Over 25 Things You HAVE to Watch Before They Leave Netflix

Culture

With the holiday season approaching, and therefore the end of 2020 (at last!), Netflix is beginning to clear their shelves to make room for new series and movies. With just a few weeks left, here are some shows and movies that you have to watch before they're taken off!

TV SHOWS/SERIES

Nurse Jackie (Seasons 1-7)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Netflix Description: A flawed but dedicated ER nurse works in a New York City hospital and relies on pain meds to get through exhausting days in this Emmy-winning show.

This show scored extremely well on Rotten Tomatoes throughout all 7 seasons, which almost NEVER happens. Unlike many shows that progressively get worse and worse, this show sets a high bar for itself from the very start, maintains it, and sometimes exceeds that bar throughout the 80 episodes. The comedic script - coupled with the emotional and sometimes intense moments - accurately depict life as a hectic nurse while staying entertaining. I found myself laughing and crying with Nurse Jackie and always looking forward to the next episode. If you like shows such as The Good Place or New Girl, I highly recommend it!

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 81% Audience: 86%

The Office U.S. (Seasons 1-9)

Genre: Comedy

Netflix Description: This hit comedy chronicles the foibles of disgruntled office workers -- led by deluded boss Michael Scott -- at the Dunder Mifflin paper company.

I know that you’ve heard this more times than you can count, but if you have not watched (or watched recently) The Office, please do so. Your future self will thank you. There IS a reason everyone wants you to watch it - it is one of the comedy shows that make you genuinely laugh out loud and you instantly connect with the characters and bond with them as they grow and navigate their work-life with a quirky and over-the-top boss. I love how unique and realistic each of the characters are and how they interact with each other throughout the episodes.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 81% Audience: 90%

The West Wing (Seasons 1-7)

Genre: Political TV, Drama

Netflix Description: This powerful political epic chronicles the triumphs and travails of White House senior staff under the administration of President Josiah Bartlet.

I had heard of this show from friends and teachers, but never felt obliged to watch it. I’ve tried watching other political television shows like Designated Survivor and Madam Secretary, but they soon become boring and repetitive and I lose interest in record time. But The West Wing expertly balances the political details with a plot that is fast-paced, exciting, and with relatable characters carrying their own down-to-earth problems. Unlike other political TV shows, this one prides itself on its smart writing and avoidance of cliche. The lead screenwriter is the great Aaron Sorkin, also known for The Social Network, Moneyball, and A Few Good Men.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 70% Audience: 72%

Grand Hotel

Genre: Drama

Netflix Description: To learn the truth about his sister's mysterious disappearance, a young man infiltrates a hotel in the guise of a footman and begins an investigation.

This bold and edgy drama is a binge-worthy show full of secrets, scandals, and romance. Similar to a reality show, Grand Hotel does a great job of including plenty of messy drama while still engaging the audience with developing characters they can genuinely become attached to. There is more to this show than just pawns caught in a web of lies.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 74% Audience: 74%

Gossip Girl

Genre: Drama

Netflix Description: A group of hyperprivileged Manhattan private-school kids seem to get away with everything. Except an anonymous blogger is watching their every move.

I imagine nearly everyone has heard of Gossip Girl, but don’t dismiss it simply because of its cheesy title. With Season 1 receiving 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and growing to 100% for Seasons 2 and 4 (there are not enough reviews to calculate Season 3), the show clearly improved over time and built upon the success of its popular and high-rated first season. With 36 award nominations and 21 wins, it is worthy of the praise it received and makes for a great winter-binge show.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 84% Audience: 77%

Fargo

Genre: Drama

Netflix Description: To learn the truth about his sister's mysterious disappearance, a young man infiltrates a hotel in the guise of a footman and begins an investigation.

Unlike so many other shows, the four seasons of Fargo have consistently ranked highly by Rotten Tomatoes: Season 1 : 97%, Season 2 : 100%, Season 3 : 93%, Season 4 : 82%. With a diverse cast, an alluring mystery that changes each season to keep it fresh, and just enough comedic moments to keep it lighthearted, this show is perfect for just about anyone interested in crime or mystery.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 93% Audience: 84%

Waco

Genre: True Crime Drama

Netflix Description: When federal authorities attempt to seize a religious compound, a standoff with its self-proclaimed leader and his followers ensues.

