In The Footsteps Of Killers, Channel 4, Review: A Queasy Muddle Of Fact And Fiction

We've seen a fair few popular Netflix series air their final runs during the month of September – but as we move into the final week of the month there's a couple of exciting new series making their way to the streamer.

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Perhaps most excitingly there is Midnight Mass, the brand new series from Mike Flanagan – who has previously terrified Netflix subscribers with the Hauntings of both Hill House and Bly Manor. This new series is another ambitious horror tale, this time focusing on an island community and their reactions to the arrival of a rather enigmatic new priest.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most talked-about Netflix show of the moment is the returning Sex Education, which finally released its third series earlier in September – once more shining a light on the burgeoning sexuality of the students at Moordale High School.

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A whole host of hits have recently aired their final episodes, including Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father, supernatural procedural Lucifer, and criminally underrated comedy Good Girls, while the first half of Spanish crime drama Money Heist's final season was also added this month.

And then there's Netflix's social media mystery Clickbait – which has got people talking both online and offline and has basically become a permanent fixture in the platform's Top 10 since it was released.

Choosing what to watch remains as hard as ever however, so RadioTimes.com is here with guides to the >best Netflix comedies and best Netflix romance movies with more general TV recommendations below.

We make sure to update our recommendations every week, so keep this page bookmarked for 

RadioTimes.com's expert picks – or check out our line-up of the best Netflix movies for other suggestions.

You can also tweet us @RadioTimes if we’ve missed your favourite off the list – otherwise, start scrolling and happy streaming!

Updated: 23rd September 2021

Midnight Mass

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It's become something of a tradition for Netflix to release a new limited series from Mike Flanagan just in time for spooky season, and this year's offering is the brilliantly creepy Midnight Mass. Unlike his two previous series for the streamer, the Hauntings of Hill House and Bly Manor, this new series is not based on an existing work of horror fiction – but is instead a wholly original work, in part inspired by Flanagan's past as an altar boy in the Catholic Church.

The series is set on the isolated community of Crockett Island, which is suddenly shaken by a couple of new arrivals – most notably that of a charismatic but rather mysterious new priest by the name of Father Paul, who claims to be filling in for the parish's long-serving Monsignor John Pruitt. When Paul appears to start performing miracles, the faith of Crockett's inhabitants is put to the test – and some of them are more skeptical than others about what this new priest has planned.

A challenging, ambitious and thrillingly unique new series, Midnight Mass packs in some great frights, intriguing discussions and one or two moments that will live long in the memory of those who watch. -

Patrick Cremona

Sex Education

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Netflix

With season three of comedy-drama Sex Education now arriving, there couldn't be a better time to visit Moordale Secondary School and its puberty-stricken, lovelorn, angsty students. Created by Laurie Nunn, this Netflix original stars Hugo's Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, an insecure teen who struggles with his mum Jean (Gillian Anderson) being a very candid sex therapist. While initially desperate to distance himself from his mum's line of work, he finds himself inadvertently helping the school bully with his sexual performance anxiety and subsequently sets up his own sex advice clinic with troubled classmate Maeve (Emma Mackey).

A hilarious, heart-warming and at times infuriating comedy-drama about the ins-and-outs of teenage adolescence, Sex Education is well worth the watch for the performances alone – Ncuti Gatwa shines as Otis's openly gay best friend Eric, while Aimee Lou Wood (Maeve's friend Aimee) comes into her element in season two. 

– Lauren Morris

Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father

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Jack Whitehall and Michael Whitehall
Netflix

Jack Whitehall is becoming quite the name in Hollywood after starring with the likes of The Rock and Emily Blunt in Jungle Cruise, but luckily for fans of his travel show, he still finds time for some highly unconventional father-son bonding. As the title suggests, Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father sees the titular charismatic actor and comedian go sightseeing with his stuffy and old-fashioned father. It's no surprise that the two don't exactly have the same idea of an ideal holiday – cue humorous antics from the mismatched pair across South East Asia, Eastern Europe, western US, Australia and a final trip in the UK.

Shows in which comedians see the world with a family member are a dime a dozen these days, but Travels With My Father has a secret weapon: Michael Whitehall. Just as funny as his comedian son – and at times even more so – the former talent agent's wry put-downs and grumpy reactions have given him quite the fan base, and led to his inclusion in more father-son comedy specials with hopefully many more to come. Not that Jack is not pulling his weight, as his usual zany antics and self-deprecating humour provide the perfect foil – but he also opens up during some of the show's surprisingly emotional moments. –

Daniel Furn

Lucifer

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Netflix

Miranda star Tom Ellis has completely reinvented his image with this fantasy drama, going from innocent chef next door Gary to the literal Lord of Hell. Impressive! But an even greater accomplishment is the dedicated fandom this series has built up since its debut back in 2016, with legions of so called “Lucifans” ready to defend it to the ends of the earth.

The show follows the devil himself, Lucifer Morningstar, after he relocates from hell to Los Angeles and begins solving murder cases with the local police department. He quickly strikes up a bond with detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) and their romance becomes the focal point of the show, with no shortage of obstacles in their path to happiness.

It’s a slightly odd show that occasionally pokes fun at its own eccentric premise, which plays out like Midsomer Murders meets Twilight. The show holds a dear place in the heart of many viewers, as proven by the staggering one million tweets that were sent to protest its premature cancellation by FOX in 2018 – prompting Netflix to rescue the show and renew it for an additional three seasons. –

 David Craig

Money Heist

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Money Heist season 4 key art
Netflix

Heist thrillers have to walk a fine line between realistic - or at least believable - burglary schemes and enough tension-filled twists and turns to keep things entertaining - and it's a balance that Money Heist (mostly) manages to pull off. Money Heist dedicates several seasons each to two heists planned by the enigmatic criminal mastermind The Professor, who recruits an unusual group of robbers named after cities to take hostages in key financial centres in Madrid. However, mistakes, emotional dynamics and impulsive relationships on both sides on the heist mean the plans soon go wrong - and robbers, hostages and police alike are all in a race to outwit each other before it's too late.

Initially regarded as a failure after first airing on Spanish TV, Money Heist was added to Netflix with little fanfare and barely any promotion - yet still became an absolute worldwide phenomenon, with a whole new audience falling in love with The Professor and his Dali-masked accomplices while a certain earworm swept the European charts. It was enough for Netflix to order three additional seasons, the last of which is split into two parts with the final instalment arriving in December 2021.

The heist genre gets subverted in this crime caper, which uses a female narrator, a Spanish cultural lens and a twisty-turny narrative to update the long-running formula with a series where the complex characters and their relationships matter just as much as the actual heist. A few unnecessary love triangles mean the show veers dangerously close to soap opera territory in later seasons - but at its best Money Heist is a smart, inventive and utterly gripping series that truly deserves its status as one of the most-watched non-English language shows in the world. –

Daniel Furn

Clickbait

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Clickbait on Netflix
Netflix

Identity, perception and the dark side of social media are explored in this very modern thriller starring Entourage's Adrian Grenier. Grenier stars as Nick Brewer, a seemingly wholesome family man who is abducted, and soon appears in a social media video holding cards alleging that he abuses women - and that he will die at five million views. It's up to his shocked wife Sophie and sister Pia to rescue him in time - though with each clue revealing a completely new side of Nick, perhaps they won't want to by the end...

While taking many elements of a classic whodunit, Clickbait has a lot to say about modern internet culture, particularly about the alarming speed of social media and how it can bring out the worst in us, but also takes aim at misinformation, cat-fishing, cancel culture, media sensationalism and how all our online profiles are skewed and distorted personas of who we really are. Clickbait may not succeed in fully exploring all of the many complex themes it brings up, but it is bolstered by an effective murder mystery - with every episode told from the point of view of different potential suspects. –

Daniel Furn

The Chair

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Sandra Oh in The Chair on Netflix
Netflix

Sandra Oh takes a beak from cat-and-mouse hunts with psychopaths in Killing Eve in order to star in The Chair, a rather different show exploring sexism, racism and ageism entrenched in the staunchly traditional world of academia through a highly satirical lens. The series follows Oh's Professor Ji-Yoon Kim, the first woman of colour to become chair at a prestigious university. Ji-Yoon must then navigate the dizzying pressure of her new position, save the failing English department and navigate her relationships with her crush, an inventive up-and-coming colleague as well as strong-willed adoptive daughter Ju Ju.

