The 30 Best Miniseries on Netflix Right Now

The 30 Best Miniseries on Netflix Right Now

June 5, 2024

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Movies are too short for some, shows too long for others. Enter middle-ground solution: miniseries. Now that the “movies are dying” articles are the only thing that’s actually dying, and the “it’s the golden age of TV” ones have stopped being news (why does one being in a golden age mean the other is failing?), there is a newcomer to the scene. Perfected by networks like the BBC in the past, the form is attracting growing attention from Netflix and similar platforms. 4 to 8 episodes, one season, done. Creators have more time to express their ideas, but not too long to have to recycle them. Viewers can be exposed to 7 different stories instead of 7 different seasons of Homeland (they made 4 after he died, four). It’s the perfect medium, and provided Netflix and the BBC keep coming out with good ones like the 5 below, it will be the future.

11. Unorthodox

best

8.5

Country

Germany

Actors

Aaron Altaras, Alex Reid, Amit Rahav, Aziz Dyab

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Mini-series

This excellent new miniseries is a drama that takes place in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family. Esty, a nineteen-year-old girl who is unhappy in her arranged marriage, escapes this community and travels from New York to Berlin in hopes of starting a new life.

Like all good realistic dramas, there are no truly bad people in Unorthodox. Everyone is trying to do what they think is right, which still makes for very complicated situations. Esty is played by Israeli actor Shira Haas and I know this word is overused but she really is a revelation.

12. Cigarette Girl

best

8.5

Country

Indonesia

Actors

Ario Bayu, Arya Saloka, Dian Sastrowardoyo, Putri Marino

Moods

Character-driven, Dramatic, Emotional

Netflix is no stranger to adapting novels, nor to period dramas – Cigarette Girl is one of many, but it’s one from Indonesia that stands out due to its unique premise and excellent execution. Based on the novel by Ratih Kumala, the show is a slow-burn, smoldering period romance set amidst Indonesia’s kretek cigarette industry, booming in the 1960s, but it’s framed within the 2000s, where the man’s family uncovers his lost love before he dies. The alternating timelines keep the mystery fresh, as each new revelation uncovers what really happened between the two, as well as what would happen with the fate of their families. This intriguing structure, along with excellent writing, and stunning sets and costumes, make Cigarette Girl a compelling show to watch.

13. Baby Reindeer

best

8.5

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Alexandria Riley, Amanda Root, Danny Kirrane, Hugh Coles

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Dark

Baby Reindeer is a tough watch, starting out with out of kilter comedy that eventually and unrelentingly reveals its darker and darker sides. But not only was this a hard show to watch, this story is genuinely difficult to tell, because of how entangled all the threads of Donny’s trauma gets– it’s not a straightforward story about going through one traumatic incident and then immediately moving to logical forms of healing. It’s about one traumatic incident keeping him stuck and leaving him and his loved ones vulnerable to even more abuse. It’s a terrifying situation. And it’s terribly, terribly honest.

14. Lost Ollie

best

8.4

Country

United States of America

Actors

Gina Rodriguez, Jake Johnson, Jonathan Groff, Kesler Talbot

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Lovely

The Netflix four-part miniseries Lost Ollie is a bit like if Toy Story was adapted into a live-action dramedy. You’ll recognize the premise immediately: lost toy comes to life and loyally sets out on a journey to find its kid. But stuffed in between those points are poignant moments and reflections about life, family, and being.

The film isn’t also afraid to touch on darker themes, so if you’ve always wished for a slightly more mature but still kid-friendly version of this narrative—and if you’re a fan of the likes of Paddington the Velveteen Rabbit—then you’ll enjoy Lost Ollie.

15. Bodies

best

8.3

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Amaka Okafor, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Kyle Soller, Shira Haas

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Character-driven

Based on the DC Vertigo comic, Bodies is an intriguing crime thriller with a unique twist – one body, in four separate time periods, being solved simultaneously all at once. While the show is triggered by the same body, the mini-series feels like four separate shows at the same time, marrying the classic Victorian detective mystery, war-torn film noir, and modern day police procedural through post-apocalyptic science fiction. And the four separate detectives take the helm of their respective side of the case, as well as how they deal with the discrimination against them. With four excellent strands to the same mystery, Bodies is an exceptional adaptation that demonstrates how even though details change, some things still remain the same.

