The Best TV Series Available on Netflix Instant Stream

Updated on April 19, 2016

So we all love movies, but TV shows keep us addicted week in and week out and are a huge part of many people's everyday lives. Netflix has a great movie collection that I've already documented before, but where it really stands out is its TV offerings. Concentrating on hour long dramas, here is my list of the best TV shows available on Netflix Instant Stream.

Mad Men (2007 – present)

First on the list is the not only the best TV series on Netflix but possibly the best TV show on television, period. This is emphasized by the fact that it won four consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Drama. Certainly my favorite out there is AMC’s ‘Mad Men,’ a drama centered around an advertising agency in New York city in the 1960s. Its primary focus is on the agencies Creative Director, Don Draper, who is played to perfection by Jon Hamm. Draper is a womanizer, with questionable morals but a dark past that is full of mystery which torments him endlessly. Surrounding him is a fantastic cast of characters, played by actors such as January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and Jared Harris. The show stealer though, is the hilarious, sarcastic and charming Roger Sterling, who is played by John Slattery. Full of cheating, scheming, drinking and drama, the series has what I like to call a ‘simple complexity,’ meaning it doesn’t have the big action and suspense, but it finds its excellence through its characters and simple, real life drama. Easily one of the best TV series on Netflix instant stream, this is a must see. It is currently airing its 7th and final season.

The Killing (2011 – present)

Almost ready for its third season, is another AMC show, the critically acclaimed mystery drama ‘The Killing.’ A surprise hit in its first season, the show revolved around the murder of a young girl named Rosie Larsen. Each episode follows a day in the investigation, and our two lead detectives, played by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, in their attempts to solve the crime. However, what really sets this series apart is the way that it dives into all aspects of a murder such as this. It also focuses in on the effects of such a murder on the family of the girl, as well as sometimes the killer themselves. Then we get a look into the political implications also, as we see how the local politics begins to become tangled up in the case. The style and atmosphere of the show is extremely gritty and raw, with very little flash and glamour and that makes it all the more realistic and hard hitting in its deliver. If you’ve got Netflix, check it out!

The Walking Dead (2010 – present)

A record breaking show for AMC, and one of the most popular seriess in the history of television is yet another AMC Drama. ‘The Walking Dead’ is an action packed, drama filled take on the zombie genre, that is filled with romance, suspense and a lot of blood and gore. The show begins during a zombie outbreak where we meet our main hero, Officer Rick Grimes played by Andrew Lincoln. Also in the band of survivors is Rick’s wife Lore (Sarah Wayne Callies) and his best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal). This is a show that literally has it all. It is no cheesy zombie show, as the drama is real and hard hitting. The violence is full go though, with some excellent special effects and disgusting zombies. What really sets the series apart is that you literally never know what it going to happen. It seems like nobody is safe, including your favorite characters. The most action packed series on Netflix instant stream, ‘The Walking Dead’ is a must see for zombie fans, and anyone else for that matter.

Breaking Bad (2008 – present)

Here’s a surprise. Another AMC Drama. ‘Breaking Bad’ is one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV, and is nominated for the Best Drama Emmy year in, year out. The show follows a genius chemistry teacher named Walter White, who is terminally ill and decides that he will use his skills to produce crystal meth, in order to give his family a good life. White is played by Bryan Cranston who excels in the role to say the least. Cranston won the Best Actor award at the Primetime Emmy’s three consecutive years, so there is no doubt that he nails the role. The series is considered by many to be the greatest show in the history of television (although you already know, I disagree), and this is largely due to the acting, which is absolutely fantastic. ‘Breaking Bad’ has a slow burning suspense that is rarely seen and should be enjoyed by all drama fans.

Lost (2004 – 2010)

One of the most popular and obsessed over shows in the history of broadcasting, ‘Lost’ was a worldwide craze when it hit our screens back in 2004. I was not in the loop until a few seasons later, and fortunately I caught up on the first four seasons on Netflix instant stream. It took me a little over three weeks. That’s how addictive this show is. ‘Lost’ revolves around a band of plane crash survivors, led by Jack (Matthew Fox) who crash land on a mysterious island. The follows is a mix of mystery, romance, suspense, comedy and emotion, created by one of the most diverse character collections you’ll ever see. The show presents mysteries that you just can’t wait to find answers to, and it seemed like every single episode left you hanging on by a thread when it ended. The series finally came to an end after six great seasons, and I recommend the journey, as it is one of the most fun you’ll have on TV.

Sons of Anarchy (2008 – present)

‘Sons of Anarchy’ is an FX series that may not be for everybody, but if it fits into your areas of interest, you are sure to love it. Following a criminal motorcycle gang and it’s leaders Clay (Ron Perlman) and Jax (Charlie Hunnam) through the drama that naturally comes in such a lifestyle, the show is a raw and violent one, which pulls no punches. Jax is a young man who has a good heart, but is also loyal to the gang and it’s leader Clay, who happens to be married to Jax’s mom (his father was also a part of the club, but passed away). We see Jax and other members of the gang consider life outside of it, while trying to navigate life within it. Oftentimes extremely brutal and cold blooded, the series is full of suspense and it always finds a way to shock you when you least expect it.

The West Wing (1999 – 2006)

‘The West Wing’ follows new President Jed Bartlet, and his selected staff and administration through seven seasons of political and personal struggles and successes, with a detail and realism that only writer Aaron Sorkin can provide (he recently started the hit HBO series, ‘Newsroom,’ with Jeff Daniels). President Bartlet is played by the fantastic Martin Sheen, and he is supported by an excellent cast of young and old actors. The show is often extremely realistic in its portrayal of political process and in many ways it is quite insightful into the work that takes place, as well as what the people involved have to sacrifice in order to do their jobs. However, throughout this is manages to remain entertaining and that is what makes it the best Political TV series on Netflix, and one of the best ever.

