If there’s one thing that is certain about the landscape of entertainment in 2022, it’s this: You either have a Netflix account, are borrowing someone else’s Netflix account, or at the very least know someone who has a Netflix account. The service’s name alone is synonymous with all things when it comes streaming television, boasting a wide and varied catalogue of high-profile original series like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Witcher, Black Mirror, and more.
With so much to watch and so few hours in the day, the question of “What are the best shows on Netflix?” — let alone “What should I watch tonight?” — inspires choice paralysis. Relax; we got you. Polygon has pulled together its staff to submit our picks for the best TV shows to watch on Netflix. From hilarious mockumentary satire dramas to magical girl fantasy series, here’s what you should be streaming next. And if you’re looking for something a bit longer, check out our list of the best movies on Netflix.
Creators: Tony Yacenda, Dan Perrault
Cast: Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck, Jimmy Tatro
If it hasn’t been made clear by our glowing review, our in-depth chat with the creators, or it’s placement as our eighth favorite show of 2022, we love the esports mockuseries Players. And the reason we were so excited to watch it in the first place is the co-creators’ previous outrageously funny mockuseries, American Vandal.
A loving satire of the true-crime genre, co-creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault take the tones and beats of murder-mystery true crime and apply them to childish pranks in a school setting. If that was it — dayenu, it would be enough, because that playground (and a game cast) is plenty to have an uproariously funny time with. But it helps that Vandal isn’t just funny, it’s good.
Despite being a very silly mockuseries, the show is among the most keenly aware of the role social media plays in modern youth culture. It was way ahead of the curve of its contemporaries in that respect, and still stands as a compelling portrait of young people in a certain time and place as well as being a consistently laugh-out-loud comedy. —Pete Volk
Director: Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Purnell, Kevin Alejandro
You don’t need to know anything about League of Legends to love Arcane, and honestly it might be better if you come in knowing nothing. Strip away all the strange magic, steampunk guns, and tangled politics, and Arcane is about flawed people who keep fucking up. It’s about sisters and what you would do for the people you love; it’s about progress and what you would throw away for bettering the world; it’s about making hard choices and facing the ramifications. And aside from a compelling story (and some awesome music), Arcane is also deeply gorgeous, animated in a way that is so rare to see in a show for an older mainstream American audience. Each frame is done with such care and detail, rendered with the lighting and depth that’s usually only seen in concept art. —Petrana Radulovic
The Baby-Sitters Club
Genre: Comedy drama
Creator: Rachel Shukert
Cast: Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph
Netflix canceled The Baby-Sitters Club after just two seasons, but what an absolute joy those two seasons were! Based on the series of middle-grade novels, the show updated the plots and characters for more modern audiences without ever losing the charm of the original stories. Centered around five girls who team up to start a babysitting agency, The Baby-Sitters Club is just an utter delight for both kids and adults. The young characters are dynamic, each with a different set of problems and varying personalities and interests; but the adult characters are also wonderful, bringing the whole series to life. —PR
Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Cast: Kenn, Aoi Yūki, Hiroki Tōchi
Aside from being one of the best anime of 2022, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is also one of the best shows on Netflix, full-stop. Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Promare) and produced by CD Projekt Red and Studio Trigger, the story of David Martinez, a teenager from the mean streets of the dystopian metropolis Night City, and his perilous journey to become a technologically enhanced mercenary (or “Edgerunner”) in order to claw his way out from the depths of poverty is as moving emotionally as it is visually electrifying.
Sharing the same universe as the 2020 action-RPG Cyberpunk 2077 and Mike Pondsmith’s original tabletop RPG, Imaishi and co.’s 10-episode stand-alone anime series is a blistering, high-octane, big-hearted action drama that’ll have you rooting for its cast of misfit ne’er-do-wells and underdogs all the while knowing that death and tragedy loom around every neon-lit corner. And if you want more, here are some other anime that we think you’ll like if you dig this one. —Toussaint Egan
Genre: Crime thriller
Director: Joe Barton
Cast: Takehiro Hira, Kelly Macdonald, Yōsuke Kubozuka
Joe Barton’s criminally overlooked 2019 series Giri/Haji, which in Japanese translates roughly to “Duty/Shame,” follows the story of a Tokyo detective who is forced to journey to London to apprehend his long-thought-deceased brother in order to deescalate a potential gang war. Crossing paths with a detective constable ostracized by her peers for acting as a whistleblower, the pair team up to hunt down the errant brother and unravel the motivations behind his plot. That’s more or less the elevator pitch for the series, but there’s more — so much more.
Giri/Haji is a terrific combination of action, comedy, romance, and drama, expertly balancing an international cast of exceptionally talented actors, each delivering scene-stealing performances in their own right. While the series was unfortunately canceled after one season due to low viewership, this tragedy circles back to being an inadvertent strength: You can easily finish the whole show in one weekend, and given how excellent it is, it’s very likely that you will. —TE
I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson
Genre: Sketch comedy
Creators: Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin
Cast: Tim Robinson, Sam Richardson, Patti Harrison
As the adage goes: If Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave has a million fans, I am one of them. If it has one fan, I am that one. If it has no fans, that means I’m dead. The mildly deranged and often hysterical sketch show from Tim Robinson is exactly what Saturday Night Live could be if it dealt quick bursts of bizarro constructs instead of feints at topicality.
The world of I Think You Should Leave is populated with hot dog cars that crash into stores, focus groups and work meetings that go completely off the rails, and choking on the lunch you tried to scarf down surreptitiously in a rescheduled meeting. Whether you’ve seen this show or not, you’ve almost certainly seen the plethora of memes. Every sketch has a relatable underpinning of social anxiety run amok, even as they become more surreal. Also, I cannot stress enough: They are just fucking hilarious, whether you’re watching for the first or the fifth time. Coffin Flop! If the world is against I Think You Should Leave, then I am against the world. —Zosha Millman
Never Have I Ever
Created by: Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher
Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani
Tennis player John McEnroe narrates the life of a teenage girl named Devi, and it is absolutely hilarious. Never Have I Ever is a high school sitcom that also dives into grief and the complicated emotions of growing up in a first-generation immigrant household. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan leads the cast as Devi, a prickly and defiant overachiever, but the show also focuses on her mother and her seemingly perfect cousin, as well as her friends at school. Devi tends to be impulsive and judgmental, but watching her journey throughout the show, as she matures into someone more levelheaded and confident, has been an utter delight. The show’s fourth and final season will bring the characters into their senior year, and it’s sure to be an emotional ride. —PR
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Genre: Science fantasy/action
Director: ND Stevenson
Cast: Aimee Carrero, AJ Michalka, Karen Fukuhara
On paper, it’s easy to be cynical about a reboot of She-Ra: Princess of Power. But ND Stevenson’s take on the 1980s character turns the story from a simple good-versus-evil tale into one about defying destiny and breaking out of predetermined cycles. It celebrates the power of friendship and found family in the face of evil. The characters are delightfully quirky, given more depth than their original counterparts. And also, it’s just a wonderful childhood-friends-to-almost-lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers story. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power just rules, man! —PR