16. Flint Town

8.2

Country

United States of America

Actors

James Tolbert, Karen Weaver, Wayne Suttles

Moods

Docu-series, Mini-series, Thrilling

Since the 1960s, Flint, Michigan, has experienced a series of shocks. When General Motors downsized their workforce by several 10.000, the town’s population nearly halved. Unsurprisingly, it later became known for being one of the most dangerous cities in the US and for off-the-charts crime statistics. Since 2014, Flint again rose to tragic fame for a public health emergency due to contamination of its local water supply. Flint Town homes in on this perpetual state of crisis through the eyes of the local police department, who had to grapple with this dire scenario, while losing more funding year over year due to the city’s deteriorating financial situation. The few officers that are left for policing are at breaking point. The result is a gripping and rich docuseries with a host of strong characters. But it is also a brutal and sobering account of the extent to which an American city is being allowed to fail.

17. Formula 1: Drive to Survive

8.2

Country

UK, United States of America

Actors

Charles Leclerc

Moods

Docu-series, Gripping, Mini-series

There are only 20 seats in Formula 1 each year, meaning that drivers are not only racing to win but to be kept on the roster. With the big stars, Ferrari and Mercedes, habitually shrouded in secrecy, Formula 1: Drive to Survive focuses more on the back of the grid. Lewis Hamilton, the five-time world champion, is rarely seen, for example, giving more room for other stories to unfold, including that of Günther Steiner, the Italian team principal of the Haas Formula One Team. That is not to say there are no big reveals. Even if you think Formula 1 is a decadent, testosterone-driven sports for rich Europeans, Drive to Survive might be welcome crash course into what makes this sport so appealing for many and might also have the potential to change your mind. If not, it is still a very well-made, slick, and engaging docuseries that will have enthusiasts and newcomers thoroughly entertained.

18. The Last Dance

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Actors

Dennis Rodman, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Easy, Gripping

There’s no point denying it: Michael Jordan is one of, if not the greatest of all time. What he did to place the Chicago Bulls on the map, to inspire his teammates to a three-peat championship, and to constantly reinvent himself and grow his name as a currency—all that continues to be a template for NBA stars across generations. The Last Dance is a fittingly grand docuseries that captures Jordan’s once-in-a-lifetime shine. 

Even if you know little to nothing about basketball, the miniseries does an impressive job of making every detail about Jordan and his game compelling. We follow him from his early days in college basketball up to his nonstop rise in the Bulls to his stint in baseball, and we end at a dramatic high, as the title suggests, during the Bull’s triumphant 1997-1998 series—Jordan’s final season with the team. 

But the series isn’t all Jordan. In clever and comprehensive ways, we get to learn more about his teammates (especially defense rockstar Dennis Rodman and reliable ally Scottie Pippen), his coaches, and his closest friends, all of which makes for a well-rounded and truly riveting watch.

19. PLUTO

best

8.2

Country

Japan

Actors

Hidenobu Kiuchi, Hiroki Yasumoto, Koichi Yamadera, Mamoru Miyano

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Character-driven

Reimagining a children’s classic as a mature serial killer mystery, PLUTO already had high expectations for its anime adaptation. The limited series adds an additional challenge, with only hour-long episodes dedicated to each of the series’ eight volumes, which follows not only Gesicht’s own investigation, but also in-depth stories of each of the remaining Great Robots. However, the anime, now showing on Netflix, is able to meet this challenge with its deep understanding of the source material. It’s not just a straightforward police procedural, or just futuristic dream of how AI and humans can co-exist. PLUTO is a robot series that strikes at the heart of what it means to be human.

20. Godless

8.1

Country

United States of America

Actors

Jack O'Connell, Jack O'Connell, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Sula

Moods

Mini-series, Thrilling

Very violent, very Western, and, in a breath of fresh air: very female. Godless is a grim and visually stunning series about a small New Mexico town populated almost entirely by women, including Alice Fletcher, a reserved and self-reliant widow played by Michelle Dockery. Roy Goode (played by Jeff Daniels, who won an Emmy for it) is an outlaw chased by a much worse outlaw, Frank Griffin, who is taking in by the mysterious, gun-toting widows. Written and directed by Scott Frank and executive-produced by Steven Soderbergh, Godless is an honest and powerful show with amazing performances. So amazing, it’s hard to single one of them out. If you love Westerns but sometimes find them too foreseeable, this show is for you.

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