Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Peak TV is certainly putting that theory to test, overwhelming viewers with myriad content and platform options. While there are hidden shows on Netflix with near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores, it can often be difficult to sift through the clutter to even find them behind the announcement of the next dozen Netflix original series or the invitations to re-watch your favorite series.
Paralyzed by choice, it’s easy to see why some people fall back on the same offerings over and over again like a cozy security blanket. One man reportedly marathoned The Office for so long that Netflix actually checked in on him to make sure he was doing OK, per CinemaBlend. The world collectively lost its marbles when it was announced that 30 Rock would be leaving the streaming service. (Don’t worry, it found a new home on Hulu.)
But why watch a sitcom for the umpteenth time when you could watch a truly terrific new show for the first time? Well, because they can often be so hard to find. So I’ve compiled a list of the 17 best shows on Netflix you’ve probably never seen — or maybe even heard of — that all have a score of 90 percent or higher on Rotten Tomatoes.
1. The Fall (90 percent)
While the world obsesses over the new batch of X-Files episodes, you can watch star Gillian Anderson in an entirely different show over on Netflix. She’s never been better than she is as Stella Gibson, the police superintendent hot on the trail of a serial killer played by Fifty Shades Of Grey‘s Jamie Dornan, in this awesomely feminist British-Irish import.
2. Galavant (90 percent)
If you missed this sublimely absurd musical-comedy-fantasy-adventure the first time around when it aired on ABC, never fear! You can enjoy every delicious moment on Netflix, including catchy tunes like "Maybe You’re Not The Worst Thing Ever" and "My Dragon Pal And Me," and hilarious guest stars like Weird Al Yanokovic as a singing monk and John Stamos as Sir Jean Hamm.
3. The Honorable Woman (91 percent)
Remember the shocking moment when frontrunner Frances McDormand lost the Golden Globe for her performance in HBO’s terrific Olive Kitteridge? Well, maybe you don’t, but either way, now’s your chance to see the performance that beat McDormand’s. She may have been the dark horse, but Maggie Gyllenhaal deserved every accolade that came her way for her role as the Right Honourable Baroness Nessa Stein in this modern political thriller.
4. Bates Motel (93 percent)
Audiences widely dismissed the idea of a prequel to one of the most beloved horror movies of all time, and by the time it was clear that Bates Motel was actually great on its own merits, most people had already missed the boat. Although it was thankfully allowed to reach the end of its tragic story, it never got the wider recognition it deserved, especially for stars Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as Norma and Norman Bates.
5. Gomorrah (94 percent)
Adapted from the Oscar-nominated foreign language film of the same name, Gomorrah is the highest-rated show to ever air on the Italian network Sky Italia, even outstripping American import Game Of Thrones. Two years after its premiere, it finally made its way to the States via the Sundance Channel — and now an even wider audience can watch it, thanks to Netflix.
6. Wormwood (95 percent)
Netflix helped kickstart our culture’s current true crime obsession thanks to shows like Making A Murderer and The Keepers. But some audiences don’t quite seem to know what to make of this recent offering from documentarian Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line), which is presented as part documentary, and part a scripted reenactment of the events that led to the mysterious death of CIA agent Frank Olson, played by Peter Sarsgaard.
7. La Casa De Papel (96 percent)
This Spanish import just arrived on Netflix over Christmas 2017, recut from its original structure of nine 70-minute episodes into 13 50-minute episodes to better fit with the streaming service’s typical format. Regardless of the way it’s presented, fans of the heist genre are going to want to check out this acclaimed international answer to Ocean’s 11.
8. Peaky Blinders (96 percent)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins) stars in this period gangster drama about a real-life criminal organization operating in England after World War I. The cast is absolutely stacked with talent, with recognizable faces like Tom Hardy, Adrien Brody, Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and Helen McCrory (Penny Dreadful) having appeared over the course of its four seasons.
9. Rectify (96 percent)
One of the most criminally underrated shows of its time, this Southern Gothic drama about a suspected murderer released from prison on a technicality, and his attempts to reintegrate to his life in small town Georgia, never got the attention it deserved during its four-season run. Now’s your chance to rectify that mistake.
10. American Crime (97 percent)
Living in the shadow of the FX anthology series that shares two-thirds of its title with the ABC anthology series, American Crime told three compelling stories over its three seasons, tackling race and murder in California, class and sexual assault in Indiana, and immigration and forms of modern slavery in North Carolina. Regina King won two Emmys for her work on the series, but that didn’t stop it from being cancelled thanks to low ratings.
11. The End Of The F***ing World (97 percent)
One of Netflix’s newest additions doesn’t exactly have the most marketable title, but it deserves your notice anyway. Based on a popular graphic novel, this pitch black British comedy follows a teenage self-professed psychopath and his violent misadventures with a rebellious classmate he decides to kill. Will he or won’t he? Stream it and find out.
12. Les Revenants (The Returned) (97 percent)
Before Twin Peaks itself returned, this atmospheric French supernatural drama was the most Twin Peaks-y series since Twin Peaks. The story of a group of dead people who inexplicably return to life in a small mountain town, none the worse for wear, is absolutely suffused with chilly dread. Just make sure you watch the original version, not the subpar American remake that’s also available on Netflix. (It’s also totally different from the ABC drama Resurrection.)
13. Alias Grace (99 percent)
Although Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is the Margaret Atwood adaptation that got all the buzz in 2017, this Canadian-American miniseries actually has an even higher Rotten Tomatoes score than that Emmy-winning show. Based on the fascinating true story of Grace Marks, a housekeeper convicted of murdering her employer, Alias Grace is just as much a feminist triumph as its Hulu counterpart, and deserves the same acclaim.
14. Absolutely Fabulous (100 percent)
If you are in a 30 Rock or The Office type of mood, perhaps check out this hilarious British sitcom for a change of pace. Starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as two hard-drinking besties getting up to hijinks in the fashion industry, Ab Fab has become something of a cult classic since its six-season run ended in 2004, even earning its own feature film revival in 2016.
15. Chewing Gum (100 percent)
Part of the recent and exciting spate of female-fronted auteur comedy that includes Issa Rae’s Insecure and Pamela Adlon’s Better Things, this British import is perhaps less well-known in the States… but deserves just as much attention. Creator/writer/star Michaela Cole plays Tracey, a mess of contradictions as a hip twentysomething who’s obsessed with Beyoncé but also a devoutly religious Christian. Watching her struggle to reconcile those two identities is a constant delight.
16. Happy Valley (100 percent)
The title is a bit of a misnomer, since this British crime series — about a detective who becomes obsessed when she learns that the man who raped her daughter and drove her to suicide has gotten out of prison — is anything but cheerful. But don’t let that scare you away, especially if you’ve enjoyed other British crime dramas like Broadchurch or Luther.
17. River (100 percent)
You’ve seen plenty of shows about cops who are haunted by their work… but have you ever seen a show about a cop who’s literally haunted by his work? Stellan Skarsgård — who you’ll recognize from the Thor movies and as the father to both Alexander (True Blood) and Bill (It) — stars as a detective who sees visions of his dead partner. But is he tapping into a supernatural plane, or is he going crazy?
You now have permission to pause that episode of 30 Rock and try one of these acclaimed and underrated series instead.
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