50 Best TV Shows on Netflix UK Right Now

50 Best TV Shows on Netflix UK Right Now

June 11, 2024

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What Netflix UK can add to your regular TV rotation is an eclectic slate of slick, entertaining series that includes selections from all around the world and from revered cinematic auteurs. It’s a good complement to British television’s typically more grounded and smaller-scale (though no less compelling) storytelling. And thanks to Netflix’s massive global reach, getting invested in their shows also means gaining access to the passionate fanbases rallying behind almost every Netflix series. Whether it’s for a mega-hit known in every language or a smaller, niche show that was cancelled too early, you’re bound to find a community here.

11. Maid

best

9.0

Country

Canada, United States of America

Actors

Andie MacDowell, Anika Noni Rose, Billy Burke, Margaret Qualley

Moods

Mini-series

This excellent drama miniseries starts in the middle of one night when Alex, a 25-year-old, grabs her daughter and flees her home. She is chased by her abusive boyfriend but doesn’t look back. She has 18 dollars to her name.

The story is based on a real-life memoir called “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive”, where Alex’s character (based on executive producer Stephanie Land) does everything to get her daughter and herself to a safe environment. She gets a trial at a cleaning job.

Maid does such a good job at portraying the many stresses that Alex goes through: will she have enough gas? Will she find a safe place to sleep? Will she get to the cleaning job on time? And as the series progresses, the questions become different but the stress is the same – except in episode five, in which she cleans a weird house, and then it becomes an actual horror movie.

And on every other aspect, the show delivers. The cast, led by Margaret Qualley and her real-life mother Andie MacDowell, is phenomenal. Each episode is long enough to leave an impact but not too long to be melodramatic. The scenery (set in Washington state but filmed in British Columbia) is gorgeous. It’s such an all-around great show.

12. RIPLEY

best

9.0

Country

Switzerland, United States of America

Actors

Andrew Scott, Dakota Fanning, Johnny Flynn

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Mini-series

Ripley delivers an atmosphere-driven, intimately engaging suspense story fueled by money and deceit. The exposition moves slowly, albeit with gorgeous transitions and deliberate, cinematic shots to gush over. But the rich narrative possibilities open up by the second episode, where captivating acting and tense storylines anchor the show simultaneously. Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott), Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn), and Marge Sherwood (Dakota Fanning) each contribute to an uncomfortable three-way dynamic that you can’t look away from, each a piece of an equation you inexplicably want to root for. This mini-series is a thoroughly compelling, quietly funny work of art already dressed for the awards shows.

13. 1994

best

9.0

Country

Mexico, N/A

Actors

Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente

Moods

Docu-series, Instructive, Mini-series

Have you finished Wild Wild Country and are up for another binge-worthy documentary? If so, 1994 might be a compelling option for you to consider. Released on Netflix for the 25th anniversary of the events in 2019, most of the story would be hard to believe if it wasn’t… you know… based on facts and backed up by archival footage and interviews. As it often goes with documentaries, truth is stranger than fiction.

In 1994, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, also known as the EZLN or the Zapatistas, declared war on the Mexican government. This happened after the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, was signed into law. Incumbent Mexican president Salinas (pictured above) selected prominent reformist presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio to become his heir. Just three months later, Colosio was shot in Tijuana on live television.

1994 is a rich, informative, and fascinating account of this violent and tumultuous year in Mexican history, featuring in-depth interviews with many of those pulling the strings at the time, including former president Salinas. As the people being interviewed point out, understanding the relevance of 1994 in Mexican politics will help you understand the country’s political and economic landscape today.

14. Sex Education

best

8.9

Country

UK, United Kingdom

Actors

Aimee Lou Wood, Alistair Petrie, Anne-Marie Duff, Asa Butterfield

Moods

Funny, Slice-of-Life

Pressured by the feeling that everyone is having sex except him, Otis (Asa Butterfield), like most teenagers, is very uncomfortable with sex, masturbation, and intimacy in general. In addition to the standard-issue teenage awkwardness, to make things worse, he grows up in a sex-positive household under the watchful eyes of his mother Jean, played by Gillian Anderson, who is a sex therapist. Obviously, the subject is omnipresent as are erotic art, oversized dildos, and coitus-craving couples all over the house. The twist comes when he transforms his tribulations into a business model by teaming up with bad girl Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) to counsel his teenage peers on sexual issues of all kinds. As you can imagine, uninitiated teenagers have a lot to offer in that department. Apart from its raunchy premise and explicit images, this is a hilarious, diverse, and warm teen comedy thanks, in particular, to the writing of playwright Laurie Nunn. Lauded by critics for its honesty, this future comedy classic will surely teach you a thing or two about sexuality yourself.

