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50. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (1 of 2 seasons)
A musical series about a woman who leaves her prestigious job in Manhattan to follow an ex-boyfriend to a small town in California, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is like no other show on a show on television. The premise is not unlike that of Felicity, but the tone is unique: Quirky and hilarious on the surface, but dark and subversive underneath. As co-creator (along with Aline Brosh McKenna) and star, Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom provides catchy songs with irreverent lyrics that offer dark meditations on depression, insecurity, and the challenges of balancing careers and love lives. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a funny, feminist and infectious, and the best new show on network television in 2015.
49. Sense8 (1 of 1 season)
Once the Wachowskis’ underappreciated sci-fi series establishes its characters, there’s at least one profoundly moving moment in every episode. Sense8 is rich with brilliant ideas, and, though they’re not always executed with perfect logic, the chemistry between the characters is undeniable. It’s impossible not to root for them, to feel and experience their ups and downs, their confusion and heartbreak, and, most of all, their love. The Wachowskis first foray into television is at once romantic, life-affirming, and thought-provoking.
48. Sons of Anarchy (7 of 7 seasons)
Seasons three to five are wildly inconsistent, but the first, second, and sixth seasons of Kurt Sutter’s biker drama are some of the most intense and violent television you’ll ever watch. Described early on as The Sopranos with motorcycles, Sons is an intermittently great show, although its clusterf*ck of a final season knocks it lower on the list than it might have landed otherwise.
47. The League (7 of 7 seasons)
A combination of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm and fantasy football, The League‘s not as funny as Sunny, but it’s also not as misanthropic as Curb. Its awkward humor never feels uncomfortable, and Jason Mantzoukas’ Rafi is one of the funniest recurring characters you’ll find anywhere.
46. Arrow (4 of 5 seasons)
Arrow may not get the attention of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, but it is more fun. It’s a potent combination of dark characters, addictive serialized storylines and villains of the week, and an attractive cast buoyed by one of the coolest guys on television, Stephen Amell. The first two seasons go down quickly and sweetly, but the third season hits some rough patches.
45. Top of the Lake (1 of 1 season)
This six-episode drama directed by Jane Campion and starring Elisabeth Moss — which can best be described as a cross between Twin Peaks and The Killing — is an engrossing miniseries that follows the investigation of a missing girl and her f***ed up, drug-dealing incestuous family, who are accused of being behind the kidnapping. The series is slow-burning, but engrossing, television, and features phenomenal performances all around, especially from Moss.
44. Stranger Things (1 of 1 seasons)
A throwback and love letter to the early 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, the Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things feels both familiar and new. It’s about a boy named Will (think E.T.‘s Elliot) who is captured by a The Thing-like creature and trapped in a Poltergeist-like world. His mother (Winona Ryder) recruits the local sheriff to investigate Will’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Will’s dorky, Goonies-like best friends take to their bikes to do some sleuthing of their own and eventually befriend an alien-like girl with telepathic powers (the E.T. of the series). The investigation into Will’s disappearance and the arrival of the telepathic girl all seem to lead back to a power plant operated by a character played by Matthew Modine. It’s great PG horror/sci-fi, like the blockbusters of the early ’80s, but for those who didn’t grow up in the era or aren’t intimately familiar with Amblin Entertainment’s catalogue, the series may not hold as much appeal.
43. Luke Cage (1 of 1 season)
The third entry in Marvel’s Defenders series, Luke Cage follows the title character — introduced originally in Jessica Jones — to Harlem, where he works as a sweeper in a barbershop and as a dishwasher in a restaurant. Cage –who has superhero strength and unbreakable skin — gets dragged against his better instincts into crime-fighting in order to save Harlem from violence and corruption. Mike Colter is the real draw here — he manages to perfectly straddle the line between imposing and kind — and Luke Cage is every bit as thematically complex as Jessica Jones before it. Cage only falters in pace and storytelling. It’s thematically bold, but the storylines are conservative and predictable, and it might benefit by cutting its episode count from 13 down to eight or ten.
42. Quantum Leap (5 of 5 seasons)
The first season is kind of a bear to get through because the production values were so low, but once Quantum Leap finds its feet, it’s one of the most enjoyable sci-fi series you’ll ever watch. It certainly has an ’80s quality to it with the synthesizer music and bad hair, but its time-travel adventures are comfort television at its best, even if the finale was on the disappointing side.
