This list is continually updated to reflect recent Netflix availability as TV shows are frequently added and removed. Last update: January 2, 2014.
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.
Set in New York in the 1960’s, Mad Men follows one of the city’s most prestigious ad agencies on Madison Avenue. The agency is doing well, but as the industry grows the competition begins to stiffen. The agency tries to survive in a time when everything, including the ad industry, is undergoing a radical shake-up. The two protagonists are the enigmatic Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a self-made executive who’s childhood seems to always get in the way of his happiness and ultra-terse Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss), a former secretary who works her way up the corporate ladder.
Walter White (Brian Cranston) is a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. To secure his family’s finances before he dies, White uses his chemistry background to cook and deal premium blue meth. His partner is former student, and burn-out Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). It’s teeming with moral consequences and family issues, and fittingly, as addicting as the crystal meth Walt produces in his beat-up van in the desert.
The Netflix-produced series is one of the best political dramas since The West Wing. The show revolves around protagonist Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the U.S. Senate Majority Whip who uses every political secret and inch of his clout to dethrone enemies and leverage his way to the top. His alliance with environmental lobbyist Claire (Robin Wright) is arguably one of the best alliances on TV, brilliantly showcasing just how the two characters are willing to go to beat their opponents and catapult — or destroy —approval ratings.
Showtime has never quite had the track record of premium cable offerings like HBO. However, the seven-season saga about Hank Moody (David Duchovny) — a troubled novelist with an unquenchable affinity for drugs, booze, and woman — remains one of the best efforts the channel ever put forth. The Emmy-winning show has received a fair amount of flack from various conservative groups for the explicitly of its content, and rightly so, but it’s that same hedonism and selfless humor that makes it so worthwhile. Plus, the gripping dialogue and one-liners are superb.
Quite possibly the best political drama of all time, The West Wing follows fictional President Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and his staff as they fight various personal and political battles, through his two terms as president. Critics and people close to the White House praised the show for its accuracy and the Aaron Sorkin’s razor sharp dialog, and even now, the show lives on through multiple Twitter Handles for several West Wing characters. Still, Netfflix offers all seven seasons.
Starring Steven Van Zandt — of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band fame — Lilyhammer follows the life of fictional New York mobster, Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano. After testifying against a Mafia head who’s out to kill him, Tagliano enters a Witness Protection Program centered in the isolated Norwegian town of Lillehammer. Billed as a comedy-drama, Lilyhammer provides viewers with fantastic, gripping storylines and a perfect dose of cross-cultural humor.
Cillian Murphy stars in this British, historical crime drama set shortly after World War I. Murphy plays Tommy Shelby, boss of the historic Birmhingham-based gang, Peaky Blinders. Jurassic Park alum Sam Neill also stars as the detective sent to investigate and thwart the gang’s evil doings. If you like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, you’ll love Peaky Blinders.
With the NBC series Heroes Reborn set for 2015, it’s time for a rehash. The original story revolves around a group of ordinary people who discover they posses superpowers, like the ability to read minds or regenerate. Of course, there are several “non-gifted” individuals who attempt to kill off all the gifted. The show has the feel of a comic book, with a strong focus on the visual and major plot arcs that span entire seasons and give birth to smaller more nuanced personal stories.