I don't know about you, but whenever I go poking around on Netflix I wonder why I'm spending money on this thing. The movies are random, the TV shows are old and nine times out of ten you'll search for something you want to watch and it won't be there. It's frustrating!
However, Netflix has recently started carrying some interesting stuff -- and I'm not even talking about great "Netflix Original Series" like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. (If you want the scoop on which Netflix originals are coming out and when, read a review from IndieWire here.)
No, I'm going to give you some guidance on this other great stuff you can find on Netflix and help you get your money's worth.
1. Suspenseful UK series:
Fortunately for us, Netlix carries many of the great police dramas from the UK. They tend to be a little darker and more suspenseful than the ones we have on U.S. network TV. Here are some that I like:
The Fall (2013 - ): This five episode series from BBC Two stars Gillian Anderson as a police investigator who is brought in to track a serial killer in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Season one is available now on Netflix and season two will be available after January 16. Watch it! You won't be disappointed.
Top of the Lake (2013 - ): This mini-series (seven episodes) follows a detective played by Elizabeth Moss ("Peggy" from Mad Men) who is investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl. Top of the Lake was co-produced by BBC Two in the UK and the Sundance Channel in the U.S. and is being picked up for a second season. Moss won a Golden Globe for her role and the series was nominated for a bunch of Emmys. TOTL has been compared to True Detective, if that means anything to you.
Luther (2010-2013): I think I've mentioned this before, but I love this show! Luther is a psychological police thriller starring Idris Elba ("Stringer Bell" from The Wire) and Ruth Wilson ("Allison" from The Affair). I'm bummed there were only three seasons (all somewhat short - very easy to binge watch), but am hearing rumors of a movie.
Broadchurch (2013 - ): This British ITV series was recently remade in the U.S. by Fox with the boring, critically panned mini-series called Gracepoint. I watched Gracepoint and was mildly interested. The original is really suspenseful.
2. "Hilarious" stand up comedy specials:
I like the Travel Channel documentary/travel show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005 - 2012). If you are into food and food shows, you know about Anthony Bourdain. He smoked, drank, ate and snarked his way across the globe for 26 episodes of "No Reservations." You can pick and choose what cities you want to watch.
Netflix also carries lots of documentary movies and since you are paying for it, isn't this a great time to catch one here or there and get some learning up in ya? I like the ones about food and nutrition (docs like Food Inc, Spinning Plates, Somm and Forks Over Knives) but you can find movies covering all kinds of topics. For instance, if you care about animals be sure to check out Blackfish. You won't feel the same about Sea World again.
4. Classic 80's movies:
Right now on Netflix you'll find Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Pretty in Pink, Heathers, Flashdance, Footloose, Airplane, Friday the 13th, Stand by Me....not too shabby a selection.
(There are "real" classics as well, but these are more fun.)
5. TV series that you have missed (or miss):
Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, Louie, Mad Men -- these are all GREAT TV shows that are available in their entirety on Netflix. These are obviously the ones I like, but you can find tons of others. Netflix might not be the best at hosting current shows, but if you're looking for older (or completed) ones (Friends? Cheers? One Tree Hill? - whatever you're into), it's a good bet they'll have it.