After making her name in life-or-death dramas such as Grey's Anatomy and the aforementioned Killing Eve, it's highly refreshing to see Oh show off her comedic chops, consistently hilarious as a professor constantly at the end of her tether yet still managing to exude wit and warmth to those around her. Showrunner Amanda Peet takes academia - a world still largely unexplored onscreen - and explores the modern issues within, finding the comedy in this nuanced take as Ji-Yoon fights to save an education system that struggles to accept her. The show could have done with a bit more time to fully examine the many complex topics it throws up - six half-hour episodes go quick - but Oh's performance and great writing still make this a must-watch. –

Daniel Furn

Hit and Run

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Netflix

Israeli series Hit and Run dominated Netflix's top ten charts for several weeks after its release, proving the platform is the perfect home for international drama following the success of shows such as Money Heist and Lupin. The series follows Segev Azulai, a happily married man whose life is turned upside down after his wife is killed in a hit and run in Tel Aviv. Soon discovering the incident was no mere accident, Segev heads to the US along with ex-lover Naomi Hicks to look for answers - but perhaps wishes he hadn't after finding some disturbing secrets...

Hit and Run was co-created by writer-journalist Avi Issacharof, who was also behind acclaimed war drama and fellow international hit Fauda. With two other co-creators formerly writers and executive producers on The Killing, there was certainly a high standard set for Hit and Run - which it easily reaches with so many twists, turns and action that it truly lives up to the definition of a thriller and then some. Netflix has had a good run with mystery thrillers following hits such as The Stranger and You, and Hit and Run is the latest addition that will have you reaching for the 'next episode' button. –

Daniel Furn

Untold

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Netflix

After releasing excellent Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance in 2020, Netflix is soon becoming home to high-quality sports docuseries, and Untold is one of the latest well-reviewed additions to the roster. As the title suggests, the series examines previously untold stories or provides new perspectives to people and events from across the world of sport, covering remarkable incidents from tennis, boxing, basketball and more.

The first subject is Untold: Malice at the Palace, which provides a re-contextualisation of the infamous Pacers-Pistons NBA brawl of 2004 that involved both teams and spectators, re-examining the role of the fans after the media largely blamed the players. The reshaping of established narratives is a theme that continues in later episodes, with attention turning to topics such as the rise and fall of boxer Christy Martin, the athletic career of Caitlyn Jenner and Mardy Fish's decision to withdraw from the US Open due to struggles with anxiety.

While each episode is presented as feature-length films running at 75-90 minutes, they are all part of the Untold series created by brothers Chapman Way and Maclain Way, the team behind Netflix‘s true crime hit Wild Wild Country. After a triumphant and somewhat eventful return to live sport in 2021, the time is perfect for an engaging, thought-producing exploration of sport and public perception. –

Daniel Furn

Outer Banks

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Netflix

As the home of Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why here in the UK, Netflix has very much cornered the teen drama market. However Outer Banks may well be one of the streaming service's best, balancing the usual teen tropes with a rip-roaring sense of adventure as an over-arching search for buried treasure ties all the relationship drama together.

The show follows a group of 'Pogues', the working class residents of North Carolina's Outer Banks who are searching for the missing father of the group's ringleader, John B. Along the way they discover clues leading to a legendary treasure left behind by John's father - but a group of wealthy 'Kooks' are also after the gold...

As a teen show there is the usual dose of melodrama and a few unrealistic situations, but otherwise the show makes for a fun and breezy summer binge that occasionally touches on more serious topics such as drug addiction, consent and class divides. However the Outer Banks itself may well be the true star of the show, with some colourful cinematography and stunning locations truly creating the feel of an endless summer, and making this a very easy watch. –

Daniel Furn

Sky Rojo

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Netflix

Money Heist creator Alex Pina channels the pulp stylings of Quentin Tarantino for this darkly comedic thriller, which follows Coral, Gina and Wendy as they attempt to free themselves from the brothel in which they have become prisoners. The three make a messy, spontaneous escape one fateful evening, but ruthless henchmen Moisés and Christian are hot on their trail and closing in with every passing moment.

Sky Rojo crafts heartbreaking backstories for its three protagonists, with Verónica Sánchez, Yany Prado and superstar musician-turned-actor Lali Espósito excelling in some truly harrowing scenes. Indeed, this series offers an unflinching – and at times disturbing – look into the world of human trafficking and coerced sex work, but co-creator Pina is able to prevent the tone from becoming too bleak by leaning into pitch black humour at just the right moments.

With its lean 30 minute episodes, Sky Rojo naturally moves at a brisk pace which only goes to make the story feel even more chaotic. Not content with resting on its laurels, the recently released second season flips the premise on its head, offering a fresh twist on what came before as the leading ladies take brutal revenge on their pursuers. Imagine the stylish direction of Money Heist merging with the heightened reality of Kill Bill and you won't be far off. –

David Craig

Locke and Key

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Netflix

Based on an acclaimed comic book, Locke and Key has a premise that will likely prove irresistible to fans of dark fantasy. After the tragic and violent death of their father, the Locke family moves to their ancestral home in the quaint town of Matheson, Massachusetts, where youngest son Bode soon makes an unbelievable discovery. Within the grand old house are magical keys that – when put in the correct doors – give the holder the ability to do incredible things.

Whether it's leaving your physical body to float around on the astral plane or taking a trip into your mind to literally remove your demons, there is virtually no limit to what is possible with these mysterious magical artefacts. But such power is sure to attract malicious forces looking to wield it for their own nefarious purposes, with the Locke children soon getting swept up in something more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.

Netflix's Locke and Key does justice to the source material with a faithful and suspenseful adaptation, which packs some impressive visual effects and likeable performances. It's true that some of the high school drama is littered with tropes we've seen before, but the main plot is compelling enough to make it worth sticking through those segments. A second season is on the way later this year and Netflix has already ordered a third, so make sure you're caught up if you want to avoid spoilers. –

David Craig

Firefly Lane

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Netflix

Katherine Heigl and Scrubs star Sarah Chalke play childhood best friends in this Netflix adaptation of Kristin Hannah's book of the same name, Firefly Lane.

The drama has now been renewed for a second season, so what better time to catch up with longtime friends and later colleagues, Tully (Heigl) and Kate (Chalke) through 30 years of love, heartbreak and divorce.

In the present-day, Heigl plays a famous talkshow host who has her own show, The Girlfriend Hour, while Chalke plays Kate, Tully's longtime best friend who quit journalism to focus on raising a family. – 

Flora Carr.

Atypical

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Netflix

Robia Rashid's comedy-drama about a teenager on the autism spectrum recently returned to Netflix for a fourth and final season, so why not binge-watch the hit series from the beginning?

Atypical follows 18-year-old Sam Gardner (played by Keir Gilchrist), who works at local appliance store Techtropolis and is obsessed with penguins and Antarctica. At the start of the series he begins to explore the world of online dating.

The show also focuses on Sam's family, including matriarch Elsa, who begins a flirtation and later extra-marital affair with a bartender; and Casey, Sam's younger, athletic sister who begins to have romantic feelings for a close friend. –

Flora Carr.

Never Have I Ever

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Netflix

Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, this joyful coming-of-age comedy-drama recently launched its second series, once again following Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) as she attempts to improve her social status in high school while simultaneously dealing with her (almost literally) crippling grief.

Before the events of Never Have I Ever, Devi's beloved father had a heart attack and died during a school concert in her freshman year, after which she lost the use of her legs for three months. But it's a new school year, and Devi is desperate to forge a new identity for herself, beyond both her public loss and her fiery temper (appropriately, famously quick-tempered tennis player John McEnroe narrates the show).

The series is laugh-out-loud funny, and has been widely praised for its South Asian representation and for breaking Asian stereotypes. – 

Flora Carr.

Young Royals

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Swedish-language, coming-of-age boarding school drama Young Royals takes the well-worn "love versus duty" predicament and turns it on its head, telling the story of a Swedish prince who is packed off following a public scandal.

Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) is the disaffected, second-born royal prince, but he still feels suffocated by the weight of expectation placed upon him. At Hillerska (a fictional, prestigious boarding school in Sweden, where Young Royals was filmed), he's expected to mix with Sweden's most elite teenagers; but he finds himself drawn to ostracised scholarship student Simon, who is shown to be (almost literally) from the 'wrong side of the tracks'.

While the series feels predictable in some places (you can find out more in our non-spoiler Young Royals review), in others the heartfelt six-part drama subverts the viewer's expectations completely, with a gut-wrenching twist. – 

Flora Carr. 

Feel Good

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Netflix

When it comes to Netflix comedy-dramas, you don't get much better than Feel Good – Mae Martin's semi-autobiographical series that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.

The romcom stars Martin as Canadian comedian and ex-cocaine addict Mae, who meets repressed middle-class woman George (Charlotte Ritchie) at a comedy club and the two strike up a relationship. Following the couple as they face hurdles in their intense relationship, from George's hesitancy to introduce Mae as her girlfriend to Mae's addiction past, the series is an intimate, hilarious and yet utterly heart-breaking look at complex queer relationships.

