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Globe and Mail TV critic John Doyle picks the best dramas, comedies and other gems of the past year to cozy up with on streaming services

Table of Contents

Read more of The Globe’s guides to living well, from travel advice to how to sleep better

Serious dramas (from thrillers to sci-fi to westerns)

JoJo Whilden

Seven Seconds is a grim, gripping, crime drama

A first-rate thriller that culminates in courtroom drama, Seven Seconds on Netflix, from The Killing’s Veena Sud, offers an incisive and entertaining perspective on issues of race, class and community

Michele K. Short / Netflix/Netflix

Maniac is humane, surreal and highly recommended

An often psychotropic, humorous and reckless trip into the tumult, wonder, beauty and terrors of modern life, Maniac is the most genuinely ambitious Netflix production in ages

Aimee Spinks / Netflix

The Innocents is a beautifully made drama about star-crossed lovers

Netflix’s feverish interest in youth is more than a marketing ploy as shows like The Innocents are, under the surface, all about female independence, autonomy and losing control


Sacred Games is a brilliant thriller series from India

The eight-part crime drama Sacred Games, based on the acclaimed novel by Vikram Chandra, is another Netflix winner

Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix

A good dose of British drama and daftness

Netflix offers political thrills in Collateral, gothic chills with Requiem and a healthy helping of scatological laughs from across the pond in Greg Davies: You Magnificent Beast

David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Jessica Jones is still a fierce feminist thriller

The second season of Jessica Jones arrived on Netflix with a heft of meaning it didn’t have when the first season premiered in November of 2015

Carlos Somonte/Netflix

We know how Narcos: Mexico will end. That’s part of what makes it so good

The Netflix series Narcos: Mexico returns to its first-season heights with a magnificent, terrifying entry tracing the rise of drug lord Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo

Sophie Mutevelian/World Productions/Netflix

Bodyguard is a bloody great British thriller

When it aired in Britain in late summer it brought the BBC its biggest audience in 10 years. Now Bodyguard is on Netflix and it’s brilliant from the get-go

Ursula Coyote/Handout

Godless is a brave but slow-moving western

The six-part drama Godless on Netflix is a distinctly serious twist on the genre, moving slowly to balance action and character development

Hilary B Gayle/The Associated Press

Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts: Come for the movie star, stay for the paranoid thrills

While Julia Roberts plays the leading role in Homecoming from Amazon Prime Video, as a counsellor for returning soldiers at a sinister facility, the show is not all about her character

Jessica Forde/Amazon

Patriot is an unheralded gem of a mad, melancholy spy drama

The influence of the Coen brothers is obvious, but not overriding, in the off-kilter Patriot on Amazon Prime Video

True crime


The Staircase, the Citizen Kane of true-crime documentaries, comes to Canada at last

After making its debut in 2004 The Staircase long eluded Canadian viewers, but it arrived on Netflix with updated material


Cara Howe/Netflix/Netflix

Michelle Wolf’s new comedy show is low-key, absurdist – and wickedly entertaining

The point of The Break with Michelle Wolf on Netflix is to offer a break from the usual with more laid-back, low-key, absurdist feminist humour

Mike Yarish/Netflix

The Kominsky Method is wry, dry and recommended

The heartfelt Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, deals with the consolations and tortures of getting older

Far-out comedy

The End of the F***ing World: U.K.'s strange, terrifying and touching export

The bleak British comedy The End of the F***ing World on Netflix is about tremendously troubled teens forming a twisted – but maybe meaningful – bond

Ray Burmiston

Ricky Gervais’s Humanity puts his incendiary indignation in the spotlight

In the comedian’s first stand-up special in seven years, Humanity on Netflix, he asserts ‘I don’t care about the backlash’ – but clearly, he does

Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia is uniquely, fiercely funny-logical

We get to see the Daily Show host in a different context on Netflix special Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia – as expert storyteller, accent master and perceptive observer

Music with a dash of comedy

David Moir

Fred Armisen takes us on a surreal journey into the world of drummers

Fred Armisen: Standup For Drummers on Netflix is not your usual stand-up comedy special on Netflix, and it’s more charming than expected

Foreign-language gems


Call My Agent! is a captivating series about showbiz strangeness

French-language series Call My Agent! on Netflix makes the professional and personal lives of agents the focus of humour that is gentle, yet astringent


Three off the radar and excellent foreign dramas

Spanish drama Money Heist, The Mechanism from Brazil and Belgian crime drama The Break draw on familiar themes but with a twist

Politically relevant documentary


Gripping stories of financial corruption in Dirty Money, including Trump’s

Netflix documentary series Dirty Money focuses on industry captains who turn out to be self-absorbed egoists ready to bend the law

Superior reality TV and docu-series


Dogs is a must-see masterpiece about our canine companions and us

This six-part docu-series Dogs on Netflix transcends the genre of merely uplifting animal stories to stand as a complex portrait of families and individuals as we live now

Courtesy of Netflix

Many lessons to be learned in new episodes of Queer Eye

This is way more than a makeover show. Queer Eye on Netflix is back in a new iteration and is, shockingly, as important as ever


Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is lovely, pure, unfussy nourishment

The cooking show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix is an easygoing and down-to-earth series hosted by New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat, based on her award-winning cookbook of the same name