The Best Netflix Shows of the past 12 months

These were the absolute must-watches, from “I Think You Should Leave” to “Squid Game over the past year and before you watch anything new. You need to catch-up.”

Last year on Netflix, you could see a lethal tug-of-war, a lapsed Mormon planting pipe bombs in Salt Lake City, and a witch casting a spell on an untrustworthy Hollywood producer, among other things.

Everyone had a good time, even though the majority of the streaming service’s original programming, both scripted and unscripted, were forgettable.

When you look at the entire list of titles, you’ll be asking yourself, “What the hell is that show?” again and over.

Despite this, a few standout tunes managed to break through the noise.


We’ve compiled a list of our top 11 picks. Limited series. 8 episodes.

This miniseries adapted by Nick Antosca (Channel Zero) and Lenore Zion from a novel by Todd Grimson is incredibly stylish—set against the backdrop of a neon-lit L.A. in the ’90s, when grunge chic was in—but be advised that it takes Cronenbergian horror to the extremes. And if you’re a cat lover, know that there are more than a few scenes of people vomiting up live kittens. The show’s heroine, aspiring filmmaker Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar), ends up with those felines down her throat once a producer (Eric Lange) who claims he can adapt her short into a feature film wrongs her, and she gets back at him in the most obvious way: by finding a witch (Catherine Keener) who’ll hex him. It’s a revenge tale dipped in a black-magic potion, making it an underrated gem strictly because of how unabashedly weird it is.

The Chair

Limited series. 6 episodes.
Sandra Oh is brilliant as usual in this comedy of manners about the chaotic English department on a fictional college campus. Oh, who also executive produces, plays Ji-Yoon Kim, who as the series begins has just assumed the role of chair of her domain. She is fighting to make the stuffy world of Melville and poetry scholars a more inclusive place. Her tenure immediately becomes controversial when her best friend and colleague Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass), a grieving widower, sets off a firestorm by making a Hitler joke in class. Somehow The Chair avoids becoming a preachy mess about woke politics and instead becomes a thoughtful exploration about people trying to effect change within a resistant institution. —Esther Zuckerman

Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami

Docuseries. 6 episodes.
In Florida-set true-crime documentaries like Cocaine Cowboys and Cocaine Cowboys 2, filmmaker Billy Corben chronicled the excess surrounding the Miami drug trade of the ’70s and ’80s with style and nerve. In this six-episode Netflix docuseries, Corben expands his scope to tell the story of Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta, a pair of Cuban drug kingpins who also went by “Los Muchachos.” Though the two men don’t appear as talking heads in the series, we hear from a wide range of their associates and adversaries, from ex-girlfriends to speedboat drivers to prosecutors. Unlike so many other crime sagas in the streaming age, Cocaine Cowboys strikes the perfect balance between epic sweep and gritty detail, presenting a familiar rise-and-fall narrative with Corben’s signature blend of flash and wit. —Daniel Jackson


Season 1. 6 episodes.
This South Korean supernatural drama from Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho has an exhilarating opening sequence where gorilla-like creatures emerge from nowhere and clobber an unsuspecting individual in a crowded cafe. Then, these mystical beasts, bathed in a strange gray smoke, disappear into a portal, leaving a charred corpse in their wake. From there, the story blends elements of a True Detective-like police procedural with a Leftovers-style meditation on faith, bouncing between scenes of shocking violence, arch satire, and character-driven melodrama. The narrative, adapted from a webtoon by writer Choi Gyu-seok, presents a tonal challenge, but it’s one that Yeon is prepared to tackle with all the restraint of a rampaging ape crashing through a wall of concrete.

I Think You Should Leave

Season 2. 6 episodes.
The first season of I Think You Should Leave, the absurdist sketch show from former SNL writer and Detroiters co-creator Tim Robinson, was a miracle. At a time when so much sketch comedy feels stale, bumbling through the same tired premises and predictable punchlines, Robinson and his collaborators, including performers like Patti Harrison, Conner O’Malley, and Sam Richardson, manage to subvert expectations and still deliver consistent laughs. Part of that has to do with the speed of the sketches, which often establish an idea very quickly (Dan Flashes sells pricey shirts with elaborate patterns) and then blows them (“Shut the fuck up, Doug!”) up before it gets old. Robinson’s boorish characters, always quick to anger but also incredibly sensitive, have only grown funnier and more oddly poignant in the new season. Even at their most repulsive and belligerent, they have a humanity to them that keeps the show from ever wearing out its welcome.

