Most Underrated Shows on Netflix
Netflix didn't become the No. 1 streaming service in the world by accident. To stay on top, Netflix spends billions on original content every year. Still, many Netflix shows, like on cable, can die off after one season and poor reviews.
But sometimes, Netflix makes a fantastic show worth binging that flies under the radar. The hidden gems are among Netflix's piles of other movies and TV shows. Since Netflix can be a bit difficult to navigate (bring back the old rating system), we'll save you the trouble of having to sift through years' worth of content and crappy shows.
These are the most underrated shows on Netflix you should watch.
Genre: Western/crime drama
Starring: Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Adam Bartley, Cassidy Freeman
Bottom Line: Longmire
Do you like Westerns and crime dramas, and are looking for a long-running show to sink your spurs into? Consider this one.
In "Longmire," Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) must cope with the death of his wife while also trying to unravel a murder. There's corruption, cover-ups, secrets and more in the fictional place of Absaroka County.
Very well-acted and full of twists and turns, "Longmire" has long been a fan favorite for those who were lucky enough to catch it when it originally aired on A&E in 2012. Netflix picked up the show after A&E canceled it, and "Longmire" lasted until season six on the streaming giant.
29. The OA
Genre: Mystery/drama/science fiction
Starring: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Phyllis Smith, Patrick Gibson
Bottom Line: The OA
A mysterious story about, well, we don't want to spoil too much.
"The OA" focuses on Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling), a blind girl who has been missing for seven years. After returning to her hometown in Michigan, she can not only see, but she's strangely different and refers to herself as "the OA."
There's something very different about "The OA", and it's rather mesmerizing to watch, even if it can be a little frustrating at times. It's well worth the two-season ride.
Genre: Science fiction
Starring: Eric McCormack, MacKenzie Porterm, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, Patrick Gilmore
Bottom Line: Travelers
Hundreds of years into a bleak future, humanity is on the verge of extinction. Luckily, scientists have discovered a way to send consciousness back through time, and send thousands of secret "travelers" back to the 21st century, finding hosts in people moments from death.
In the present day, these travelers must figure out ways to prevent the collapse of society. They also have to relay pertinent information back to a mysterious director who can briefly possess children.
"Travelers" is absolutely worth a watch, but be warned: Netflix canceled the show after the third season.
27. A Series of Unfortunate Events
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Daniel Handler, Rose Lam, Barry Sonnenfeld
Bottom Line: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Based off the best-selling children's book, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" was pretty celebrated when it first came out in 2017. But after that first season, it just sort of seemed to drop off the radar. Now that the series has finished its run, it's the perfect time to experience this show to the end.
"A Series of Unfortunate Events" focuses on three children, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, who have recently become orphans after their parents were killed and their home destroyed.
As the children move between foster homes, the devilish Count Olaf (played to perfection by Neil Patrick Harris) pursues them, looking to gain control of the Baudelaire family fortune.
26. The Last Kingdom
Genre: Historical fiction
Starring: Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Emily Cox, Ian Hart, Tobias Santlemann
Bottom Line: The Last Kingdom
"The Last Kingdom" is a British historical fiction show set in ninth-century England, when England was made up of independent kingdoms and was being ravaged by the Vikings.
One man, Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), who was born a Saxon but raised by Vikings, grapples with where his loyalties lie.
This show has flown completely under the radar for most people, but it's absolutely worth a watch for anyone who likes historical fiction, Vikings, or perhaps even "Game of Thrones."
Genre: Science fiction
Starring: Joao Miguel, Bianca Comparato, Michel Gomes
Bottom Line: 3%
Anyone who enjoys foreign films and dystopian science fiction should take a look at "3%."
In this four-season Brazilian show, the only way for hopelessly impoverished people to advance to the better side of society is to go through various dangerous and back-stabbing trials. Only 3% survive those trials, which is simply known as "the Process."
"3%" certainly makes fair use of familiar sci-fi tropes, but its strength lies in its strong, interesting characters.
Starring: Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-na
Bottom Line: Kingdom
If you still love zombies but want a new take on the done-to-(un)death genre, consider "Kingdom," a South Korean zombie series that takes place in 17th-century Korea.
Don't let the subtitles put you off. "Kingdom" is an exciting show that's as much about systems of power as it is about zombies. Oh, and these zombies are a bit different than the traditional George Romero shamblers. They can run and hibernate during the day, seeking shelter in dark spots like caves.