15. Caliphate

best

8.9

Country

Sweden

Actors

Ala Riani, Albin Grenholm, Aliette Opheim, Amanda Sohrabi

Moods

Binge-Worthy

A Swedish production that went global on Netflix, Caliphate is an addictive thriller about two groups of young people in the Scandinavian country: one already radicalized and fighting in Syria, and the other still in high-school and on the path to radicalization. An anti-terrorism officer with a questionable past is put in contact with a woman who traveled to Syria and wants to return to Sweden. In exchange, this woman offers information about an impending attack in Europe. Caliphate is a fascinating watch! Thrilling, well-acted, and nuanced, it looks past cheap stereotypes to offer genuine insight into the psychology and seduction used for turning young people into terrorists.

16. Unbelievable

8.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Austin Hebert, Dale Dickey, Danielle Macdonald, Elizabeth Marvel

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Mini-series

Based on the 2015 Pulitzer-Prize-winning article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape”, here is one of the best Netflix productions in a while and definitely the best detective-centric show since the first season of True Detective. The eight-part drama examines the case of a 16-year-old from Washington, who claims she has been raped in her bedroom before rescinding her statement after fierce questioning of the police. Later, her initial story is substantiated by a similar incident surfacing elsewhere.

Two detectives, played masterfully by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, refuse to assume the young girl’s guilt and embark on a relentless journey to catch the perpetrator. In addition to being a thrilling watch and insanely bingeable, Unbelievable was highly praised for shifting the attention from the abusers to the victims and making their stories heard in a true crime format. Everybody should listen closely!

17. The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

best

8.8

Country

Japan

Actors

Ai Hashimoto, Aju Makita, Arata Iura, Jyo Kairi

Moods

Easy, Emotional, Heart-warming

On the surface, The Makanai is a simple, slice-of-life show about food and friendship. While it is that, to be sure, it’s also a substantial drama that tackles questions about art vs. love, and love vs. companionship, and career vs. purpose. Under the gentle guidance of showrunner Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Shoplifters, Broker), who generously allows up-and-coming directors to take the helm on certain episodes, The Makanai feels at once light and hefty, comforting and challenging. We’re seeing mundane events unfold before us as if we were bystanders, but we also understand that there is so much more happening than what meets the eye. A prolonged gaze, a lovingly prepped meal, an especially sharp wing-eye, all of these have much to say about the state of mind of these girls. 

It’s a supremely gentle and culturally rich show with a tender heart; a truly great watch on all accounts.

18. Light the Night

best

8.8

Country

Taiwan

Actors

Cammy Chiang, Cheryl Yang, Chiung-Hsuan Hsieh, Derek Chang

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Intense

Set in the 1980s, this captivating series uncovers the dark side of a Japanese-style nightclub called “Light” in Taipei’s red-light district, challenging the façade of its joy and glamour. Beginning with the shocking discovery of a dead body uncovered by a typhoon, the show delves into the lives of its complex characters, revealing the personal dramas of the mamasans, Rose and Sue, and every “Light” hostess. While some may find its pace across 3 seasons tedious, Light the Night is a must-watch for fans of slow-burning suspense with strong performances, impactful dialogue, and a story with the intricate layers of a well-crafted mystery.

19. Haikyu!!

best

8.8

Country

d, Japan

Actors

Ayumu Murase, Daisuke Namikawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Hiroyuki Yoshino

Moods

Action-packed, Binge-Worthy, Character-driven

Fun, wholesome, and relatable, Haikyu!! celebrates the highs and lows of high school volleyball. The show starts off focused on two freshmen volleyball players from opposing middle school teams, who have to learn teamwork in order to be accepted into their high school club. While the team might initially come across as self-conscious, over-the-top, highly dramatic characters, it’s clear that they’re coming from a shared love for the competitive sport (and that they also just happen to be going through puberty). However, the show’s strategic storytelling makes us care about the team: explanations about volleyball tactics are taught just at the right moment in order to heighten the stakes of every player’s move. Simultaneously, every player moves into each new plot point as a natural consequence of their backstory and their perception of each event. Haikyu!!’s agile approach makes the show a compelling watch, and a great place to start if you’re new to anime.

20. Occupied

best

8.7

Country

France, Norway, Sweden

Actors

Ane Dahl Torp, Eldar Skar, Henrik Mestad, Ingeborga Dapkunaite

Moods

Binge-Worthy

Like Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, the premise of the extremely bingeable and thrilling Norwegian TV show is a bit too close for comfort. Amidst a global fuel crisis, Europe has become dependent on energy from oil-rich Norway. Despite this fact, the Norwegian electorate votes the charismatic Green Party prime minister Jesper Berg (Henrik Mestad) into office, who halts the country’s oil production in an effort to combat climate change. With the European energy emergency escalating, Russia proceeds to occupy Norway with the EU’s support.

When best-selling crime author Jo Nesbø pitched this show in the early 2010s, this seemed like an unlikely, dystopian premise. However, since the annexation of Crimea and similar incidents in the mid-2010s, this is not quite as counterfactual as one would hope. Russian diplomats were not amused. But don’t be mistaken, this is not an academic experiment or a political provocation but a veritable, big-budget thrill ride, featuring amazing shots of the Norwegian wilderness, great writing, and stirring suspense.

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