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Netflix adds original programming at such a steady clip that it can be hard to keep up with which of its dramas, comedies and reality shows are must-sees. And that’s not including all the TV series Netflix picks up from broadcast and cable networks. Below is our regularly updated guide to the 50 best shows on Netflix in the United States. Each recommendation comes with a secondary pick, too, for 100 suggestions in all. (Note: Netflix sometimes removes titles without notice.)

We also have lists of the best movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, along with the best TV and movies on Hulu and Disney+.

The first two seasons of the martial arts melodrama “Cobra Kai” originated on YouTube; but now both are making the move to Netflix before season three debuts next year. A reboot to the “Karate Kid” franchise, this fan-friendly series — which packs “a surprising emotional punch,” according to Bruce Fretts — brings back the original’s hero and villain, still played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. The show has enormous nostalgic appeal but is more complicated than the usual “underdogs versus bullies” arc. Instead, “Cobra Kai” gets into the family histories and the socioeconomic circumstances that made these characters who they are. (For more retro ’80s vibes, watch the docu-series “High Score,” about the evolution of video games.)

The writer and producer Veena Sud — best known for the crime drama “The Killing” — adapted a Russian film into “Seven Seconds,” a mini-series about the accidental killing of a Black teen by a white cop in New Jersey. While the movie was about police corruption in Russia, for the TV series Sud uses that premise as the starting point for a finely textured study of institutional racism. In a mixed review, our critic wrote, “There’s a purity of dark vision driving the series, if you’re willing to take it without sweetener.” (The procedural “Criminal” — which dramatizes police interrogations in different countries — is another intense show about arguably dubious law enforcement tactics.)

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As a producer and director, Ava DuVernay has tackled the Civil Rights Movement, in her Oscar-nominated film “Selma,” and racial bias in the American criminal justice system, in her Emmy-winning documentary “13TH.” In her four-part mini-series “When They See Us,” she dramatizes the story of the Central Park Five, who were convicted of raping and almost killing a jogger in New York City in 1989, then exonerated in 2002. Salamishah Tillet wrote that the Five “emerge as the heroes of their own story — and if we pay heed to the series’s urgent message about criminal justice reform, ours too.” (For another politically pointed true-crime drama stream “Unbelievable,” which examines gender bias in policing)

The musical-theater loving comic actress Rachel Bloom was a creator of and stars in this colorful dramedy, playing Rebecca Bunch, a depressed lawyer who gives up a promising career to move to the hometown of a man she briefly dated as a teenager. With its catchy songs (many of which were written or co-written by the Fountains of Wayne singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, who died in April) and its frank conversations about mental health, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has an expressive, openhearted style, rooted in the creators’ compassion for flawed people. Our critic wrote, “The series is committed to the idea that every character can carry a story line, any person can be more than they appear.” (For a more dramatic take on the TV musical, stream “The Eddy,” about a Parisian jazz club.)

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In this offbeat procedural, Tom Ellis plays the literal Lord of Hell, who abandons his dark kingdom to move to Los Angeles, where he leads a libertine lifestyle while occasionally helping a police detective solve crimes. The show’s more conventional mystery stories are often complicated by the antihero’s persistent struggles with his demonic responsibilities. Our critic panned the early episodes, calling them “an incoherent mess.” But the “Lucifer” creative team quickly found a unique voice and a devoted audience, who followed this clever and addictingly twisty series to Netflix when the service saved it from cancellation. (For another offbeat supernatural adventure, stream “The Haunting of Hill House.”)

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Through its first five seasons, the stylish and hard-hitting British crime series “Peaky Blinders” has told the story of Britain in the 1920s from the perspective of the organized gangs that consolidated power in the years after World War I. Cillian Murphy leads a knockout cast filled with familiar faces, in an immensely entertaining drama that covers the ways sweeping social changes created an environment where outlaws could become political insiders. Our critic compared it to HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” but said it “has a more theatrical, artificial affect, somewhere between music hall and music video.” (If you prefer more respectable British dynasties, try “The Crown,” which has a similar decades-spanning narrative.)