There are only 12 episodes, too, so it doesn't overstay it' welcome. We're looking at you, "The Walking Dead."
23. Friends From College
Starring: Keegan-Michael Kay, Fred Savage, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon
Bottom Line: Friends From College
A group of Harvard grads now in their 40s reunite once again, bringing old flames back to the forefront and putting strain on the out-of-college lives they've developed since their salad days.
"Friends From College" isn't the greatest comedy, but it's far better than most people would lead you to believe. Yes, there's slapstick and predictable situations, but there's something endearing about "Friends From College."
Even if all the characters are terrible people.
22. Santa Clarita Diet
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo
Bottom Line: Santa Clarita Diet
Joel (Timothy Olyphant) and Sheila (Drew Barrymore) are a well-off husband and wife real estate team. There's nothing particularly special about them. In fact, they're stereotypically boring.
That all changes when Sheila develops zombie-like symptoms, like the need to devour human flesh. And you know what? Joel is going to make that work, even if it means finding other people to kill and feed to his wife.
"Santa Clarita Diet" is a fun, light-hearted but bloody comedy that lasted for three seasons before Netflix put it down in 2019.
Starring: Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings, Hannah Britland, Joshua McGuire
Bottom Line: Lovesick
The original title for "Lovesick" was "Scrotal Recall." Which might have piqued a bit more interest in the British show, as the title "Lovesick" seems a bit generic. Regardless, Netflix thought "Lovesick" was a better title and renamed the show for international distribution.
"Lovesick" is about a man named Dylan (Johnny Flynn) who, after being diagnosed with chlamydia, tracks down all of his previous sexual partners to inform them of this wonderful new disease.
With quick, 25-minute episodes over three seasons, "Lovesick" is a comedy you can turn on for dinner and watch one episode at a time or binge it all in one weekend.
Genre: Western drama
Starring: Jack O'Connell, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterson
Bottom Line: Godless
"Godless" might have gone overlooked because it's a seven-episode miniseries, which isn't necessarily what you'd expect from a western show. But if you love, or even like, Westerns, you owe it to yourself to give "Godless" a go.
Set in 1884, "Godless" centers on a wounded outlaw, Roy Goode (Jack O'Connell), who winds up in a small mining town in New Mexico populated almost entirely by women. Goode betrayed his ruthless gang of criminals and will soon be facing down six-shooters and shotguns if he can't find a way to hide.
The show takes a spin on traditional western shows by putting women at the forefront of this typically male-dominated genre. And, yes, there are shootouts and train robberies. Jeff Daniels has a fantastic role.
19. The End of the ******* World
Genre: Dark comedy
Starring: Alex Lawther, Jessica Barden, Naomi Ackie
Bottom Line: The End of the ******* World
"The End of the ******* World" focuses on a teenage psychopath named James (Alex Lawther), a fledgling serial killer who sets his sights on fellow classmate Alyssa (Jessica Barden).
Alyssa, seeking to run away from home, convinces James to come with her. James agrees, thinking this would be a fantastic way to murder her.
Sound weird? It is. If you liked shows like "Fargo" and "Skins," this could be right up your alley.
Genre: Science fiction
Starring: Aml Ameen, Bae Doona, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Brian J. Smith
Bottom Line: Sense8
Eight strangers across the globe from all different walks of life are psychically and emotionally connected after the death of a mysterious woman named Angelica.
While these eight people learn about one another and figure out just what is going on, a stranger named Whispers hunts them down. Themes of sexuality, gender, identity, politics and race are explored throughout the series.
"Sense8" developed a serious cult following but was canceled by Netflix due to its enormous budget. However, fans were so vocal about giving the show a proper ending, that Netflix revived the series for a two-and-a-half-hour finale.
Genre: Science fiction/thriller
Starring: Louis Hofman, Julika Jenkins, Andreas Pietschmann
Bottom Line: Dark
"Dark" is dark, both thematically and visually. It's a German series that feels like a ghost story but has a deeply involved plot that's difficult to unravel upon the first watch.
There are mysteries here to explore and question, with David Lynch-like themes and settings, making for an utterly compelling show. "Dark" has secrets, murder, lies and time travel. It's difficult to describe but highly recommended.