This one is in my top 5 favorites of limited series on Netflix, and I was sad to hear it was slated for removal—but I suppose that’s what “limited series” means. Waco combines my two favorite genres (Drama and True Crime) to create a series based on a hard-to-believe true story of the federal government overtaking a religious compound. Buttressed by a talented cast, it demonstrates how good TV can be: realistic, dramatic, and important. I can guarantee the show will suck you in from the moment you press play to the ending credits.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 70% Audience: 74%

QB1 : Beyond the Lights: Season 2

Genre: Sports Docuseries

Netflix Description: This riveting series follows three-star high school quarterbacks as they play their final season before moving on to Division I college football.

Another one of my favorite genres is sports docuseries, covering the lives of athletes deeply invested in their sport and their intense experiences training, practicing, and competing. QB1 keeps you connected and cheering on these seemingly normal high school seniors playing their last season before they play D1 in college. One of the few docuseries that does not use excessive drama, reenactments, or fake scenarios, QB1 demonstrates that a genuinely good show can be created with real, complex characters overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Friday Night Tykes (Seasons 1-4)

Genre: Sports Docuseries, Competition Reality

Netflix Description: This docuseries dives into the cutthroat world of Texas youth football, where kids face grueling demands and pressure from coaches and parents to win.

This sports docuseries tends toward pumping up the drama and feuds like the infamous Dance Moms. It is a recipe that works, as viewers have been shown to prefer the dramatic performances over their own standard, day-to-day lives. With young football players being pushed to their limits in order to perform at their highest level, Friday Night Tykes can often be infuriating and difficult to watch; but in the end, seeing the little kids’ growing love of the sport can provide a glimmer of hope to the audience.

When Calls the Heart (Seasons 1-5)

Genre: Romance, Family

Netflix Description: Leaving behind her upper-crust city roots, a woman journeys west in the early 1900s to become a teacher in a small Canadian mining community.

All you really need to know about this series is that it was on Hallmark. That explains the majority of the plot. The storyline is family-friendly with just a touch of drama and many uplifting episodes. This series is great to watch together with the family and can keep both adults and teens entertained. Perfect for a winter night, the series is not only inspirational, but it remains realistic and tackles deeper themes and messages.

Haven: Seasons 1-5

Genre: Supernatural, Drama, Thriller

Netflix Description: Residents of Haven, Maine, are plagued by supernatural afflictions. To reveal the truth, FBI agent Audrey Parker must delve into her own strange past.

This series, based on Stephen King’s story “The Colorado Kid,” explores an unfolding mystery when an FBI agent discovers citizens of a town that possess supernatural abilities. If you're not a fan by the end of the third episode, rest assured that the seasons continuously improve, reaching an 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating in Seasons 4 and 5. Viewers fell in love with the show's in-depth backstories and for the characters. It also has a fast-paced plotline to keep the mystery alive as the audience discovers more and more about the town and lead agent Parker herself.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 63% Audience: 88%

MOVIES

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Drama

Netflix Description: A father-son team of small-town coroners performs an autopsy on an unidentified woman with mysterious injuries and a terrifying secret.

When my sister watched this while she was away at school, the first thing out of her mouth when she called me was, “Oh my gosh, have I got the movie for you!” Although the movie can be confusing at times, it stays relatively on track and focused on the plot (an accomplishment that I must say many Netflix movies cannot claim). I was also impressed by the Rotten Tomatoes rating; Netflix crime/mystery movies do not often rank very high among critics, but the movie is well-thought-out and tension continues to rise as the viewer learns more about Jane Doe. For anyone that likes Mystery and Crime, this movie is perfect for a dark and scary night!

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 87% Audience: 70%

Airplane!

Genre: Comedy

Netflix Description: A traumatized former combat pilot is forced to land a passenger plane when food poisoning strikes the crew in this parody of disaster movies.

This drop-dead comedy is perhaps my family’s most talked about comedy. Similar to movies like Christmas Vacation, The Naked Gun and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It was voted “one of the 10 funniest movies ever made” by the American Film Institute and the director trio of Zucker, Zucker, and Abrahams “rose to meteoric fame as their lunatic parody reached cult status” because of the movie’s success. It’s nearly impossible not to love this hilarious—yet relatable—comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 97% Audience: 89%

Spider-Man: Into the spider-Verse

Genre: Action, Adventure

Netflix Description: After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Brooklyn teen Miles Morales gets a crash course in web-slinging from his alternate-dimension counterparts.