Though aimed at children, the animated adventure “The Dragon Prince” features one of the most fully realized fantasy universes of any recent television series. (And that’s saying something lately.) Set in a magic-filled world where humans, elves and dragons warily coexist, the story follows three younger heroes who are working to bring peace to their land despite dangerous political machinations and the stirrings of war. There’s a lot of action and plot packed into the first three seasons — and apparently a lot more to come since the show has been renewed for four more. (Also highly recommended for youngsters who like animation and fantasy: “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.”)

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The Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls weren’t just the most dominant NBA team of the 1990s; they were also a constant source of off-the-court drama, famed for their glamorous lifestyles and bitter interpersonal conflicts. The addicting 10-part docu-series “The Last Dance” arrived at just the right time in the summer of 2020, giving sports fans and TV fans something to look forward to each week with its detailed look back at the Bulls and Jordan’s decade of glory and excess. Our critic Wesley Morris said: “You could call these 10 hours a walk down memory lane. But that’d be like calling Mardi Gras a parade.” (Another of 2020’s most talked-about docu-series is the soapy, strange-but-true crime story “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”)

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This documentary series follows college football hopefuls who are teetering on the edge of oblivion, trying to bounce back from the academic, discipline and injury problems that derailed their dreams. The first two seasons were shot at East Mississippi Community College, the third and fourth at Independence Community College, in Kansas, and the fifth at Laney College in Oakland, Calif. Each balances stories about the players with a look at their tutors and coaches, showing how they all must adjust their hopes and expectations. Our critic Margaret Lyons wrote, “Alongside the show’s ability to engender simmering loathing for broken systems is its love for its subjects.” (For another engaging series about struggling athletes, from the same creative team, try “Cheer.”)

Although this dark and bloody crime series takes its name from its villain, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) — the brilliant psychiatrist and incorrigible cannibal introduced in the novels of Thomas Harris — the show is just as much about Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), the F.B.I. profiler whose investigations lead him into Lecter’s orbit. Over the course of three increasingly intense and operatic seasons, these two men circle each other in grim plots that incorporate elements of gothic horror and abstract art. Our critic was unimpressed with the early episodes of Season 1 but still praised its “superior production values” and “stylishness,” which become only more grandiose later on. (For another smart and artful take on the serial killer genre, stream “Mindhunter.”)

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Too often, when a new creative team revives an old favorite from pop culture’s past, it tries to update the material by making it more edgy. That’s not the case with the latest TV adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s “The Baby-Sitters Club” book series, which retains the easygoing charm and engaging plotting of the novels. The show’s creator, Rachel Shukert, doesn’t shy away from the unique modern pressures on teenage girls and the younger kids they look after; but the episodic stories here are bright and breezy, first and foremost. Our critic called the show “sweet but not cloying, smart but not cynical, full-hearted and funny enough to please both grown readers of the original books and the young target audience of the new series.” (For another sensitive and fresh adaptation of classic young adult fiction, watch “Anne With an E,” based on “Anne of Green Gables.”)

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There are only 15 episodes from the 1990s version of the game show “Supermarket Sweep” currently available on Netflix, but they’re all a must-see for anyone who still has fond memories from childhood of watching ordinary consumers race through the aisles of a fake grocery store, hunting for the top-dollar items. From the fashions to the host David Ruprecht’s questions — all of which are very much of their time — this series has an appealing time-capsule quality: It’s both a fun game show and an inadvertently nostalgic look back at the brand-name products from the past. (For a more highbrow game, turn to “Jeopardy!,” which is also available on Netflix in episode “collections” that rotate regularly.)

With his 1986 feature, “She’s Gotta Have It,” the writer-director Spike Lee established his reputation as an ambitious and imaginative artist, equally adept at raunchy comedy, romantic melodrama, social commentary and lyrical interludes. The TV adaptation of the movie is just as generously eclectic. Lee and his writers use the original’s story of a sexually liberated woman and her many suitors as a foundation for a freewheeling exploration of how Black bohemian life in today’s Brooklyn differs from life there in the ’80s. Our critic said, “More expansive than interior, more defiant than dreamy, it’s a vibrant if uneven work in heated conversation with itself.” (For another exciting and creative take on contemporary Black culture, watch “Dear White People.”)

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A bold hybrid of science-fiction, criminal procedural and domestic melodrama, the German-language series “Dark” stretches across multiple timelines — from the 1920s to the 2050s — to tell the story of how four small-town families are connected to a wave of missing-children cases. The plot is full of stunning twists, though “Dark” is more quietly contemplative than thrilling. Our critic wrote that the show “seems to have been constructed with the aid of spreadsheets, but there’s no denying its ingenuity.” (The lush, romantic adventure series “Outlander” features a similar mix of earnest drama and time-travel.)