41. Dexter (8 of 8 seasons)
Michael C. Hall is absolutely terrific as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami police department who moonlights as a serial killer and tries to keep his two lives separate. There’s a great opening season, a fantastic fourth season, and in between the two, a couple of decent ones. Do yourself a favor, however, and don’t bother with the final four seasons. It’s a testament to how good the first and fourth seasons were that it still gains a place upon this list, despite a deeply disappointing final season.
40. Family Guy (14 of 15 seasons)
Seth MacFarlane’s animated series isn’t exactly designed for binge-watching (there are over 250 episodes, so far), but it’s hilarious background TV for doing laundry, getting over a hangover, or trying to kill a few brain cells after work. But don’t lower your expectations too much: There’s also some sharp and biting social commentary in between all the dick jokes.
39. Master of None (1 of 1 seasons)
Intimate, funny, warm and kind, Master of None confidently tackles issues of sex and race from a perspective original to mainstream television. Creator, writer, and star Aziz Ansari loads the sitcom with smart observations and wry humor, and when it comes to dating as a thirty-something, Ansari just gets it. Sweet, sentimental, but never sappy, the mold-breaking Master of None may be the most thoughtful and well-considered dating sitcom on television.
38. How I Met Your Mother (9 of 9 seasons)
Another up-and-down series that started off as a cute sitcom with a semi-interesting premise then hit its stride for about five seasons, and struggled through its later seasons once the premise had completely run its course and the narrating character became an insufferable douche. Still, even in the later seasons, How I Met Your Mother has enough moments to keep chugging along, if only as background noise. That series finale, on the other hand, oof. They did not stick the landing.
37. Portlandia (6 of 6 seasons)
It helps if you’ve lived in and/or been to Portland, and like most sketch comedy, Portlandia is wildly hit and miss, but the hits are often huge, and the misses are easy enough to fast-forward through. It’s clever and strangely understated for sketch comedy, and although it works best as a send-up of Portland, the absurdist comedy is still effective outside of the Northwest.
36. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10 of 11 seasons)
Take the misanthropy of Seinfeld and triple it, then triple it again, and you’ve basically set the tone for It’s Always Sunny, the wildly brilliant FX sitcom. When the series is on — and it often is — nothing on television is funnier, raunchier, and more awesomely offensive.
35. Lost (6 of 6 seasons)
If you like mysteries and lots and lots of questions, but don’t care about satisfying answers to those questions, Lost is basically the best drama of all time. For much of its run, it was the best thing going on network television: suspenseful and completely engrossing. Unfortunately, there’s that ending, that kind of undid much of the series’ greatness. Bygones. It’s still an outstanding journey, even if the destination is not up to the standards of the rest of the series.
34. The Wonder Years (6 of 6 seasons)
The only reason why the coming-of-age series set in the ’60s — and one of my all-time favorite shows — did not make the top 25 is because much of the wonder has been taken out of the series on Netflix, as it’s missing many of the original songs (including the theme song) due to licensing issues. The music was a huge part of the show, although the absence of the original songs doesn’t completely diminish the power of the series, which tackles not only the relationship between Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper, but heavier issues like the Vietnam War, and the cultural clashes between conservative ’60s parents and their more liberal, hippie offspring. The series finale is still one of television’s best all-time episodes.
33. House of Cards (4 of 4 seasons)
Netflix’s first major foray into original programming is worth every cent of its $100 million production budget, featuring searing performances, a droll sense of humor, slick writing, engrossing plot-lines, and Kevin Spacey chewing the face off the scenery. The first season is phenomenal, though the second is fat around the middle and begins to wane near the end, the third is straight-up bleak, but the fourth recaptures some of the early season magic when election season rolls around again.
32. Rectify (3 of 4 seasons)
Rectify is maybe the best series on television that no one is watching. Aden Young, in a soulful performance, plays Daniel Handler, a man locked up and put on death row nearly 20 years ago for raping and murdering his girlfriend. However, DNA evidence has come to light that casts doubt on his guilt, so the court system has no choice but to release him. Is he actually guilty? Or is he innocent and misunderstood? That’s the question at the heart of the series, and the question the people in his small town, including his family, have to ask themselves. Is this man we’re letting back into our family a murderer and a rapist, or is he the kind, thoughtful man he appears to be? Rectify is a beautiful show about appreciating life that manages to perfectly straddle the line between bleak and hopeful, and quietly features some of the best performances on television.
