Whether it’s out of school or in work (shhh: don’t tell the boss), summer is the perfect time to catch up on Netflix’s most popular shows. Netflix’s choices are vast and overwhelming— whether aired on TV and later streamed online, or one of Netflix’s own originals, anybody can be sure to find a flavor suitable to their palette.
Take your pick from Marvel to DC— which a good portion of this line-up consists of— to zombies, cults, and British consulting detectives! Several of these shows are worthy staying up abominably late for, so go ahead. Your relationship level with your Netflix account is about to get much, much deeper. Be sure to change your status on Facebook and alert anyone else you know— you’re not resurfacing for a good, long while.
I believe that 99 percent of successful TV shows change an immense amount from the pilot to the tenth or twelfth episode.- Bill Lawrence
***Note: minor spoilers ahoy***
1. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel | 2013 | airs on ABC in approx. 40 minute long installments)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was Marvel’s first foray into the world of television, and it’s a rousing success. Although criticized by some as being full of cheesy plot lines, a majority continue to hail it— and the legendary Joss Whedon’s work— as anything but ordinary.
The story begins after the events of Avengers, and all the references to Earth’s mightiest heroes is enough to make even a grown-up squeal with excitement. Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) is a Level 6 clearance S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is in for a surprise when he’s cleared for Level 7— an upgrade that includes meeting the supposedly dead Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Coulson has just come back from Tahiti (“It’s a magical place”), and with Director Fury’s consent (Samuel L. Jackson), Coulson bands together a group of agents, scientists, and a “hactivist” to take down the infamous HYDRA, as well as investigating numerous strange and inhuman threats around the world.
Those who are fans of Marvel will enjoy the continuity that Agents has with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. Outcomes from the films are reflected and affect the characters in the show, while elements in the show often foreshadow potential conflicts in the films. With Marvel’s recent deal with Netflix, and in turn, Netflix’s deal with ABC, Netflix promises to keep uploading and streaming Agents. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix. Season 3 will be available to stream on June 16th. Season 4 has been confirmed and will continue to air on ABC.
2. Arrow (DC | 2012 | airs on CW in approx. 40 minute long installments)
Continuing the reign of comics is Arrow, a DC comics character who’s a billionaire playboy by day, and a green-hooded, bow-and-arrow wielding vigilante at night.
Played by actor Stephen Amell, Oliver Queen of Starling City has been stranded on the island of Lian Yu in the North China Sea for the last 5 years. Although he, his father, and miscellaneous other characters were presumed dead, Oliver is brought back as the lone survivor, thanks to the help of two fishermen. Oliver’s family and friends— mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), sister Thea (Willa Holland), and best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell)— all know that something’s different about Oliver, but it’s certainly not the talking-to-a-basketball-named-Wilson sort of change. Thanks to his time alone on the island, Oliver Queen has transformed himself into a weapon in order to go after those in Starling City who profit off the less powerful by perpetuating crime and corruption.
The show is intriguing and although some may think it reminiscent of Batman (vigilante crime-fighter in the night and all that), Arrow follows its own unique storyline and populates its world with memorable characters, while managing to focus on themes like family and justice. Oliver Queen is a multi-faceted character, and audiences who are interested in both compelling and action-based plots might find Arrow to their liking. Seasons 1-3 are currently streaming on Netflix, with no news thus far for when Season 4 will be streamed. Season 5 has been confirmed on the CW.
3. Daredevil (Netflix original series in conjunction with Marvel and ABC production | 2015 | Streams in approx. 50 minute installments only on Netflix)
Gritty and dark in a way that not even brightening your computer screen will help, Marvel’s Daredevil is a tour de force that manages to capture its audience within the first few minutes. In fact, the show is so popular and well-known that it has become the background of the sign-in screen on Netflix!
Chris Cox is Matthew “Matt” Murdock, blind and charming Hell’s Kitchen lawyer by day, and avenging Daredevil by by night (are you sensing a pattern here?). Although he developed a heightened awareness after the accident that took his sight away, Murdock is still very much human. Very much flawed and aware of the crimes he commits in his quest of cleansing Hell’s Kitchen, the character’s Catholic beliefs is very much prevalent in the series— indeed, in the opening credits— and the Daredevil can be seen asking for forgiveness of his sins, a truly humbling act to see for any character in a series, let alone a hero.
