The Top Movies and TV Shows on Netflix in 2021

What's that old saying? The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes? I would like. toadd an item to that list: searching for something to watch on Netflix. If you've ever found yourself browsing the platform for so long you ultimately decided to just give up and go to bed, you're not alone. That's why we made this list, which we update frequently to make sure you're aware of what's worth sorting through amid the deluge of content Netflix is constantly putting out. The latest additions include the sweet coming-of-age comedy Sex Education, which just released its third season, the Krysten Ritter fantasy movie Nightbooks, and the supernatural procedural Lucifer, which recently premiered its final season.

Our selections might look different from other sites because we know you've watched most of the popular shows on Netflix already, so we're focusing more on new releases, buzzy shows and movies, and old favorites that were recently added to Netflix. Don't worry, Stranger Things will make our list when it's time to rewatch in anticipation of Season 4, but there are other shows out that are more important in the zeitgeist at the moment. These are the best shows and movies to watch on Netflix right now

Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! We also have hand-picked selections based on shows you already love.

Last updated September 17; newer additions are at the top

Sex Education

For fans of: Kids discovering themselves, Gillian Anderson
Number of seasons: 3

Asa Butterfield and Emma Mackey, Sex Education

Asa Butterfield and Emma Mackey, Sex Education


There are so many coming-of-age television series out there, but few are as brazenly honest and endearing as this oneThe comedy, now in its third season, is a raunchy-on-the-outside and sweet-on-the-inside charmer about a teen boy who inadvertently becomes his school's go-to sex therapist. The series explores teen sexuality in a refreshingly non-judgemental, authentic way, and it posits that whether you're the most popular kid in school or the outcast eating lunch alone, there's a universal and terrifying confusion in growing up that can be made more manageable by a supportive community and communication. Plus, Gillian Anderson co-stars as Otis' eccentric divorcée mom, who is an actual sex therapist and has a house full of phallic statues, which is just a lot of fun.


For fans of: Kids horror between Goosebumps and Fear Street, Krysten Ritter, hairless cats

Krysten Ritter, Nightbooks

Krysten Ritter, Nightbooks

 Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

This adaptation of the 2018 children's fantasy-horror book by J.A. White is the perfect movie for the young horror fan in your life who is too old for things like Goosebumps but not quite ready for the teen-slasher gore of the Fear Street movies. It follows a young boy who is captured by a witch (a delectable Krysten Ritter) and bargains for his life by agreeing to tell her a new scary story that he writes each night. While there's no real blood and gore, there are definitely some creepy things -- Sam Raimi is a producer -- that will give some young ones nightmares for weeks, so make sure your kiddo is mentally prepared before they sit down to watch this. -Tim Surette


For fans of: The devil, hell puns, supernatural romance
Number of seasons: 6

Tom Ellis and Lauren German, Lucifer

Tom Ellis and Lauren German, Lucifer


Procedural fans know that anyone can become an unlikely police consultant, including, in this case, the literal devil. Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), who's abandoned hell to become a nightclub owner in Los Angeles, partners up with L.A.P.D. detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve crime -- stranger things have happened, maybe? -- while sorting out his otherworldly daddy issues. On top of being a fun show with a steamy will they/won't they couple, Lucifer is also a clever spin on redemption stories. -Kelly Connolly


For fans of: ESPN's 30 for 30 series, the human side of sports

Mardy Fish, Untold: Breaking Point

Mardy Fish, Untold: Breaking Point


This series of five hourlong films is Netflix's answer to ESPN's 30 for 30 sports docuseries, and it's just as good. I'd recommend two in particular, starting with the premiere, which covers the infamous Malice at the Palace, an NBA game that saw members of the Indiana Pacers fight with fans in Detroit in the middle of a game. Viewed through what we know today, the narrative around the incident would have been much different. The final installment, Breaking Point, is the best look at the intersection of mental health and sports to date, covering Mardy Fish's pro tennis career as one of the great hopes for American tennis and the pressures that caused him to quit the U.S. Open in the midst of a career-defining run. Other episodes cover female boxer Christy Martin, a minor league hockey team financed by the mob, and Caitlyn Jenner's journey from Olympic superstar to embracing her identity as a trans woman.

Money Heist

For fans of: Snappy shows that were meant for bingeing, twisty action, finding out who lives and who dies

Jaime Lorente, Belen Cuesta, and Ursula Corbero, Money Heist

Jaime Lorente, Belen Cuesta, and Ursula Corbero, Money Heist

 Tamara Arranz/Netflix

Netflix recently announced that 97 percent of its American subscribers have watched an international (non-English language) series on its service, and I'm willing to bet 97 percent of those people were watching Money Heist, Álex Pina's Spanish bank heist series. Pina's preference for style and mystery over everything else is all over Money Heist, making it highly bingeable and perfect for the Netflix formula. Action! Drama! Skin! More action! This is the first half of the final part; the last episodes premiere in December.

