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Best Netflix Shows and Original Series to Watch in July 2021



It’s the weekend, or a sick day, or just a regular Tuesday night, and you need to binge-watch something. You don’t just want it, you need it. Where to begin? Fear not — we’re here to help. Below you’ll find an ever-expanding recommended list of TV shows available on Netflix, curated by us TV-obsessives. The mix covers a myriad of genres, lengths, countries of origins, and much more, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all excellent. If you want the full monty, peruse our picks for the best series and TV shows on Netflix right now below.

Editor’s note: This article was last updated on July 2nd to add Downton Abbey.

RELATED: Here’s What’s New on Netflix in June 2021


Downton Abbey

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Image via PBS

Created by: Julian Fellowes

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Lily James and Penelope Wilson

There’s something kind of magical about Downton Abbey that’s hard to describe. The show is an instant balm, transporting you to a time and place far, far way that is somehow incredibly calming and compelling all at once. The six-season series is set at a fictional Yorkshire country estate between the years 1912 and 1926, and chronicles the many goings-on at said estate involving its inhabitants – both highborn and the house staff who live in the basement. Most of the big “problems” in the show revolve around some big dinner or a surprise guest, which makes the stakes delightfully low. That’s not to say the series doesn’t get dramatic – some big stuff happens as the seasons wear on – but by and large the best word to described the act of watching Downton Abbey is “pleasant.” – Adam Chitwood

Watch Downton Abbey Here

Chef’s Table

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Image via Netflix

Created by: David Gelb

If you’re into cooking and have never seen Chef’s Table, prioritize it in your queue ASAP. In contrast to other cooking shows that serve as tutorials or how-to’s, each episode of Chef’s Table is a deep-dive into a particular chef. Not just their food but their life, and how their life informs the kind of food they make and the path that has led them to becoming a professional chef. In truth, Chef’s Table is a proper documentary series, with each episode serving as a chef-specific documentary. Creator David Gelb also kind of revolutionized the way these shows look by opting for cinematic cinematography versus the overlit way that most cooking shows are presented. As a result, the food comes to life before your very eyes. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Chef’s Table Here

Shadow and Bone

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Eric Heisserer

Cast: Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Archie Renaux, Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, and Kit Young

If The Witcher and Game of Thrones had a baby and that baby grew up to be a YA series, you’d have something along the lines of Shadow and Bone. But even that feels reductive, because this fantasy series based on the novels by Leigh Bardugo is far deeper and complex than you might be expecting. The show takes place in a fantasy world that is populated mostly by humans, but also has magic-folk known as “Grisha.” Grisha are a somewhatostracized group, so when an unassuming mapmaker not only terns out to be Grisha but a being known as the “Sun Summoner,” the world is upended. Mixed into this “Chosen One” narrative is a cadre of charming, compelling, and frankly sexy characters all of whom are just trying to make it through a harsh and unforgiving world. Give this one a couple of episodes and you’ll be hooked. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Shadow and Bone Here

Collateral

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Image via Netflix

Created by: David Hare

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Billie Piper, Jeany Spark, Nathaniel Martelo-White, John Simm

In the era of #PeakTV it’s impossible to watch everything, but here’s a show that you can binge in a very limited amount of time and get maximum satisfaction in return: Collateral. The four-hour BBC-produced limited series hails from writer David Hare (The Hours) and director SJ Clarkson (Jessica Jones). Carey Mulligan stars as a confident and charismatic detective in London who’s tasked with investigating the murder of a pizza deliveryman, who may be an immigrant or refugee. A Robert Altman-like ensemble forms the tapestry of this story, but by the end of the four hours you’ll be in awe of how well all the disparate characters’ storylines fit together. This is a show that digs deep into issues of immigration and racial tensions in a post-Brexit England, but maintains a sense of joy and humor throughout so as not to drown the viewer in despair like some other British dramas. It’s immensely compelling, supremely satisfying, and Mulligan gives one hell of a lead performance that has colors of Fargo’s Marge Gunderson. And it’s only four hours! This is an incredibly easy recommend. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Collateral Here

