This year, May might not be the month of outdoor weekends and cookouts we hoped for, but you can still make the most of your time indoors this month—and these top shows on Netflix can help.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated May 05, 2020
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As quarantines and lockdowns stretch on into May, you may feel like you’ve already seen the best shows on Netflix and are scrambling to figure out what to watch during self-isolation. Never fear: Netflix is home to more good shows and gripping characters than you may realize, as long as you’re willing to go a little outside your comfort zone. (Netflix Korean dramas, anyone?)

You may have abandoned binge-worthy Netflix shows in favor of the many movies Netflix has to offer, but once you’ve gotten your fill of the best romantic movies on Netflix and all the other films, there are still plenty of great shows waiting for you—many of which you maybe haven’t seen yet. (And if you have, a re-watch never hurt anyone.)

The best shows on Netflix range from cheesy, saccharine dramas to action-packed, crime-solving series: Whatever your taste (or the tastes of your quarantine buddies), there’s sure to be something worth watching. Even better, there’s sure to be something that absolutely grips you and pulls you into a good show you can watch for hours on end. (Ideally, the best series on Netflix right now last longer than just a few episodes, so you can make the entertainment and distraction last.)

We’ve pulled out some of the most entertaining, most binge-worthy TV shows currently on Netflix. Whatever sort of show you’re seeking, there’s sure to be something to entertain you, at least until another great series on Netflix grabs your attention. And if there are absolutely no shows on Netflix you find interesting, you may need to make a few Netflix suggestions.

The best shows on Netflix in May

1. Outer Banks

It may only be one season long (for now), but this fresh Netflix Original Series is supremely bingeable. It’s been in the top-10 ranking of the most popular movies and shows on Netflix (according to Netflix) since its mid-April 2020 release 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.

 2. Schitt’s Creek

A heartfelt riches-to-rags story, this comedy follows the Rose family as they’re forced out of their lives of the rich and famous and into a middle-of-nowhere (and unfortunately named) town filled with unusual characters. They try to rebuild their old lives and find themselves building new ones instead, with mixed results.

3. Grey’s Anatomy

A whopping 15 seasons makes this one of the best binge-watching shows on Netflix right now. Come for the medical drama, stay for the romantic tension and rotating cast of characters who grow and change a lot over the years of the show.

4. The Politician

 Witty, wry, and incredibly cast, this tale of a boy in pursuit of his senior class presidency (and then 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. And, if you struggle to keep your attention on any one thing, the relatively short eight episodes mean it’s a relatively brief commitment.

 5. Black Mirror

 Turn to this atypical Netflix Original Series for some serious psychological horror. It only has 22 episodes, but each is essentially a standalone movie, with most episodes ranging from 45 minutes to more than an hour in length. Binge-watching more than a few episodes in a few might darken your mood considerably, but you’ll be thinking about each one for a long time to come. 

6. Peaky Blinders

A historical show set in 1920s England, this series follows a gang boss and his family as they fight (with outsiders and each other) across five seasons of dark, gritty drama. It’s on the violent side, so weak stomachs will want to skip it, but anyone who does watch will be rewarded with a new favorite show—or at least a highly entertaining binge-watch.

7. Supergirl

Following Superman’s well-meaning cousin, this show (with four seasons currently available on Netflix) is the story of how the beloved Supergirl becomes her own hero. 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.

 8. Ozark

Season three of this top Netflix Original Series is finally out (as of last week), making this show officially bingeable. It follows a financial adviser turned money-launderer who is forced to pack up his family and move to the Ozarks, 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.

 9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This top TV series (and Netflix Original) makes light of a dark premise: The titular Kimmy has been locked in a doomsday shelter for years with a madman prepper. Set free, she explores the world with irrepressible (and hilarious) glee. If you’re feeling stir crazy, you can watch her experiencing the world outside her quarantine space as preparation for your own antics once social distancing and lockdowns end.

 10. Riverdale

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.

 11. The Office

Rumor has it that this beloved comedy series will be leaving Netflix in 2021: With that in mind, if you haven’t watched it yet, now’s the time to get started on the nine-season binge-watch. One of the most loved shows on Netflix right now, you’ll be glad to be in on the jokes at last.

12. The Crown

With the release of season three, The Crown—one of the top Netflix Original Series—is officially binge-worthy for those who think the best shows on Netflix are the long-running ones. Follow 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 four.

13. Grace and Frankie

Two men of a certain age fall in love—with each other. Their respective wives, looking forward to the long years of retirement, find themselves thrown together unexpectedly: Their unlikely friendship and buddy comedy–esque shenanigans keep this adored show upbeat and fun to watch through all five seasons.