The X Files (1993 – 2002)

A true classic, with a massive cult following, is famous sci-fi TV show ‘The X-Files.’ The series also sparked multiple films, which although not as good as the show, were certainly popular. The show stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as FBI Agents Scully and Mulder, who are tasked with explaining and solving the unexplained. The X-Files’s great dynamic comes from a couple of key things. The first is the fact that agent Mulder is a clear believer in most of these paranormal phenomenon that the pair encounter, while Scully is forever the skeptic. This creates fantastic drama and chemistry between the two. Then there is the great sense during the show that you don’t always know if you’re supposed to believe in these things or not, even on the show. It doesn’t always reveal the truth. This adds to the constant mystery, that led to it continuing for so long and winning so many awards. A must see for everyone, and especially Sci-Fi fans.

House of Cards (2013 - Present)

The one that started it all for Netflix, House of Cards is the most successful Netflix Original, released exclusively on the Netflix Instant Streaming platform, with all episodes available at once. It has had Emmy success, and has recently released a third season. Kevin Spacey anchors the cast as the sociopathic and insanely ambitious politician, Frank Underwood, who looking to gain power by any means necessary. When I say any, I mean any. The show also has some other great cast members, from Kate Mara to Constance Zimmer to the amazing Robin Wright who plays Frank's wife Claire. It's a remake of a classic British series, but it's still unique in its own right and Spacey is remarkable. There aren't many characters you'll want to cheer for in this messed up political landscape, but you'll be engrossed in all the evil.

Sherlock (2010 – present)

This is a bit of a cheat, because this BBC special starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the legendary sleuth is more like a collection of short movies. Each season is 3 episodes of around an hour and a half, and is almost a standalone film of the highest quality. Now, technically it's a television series though, so it's being included for that reason, and because I can! Cumberbatch is remarkable as this incredibly narcissistic and difficult to be around version of the detective, and his chemistry with Martin Freeman, who plays his partner Watson is remarkable. The two are a match made in heaven and from the very start they light up the screen. The mysteries are beautifully modernized but remain in honor of their inspiration, and the villains in each episode are complex and well wrought out. There is really nothing like Sherlock on TV, and it's a must see for basically everyone.

Which is your favorite show?

Which of the TV shows above is your favorite?

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    • jericho911 profile image

      Kenneth Claude 

      14 months ago from Parts Unknown

      The Killing has to be the most underrated series on Netflix. The acting is superb and every episode is full of suspense. The last season was not nearly as good as the others. The 2 seasons of Rosie Larsen's investigation are amazing.

    • Alec Zander profile image

      Alec Zander 

      2 years ago from Sylva, NC

      Lost is my favorite show of all time. It's my obsession, even today.

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR

      jmartin1344 

      4 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Thanks Luke!

      I've been told that the original version of The Killing is great! Interesting that you feel that way about TWD - I see you wrote a hub about it, I'll check it out!

    • Luke Ellis profile image

      Luke Ellis 

      4 years ago from Nottingham, England

      Great list. I actually made a hub solely dedicated to why I think The Walking Dead is overrated but that's just my opinion. Also, if your a fan of The Killing, try checking out the scandinavian it's based on. I'd say it's even better than the American remake :)

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR

      jmartin1344 

      4 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      I agree Mel Carriere, AMC just can't go wrong at the moment! They have multiple genres and styles covered, all done to near perfection. I was sad to hear that they cancelled The Killing after 3 seasons, even though it was critically acclaimed. Some shows just aren't built for huge audiences, but a great show none the less! Also, they're extending Mad Men's final season to 24 episodes over 2 years... interesting decision, but more episodes makes me happy!

      Thanks for reading!!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      I think one of the significant things here is how many entries AMC has on your list. Whoever the genius executive is over there who selects these programs certainly is able to judge what the public wants, but without sacrificing quality or originality. Great hub!

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR

      jmartin1344 

      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Thanks memelo3! I appreciate you reading - I have a lot of other Netflix hubs if you're interested in checking them out!

      I'll stop by your hub for sure!

    • memel03 profile image

      Melody Lanei 

      5 years ago from Queens, New York

      Hey J!! Great Hub! Anything with "Netflix" in it will get my attention! PLEASE, take some time to read my latest hub and let me know what you think!

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 

      5 years ago from Detroit MI

      THE MARTIN KAHN!

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR

      jmartin1344 

      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      A fantastic show, by a fantastic writer.

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 

      5 years ago from Detroit MI

      Talking about great shows...House of Lies is a great!

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR

      jmartin1344 

      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Yeah I would definitely recommend Breaking Bad and Walking Dead - AMC shows are fantastic.

      Another great show is Homeland but it isn't on Netflix!

      Thanks!

    • Kevina Oyatedor profile image

      kevina oyatedor 

      5 years ago

      Need to watch Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Downton Abby. Have watched a little bit of Mad Men and SOA (Sons of Anarchy) and they are good.

    • jmartin1344 profile imageAUTHOR

      jmartin1344 

      5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Lost had me hooked, that's for sure. Big time.

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 

      5 years ago from Detroit MI

      Great hub! Without a doubt my favorite series on this list is Lost, however Mad Men and X-Files are great as well.

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