If you’re anything like us, you probably while away many evenings scrolling through Netflix – and, feeling utterly overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles on offer, settle for a tried-and-tested show you’ve watched hundreds of times before.
It’s the easy option, sure, but it’s not the right one. In doing so, you’re cutting yourself off from some of the best TV shows ever made and denying yourself some serious viewing pleasure.
To help you out, we’ve sifted through Netflix UK, bringing you the hidden gems to add to your must-watch list. And, to make it even easier, we’ve matched them up with all your old favourites. Here’s what to watch if you loved Friends, the best show to binge on after you’ve finished Girls, the ultimate cure for your Stranger Things withdrawal symptoms, and more.
Fans of Sex and the City
Starring: Aya Cash, Kiersey Clemons, Jane Adams, Zazie Beetz, and more
Easy is an eight-episode comedy anthology series – and it's giving us major Carrie Bradshaw vibes. Forget Sex in the City; this show reveals what it’s really like to have sex… in the city. And it makes for incredibly easy (ha!) watching.
The show follows a group of diverse Americans as they navigate sex, relationships, pregnancies, creepy dates, middle aged dating, loveless marriages, threesomes, and dick pics. Much like Girls, this comedy-drama is far less glossy than Sarah Jessica Parker’s show – and, as such, their sexual problems are far more relatable. You don’t need to watch them in order; each is a snapshot, a self-contained narrative, and these small stories are strangely charming. Consider them absolute must-watch stuff.
Fans of Gossip Girl
Starring: Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, K. J. Apa, and more
Teen angst, murder most foul, mean girls, salacious secrets, a deluge of pop-culture references, and an embittered blogger who can’t stop writing about the phonies they have to live with? It’s no wonder Riverdale is giving us some serious Gossip Girl déjà vu vibes.
Based on the Archie comics, the show follows the day-to-day suburban life of the teen redhead and his friends as they attempt to come to terms with the shock death of their classmate. However things quickly get turned upside down when Veronica Lodge (Mendes), a member of the New York elite, arrives in their small town. Expect everything from a student-teacher romance, to an embittered love triangle, to a possible incest storyline in this addictive show. Just try to come up for air between episodes, yeah?
Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, Morena Baccarin, and more
Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a cult classic – and you’d be hard-pressed to find a show that matched its girl power hero, razor-sharp wit, relatable characters, and plethora of dark and troubling human issues. Thank goodness, then, for Whedon’s other amazing TV show, Firefly.
Set 500 years in the future after a universal civil war, a small band of misfits float through space on a small transport spaceship – and they’re desperate to avoid the eyes of the galaxy’s totalitarian government. This means that good honest work is well and truly off the table; in order to keep themselves fed, they have to take any job, no matter how dangerous. From sexual politics, to Reavers (aka flesh-eating mongrels who live on the fringes of the universe), to brain-washed teenage super-weapons, this show takes the typical dysfunctional family dynamic, hurls it into space, and transforms it into something truly compelling and unique. If you loved Buffy, you’re guaranteed to be a fan.
Fans of Pretty Little Liars
Starring: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Bella Thorne, and more
Pretty Little Liars gave us an appetite for high school murder mysteries – and Netflix’s Scream is here to sate it.
Unlike the original 90s horror movie franchise, Scream is very much rooted in the modern day; the slasher’s murder spree begins moments after a cyberbullying incident goes viral. And, yeah, there are plenty of gruesome scenes, red herrings, and jump scares. But, at its heart, this story is about a group of teenagers who quickly become lovers, enemies, suspects, targets, and victims. Will Emma (Fitzgerald) and Audrey (Taylor-Klaus) be able to unmask the killer before it’s too late?
Fans of The Great British Bake Off
Watch... Chef’s Table
Starring: Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallmann, Magnus Nilsson, Dominique Crenn and Enrique Olvera
The Great British Bake Off satisfied all of our foodie dreams – but Netflix’s The Chef’s Table can do all of that, and more.
