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While Netflix has lost a lot of its “good” mainstream content over the years, one reason why I stay subscribed is Netflix’s willingness to produce niche content that broadcast and cable networks would never touch—even if Netflix’s attempts do flop at times (cough Bright cough).
As a geek, that’s something I can appreciate. Here are some of the best TV dramas and comedies—but mostly dramas—available on Netflix that nerds and geeks will probably like. I won’t be touching anime, documentaries, or non-fiction shows, which deserve their own articles.
1. Black Mirror
What’s nerdy about Black Mirror? It’s like The Twilight Zone where every episode explores the dangers of technology abused. While Black Mirror is known best for its creative and horrific twists, I love it because it’s one of the few TV series that stay true to the original conceit behind science fiction—to look forward and offer commentary on where we might be headed if we go down certain roads with regard to technology.
What’s nerdy about Dark? Time travel. This German-produced show is a diamond in the rough, given that most TV series that use time travel as a plot device often fall apart or fail to do anything new with the idea. Dark, on the other hand, is a wholly unique experience. There are some unfamiliar elements in the time travel itself, but it’s all wrapped up in a slow-burn mystery that’s as true to its name as any.
3. Altered Carbon
What’s nerdy about Altered Carbon? Cyberpunk mystery. Based on a 2002 novel by the same name, Altered Carbon is a futuristic detective mystery story girded in soft sci-fi concepts and incredible visuals. It’s one of the coolest looking sci-fi TV series I’ve seen, and even though it does stumble a bit in the later episodes, it’s a must-watch for cyberpunk fans.
What’s nerdy about Kingdom? Medieval zombies. In my review of Kingdom’s first season, I lamented how zombies are so overdone and unoriginal, then praised this TV series for renewing my interest in zombie shows. It’s more the setting of medieval Korea and the political intrigue that interests me, but the zombies in this show do have something unique about them—and they’re terrifying. If you used to like zombies but gave up on them somewhere along the way, you ought to give Kingdom a try!
5. The Office
What’s nerdy about The Office? White collar office work. Is there any other TV show that so perfectly captures the mundanity of working in an office and the shenanigans that arise from that boredom? The IT Crowd perhaps, which is mentioned below, and maybe Better Off Ted, which isn’t on Netflix. But seriously, if you consider yourself a nerd and haven’t seen The Office yet, you really should. It’s a classic!
6. The IT Crowd
What’s nerdy about The IT Crowd? IT hijinks with a British twist. The IT Crowd is like a nerdier, more British version of The Office. It centers on two workers in the IT department of a large corporation and their department manager, with whom they have friction. The show pushes the limits of sitcom absurdity, yet somehow stays grounded anyway. A hilarious must-watch.
7. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
What’s nerdy about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? It ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’re a diehard Marvel fan, you’re probably already watching this show. But if you’re a casual fan of the Marvel films and you recently feel urged to dive in some more—perhaps after watching the cinematic experience known as Avengers: Endgame—then Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may be the fix for you.
8. The 100
What’s nerdy about The 100? Future post-apocalypse where humans are settling back on Earth after having spent some time in space. The 100 airs on The CW, a network whose shows are primarily geared toward teens and young adults, so don’t expect production value or acting quality on par with, say, Game of Thrones. But the story is interesting, especially starting in the second season when things really ramp up.
9. The Tomorrow People
What’s nerdy about The Tomorrow People? Evolved humans with superpowers. Like The 100, The Tomorrow People aired on The CW, and it shows. Unfortunately it was cancelled after one season, but that 22-episode season can be watched on Netflix, and it’s not terrible. It deals with people known as Homo superior—evolved humans—who have psionic powers of telepathy, teleportation, telehypnosis, and telekinesis.
Watch The Tomorrow People on Netflix [no longer available]
10. The Umbrella Academy
What’s nerdy about The Umbrella Academy? A group of adoptive siblings who have superpowers, with a healthy dose of dysfunction thrown in. The main cake of The Umbrella Academy is family drama; the fictional superpowers are just icing to get you interested. The acting may leave you wanting, but the story is imaginative, and the direction is stylish. It’s very much a genre show, and an entertaining one at that.