Elden Henson is Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Murdock’s law partner and friend. Foggy brings some comic relief to an otherwise dark and serious series. There is no news yet regarding a Season 3 release date. Seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix.
4. The Flash (DC | 2014 | Airs on CW in approx. 40 minute long installments)
Another extremely popular show on Netflix is DC’s The Flash, otherwise known as the tale of the fastest man in the world (sorry, Quicksilver and Usain Bolt). The Flash is Barry Allen, a genius-level perpetual underdog fighter who doesn’t seem to lose his courage in putting others first— hence, his apologetic nature and the fact that he apologizes for, well, everything. His desire to protect transfers into a CSI job where, although he seems to be perpetually late, his superb observational skills causes the man who raised Barry (Jesse L. Martin), Detective Joe West, to overlook his tardiness. Despite his intellect however, Barry is an outcast amongst the squad and most of his peers for his obsession with cold cases and paranormal actives— obsessions that he has after his mother was killed under extraordinary circumstances, and his father was framed for the murder.
After an accident with a particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs caused a freak radiation storm over Central City, Barry is struck by lightning and stuck in a coma for almost a year. He wakes up in a broken lab with Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Roman (Carlos Valdes), and the face of S.T.A.R. Labs Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) taking care of him and his newfound abilities (“Lightning gave me abs?”). Once Barry discovers that he is not the only “metahuman”— the term given to others like Barry after the radioactive storm— he vows to defend Central City against those who seek to do it harm.
Tremendously entertaining, The Flash has been renewed and confirmed for Season 3. Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix, with Season 2’s Netflix release date still unknown.
5. Gilmore Girls ( WB and CW | 2000 | streams all 7 seasons on Netflix in approx. 30 minute long installments)
Gilmore Girls requires little explanation. One of the most popular shows of the early 2000s, this Emmy Award winning show tells the multigenerational story of mother “fiercely independent” single mother Lorelei Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her intellectual, Ivy-League bound daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel). Taking place in the picturesque Connecticut town of Stars Hollow, this witty drama has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide from its premiere to its final episode in 2007. It is still one of the most top-watched shows on Netflix despite how old the show is. Interest is being rekindled in the show since news was released of a legitimate Gilmore Girls revival. All of its seasons (1-7) are available to stream on Netflix.
6. Jessica Jones (Netflix original series in conjunction with Marvel and ABC Studios | 2015 | Streams in approx. 50 minute installments only on Netflix)
This is another Marvel television show that is definitely not your sister’s typical crime show. Cynical doesn’t even begin to cover newcomer, P.I. Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter). A former superhero with a career that ended in tragedy (*cough* thanks Kilgrave *cough*) and causing her to suffer from PTSD, Jessica starts her own detective agency, Alias Investigations. Despite having rather questionable methods in obtaining results for her clients, Jessica is undoubtedly good at what she does. In the first episode, the audience sees her taking on a case involving NYU student Hope Shlottman’s disappearance. Thinking it merely another ordinary case of a girl running away with her boyfriend, sarcastic and rough-around-the-edges Jessica is in for a shock when she discovers that the twisted Kilgrave (played by the famous David Tenant) is sending her a message through the girl’s disappearance.
Joined by Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and her adoptive sister and best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), Jessica takes on Kilgrave and his mind-boggling abilities in a desperate bid to rid Hell’s Kitchen of the terrifying man. The series has been lauded for its approach to dark and gritty approach to topics such as PTSD and rape. Jessica Jones Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix. Season 2 has been confirmed for renewal this past January 2016.
7. Once Upon A Time (ABC | 2011 | Airs on ABC in approx. 40 minute long installments)
Once Upon A Time recently had its 5th season finale, and is once more enjoying its rating as one of the more popular shows on Netflix. First aired on ABC in October 2011, Once Upon A Time tells the tale of some of the most beloved fairytale characters that have been wiped of their memories and transported to our world— a fictional town called Storybrooke, Maine— thanks to a curse by The Evil Queen Regina (the magnificent Lana Parilla) in her bid to tear Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) apart, and all they hold dear.
Before they are ripped away to Storybrooke however, Snow White gives birth to her daughter Emma, who has been prophesied to be the savior of the citizens of the Enchanted Forest by vanquishing Regina’s curse. In a desperate bid to give their daughter her best chance, Snow White and Prince Charming send Emma to “our world” in the hopes that she would grow, find the town, and save them all.