Grace and Frankie

For fans of: Classic sitcom feels, female friendships, odd couples
Number of seasons: 7

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

 Saeed Adyani/Netflix

One of Netflix's longest running original series (and soon to be its longest American series once its final season concludes), Grace and Frankie follows the two titular women, played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, as they embark on new lives when their husbands come out as gay and couple up together. There's an Odd Couple vibe as Grace (Fonda) is a no-nonsense cosmetics mogul and Frankie (Tomlin) is a hippie artist, which only cements their friendship beyond the sitcom-setup bond. Netflix released the first four episodes of the final season, with the remaining 12 coming in 2022.

Naomi Osaka

For fans of: The true lives of professional athletes, mental health awareness
Number of seasons: 1

Naomi Osaka, Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka, Naomi Osaka


Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka, like most athletes who have achieved the highest levels of their sport, projects an air of confidence. Filmed partly by Osaka, an advocate for mental health who has withdrawn from major events to raise support for the way athletes are treated by the media, the docuseries shows that those thrust into fame aren't always ready for it.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson

For fans of: Chaos, having good car ideas
Number of seasons: 2

Tim Robinson, I Think You Should Leave

Tim Robinson, I Think You Should Leave


Sometimes what you want is to see your id, your most base animal instincts, the unhinged thoughts you definitely have but rarely voice, reflected on screen. You may or may not remember Tim Robinson from his time on Saturday Night Live; honestly, they didn't really know what to do with him over there, and in retrospect it's clear that what he needed was something of his own where he could really let his freak flag fly. That's I Think You Should Leave in a nutshell! It's a madcap rollercoaster of a sketch series that features Robinson playing a host of weirdo characters with big personalities and strong convictions about things that don't really matter, such as his highly memeable hot dog mascot who refuses to admit he was the one who crashed his car into a storefront. Like anything that's really, truly hilarious, it's sort of impossible to describe. You just have to watch it to understand. 


For fans of: Laughing and crying (sometimes at the same time), penguins
Number of seasons: 4

Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Atypical

Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Atypical


Atypical is not your typical coming-of-age story. The family drama focuses on Sam (a wonderful Keir Gilchrist), a young man on the autism spectrum dealing with the drama of high school and college, and his family and friends, who are perpetually supporting him through the challenges of growing up even as his unique viewpoint and understanding of the world occasionally frustrate them. It's incredibly heartwarming as we watch Sam become a more independent person, but it gives Sam's friends and family equally enjoyable storylines. -Tim Surette

Black Summer

For fans of: Intense no-cut actions sequences, life and death situations
Number of seasons: 2

Christine Lee, Jaime King, and Justin Chu Gary, Black Summer

Christine Lee, Jaime King, and Justin Chu Gary, Black Summer


Not all zombie shows are built the same, and this spiritual spin-off of the goofy Z Nation focuses on the gritty life-or-death situation of a small group of people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. It's intentionally minimal on plot (and at times dialogue), letting the action -- frequently told in long takes with no cuts and some athletic cameramen -- tell the story. This is a different kind of zombie show. -Tim Surette.


For fans of: Survivor, but scarier
Number of seasons: Season 7 available on Netflix



 Brendan George Ko

History's survival competition Alone is unlike pretty much anything else on TV. The show invites tough people from all around the globe to be dropped in the middle of the wilderness with one rule: don't die! They're armed with limited resources and a camera to document their experience, and whoever succeeds the longest without getting choppered out of the woods wins half a million dollars. It's a pretty brutal watch, but thrilling and impressive if you're curious just how much humans are able to survive if they're resourceful. And even better to know you literally will never have to do this yourself! (Note: Only Season 7 is available on Netflix, but History has made a total of eight seasons of this baby so far.) 

Breaking Bad

For fans of: Great TV, great acting, great cinematography, great writing, great everything
Number of seasons: 5

Bryan Cranston and Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston and Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad

 Ursula Coyote/AMC

Well, it's perhaps the greatest television show ever made, so yeah, you should watch Breaking BadBryan Cranston stars as antihero Walter White, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher who begins cooking meth to pay for his cancer treatments and finds that he really, really likes it. It won 16 Primetime Emmy Awards, including two for Best Drama Series in 2013 and 2014. Some will say the first season is only OK, but those people are morons. While you're at it, watch the excellent spin-off, Better Call Saul, which is also on Netflix. 


For fans of: Committing crimes with style
Number of seasons: 2

Antoine Gouy and Omar Sy, Lupin

Antoine Gouy and Omar Sy, Lupin

 Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix

Omar Sy stars as Assane Diop, a man who is essentially a French Bruce Wayne if Batman was more of a cat burglar than dark knight. Inspired by the classic French character Arsène Lupin, known as the "gentleman burglar," Diop starts the series off trying to steal a valuable necklace from the Louvre with a grand heist as part of a revenge plot against the wealthy family responsible for the death of father several years prior. Sy is a charming dude, and the heists and trickery are fun, complicated acts, performed under the guise of being the good guy. It may not be the greatest show Netflix ever put out, but it is a very entertaining distraction that's easy to get through. 