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Of all the older “Star Trek” series, “Deep Space Nine” today feels the most ahead of its time. Set near a wormhole connecting distant quadrants of the galaxy, the show deals frankly with the tricky politics of a remote outpost where different species warily interact. It’s a complex kind of space western: like “Gunsmoke” with phasers. And while mostly episodic, “Deep Space” does feature longer story arcs and subplots, more akin to 21st century television. Our critic called the whole “Star Trek” franchise “part of our national mythology, a continuing megastory whose characters come to represent our abstract ideals.” (Some of the concepts and characters on “Deep Space Nine” were introduced on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which is also on Netflix.)

“New Girl” was initially promoted as a fish-out-of-water sitcom about a quirky young Los Angeles elementary school teacher named Jess (Zooey Deschanel) who is forced by circumstances to move into a cheap loft apartment with three bickering bros. But the show evolved into something sweeter and funnier as Jess became a more mature character, trying to coax her arrested adolescent roommates into adulthood. Our critic noted that after a shaky first season, the show became “one of the most reliable and reliably affecting sitcoms on television.” The seven-year run features a wealth of inspired comic moments and heartbreaking on-again-off-again relationships on a level with “Friends.” (For another high-energy sitcom about modern life in Los Angeles, try “I’m Sorry.”)

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Set amid the New York City “drag ball” scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the exuberant drama “Pose” is groundbreaking for the way it employs a large cast of transgender women playing transgender women. The series deals with serious issues — including the devastation of AIDS and the way the city’s economic boom of the ’80s bypassed the marginalized — but it is surprisingly optimistic, emphasizing the community fostered by these underground fashion and dance competitions (hosted by the acid-tongued Pray Tell, played by Billy Porter). Our critic wrote that “Pose” “stands, bold and plumed, and demands attention.” (For a perspective on the mainstreaming of L.G.B.T.Q. culture since the 1990s, watch the makeover show “Queer Eye.”)

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The stand-up comedian Bill Burr revives the frank, rowdy humor of Norman Lear’s sitcoms with this adults-only cartoon, which for four seasons now has framed American life in the mid-1970s through the eyes of one working-class suburbanite family. Burr voices the main character, Frank Murphy, a foul-mouthed and opinionated Irish Catholic struggling with painful memories and a seemingly neverending string of disappointments. Though more funny than grim, “F Is for Family” does offer real insight into its characters’ personalities and problems. Our critic said, “The show’s smarts creep up on you.” (Also hilariously crude and surprisingly sensitive: the animated junior high sex comedy “Big Mouth.”)

An unusually bright and cheery post-apocalyptic adventure, this kid-friendly cartoon follows a teenage girl named Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara), who leaves her society’s underground hideaway to journey through a ruined landscape, populated by intelligent, superpowered mutant animals. There’s peril aplenty, but the show’s tone hardly ever turns too dark. The plucky heroine, her strange companions and the whimsical creature designs may remind animation fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s imaginative take on young adult fantasy. Our critic said, “It has a visual sophistication that separates it from the other shows.” (For another beautifully illustrated and emotionally satisfying animated fantasy series, stream “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”)

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The tragic 1993 standoff between the United States government and the Branch Davidian religious sect sparked a bitter debate many Americans are still having about the rights of the state to curtail individual freedom. The absorbing six-part mini-series “Waco” gives the issues a fair hearing, presenting different perspectives largely through the viewpoint of an F.B.I. crisis negotiator played by Michael Shannon. As he tries to keep his impatient bosses from using brute force, the hero calmly reasons with the passionate evangelist David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) in long and refreshingly nuanced conversations. Our critic praised Kitsch’s performance, saying he “radiates sincerity and has an overflowing charisma.” (For another excellent and enlightening dramatization of recent American history, watch “Manhunt: Unabomber.”)