A tremendously powerful show, Once Upon A Time focuses on themes like forgiveness, hope, family, and love in all its forms. Seasons 1-4 are available to stream on Netflix. Season 5 will be available in August 2016, and Season 6 has been confirmed for pickup by the ABC.
8. Sherlock (BBC | 2010 | airs on BBC One and PBS Masterpiece in hour and a half long installments)
Perhaps the most well-known detective of all-time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has found its recent revival not only in the Guy Ritchie films, but also on the BBC Network. Doctor Who writers and producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss were also responsible for the creation of this stroke of contemporary English genius; Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the show’s namesake. Cumberbatch (say his surname 5 times fast) delivers perfectly— his Holmes has a genius level IQ, is enigmatic, eccentric, asocial, and manages to seem to be not-quite-human in a way that makes the audience both want to laugh in incredulity or beat him with a stick.
Dr. John Watson is played by Martin Freeman and indeed, it’s difficult to think of anyone nowadays who could be more fitting for the role when Freeman so wonderful delivers Watson’s heart that balances Sherlock’s brain. The rest of the cast is populated with actors that American audiences may not be so familiar with, but they will no doubt still worm their way into American hearts, despite often needing to turn on subtitles for the accents.
Audiences will most definitely not be disappointed by the villain— the legendary James “Jim” Moriarty is played by Andrew Scott, who slips into the role with such chilling accuracy as to both worry and delight the audience. Each episode is an hour and a half in length, totaling to only three episodes per season. Sherlock is also characterized by the extraordinary long breaks in between the production and releases of each season— hiatuses often last up to two years! Seasons 1-3 are available to stream on Netflix. Season 4 is meant to be tentatively released around January 2017.
9. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix original series | 2015| Streams in approx. 30 minute installments only on Netflix)
Amusing and surprisingly inspiring, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one of the hottest shows on Netflix. Nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards, this original Netflix series will have audiences laughing at the entertaining hijinks that ensue with Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) and her wannabe Broadway singer roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess). Trapped in underground bunker by doomsday cult leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) when she was 15, Kimmy and the rest of the ladies are set free out into the world. Deciding to stay in New York City instead of traveling back to Durnsville, Indiana, Kimmy sets out with her indomitable spirit to get a job and reacquaint herself with the world and all that has happened while she was stuck underground.
Created by Robert Carlock and Tina Fey from 30 Rock, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has the signature Fey humor that endeared her to audiences as Liz Lemon. Jane Krakowski from 30 Rock also stars in this show as socialite and Kimmy’s boss, Jacqueline Voorhees. Unbreakable is currently streaming Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix. The series was renewed for a third season on Netflix just this past January 2016.
10. The Walking Dead (AMC | 2012 | airs on AMC in approx. 40 minute long installments)
Now one of the most popular shows on the airwaves and dubbed a pop-culture phenomenon ever since its first episode aired in 2012, The Walking Dead continues to be one of the most-anticipated and highest rated shows both on cable and Netflix. Gory and blood-splattered in a way that’s different than a Tarantino film, this show that’s based on a comic book series by Robert Kirkman focuses on the lives of those who have decided on the safety in numbers concept and thus, have banded together to survive the “Walkers”.
The protagonist is Rick Grimes, a sheriff’s deputy in a small town in Georgia. Thanks to a police chase that put him in a coma, Rick wakes up to what the audiences assumes is several months later, with the world overrun by zombies. Desperate to find his wife Lori (Sara Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Rick arms himself with survival materials and heads to Atlanta in the hopes of finding his family and reuniting. Although on the surface, the story may seem like a regal ‘ole tale of survival in an apocalyptic world, The Walking Dead also explores the theme of what happens to society after civilization and hierarchical structures crumble? What place do morals have in day-to-day survival where each day could be your last?
This Golden-Globe nominated series is streaming Seasons 1-5 on Netflix. Season 6 is rumored to be up on Netflix around September. Season 7 has been confirmed for renewal and will air on AMC in October 2016.
Author Bio: Fatima Wood is an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, with a double major in International Studies and English. In addition to bestnewmoviesonnetflix, she has written several book reviews on the website Goodreads. She’s passionate about writing, reading, and cooking, and is far too attached to comic books (both Marvel and DC) and miscellaneous nerd worlds, the world of fashion, and the fine art of binge-watching on Netflix.