10 Netflix Shows You Should Be Watching
June 1, 2012
Summer is almost here—which means good TV is almost gone. But don’t fret! The summer months are a great time to catch up on some of the best shows ever—on Netflix. Below are 10 TV shows to add drama, intrigue, knowledge and some old-fashioned laughs to your summer. Some of these you may have missed, never heard of or maybe just haven’t watched in years. So open another tab in your browser and start making your summer instant queue—and, of course, feel free to pass on your own must-see Netflix-available TV shows in the comments below. Together, we can have the most epic summer of TV watching ever.
1. Sports Night
Before there was The Social Network or The West Wing, there was Sports Night, writer Aaron Sorkin’s first network TV show. Filled with the snappy dialogue, the “walk and talk” and the personal emotion that have become Sorkin’s trademarks, this is the show about a sports show you’ll like even if you hate sports.
2. Pushing Daisies
This under-seen show centers on a pie-maker who can bring the dead back to life with a single touch but will kill the person for good if he touches them again. It sounds macabre—and a little ridiculous—but the show’s emotional heart centers on a relationship where the characters can’t touch each other.
Sure, it’s another crime/detective drama. Sure, its main character is yet another troubled detective torn between devotion to his career and mending his broken marriage—a detective who naturally isn’t above subverting authority and “rules” to solve his cases. But what this crime drama has going for it that all those others don’t? It’s British. Which means (aside from great accents): subtle dialogue, compelling human interest stories, and true insight into some troubled psyches.
4. The Dick Van Dyke Show
Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam ... this is the show that started them all. Maybe not really, but it’s certainly the foundational sitcom that influenced generations of comical misadventures to come. Rob, Sally and Buddy write for a TV show, and classic hilarity follows them wherever they go—from work to home to the in-laws’.
Geek god Joss Whedon’s most recent TV series tries to look at what it really means to be human and what it means to think for oneself. It also has Whedon’s awesomely nerdy dialogue and thoughtful take on sci-fi.
6. Ken Burns’ documentaries
Feel like getting a little smarter while you watch TV? Netflix has a broad selection of documentaries to choose from. But if you don’t know where to start, might we suggest any documentary by Ken Burns? You have several to choose from: The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The War, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and Prohibition. As you can likely tell just from the titles, these are documentaries primarily concerned with America. Burns' documentaries relentlessly assess the context around each of his subjects—it may be a documentary about baseball, but it’s also about politics, economics, culture and the American ethos. Each documentary is stunning in its breadth and ambitious in its storytelling
This British series imagines what Sherlock Holmes would be like in modern-day London. The characters, settings and crimes are updated but with more detection and less fighting than the Robert Downey Jr. big-screen version.
8. Downton Abbey
Okay, this one isn’t really “underrated.” But since it aired on PBS, there’s a good chance you missed it while it was on—so get caught up on the trials and drama of the aristocracy in early 20th-century England. Trust us: You’ll be hooked.
9. The Twilight Zone
You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension—a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Come on, you can’t tell us just reading that right now didn’t bring up goosebumps, shivers, old memories and an intense desire to immediately begin watching the seminal supernatural series all over again (or for the first time).
10. Shark Week—all of them
Why wait for one meager week a year when you can catch all the weeks and all the sharks right now? This is a rhetorical question, obviously.