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Co-created by the indie filmmakers Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij — best-known for the arty science-fiction movies “Sound of My Voice” and “The East” — “The OA” is a supernatural mystery saga, in which Marling plays a woman who returns from a seven-year disappearance, claiming to be a trans-dimensional traveler on a mission of salvation. The series has been divisive. Our critic called the first season, “a beautifully painted eggshell” with “a hollow center.” But there’s a reason its fiercely devoted fanbase was angered when Netflix canceled “The OA” after two seasons (out of a planned five). Few shows are as effective at getting viewers to look deeper at their own reality. (For a more mainstream science-fiction series, try “Lost in Space.”)

In this hyper-kinetic Spanish action-adventure, an eclectic team of skilled crooks helps a mysterious genius known as “the Professor” steal over 2 billion Euros, in a caper that inevitably necessitates other crimes. The unpredictability and outsized characters of “Money Heist” have made it one of the rare foreign television series to find a big and appreciative audience in the United States. Our critic called it one of the best international TV shows of the 2010s, writing, “This puzzle-box of a series employs time trickery, unreliable narration, flashy graphics and every other trick it can think of to keep you locked into its overheated plot.” (For another widely popular adventure series — with a much younger cast — stream “Outer Banks.”)

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The animator Pendleton Ward follows up his cult favorite kids’ series “Adventure Time” with something very different: a cartoon that combines surrealism and docu-realism, pitched to broad-minded grown-ups. The comedian Duncan Trussell provides the voice of the hero, Clancy Gilroy, a podcaster who travels across dimensions and through the universe, interviewing strange creatures in dangerous places. The illustrations are trippy, influenced by pulp science-fiction; but the dialogue is mostly casual and earnestly philosophical. The result is a show that on the surface looks like a mature animated fantasy but is actually a sweet and strange inquiry into what it means to be alive. Our critic called it “expansive and full-hearted and cathartic.” (For more TV-MA animation, try the eye-popping anthology series “Love, Death & Robots”.)

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Easily the most upbeat sitcom ever made about a woman who escaped from an oppressively patriarchal religious cult, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” stars Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, who somehow keeps her youthful enthusiasm when she arrives in New York City after 15 years imprisoned in a bunker. A stellar supporting cast — including Tituss Burgess as Kimmy’s perpetually jobless roommate, Carol Kane as her activist landlord and Jane Krakowski as her overprivileged boss — brings range to this show’s unusually sunny, zingy vision of 2010s New York. Our critic wrote, “The series leavens wacky absurdity with acid wit and is very funny.” Don’t miss the series’s epilogue either: an experimental interactive movie called “Kimmy vs. the Reverend.” (The “Kimmy” creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, also produced the equally hilarious but under-seen sitcom “Great News.”)

At once a sly parody and a genuinely exciting example of a TV cooking competition, “Nailed It!” features unskilled amateur bakers trying to make eye-catching gourmet desserts. The pacing is brisk and the challenges are often ludicrous, but what makes this show so funny is that the drama and fanfare concerns some of the ghastliest culinary creations imaginable. Our critic wrote, “As host, the comedian Nicole Byer strikes the perfect balance between encouragement and ridicule, and the competitors’ self-aware humor ensures that the show never feels as if it’s taking cheap shots.” (If you would rather see skilled home cooks whip up beautiful-looking sweets, watch the internationally beloved competition “The Great British Baking Show.”)

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When this fast-paced campus comedy debuted, it seemed on-track to be a smarter-than-average mainstream sitcom, featuring a talented young ensemble — including the future stars Donald Glover and Alison Brie — alongside the TV veterans Chevy Chase and Joel McHale. (At the time, our critic called it “Bracingly funny.”) Before long, the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, started playing around with the structure and style of “Community” episodes, making the show at once aggressively postmodern and unusually personal. By the end of its six-season run, this series developed into something more like a provocative and hilarious video essay, meant to ponder whether television formulas still matter. (For another self-referential sitcom, watch “Arrested Development.”)

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For “Never Have I Ever,” the creator of “The Mindy Project,” Mindy Kaling, draws on her own teenage experiences as a first-generation Indian-American who very much wanted to be part of the popular crowd. This clever and heartfelt sitcom is set in the modern day, but it should still be relatable to anyone who can remember the family pressures, personal traumas and unrealistic expectations that keep some kids from ever feeling “cool.” Our critic said this show “moves like a teen comedy and has a sort of ‘Mean Girls’ gloss on high school in terms of its anthropology of teendom and its school aesthetic.” (For a different tale of teen life — about misfits who reinvent themselves as high school sex therapists — stream “Sex Education.”)