I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of superhero movies. I don’t like the three-hour-long adventures that I can’t relate to or feel connected with, but this is one of the few superhero movies that I would be certainly willing to watch again. The art and animation are stunning, the storyline is inspiring and relatable, and the plot is intriguing without drawing out every last plot detail until it’s overused.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 97% Audience: 93%

Definitely, Maybe

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Netflix Description: Interested in knowing how her divorcing parents met, young Maya listens as her dad, Will, recounts his romantic past with three different women.

In my life, I live by three rules: 1) Never turn down a piece of cake, 2) Dance whenever “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” comes on, and, 3) Any movie with Ryan Reynolds is a good movie. This movie solidified my third rule, as Ryan Reynolds stars as a dad who must explain his past love life to his daughter. The movie will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. And it demonstrates Reynold’s unbeatable Rom-Com persona.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 70% Audience: 72%

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Netflix Description: After learning that his ex-girlfriend had an experimental medical procedure to purge all memories of him, a man decides to do the same to her and undergoes the same procedure.

This Sci-Fi drama features Jim Carry in a classic Jim Carrey role and a perfectly-matched Kate Winslett. Filled with quirky humor and an awkward romance, the movie remains relatable and realistic without going overboard on the Sci-Fi aspect. Although this downplayed science fiction film can be disappointing to some viewers who enjoy that genre, it remains an intricate and memorable love story combined with humor and deeper, relatable messages.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 93% Audience: 94%

Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Genre: Entertainment, Drama

Netflix Description: After their parents are tragically killed, three orphans are taken in by the dastardly Count Olaf, who hopes to snatch their inheritance from them.

Although many people consider this movie for young kids, it is in no way a let down for the older set as well. I recently rewatched this series and was amazed at how well it held up, entertaining with a mix of fantasy, comedy, and adventure. In one of the few Jim Carrey roles that don’t set out to simply annoy and frustrate, it’s an enjoyable escape from reality with aesthetically pleasing CGI and green screen backgrounds.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 72% Audience: 63%

The Notebook

Genre: Romance, Drama

Netflix Description: Two young lovers are torn apart by war and class differences in the 1940s in this adaptation of Nicholas Sparks's best-selling novel.

My sister has watched this movie more times than Kim Kardashian checks her Instagram account in a month. Apart from the sappy love story and attractive young couple, The Notebook has a thorough and detailed plot with complex characters and enough drama to last for a week. Although I used to refuse to watch the sappy opera-like movie that I had heard of often, I was pleasantly surprised when my sister forced me to watch it and found out it also had elements of war, obstacles to be overcome, and action (which is more my speed).

Rotten Tomatoes: Audience: 85%

Back to the Future Trilogy

Genre: Sci-Fi, Classic Netflix Description: After he accidentally drives a DeLorean time machine from 1985 to 1955, Marty McFly races the clock to ensure his future parents fall in love.

Great Scott! I was debating whether or not to include this trilogy because if you haven’t seen at least the first one, well, that’s on you. Alas, I decided everyone deserves to know about this adored triplet. Again, I am not usually one for such classics, but this movie has a contemporary feel as if it were produced just yesterday. After winning People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Movie, the 1986 HUGO Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the David Di Donatello Best Foreign Screenplay and Foreign Producer, AND Japan Academy Prize for Outstanding Foreign Language Film, it is clear the movie was a sensational hit worldwide. If you’re looking to get completely immersed in a different world, this is the trilogy for you.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 96% Audience: 94%

Indiana Jones

(Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)

Genre: Adventure, Classic

Netflix Description: When Indiana Jones is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.

I first thought the Indiana Jones movies worked best as a series for 7-year old boys interested in escapes from glittering caves and desert fisticuffs. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time and I actually enjoyed it! There is more to the storyline then some random man going on adventures; the characters are funny, unique, and much more relatable than I would have thought. Similar to superhero movies, although you can’t exactly put yourself in the characters’ shoes, you’re still able to sympathize with them and root for your team.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 95% Audience: 96%

Pride and Prejudice

Genre: Drama, Romance, Classic

Netflix Description: In Jane Austen's tale of 19th-century England, Mrs. Bennet hopes to marry her daughters to prosperous gentlemen, including new arrival Mr. Darcy.

