Best Netflix Shows of All-Time: Top 5 Hit Series Most Recommended By Expert Websites

Originally launched as a streaming service for external production companies, Netflix’s selection of movies and shows now includes thousands of original titles. Starting in 2012 with its debut of House of Cards, Netflix has now made its own content a huge focal point of the platform, and with great success. But with over 1,500 original titles and more being added weekly, what are the best Netflix shows of all time?

A recent study found that Americans are struggling with streaming fatigue. The average person has 13 TV shows and 16 movies on their watch list to get through — averaging a total of 104 hours, according to the latest poll. The survey of 2,000 adults found that 68 percent of Americans have a TV show and movie watch list so long, it’s “nearly impossible” for them to get through it. Tough times, huh? And if you find yourself turning to television in times of distress, don’t worry– you’re not alone. Another recent poll of 2,000 adults found that 55 percent watch TV as a self-soothing technique for relieving anxiety or stress. That’s more than the number of respondents who relax by taking a bath (42%) or by doing yoga (33%).

“It may have something to do with the reward centers in your brain,” says Dr. Natalie King, PhD, a brain health expert and neuroscientist, in a statement. “Watching your favorite TV series can encourage the release of dopamine, which creates a sense of euphoria. Dopamine essentially says to the brain: ‘You are enjoying this… Keep it up!’”

Netflix has dipped its toes in just about every genre you can think of, which means there’s a lot of diversity, and a lot of choice. From Rotten Tomatoes scores of 10 percent all the way up to 100, not all of the platform’s original content is on the same playing field. That’s why StudyFinds is here to help you weed through all that content. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which original Netflix series were rated the best. Our list is ranked based on the most-recommended series across these sites.

The List: Best Netflix Series, According To Experts

1. Stranger Things

Stranger Things’ international success is no surprise given its excellent scriptwriting, special effects, storyline and acting. It’s also a series that can appeal to pretty much anyone, earning it the top spot on our list. 

“Like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws sent the movie business on a never-ending hunt for blockbusters, the success of Stranger Things — itself an homage to the Eighties works of Spielberg and Stephen King — transformed Netflix from a company happy with boutique hits and critical acclaim into one that wanted its shows to attract huge audiences,” Rolling Stone writes.

Mysterious, fun, and loaded with nostalgia– Stranger Things is just a light enough watch, but doesn’t lack quality or substance.

“The show, created by the Duffer Brothers, is absolutely overflowing with epic moments, and Stranger Frightening, dramatic, and hilarious in equal measure, Stranger Things is a special experience and a delightful throwback to classic science fiction,” Looper writes.

2. Bojack Horseman

Equally as entertaining as it is dark and satirical, one of Netflix’s top original series follows the story of no other than a humanoid horse.

“Yes, the one indisputable Netflix masterpiece is an animated dramedy about a depressed horse (Will Arnett) who once starred in a bad Nineties family sitcom and now contents himself with abusing both drugs and the trust of anyone who cares about him. BoJack was a parody of modern dramas about middle-aged male antiheroes who get away with everything. But it was also a supreme example of the form, as laugh-out-loud ridiculous and as soul-crushingly sad a show as has been produced during the streaming era,” Rolling Stone writes.

Netflix’s first venture into adult animation, Bojack Horseman has had wide success and praise.

“BoJack did start out as a solid if unremarkable showbiz satire — but then it began digging deeper into the gnarled psyche of former sitcom star BoJack Horseman and became one of TV’s most penetrating portrayals of mental illness, cartoon or otherwise. It wasn’t afraid to get dark… and boy, did it get dark. It was funnier than almost any comedy on TV, too,” TV Line writes.

3. Orange is the New Black

Netflix’s megahit Orange is the New Black finally gave female incarceration and LGBQT characters the moment they have always deserved. 

“Netflix’s third ever original series deserves plenty of credit: OITNB put the spotlight on queer and trans characters, tackling America’s infatuation with mass incarceration over the course of its seven seasons,” Thrillist writes. “OITNB’s run changed the way we watch television as one of the earliest and best binge watches. That, as much as the extremely lesbian content of the show itself, remains its lasting legacy.”

The series is based on Piper Kerman’s Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which tells the real-life story of the author’s time incarcerated.

“Ostensibly a dramedy, OITNB gets progressively more serious, exploring issues of race, justice, corruption, and the flaws of the entire prison system while never feeling preachy. Challenging TV at times, but never less than utterly absorbing,” Wired writes.

4. Squid Game

Wildly entertaining and deeply disturbing, Netflix’s Squid Game is one of the most highly-rated series from the streaming platform due to its premise, binge-worthiness and social commentary.

“Squid Game [is] a riveting dystopian thriller out of Korea about financially desperate people who agree to compete in a deadly, winner-takes-all competition inspired by schoolyard games like Red Light, Green Light. A triumph of both social satire and production design, it became a rare word-of-mouth phenomenon,” Rolling Stone writes. 

The riveting show earned 14 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series.

“Squid Game leans fully into the brutality of its premise, contrasting pastel playground aesthetics with tragedy and gore. However, the show also makes time for plenty of substance by fleshing out the relationships between its leads and interrogating the royally messed-up circumstances that led to each player ending up in this position,” Mashable reads. 

5. The Crown 

The Crown has surely encouraged the media’s infatuation with British royalty, but this time it’s more than glitz and glamor.

“The weight of the crown itself is felt throughout the series, mainly in how unhappy it makes all of these very privileged people who constantly consider “the life unlived.” Each of these serve as a brief glimpse of possibilities that are never allowed to materialize because of the realities of position and duty, but that sacrifice in the face of something greater becomes increasingly harder to defend as the years go on,” Paste Magazine writes.

The series earned an impressive 21 major nominations in 2018 alone.

“The show has positively dominated award ceremonies, most recently winning every single one of the major seven categories for drama series at the Primetime Emmy Awards. It boasts great performances, world-class production values (including breathtaking costumes), and more political intrigue than you can dream of,” Looper writes.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About the Author

Meaghan Babaker

Meaghan Babaker is a journalist and freelance writer previously based out of New York City while working for CBS New York, CBS Local and MSNBC. After moving to Geneva, Switzerland in 2016, she went on to write for Digital Luxury Group, The Travel Corporation and other international publications before joining the editorial team at StudyFinds.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. I was almost going to let this list as whatever then I saw your sources. None are credible sources making this list complete trash.

  2. This isn’t a great list at all. You basically listed their most famous releases ever…. Most of which are older. These are really the default stuff people watch and can find on Netflix’s own recommend frontage!

    Pull a new article together and hunt for the best content thats gone under the radar or something.

  3. I have enjoyed most of these selections but I think, hands down, the best thing on Netflix is Money Heist(Spain version). Incredible writing, acting, cinematography, and so on. IMHO

  4. Good shows, but not great.

    I think the problem is, they have new actors, better camera work/ computer graphics, but same old story line.

  5. Has everyone forgotten Lilyhammer? The original Netflix hit. While there have been some great shows since- Babylon Berlin, Money Heist, etc.- to me, that one was truly entertainment at its best.

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