Yes, it's subtitled, but that just means you won't miss any of the dialogue. And that's a good thing if you want to really know what's going on.
Genre: Romantic comedy
Starring: Paul Rust, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Mitchell, Claudia O'Doherty
Bottom Line: Love
Fans of Judd Apatow — the producer of comedies like "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Superbad" — should give Netflix's "Love" a shot.
"Love" is about dating, as seen through Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust), two 30-somethings with a lot of emotional baggage.
"Love" takes a while to get going, but it will slowly engross you into these two character's lives. It lasted for three seasons and was able to end on its own note, which is always a positive in the cancel-happy world of Netflix.
15. Sex Education
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells, Aimee Lou Wood, Kendar Williams-Stirling
Bottom Line: Sex Education
"Sex Education" is a comedy show that focuses on Otis Miburn (Asa Butterfield), an awkward teenager and his mother, Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), a sex therapist who is way too comfortable about talking with her son about his sex life.
She's so open about it that Otis becomes something of an expert, book-wise, about sex and sexuality, which leads him to believe he can use this for his benefit at school with an underground sex therapy clinic.
But Otis has his own issues. A lot of them.
14. Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father
Genre: Road trip comedy/documentary
Starring: Jack Whitehall, Michael Whitehall
Bottom Line: Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father
Jack Whitehall is a pretty well-known, liberal British comedian. His father, Michael Whitehall, is an actor's agent and 70-something conservative.
Together, the two make for an unusually entertaining father-son duo, with Michael's grumpiness playing off of his son's happy-go-lucky attitude.
The show makes a point of putting the two in awkward situations, like doing naked yoga in Los Angeles.
Genre: Dark comedy/psychological drama
Starring: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill
Bottom Line: Maniac
Perhaps more of an overlooked gem than it is underrated, "Maniac" is one of the best shows on Netflix you probably haven't seen.
Two strangers, Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill), become inexplicably interlinked while undergoing a pharmaceutical trial for a strange new drug. Not only will their psyches become linked, but the program that runs the test is starting to get a bit sinister.
Expect strange, weird subplots that span different time periods and fantasy settings, and a story that's just as bizarre as it is good in this Netflix miniseries.
12. Love, Death & Robots
Genre: Adult animation
Bottom Line: Love, Death & Robots
"Love, Death & Robots" is an animated anthology series where every episode is made by completely different people, but all are interlinked by having themes of love, death and/or robots.
If you liked the 1981 animated cult classic, "Heavy Metal," you'll love "Love, Death & Robots."
Season 2 (called Volume 2), which was released in 2021, was not as well-recieved as the first, but you might want to make up your own mind. The episodes are short (6-18 minutes), so you can binge both volumes in a single day.
11. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Genre: Surreal comedy
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Judah Friedlander
Bottom Line: Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
A prequel to the cult classic "Wet Hot American Summer" film from 2001, "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp" features everyone from the first film reprising their roles as teenage/early 20-somethings camp counselors.
Of course, the entire cast is now in their 40s and 50s, which adds another layer of absurdity to the already surreal, over-the-top comedy.
Pair this with "Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later," which was released two years later.
10. American Vandal
Starring: Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck, Jimmy Tatro
Bottom Line: American Vandal
"American Vandal" is what get when you cross juvenile humor, high school and amateur detective work.
Turd burglars and phallic-image artists are a couple of the perps at large in this enjoyable comedy, which unfortunately only lasted two seasons before Netflix pulled the plug.
Oddly thought-provoking while never straying from its crass roots, "American Vandal" is an easy show to binge with only 16 episodes.
9. Altered Carbon
Genre: Science fiction
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Dichen Lachmen
Bottom Line: Altered Carbon
"Altered Carbon" is a cyberpunk sci-fi show set in the year 2384, where consciousness can be digitized, allowing humans to escape death by having themselves "re-sleeved" into another being.
The story begins by following a re-sleeved political operative who is tasked with finding a murderer for another chance at life.
"Altered Carbon" lasted for two seasons and developed a rather strong cult following. It's a pretty cool show, and for those who love science fiction — especially the cyberpunk subgenre — it's definitely worth watching.
Starring: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron
Bottom Line: GLOW
"GLOW" — which stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling — is a comedy-drama based on women's wrestling in the 1980s. Marc Maron plays Sam Sylvia, a sleazy down-and-out director who has turned his talents to making a popular women's wrestling TV show.