Bridgerton

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Chris Van Dusen

Cast: Regé-Jean Page, Phoebe Dynevor, Adjoa Andoh, Jonathan Bailey, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Ruth Gemmell, Claudia Jessie, Ben Miller, Luke Newton, Golda Rosheuvel, Polly Walker, and Julie Andrews

If Gossip Girl meets Downton Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice sounds intriguing to you, the Netflix original series Bridgerton will absolutely be your jam. Based on the series of novels by Julia Quinn, the drama-romance takes place in the competitive world of Regency London’s high society, where a number of young girls are presented and tasked with finding a suitor. The stakes are raised when a mysterious woman named “Lady Whistledown” begins writing a column about the goings-on of the day, complete with gossip and preferences for specific pairings. Dramatic twists, intense love scenes, and even some hijinks ensue. This very well could be your next obsession. – Adam Chitwood

WatchBridgerton Here

The Queen’s Gambit

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Scott Frank

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Marielle Heller, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling, Bill Camp, and Moses Ingram

You don’t have to be interested in chess to fall for the seven-episode limited series The Queen’s Gambit, because at heart the show isn’t really about chess at all. It’s an intensely dramatic story about a young orphan working through her trauma to find some semblance of joy anywhere she can, and the people she meets along the way. Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) is revelatory in the lead role of Beth Harmon, a young chess prodigy, bringing a cool confidence to the character while also nailing the nuances of her emotional complexity. Scott Frank, who writes and directs every episode, brings the 1950s and 60s to life in vivid fashion with stunning production design and gorgeous costumes, but it’s the way he captures the chess matches that really makes this thing soar. They’re thrilling and captivating not because of the specific moves, but because the show does such a great job of making you so invested in Beth’s story. And with seven episodes and a full-on ending, you don’t have to worry about this show being cancelled – it’s a complete story from beginning to end. – Adam Chitwood

WatchThe Queen’s Gambit Here

GLOW

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch

Cast: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Brittney Young, Marc Maron, Britt Baron, Kate Nash, Gayle Rankin, Kia Stevens, Jackie Tohn, and Chris Lowell

The Netflix original series GLOW has one of the more original premises in recent TV history: It chronicles the life of a fledgling professional wrestling promotion called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, as various aspiring actresses and generally women down on their luck audition and agree to take a stab at a wholly new field. Marc Maron plays the schlock B-movie director tasked with turning GLOW into a show, Alison Brie plays a theater nerd and aspiring actress taking it all way too seriously, and Betty Gilpin plays Brie’s former friend and soap opera star who becomes the centerpiece of the wrestling event. Season 1 is delightful, but Season 2 is one of the best seasons of a Netflix TV show ever made. It’s purely joyous, focused, character-rich, and wildly entertaining, and did I mention the bangin’ 80s soundtrack? – Adam Chitwood

Watch GLOW Here

Julie and the Phantoms

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Dan Cross, Dave Hoge

Cast: Madison Reyes, Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada, Booboo Stewart, Cheyenne Jackson, Carlos Ponce, Sonny Bustamante, Jadah Marie, Sacha Carlson, Savannah Lee May

You can always count on Kenny Ortega for a dose of feel-good fun. The filmmaker and choreographer behind beloved kids classics like Newsies, Hocus Pocus, and High School Musical flexes his always entertaining musical muscles once again with Julie and the Phantoms. Inspired by the Brazilian hit series Julie e os Fantasmas, the new Netflix Family original stars Madison Reyes as Julie and Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, and Jeremy Shada as her titular trio of phantoms. Members of an up-and-coming band that had their dreams dashed when they died after eating some bad hot dogs (which should give you a sense of how the show treads lightly while dealing in the dark matters of death), the ghosts appear to Julie in her garage 25 years later, and through their shared love of music, they team up for a new and improved, if mostly ghostly band. Every episode features legit bangin’ earworm songs and pop performances, tender coming-of-age drama, and that signature Ortega touch. The feel-good ghost musical is a must-watch for anyone looking for an instant mood-boost, as long as you’re ok with having the songs stuck in your head. —Haleigh Foutch

