Ring in the end of summer with these binge-worthy TV shows.

By Hana Hong
August 02, 2021
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We're deep into the dog days of summer, and the new Netflix releases this season do not disappoint. Whether you're trying to escape the pandemic and/or the sweltering heat, there's nothing wrong with spending the entire day indoors watching the best shows on Netflix and enjoying all the best Netflix summer movies.

When deciding what to watch on Netflix, you need to figure out what you're looking for. A great TV show that you can't look away from is very different from 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 or Korean dramas, you want something that will challenge and teach you in equal measure.

Hopefully you'll be able to get outside and do a few fun summer activities this August, but there are plenty of shows on Netflix to watch when you're stuck at home. Consider leaving your Netflix comfort zone and try one of these top shows on Netflix right now that you haven't watched or heard much about yet. You might just learn something and find a new and engaging way to spend the end of summer.

The best shows on Netflix in August

1. The Chair

Sandra Oh fans will be ecstatic to know that the Emmy-winning actor is starring in a new series coming to Netflix August 20. Her character Ji-Yoon is the new Chair of the English department at prestigious Pembroke University, but the promotion isn't as dandy as it seems. As the first woman to chair the department, and one of the few staff members of color at the university, she's faced with an absolute PR nightmare—a fellow professor has been accused of improper behavior with a student, and based on the trailer, he may be romantically involved with Ji-Yoon herself.  

2. Cooking with Paris

Love her or hate her, you can't help but be a liiittle intrigued at the idea of Paris Hilton hosting a cooking show. That's right—Paris is making her reality television comeback, this time as a chef (sort of). Netflix has put out a disclaimer that she's not a legit trained chef nor is she trying to be, but with the help of her celebrity friends, she will navigate new ingredients, new recipes, and exotic kitchen appliances in her quest to become a better cook.

3. ??Top Secrets UFO Projects: Declassified

If you're not a believer in aliens, you just may be after watching this documentary dedicated to uncovering extraterrestrial life. Though claims of alien encounters have long been dismissed, Netflix's movie to be released on August 3 will explore the idea that aliens exist among us and that this knowledge has been covered up by the government for years. Conspiracy theorists, get ready to go down a rabbit hole (black hole?) of a lifetime.

4. ??Virgin River

With the small-town intrigue of Gilmore Girls, the medical mystery of Grey's Anatomy, and the romantic tension of all your favorite banter-filled rom-coms, this series is perfectly formulated to be binge-worthy. Even better, it takes place in a wintry northern California town—and season three is newly released, so there's even more to enjoy, especially if you're seeking an easy show to watch.

5. Manifest

The NBC mystery series, which follows a group of passengers on a flight that suddenly reappears after being presumed dead for five years, has made a huge splash on social media and sailed high in the Top 10 on Netflix for several weeks. A lot can happen in five years, which means most of their spouses have moved on, kids have grown up, and parents have passed away, making their reunion into society more unimaginably difficult. To make matters worse, the passengers begin to experience voices and visions representing events yet to occur, sending them down a bumpy moral road that they can only navigate together.

6. Never Have I Ever

The second season of Netflix's quirky coming-of-age drama is finally here. If you're not familiar with the first season, the story takes the viewpoint of Devi, a first-generation, Indian-American teen growing up in Southern California. As Devi tries to navigate high school, a juicy love triangle that rivals the renowned Edward vs. Jacob battle, and friendships with her two BFFs, she also has to grapple with the loss of her father and pitfalls of high school hierarchy.

7. Sexy Beasts

In a traditional dating scene, most people would want to look their best when meeting their date for the first time. Netflix reality dating show Love is Blind challenged the notion of love at first sight by never letting the contestants see each other at all before getting engaged. This wacky new dating show decided to take that one step further by transforming all the daters into animals and other creatures through the use of advanced prosthetics. After the featured dater makes his or her selection, the costumes are finally removed, which is when they get to see if the person's real looks align with their taste in personality.

