The 10 Best Miniseries on Netflix Right Now

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.

Alias Grace

This miniseries is based on a Margret Atwood novel and was also produced by her. The script was written by Canadian filmmaker extraordinaire Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell).

Grace is a poor but bright Irish immigrant in Upper Canada who is accused and convicted of a double murder. 15 years into her life sentence, a young American doctor is sent to try to get her out.

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Godless

Violent, very Western, and in a breath of fresh air: female. Godless is a show about strong bad-ass women that govern their own town in the late 1800s. Roy Goode is their visitor, an outlaw chased by another, much worse outlaw, Frank Griffin. It’s an honest and powerful show with some amazing performances, and even more amazing aesthetics. If you love Westerns but find them too predictable, this show was made for you.

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Flint Town

A captivating documentary series on the struggling state of the police department in Flint, Michigan; and by extension a large proportion of American cities. The town that had made the news for its water crisis is home to another crisis that dates back further: an exponential rise in crime.  The police department, however, keeps losing funding year over year, so much so that they can only have less than 9 one-officer cars patrolling the (large) city at any one time.  A sobering and impressive account that follows officers facing not only harrowing situations in a failing city, but also the constant fear of being laid-off.

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Formula 1: Drive to Survive

There are only 20 seats in Formula 1 each year, which means that drivers are racing not only to win but to keep their spots. Every single driver faces cut-throat competition from the rest, as not everyone will be able to compete in the next season. 

Just like Losers, the other Netflix show that premiered around the same time, Formula 1: Drive to Survive focuses on the back of the grid. Lewis Hamilton, the five-time world champion, is rarely seen for example. Instead, you get an inside look into the drivers who are under the most pressure of losing their seats – trying to get the most out of cars that are usually not up to par. 

This makes for a thrilling show that covers almost all of the 2018 championship. If like me you don’t follow F1, the events that take place will be completely new to you too. Which means even more suspense in this well-made and engaging docuseries.

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There is footage and coverage to prove that the pizza bomber story actually happened but watching Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist everything is so intriguing it is almost impossible to believe. A pizza-delivery guy shows up to rob a bank with what he says is a bomb secured around his neck, something that he claims is part of a treasure hunt. By robbing the bank, he will unlock the next set of clues that will allow him to defuse the bomb. Bank tellers comply but on the way out he is suddenly arrested by the police, who doubt his claims, handcuff him and keep him at a distance. The device he has around his neck then starts beeping. What follows is one of the most unusual investigations ever led by security forces, brilliantly framed by executive producers Duplass brothers. A perfect follow-up to their other amazing True-crime Netflix collaboration, Wild Wild Country, it’s a tight 4-episodes that is equally terrifying and intriguing.

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Unorthodox

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.

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The Pharmacist

It’s difficult to describe this miniseries as just one thing: it has elements of true crime, but it’s more than just a “Netflix true-crime show.” It’s also about an immensely empathetic and likable family man who joins the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Dan Schneider, a small-town pharmacist, lost his teenage son to drug-related violence in New Orleans’ notorious Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. With corruption rampant in the city’s police department, he takes matters into his own hands and starts investigating his son’s murder.

Beyond this murder, Dan notices a rise in opioid prescriptions from one doctor. Fueled by a relentless determination to protect other children from addiction, he quits his job and begins to gather evidence against this doctor and, by extension, the company responsible for the sale of Oxycodone: Purdue Pharma.

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Unbelievable

Unbelievable is one of the best Netflix productions in a while and definitely the best detective-centric show since the first season of True Detective.

After a rape victim is not believed by the detectives who are assigned to her case, details of a similar incident surface elsewhere.

Two detectives played masterfully by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, embark on a relentless journey to catch the perpetrator in this thrilling and insanely bingeable true-crime show.

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1994
2.

There hasn’t been a docuseries as worthy of a binge since the Netflix production Wild Wild Country. 1994 might be even more gripping since its modest episode count (five) doesn’t delay any revelations. And just like Wild Wild Country, the events in this show get more and more mind-blowing as the episodes roll. Most of the story would be hard to believe if it wasn’t… you know… based on facts and backed by footage and interviews. The show starts with Mexico’s prominent presidential candidate, a shrewd political activist who was determined to bring change to the political structure, getting shot during a televised political rally. What follows is a series of in-depth interviews, including with Mexico’s president at the time (pictured above) and pretty much all the relevant people to the story who are still alive today. This is a rich, informative, and fascinating account of a violent and tumultuous year in Mexico. As the people being interviewed point out, understanding the relevance of 1994 in Mexican politics will help understand the country’s political and economic landscape today.

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Wild Wild Country

A Netflix documentary mini-series that follows the relocation of a cult from India to a small town in Oregon and the ensuing events. It’s a completely true story, but the events it portrays are so bizarre and unexpected that they have to be seen to be believed. The cult, led by a controversial Indian guru, drew worldwide attention to its beginnings in India and then to its conflict with the locals once it relocated to the United States. If you were a contemporary, you must know that the town is Antelope and the guru is Bhagwan or Osho, but if you were not, it is very unlikely you’ve even heard of it. What was a very significant moment in American media and history has been long forgotten, and is retold here in a captivating way. An extremely well-executed and a powerful account of a very unlikely story.

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A quick recap

Split by genre of this selection on agoodmovietowatch.com
Comedy
Drama
7
Documentary
9
Romance
Average score
85.1%
from our staff
Average score
85.5%
from our users