The 25 best shows on Netflix (December 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. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1

The show: Forget about Sabrina the Teenage Witch and her talking cat Salem. Well, don’t forget, exactly, but let’s shift focus from that classic slice of ‘90s Americana to the 2018 iteration. This newest revamp of the Archie horror comic is something new. Something darker. Starring Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka as the young witch, this Netflix Original finds the 16-year-old on the cusp of embracing her true nature. See, she’s the daughter of a warlock and a mortal woman, making her teenage kicks decidedly different from most. Raised by her two aunts, she must learn to handle her responsibilities as a witch while maintaining her high school persona. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Sorry, did I not already grab you with the darker version of Sabrina? Gorgeously shot and with a wicked sense of humour, imagine if Riverdale had a supernatural vein running through its core and you’re somewhere in the vicinity of Sabrina.

Read more: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ending explained - everything you need to know after watching

13. Wanderlust

Region: US

Season(s): 1

The show: Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh play a married couple who opt to reinvigorate their marriage when they realise their sex life is dwindling. Eschewing counselling and role play in favour of something altogether more... mature, the pair decide to explore sex outside of the marital bed. That’s the main thrust, ahem, of the story, which expands to hint at the effects of their decision on their three grown children, the local community, and, ultimately, their marriage. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Because holy hell, who doesn’t want to see how this plan ends? Watching the pair broach the topic and fully embrace it over one early scene is proof that this show knows its best asset is the assured, comfortable performances of Collette and Mackintosh. But that’s not to say they’re the only reason: the entire supporting cast is superb, each with their own side story that are worth investing in. In particular, episode 5 is phenomenal television, featuring one of the best scenes I’ve seen on any screen - big or small - this year. Collette and guest star Sophie Okonedo deserve awards. I watched that episode twice, it’s so damn good.

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. Parks and Recreation

Region: US

Season(s): 1-7

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 a watch: 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. 

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 Haunting of Hill House

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1

The show: Dubbed by one of its producers as “Six Feet Under with ghosts”, this latest iteration of Shirley Jackson’s terrifying novel is destined to become Netflix’s next must-see horror series. Loosely adapted by Mike Flanagan, whose previous Netflix features Hush and Gerald’s Game certainly showcase his flair for scares, the series follows the Crain family as they move into the remote Hill House. With the intention of renovating it and flipping it before they buy their real home, the Crains discover that the house has other plans. Fleeing in the middle of the night, the story picks up decades later as the scattered family is drawn together again by that darn house...

Why it’s worth a watch: This is the horror series you never knew you needed. A beautifully-cast show that plays out like Six Feet Under meets The Conjuring, there is simply nothing else like it. It’s densely-packed with story and scares, both elements so tightly interwoven it’s impossible to imagine this tale being told any other way. Flanagan’s decision to jump back and forth across timelines, with various incidents being shown from different perspectives, is what makes this one of the best shows on Netflix. As we learn over the course of ten episodes just what went down in that house, you won’t be able to look away… no matter how much you want to. 

Read more: The Haunting of Hill House ending explained - everything you need to know after watching

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. Better Call Saul

Region: UK, US

Season(s): 1-4 (UK) 1-3 (US)

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 a watch: 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. 

Read more: Why Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad - and what other prequels can learn from it

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