Parts 1 and 2. 10 episodes.
Each episode of Netflix’s new hit Lupin, a nimble caper series starring Omar Sy (The Intouchables) as gentleman thief Assane Diop, builds to the type of rug-pulling flashback that you might find at the end of an Ocean’s movie. Disguises are ripped off; diamonds get pocketed; the dashing hero slips away, again. It’s a classic heist-movie device that could get repetitive or predictable but, through the mercifully fast-paced 10 episodes of a first season that began in January with Part 1 and concluded with June’s Part 2, Lupin and its endlessly charming leading man execute each reveal with a high degree of finesse. With a show like this, getting fooled is half the fun. —DJ

Midnight Mass

Limited series. 7 episodes.
With shows like The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, along with high-profile Stephen King projects like Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep, filmmaker Mike Flanagan has proven himself to be a master of the horror adaptation. As a storyteller, he finds his own way into tricky, difficult material. Midnight Mass, a miniseries about a religious awakening in a sleepy offshore fishing community, is an original tale, drawing from Flanagan’s own struggles with faith and sobriety, but it has the same richness and complexity of his literary interpretations. The creepy saga of Father Paul, a charismatic priest played with a haunting stillness by Hamish Linklater, pairs elegantly with the struggles of pregnant schoolteacher Erin (Kate Siegel) and guilt-ridden ex-venture-capitalist Riley (Zach Gilford), creating a web intrigue that converges in some of the most shocking and satisfying moments Flanagan has ever dared to put on screen. Like a great sermon, it pushes the audience right to the edge. —DJ

Murder Among the Mormons

Docuseries. 3 episodes.
Over the course of three twist-filled episodes, Murder Among the Mormons, Netflix’s true-crime docuseries about a series of deadly bombings in Utah in 1985, reveals itself to be a canny study of belief, entangling Mormons in a con-man’s web of lies. On what a prosecutor interviewed in the series describes as a “beautiful day,” two pipe bombs exploded at different locations in Salt Lake City, killing two; a third bomb blew up in a car the next day, injuring the rare-document dealer Mark Hofmann, who the police eventually learned planted the first two bombs in an effort to get out of an elaborate scheme involving a set of potentially valuable papers to the church. Though Hofmann’s story is disturbing, there’s a warmth and curiosity to the series that helps it stand out from more traditionally grisly true-crime fare, shedding light on how a master of deception can move through the world with such relative ease.

Never Have I Ever

Season 2. 10 episodes.
Few teen shows are about legitimately flawed teenagers simply figuring it out, which is one of the many reasons why this comedy co-created by Mindy Kaling shines. Season 2 resumes with its protagonist, 15-year-old Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), trying to navigate the love triangle between her, popular dreamboat Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet), and sweet, smart guy Ben Grosse (Jaren Lewison) that she’s thrust herself into. It’s a scheme she plans to take advantage of, since she thinks her family is relocating to India in the imminent future… and because she’s used to only experiencing that kind of melodrama by watching Riverdale. But when those plans fall through, messiness ensues. The series continues to balance humor with an earnest look at an adolescent who’s grieving, proving just how charming and genuine its entire world is as it turned away from Devi to examine the challenges her peers face. (One note, though: We could’ve gone without the myriad of celebrity narrators.) We’ll gladly yell, “Devi, what are you doing?” at our screens, just like John McEnroe narrates, as long as this series is on.

Squid Game

Season 1. 9 episodes.
The reigning hit of Netflix in 2021, Squid Game shirks the modern streaming pitfall of being widely watched and extremely mediocre. Viewed by a staggering 142 million households, the record-breaking series from South Korea is a gripping capitalist commentary as a destitute ensemble endures deadly rounds of schoolyard games for a chance at ₩45.6 billion, created as a betting arena for the mega-rich. Its obsessive memefication is both a testament to the size of the hallyu wave in the United States and the richness of its dense (yet admittedly unsubtle) text. The trail of crumbs left along the way becomes all the more surprising and clever once you arrive at its twisty, inconclusive end. 


Season 3. 10 episodes.
Oh, You. Was this the season where you went from bad-good schlock to just plain good? In hindsight, no, probably not. But You still found clever ways to break from the formula established in its first two seasons—Joe (Penn Badgley) finds a lady to creepily obsess over before inserting himself into her life and eventually “has to” do some murders—by, one, saddling Joe with a wife and newborn baby in the suburbs, and, two, removing his new object of affection from the equation by the end of the first episode. It’s by going totally off the rails that You kept us glued to the screen, incorporating a measles outbreak and a “fem-gen” neighbor boy for Love (Victoria Pedretti) to toy with. But it also surprised us with its relatively apt, if ham-fisted, satire of Bay Area tech wealth, influencer communities, and missing-white-woman syndrome, all while Joe plays defense for Love’s mistakes. By the season finale, Joe’s given something of a blank slate, setting up a fourth season with endless possibilities. Here’s hoping there’s a You x Emily in Paris crossover in our future.

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Dan Dunn
Dan Dunn
Executive Managing editor

Editor and Admin at MarkMeets since Nov 2012. Columnist, reviewer and entertainment writer and oversees all of the section's news, features and interviews. During his career, he has written for numerous magazines.

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