While Ritchie and Martin stand out in Feel Good, Friends star Lisa Kudrow is always a scene-stealer in the few episodes she appears in as Mae's uptight, cold mother, while the likes of Sophie Thompson, The Umbrella Academy's Ritu Arya, Ophelia Lovibond, Adrian Lukis and Anthony Head fill out the rest of the talented cast. – 

Lauren Morris

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson

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Netflix

Returning for a second season, Saturday Night Live star Tim Robinson's absurd sketch show is back for more of the strangest yet most side-splitting hours of television on Netflix. The first season became the breakout critical hit of 2019 for its offbeat, irreverent and wholly original reinvention of the format, with sketches including a man singing yacht rock at his mother’s funeral, a hotdog car crashing into a clothes shop and an octogenarian at a car focus group that has become a viral sensation.

Robinson's sketches are undeniably bizarre, but what makes them work is that they are (mostly) deeply relatable, with the comedian targeting the usual cringe-worthy situations and social faux pas before hijacking them to extreme levels of absurdity. Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk and Cruella's Paul Walter Houser are among the celebrities joining in the surreal skits in season two, joining an already impressive list of guest stars that has previously included Andy Samberg, Will Forte and Steven Yeun.

- Daniel Furn.

Lupin

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Part Two of French mystery thriller Lupin arrived on Netflix last week and quickly shot up the platform's Top 10 most-watched list, with fans desperate to check back in with 'gentleman thief' Assane after Part One's tense cliffhanger.

If you haven't yet streamed Lupin, then you're seriously missing out. The ever-charismatic Omar Sy stars as Assane Diop, a man seeking revenge against the creepy tycoon Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre), who framed his late father Babakar for a crime he didn't commit 25 years prior. Inspired by the adventures of literary icon Arsène Lupin – (think a French combination of Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood) – Assane sets out to harness Lupin's powers of persuasion to get justice for his father.

An exciting, gripping and action-filled heist caper featuring a terrific performance from Sy, Lupin is guaranteed to steal your heart. - 

Lauren Morris.

Sweet Tooth

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If you're looking for your next fantasy obsession, then look no further. Now available to stream on Netflix is Sweet Tooth – a post-apocalyptic fantasy drama executive produced by Marvel mensch Robert Downey Jr.

Starring The Last Man on Earth star Will Forte and Game of Thrones's Nonso Anozie, the eight-parter follows Gus (Christian Convery) – a half-human, half-deer living secretly in the Nebraskan woods with his sickly father in a time when humanity has been nearly wiped out by a deadly virus. With the remaining humans unsure whether the virus caused the human-animal hybrids or vice versa, Gus ventures out into a hostile world when his father dies and is rescued by a mysterious loner named Jepperd.

A heart-warming tale of adventure with a post-apocalyptic horror twist, this drama certainly lives up to its name. - 

Lauren Morris

American Horror Story

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Ryan Murphy is one of the biggest names in television these days, having signed a record-breaking $300million deal with Netflix - and American Horror Story is one of the shows that put him on the map. An anthology series, American Horror Story tells a different scary story every season, with the show introducing brand new characters and locations every year. However, the one thing that remains consistent is the horror element - with the show ranging from weird to spooky to downright disturbing, always finding a new way to scare despite being ten seasons in now.

Horror is a genre that is full of copycats and can very easily become stale, but Murphy has truly crafted a unique series unlike anything else on TV. Freaky, creepy and occasionally deranged, American Horror Story has had varied responses across its individual seasons but is bursting with originality, style and a love for the genre. Stellar performances from some incredible actors help also, with Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Lily Rabe the most frequent returning actors - while Lady Gaga won a Globe award for her memorable appearance in season five. –

Daniel Furn

Kim's Convenience

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CBC

The fifth season of Canadian comedy Kim's Convenience has just dropped on Netflix, with Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang and Simu Liu reprising their roles as the much-loved Kim family.

Since making its CBC Television debut in 2016, the sitcom from Ins Choi has slowly become a word-of-mouth hit in the UK on Netflix (à la Schitt's Creek) thanks to its sharp, quick-witted dialogue and comical characters. Set in Toronto, the comedy follows Korean immigrants Sang-il Kim (Sun-Hyung Lee) and Yong-mi Kim (Yoon), whose lives revolve around their corner shop in the Moss Park neighbourhood and their children – university student Janet (Bang) and Jung (Liu). A screw-ball sitcom with bite, Kim's Convenience is worth a watch if you're in need of a chuckle. – 

Lauren Morris

Master of None

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Netflix

Aziz Ansari's dramedy Master of None is back for a third series, but with a completely different focus this time around. While Ansari reprises his role as Dev (who took centre stage in seasons one and two) a handful of times, the third season shines a spotlight on Denise (Westworld's Lena Waithe) and her relationship with Alicia (The End of the F***ing World's Naomi Ackie).

Titled Master of None Presents: Moments in Love, the third season follows Denise, a 37-year-old lesbian novelist, as she navigates her marriage to Alicia, who embarks on an emotional IVF journey. Waithe and Ackie are superb in this five-parter, written by both Ansari and Waithe, with the minimised cast really emphasising Denise and Alicia's relationship as the season's key focus point. If you were a fan of Master of None's first two seasons, you'll love this long-awaited season three and its rejuvenation of the comedy-drama genre even more. – 

Lauren Morris

Downton Abbey

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If you've somehow missed out on the pop culture phenomenon that was Downton Abbey, all six series of the prestigious period drama are now available on Netflix to binge ahead of the upcoming Downton Abbey 2. For the uninitiated, the show follows the Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era between 1912 and 1926, as the British aristocracy begins a slow and steady decline. Several real-life events and their impact on the British social hierarchy are featured, most notably the sinking of the Titanic, the First World War, the Irish War of Independence and the Beer Hall Putsch.

As well as becoming a sensation in the UK, Downton Abbey also became an international success, leading to Hollywood careers for stars such as Lily James, Dan Stevens and Hugh Bonneville. However several cast members were acting legends in their own right already - with Dame Maggie Smith's character Violet and her devastating put-downs one of the show's many highlights. A feature film was released in 2019, with a long-awaited sequel due out in 2022.  

– Daniel Furn

Below Deck

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Bravo

As trashy TV goes, Below Deck is a nautical rank above the rest with its entertaining deck crews, ridiculously wealthy guests and more than enough yachting drama to float your boat. Originally a Bravo show, this reality series is available to stream on Netflix for UK viewers and while you may initially just tip your toe in the enticing waters of Below Deck, you'll soon find yourself swimming through multiple seasons in one sitting.

Each season follows the crew of a luxury super yacht, always captained by the no-nonsense 'Stud of the Sea' Captain Lee, from the beginning of their Caribbean charter to the very end. As the staff are run off their feet by demanding guests, incompetent colleagues and the unpredictable nature of the Mediterranean, we watch as spicy chaos ensues – from secret relationships and fiery rows, to hugely dramatic firings. You certainly won't be disappointed if you decide to board the exciting ship that is Below Deck. 

– Lauren Morris

Castlevania

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Netflix

Netflix is unfurling its wings one last time, as Castlevania bows out with its final season. Following the cliffhanger ending of season three, the forces of Carmilla are ready to rid the world of humans, Isaac questions his loyalties to the vampire world, and Alucard seems to be following in his father’s footsteps.

At its core, Castlevania season four evolves from just being about Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) and Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). After living Sypha’s life of “adventures and victories”, things descend into the bloody world of Belmont. The bickering duo works together like a vampire-hunting Bonnie and Clyde, with the final season debuting a Belmont-esque Sypha that even swears. There’s also plenty for the pale-skinned Alucard, who is at his most dangerous and shows the toll of what being Dracula’s son really means..

The real highlight though  is Jaime Murray’s performance as Carmilla. Not since Buffy butted heads with Drusilla has a vampire villainess been so enigmatic and interesting.

Watch out too for an epic showdown in episode nine – a glorious shower of blood and guts that looks like it’s been pulled directly from a Castlevania game. It’s a symphony of the macabre that becomes one of the most beautiful things we’ve seen on Netflix.

– Tom Chapman

The Strang

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Harlan Coben is fast becoming Netflix’s answer to Jed Mercurio, and this series has all the tension and intrigue of Line of Duty. Hot off the heels of his hugely successful series Safe, The Stranger tells the intriguing story of a woman who parachutes into people’s lives, drops bombshells and then disappears as quickly as she arrived.

For example, Adam (played by Richard Armitage) is minding his own business at his son’s football match when The Stranger says hello, tells him his wife faked her most recent pregnancy (and subsequent miscarriage), and then dashes off before he can work out what on earth is going on. Unsurprisingly his life is thrown into a spin and he can’t work out who to trust. B

ut why does this woman want to stir trouble? And how does she find out these closely guarded secrets? With an exceptional cast including Jennifer Saunders, Siobhan Finneran and Dervla Kirwan, the mysteries will keep you guessing right up to the very end. In fact, we still have a couple of questions even though we devoured every episode in record time…

- Emma Bullimore

Dark

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Netflix

Netflix’s first German-language show, Dark is a terrific sci-fi series with a superb cast and a plot that redefines the word mind-bending.

Equal parts gritty Nordic Noir mystery, early Twin Peaks and Back to the Future, the show introduces viewers to Jonas – a teenager whose father recently died who gets sucked into a mysterious plot concerning missing children and a portal that leads him to the 1980s.