 14. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

 Part three of this Netflix Original Series arrived on Netflix just a few months ago, making this spooky show officially binge-worthy. Led by Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka and with plenty of witchy magic, gore, and horror, this isn’t the Sabrina you may recall—but it’s still a worthy watch, especially if you’re open to a little bewitching.

15. Community

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. With six hilarious seasons (with the first few being the best, of course), smart gags, witty humor, and more, it’ll keep you entertained for days. It may even inspire a few indoor activities: blanket fort, anyone?

16. Shameless

For a different kind of family drama, turn to this long-running dark comedy, which follows the perennially down-on-their-luck Gallagher family. Independent of their alcoholic father and absent mother, the clan of equally dysfunctional siblings always seems to make it through whatever trouble they’re facing—sometimes it just takes a little law-breaking first.

17. Outlander

 Based on a beloved, thoroughly researched book series that blends romance and historical action with just a hint of supernatural intrigue, this beautifully crafted TV series is officially binge-worthy, thanks to the December arrival of season 3. The premise is deceptively simple: A 20th-century Englishwoman is magically transported to 1700s Scotland. Her fight to survive her new, dangerous surroundings puts her in the path of a striking young Scot, and the series follows their unpredictable life together.

18. Breaking Bad

 This award-winning series is available in its entirety—all five seasons—for your viewing pleasure on Netflix. The basic plot follows a science teacher who becomes a drug producer and dealer: Predictably, things don’t go as planned.

19. The Originals

For fans of The Vampire Diaries—or just fans of New Orleans—this spin-off follows an ancient family of vampires making their way (and rebuilding their empire) in The Big Easy. Expect supernatural intrigue, family drama, and romance over the five seasons of this easy watch.

20. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Filled with original songs, mistakes made in the name of love, and plenty of subtle (and not so subtle) cultural critiques, this funny series follows a lovestruck lawyer chasing after an ex-boyfriend. Her move across the country may seem like a nervous break, but in fact, it’s a fresh start for her, and the show’s four seasons explore mental illness, true friendships, healthy relationships, and more with its own brand of humor.

21. Lucifer

For a bit of suave, dark humor, turn to Lucifer, which follows the fallen angel as he starts fresh in L.A. The devil himself becomes a consultant for the police, and the balance of good-vs.-evil morality concerns and procedural drama (plus a little romantic tension for good measure) will keep you hooked through all four available seasons.

22. The Good Place

What happens after you die? In this show, you have two options: the Good Place or the Bad Place. The first season follows a group who has landed in the Good Place, but it’s not what it seems—and plenty of twists and turns keep the show engaging through the next couple seasons. Filled with humor, good intentions, an irresistible cast, and an unexpected series of philosophical lessons and questions, this thoughtful, sharp top show on Netflix is sweet (and even educational) from the first episode.

23. American Horror Story

What better way to break up quarantine gloom than with a collection of horror stories? Each season follows a new plot and set of characters, so watching the eight currently available seasons of this series is like watching eight terrifying, lengthy movies—the perfect alternative if you’re striking a gloomier note this May.

24. New Girl

For a good show on Netflix that will put you in a good mood with every episode, turn to this playful, upbeat comedy, which follows the titular girl as she moves in with three quirky men. Their seven seasons of shenanigans will keep you entertained for hours—a close-to-perfect way to spend your time indoors, if you ask us.

25. 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. As one of the first breakout hits for Netflix’s original programming, this show is sure to fill many an hour whenever you watch it—and you’re to see more than a few now-familiar faces.

26. The Vampire Diaries

Picture your typical high school drama series, then add vampires, werewolves, witches, and more, and you have The Vampire Diaries, which offers teen romance and supernatural horror in equal measure.

27. Parks and Recreation

Escape real-world political drama with a little political satire: This heart-warming comedy follows a well-meaning government employee striving to change the world, one public park at a time. Played by Amy Poehler, Leslie Knope is the lead character you’ll be rooting for from the start, though the entire cast is full of funny, quirky personalities to love and keep watching through all seven seasons. If you caught the fundraising Parks and Recreation special that aired in April to support Feeding America, now may be the time to catch up on the series that started it all.

28. How to Get Away with Murder

More cautionary tale than how-to guide, this addictive series follows a powerful lawyer and law professor 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 five seasons of this series currently on Netflix keep viewers guessing.

29. 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. Her traditional Latina mother (played by Rita Moreno) takes a starring role as 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.