26 Great Shows on Netflix to Binge-Watch During Your Long, Hot, Locked-Down July
Summer’s here, but this year it's binge-watching season: Here are the best shows to watch on Netflix this July.
Another month has come and gone, and we’re still in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. As reopenings pause or even reverse, it’s looking like we’re going to spend July 2020 like we spent June: watching the best shows on Netflix, submitting Netflix suggestions, and enjoying all the best romantic movies on Netflix.
When deciding what to watch on Netflix, you need to decide what you’re looking for. A great TV show that you can’t look away from is very different than the background-binge series you leave on while you’re cleaning, reading, or cooking. And if you’re turning to Netflix to educate yourself about other experiences by watching Black history movies on Netflix or other diverse, representational TV shows or movies, you want something that will challenge and teach you in equal measure.
Hopefully you’ll be able to get outside and do a few socially distanced summer activities this July, but between picnics and distanced outdoor walks, you’re likely spending more than a little time watching Netflix. If you’re celebrating Christmas in July this year, you might be more interested in watching Christmas movies on Netflix, but if you just want something to entertain and distract you, one of these top shows on Netflix is sure to be the right fit for your binge-watching.
The best shows on Netflix – July 2020
1. Dear White People
Set at a progressive, supposedly post-racial Ivy League–esque college, this show—part comedy, part drama—follows a group of students of color as they navigate the everyday slights and micro-aggressions on a campus filled with white students who claim not to be racist. From a blackface party to campus security aggression, the series examines many different situations and how they affect Black people—a great watch for anyone seeking to better understand their own unconscious bias.
What is the longest-running game show on TV? You already know and love this quiz show, but its relatively recent arrival to Netflix makes Jeopardy binge-able for the first time. Turn it into a family-friendly game by playing along with the contestants; everyone will learn a little and be entertained a lot.
This acclaimed modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved Sherlock Holmes stories has plenty of mystery, clues, and dry humor. The British series, set in modern London, comprises 13 long episodes—90 minutes each on average—to keep you entertained for days.
4. The Crown
With the release of Season 3, The Crown—one of Netflix's top original series—traces three decades (so far) in the life of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, with plenty of royal intrigue and familial conflict to keep you hooked and eagerly awaiting Season 4.
5. The Vampire Diaries
Picture your typical high school drama series, then add vampires, werewolves, witches, and other supernatural folk, and you have The Vampire Diaries, which offers teen romance and otherworldly horror in equal measure. Consider this the ideal background binge show, thanks to its twisty eight seasons.
This show (with five seasons currently available on Netflix) tells the story of Superman's well-meaning cousin and how she became her own caped vigilante. Pop-ins from Superman, the Flash, and other DC heroes help tie the show into the CW’s comic book-to-TV universe; even if you don’t follow the other shows, this one is an upbeat pick the whole family (especially older kids) will enjoy.
Season 3 of this dark family drama, starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, is finally out, making this show officially binge-able. It follows a financial adviser-turned-money-launderer who is forced to pack up his family and move to rural Missouri, where he has to "clean" a huge sum of money for a dangerous cartel leader. Dark, gritty, and full of surprisingly likable characters, it’s a great distraction.
8. The Walking Dead
Like its titular zombies, this dark series may never die. Nine seasons are currently on Netflix, serving up horror, tears, laughs, and more with each episode following a group of survivors fighting their way through treacherous, zombie-infested territory.
9. Once Upon a Time
All the fairy tales are true in this long-running fantasy series, which combines fairy-tale flashbacks with modern-day incarnations of beloved characters. Moderately PG, it’s a good show for families to watch together, especially if staying cooped up at home is making everyone a little stir-crazy.
10. The Politician
Witty, wry, and incredibly cast, this tale of a boy in pursuit of his senior class presidency (and ultimately, the U.S. presidency, of course) will have you hooked by the end of the first episode. Whether it’s the amazing scenery and costumes, the quick dialogue, or the actors—Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Zoey Deutch all play starring roles—everyone can find something to enjoy. With Season 2 newly available as of June, too, there’s even more to watch.
Intense athletics and high-stakes personal drama collide in this documentary series, which follows a cheer squad at a small Texas college as they pursue another championship. The incredible tumbling, stunts, and flying will draw you in, but by the end of the six-episode run, you’ll be fully invested in the personal struggles, dramas, and traumas of the team’s athletes.
