Bored To Death? These Underrated Netflix Shows Will Help You Escape The Monotony
It’s the weekend, or a sick day, or just a regular Tuesday night, and you need to binge-watch something. You don’t just want it, you need it. Where to begin? Fear not — we’re here to help. Below you’ll find an ever-expanding recommended list of TV shows available on Netflix, curated by us TV-obsessives. The mix covers a myriad of genres, lengths, countries of origins, and much more, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all excellent.
1. Altered Carbon
Adapted from the 2002 Richard K. Morgan novel of the same name, Altered Carbon is a flashy, jargon-y, and, at times, dizzying descent into sci-fi decadence. The show follows a 22nd-century mercenary (Joel Kinnaman) who's hired to solve the murder of a highly influential aristocrat. The catch? Said aristocrat is still alive, because in this version of the future, the wealthy can't really die -- instead, their consciousness is essentially uploaded to the cloud and downloaded into new bodies. In a world without death, the ensuing caper boasts the same jaw-dropping visuals and world-building as Blade Runner and the same thought-provoking intrigue as HBO's Westworld. And over the course of 10 episodes, what looks like a complicated murder mystery detours as a complicated love story and a complicated look at social stratification. In other words, showrunner Laeta Kalogridis packs A LOT to digest in here, but that means there's A LOT to appreciate if you're patient. Though it takes a few episodes for Altered Carbon's dense story to really take off, it's an ambitious ride that's well worth sticking around for. In fact, I can't wait to see more.
2. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is the ultimate Netflix show. Filled with moments of shocking violence and wry humor, the rise and fall of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) -- and his co-conspirators Jesse, Skyler, Gus, and Mike -- is probably best experienced in wild, indulgent weekend binges. That's what many fans did throughout the show's five-season run, catching up on old episodes on Netflix to prepare for the must-see moments that occurred during its final stretch. With the acclaimed spinoff Better Call Saul now inspiring similar conversations, there's never been a better time to take the dive. You don't just watch this show; it consumes you.
Travellers is something of a hidden gem, one that's increasingly not hidden as people realise the genius of this tight, entertaining Canadian sci-fi series. Run by Brad Wright, one of the co-creators of Stargate SG-1, the show follows a team of time travellers sent back to "the 21st" to prevent the post-apocalyptic future from which they came. The twist is how they travel. The Travellers have their consciousness transferred into the bodies of people shortly before their death, adopting their identities and living their lives between missions. It's an often thrilling, sometimes complicated watch that treads the line between serious sci-fi and accessible entertainment perfectly. There are two seasons on Netflix and it's been renewed for a third.
If you relish the dystopian drama of The 100, The Hunger Games, or other narratives about attractive people living under unattractive regimes, then this Brazilian Netflix original is for you. The hook of 3% is simple: The world is divided between a world of wealth called the Offshore and a world of poverty called the Inland. (Sounds familiar, right?) The Elysium-like premise is explored with real emotional depth, and director César Charlone, the cinematographer responsible for City of God's stunning visuals, shoots everything with a gritty glow.
Sometimes, you just need to slow down. Forget all the whizz-bangs of the latest Netflix drama and settle down with Detectorists, a slice-of-life sitcom which is gloriously quaint, funny and very British. The show follows the everyday lives of friends Andy and Lance, who are hobbyist metal detectorists ("detector", we're soon informed, is the tool; "detectorist" the person using it). The pair set out to find buried Saxon gold with fellow members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club, tussling with rival detecting group the Antiquisearchers and dealing with various loves and losses along the way. But that all makes the series sound a lot more dramatic than it actually is, and the real treasure here is not the ancient gold but the charming rapport between the two men as they spend yet another day traipsing through Essex farmland in their anoraks, steadily adding to their collections of ring-pulls and buttons. It's television bliss.
6. The 4400
Produced by The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, this underrated sci-fi series imagines what would happen if 4,400 people suddenly vanished from the face of the planet in the early 20th century... then flashed back into reality decades later. The mystery unfolds through the eyes of some superlative performances, including newly minted Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali as a US Air Force pilot who disappeared but somehow has a daughter in the present.
7. The End of the F***ing World
"I thought she could be interesting to kill. So I pretended to fall in love with her." Thus begins the inner monologue of James (Alex Lawther), a dysfunctional 17-year-old who is convinced he's a sociopath. His target is Alyssa, played by Jessica Barden (Hanna) the new girl at school with terrible parents and a special talent for annoying people. They run away together and the corresponding crime spree draws them closer and has the law following in their wake. This pitch perfect black comedy from Channel 4 will leave you wanting much more, not least as its eight episodes are just 30 minutes apiece. You'll blast through The End of the F***ing World in a weekend, perhaps even an evening, and be better for it.
8. Master of None
When Dev Shah closes his eyes and looks into his future, all he sees is black. As a 30-something living in New York City, trying to navigate pop culture references and complicated personal relationships, Dev is refreshingly real. Aziz Ansari writes and stars, creating a humorous and sometimes painfully honest look into modern life – taking on everything from dating apps, cultural stereotyping and the overarching question 'what do I want?' The second season pays homage to Italian cinema, with stunning visuals and a plot that's not afraid to reject cliche. It's a strong contender amidst Netflix's comedy offerings.
9. BoJack Horseman
A clever, hilarious satire of Hollywood and celebrity culture, it's also an often heartbreaking examination of alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression, This netflix's animated series doubles down on the depression, failure, and slovenly behavior we enjoyed in its first, with plenty of sight gags to lighten the mood. BoJack climbs higher than ever, as he lands his dream acting gig and a dream girlfriend, but life's cruel hand caps him at the knees over and over again. In between the morose moments, BoJack Horseman asks us to laugh -- and we do, because we can't imagine this beleaguered equine's life getting any worse, which, invariably, it does.
10. Jack Taylor
While best known these days for playing the unlucky-in-everything Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones, Iain Glen shows he can play tough and smart with Jack Taylor – the drink-loving curmudgeonly ex-cop.
Having been kicked out of the Irish national police for assaulting a suspect, Jack takes on private detective work around the permanently grey and clouded Galway. He is assisted by Cody, a young ‘fan’ who Jack finds both irritating and invaluable; and Kate, Taylor’s inside source for the police who tries to keep him generally on the right side of the law.
Be warned: the stories, based on the books of Ken Bruen, are pretty miserable affairs, and Jack Taylor rarely gets a break even when he’s solved a case. But the 90 minute episodes are uniquely Irish and are still fresh despite the private eye and film noir clichés present in spades. Not innovative as a show, but with well executed essentials and Gallic flavour.