The Best Netflix Shows Only Smart People Should Watch

There is something for everyone in this era of binge-worthy shows, streaming entertainment, and interactive programming. We’ve seen less popularity in shows that cater to the one-size-fits-all audience, now that there are more options available. No matter what genre you’re into, you can find it streaming somewhere.

Netflix has something for everyone, but some shows seem to be geared more towards “smarter” people. These shows can be entertaining for anyone, but intellectuals will be able to catch nuggets of insight that others might overlook. Or simply enjoy it more.

Another thing these shows have in common is their need for attention. If you do not watch and listen to the show, you will miss something important. If you want a series that plays the long game, keeps your interests on full alert, and takes you on twists and turns we have a list for you. Here are the best Netflix shows only smart people should watch.


I know what you’re thinking: how many times has the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories been adapted to the big and small screen? Trust us — this show is a cut over the rest.

While many adaptations have Holmes set a hundred years earlier — or like the show Elementary, which is set in modern-day New York, — this show is set in modern England. They also left Holmes alone. Instead of trying to make him strong or tough, they focused on his mind. His greatest strength is his brain making Benedict Cumberbatch the best fit for the role.

We also like what they did with the character Dr. John Watson. Casting Martin Freeman for this role was a great choice. His facial expressions alone make this show worth watching. In BBC’s Sherlock, Watson is a famous blogger who helps Holmes solve cases. He is not just a sidekick; he helps bring Holmes back to reality. By the way, Dr. Watson’s blog is real, making this show more interactive than past and existing versions.

‘House of Cards’

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Fans of House of Cards will tell you this show is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for a political drama with clever hints to our own current state, this one’s for you. 

This is the show to watch if you are smart enough to catch all the innuendos the writers throw at you. Of course, House of Cards is excellent too for people who want adult content, drama, and the occasional murder, but to really enjoy the show, you need a good understanding of our slippery political system. 

Being able to compare and contrast real-world political party conflicts to that of Frank and Claire Underwood’s world is key to fully grasp the shows dynamic.

‘Breaking Bad’ 

Let’s assume for just a minute that you have never heard of the hit show, Breaking Bad. The first thing you need to know is that the characters are terribly good. You fall in love with them and you kind of hate them too. Their lives are like a trainwreck, and you can’t stop watching.

Another thing that makes this show so exciting to watch is the way the plot scales as the show goes on. At first, you watch as Walter White, a sick teacher, and his former troubled student Jesse Pinkman start producing meth. Yup, meth. Then you get sucked in by the escalating crimes as their “business” grows. 

This show is especially great for people who are into science. Not only can you learn how to cook meth and melt a body into goo, but you can also get acquainted with Saul before he got his spinoff/prequel show, Better Call Saul, which is also deceptively clever in its own right. 


What happens when a serial killer becomes a blood spatter pattern analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department? Well, you get a very smart, sometimes very dark drama called Dexter. This show is different from other crime dramas because it’s written from the perspective of the serial killer, who is also helping to solve the crimes.

You don’t need to have a degree to watch or understand most of what this show is about. You do need to pay attention to all the details though. To really appreciate all the ins and outs of Dexter Morgan, and his issues, you won’t want to miss an episode.

On top of his inner commentary, flashbacks, and sometimes inappropriate family dynamics, you also get a lot of crime scene science. Smart people might also enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together and trying to understand the psychological mess that is in Dexter’s head.

‘Stranger Things’

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If you miss the sci-fi/horror thrillers from the ’80s, you will love Stranger Things. This show has layers upon layers of twists and turns that will leave you confused and terrified at times. It will also leave you feeling nostalgic if you miss acid washed jeans and arcades.

What makes Stranger Things a show for smart people is the mystery behind the horror. Trying to figure out where the missing boy went, who the mysterious girl is, and the government experiments are nothing compared to wrapping your mind around the “Upside Down,” an alternate universe filled with darkness and fear.

The shows on this list are just a few that are catered to a so-called smarter audience. As more people crave in-depth, intelligent programming, Netflix and other providers will need to find shows that will keep us hooked.