This list is continually updated to reflect recent Netflix availability as TV shows are frequently added and removed.
Netflix has a treasure trove of awesome movies that you can stream right now, but if you’re looking for more than just a two-hour commitment, it’s also got a boatload of great TV shows you can delve into to keep yourself occupied for days, or even weeks on end. If you just finished a good series and you need a new one to fill the void, Netflix is the place to go. Nothing beats a weekend-long marathon with no commercials, so without further ado, we give you our tightly-curated list of the best Netflix Instant TV shows.
New for April
Top of the Lake
Top of the Lake opens with a young girl wading into a lake to drown herself. It’s a startling first salvo, but the horrors do not end there. When detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) takes up the case of the girl’s disappearance in the small town of Laketop, she steps into a bog of human misery. Set in rural New Zealand, the show fully exploits the atmosphere of its primal setting. Mountains and forests rise up imperiously, and the only people living in Laketop are the rough sort who prefer the law of the jungle to that of civilization. Griffin has to navigate a society where neither the townsfolk nor her fellow police respect her, a murky frontier where monsters are hiding in plain sight. Top of the Lake is a nightmarish mystery, one that unfolds slowly in a beautiful but haunting manner.
Conceived by Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, Documentary Now! is a series of fake documentaries, with each episode spoofing a particular famous work, such as The Thin Blue Line or Grey Gardens. Hader and Armisen were two of SNL’s greatest chameleons, and they adapt to the new roles of each episode perfectly. What really elevates the show, aside from the leads’ great comedic timing, is their commitment to the homages. Whether skewering the slick, in-your-face style of Vice documentaries or the mythmaking of Nanook of the North, their fake documentaries are near-perfect emulations of the real things. Few shows reinvent themselves so often and so effortlessly.
Comedy Bang! Bang!
For many comedians, a late night talk show is the dream, but it’s a dream only a few comedians in a generation will achieve. Not content to look on as Stephen Colbert and James Corden take their thrones, sketch-comedy legend Scott Aukerman started his own parody late night show, Comedy Bang! Bang! Like the podcast it shares a name with, Comedy Bang! Bang! finds Aukerman interviewing celebrities in between segments of sketch comedy. While the late night format is the framework for the show, what makes CBB so impressive is the show’s willingness to play around with different structures. The premises for episodes include time travel, alternate dimensions, and even a musical episode parodying the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Fans of Mr. Show — for which Aukerman was a writer — should love the madcap humor and wild spirit of Comedy Bang! Bang!