Ahead of the third and final season, released in 2020, the show set itself a difficult task: with a set-up so complex and a mythology so knotty, it seemed almost impossible the series could tie itself up in a neat little bow and reach a conclusion that would satisfy it’s adoring fanbase.

Thankfully however, it delivered– the final series was another irresistible piece of sci-fi television, equal parts mesmerising and confounding, with a sweeping scope that gave it the sense of a true epic. With its exhilarating finale Dark has earned its place among the list of the very best original series made for the streamer.

- Patrick Cremona

The Haunting of Hill House

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Henry Thomas in The Haunting of Hill House
Steve Dietl/Netflix

Now this is how you update a classic horror story. Mike Flanagan’s loose adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel of the same name is a stylish, heartbreaking and – most importantly terrifying – piece of television, one of the finest horror series to ever air on the small screen.

At its heart is a group of five siblings, Steven, Shirley, Theodora, Luke, and Eleanor (Nell), whose lives continue to be profoundly affected by a traumatic incident they experienced in their childhood, while staring at the eponymous property. When another tragedy strikes, the family is brought together once again, finally getting the chance to confront their ongoing trauma. The series flits between both timelines and is awash with superb performances – with Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen among the standouts.

It was followed in 2020 by The Haunting of Bly Manor, a different story from the same creative team, this time finding inspiration in the work of Henry James, and specifically his novella The Turn of the Screw. Although not quite at the same level as its predecessor, it was another ambitious and bold series once again using ghosts as a means of exploring trauma and grief in an endlessly inventive way.

- Patrick Cremona

Riverdale

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Veronica (Camila Mendes) in Riverdale
The CW

Still wildly careening down the teen drama tracks is the seemingly unstoppable train that is Riverdale – The CW’s stylised series loosely based on the long-running Archie Comics. Starring KJ Apa as protagonist Archie Andrews, the series follows the high school jock as he joins his friends Betty (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and new student Veronica (Camila Mendes) in their search for the truth around missing rich kid Jason Blossom.

While Riverdale may have started in 2017 as a dark murder mystery that modernised Archie’s legendary comic book characters, over the past four years it’s ventured into a number of unpredictable, unrealistic, ridiculous and sometimes hilarious territories – from serial killer The Black Hood terrorising Riverdale residents and students becoming obsessed with the Gargoyle King, to the emergence of a local cult that’s been secretly harvesting organs. Nevertheless, the show has hung on to a loyal group of fans who still tune for the outrageous plot twists, the random romantic relationships and the meme-worthy dialogue. With five seasons now available for UK fans to watch on Netflix and more series in the works, it doesn’t look like the Riverdale railway is coming to an end anytime soon.

- Lauren Morris

You

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Penn Badgley stars in YOU season 2 on Netflix
Netflix

The world was completely gripped when You launched on Netflix at the end of 2018 - and viewers haven’t really stopped looking over their shoulders since. The psychological thriller set in New York (and later, Los Angeles) sees creepy (but also kinda likeable) Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley) and his developing obsession for Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail).

Over the course of 10 episodes, we stare in horror as his lust turns into toxic desire. At times, the Netflix series makes you laugh, but as the tone shifts in the story, so too does a viewer’s unease; this is quite simply not the kind of series you want to watch in the dark, before bed. A second season sees Joe move to Los Angeles where he attempts to start afresh, but soon discovers his obsessions can only be repressed for so long.

You might not be the most sophisticated thriller on the streaming platform, but without a doubt the story will have you gripped throughout. At times violent and deeply disturbing, You is a series to binge on one rainy weekend day, especially in anticipation of season three.

- Helen Daly

Good Girls

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Christina Hendricks, Rette and Mae Whitman in Good Girls
NBC Universal

Considering the phenomenal success of Desperate Housewives, it’s unbelievable how few shows have tried to replicate its very specific appeal. While the premise of Good Girls is different, DH fans will love its vibe – the show gives us three leading ladies, living ordinary lives but facing extraordinary plot lines, wading through dangerous situations with humour and a perfect blow dry.

We’re also given three stellar actresses at the top of their game – Retta from Parks and Rec, Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and Arrested Development’s Mae Whitman – playing women who all have legitimate reasons for needing a cash injection in their lives. They hatch a misjudged plan to rob a local grocery store, only to discover that a serious gang had their eye on the same payday.

Spin forward a bit and three quietly brilliant housewives find themselves drawn into a life of crime, with brilliantly addictive results. Fresh, funny and fearless, the show is now on its fourth season, but still seems to fly under the radar. It never quite had the fanfare of Dead to Me, but the show is just as easy to obsess over. Give it a try.

- Emma Bullimore

Snowpiercer

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Snowpiercer - Netflix

Adapting a hit film into a TV show is always a risky move, especially when that film is one as good as Bong Joon-ho’s superbly whacky sci-fi Snowpiercer. And while this series – which had something of a rocky production – doesn’t reach the heights of the movie, it nonetheless has its charms, especially in its superior second season – which added Sean Bean to the cast in wonderfully scenery-chewing mode.

Like the film, the series is set on a train that endlessly circles the Earth following a tragic climate disaster that has left the whole planet frozen over and completely uninhabitable. Within that set-up, the show examines the relations between different characters on the train, which has come to adopt a rigid class system that eventually leads to a major revolt from those on the lowest rung of society.

The series isn’t quite as bonkers as the movie in its stylistic approach, but there are some enjoyable performances and interesting character dynamics at play. It was with the aforementioned addition of Sean Bean in series two that the show really began to pick up – with his gleefully evil villain injecting much more life into the series.

- Patrick Cremona

13 Reasons Why

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Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why on Netflix (Hannah Baker)

Hugely popular Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why came to an end last year after four seasons, and while the teen drama generated a lot of controversy for its depiction of suicide, sexual assault and bullying, it raked in millions of viewers over its four-year run. Executive produced by Selena Gomez and based on Jay Asher’s novel of the same name, 13 Reasons Why stars Dylan Minnette as Clay, a teenager who receives a collection of cassettes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) – a classmate of his who recently died by suicide. As he listens to the tapes one by one, he discovers what drove Hannah to end her life and how 12 people at their school, including himself, were responsible in some way.

The show’s approach to incredibly dark and gravely serious matters of mental health isn’t as thoughtful, sensitive or tactful as it should be considering its teen target audience and on this front, it only seems to get worse as the seasons go on – however, Minnette, Langford and Kate Walsh, who plays Hannah’s mother Olivia, deliver stunning performances as each of their characters emotionally unravel throughout this Netflix drama’s first season.

- Lauren Morris

The Last Kingdom

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Alexander Dreymon in The Last Kingdom
Netflix

Game of Thrones fans should feel right at home in The Last Kingdom partly inspired by real British history. Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story) plays fierce warrior Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who was born to a Saxon nobleman but raised among Danish invaders. Torn between these two clashing worlds, he is forced to choose a side as the war for England rages on.

Dreymon is the breakout star of the show, with his roguish character embarking on many compelling quests as he strives to reclaim the land that is rightfully his. David Dawson (Year of the Rabbit) also earned acclaim for his performance as the pious King Alfred, who is both friend and foe to Uhtred at various stages in his life. Their complex bond is an electric component of the first three seasons.

Based on the popular novels by author Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom began life as a BBC Two drama before later converting to a Netflix original. While it’s never enjoyed the hefty budget of George RR Martin’s fantasy epic, the show has nevertheless orchestrated some ambitious battles in its four seasons so far – with no shortage of swords, horses and, inevitably, blood.

- David Craig

Fargo

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YouTube/Channel 4

It can be a bit nerve-racking when one of your favourite films gets turned into a TV show, but this adaptation of the classic 1996 Coen Brothers movie, Fargo, is absolutely exquisite. There have been four seasons so far, starring the likes of Ewan McGregor, Ted Danson, Jessie Buckley and Chris Rock, but the first is the true masterpiece. Billy Bob Thornton plays enigmatic hitman Lorne Malvo, as humorous as he is horrific, a character with such disturbing charisma that he could only be a Coen Brothers creation.

A twist of fate means Lorne finds himself in rural Minnesota, where he bumps into life insurance salesman, Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman (who, it turns out, does a good American accent). The pair have a seemingly casual conversation that ends up having huge consequences… Colin Hanks and Alison Tolman give scene-stealing performances in a perfectly-cast, rich and beautifully crafted drama that will make you wish all telly was half as good. While film fans will be happy with the result, it’s worth saying that you really don’t need to know anything about the movie to enjoy the series, so get stuck in.

- Emma Bullimore

Virgin River

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Mel and Jack in Virgin River on Netflix
Netflix

If you’re a sucker for romantic dramas, then you need to watch Virgin River – the Netflix series based on Robyn Carr’s novels of the same name. Starring The Walking Dead’s Alexandra Breckenridge, this hugely popular series follows midwife Mel Monroe as she moves to the rural North Californian town Virgin River to start a new life and leave her painful past behind in the city. While she continues to battle heartbreak and still agonises over a deep tragic secret, Mel finds herself striking up a connection with local bar owner and former marine Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), who’s haunted by his own traumas.