31. Terriers (1 of 1 season)
Not that it doesn’t already get mentioned enough around here, it always bears repeating: Terriers is terrific, a funny, engrossing, and entertaining private eye drama starring Donal Logue that never should’ve been cancelled. In a just world, Terriers is now entering its seventh season. But even in this unjust world, season one should not be missed.
30. Better Off Ted (2 of 2 seasons)
Probably the sitcom closest in spirit to Arrested Development (it also co-stars Portia de Rossi), Better Off Ted is a brilliant, offbeat, and irreverent show, skewering corporate culture and subverting the office comedies. There are only one and a half seasons of the show, but given how subversive and different it was for network television, the miracle is that we have those episodes at all.
29. Bob’s Burgers (5 of 7 seasons)
Not quite as funny as H. Jon Benjamin’s other animated sitcom, Archer, Bob’s Burgers does have something Archer does not: a huge heart. Combine that with great musical numbers and a madly addictive quality, and Bob’s Burgers is one of the most enjoyable shows on Netflix to binge.
28. Black Mirror (3 of 3 seasons)
It cannot be stressed enough how amazing Britain’s Black Mirror is, and the only reason it’s not higher on this list is that there are only 6 episodes available (at least until Netflix airs its next season). But what an incredible six episodes they are. It’s severely biting social commentary about the current and future technological age in the form of twisted, dark Twilight Zone episodes. It’s an incredible six episodes of television, and episode for episode, perhaps the best series on this list. Watch one episode, and you’ll be hooked.
27. Parks and Recreation (7 of 7 seasons)
Witty, heartfelt, and funny, you’re not likely to find a more likable sitcom than Parks and Recreation. The first six episodes aren’t very good, but once they figured out what to do with Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, the sitcom began to thrive, thanks in huge part to its endearing supporting cast. Parks and Rec is blissful television, and a must watch for any fan of great sitcoms.
26. Peaky Blinders (3 of 3 seasons)
Another British import, Peaky Blinders is roughly the UK equivalent of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, taking place in the same time period and covering similar terrain. Peaky has one thing that Boardwalk does not, however, and that’s the piercing, intense Cillian Murphy. The show also features Tom Hardy as a phenomenal recurring character debuting in season two (along with Noah Taylor).
25. Bloodline (2 of 2 seasons)
Bloodline is engrossing, so much so that somewhere along the way, you may find yourself wondering if you skipped an episode. You’ll start in on episode 7, fall into a trance, and wake up somewhere around episode 10, wondering what happened to the last four hours of your life. Ben Mendelsohn will hook you immediately, but after four or five episodes into season one — once the pieces begin to fall into place — the story will sweep you along toward the dark and sickly satisfying end, capping the season off with four of the best episodes in the short but stellar history of Netflix’s original programming. Unfortunately, the second season — while still a fine season of TV — doesn’t live up to the first.
24. BoJack Horseman (3 of 3 seasons)
Not enough people on the Internet have explained that BoJack Horseman is not what it might seem like. Not enough people raved that it was an often very funny, often very heartbreaking meditation on depression. It’s an animated sitcom about a washed-up horse, and somehow, it’s also an incredibly profound look at deeper themes. It’s amazing, but it may also leave you in a depressive funk for days afterwards.
23. The Office (U.S. and UK, Complete Series of Both)
The original UK The Office mainstreamed Ricky Gervais’ awkward, uncomfortable humor, while The Office diluted it (some), layered in one of sitcom’s greatest romances (for four seasons, anyway), and surrounded Steve Carell with a remarkable, quirky supporting cast. The first four seasons still stand as the best workplace comedy in American sitcom history, even if the final four seasons were increasingly mediocre — though the series did redeem itself in the end.
22. Luther (4 of 4 seasons)
Maybe the bleakest, grittiest cop show you’ll ever see, Luther is so intense it may at times rattle your brain stem. But it is also pummeling great drama, and Idris Elba is a tour de force (Ruth Wilson is fantastic, too).