Workin' Moms

For fans of: Cult sitcoms, giving moms their due
Number of seasons: 5

Dani Kind and Catherine Reitman, Workin' Moms

Dani Kind and Catherine Reitman, Workin' Moms


If you're looking for a comedy that's still flying under the radar, check out Workin' Moms, a sleeper hit that has quietly built up a following as each season hits Netflix. The series follows mom-friends Kate (creator Catherine Reitman), Anne (Dani Kind), Frankie (Juno Rinaldi), and the rest of the parents in their Mommy and Me group. Workin' Moms is a brutally honest take on motherhood that doesn't shy away from its characters' unlikable sides.

Good Girls

For fans of: Moms with an edge, crime
Number of seasons: 3

Retta, Christina Hendricks, and Mae Whitman, Good Girls

Retta, Christina Hendricks, and Mae Whitman, Good Girls

 Danielle Levitt/NBC

Christina HendricksMae Whitman, and Retta star as three working-class suburban moms exhausted by the never-ending struggle to make ends meet who decide to take control of their lives by robbing a local grocery store. They pull it off, but that's not the end of the story. It's the aftermath of the crime that Good Girls is interested in, and the different ways the women react to it, such as Beth's (Hendricks) realization that life as a criminal is preferable to life as a mother struggling to pay the bills. (Her relationship with Manny Montana's gang leader Rio will scratch that will they-won't they itch for you, too.) Good Girls is the kind of show that gets more fun to watch as the characters get in more trouble, so buckle up.

I Am Not Your Negro

For fans of: Social justice, visual poetry, hard truths

I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro


Raoul Peck's 2016 documentary that's an adaptation of James Baldwin's manuscript about racism in America through the eyes of Black people -- specifically civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evans -- is a visual masterpiece with a clear message: America has failed the Black community. The powerful 2016 film brims with energy through old footage of segregation and current shots of protests in the streets in the wake of police violence against minorities. It's an essential watch to better understand America's shameful past and present. 

Sweet Tooth

For fans of: Animal-human politics, the end of the world
Number of seasons: 1

Christian Convery, Sweet Tooth

Christian Convery, Sweet Tooth

 Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

Set in the aftermath of a catastrophic global virus, the comic book adaptation Sweet Tooth is a show for our times. The series follows a "very special boy" named Gus (Christian Convery), a human-deer hybrid on a journey across the American West, accompanied by an unexpected group of friends. It's just the right blend of strange, dark, and hopeful, with a resonance no one involved in the show originally could have planned.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

For fans of: Celebrity voices, families saving the world

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines


On a road trip to drop eldest child Katie (Abbi Jacobson) off at film school, the dysfunctional Mitchell family is interrupted by a technology uprising. Seriously! Everyone's actual worst fear comes true when all the electronic devices in the world come to life to push back against the humans, and due to a variety of reasons I won't spoil for you here and also because this is a movie that needs a plot, the Mitchells are the only ones who can save the planet. Few other movies will give you Olivia Colman doing the voice of a bitter robot, and you'll also recognize the vocal stylings of Maya RudolphDanny McBrideEric Andre, and Fred Armisen


For fans of: Oscar winners, art films, being moved to a shell of yourself



 Carlos Somonte

Sorry Mank, you aren't the best black-and-white film on Netflix. Not even close. Alfonso Cuaron's 2018 personal tale of a housekeeper in Mexico to a wealthy Mexican family won Best Foreign Film, Best Director (Cuaron), and Best Cinematography (Cuaron) at the 91st Academy Awards, but could have won tons more. It's both quiet and epic in scope, balancing a fascinating relationship between a hard-working woman named Cleo and the family that relies on her, unforgettable shots involving hundreds of extras, and a larger story on life. Stick out the first 20 minutes and you'll be amazed


For fans of: Sex, time travel, history
Number of seasons: 4

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, Outlander

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, Outlander


Depending on who you ask, Outlander is either the sexiest show on TV, or it's a historical drama with a touch of sci-fi. Or maybe it's both! Based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander revolves around Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a married World War II nurse who, during a trip with her husband (Tobias Menzies), mysteriously time travels back to 1743. Thrown into the past and desperate to get home, Claire finds herself embroiled in a Scottish uprising while slowly but surely falling in love with a young warrior named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). If you're looking for something that will give you an occasionally accurate history lesson and get you invested in a sweeping romance that spans centuries, Outlander is the show for you.

Who Killed Sara?

For fans of: Seeking vengeance
Number of seasons: 2

Andres Baida, Ximena Lamadrid, Leo Deluglio, and Polo Morin, Who Killed Sara?

Andres Baida, Ximena Lamadrid, Leo Deluglio, and Polo Morin, Who Killed Sara?


This Spanish-language drama was an unexpected hit after it premiered in early 2021 on Netflix, and for good reason. The series follows Alex (Manolo Cardona), a former convict who is framed for the murder of his sister, Sara. Alex sets out to exact revenge against whoever framed him, and the mystery comes in as he tries to find the culprit. The best way to describe this show is "soap opera with a slightly bigger budget," which is not a dig at all. It makes for a compelling, and relatively fast, watch, and anyway, who among us doesn't love a little melodrama?

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