Since arriving on the platform in 2019, Virgin River has regularly dominated Netflix’s top 10 list, with season two even overtaking The Crown to claim the top spot towards the end of last year – which comes as no surprise considering how charming the small-town series is. Packed with endearing characters – from the stubborn yet caring local doctor Doc Mullins (Tim Matheson) to the honourable and kind chef Preacher (Colin Lawrence) – and more love triangles than you’d expect to find in a tiny, unfrequented village, this romantic drama is a warm hug in TV form, so binge-able that you’ll sail through its two seasons in just a few sittings.

- Lauren Morris

Homeland

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Claire Danes in Homeland (Channel 4, EH)

An iconic piece of modern-day television, Homeland ran for almost 10 years and, in this critic’s eyes, will no doubt be looked back on as a defining TV show of the 2010s. However, the drama will probably be best remembered for its first three seasons, charting the cat-and-mouse relationship between Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), an American soldier and prisoner of war held captive by al-Qaeda, and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA officer with bipolar disorder.

After Brody returns home to the US and begins debating a career in politics, Carrie becomes convinced that Brody was ‘turned’ during his captivity, and is now working as a double agent. Both Lewis and Danes won Emmy Awards for their roles; and perhaps an even more prestigious recommendation is former President Barack Obama’s well-known love for the show. In the UK, the series was released on Channel 4, with the season one finale drawing in 2.8 million viewers. Mandy Patinkin also stars as Saul Berenson, a CIA chief and Carrie’s mentor; while Morena Baccarin plays Brody’s wife Jessica, who had long assumed her husband was dead and had begun a relationship with his best friend.

- Flora Carr

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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BROOKLYN NINE-NINE -- "Admiral Peralta" Episode 710 -- Pictured: Andre Braugher as Ray Holt -- (Photo by: John P. Fleenor/NBC)

When it comes to silly sitcoms, few ever reach the dizzying heights of Brooklyn Nine-Nine – the police procedural comedy starring Andy Samberg. Set in New York City’s fictional 99th precinct, this NBC series (formerly Fox) follows its detectives: the immature but effective Jake Peralta (Samberg), his foodie best friend Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Troglio), hard-as-nails cop Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and bodybuilding lieutenant Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews). Overseen by their overly-formal, monotonous captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher), Brooklyn Nine-Nine focuses on the cops’ various cases, their crime-solving attempts and the shenanigans they get up to when they’re not out in the field.

Hilariously wacky, fast-paced and consistently entertaining, all seven series of this Michael Schur-produced sitcom consist of bingeworthy gems, full of stellar guest stars (Nick Kroll, Bill Hader, Kathryn Hahn, Maya Rudolph and Zooey Deschanel among others) and heart-warming moments between the show’s multi-layered characters. With an eighth (and sadly final) season on its way, now is the perfect time to revisit this feel-good comedy.

- Lauren Morris

White House Farm

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There’s something about a true crime drama that hooks us in more than any other genre. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to look behind the scenes of a case we’ve read so much about in the papers, and this series depicts one of the most famous murders in British history. White House Farm is the chilling story of a couple, their daughter and their two grandsons who were killed in their Essex farmhouse by their son, Jeremy Bamber in 1985, who claimed he had nothing to do with their deaths. Understandably, these shocking events hit the headlines at the time, and have been written about ever since, but this six-part ITV drama still feels fresh, sensitive and important. The ever-brilliant Stephen Graham plays leading detective DCI Taff Jones, and this is a chance to see mistakes that may have been made in the original investigation, while Freddie Fox plays Bamber. Although it’s a disturbing watch, this is an excellently crafted drama with an important story to tell. And there’s a reason that so many true crime series end up on ITV – they make them expertly, and White House Farm is no exception.

- Emma Bullimore

The Queen's Gambit

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The Queen's Gambit on Netflix
Netflix

Chess might be a fascinating game, but it's probably fair to say most don’t really view it as a spectator sport. On the face of it, then, a limited series revolving around the subject might not sound like a likely candidate for a mega word-of-mouth smash, but Scott Frank’s series, The Queen's Gambit, became exactly that when it arrived on Netflix in 2020.

Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, the narrative follows Beth Harmon – a young orphan and chess prodigy whose rise to the top of the game is offset by frequent struggles with addiction. Anya Taylor-Joy turns in one of the best small-screen performances in recent memory in the lead role, and is helped by a brilliant supporting cast that includes Marielle Heller, Harry Melling and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

Lavishly produced and filled with wonderful period detail, the sumptuous series includes an array of expertly-staged chess match set-pieces and a plot that will keep you engaged for every minute of its seven-episode run.

- Patrick Cremona

After Life

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Netflix

While there are lots of TV shows about death and murder, there are very few that really examine the experience of grief. And the last person you might expect to give us a sensitive depiction of loss is the man famed for cringe comedy, Ricky Gervais. But while it looks a little strange on paper, After Life is exceptionally funny and devastating in equal measure. And very sweary in places (if bad language offends you, you’re probably best to give it a swerve).

When Tony loses his wife to cancer, the only reason he has to get out of bed in the morning is his dog. The rest of his life feels empty, his job at the local paper seems pointless and the world infuriates him. But gradually (and reluctantly) he begins to piece together a way to live his life again. The show features a brilliant cast (look out for Penelope Wilton as the woman who shares his grief at the cemetery), a great German Shepherd, and uncomfortable emotions that sometimes only comedy can confront. No wonder this is the only one of Gervais’ shows that he has agreed to write a third season for.

- Emma Bullimore

The Good Place

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While the idea of setting a sitcom in the afterlife and spending four seasons examining different philosophical theories around morality and human existence doesn’t sound like the best concept for a fun, light-hearted watch, The Good Place is nothing like the comedies that came before it. Created by Michael Schur – the producer behind The Office US – this fantasy sitcom stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, an inconsiderate Arizona-based pharmaceutical saleswoman who dies in a shopping trolley accident and finds herself in “the Good Place” – an exclusive Heaven-like world populated by those who lived righteous and upstanding lives on Earth. After being welcomed by the utopia’s architect Michael (Ted Danson), she soon realises that she’s been let in by mistake and convinces her appointed “soul mate”, an ethics professor named Chidi (William Jackson Harper), to help her become a better person.

Despite touching on a number of philosophical concepts throughout the show, The Good Place shares a sense of humour with sitcoms like Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and keeps fans entertained the ridiculous one-liners from its vastly different characters – narcissistic British philanthropist Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and unintelligent DJ and drug dealer Jason (Manny Jacinto) to name a few – and the hilarious performances from its stars, like Emmy-nominated D’Arcy Carden who shines as the Good Place human-like database Janet.

- Lauren Morris

Suits

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Patrick J Adams and Meghan Markle in Suits (Getty, EH)

With everything that’s happened in recent years (including that Oprah interview), it’s naturally intriguing to look back at Meghan Markle as the world first met her – as an actress in long-running legal drama, Suits. But while it’s fun to watch the Duchess of Sussex playing paralegal Rachel (she starred in 108 episodes), this show was getting huge audiences long before its brush with royalty. The series is all about Harvey, an established lawyer in New York City, and Mike, who manages to blag a job with him despite not going to law school.

The two charismatic legal eagles work together on important cases, fight for justice and even have some spare time for love interests too (Markle’s Rachel has an ongoing romance with Mike), keeping us entertained with drama in and out of the courtroom. When Suits first burst onto the scene it felt fresh, fun, pacy and witty, exactly the kind of show we love to binge after a long day. While it lost its sparkle a little by season nine, the show is still well worth your time – you’ll fall in love with the characters instantly, and it might even make you want to swap those lockdown PJs for a suit.

- Emma Bullimore

Modern Family

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It’s won 22 Emmys, lasted 11 seasons and it even gave us a scene with David Beckham and Courtney Cox in a hot tub – Modern Family is an undisputed comedy heavyweight. As with all shows featuring children that eventually grow up, the early seasons were the best, but the show managed to stay fresh for a long time. While plots included big subjects like same-sex marriage, adoption, age-gap relationships and step-parenting, the show’s priority was always being ferociously funny rather than political. The humour is the kind that doesn’t exclude your gran, but isn’t so twee that it loses its bite.

Each of the characters is gloriously recognisable yet unique and the relationships are full of love, but never saccharine. In short, it’s everything you could want from a family comedy. As with all the best sitcoms, it’s impossible to decide on a favourite character. Is it irrepressible Cam who is always embarrassing Mitch with his flamboyance? Or “cool dad” Phil who couldn’t be less cool if his life depended on it? Or Gloria, the Colombian icon created by Sofia Vergara? Or maybe Stella the French bulldog? Perhaps the show’s casting director should take as much credit for the show’s success as the brilliantly observant writers.