Another film based on a Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice is a romantic drama filled with secrets, lies, and, of course, beautiful early 19th century costumes. Although I tend to dislike such period-pieces, or what some would consider “costume movies,” the plot and intricate characters kept me entertained throughout. Of course, while nothing in my life compares to the social pressures faced by the lead character Elizabeth Bennett, I did feel the pressure from society to watch this movie before it was taken off of Netflix. Watch it now, because you’ll have to read it in college anyway.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 86% Audience: 89%

The Master

Genre: Drama

Netflix Description: A heavy-drinking loner finds some semblance of a family when he stumbles onto the ship of Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic leader of a new "religion."

Starring Joaquin Phoenix of Joker fame, the serious and intense themes of The Master provide viewers with a realistic look at a troubled veteran struggling with PTSD from his early life experiences and his service in World War II. When he meets a leader of a religious movement, he becomes devoted and encounters his own highs and lows of living a life within the constraints of a cult-like organization. A deep and thought-provoking film, it keeps your attention wrapped until the very end. Phoenix’s performance, together with other well-known actors, will have you devoted and concerned for the veteran as he manages his shifting life.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 84% Audience: 61%

A Serious Man

Genre: Comedy, Social Issues Drama

Netflix Description: With every aspect of his life unraveling, a Jewish physics professor seeks out three rabbis for spiritual guidance.

I was incredibly surprised with just how moving and inspiring this movie was, despite never having heard of it and never seeing it advertised on Netflix. After scrolling down and into the depths of Netflix, I discovered this hidden gem that maybe wasn’t so hidden to Rotten Tomatoes critics. With its dark humor contrasted against the devastating life of its protagonist Jewish professor, the movie nicely balances humor with seriousness and laughs with tears.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 89% Audience: 68%

Dallas Buyers Club

Genre: Social Issues Drama

Netflix Description: Refusing to accept a death sentence from his doctor after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, Ron Woodroof smuggles medications from abroad.

Starring a stellar cast composed of Matthew MaConaughey, Jennifer Garner, and Jared Leto, this popular film instantly rose to the top of many’s “favorite movie” lists. Winning 2 Golden Globes, 6 Nominations, and 3 Wins at the 2014 Academy Awards, and 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards. The National Board of Review named the film one of the top independent films of 2013. This is a powerful film and I gladly register my kudos alongside the world-renowned critics; I love it.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 93% Audience: 91%

Swiss Army Man

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Netflix Description: A washed-up corpse with surprising abilities gives a hopeless man stranded in the wilderness someone to talk to -- and a newfound reason to live.

When I watched this film, I didn’t even know what it was about. My cursor simply landed on the title, I saw the words “Daniel Radcliffe” and I clicked. Luckily, this was a genuinely good movie—if not the weirdest film on this list—but I don’t regret watching it. It is probably too weird for me to watch again, but I enjoyed Radcliffe’s departure from all the characters he had played previously in his career. As seen in the Critic’s Reviews, the film, though often described as, “bizarre”, “different”, “peculiar”, “strange”, and “completely and utterly defying description of what sort of genre they may belong in,” is also acknowledged as “super original,” “[containing] depth [in] the plot”, a “rich, thoughtful film”, and containing “great performances, [beautiful] shots and unlike anything that has come before”. So, although the reviews may be mixed, you should watch it! (It has Daniel Radcliffe, so why not!?)

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 71% Audience: 72%

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Genre: Comedy, Drama Netflix Description: A chef and his family leave India to open an eatery in the south of France, where they clash with the haughty restaurateur across the street.

In another family-friendly "Hallmark" type movie, an accomplished chef struggles to open a restaurant just 100 feet away from an accomplished restaurant with an overbearing owner, causing a divided rivalry. The plot remains light-hearted and colorful even throughout the moments or rivalry, while including enough obstacles to keep you entertained and, although you know how it will end, you care deeply for the characters and their future. A beautiful story with friendship and rivalry, it is perfect to curl up on your sofa with a steaming mug of hot cocoa and watch the film unfold.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 67% Audience: 81%

I hope you're as excited about watching all of these as I am! From dramas to sports to comedy, there's something for everyone to watch before Netflix cleans their shelves! So grab a blanket, hop onto your couch, and binge-watch these films and series before they're gone!

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Maegan Fitzpatrick

Maegan is a Junior at Bancroft School who lives near Boston, MA. She loves playing volleyball, hiking with her family, hanging with friends, and eating all types of tasty food. She is an Editor of her student newspaper and enjoys writing about her personal experiences and opinons.