Say what you want about Netflix (and a great deal has already been said), but few media companies are quite as dominant as it’s been over the past decade or so. The company began as a DVD mail rental service, but as technology surrounding the internet improved, Netflix pivoted. In the early 2010s, it helped pioneer the idea of streaming services online, being the first one to get very popular, in large part because it both licensed existing content and produced its own.
Throughout the 2010s, Netflix was just about the undisputed king when it came to streaming content online. There have been more competitors in recent years, especially into the 2020s, but Netflix remains relatively popular, all things considered. Beyond producing original movies and multi-season TV shows, the company’s also found a good deal of success with miniseries, the following of which are considered some of the best, according to IMDb users.
10 ‘Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer’ (2019)
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
It should be noted that many great crime documentaries exist outside of Netflix. The company has something of a reputation for producing a great deal of true-crime content, and some of it can feel quite samey after a while, even though some users apparently can’t seem to get enough of it.
Still, among all the crime documentaries on the streaming service, Don’t F**k with Cats stands out for having a stronger average IMDb rating than most. With just three episodes that run for a total of 187 minutes, it also doesn’t waste too much time or extend things needlessly, and tells a grim yet compelling story about how a group of amateur online detectives ended up involved in a manhunt for the perpetrator of some particularly grisly crimes.
9 ‘Wild Wild Country’ (2018)
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
Some true-crime series on Netflix have exceeded an 8.1/10 rating on IMDb, but can’t be considered miniseries thanks to running for more than one season. As such, Wild Wild Country holds the distinction of being the highest-rated crime documentary miniseries on the platform, as it ran for just a single, limited season (six episodes and about 6.5 hours in total).
It follows the story of an infamous guru who attempted to build his own settlement in Oregon, and in the process clashed with authorities and had the entire ordeal turn into a scandal. Rather than covering a serial killer or drug kingpin, it stands out from other crime documentaries by following a cult and its leader, with its unique premise at least helping it distinguish itself from the dozens of other crime-related titles on Netflix.
8 ‘Godless’ (2017)
IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
Godlesspresents a unique take on the Western genre, owing to both its miniseries length and the fact that it has a great number of female cast members than most Westerns. Traditionally, the Western genre is thought of as being led by men, and particularly masculine ones at that, making Godless a rare example of women leading a story set in the West.
It’s set in and around a town in the 1880s that’s run almost entirely by women, and stumbled upon by a fearsome gang leader on a manhunt for one of his rivals. It ended up receiving a ton of Emmy nominations, and won a total of three, with its acclaim further demonstrated by its strong average rating on IMDb.
7 ‘Maid’ (2021)
IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
A downbeat and realistic drama miniseries, Maidfollows a young mother and her only child, both struggling to get by in the world after the mother escapes an abusive relationship. She ends up working as a maid to provide for her and her son, and the show overall seeks to explore poverty in modern America through her story.
It ran for a total of 10 episodes, and plays out over nine hours. It seemed to go somewhat under the radar, as it’s not the most widely-discussed of Netflix’s highly-rated miniseries, but its IMDb rating of 8.4/10 shows it struck a chord with many viewers, and was recognized by the Emmys to some extent, with three nominations.
6 ‘Unbelievable’ (2019)
IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
Similarly to Maid, Unbelievableaims to explore difficult modern-day issues in America through a female perspective. The story concerns a teenage girl who makes a sexual assault allegation, only to be charged herself with lying about such an assault, which leads to the whole thing being investigated by two detectives.
It’s the kind of show that’s clearly not going to be easy to watch, making it stand out against other Netflix shows that are designed to be easily consumed and binged by casual viewers. It’s a show with a story that hits hard and explores topics that have been particularly relevant since the late 2010s, particularly in light of the #MeToo Movement.
5 ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ (2020)
IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
While it was far from her first big role, The Queen’s Gambitmight well be what made Anya Taylor-Joy a household name. The seven-episode-long miniseries has her portraying Beth Harmon, a young woman who became a chess expert at a young age, and is already competing in the U.S. Open championship as a teenager.
As the show goes on, it delves into Beth as a character, exploring her strengths and flaws in a way that makes the show a particularly introspective one. It was a huge hit back when it was released (maybe thanks to it being one miniseries people could watch during COVID lockdowns), and still stands as a high-rated show on IMDb, with an average rating of 8.6/10.
4 ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ (2018)
IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
Mike Flanagan is one of the most prolific filmmakers working within the horror genre at the moment, and seems to be behind a new show or movie just about every year. One of the best-known things he’s worked on has been the Netflix miniseries, The Haunting of Hill House, which revolves around a family’s experience living in a strange and potentially haunted home.
It’s notable for its structure, as it frequently flashes backward and forward in time to ultimately tell one cohesive horror story. It’s critically acclaimed enough that not only is it among the highest-rated Netflix miniseries, but it’s also one of the highest-rated shows on IMDb full-stop, scoring a placement within the site’s Top 250 TV Shows.
3 ‘When They See Us’ (2019)
IMDb Rating: 8.9/10
An intense crime/drama based on a true story, When They See Us follows the story of five young men who came to be known as the Central Park Five. They were collectively accused of committing a heinous assault in New York City’s Central Park in 1989, and subsequently were put on trial whilst all five maintained their innocence.
It was a story that took a great deal of time to conclude, with this miniseries beginning in 1989 and the whole case not officially ending until 2014. With four episodes totaling about five hours, it manages to do justice to the true story, and goes in-depth without skipping over important details in a way that a feature film about the Central Park Five might not have been able to.
2 ‘The Last Dance’ (2020)
IMDb Rating: 9.1/10
It’s fairly uncommon to see a Netflix-produced sports documentary get as much acclaim as The Last Dance, seeing as it’s not exactly a genre the company’s strongly tied to. Nevertheless, The Last Dance was a huge success for Netflix, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and finding a spot among the top 20 highest-rated TV shows according to IMDb.
It focuses onMichael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s, a time when that team was the biggest thing in American basketball. It’s a relatively recent piece of history that’s still notable and compelling as a narrative, with Netflix viewers flocking to this 10-part, eight-hour-long series in a way that very few titles on Netflix have seen, either before or since.
1 ‘Our Planet’ (2019)
IMDb Rating: 9.3/10
There are plenty of great nature documentaries hosted by David Attenborough, but Our Planet is one of the highest-rated (and most recent). It aims to show the diversity of life on Earth, documenting areas of nature from all around the globe while also offering commentary on why the natural world needs to be protected from the effects of climate change.
This approach makes it equal parts awe-inspiring and heart-breaking. It’s an emotional and beautiful-looking miniseries, and taking in all it has to offer makes it quite clear why it’s so highly regarded on IMDb, with an impressive average rating of 9.3/10.
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