31 Addicting Shows on Netflix to Watch This October
Summer is officially over and fall is underway, but don't worry—it's a season that promises both spooky titles and critically acclaimed releases. Indulging in hours-long binge-watching of the best shows on Netflix (especially when it's cold outside) is practically a national pastime. They can keep you entertained—and at home, socially distanced—until it's time to start watching Christmas movies on Netflix.
The streaming service is home to plenty of other things to watch—we've got lists of the best Halloween movies on Netflix if you're craving a good scare, best romantic movies on Netflix if you're in a lovesick mood, Black history movies on Netflix if you want to educate yourself, plus kids' movies on Netflix for the little ones—but movies can only take you so far (and fill so many hours). If you're really looking for an hours-long binge-watch opportunity, turn to one of these Netflix TV shows.
From tearjerker dramas to cult hits to spooky shows to really put you in an autumnal mood, this guide to the best shows to watch on Netflix right now is sure to offer a little inspiration for your October viewing. So grab some apple cider, curl up under a blanket, and settle into fall—here's plenty to keep you entertained all season long.
The best shows on Netflix in October 2021
1. Squid Game
If you're a fan of Hunger Games, Battle Royale, or Belko Experiment-style stories, this Korean series that's been making Netflix history (it's number one in the Top 10) is a must-watch. Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in seemingly innocent games with a tempting prize at the end. Just a couple catches: 1. There's only one winner, and 2. Everyone else dies.
This psychological thriller series dives into the mind of a hopelessly romantic psychopath—two things that really shouldn't mix. Season 3 featuring Joe (Penn Badgley) returns to Netflix October 15, where his extremely toxic and delusional obsessions with women will continue. There is one difference from the previous two seasons, however—this time, he has a kid and an equally psychopathic wife, making his twisted lifestyle much more intriguing.
3. Midnight Mass
Horror fans get psyched—this new series directed by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep) is perfect for your Halloween binge-watching. When the arrival of a charismatic priest brings mysterious miracles to an isolated island community, things seem too good to be true. And if you know anything about horror shows and/or Mike Flanagan, if something is too good to be true, it definitely is. Long story short, the newly religious residents soon learn that these miracles come at a price.
4. Pretty Smart
Emily Osment is back doing what she does best in another sitcom coming to Netflix October 8. She stars as a recently dumped, self-proclaimed brainiac who is forced to move in with her comparably not-very-intellectual sister and three eccentric roommates (one of whom includes a mostly shirtless Greg Sulkin).
5. In the Dark
If you haven't watched the first two seasons of In the Dark, WYD? The show's protagonist is a pessimistic blind woman who mainly drifts through life in a drunken haze. The first two seasons revolve around the murder mystery of one of her closest friends, which in turn leads her to an involvement with one of the biggest drug rings in the biz. Murphy and the gang are back with season 3 on October 14, so make sure to catch up on their illegal activities before then!
6. Sexy Beasts
Get ready for more chaotic weirdness to ensue in season 2, coming to Netflix October 7. 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.
This hilarious comedy-drama will have you both cringing and rolling around on the floor in laughter. The protagonist is an awkward, insecure boy named Otis who is sexually inexperienced and has trouble masturbating, among other things. The fact that his mom is a sex therapist complicates the matter, and things start really escalating when a rebellious girl named Maeve proposes they start a school sex-therapy clinic together.
8. Saved by the Bell
All five seasons of the classic sitcom (before the reboot, that is) is now on Netflix, along with the spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, and the two Saved by the Bell movies, Wedding in Las Vegas and Hawaiian Style. In case you've been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with the series, it revolves around a group of high schoolers struggling with real-life issues like drug use, homelessness, death, and women's rights.
As a mystery lover who prides herself on guessing the ending of murder mysteries, I'll say this: If you say you saw the ending of Clickbait coming, you're a liar. The new limited Netflix series begins with the kidnapping of family man Nick Brewer. But what starts off as an apparent kidnapping case becomes more complicated when videos are released with him holding a series of signs. One says he abuses women and another claims he killed a woman. As his family tries to find the people who kidnapped Nick, they're also forced to contemplate what Nick could have done to prompt this strange hostage situation.
10. 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.
11. The Chair
Ji-Yoon (Emmy winner Sandra Oh) 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.
12. 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 harmful stereotypes they hold.
Looks like the trending hashtag #SaveManifest worked, because Netflix recently renewed the hit NBC mystery series for a fourth and final season. The story, which follows a group of passengers on a flight missing for five years that suddenly reappears, 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 return to 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.
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.
15. ??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 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.
16. ??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 3 is newly released, so there's even more to enjoy, especially if you're seeking an easy show to watch.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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 with your mom.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. Sweet Tooth
This new fantasy series based on the DC Comic is 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.
23. 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.
24. 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 we thought it would be. 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.
25. Black Mirror
Turn to Black Mirror 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, which makes this the perfect binge-watch if you want to lean into psychological terror.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. The Irregulars
Between the rugged Victorian backdrop, the hints of the paranormal, and the rather ominous Dr. Watson (yes, that Watson), there's a lot happening in this new take on the Sherlock Holmes stories. Bea and her makeshift chosen family struggle to deal with the onset of 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).
There's a tiny, itty-bitty chance you missed the launch of this long-anticipated TV series from Shonda Rhimes 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. Eventually there'll be a Queen Charlotte spin-off, but for now you can check out Season 1.
30. 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.
31. 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.