This intense thriller was co-created by its lead actor, Lior Raz, who plays an IDF agent drawn out of retirement by the prospect of taking down a terrorist he thought he’d already killed. That one mission leads to unexpected complications and further side operations, some of them involving the hero’s going undercover with his adversaries. The matter-of-fact scenarios in “Fauda” are an attempt to reflect the tricky politics and daily sacrifices of crimefighting in Israel. Our critic wrote that its story “spirals out in increasingly messy strands of betrayal and violence.” (For another crime drama about cultures in conflict, try “Giri/Haji.”)

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In the British reality series “The Repair Shop,” a team of skilled tinkerers, carpenters and restorers offer their services to people whose family heirlooms are broken. A concentrated half-hour of happiness, each episode features fine details about how to fix old gadgets and furniture, with an emotional payoff when the customers see their parents and grandparents’ old treasures, looking as good as new. In a Times article about the comfort of low-intensity BBC programming during times of trouble, Amie Tsang called this show “gentle escapism.” (For more fascinating scenes of craftsmen at work, watch “Blown Away,” a reality competition for glass-blowers.)

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The Emmy-winning television writer and producer Rod Serling said he created this creepy science-fiction anthology series in part because he was tired of having TV executives nix the social commentary in his scripts. With “The Twilight Zone,” Serling and a handful of top fantasy writers riffed on paranoia, prejudice, greed and alienation in twisty stories about inexplicable supernatural phenomena. Some of the best episodes have stuck with viewers for decades, coloring the way they see the world. In a Times appreciation, the writer Brian Tallerico called the show, “an indelible part of the cultural lexicon.” (For a 21st century spin on “The Twilight Zone,” watch “Black Mirror.”)

Based on the Deborah Feldman memoir about life in a strict Hasidic Jewish community, this nerve-racking mini-series has Shira Haas playing Esty, a teenage bride who flees her husband in Brooklyn to move to Berlin, where she studies music. The plot in “Unorthodox” is split between the furor back home over Esty’s departure and her tentative steps abroad toward living freely and thinking for herself. As the two narrative strands come together, the story becomes increasingly tense. Our critic called the show, “a thrilling and probing story of one woman’s personal defection.” (For another well-written show about a person trying to renter mainstream society, stream “Rectify,” about an ex-convict who comes home after having spent most of his youth behind bars.)

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Set in the rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, this lively dramedy follows the dreams and disagreements of three very different cousins, all of whom have their own ideas about how to keep their grandfather’s taco restaurant afloat. Savvy and often funny, “Gentefied” offers a snapshot of a Mexican-American culture in transition, in which deeply rooted traditions are threatened by economic and social change. Our critic wrote: “The show’s likability carries it through its rougher patches. This series puts a lot on its plate, and somehow, it all comes together.” (For another addicting show about Angelenos’ aspirations, watch the teen melodrama “On My Block.”)

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The “Breaking Bad” prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” covers the early days of the can-do lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) as he evolves into the ethically challenged criminal attorney “Saul Goodman.” Throughout the show, Jimmy crosses paths with another “Breaking Bad” regular, the ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), during Mike’s first forays into the Albuquerque drug-trafficking business. In this frequently surprising and incredibly entertaining crime saga, these two very different men discover the rewards and the perils of skirting the law. Our critic wrote, “Cutting against the desperation and violence that frame it, ‘Saul,’ in its dark, straight-faced way, is one of the funniest dramas on television.” (Also a must-see? “Breaking Bad,” of course.)

Special low-light cameras give this six-part nature documentary a look and feel unlike that of any other show of its kind. “Night on Earth” features footage from around the world, shot under the cover of darkness, during times of day when some animals mate and hunt. The series’s muted music and its soft Samira Wiley narration — paired with the ghostly images of creatures moving stealthily through the night — give it a uniquely otherworldly affect. The unusual style makes the wilderness seem all the more magical and precious. (For another perspective on the natural world, watch the docu-series “Our Planet,” which emphasizes the effects of human progress and climate change on the animal kingdom.)