12. How to Get Away with Murder
More cautionary tale than how-to guide, this addictive series follows a powerful lawyer and law professor (Emmy winner Viola Davis) and a select group of her students as they become entangled with various murders and crimes. Sometimes they’re committing the crimes and sometimes they’re defending the criminals in court—all six seasons of this series currently on Netflix keep viewers guessing.
13. Queer Eye
A reboot of the ’90s series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this emotional, insightful reality series follows five queer men as they help people of all genders improve all aspects of their lives. The five stars have amazing chemistry -- both with each other and the people they help. It's sure to warm even the coldest heart.
14. Good Girls
Come for the big-name stars—Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as the titular good girls—stay for the drama, action, and comedy, which seem to come in equal measure through all two seasons currently available on Netflix. (Season 3 of this top Netflix show just finished airing.) You’ll laugh, you’ll feel the pain of being a middle-class mom with a pinched income, and you’ll be shocked at the criminal antics these women get into.
15. Outer Banks
It may only be one season long (for now), but this fresh Netflix Original Series is supremely binge-able. It was among the top 10 movies and shows on Netflix for weeks after its mid-April debut for good reason: The show follows a band of teenaged misfits treasure hunting, fishing, surfing, and occasionally dodging bullets in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. If the action-packed drama and dynamic, charming characters don’t get you, the beautiful coastal scenery and summery vibes will.
Priyanka Chopra stars in this chronology-twisting series, which follows a group of FBI trainees at the titular Quantico. Between their training exploits (and romantic rendezvous), there’s plenty of action and drama to keep you hooked—and when the series flash-forwards to a few months in the future, when one of the star trainees is framed for involvement in a terrorist attack, you’ll be even more invested.
17. Black Mirror
This atypical Netflix Original Series chronicles the dangers of technology. Each of its 22 episodes (plus the Bandersnatch interactive film) is essentially a standalone movie, with most ranging from 45 minutes to more than an hour in length. These near-future fables will make you reconsider your reliance on your smartphone, videogame console or Alexa.
18. Orange Is the New Black
The final season of this top Netflix series may have come out in 2019, but fans (and new viewers) can watch this show about life as an inmate of a women’s prison over and over again.
19. One Day at a Time
A remake of a TV classic, this family-first series follows a newly single mother as she raises her children, with the help of her own bossy mother (Rita Moreno). The family faces puberty, young love, life milestones, and more together. With its own passionate following, this three-season series is the perfect settle-in-together-and-watch show.
Finally (finally!) available on Netflix, this beloved 2010s comedy about a group of students at a community college is one of the best shows to binge-watch. Six hilarious seasons of smart gags, witty humor, and more will keep you entertained for days. It may even inspire a few indoor, at-home activities: blanket fort, anyone?
21. Parks and Recreation
This summer, indulge in a little political satire: This heart-warming comedy follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a well-meaning bureaucrat striving to change the world, one public park at a time. The cast is full of quirky personalities to love and keep watching through all seven seasons. If you caught the fundraising special in April for Feeding America, now may be the time to catch up on the series that started it all.
22. Stranger Things
One of the top shows on Netflix since its launch, Stranger Things is now on its third season. The nostalgia supernatural drama follows a crew of adorable, slightly nerdy pre-teens as they navigate the horrors of their unassuming 1980s Indiana hometown. The latest season takes place in the summer, too, so you can get all the sun-bathing, bike-riding, summer vibes you crave, even if some of your favorite summer activities are off-limits this year.
23. Jane the Virgin
Inspired by a telenovela, this melodramatic comedy follows a young woman as she is accidentally artificially inseminated, gets caught in a love triangle, builds a dream career, and more. This series—and its more than 100 episodes—is totally feel-good and charming, with enough cliff-hangers and drama to keep you hooked.
Getting hooked on this dark take on the Archie comics is easy: The first season has enough surprises from its familiar high-school characters to pull you in, and the next few seasons will keep you watching as the show gets darker and darker. Even if the plot gets a little confusing, the good-looking cast and melodrama will keep any casual binge-watcher satisfied. Now that Season 4 is available on Netflix, too, you can use July to catch up on this must-watch series.
25. The Society
The Society follows the teenaged residents of a wealthy New England town, who, returning from a school field trip, discover that everyone else—adults and children alike—have disappeared. The teens work to establish order, maintain some semblance of society, and survive in their new reality. Predictably, strong Lord of the Flies vibes overtake the community, but that’s where the predictability ends.
26. New Girl
This playful, upbeat comedy, which follows the titular girl as she moves in with three quirky men, has good moods to spare,. Seven seasons of shenanigans will keep you entertained for hours—a close-to-perfect way to spend your time indoors, if you ask us.