- Emma Bullimore

Love is Blind

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Believe it or not, in a time before the pandemic we fell in love with a show all about self isolation. Love is Blind is the dating show with a difference that took the world by storm in early 2020. The premise was simple, yet also quite extreme… 30 men and women were looking for love and entered a show centred on speed dating. They would enter a pod where they could talk with a prospective partner, but never meet them. The couple would only meet with each other if they got married.

We got adorable romances (we’re looking at you, Lauren and Cameron!), high drama, a runaway bride and so many awkward moments we don’t have enough space within this entry to name them all. If you love shows like Love Island and The Bachelor, you can’t miss Love is Blind. Plus, we’re expecting more drama in 2021 from the team so there’s never been a better time to catch up with the gang.

- Helen Daly

Bojack Horseman

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Across six wonderful seasons, this animated series about an alcoholic humanoid horse did something very few TV shows can manage: it perfectly blended laugh out loud comedy with dark, deep subject matter in a way that felt both effortless and profound.

Will Arnett leads the voice cast as the titular Bojack, a washed up television star living in Hollywood and desperately angling for a comeback at any cost. Throughout the series, we also meet his affable former rival Mr Peanut Butter, his agent and ex-girlfriend Princess Caroline, and two human characters, Todd Chavez and Diane Nguyen, each of whom get numerous chances to shine in both humorous and serious storylines.

Tackling issues including the perils of fame, addiction and depression but also containing an incredible range of visual gags and wordplay Bojack Horseman is easily one of the best Netflix originals currently available, and arguably one of the finest TV shows of all time.

- Patrick Cremona

The Serpent

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The Serpent
BBC

This co-production first aired on the BBC as their prestige New Year's Day drama earlier in 2021, and is now available in full on Netflix. The current craze for true crime gets a 1970s spin in The Serpent, a dramatisation of the life of Charles Sobhraj who was the chief suspect in the murder of at least twelve Western travellers along the Hippie Trail between 1963 and 1976. Spanning five or six countries over a twenty-year-plus period, the limited series is a truly globe-trotting crime odyssey detailing how Sobhraj earned his nickname of The Serpent by constantly slipping through police clutches, conducting numerous elaborate prison escapes and bouncing between borders with a bevy of stolen passports.

A chilling Tahir Rahim steals the show with his understated and reptilian take on Sobhraj, but Victoria's Jenna Coleman gives him a good run for his money as devoted follower Marie-Andrée Leclerc. MotherFaherSon's Billy Howle plays the dedicated Duch diplomat who dedicates his life to a cat-and-mouse chase with the criminal, with Les Misérables star Ellie Bamber rounding out the cast as his wife and fellow investigator. Indeed it seems a few dodgy accents and a tad too much time hopping are the only flaws in this international crime caper - otherwise The Serpent remains an unnerving examination of a serpentine serial killer, an obsessive focus on catching him and the attitudes and apathy of the time that let him get away with it.

- Daniel Furn 

The OA

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The OA

It’s hard to categorise The OA at times. Throughout the 16 episodes you’ll see elements of mystery, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy and teen-drama, but what it is, is brilliant. The complex and building series was created by Brit Marling (who also leads the cast) and Zal Batmanglij who had planned for five parts, but sadly only got two. Nevertheless, the captivating story of Prairie Johnson is unmissable.

Prairie was missing for seven years and showed up completely unexpectedly with her blindness cured. Harbouring some nasty scars, her family desperately try to coax her story out of her. Now going by the name “The OA”, she connects with people who have had a similar experience to her while revealing her terrifying story. You’ll want to concentrate on this one, but the pay-offs are completely worth it.

- Helen Daly

Orange is the New Black

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Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black is not only Netflix’s most-watched original series, but also its longest - and if that doesn’t tempt you to it, then allow me to continue. Jenji Kohan’s trailblazing series is famous for breaking boundaries, telling stories of humanity, and its fantastic cast. We follow Taylor Schilling’s Piper Chapman, a 30-something woman who is sentenced to 15 months in a minimum-security prison after smuggling drugs. When she arrives at Litchfield Penitentiary, she finds an eccentric bunch of inmates all with very unique and personal stories to tell.

Alliances are formed, broken and tested throughout the course of the seven seasons, with Piper constantly at the heart of the story. As you continue through the story, you’ll laugh, cry, and have your heart-broken as the series delves into some hard-hitting topics including corruption, prison privatisation, racial discrimination and sexism. To put it simply, Orange Is the New Black is not only unmissable TV, it’s essential viewing.

- Helen Daly

The Umbrella Academy

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Aidan Gallagher plays Number Five on The Umbrella Academy on Netflix

Based on the graphic novel by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy follows an adopted family of super-powered misfits, whose exploits as child heroes have left them wounded, traumatised, dead or just disaffected despite their incredible abilities.

Forced back together by the death of their cruel “father” the Hargreeves siblings – played by Elliot Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Aidan Gallagher and Justin H. Min – stumble through a quest to save the world in the present day, before being thrown back through time and forced to do the same thing again in 1960s Dallas during the (superior) second season.

Named as one of Netflix’s most beloved series ever (apparently 43 million viewers streamed at least part of season two, making it the sixth most popular show of 2020) and with season three currently in the pipeline, on-demand shows don’t get much bigger than this peculiar offering.

The Umbrella Academy’s lesson is clear – all the super strength, mind control and necromancy in the world can’t mess you up more than your family. And amid all the action, dark jokes and death there’s something quite sweet about that.

- Huw Fullerton

Black Mirror

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Fionn Whitehead as Stefan (Netflix)

To say that Black Mirror is one of the greatest TV shows ever made would be to do it a disservice. Always current, sharp and delicately terrifying, Charlie Brooker’s series has flourished since it arrived on Netflix in 2016. All episodes are at your disposal on the streaming giant - and we really would recommend viewing them all. Despite there only being 21 episodes, a special and a film, every single episode is unique and completely like the one before it.

Brooker and his co-showrunner Annabel Jones explore modern society, calling into question concepts such as the danger of new technologies, the dark world of celebrity and even prison-reform-gone-bad, always portraying a dystopian world that is actually more real life than you’d ever think (or hope) possible. Plus, don’t miss Bandersnatch, your chance to choose your destiny in a completely revolutionary format.

- Helen Daly

Selling Sunset

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Selling Sunset cast
Netflix

A surprise hit of the last year came in the form of Selling Sunset, a reality TV show centred on The Oppenheim Group in Los Angeles. The group operates in the wealthiest parts of LA selling multi-million dollar homes to those lucky enough to afford them. The glamour is high throughout with more pairs of Louboutins than we can count on both hands, and enviable outfits are a must. But what’s most alluring with Selling Sunset, is the drama.

The series is packed to the brim with gossip even the Kardashians couldn’t produce and there’s enough backstabbing to keep you gripped throughout the three seasons. There are weddings, babies, fall out and some seriously pricey properties which might well make for the perfect recipe for a reality show. Tune in before the highly-anticipated new series comes later in 2021.

- Helen Daly

The Crown

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The Crown S4. Picture shows: Prince Charles (JOSH O CONNOR) and Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN)

Of course, we can never really be sure of the balance between fact and fiction in this series, but how thrilling it is to get a glimpse behind palace doors, into the private lives of one of the world’s most famous families. Claire Foy and Matt Smith set the tone with their stunning portrayals of a young Elizabeth and Philip whose relationship must survive the pressures of duty and the public gaze, and Vanessa Kirby made the world fall in love with a complex Princess Margaret.

As the years roll by, Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter lead the cast into a new era of the monarchy, with Josh O’ Connor and Emma Corrin bringing to life the difficult marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Nominated for more awards than the producers can count, this show was a game-changer for Netflix, bringing prestige, acclaim and a whole new audience, who were dipping their toes into streaming service waters for the first time just because they wanted to see The Crown. Beautifully acted, lavish and with a huge budget, it offers a tantalising new insight into a world we thought we knew, and people whose lives we’ve followed so closely, from afar.

- Emma Bullimore

Anne with an E

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Netflix series Anne with an E is the latest adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's 1908 classic novel, Anne of Green Gables. However, the show immediately stood out from past screen versions for tackling more gritty issues, including trauma and child abandonment, mined from the original book’s subtext. The three-season series follows Anne Shirley (Amybeth McNulty), an imaginative red-haired orphan adopted by an elderly brother and sister who live in Prince Edward Island, on their ancestral farm Green Gables.

The Cuthberts, Marilla (Geraldine James) and Matthew (R. H. Thomson), had planned to adopt an orphan boy to help around the farm, but instead Anne arrives by accident, turning their lives upside down. Anne is whip-smart, but she’s also scatter-brained, sensitive to slights, and accident-prone, resulting in countless scrapes - and a rather dramatic first encounter with a young man named Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann). Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett scripted the first season, and was joined by an all-female writing team on later seasons. The series first premiered back in 2017, and ran for a total of three seasons. You can watch the entire series from start to finish on Netflix now.