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In this fascinating and often surprising competition series, contestants are encouraged to be deceitful, even beyond the usual lies and exaggerations of reality television. Participants interact with one another using a social media app, on which they’re allowed to create entirely fictional personas in order to make themselves seem more likable and sympathetic, and hence to win more power in the game. In an article about “The Circle” for The Times, Etan Smallman wrote, “Amid the naked gamesmanship engendered by ‘The Circle,’ beautiful human stories emerge and generate the tears, most of them happy.” (For another inventive and emotionally involving reality series, try “Terrace House.”)

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One of Netflix’s longest-running series, “Grace and Frankie” features two show-business veterans, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, playing a couple of very different California women who move in together after their husbands (played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen) reveal they’ve been gay lovers for decades. The show is both mainstream and risqué — like an adult version of the sitcoms the co-creator Marta Kauffman worked on in the 1990s when she helped bring “Friends” to the screen. Our critic praised the lead performances, saying that Fonda and Tomlin “pull this comedy about 70-somethings back from the brink of ridicule.” (For another lively sitcom about underdog women, watch “GLOW.”)

The American version of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s satirical mockumentary series “The Office” softens some of the original’s bite, but is still a funny and at-times harrowing look at the everyday miseries of white-collar work. When it debuted, our critic called it “the kind of seditious, unconventional comedy that viewers say they want and that television executives insist could never draw a broad enough audience to be a network success.” Viewers proved those execs wrong, though; the American remake ran for nine seasons. (Netflix doesn’t currently carry the British “Office,” but it does have Gervais’s and Merchant’s very funny follow-up, “Extras.”)

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The Northern Irish playwright Lisa McGee pulls some bawdy coming-of-age comedy out of her own experience of growing up in Londonderry in the early ’90s, during a time of intense sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. A cast of very funny young women bring zany energy to McGee’s rapid-fire dialogue and fast-paced stories, which are more about typical teenage high jinks than about bombings and riots. Our critic said the show “revels in the humor of specificity, the kind of exacting precision that somehow winds up feeling universal.” (For another lively take on unconventional women, stream the medical melodrama “Call the Midwife,” set in ’50s and ’60s London.)

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The first season of the retro science-fiction series “Stranger Things” arrived with little hype and quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation: Viewers were enchanted by its pastiche of John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Hughes — all scored to ’80s pop. This story of geeky Indiana teenagers fighting off an invasion of extra-dimensional creatures from “the Upside-Down” has the look and feel of a big summer blockbuster from 30 years ago — “a tasty trip back to that decade and the art of eeriness,” our critic noted, but “without excess.” (If you prefer ’90s teen nostalgia, try “Everything Sucks.”)

The former “Saturday Night Live” and “Detroiters” writer and performer Tim Robinson created (with Zach Kanin) this fast-paced and funny sketch series, which is steeped in the comedy of obnoxiousness. Nearly every segment is about how people react when someone in their immediate vicinity behaves rudely or strangely — an astute depiction of how social mores sometimes fail us. More than anything, though, this show is just hilarious: “Netflix’s first great sketch comedy,” Jason Zinoman wrote for The Times. (For more twisted humor from a comedian with a strong personality, watch “Lady Dynamite.”)

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Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, who created “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” bring dramatic verve to real-life celebrity murder stories in this anthology crime series, working with a team of talented collaborators. Season 1, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” and Season 2, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” both feature unconventional narrative structures and star-studded casts; and offer fresh insight into well-known crimes. About “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” our critic wrote, “Its triumph is to take a case that divided the nation into teams and treat everyone, vulture or victim, with curiosity and empathy.” (For a more down-to-earth take on American crime, watch the equally superb “American Crime.”)

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The most obvious point of comparison for this oddball science-fiction dramedy is the movie “Groundhog Day,” since “Russian Doll” is also about a character who must relive the same day, over and over. Here, the trapped person is a sad-sack software engineer named Nadia (played by Natasha Lyonne, who also created the show with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler); on the night of her 36th birthday, Nadia keeps dying and rebooting — like a video game character. Our critic wrote, “This is a show with a big heart, but a nicotine-stained heart that’s been dropped in the gutter and kicked around a few times.” (For more mind-bending TV, Netflix is also streaming the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks.”)