8. Black Summer

If you're looking for the next good zombie show in an oversaturated market, Black Summer won't disappoint. The structure is a bit atypical in that it shows disjointed, out-of-order timeline vignettes that eventually come together into a cohesive storyline. It features a whole lot of interesting characters, but fair warning that you really shouldn't get too attached to any of them.

9. Sex Life

Sex Life has been generating plenty of buzz—and let's just say it's not for the stellar scriptwriting. A new Netflix show that's as steamy as the temperature outside, it follows a suburban stay-at-home mother who starts to yearn for the wild, sex-filled party days of her youth. When she starts daydreaming about her time with bad boy record exec Brad, she starts writing, erm, stories about her experiences on her laptop. When her husband finds her fantasy writing, instead of getting angry, he decides to use it as an instruction manual to spice up their sex life. As you've probably guessed, it's rated R, so maybe don't watch it in the living room in the middle of the day.

10. The Walking Dead

Like its titular zombies, this dark series may never die. Season 10 is newly released on Netflix, as well as its nine seasons that are all currently ready to be binged. Serving up horror, tears, laughs, and more with each episode, the show follows a group of survivors fighting their way through the treacherous, zombie-infested remains of what was once the United States.

11. Outer Banks

Season 2 of Outer Banks is finally here: 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.

12. Sweet Tooth

This new fantasy series based on the DC Comic is a fantastical series set in a post-apocalyptic fairytale world where "nature made everyone sick." That first part sounds all too familiar, but that's where the relatability ends: This pandemic led to the mysterious emergence of hybrid babies born part human, part animal. Unsure if hybrids are the cause or result of the virus, many humans fear and hunt them, making post-pandemic life for these kids a whole lot harder. 

13. Who Killed Sara?

Since its release in March 2021, the Spanish series has apparently become the most popular non-English language show the streaming giant has ever seen. The million dollar question: who killed Sara? Alex (Manolo Cardona), a man convicted of a crime he did not commit, wants to know, especially considering that Sara is his sister and he was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years for her murder.

14. Too Hot to Handle

You might be a bit skeptical of this one based on the trailer (so were we), but turns out that watching a bunch of hot people try to handle their libidos is more entertaining than expected. The steamy reality show revolves around 10 extremely attractive singles who have to live together, but with one caveat: a $100,000 celibacy challenge, with any violations docking the prize money.

15. Black Mirror

Turn to this atypical Netflix Original Series for some serious psychological horror. It only has 22 episodes (plus the Bandersnatch interactive film), but each is essentially a standalone movie, with most episodes ranging from 45 minutes to more than an hour in length. Reality is frighteningly similar to the scenarios presented in this dark, twisted show right now, which makes this the perfect binge-watch if you want to lean into psychological terror.

16. Kim's Convenience

Looking to expand your Asian culture awareness past AAPI month? Try Kim's Convenience, a funny, heart-filled sitcom that depicts the Korean-Canadian Kim family that runs a convenience store in Toronto. The show is decorated with awards and it's not hard to see why: From Mr. and Mrs. Kim (stern but well-meaning parents) to Janet and Jung (their Korean-Canadian kids trying to balance the two cultures), it's impossible not to root for the genuine, lovable characters.

17. 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. 

18. 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).

19. 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 black face 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 harmful stereotypes they hold.

20. 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.

21. 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 Queen Charlotte spinoff and April 2 announcement that Regé-Jean Page—the charming Duke of Hastings—will not appear in the coming second season, there's yet more reasons to devour season one.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. Stranger Things

One of the top shows on Netflix since its launch, Stranger Things is now on its third season, with the fourth to come eventually (date TBA). It follows a crew of adorable, slightly nerdy pre-teens as they face unexpected supernatural activity in their unassuming hometown: With nostalgia, mystery, horror, and strong friendships, it's got something for everyone.

28. 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.

29. 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.

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