- Flora Carr

Too Hot to Handle

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When it comes to dating shows, not many come close to Love Island. With its stellar line-up of singletons, crazy challenges and twists which always stir the pot, it’s arguably the crème da la crème of reality TV shows. So, when we saw the trailer for Too Hot To Handle - which is basically Love Island minus the physical contact - we thought it had no chance!

Fast forward to the series finale, where the super-hot singletons got to find out how much of the original £100k cash prize they’d lost from breaking the rules (touching or kissing one another) and who would be taking home what was left of it, and we just couldn’t get enough of the show.

From contestants purposely breaking the rules (yes Hayley and Francesca, we’re talking to you) to others forming what looked like promising relationships, as Rhonda opened up to potential dates about being a single mum, we fell in love with the show literally overnight –it’s pretty easy to binge with just 10 episodes.

And with a new series on the way including a whole new cast, what better way to get started than by watching the first series. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

- Grace Henry

Ginny and Georgia

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Ginny and Georgia
Netflix

If you’re a fan of Gilmore Girls, then you need to watch Ginny and Georgia. With a very similar premise, looking at the strained mother and daughter relationship between young mum Georgia (Brianne Howey) and her very head strong teenage daughter Ginny (Antonia Gentry), the Netflix series is very reminiscent of the 2000s drama. However, Ginny and Georgia is so much more than a series about the awkward dynamics between parents and their children, with the hour-long episodes touching on multiple issues from sexuality, to disability, self-harming and race

As a mixed-race girl, Ginny faces numerous microaggressions in the small, New England town they’ve moved to as a family, along with Ginny’s younger brother Austin. The series also presents itself as a crime drama with Georgia – who has had a seriously hard life and ran away from her drug addict mum and abusive stepdad when she was just a teen – covering her tracks, following the mysterious death of her latest husband.

With lots of hilarious and heart-warming moments, Ginny and Georgia is a light-hearted teen drama, but it’s also not with some very heavy topics throughout. Nevertheless, the series always brings us back to a place of warmth with Georgia going to the end of the earth to protect her kids - a must watch if you ask me!

- Grace Henry

How to Get Away with Murder

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How To Get Away With Murder

With multiple TV awards and accolades, it’s safe to say Peter Nowalk struck gold with the critically acclaimed How To Get Away With Murder, which she debuted in 2014. Starring Emmy Award winning actress Viola Davis, who became the first black woman to win a primetime Emmy for her role as no-nonsense law professor Annalise Keating, HTGAWM has got to be one of the best legal thrillers that there is!

As the title implies, it follows Keating who works at a prestigious Philadelphia university, who with five of her students becomes wrapped up in a murder plot.

While Davis is impeccable as the complex character that is Keating, battling her own issues with alcohol, sexuality and so on, we also have an ensemble cast when it comes to her students known as “The Keating Five”.

We see Harry Potter star Alfred Enoch as the loveable orphan, Wes Gibbins, Jack Falahee as the ambitious, yet sometimes selfish Connor Walsh, Aja Naomi King as outspoken student, Michaela Pratt, Matt McGorry as Asher Millstone – who begins the series completely unaware of his white privilege – and Karla Souza as the headstrong, Laurel Castillo.

And if that wasn’t enough to draw you in, we also have Bridgerton’s very own Shonda Rhimes as the executive producer. There’s even a cross over with Scandal in season 7 – yes Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating were in a courtroom together. Talk about Black Girl Magic!

- Grace Henry

Bridgerton

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Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett (Netflix)

Netflix didn’t have much of a reputation for period drama until recently (unless you count The Crown, which is hurtling towards the present day). But everything changed in the lockdown Christmas of 2020, when the world needed a little cheer. Santa Claus delivered the most glorious series onto the streaming service on 25th December, just in time for us to binge watch with our tins of Quality Street. Based on Julia Quinn’s popular novels, Bridgerton focusses on eight siblings looking for love in sparkling Regency London.

First to meet her match is Daphne, played by Phoebe Dynevor, who starts a fake love affair with the smouldering Duke of Hastings, aka breakout star and potential Bond Rege-Jean Page. But will their show-mance turn into romance? Fun and fresh, with brilliant performances, lavish costumes and a modern soundtrack, the series is a joyous distraction from everyday life and it went down a storm. So much so that it has already been commissioned up to season four, although Rege-Jean Page has announced he won’t be returning (boo). Each series will focus on a different sibling in search of a spouse.

- Emma Bullimore

Ackley Bridge

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We’ve all spent years traipsing up and down corridors, weighed down by oversized backpacks and trying to avoid committing any social faux-pas, so it’s no wonder that school-based dramas like Waterloo Road always attract an immediate and broad fanbase. While Netflix’s Sex Education has the cringe factor of teen relationships well and truly nailed for now, Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge has a lot more ground to cover.

The story starts when two Yorkshire schools are forced to merge, sparking instant rivalries and drama as two communities are thrown together. Never scared to address complex and uncomfortable subject matter, the show goes on to tackle storylines about sexuality, racism and poverty, while also giving us lighter moments and characters to fall in love with. There’s an impressive cast too, featuring the likes of Jo Joyner, Sunetra Sarker, Paul Nicholls, Rob James-Collier and Amy-Leigh Hickman. Even Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh crops up as a home-wrecking netball teacher, what more could you want?!

But the best part is that this show has an authentic, young voice, never speaking down to its teen audience and finding ways to explore the issues that matter to them.

- Emma Bullimore

Power

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Power season 6
Starz

You don’t need to love crime dramas to be able to get on board with Power. Produced by Courtney A. Kemp in collaboration with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, it follows “reformed gangster” and nightclub owner Jamie (or Ghost depending on who’s asking), as he tries to get away from the hood life and build his empire. But with close alliances, including his best pal Tommy Egan, played by Joseph Sikora, still very much in the game – and also using his business to clean their dirty money - Jamie is never really able to get away from crime.

One of Starz's most highly rated shows and one of cable's most watched shows, Power is a true gem, touching on various themes from love to violence, drugs and gangs.

The soundtrack is pretty lit too, with the iconic, theme tune by R&B star Joe pretty much topping the show, as he sings: “They say this is a big rich town, I just came from the poorest parts” over the beginning credits.

- Grace Henry

Gotham

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Making a Batman-inspired show that couldn't actually include Batman - that was never an enviable task, which makes it all the more impressive that Gotham actually became a very enjoyable show over the five seasons and 100 episodes it spent on our screens.

With young star David Mazouz growing into the central role of Bruce Wayne, Gotham gradually found its feet and cemented itself as a surprisingly wacky source of entertainment.

As is often the case with DC Comics adaptations, you could argue that the best thing about Gotham is its villains. From Robin Lord Taylor's twitchy turn as The Penguin to Cameron Monaghan's multiple Joker-inspired roles, Gotham oozes with over-the-top performances that help bring the city to life.

Even though there is the occasional dud of an episode (season 1 genuinely has a villain called Balloonman), it's worth sticking with Gotham to the end. Not only do the performances and plots get better, but you'll also get treated to a little glimpse of The Dark Knight himself at the end. It may have started as a Batman series without any Batman, but Gotham grew into an excellent show in its own right, culminating in a memorable finale that finally earns the iconic cape and cowl.

- Rob Leane

Marvel's Jessica Jones

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Krysten Ritter in Marvel's Jessica Jones (Netflix, HF)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe's small screen spinoffs live on Disney Plus now, but it's worth taking the time to dig back into the Netflix era of the Marvel TV project.

Spinning off from the Charlie Cox-starring Daredevil series (also worth a watch), Jessica Jones might just be the best Marvel/Netflix series of the bunch. It's a shame it didn't keep going, to be honest.

Running for three seasons at 39 episodes, Jessica Jones is a fantastic mix of fan-pleasing elements. Not only do you get some superpowered action and a loveably grumpy central performance from Krysten Ritter, but you also get an emotionally charged undercurrent, with the story delving deep into Jessica's personal struggles as well as her superhero ass-kicking.

Doctor Who legend David Tennant puts in an incredibly evil performance in season one, breathing life into the villainous Killmonger, a mind-controlling murderer that abused Jessica before the series began.

Long before Amazon's The Boys explored the darker side of superheroes, Marvel's Jessica Jones series was delivering a fleshed-out portrayal of post-traumatic stress disorder without losing sight of the action that fans expect from the genre.

Ritter reprised her role as Jessica for the underwhelming Defenders miniseries, but it's really in the core Jessica Jones series that you see the character at her best.

- Rob Leane

Line of Duty

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Line of Duty cast
BBC

If you haven’t watched Line of Duty yet, you’re probably sick of people asking, “how have you not watched Line of Duty?” But seriously: you should watch Line of Duty. Now in its sixth season, the drama follows the investigations of a police anti-corruption unit called AC-12, headed by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), whose “best team” includes detectives played by Martin Compston and Vicky McClure.