Forget the white tent and amateur bakers; instead, each episode of this gastronomical series takes viewers into the life and kitchen of a truly exceptional chef. They’re eccentrics, sure – but they’re also gifted visionaries; when they travel the globe, they thwart foody rules and open up our tables to entirely new possibilities. And, yes, it’s all exactly as mouth-watering as you’d expect…
Fans of Victoria
Starring: Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Celina Sinden, Anna Popplewell, and more
ITV’s Victoria, starring Jenna Louise Coleman as the eponymous queen, transfixed viewers with its heady retelling of her ascension to the throne at the tender age of 18 (not to mention her passionate romance with Prince Albert), But, now that it’s left our televisions, we need something else to watch. Enter Reign.
Another teenage royal, this twist on the traditional coming-of-age story focuses on the young Mary Stuart (Kane) – aka Mary, Queen of Scots. It all kicks off as Mary travels to France in a bid to secure her politically strategic engagement to the king's son, Prince Francis (Toby Regbo). But, when her eye catches that of Bash, Francis' illegitimate half-brother, Mary finds herself torn. Can she – with the help of her mysterious shrouded guide – ready herself to rule and find a balance between the demands of her country and those of her heart? One thing’s for sure, her royal caprices are sure to have grim consequences for all those involved…
Fans of Making a Murderer
Watch… Amanda Knox
Featuring interviews with: Amanda Knox, Giuliano Mignini, Raffaele Sollecito, and more
Making a Murderer sparked our interest for true crime, so it makes sense that Netflix now have a documentary about Amanda Knox on their listings.
As has always been the case with the 2007 murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, the documentary (which features new interviews with Knox and Sollecito) offers the two conflicting viewpoints surrounding the British student’s roommate, Knox. The Seattle native was convicted and then acquitted of Kercher's murder over a notorious and often confused eight-year legal process that hit headlines around the world.
And, in the show, Knox acknowledges the trauma of the debate - magnified by media coverage - over whether she was a “cold-blooded killer”, or a naive study-abroad student “manipulated” by police and falsely accused of murder.
“That’s everyone’s nightmare,” she says, staring down the camera lens. “Either I am a psychopath in sheep’s clothing… or I am you.”
Fans of Broadchurch
Watch… Top of the Lake
Starring: Jacqueline Joe, Elisabeth Moss, Holly Hunter, David Wenham, and more
ITV’s Broadchurch, inspired by Scandinavian dramas, was hailed for its talented cast and unflinching description of the emotional toll a murder takes on a small community. However it doesn’t come close to the magnificent show that is Top of the Lake.
When pregnant 12-year-old Tui (Joe) disappears after trying to kill herself, Detective Robin Griffin (Moss) returns to her New Zealand hometown in a bid to unravel the mystery – not to mention unearth the wounds surrounding her own past. But, if you’re thinking this is another paint-by-numbers crime drama, think again; it defies all regular conventions of the genre, focusing instead on immediate emotional reactions – and the beautiful cinematography alone makes it well worth the watch. Fair warning, though; this is one of the most heart-breaking and harrowing shows this writer has ever watched. Go in with a stash of tissues to hand, okay?
Fans of Sherlock
Watch… Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Starring: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Ashleigh Cummings, and more
Sherlock is good, sure, but Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries offers a genius #girlpower twist to the amateur detective genre.
Glamorous Phyrne Fisher (Davis) is famed around town for her sharp wit, her sleek bob, and her pearl-handled pistol, which she uses to fight injustice in 1920s Melbourne. Join the enigmatic sleuth as she sashays her way through the city’s alleyways and jazz clubs, piloting planes and firing bullets in a bid to run bad guys to the ground – not to mention keep Murdoch Foyle (Nicholas Bell), the man she believes to be responsible for her sister’s disappearance, behind bars. If you’re still convinced, watch it for the sumptuous period costumes alone.
Fans of Desperate Housewives
Watch… Santa Clarita Diet
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, and Skyler Gisondo
Sure, Desperate Housewives lifted the façade of postcard-perfect suburbia, but Santa Clarita Diet takes things to a whole new level when it transforms one of the neighbourhood’s perfect wives into… well, into a zombie.