21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (7 of 7 seasons)
Enjoyable, witty, and smart, Joss Whedon’s television series still stands as one of the best character-driven, action-adventure series ever. Once it hits its stride in season two, it’s a fleet-footed, charming, and completely satisfying television show, and one whose characters will stick with you for the rest of your life. (The spin-off, Angel, which is also on Netflix, is not bad, either).
20. Firefly (1 of 1 seasons)
The best cancelled-too-soon sci-fi series of all time is must watch television for anyone who considers themselves a geek. It’s the show that put Nathan Fillion on the map, and it’s the show that — eventually — helped to reopen pop culture to entertaining sci-fi. It’s irresistible and features some of the best sci-fi villains I’ve ever seen (especially the Reavers). Watch one episode, and you’ll end up mainlining the rest in a matter of days.
19. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2 of 2 seasons)
This Tina Fey-produced sitcom — which was originally supposed to air on NBC before the network agreed to give it to Netflix — is as dense and irreverent as 30 Rock, but it’s also immensely life affirming. It’s funny, fast-paced, chock-full of pop-culture references and maybe the easiest Netflix original series to binge-watch. And, like 30 Rock, it also includes a lot of fun — and unexpected — celebrity cameos.
18. Better Call Saul (1 of 2 seasons)
In its first season, Better Call Saul quickly put to rest any fears anyone might have had about a spin-off from arguably the greatest drama of all time, Breaking Bad (which sits atop this list). Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould return as showrunners, and they continue to bring the same level of complexity, intensity, and character development to Saul as they did for Breaking Bad. What’s most remarkable about the series, however, is that they managed to transform the Saul character into someone humane and sympathetic while staying true to the same character in the original series. Indeed, Saul is the most detail oriented and perhaps the smartest show on television, and one hell of an intense, suspenseful drama, which is all the more impressive because we know roughly where it will end up.
17. The West Wing (7 of 7 seasons)
Television’s all-time best political drama is Aaron Sorkin at his absolute best, working with one of the finest ensemble casts in television history. The show wavers after the fourth season (when Sorkin left), but it picks back up in its final season (with Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda). Here’s a celebration of the greatest fictional President of all time to get you warmed up for it.
16. Gilmore Girls (7 of 7 seasons)
Maybe the wittiest, pop-culture rich drama ever, Gilmore Girls has nevertheless managed to hold up incredibly well over the years. It’s a great show to watch with a new generation of television viewers, it’s a great show to watch while bingeing on food, and it’s a great show to re-watch many times. The relationship between single mother Lorelai and her daughter, Rory, never gets old.
15. The X-Files (9 of 10 seasons)
If this series had ended after David Duchovny left, The X-Files would have a spot in the top ten on this list, even if the answers to many of the questions presented by the conspiracy theories in the show were often not answered in a satisfying way (the show’s mythology is all over the place). The case-of-the-week episodes, however, are amazing, groundbreaking, often very creepy, and entertaining as hell.
14. 30 Rock (7 of 7 seasons)
Funny, feminist, and wickedly intelligent, 30 Rock is a biting comedy that is so hilarious you’ll never feel the teeth marks. 30 Rock elevated Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live comedian to a cultural force.
13. Daredevil (2 of 2 seasons)
Daredevil is unquestionably the best superhero series of all time. It has the addictive qualities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s darker and more intense than any of those films. It’s harsh, with brutal eye-popping fight sequences. It has an excellent cast (led by Charlie Cox as the title character) with tons of chemistry, and nails the tone of the source material.
12. Scrubs (9 of 9 seasons)
J.D. and Turk were the original sitcom bromance, the precursors to today’s Troy and Abed (and Shawn and Gus on Psych). There’s one thing that neither Troy nor Abed have on Scrubs, however, and that’s the Turk Dance, the single greatest minute in single-camera sitcom history. Dr. Cox still remains my favorite sitcom television character of all time, and while I’ll concede that Scrubs may not be objectively the best sitcom ever, it’s still my favorite. Here’s 20 obscure facts you might not know about the series.