Alison Brie stars as Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress who betrays her best friend, fellow retired soap star Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin). Sylvia sees the two's real-life animosity toward one another and vows to make a wrestling program out of it.
"GLOW" is one of the best shows on Netflix that was canceled far too soon, sadly because not enough people tuned in and because of the pandemic.
Genre: Adult animation/anime
Starring: Richard Armitage, James Callis, Graham McTavis
Bottom Line: Castlevania
Fans of adult animation should check out "Castlevania," a beautifully animated and violent show set in the classic, vampire-ridden video game universe.
The premise: Dracula unleashes an army of the undead, and Trevor Belmont has to stop it. "Castlevania" has a very short first season, so it's easy to figure out if this show is your cup of tea.
Or should we say cup of blood?
6. F Is For Family
Starring: Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long, Debi Derryberry, Haley Reinhart, Sam Rockwell
Bottom Line: F Is For Family
"F Is for Family" is comedian Bill Burr's animated show about life as a disillusioned father of four (Frank Murphy, voiced by Burr) raising a family the 1970s.
Partially based on Burr's childhood, "F Is for Family" is a sort of like a cross between "King of the Hill" and "Married with Children," but with a lot more cussing. There's a push-and-pull between Frank's toxic masculinity and his sensitive children, as well as the struggle to be a hard-working family man at a job he hates.
Now go watch it before Frank puts you through a ****ing wall.
5. Living With Yourself
Starring: Paul Rudd, Aisling Bea
Bottom Line: Living With Yourself
Paul Rudd stars as Miles Elliot, a burned-out copywriter who's struggling with his job and is having a difficult time conceiving a child with his wife, Kate. A coworker convinces him to go to a spa for a life-changing treatment, and Elliot decides to go all-in, spending his family's savings for a single visit.
When he wakes up, he's naked and confused, and there's someone else in his house, with his wife. It's him — a much happier, better version of himself.
"Living With Yourself" is a quick and funny series that still only has one season, despite it never being officially canceled or renewed. You rarely hear about it, but it's certainly worth a quick weekend binge if you like Paul Rudd comedies.
4. Derry Girls
Starring: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O'Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn
Bottom Line: Derry Girls
Set in Ireland during the 1990s, right in the middle of The Troubles, "Derry Girls" focuses on four foul-mouthed Catholic high school girls (and one boy) who pretty much get into trouble wherever they go.
It's a hysterical, raunchy show, where all of the girls are jerks, but you love to watch their antics.
More shows from Ireland, please.
3. Big Mouth
Starring: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein
Bottom Line: Big Mouth
"Big Mouth" is a raunchy animated coming-of-age sitcom that's both gross and loveable.
The series focuses on seventh-grade best friends Nick and Andrew, who have to navigate school and puberty while dealing with their raging hormones, depicted as shoulder angels.
There's lots of weird stuff going on here, but it's not just a shock/gross-out humor kind of show. It's pretty damn smart, too. And very funny.
2. Peaky Blinders
Genre: Historical fiction/crime
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Helen McCroy, Paul Anderson, Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, Sam Neil, Annabelle Wallis
Bottom Line: Peaky Blinders
"Peaky Blinders" is a gritty British crime drama based on the real-life urban street gangs of post-World War I England.
Set in Birmingham, the series focuses on the Peaky Blinders (who sew razor blades into their caps) and their leader, Tommy Shelby. As Shelby seeks to expand the Peaky Blinders' power beyond Birmingham, he and his gang will face fierce opposition.
Now to be fair, "Peaky Blinders" isn't entirely underrated, as it did win Best Drama at the BAFTA TV Awards, but way too many people are missing out on this hidden gem.
1. The Umbrella Academy
Starring: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher
Bottom Line: The Umbrella Academy
We know superhero burnout is real, but "The Umbrella Academy" is something different. Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, "The Umbrella Academy" focuses on a group of superpowered humans who grew up together in a superhero training academy run by an eccentric billionaire named Reginald Hargreeves.
Fast-forward 20 years and the group has broken up, but they are brought back together after the death of Hargreeves. Things are further complicated when their childhood friend, who went missing many years ago, appears out of a portal and informs them that they must stop an incoming apocalypse.
"Umbrella Academy" leans into humor and has a character-driven plot that involves time travel, a lovesick hitman and a robot mother.