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. The women are led by 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 announced that season 2 is coming June 29, so there's no better time to catch up on the first season!
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. Penny Dreadful
The show: The seedy, dark backalleys of Victorian London are the backdrop for Penny Dreadful, an equally seedy, dark series featuring a roster of well-known literary figures. While 19th century icons such as Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Grey star, make no mistake: this isn’t a quaint old-school drama. This is a heart-pounding thriller, that enlists a bunch of original characters for what begins as a missing persons case. Adventurer Sir Malcolm Murray and his aide, the psychic Vanessa Ives, recruit Dr. Frankenstein to help locate Murray’s missing daughter Mina, and from thereon things take a decidedly macabre turn.
Why it’s worth watching: This is crossover TV to die for. Sure, the superhero genre, and in particular, Marvel and The CW, have made that style their own, but who’s to say it can’t work elsewhere? Penny Dreadful masters the crossover in a wholly unique way, bringing a multitude of characters together without compromising its tone.
12. Mad Men
Region: UK, US
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.
The show: A period piece with no corsets or lofty accents, you say? Mindhunter hails from David Fincher and sets about recreating the fledgling days of serial killer profiling at the FBI. This is not your typical weekly crime procedural. Instead, this dark gem opts for the long, slow burn as Jonathan Groff’s eager agent and his disgruntled colleague (Holt McCallany) stray into dangerous territory: interviewing incarcerated serial murderers. Based on the true story of the first FBI profiler, his personal story is interwoven perfectly during the course of the first season, which tells episode after episode of rich, textured storytelling that’ll get under your skin and stay there.
Why it’s worth watching: Decades of crime entertainment - ahem, CSI - have turned all of us into armchair sleuths, and the majority of movies and shows know that. Mindhunter is rewarding as hell to watch for entirely the opposite reason. You’ll be shouting at the TV as the two agents apply their newly-founded techniques to catch active killers.
10. Jessica Jones
The show: Marvel's second Netflix Original series is a dark, gripping drama about a private investigator with super-powers who just wants to curl up with a bottle of Jack and be left alone. The world comes knocking with a problem, and it's up to Jessica Jones to track down the hellish man responsible... who just happens to be a familiar face. Along for the ride is trusty comrade Trish Walker, whose talk show sheds a little too much light on the ‘supers’ for Jessica’s taste, and neighbour Malcolm, who are both desperate to help Jessica put her demons to rest. As is often the case, her past returns to haunt her...
Why it's worth watching: Kristen Ritter's performance as the titular hero, who resists her calling at every turn, is truly stunning to watch. Each episode charts her inner struggle to winning effect, and sheds a light on the true consequences of trauma. And with season 2 now available, it's time to get caught up.
9. Black Mirror
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.
8. The Good Place
Region: UK, US
Season(s): 1 (US), 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.
7. The Punisher
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. Parks and Recreation
The show: Parks and Recreation stumbles a little during its first season, as reflected by its mixed reviews, but the powers-that-be took that advice and ran with it. Trust me, you’ll be laughing all week if you stick with it. Led by the brilliant Amy Poehler, it revolves around the day-to-day experiences of Leslie Knope, deputy director of the Pawnee parks and recreation department, and her misfit bunch of co-workers. Told through a mockumentary-style of shooting, the show uses the pettiness of small-town bureaucracy as its comedic fodder.
Why it's worth watching: It swerves around the pitfalls of sitcom tedium, thanks to some of the most memorable comedy characters in TV history played by Nick Offerman (who will provide you with one-liners and woodwork advice), Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Chris Pratt.