11. Orange is the New Black (4 of 4 seasons)
The best original show on Netflix, this prison dramedy is a deeply human, funny, moving, realistic, progressive show about life and the bad decisions we’re all destined to make. OITNB humanizes the dehumanized, transforms labels — felons, thieves, murderers, embezzlers — into real human beings and reminds us that, even in prison, life isn’t put on hold. Life is being led. It’s a remarkably excellent series, and addictive as hell.
10. Mad Men (7 of 7 seasons)
Mad Men is one of the best-written, best acted, and engrossing dramas on television. Period. The first season is a little slow, but keep with it: Matthew Weiner eventually layers in a lot of fun elements, and takes it home for a great ending.
9. Archer (6 of 7 seasons)
Take away The Simpsons, and Archer may be the best animated sitcom of all time. The spy spoof is acerbic, funny, fast, and smart. The humor is black and brilliantly sophomoric, and it’s also very in love with itself, but in a way that completely works for the series. It may take an episode or two to adjust to the brand of comedy, but once you do, Archer is immensely addictive and incredibly quotable.
8. Friends (10 of 10 seasons)
There’s nothing to say Friends that you don’t already know, and unless you’re under the age of 15, you’ve probably already seen every episode, but — along with Seinfeld (not on Netflix) — Friends remains the most durable, re-watchable sitcom ever.
7. Arrested Development (4 of 4 seasons)
The series lost some of the mystique it had gained after its cancellation because Netflix’s season four wasn’t to everyone’s satisfaction — though it flowers with repeat viewings. It’s not just the funniest sitcom of the generation, it’s probably the most influential.
6. Sherlock (3 of 3 seasons)
Sherlock is the best iteration of the Sherlock Holmes ever to air on television. The British series from Steven Moffat stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and despite the fact that it has been updated, it brilliantly captures the same spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic stories. It’s fast-paced, engrossing, brilliantly acted, often very funny, and frequently tragic.
5. Friday Night Lights (5 of 5 seasons)
One of the all-time greatest dramas, Friday Night Lights is a poignant, touching drama about families, both football families and organic ones. It’s one of the bravest series on television for not being afraid to mix high-quality drama with an intense amount of heart, and Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler give quite the clinic on parenting throughout. It’s one of the few shows you will ever watch that will make you want to be a better person.
4. Louie (5 of 5 seasons)
Placing this above Arrested Development among the best comedies wasn’t a mistake: Arrested Development may be the most offbeat, but Louie is the most human. It can be wildly funny, it can be irreverent (like Arrested Development), heartfelt (like Parks), and uncomfortable (like The Office), but unlike any other “comedy” on television, it can also be tragic and devastating.
3. The Walking Dead (6 of 7 seasons)
Currently, the highest-rated scripted series on cable television, The Walking Dead is an up-and-down show. When it’s good, it’s phenomenal; when it’s not, it can be a slog (especially in the earlier half of the series, when Frank Darabont was showrunner). Greg Nicotero does fantastic FX work, and the series is particularly compelling because no one — no matter how high they are listed in the credits — is safe from the zombie apocalypse, and the showrunners seem to relish in killing off cast members. Some of the binge-watching value, however, is lost because it’s so difficult to avoid being spoiled to plot points of one of the most talked about series on TV. Nevertheless, unlike almost any television drama, The Walking Dead has only improved with age, getting better with each season. Beware of the cliffhangers, however, in season six.
2. Freaks and Geeks (1 of 1 season)
It’s been 17 years now since NBC cancelled what is inarguably the best cancelled-too-soon series ever (sorry Firefly), and it’s inclusion on this list is mostly a reminder to watch it again. If you haven’t watched it already, it’s a mere 18 episodes and not only is it 18 of the best hours you’ll ever spend watching television, it also acts as a primer for the contemporary generation of comedy. Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segal, and Paul Feig — among others — were born out of this series, which means that it’s responsible for more comedy in America at the box office these days than anything else, outside of Saturday Night Live. Mostly, however, it’s just the greatest coming-of-age series ever, and every second watching it feels almost heartbreaking because it means you’re one second closer to the end. Here’s 20 obscure facts about Freaks and Geeks you didn’t know.
1. Breaking Bad (5 of 5 seasons)
Not just the best series on Netflix, Breaking Bad is the best series of all time. There’s no debate about that.
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50. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (1 of 2 seasons) A musical series about a woman who leaves her prestigi...