriage to Philip, and dealing with her father, George.

Why it’s worth watching: The early years of the current English monarch? Sounds great, but not for you, right? Bit too Downton? Seriously, don’t miss out on some of the best TV of last year: this is a superb character drama that packs in loads of historical factoids and a rollicking good story.

10. Better Call Saul

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-3 

The show: Remember the screwy lawyer from Breaking Bad? Yeah, this show's all about him - Saul Goodman. Things begin after the climactic events of that series, in the present day, and immediately jump back to before he became Saul. Jimmy McGill's the man of this show, a likeable, good-hearted guy who dallies loosely with the law. It's terrific getting to see him in his early days, and discover what happened before he turned slick. 

Why it's worth watching: It's hard to imagine a Breaking Bad spin-off being able to cap the brilliance of that groundbreaking series. Thanks to the superb performance by Bob Odenkirk, who delves into practically every emotional state in its first season alone, it's just as good if not better. 

9. Black Mirror

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1-4 and the Christmas special

The show: Charlie Brooker's sci-fi show is set just a few years into the future, a place where our every technological whim is accounted for - along with our ability to completely abuse them. The decision to locate it so close to our own time has made it one of the most-talked about shows in years. An anthology series, each episode serves as a standalone story that investigates a particular piece of tech and how they could lead to mankind's downfall. 

Why it's worth watching: While it's often described as sci-fi, it packs in elements from every genre imaginable. Depending on the story a particular episode may be romantic, action-packed, or creepy, but one thing they all have in common is that they're all downright terrifying. 

Read more: Black Mirror season 4 ending - 6 questions we need answered

8. The Good Place

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1 (US), 1-2 (UK)

The show: On the surface the new show from Parks and Recreation showrunner Michael Schur sounds similar-ish to Dead Like Me. Someone dies, experiences the afterlife, and embraces the comedy of the situation. It's not quite the same though because instead it combines the cheerful glee of Parks with the existential WTF?-ness of something like Lost. Kristen Bell stars as Eleanor Shellstrop, a self-centred individual who is gifted to quite a pleasant post-life existence alongside her soulmate. 

Why it's worth watching: As well as being really, really funny and introducing us to yet another hugely talented group of actors, it also packs some great dramatic twists and turns that you won't see coming. 

Read more: Holy shirt, if you’ve finished watching The Good Place, we’ve got a lot to talk about

7. The Punisher

Region: Worldwide

Season(s): 1

The show: The sorta baddie from Daredevil season 2 returns for his own dedicated series. That’s right, Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, is given an expanded storyline that delves deeper into his traumatic past and pushes forward into an even more troubled future. Where Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage exposed Marvel fans to the gritty underbelly of New York City, The Punisher rips that belly wide open and blasts a few extra rounds through it for good measure. Yes, it’s violent.

Why it’s worth watching: Like all good TV, The Punisher takes risks to try and push on into new territory - it doesn't really belong in the superhero genre. With fewer balls-to-the-wall action pieces and less explosions that you would expect, you might have met Frank Castle before, but not like this. 

6. Fargo

Region: UK

Season(s): 1-3

The show: A spin-off/sequel of the Coen brothers movie from the guy who also serves as the showrunner on Legion? That’s got your interest piqued, hasn’t it? For its first season, FX's award-winning anthology series concocted several new story strands all interwoven to paint an eerily-similar story to the 1996 feature. That's what makes this a perfect series for drama, crime and mystery lovers; you don't need to have seen the film, as this gloriously twisted piece of television stands on its own. Season 2 delves back into the past and 3 leaps forward again, both of which tell tales of small-town folk who just can’t quite get a break...

Why it's worth watching: The cast is simply excellent. Who knew that Peter Stormare's assassin could be outdone by Billy Bob Thornton? He steals every scene he's in during the first season. Likewise for Kirsten Dunst in season 2.