Watch Julie and the Phantoms Here

Ozark

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams

Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Peter Mullan, and Janet McTeer

The Netflix original series Ozark is frequently one of the streaming service’s most popular shows, and for good reason. Almost like a backwoods version of Breaking Bad, the series opens with Jason Bateman’s life falling apart. He and his family are forced to move from Chicago to the Ozarks to start a money laundering business after he discovers his longtime business partner has been dealing with Mexican drug cartels, and they owe an inordinate amount of money. Bateman’s life is spared when he promises to recoup by opening a vacation destination in the Ozarks, but as he and his family enmesh themselves deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld, the line between good and bad becomes further blurred. It’s pretty thrilling, packed with twists, and the performances are solid. It’s not as tight or as emotionally satisfying as Breaking Bad, but then again what is? As far as substitutes go, Ozark is solid. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Ozark Here

Schitt’s Creek

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Image via PopTV

Created by: Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy

Cast: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Chris Elliott, and Jenn Robertson

Imagine a less cynical Arrested Development crossed with an inverted Beverly Hillbillies, and you’re close to Schitt’s Creek—one of the most joyful shows on all of television. The Canadian sitcom tells the story of a wealthy family who loses everything when they’re defrauded by their business manager. The only thing they do own is a tiny, backwoods town the patriarch (Eugene Levy) bought for his son (Daniel Levy) as a joke gift back in 1991, and they’re then forced to move there and live out of a motel. They slowly begin to accept their new lives and even love their new town, despite their many, many quirks. The comedy is delightful, anchored by a phenomenal performance from Catherine O’Hara as the family matriarch, a former soap actress in denial about her social status. It’s also a delightfully forward-thinking series, as the son’s pansexuality is met not with scorn or judgment, but with full loving embrace. Hilarious, witty, and oh-so-sweet, Schitt’s Creek is the perfect show for when you need a pick-me-up. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Schitt’s Creek Here

The Haunting of Hill House

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Image via Netflix

Creator: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Carla Gugino, Michael Huisman, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Elizabeth Reaser, Victoria Pedretti, Lulu Wilson, Timothy Hutton, Violet McGraw, Julian Hilliard,

Hush and Gerald’s Game filmmaker Mike Flanagan delivers his most ambitious Netflix project yet (and that’sreally saying something whenyou’re talking about someone who successfullyadapted Gerald’s Game) with The Haunting of Hill House. Inspired by Shirley Jackson’s seminal ghost story, the series carries over almost none of Jackson’s narrative (though occasionally too much of her prose), and focuses instead on the haunted lives of the withering Crain family. Bouncing back and forth between the summer the Crain’s spent in the titular haunted mansion and the years ofgriefand family trauma they endured in the aftermath. Flanagan has proven in previous works that he’s got a knack for upsetting visuals and well-composed scares, but his great success inThe Haunting of Hill Houseis the way he ties the scares into a rich, intertwining tale of family tinged with tragedy. Led by a spectacular ensemble, the series veers between emotional revelation and moments of horror that give you full-body chills. It’sthe most moving and honest portrayal of mortality and grief this side ofSix Feet Under, but it’ll give you a whole lot more nightmares. — Haleigh Foutch

Watch The Haunting of Hill House Here

The Haunting of Bly Manor

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Photo by Eike Schroter/Netflix

Creator: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Victoria Pedretti, T’Nia Miller, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Amelia Eve, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelia Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, and Carla Gugino

The follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House is a new story with new characters and a new setting, but it’s just as emotionally devastating as that Netflix original series. Based on the works of author Henry James, most prominently Turn of the Screw, this terrific new season takes place in the 1980s and follows a young American woman with an enigmatic past who is hired on as an au pair for two young children at the titular Bly Manor. But all is not what it appears to be at Bly, and horrors ensue. While Hill House was extremely scary, The Haunting of Bly Manor is not – nor is it trying to be. This is Gothic romance ghost story, and in that way it’s actually quite romantic and emotional, but definitely still spooky. And you will definitely be an emotional mess by the time you reach the end. – Adam Chitwood

WatchThe Haunting of Bly Manor Here

The Umbrella Academy

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Steve Blackman and Jeremy Slater

Cast: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore, and Justin H. Min

The Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy is the perfect antidote to those fatigued by the glut of superhero movies and TV shows. Based on the graphic novel series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, the story revolves around seven children with extraordinary powers who were adopted by a strange (and very rich) man who trained them to be heroes. Their troubled upbringing drove them apart, but they reunite at the beginning of the first season when their estranged father turns up mysteriously dead. Not only that, but their brother — who’s been missing since they were children — appears via time travel and warns them the apocalypse is coming in a matter of days. This show is extremely joyful and funky and weird, giving weight each of its disparate characters while carrying on a compelling serial mystery all its own. If you want a show that’s fun and mysterious and a little spooky, check this one out. – Adam Chitwood

WatchThe Umbrella Academy Here

community-epidemiology

Image via Sony Pictures Television

Creator: Dan Harmon

Cast: Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Danny‌ Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian‌ Jacobs, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, John‌ Oliver

One of the best comedy shows of the 21st century, Dan Harmon’s Community is an inventive, emotional act of meta sitcom storytelling that defies any easy categorizing and qualification. The basic set-up follows the odd-ensemble students of Greendale, an increasingly ridiculous community college, where the study group bonds and embarks on increasingly ridiculous misadventures. But it’s so much funnier, weirder, and more heartfelt than you’d expect, the the genre-bending meta-narratives that made Harmon’s animated sci-fi Rick and Morty such a celebrated success on full display. It’s one of the most touching shows out there about finding yourpeople, delivers some of the highest laugh-a-minute payoff in comedy TV, and it embraces the full range of its talented team to skip from genre-to-genre without flinching.Communityhad the Russo Brothers before the MCU, Community did Meow-Meow beans beforeBlack Mirrordid ‘Downfall’, and it highlighted Donald Glover’s polymath gifts long before Childish Gambino became a household name. Fortunately, Netflix now has all six seasons so it’s the perfect time to catch up (or re-watch for the umpteenth time). But if six seasons is too big of a commitment and you don’t know where to start, head over to Greg’s fantastic rundown of the best Community episodes. –Haleigh Foutch

Watch Community Here

The Witcher

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich

Cast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Eamon Farren, and Anya Chalotra

The Witcher is an absolute blast and a half. The fantasy series is indeed very fantasy—it’s more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously and whole-heartedly embraces all aspects of fantasy storytelling and gaming, including fun side-quests, POV battles, and even a bard who follows Henry Cavill’s titular human/creature hybrid around singing songs about his glories. The show’s first season follows three stories destined to converge: Cavill’s Witcher is a muscle-for-hire monster hunter who begins to question why so many princesses have been turning into creatures; Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check; and princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is on the run after the sacking of her city, but harbors secrets of her own. Steeped in lore and world building but always engaging, The Witcher is a perfect kind of binge-viewing show. – Adam Chitwood

WatchThe Witcher Here

Breaking Bad

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Image via AMC

Created by: Vince Gilligan

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and Giancarlo Esposito

It’s entirely possible that Breaking Bad will go down in history as the most influential TV drama ever. Creator Vince Gilligan makes good on a single story arc over the course of five seasons: Taking chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from Mr. Chips to Scarface. That arc tracks, but along the way we get an engaging, twisty, character-rich story that can vacillate between deeply emotional and edge-of-your-seat thrilling. The show begins with the mild-mannered White receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis and opting to go into the crystal meth trade to put together some money to leave behind to his family. But as the story wears on and obstacles arise, Walter White morphs into something far more dangerous and terrifying—or was it always there, bubbling under the surface? – Adam Chitwood