It’s hard to explain “BoJack Horseman” to the uninitiated. It’s a showbiz satire about a self-absorbed former TV star trying to mount a comeback. It’s an existential melodrama about the fear of fading relevancy. Oh, and it’s a cartoon in which that former star is an alcoholic horse. Our critic wrote, “The absurdist comedy and hallucinatory visuals match the series’s take on Hollywood as a reality-distortion field. But the series never takes an attitude of easy superiority to its showbiz characters.” (One of the “BoJack” production designers, the cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt, also created the wonderful Netflix animated series “Tuca & Bertie.”)

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The British sketch comedy troupe Monty Python combined the cheekiness of old English music hall comics with the surrealism and self-awareness of the psychedelic era. Their series, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” ran for four seasons from 1969-74 and was syndicated around the world, popularizing an absurdist approach to humor — and to life — that has inspired countless sketch comedians. Although the original show is 50 years old now, it “hasn’t aged a bit.” (The “Mr. Show” creators, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, were clearly inspired by Monty Python, as evidenced by their Netflix series “w/Bob & David.”)

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It’s difficult to describe this fantastical metaphysical sitcom without spoiling its surprises. It’s ostensibly about a selfish young woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who with a handful of other iffy humans lands in a cockeyed version of the afterlife, managed by the cheerful kook Michael (Ted Danson) and his humanoid supercomputer Janet (D’Arcy Carden). The creator Michael Schur keeps viewers guessing; but even without the crazy plot-twists, the show provides food for thought. Our critic wrote, “Schur seems to have found a deeper idea behind the show’s premise: Is acting good the same as being good?” (Schur is also one of the creators of the feel-good sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”)

This thoughtful drama depicts the early years of the digital age, starting in the mid-80s, when personal computers and the internet became an integral part of our everyday lives. “Halt and Catch Fire” empathizes more than glamorizes, following the punishing step-by-step of four visionary engineers and programmers — sometimes partners, sometimes rivals — as they try (and often fail) to get their projects funded and shipped: “Failure,” our critic wrote, “from this show’s perspective, is not the end; it’s how people level up.” (For a different take on techies, stream the British sitcom “The IT Crowd.”)

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Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about serving time in a minimum security women’s prison, “Orange Is the New Black” showcases an eclectic cast, representing a wide spectrum of social classes and sexual orientations in alternately comic and poignant stories about crime, passion and privilege. The show was created by Jenji Kohan, who, as our critic wrote, “plays with our expectations by taking milieus usually associated with violence and heavy drama — drug dealing, prison life — and making them the subjects of lightly satirical dramedy.” (Kohan previously did the same with her series “Weeds.”)

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This reimagining of the producer Norman Lear’s long-running 1970s and ’80s sitcom is true to the spirit of Lear’s socially conscious kind of television. The new series’s working-class Cuban-American family has feisty — and funny — discussions around their Los Angeles apartment about ethnicity, politics, religion, work-life balance and gender. The live-audience sitcom format allows the actors to carry on conversations at length, like in live theater. The show “radiates delight,” our critic wrote. Netflix canceled the show in 2019, but Pop revived it and will present a new season in March 2020. (For a different but very funny take on the struggles of working-class life, watch another Pop series, “Schitt’s Creek,” which tracks a rich Canadian family that loses their fortune.)

This spoof of the Latin American soap operas known as telenovelas also wholeheartedly embraces their shtick. “Jane the Virgin” starts out as the story of an aspiring writer, accidentally impregnated through an artificial insemination mix-up. The show then gets wilder, with at least one crazy plot twist per episode — all described with breathless excitement by an omnipresent, self-aware narrator. Our critic called it “delicious and dizzyingly arch.” (For another colorful, conceptually daring look at working class folks with artistic aspirations, stream “The Get Down.”)

Watch it on Netflix.

In the final years of the Clinton Administration and the early years of George W. Bush’s, the writer-producer Aaron Sorkin offered a vision of presidential politics that appealed to viewers on the left and the right. “The West Wing” is driven less by divisive issues than by the personalities of an idealistic president (played by Martin Sheen) and his hard-working staffers, who collectively try to figure out the best ways to manage Washington bureaucracy and media hype. In 1999, our critic complained that the pilot episode was “sometimes smart, sometimes stupid, eventually gooey and, despite its sharp cast, not often entertaining.” And then “The West Wing” went on to win 26 Emmys. (For more Emmy-winning drama, watch the Netflix original “Ozark,” about white collar money-laundering in Missouri.)

Watch it on Netflix.



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