Each season, AC-12 investigates another potentially corrupt police officer, played by a high-profile actor: past guest stars have included Thandiwe Newton, Keeley Hawes and Lennie James. Writer and showrunner Jed Mercurio makes sure the show is tense (full of twists) and dense (full of information), but viewers are rewarded for paying attention – as an overarching story about organised crime and police corruption is threaded through Line of Duty from the very beginning. Season five is on Netflix, and you can find all the other episodes on iPlayer.

- Eleanor Bley Griffiths

The Irregulars

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Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Sherlock Holmes in The Irregulars (Netflix)

With so many different takes on Sherlock Holmes delivered over the years, Netflix’s new take on the famous sleuth goes for broke with not one but two revisionist takes on Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest creation, plunging him into a fantasy world while also sidelining him in favour of side-characters from the original stories.

Specifically, The Irregulars follows a gang of homeless teenagers hired by Doctor Watson (Royce Pierreson) to investigate strange crimes while Sherlock Holmes (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) is indisposed. Simultaneously, this reframing of the story is accompanied by a supernatural reimagining of Holmes’ Victorian playground, drawing from Conan Doyle’s well-documented interest in the fantastic (and some of his supernatural short stories) in a contrast to the rational mind of his great detective.

The final effect could be a bit of a mess, but anchored with winning performances from the younger stars (including Harrison Osterfield, Thaddea Graham, Darci Shaw, Mckell David and Jojo Macari) and fun monster-of-the-week stories, The Irregulars ends up as a compelling if slightly uneven fantasy adventure.

Though if you’re just waiting around to see Lloyd-Hughes’ new take on Sherlock, you might have a while to pass the time – this particular detective isn’t at Holmes until at least halfway through the series.

- Huw Fullerton

Peaky Blinders

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Dramas don’t get much more stylish than Peaky Blinders. Set in Birmingham between the World Wars, it follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family – led by Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, who has returned from the trenches to take over Birmingham (and beyond). The show would be worth watching just for Helen McCrory, who starred as the gang’s matriarch Polly Gray; she stole every scene she was ever in, and will be much missed by the show’s legions of fans. In the first five seasons, McCrory and Murphy were joined by actors including Sam Neill, Paul Anderson and Sam Claflin, as the show’s writer Steven Knight built a story around gang warfare, socialism, fascism, poverty, violence, community, class, family, and Tommy Shelby’s constant scrabble to beat his enemies and rise to the top. But no matter how far his journey has taken him, the demons are never far behind. The sixth and final season is in the works, and a feature-length movie looks set to cap the story off.

- Eleanor Bley Griffiths

The Witcher

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“Toss a coin to your Witcher, oh valley of plenty, oh valley of plenty, woah-oh-ohhh…toss a coin to your Witcher, a friend of humanity…eeeee-eeee!”

If you didn’t start instantly humming along to this legendary banger composed by The Witcher’s Jaskier (Joey Batey), then it’s high time you checked out Netflix’s fantasy monster drama – and not just for the sick (lute) beats.

Starring Henry Cavill as mutant monster-hunter Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher uses a twisted timeline to tell three parallel stories – Geralt’s adventures, the youth and training of sorcerer Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the travails of Princess Ciri of Cintra (Freya Allen) – as the fictional world they live in descends into war.

Stuffed with bizarre creatures, fast-paced action scenes (particularly in the first episode) and plenty of weird and wonderful characters, it’s no surprise that The Witcher has become one of Netflix’s biggest series.

And the creators of the earlier Witcher video game – based on the same collection of novels as the series – were probably pretty happy with the release too, given that sales of The Witcher 3 rose by 558 per cent following the Henry Cavill version’s debut.

So why not check out the Witcher – if nothing else, you’ll have a new earworm stuck in your head.

- Huw Fullerton

Dead To Me

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Dead to Me

Make sure you set a few hours aside for this show, because once you start watching you won’t be able to stop. Dead to Me is a gripping comedy-drama telling the story of two charismatic but very different women, thrown together by unfortunate circumstances to form an unlikely double act.

Christina Applegate plays estate agent and mother of two, Jen, whose world falls apart when her husband is killed in a hit and run. She’ll stop at nothing to find the person who ruined everything. Judy (Linda Cardellini) sees life through a very different lens – although she has experienced awful moments of her own, she’s an optimist who sees the good in everything.

The pair meet at a bereavement circle and strike up a friendship, but drama is lurking just around the corner... Nominated for armfuls of Emmys, the show sparkles not only because of its thrilling mysteries and brilliant twists, but because of its two female leads, who feel refreshingly relatable, intriguing and like they’ve lived real lives. Oddly enough the show is executive produced by Will Ferrell, even though the humour is quite different to the kind you’d associate with his movies.

- Emma Bullimore

The Bold Type

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The Bold Type - Season Pilot
Freeform

The Bold Type, which is loosely inspired by the life and work of the show's Executive Producer Joanna Coles (former chief content officer for Hearst Magazines), is about three millennial women working at global publication Scarlet. But this is not just a show about the intense and all consuming labyrinth of the magazine industry. While it does explore the women's careers, workplace drama and the ethical and moral dilemmas that come with that, the real crux of the show is the love story between three best friends whose bond began in Scarlet's fashion closet. Jane Sloan, Kat Edison and Sutton Brady navigate hectic careers, romantic relationships, sexuality, race, health, euphoric happiness and utter tragedy: candidly, imperfectly, and most importantly, arm in arm. Catch all four seasons before The Bold Type returns to Netflix with season five later this year.

- Anna Barry

Chewing Gum

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Michaela Coel in Chewing Gum
Channel 4

The original Channel 4 series starring Michaela Coel is gloriously funny in that rude, cringey awkward way British TV comedy series do so well. Plus, if you're late to the party when it comes to realising the greatness of Michaela Coel then this is yet another series of her's to get stuck into. If you liked I May Destroy You then give this one a go. Chewing Gum follows Londoner Tracey who is trying to escape her Christian upbringing and lose her virginity. Relatable and honest in that way only Coel knows how to bring to the small screen.

- Jo-Anne Rowney

Unorthodox

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Unorthodox - Netflix
Anika Molnar/Netflix

Unorthodox may only be four episodes long, but it still packs a punch. The miniseries tells the story of Etsy, a 19-year-old Jewish woman who leaves her husband to escape her strict Hasidic Jewish upbringing. Etsy ends up in Berlin where she experiences a whole new way of life, makes new friends and realises how sheltered she's been. Meanwhile, her husband and his cousin are intent on tracking her down to bring her home. Based on the book of the same name, Unorthodox gives an insight into orthodox life through flashbacks and Etsy's experiences that makes for a gripping binge watch. While it veers sometimes into stereotypes, it always manages to pull it back thanks to the standout performance from Shira Haas, who plays Etsy.

- Jo-Anne Rowney

Schitt's Creek

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Rose (Catherine O'Hara), Alexis (Annie Murphy), Johnny (Eugene Levy) and David Rose (Dan Levy)

If you’ve ever felt like a fish out of water, Schitt’s Creek is the show for you. The Rose family quite literally ends up at dead-end town Schitt’s Creek without a paddle after their business loses their money and they are forced to give up their wealth. The easy-watch sitcom was penned by father and son duo Eugene and Dan Levy who also star as on-screen dad and child Johnny and David. But really, the star of the show is the impeccable Catherine O’Hara, who brings too many fabulous outfits to count and the most sass seen on the small screen. Her timing is perfect, her acting is gently extra and we all really could be a little bit more like Moira. There’s plenty of heart, genuinely hilarious moments and plot you won’t want to miss.

- Helen Daly

Stranger Things

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This 80s-set-and-inspired sci-fi drama turned Netflix’s Original series output Upside-Down (sorry), becoming a pop culture touchstone and genuine word-of-mouth hit as fans around the world become obsessed with the strange happenings in Hawkins, Indiana.

The meme-ification of this series can sometimes distract from just how warm, fun and scary Stranger Things can be, full of plucky kids, terrifying monsters and laugh-out loud moments from the outset and continuing through its (admittedly patchier) second and third seasons.

Originally following the threat of a single monster slipping through from another dimension and facing off with a telekinetic young girl called Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), the scope of Stranger Things has widened over the years to take in telepathic Mind-Flayers, teen romance, puberty, fashion, grief AND dastardly Russians – as well as a pretty rousing rendition of Neverending story at the end of the last season.

Looking ahead, season four is still in production so why not catch up before it debuts – or if you have seen it before, it could be high time for a refresh. Either way, it’s time to open the curiosity door once more…

- Huw Fullerton

In the mood for a film? Check out the best Netflix movies to watch right now.

Want to see what's on the other streaming sites? Take a look at our best Disney+ shows guide or best Disney+ movies.

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Source : https://www.radiotimes.com/tv/what-to-watch-tv/best-tv-shows-netflix/amp/

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