Watch Breaking Bad Here

Love, Death and Robots

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Tim Miller

Executive produced by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and legendary filmmaker David Fincher, the animated anthology series Love, Death & Robots is kind of the perfect catch-all for sci-fi fans. Each episode hails from a different writer and director, and the theme holding them all together is the idea of sci-fi technology. As a result you get a wide range of tone from uber-violent to romantic to hysterically funny. All in all, though, there’s just some really great sci-fi storytelling in here. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Love, Death & Robots Here

Maniac

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Patrick Somerville

Cast: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sally Field, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne, Julia Garner and Billy Magnussen

The limited series Maniac is unlike anything else on television, made all the better by the fact that True Detective and Bond 25 helmer Cary Fukunaga directed all 10 episodes. The series takes place in a slightly more advanced version of Earth in which two depressed and despondent individuals—played by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill—take part in a mind-bending pharmaceutical trial meant to cure them of their ills. The trial sees them mentally living out various different fantasies and scenarios, which then gives Fukunaga the opportunity to traffic in various genres as Stone and Hill play different versions of themselves in everything from a Coen Brothers-esque crime story to a Lord of the Rings-like fantasy world. It’s admittedly a little uneven, but the performances are fantastic and it’s a truly unique spin on a sci-fi drama. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Maniac Here

The Great British Baking Show

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Image via PBS

If only all reality TV was this good.Rather than stuff the competition with people who “aren’t here to make friends” and cut each others throats for a cash prize, The Great British Baking Show is all about people being nice to each other as they attempt various baking challenges to win the title of Britain’s best amateur baker.With the help of charming lead hostsMel GiedroycandSue Perkinsand thoughtful judgesMary BerryandPaul Hollywood, there’s plenty of humor and a surprising level of intensity as you anxiously hope the contestants’ baked goods can come to fruition.My fiancée introduced me to this show, and while I was hesitant at first, I’m obsessed with it now.Try not to devour the series all at once. –Matt Goldberg

WatchThe Great British Baking Show Here

Russian Doll

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, and Amy Poehler

Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vasquez, Charlie Barnett, and Elizabeth Ashley

Netflix’s next great binge-worthy show has arrived, and it’s a brash, bracing series with just the right amount of heart.Russian Doll, the propulsive new series fromNatasha Lyonne,Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, is a brilliant tale of morality and mortality that finds an expert balance between sincerity, cutting comedy, and wild genre flourish. In the first episode, we meet Nadia (Lyonne); an acerbic, chain-smoking software designer in rockstar duds gets trapped a time loop that film fans will quickly recognize; a Groundhog Day rinse-repeat format, where the protagonist is forced to learn a life lesson to break the loop. If you think the time-loop concept is over-familiar,Russian Dollis way ahead of you. It’s a show that recognizes what it owes to Groundhog Day and tips its hat all along the way. From the release date — the series dropped on Netflix one day before the actual Groundhog Day — to the ear-worm song waiting for Nadia every time she reboots. Not “I Got You, Babe,” but Harry Nilsson‘s absurdly peppy “Gotta Get Up.” Tightly constructed with a brief eight-episode run, each episode coming in at 30 minutes or under,Russian Dolltakes a tight grip and never lets go. It moves fast and, the first few episodes especially, makes you feel like you’re experiencing the insanity in real-time with Nadia. It’s pure binge-watching magic; a show that’s not only expertly designed to compel viewers to the next episode but invests just as much in the integrity of story and character. Try to space out the delights of Russian Doll if you can, but if you blow through all eight episodes (as I did), don’t worry. Like Nadia, you’ll probably just go back to the beginning and start it all over again.—Haleigh Foutch

Watch Russian Doll Here


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