That’s right; Sheila Hammond (Barrymore) and her husband Joel (Olyphant) are a pair of painfully ordinary real estate agents. Their marriage is okay, their house is lovely, their daughter, Abby (Hewson), is your standard teenager. But, one day, everything changes; Hammond, in the middle of a house showing, spews vomit everywhere, shoots out a small red organ-type thingy, and dies… but only for a moment. Joel is shocked when his wife’s eyes flicker open again, and she gets up with a renewed lust for life, sex, and, you know, fresh human flesh. Despite this minor setback, the family decide to continue going about their normal lives – although, of course, things are never that simple.
Sure, it’s a dark subject matter, but this isn’t The Walking Dead; instead, it’s a light-hearted, playful, and consistently funny zom-com. And, with episodes just 30 minutes long, it’s seriously easy to binge-watch in a single weekend...
Fans of Friends
Watch… How I Met Your Mother
Starring: Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris,Alyson Hannigan, Cristin Milioti.
Admit it; you’ve seen every single episode of Friends this point. Maybe it’s time to stop with the endless re-runs and switch over to the critically-acclaimed How I Met Your Mother instead?
It’s not much of a secret that Friends and How I Met Your Mother basically follow the same plot and scenario. Both shows focus on a group of six friends, chilling at a pub in New York, and there are side plots in between.
The main plot, however, feels incredibly Ross and Rachel. Ted (Smulders) has fallen in love with the newest girl to join the group – and, yup, he gets rejected very early on. What follows is an incredible ‘will they, won’t they?’ storyline which should give Friends fans major nostalgia vibes.
The series kicks off when Ted’s best friend, Marshall (Segel), drops the bombshell that he plans to propose to longtime girlfriend Lily (Hannigan), a kindergarten teacher. Suddenly, Ted realizes that he had better get a move on if he hopes to find true love. Helping him in the quest is Barney (Harris), a friend with endless -- often outrageous -- opinions, a penchant for suits (remind you of a certain Chandler Bing, anyone?) and a foolproof way to meet women.
So, yeah, when Ted meets Robin (Milioti), he is sure it's love at first sight, but the affair fizzles into friendship. However, unlike Friends, there’s a big twist; this story is told entirely through flashbacks, as older Ted tells his children how he met their mother. But who IS their mother?
You’ll only find out if you watch the entire thing. God speed, TV addicts.
Fans of Girls
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty, and Iris Apatow
Girls is coming to an end (sob) so there’s a gap in the market for a down-to-earth, nuanced, genre-defying portrayal of the human condition. Step up to the stage, then, Love.
It starts off as your typical cool girl meets nice boy – but it quickly becomes apparent that neither Mickey (Jacobs) or Gus (Rust) are entirely what they seem. Humans do not slot into easy categories, people rarely change, and everyone is far more complicated than we give them credit for.
Or, as Mickey herself puts it: “Surprise! I'm not the cool girl. I'm not just some girl you can fuck for a while to prove to yourself that you can be dangerous and edgy and you're not some huge dork.”
Yes, there’s romance – and, yes, there’s fun. But there’s also some weight topics in the mix; think sex addiction, recreational drug use, regrettable texts, and long-term insecurities. And, sometimes, our cons may just outweigh are pros – no matter how things appear on the surface.
Fans of Game of Thrones
Watch… Once Upon A Time
Starring: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Robert Carlyle, and more
Game of Thrones is magnificent, but there’s no denying that the gaps in between seasons are incredibly long – and now, with the final chapter in sight, we need to find a new obsession. Thank goodness, then, for Once Upon A Time.
Sure, it’s not anywhere near as dark as George R R Martin’s bloodthirsty tale of political intrigue, this star-studded series perfectly matches the fairytale vibe of HBO's iconic fantasy series.
Set in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, it quickly becomes apparent that the residents are characters from various fairytales, transported to the “real world” and robbed of their memories by a powerful and evil curse. For 28 years, they’ve lived an unchanged existence. Now, finally, there’s hope; cynical and prickly Emma (Morrison), a former bail bonds collector, arrives in the town – and it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
Better still, the show is rammed full of kick-butt females – and it’s been praised for subverting the fetishisation of true love. If that doesn’t sound like an unmissable premise, we don’t know what does…
Fans of Family Guy
Watch… Rick and Morty
Starring: Justin Rolland, Sarah Chalke, Spencer Grammer, Chris Parnell, Christina Hendricks, and more
We get you; you think Family Guy fulfils all of your sick, twisted, and politically incorrect needs – but you haven’t seen Rick and Morty yet.
