There’s a lot of content on Netflix. A lot. So, to make your life easier, I’ve tried to compile a list that pulls from a little bit of each category and should give anybody somewhere to start when trying to make the most out of the streaming service. Fair warning, it is a little on the nerdy side though, which is hard to avoid when cherry picking from the vast streaming oasis that is Netflix.
- Black Mirror – This show is the very definition of a mind game. It takes complex social issues involving technology and the potentials of the future and puts compelling twists on them to make for a very fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, commentary on our civilization. Originally a British tv show, it has now been picked up and renewed for more episodes by Netflix.
- Narcos – One I have admittedly not watched, but which has gotten wide critical acclaim for its portrayal of the Columbian drug conflict involving Pablo Escobar and stars, among others, Pedro Pascal of Game of Thrones fame.
- House of Cards – An intense show featuring the rise to power of South Carolina Congressman Frank Underwood and his wife, Claire. This show is easily one of the best political thrillers out there and with the new season that came out earlier this year, it has yet to disappoint. If you’re behind on the show’s five seasons, fret not, as you have until next summer to catch up before season six is released.
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - This is a hilarious comedy that stars Ellie Kemper of The Office as the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the “Indiana Mole Woman” who escaped after ten years in a doomsday bunker and follows her attempt to catch up to modern life and overcome her past while adventuring in New York City.
- Bojack Horseman – A humorous, fascinating, and (admittedly) sometimes depressing cartoon show about a washed-up actor who, back in the 90’s, was on a very famous tv show. Now, we follow his sordid life atop his Hollywoo (that’s how it’s spelled in the show…he drunkenly stole the ‘D’) home. Oh, and he’s more horse than a man. Or more man than a horse?
- Archer – Following the intrigue of renowned spy, Sterling Archer, who works for his mother’s spy agency as they fight various bad guys and inevitably screw up the mission somewhere along the way. Archer makes for very entertaining watching and never gets old, even when its predictable.
- An Idiot Abroad – This show has been off the air for a couple years now but I’m dragging it back into the light because I think everyone should experience its hilarity. The show stars Karl Pilkington, a man with very particular attitudes and outlooks on the world, life and everything as he is sent around the world in situations he is guaranteed to be unhappy with. Pulling the strings in the background are comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant of the Office (UK version) fame. Gervais and Merchant discovered Pilkington when they had a radio show back in the early 2000s and have been torturing him by putting him in uncomfortable situations ever since.
- Forces of Nature – Starring British astrophysicist Brian Cox, he breaks down the science of forces like gravity and interesting underlying features of the universe like fractals. It is a beautifully filmed, accessible and informative documentary for you science geeks out there. Watch it, and it will not disappoint.
- Cosmos – In a reboot of the original version with Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the viewer on a tour through the universe on his ship of the imagination and explains the phenomena of the Cosmos. He also explains the history of scientific discoveries now and then and really covers a vast array of topics in science.
- David Attenborough Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates – If you like nature documentaries then you’ve probably heard or seen Attenborough narrating or presenting. In this he goes step-by-step through the evolution of vertebrates over the eons and showcases the latest in genetic and paleontological science as he does so.
- Bill Nye Saves the World – Netflix has brought Bill Nye back to our screens! The science educator from the 90s shows the audience, in his high-tech lab, just how science works, and brings on experts to help tackle difficult and fascinating topics.
- Ocean Giants – I like whales and dolphins so I had to include this, plus it is narrated by British comedian Stephen Fry. The documentary goes into whale intelligence and the ways in which they cooperate and display their learning abilities.
- Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown - A good one to watch if you’re feeling hungry and adventurous but don’t actually want to get up and go anywhere. Follow the amusing chef, Anthony Bourdain, on his travels around the world while he meets interesting people, looks at fascinating and sometimes dangerous events, and eats some mighty good food.
- Magic School Bus – The original is on the streaming service, but the reason I include this is that it is soon returning (thanks again Netflix!) in a reboot starring Kate McKinnon of SNL as the wacky Ms. Frizzle. The Magic School Bus is a great way for kids to learn about and explore scientific subjects in a fun and engaging way.
- Puffin Rock – Less educational, but cute. It’s a cartoon about a little girl who is, you guessed it, a Puffin and her life on a little isle somewhere around Scotland.
- Super Why – Another good educational show that takes kids through story worlds and teaches them how to read.
- Dragons race to the edge – Pure gratuitous entertainment for your kid, no education really, unless dragons somehow become real and our kids need to train them. Still, it’s entertaining and kid-friendly and sometimes it’s good just to have a couple decent shows to watch with your kids that you can also enjoy a little bit.