The 38 best TV box-sets on Netflix

Hannibal (S1-3)

Mads Mikkelsen is, quite frankly, one of the most watchable actors of his generation, and never more so than when in the immaculate suits of this TV incarnation of cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, who here gets his own series – a prequel to movies like Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs.

As per Thomas Harris' original books, Lecter is a psychiatrist brought in to assist FBI profiler Will Graham, but it's not long before the doctor is taking advantage of his position and manipulating the fragile Graham.

This is pretty high-brow stuff, chock-full of startling imagery, Lynchian characters and dinner scenes that will make your stomach growl - a little unsettling once you know what's in most of them.

Watch Hannibal on Netflix

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (S1-5)

If you’re not already an Andy Samberg fan (shame on you), Brooklyn Nine-Nine will make you one. That’s not to say he’s the only draw in this comedy cop show, though - the super-childish detective he plays is always at the centre of things, but each of the nutjobs he shares a precinct with have their own hilarious idiosyncrasies, not least of all the seemingly dry and dull Captain Holt.

It’s all as silly and immature as things get, and that’s just fine by us.

Watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix

Sons of Anarchy (S1-7)

All seven seasons of Kurt Sutter’s outlaw biker gang drama are now streaming on Netflix, so if you haven’t yet binged on the bloody adventures of SAMCRO, there’s no time like the present. While there’s plenty of mayhem and butchery to delight thrill-seekers, much of the appeal of Sons of Anarchy lies in its (self-consciously) Shakespearean family drama, full of dark secrets, jealousy, sins of the father and backstabbing (both figurative and literal).

While not always perfect (the ill-advised stint set in Northern Ireland, complete with a fiddle-dee-dee remix of the opening theme tune, springs to mind), the show offers more than enough compelling drama and complex characterisation to keep you hooked right through to its harrowing conclusion.

Watch Sons of Anarchy on Netflix

Orange Is The New Black (S1-6)

Like House Of Cards, Orange Is the New Black is Netflix’s own series, and like House Of Cards it’s also raunchy, compelling and strongly plotted. And really funny too.

Based on actual events, it tells the story of a middle-class New Yorker who ends up in women’s prison for a crime committed ten years previously – and through flashbacks explores her life (and the colourful lives of her fellow inmates) before incarceration.

With a full six seasons of jailtime drama to sink your teeth into, there's a distinct danger you'll find yourself doing a long stretch in a cell of your own - your living room.

Watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix

Black Mirror (S1-5)

Charlie Brooker’s series of standalone tales cautioning against the dangers of technology isn’t exactly what we’d call perfect binge watch fodder – the sheer darkness and cynicism on display can really start to weigh you down after more than a couple of episodes.

And yet Black Mirro is one of the most compelling and fascinating things on TV, particularly for those with an interest in how our lives are affected (some might say infected) by our relationship with smartphones, computers, video games, VR and social media.

Stuff readers, we suspect, fall into that category – although you don’t need to be a gadget expert to appreciate the wildly disturbing – yet scarily plausible – scenarios Brooker brings to life.

Watch Black Mirror on Netflix

House of Cards (S1-6)

Even if you know very little about the convoluted workings of US politics you'll find lots to love about House Of Cards.

Kevin Spacey's portrayal of a ruthless congressman's scrap to the top of the VIP pile is mesmerising, and the cold, clinical manner in which he partners up with his on-screen wife (Robin Wright), is brilliantly chilling. Even if the goings-on in the real-life White House have made the Machiavellian machinations of Spacey and Wright's characters seem ridiculous and unnecessary (turns out you don't need to be clever, articulate, scheming and morally bankrupt to grab the presidency – just the latter), these six seasons of political wrangling, sexual weirdness, murder and more make for compelling viewing.

Powerful acting, a gripping plot. It's worth getting a Netflix subscription for this alone. 

Watch House of Cards on Netflix

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (S1-14)

Narcissistic. Sociopathic. Sexist. Elitist. Delusional. And egos the size of a bull elephant. All descriptions that adequately fit every single member of staff at Paddy's Bar in Philadelphia.

From kidnapping cats to poisoning rivals, to stalking love interests and getting drunk at every opportunity, you're unlikely to ever find a group of people that you hate to love more.

Hilarity, madness (and Danny Devito in tight, tight skinny jeans) await.

Watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix

The Office (S1-2)

Gareth's obsession with lesb

The Crown (S1-3)

The Crown ranks as one of Netflix’s best original series to date. That’s partly down to the phenomenal production values that have been instilled in this retelling of Queen Lizzie II’s early years. Over £100 million was invested in this extravaganza, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith, and that all adds up to a swanky amount of period detail.

Even those of a staunchly republican bent might find themselves sucked in to the two full seasons, which chart a series of major national events as well as delve deeply into the personal lives of the royal family. And with Olivia Colman taking the throne as an older, wiser Elizabeth in the upcoming third season, The Crown remains in a very safe set of hands.

Watch The Crown on Netflix

Archer (S1-10)

A James Bond-esque secret agent with the womanising, drinking and love of casual violence turned right up to 11, Archer is one of the greatest anti-heroes we’ve seen in an animated show. He's in good company at private spy agency ISIS (in hindsight, an unfortunate choice of name) staffed as it is with a collection of selfish, bungling agents and perverts.  

Perfect for Netflix binge-watching, thanks to its 20-minute episodes, it's generously packed with snappy one-liners and Arrested Development-esque in-jokes. It’s just as good as it sounds.

Watch Archer on Netflix

Narcos (S1-3)

The most critically acclaimed Netflix original series of 2015 tells the bloody story of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the man tasked with taking him down. Sounds like a laugh riot, right?

While Narcos lacks much in the way of light-relief, watching American DEA agent Steve Murphy submerge himself in a viciously amoral cesspit is a constant thrill. What could well be a high-minded exercise in true crime melodrama is elevated to nerve-shredding nirvana via some classy performances and the disturbing use of archive footage. Escobar’s brutal legacy lives on through your telebox, and the horror of it all will make you wince in anguish.

And once you're done with all three seasons of the original show, there's new spin-off Narcos: Mexico to get your teeth into.

Watch Narcos on Netflix

Breaking Bad (S1-5)

If you're one of those people that gets put off by TV shows just because everyone else in the world is watching and raving about them, then put aside your cynacism and grow up. Because where Breaking Bad is concerned, you'd be missing out.

Bryan Cranston's transformation from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher to a dangerous, meth-making super-criminal is one of the greatest examples of character acting we've ever witnessed, and he's got a stonking cast surrounding him to boot.

Gripping, edge-of-your seat television at its finest.

Watch Breaking Bad on Netflix