At a first glance, it looks like an animated spoof of Back to the Future – but it’s so much more than that. Dig beneath the colourful aliens, raucous jokes, and constantly burping protagonist, and you have one of the most complex and self-aware cartoons ever.
Each episode satirises a popular trope, features a plethora of guest stars, and exposes the plot holes in so many sci fi and fantasy dramas. And, while the dysfunctional family’s hijinks can make you laugh until your sides hurt, they can also break your heart, particularly Rick.
On the surface, he’s a grotesque and self-obsessed alcoholic. However, as the series progresses, it quickly becomes apparent that he has a deep, dark secret. Or, as one character puts it, the wacky scientist is “in terrible pain” – and that’s why he’s self-medicating.
Start watching, asap; you won’t regret it.
Fans of American Horror Story
Watch… Bates Motel
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Olivia Cooke, Nicola Peltz, and more
If you’re a fan of American Horror Story, then it’s safe to assume you’re looking for a show to send chills down your spine. We’d like to turn your attention, then, to Bates Motel.
Set in a world prior to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and that steaming, blood-swirling shower, this show delves into the past of one of fiction’s most-feared psychopaths, Norman Bates (Highmore). He’s the new kid at school, strangely respectufl of his female classmates, and quickly forges strong friendships with popular girl, Bradley (Peltz) and cystic fibrosis-stricken Emma Decody (Cooke). And, strangely enough, the shy and awkward teenager seems sweet and endearing... at first. However, as the twisted dynamics of his disturbing family become ever more apparent, we quickly realise that not all is well with Norman – and a lot of it has to do with his manipulative mother, Norma (Farmiga).
Don’t go in expecting an easy ride; the first episode features a rape scene and a murder – and things grow steadily darker from that point on. But it’s a definite must if suspense-filled evenings take your fancy.
Fans of Stranger Things
Watch… Freaks and Geeks
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and more
Yes, Stranger Things was awesome – but we need something else to watch while we wait for the next series. And, while it doesn’t fall into the supernatural or sci-fi genre, Freaks and Geeks fits the bill perfectly.
Set in the early 80s, the comically-astute show is frequently praised for its accurate portrayal of school misfits – and, while it was only short-lived, it has become something of a cult favourite with critics. It kicks off as Lindsay Weir (Cardellini), a high-flying student, as she finds finds herself drawn to the pot-smoking cool ‘freaks’. Her ‘geek’ brother (John Francis Daley), meanwhile, faces trials and tribulations of his own.
Trust us when we say its earned its place as one of the greatest ever shows about young adults.
Fans of Black Mirror
Watch… Jessica Jones
Starring: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Erin Moriarty, Rosario Dawson, Carrie-Anne Moss, and more
Charlie Brooker’s bleak anthology series is one of our favourite television shows, but, sometimes, we wish the individual stories could play out over more than just a singular episode. The emotionally exhausting Jessica Jones, despite appearances, fits the bill perfectly.
Let’s not beat about the bush; Jessica (Rytter) is a superhero – but she’s very different to your everyday caped crusader. The sarcastic and hot-tempered recluse lives in the grubbiest depths of New York, where she drinks bourbon and works night shifts as a private detective. And, most importantly, she’s suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) – and it’s all because of the show’s mysterious villain, Kilgrave (Tennant).
It’s up to Jones to track down her nemesis and put an end to his evil schemes – but, it isn’t easy, not least of all because the sinister character has the superhuman ability to command the wills of other people. Which means that, yes, his weapons of choice are coercive control and systematic emotional abuse. If he orders you to “smile”, you have to do so. If he tells you to throw your boiling hot coffee in your face, prepare for burns. And, if he asks you to stop breathing, you suffocate yourself to death.
You can begin to understand why we’ve pegged this show as a must for Black Mirror fans, right?