A Series of Unfortunate Events (S1-3)
A heavily made-up Neil Patrick Harris stars as antagonist Count Olaf in this adaptation of the dark and spooky children’s novels – charged with the care of three orphaned children but far more interested in securing their inheritance through nefarious means.
With no fewer than 13 Lemony Snicket books at the current count, there's certainly no shortage of source material – so this box set could end up spawning another ten creepy seasons.
The Good Place (S1-4)
Despite being an all-round bad egg on Earth, Kristen Bell’s character in this Netflix Original somehow ends up in heaven after she shuffles off this mortal coil. Turns out even angels can make mistakes at work.
While Bell’s performance stands out with her relatable struggles to fit into a world full of goody-two-shoes, Jameela Jamil’s outlandish vanity and William Jackson Harper’s uptight morals will also subject you to a few giggling fits. And unlike most sitcoms, The Good Place has a plot that will keep you gasping and gawping until the very end.
If you're even slightly drawn to Judd Apatow's particular brand of mumbly, honest, relationship-based humour, you'll almost certainly enjoy this comedy drama series he co-created - now three seasons strong.
Love is the tale of a couple of directionless people at opposite ends of the loser spectrum who stumble into a relationship that doesn’t seem remotely healthy for either of them. Laugh-a-minute stuff this ain’t, but spending time with the substance-abusing Mickey (Community's Gillian Jacobs) and the pathetic pushover Gus (Paul Rust) is an often awkward, frequently guffaw-inducing pleasure.
Queer Eye (S1-5)
Dragging the unfashionable makeover show kicking and screaming into the 21st century, the remixed Queer Eye has rapidly grown into one of Netflix’s most beloved series.
You likely already know the formula – a quintet of style experts descend upon an unsuspecting schlub (or schlubs) to give his, her or their looks and lifestyle a much-needed overhaul – but the raging emotional hurricane that follows in the Fab Five’s wake might surprise and delight you. It’s no accident that Queer Eye has become something resembling televisual comfort food – and proof positive that even makeover shows themselves benefit from a timely makeover.
The presence of every single episode of the 1990s’ biggest sitcom on Netflix feels like an occasion worthy of fanfare – even if, let’s face it, you’ve probably seen them all multiple times before.
For the two or three readers that don’t know, Friends is a long-running (10 seasons!) multi-cam sitcom about a sextet of… well, let’s call them “buddies” living in New York. While it’s tightly packed with great gags and compelling, series-arching plots, the show’s true pull is in its sharply-drawn, likeable characters. Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Monica’s travails as they navigate love, career, life and everything in between are sure to suck you in, even if some of the writing and production values can feel dated at times.
Peep Show (S1-9)
All nine seasons of Peep Show are now streaming on Netflix, so if you haven’t yet watched Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s groundbreaking sitcom – the longest-running in Channel 4’s history, no less – now is the time to venture into the minds of David Mitchell’s Mark and Robert Webb’s Jez, two best friends and flatmates who lurch from one disaster to the next.
Peep Show’s “gimmick” is that we often see the action from Mark or Jez’s point-of-view, hearing their inner thoughts as audible voice-overs. In the great British comedy tradition self-delusion, self-hatred and social awkwardness loom large here, and though both the main characters are indisputably despicable, selfish idiots, it’s impossible not to get sucked into their (often horrifying) antics.
Many a true word is spoken in jest, as they say – and Peep Show is as much a meditation on the human condition as it is a comedy show. As the joyless Mark internally remarks after his girlfriend takes him to a fairground, "I suppose doing things you hate is just the price you pay to avoid loneliness."
People Just Do Nothing (S1-5)
People Just Do Nothing is ostensibly a behind-the-scenes documentary about West London pirate radio station Kurupt FM, but it’s actually a wickedly funny examination of the same kind of hubris and self-delusion as exhibited by David Brent in The Office, presented in a similar mockumentary fashion.
The fact that the Kurupt crew clearly do know their Artful Dodger from their Pied Piper – they’ve performed live at multiple events, in character – adds an extra layer of authenticity to the whole thing, but you certainly don’t need to be a two-step aficionado to enjoy what’s going on here. It’s one of the finest low budget BBC sitcoms in ages, and the first five seasons are available on Netflix.
Rick and Morty (S1-4)
This animated comedy series about a teenage boy, his mad scientist grandfather and the strange sci-fi adventures the two embark upon sounds like pretty wholesome stuff, but Rick and Morty is probably one of the dirtiest, most violent and most cynical shows on telly, regularly plumbing the depths of human (and alien) depravity for laughs. But it certainly does manage to get those laughs, which is the point – and it succeeds in posing lots of interesting questions about time, family, physics and existentialism while it does so.
Rick and Morty’s blend of toilet humour, OTT cartoon violence, wit-sweetened cynicism and multi-dimensional adventuring makes it a hilarious, mind-bending and always enjoyable watch. Perfect material for a lazy Sunday in front of the TV, in other words – and now all four seasons' worth of episodes are available to stream on Netflix.
Chef’s Table (S1-6)
This series (now five seasons strong; six if you count spin-off Chef's Table France) shadows world-renowned chefs as they take viewers on a personal journey through their culinary evolution. Each episode afford the viewer an intimate, informative glimpse into what gets a genius's creative juices flowing.
Lovingly shot in razor-sharp Ultra HD quality (for those with the necessary Netflix subscription), you can almost smell the aromas seeping through your screen and tickling your nostrils. From glistening, perfectly-cooked pieces of meat to mouth-watering steaming pasta dishes, this is food porn of the highest order. Just try not to drool too much.