These top binge-worthy shows will get you through any rainy days or final cold snaps.

By Hana Hong
April 30, 2021
best-shows-on-netflix-may-2021: Ginny and Georgia

May usually feels like a month of transition (from winter to spring, from rain to sunshine), but this year feels especially full of change and shifts as more and more people across the U.S. are vaccinated against COVID-19, and regions begin or continue reopening and gradually returning to normal. If you've spent the last year or last few months inside, avoiding other people and the cold alike, you're likely more than ready to venture outdoors again—but for those days when you can't or don't want to head out, there are always shows on Netflix to keep you occupied.

Somehow, despite all the binge-watching you've likely done all pandemic long, there are still new-to-you shows on Netflix just waiting to be discovered and devoured. Plus, Netflix has continued to produce new shows even with the challenges the pandemic has posed, so there are constantly brand-new shows, series, and movies to enjoy (great news for anyone who really feels like they've seen all the good shows on Netflix).

For your viewing pleasure, we've rounded up some of the best shows to watch on Netflix this month, whether you're ready to head back out into the world or not. Between shows like Bridgerton, action series that will get your heart racing, and good shows that are just pure entertainment, there's bound to be something that catches your eye and holds your binge-watching attention for a few hours, at least.

The best shows on Netflix in May

1. Ginny and Georgia

Ginny and Georgia are two women who you would never peg as having the same Myers Briggs personality type, but after moving to small-town Wellsbury, Mass., they find out that they're more alike than they originally imagined. Their double lives are filled with sex scandals, petty social cliques, and murder. In short, it's the perfect mix of Gilmore Girls wholesomeness sprinkled with a dark, criminal undertone. 

2. The Baker and the Beauty

This Top 10 Netflix show has all the fixings for a good rom-com: conflicting lifestyles (famous/royal person falls in love with normal/commoner), prying family members, and of course, jealous exes. The 9 drama-filled episodes follow Daniel, a commitment-shy baker, who fosters an unlikely and secret romance with a famous supermodel.

3. Shadow and Bone

If you're missing Game of Thrones, Netflix's newest fantasy show is right up your alley. Shadow and Bone takes place in a country split by a wall of darkness called the Shadow Void. When orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov discovers that she possesses the power to create light, she realizes she could be the key to setting her country free from the Fold.

4. The Irregulars

Between the rugged Victorian backdrop, the hints of the paranormal, and the rather ominous Dr. Watson (yes, that Watson, with a new take on Sherlock Holmes in tow), there's a lot happening in this brand-new Netflix show, but the focus is on Bea and her makeshift family, who are just trying to make it through the day—even as Jessie slowly develops her own mysterious powers. Blending some of the teen drama of Outer Banks, the mystery and danger of any Sherlock Holmes story, and a historical setting reminiscent of Bridgerton (if a bit darker), this series is practically guaranteed to be a hit (and it's a great binge-watch, either way).

5. Bridgerton

There's a tiny, itty-bitty chance you missed the launch of this long-anticipated TV series (and Netflix Original) from Shonda Rhimes's production company on Christmas Day. If you've managed to wait to watch the show (and not bought into the hype online), resist no further: Bridgerton is a must-watch. The series follows London's elite in the early 19th century as they seek love and marriage (not always together), political alliances, and gossip during the glittering social season. Think of it as an indulgent, escapist blend of Gossip Girl and Pride & Prejudice with something to appeal to everyone—and a delightful reimagining of how people of color operate in the era. With only eight episodes and plenty of cliff-hangers and drama to keep you hooked, you'll tear through the show in a matter of days. And with the April 2 announcement that Regé-Jean Page—the charming Duke of Hastings—will not appear in the coming second season, there's yet another reason to devour season one.

6. New Girl

For a good show on Netflix that will put you in a great 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.

7. Outer Banks

It may only be one season long (for now—fingers crossed season two arrives ASAP), but this fresh Netflix Original Series is supremely bingeable. It was in the top-10 ranking of the most popular movies and shows on Netflix (according to Netflix) for weeks after its 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 warm-weather vibes will.

8. The Circle

As if social media isn't stressful enough, let's put $100,000 on the line. In The Circle, contestants are isolated in their own apartments, and can only communicate to the other contestants via a social media app. Everyone is periodically asked to rate their fellow contestants, with top vote-getters becoming "Influencers" and the low-rankers being eliminated (and the most popular contestant winning the cash prize). But here's the catch: People can choose to be whoever they want to be in the competition, meaning that sweet "girl-next-door" you've been flirting with might be a middle-aged man. Hey, with all the catfishing and fake identities adopted on the web, it's really not that far of a stretch from reality.

9. Good Girls

Come for the big-name stars—Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as the titular good girls—and stay for the drama, action, and comedy, which seem to come in equal measure through all three seasons currently available on Netflix. 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.

10. The Great British Baking Show

The reality television show for people who don't like reality television, this charming, heartfelt, sweet-in-more-than-one-way series follows a group of amateur bakers eager to prove themselves. Each season—there are eight currently available, plus the spin-off series on Netflix—stars a new cast of chipper, enthusiastic bakers, gorgeous challenges, and funny hosts. Start one episode, and you'll be hooked (and ready to test your own baking chops) before the show-stopper round.

11. 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. 

12. Quantico

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, you'll be even more invested.

13. Community

This beloved 2010s comedy about a group of students at a community college is one of the best TV shows to binge-watch. With six hilarious seasons (and 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, at-home activities: blanket fort, anyone?

14. 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 supremely binge-worthy (particularly if you can't get enough of Bridgerton). 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 adventurous life together across centuries and countries.

15. 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. Now that the newest season, season 4, is now available on Netflix, too, you can get all caught up on this must-watch series as season 5 gets rolling. The first episode of the new season aired in January, so if you plan to catch up, now's the time.

16. 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 every episode. The first half of season five was released at the end of August, so there's even more of this good show on Netflix to enjoy—and time to prepare for the arrival of the rest of season five sometime this year.

17. Shameless

For a different kind of family drama, turn to this long-running dark comedy, which follows the perennially down-on-their-luck Gallaghers. 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. With season 10 now available on Netflix, there's new Shameless to watch for everyone, even those who have seen every episode available to stream.

18. 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.

19. The Queen's Gambit

Though it's lamentably not based on a true story, this tale of a chess prodigy is enthralling and stunning all at once. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy—if you saw Emma, you'll recognize her—as a Kentucky girl with a rare talent, the seven-episode series follows her journey through the world of competitive chess as she faces heartbreak, loss, and her own struggle with addiction. Fair warning: You'll be itching to pull out the chess board by the time you finish.

20. 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 microaggressions 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 biases and any harmful stereotypes they hold.

21. Dawson's Creek

Packed with top names of the early 2000s and now—think James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Busy Philipps, to name a few—this soapy drama follows a group of teens exploring love, sex, adolescence, and more in a small town. While its subject matter may have been scandalous for 1998 (when the show premiered), fans of Gossip Girl or Riverdale might find it a little tame—but still supremely fun to watch and bingeable. Brand new to Netflix for the first time in the U.S. last November, this six-season series is a great distracting pick for this month's viewing.

22. The Good Place

What happens after you die? In this show, there are 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. Now that the fourth and final season is on Netflix, you can really get the full Good Place experience.

23. Schitt's Creek

A heartfelt (and now Emmy-winning) 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. Schitt's Creek made history in 2020 by sweeping comedy categories at the Emmys, and the final season (season 6) launched on Netflix last year. If you haven't watched this wonderfully funny show yet, now is the time.