58 of Netflix's Best Miniseries, From "Queen Charlotte" to "Mask Girl"
Over the last few years, miniseries have grown immensely in popularity. Although this concept of television originated in the '70s and '80s, the recent boom in streaming networks has unearthed a craving for new and exciting TV shows, thus the rebirth of the shorter-format series.
While it's fun to get invested in a multiseason TV show, sometimes a good miniseries is just what you need. They're perfect for when you're looking for short and sweet content to watch in a couple of viewing sessions while killing time over a lazy weekend (or even if you're just trying to knock out a whole series in one night — we don't judge). The best part is that a miniseries lets you get caught up in a story without requiring a full-on commitment. If that's what you're looking for, these miniseries and limited series on Netflix are your best bets.
These shows will have you hooked from start to finish because they get to the juicy and satisfying parts of a plot without a commitment to four seasons. Whether you love drama or need an entertaining pick-me-up, there's something out there for everyone. From fascinating documentaries like "MerPeople" and stories based on true crimes like "Inventing Anna" to entertaining horror shows like "Midnight Mass," here are the best miniseries currently available on Netflix for your next short-term TV obsession!
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano, Kalyn Womack, Charlotte Kho, and Naomi Parris
"The Fall of the House of Usher"
"The Fall of the House of Usher," the newest horror series from Mike Flanagan, arrives on Netflix this October. Titled after a story by Edgar Allan Poe, the series adapts that spooky tale while mixing in references to stories from many of Poe's other works. The show's ensemble cast tell the story of the rise and fall of the Usher family over the course of decades — and it's a very, very gruesome fall.
When a stranger tells family man Adam Price a secret about his wife, his whole world is turned upside down. This secret takes him through a journey of danger, lies, and revelations.
"Behind Her Eyes"
Louise finds a lover and befriends his wife Adele behind his back. However, she becomes entangled in a series of mind games and realizes neither of them is who she thinks they are.
Michael C. Hall stars in this mystery series as Tom, a harried British surgeon and widow who's struggling to create a sense of normalcy for his two daughters as they all cope with the death of their mother. When his oldest daughter, Jenny (Coronation Street's Amy James-Kelly), disappears from a wild party held in their gated community, a distressed Tom goes on a mission to find her. Naturally his quest to discover Jenny's whereabouts involves unearthing a few secrets that the people closest to him would've preferred stay under wraps, forever changing the lives of everyone in the neighborhood.
"When They See Us"
Based on the true story of a 28-year-old investment banker who was raped and attacked in 1989 and the five young men from Harlem wrongfully convicted of the crime, director Ava DuVernay tells the story of the Central Park Five, with scream queen Vera Farmiga playing Elizabeth Lederer, lead prosecutor in the case.
Based on a harrowing true story, this miniseries follows a pair of detectives investigating a series of rapes. Along the way, their story crosses with that of a young woman who was charged with lying about a similar sexual assault, and they set out to prove the truth.
In Netflix's official description of the show, "ten people wake up on a treacherous island with no memory of who they are or how they got there, and set off on a trek to try to get back home." But as the group soon discover, they must face extreme psychological and physical challenges to escape as their "best" selves or be killed as their "worst" selves.
"Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker"
Based on the biography "On Her Own Ground" by A'Lelia Bundles, this series follows the true story of Madam C.J. Walker, a black hair care entrepreneur who became the first African American self-made millionaire. Octavia Spencer plays the titular Walker, with other cast members including Tiffany Haddish, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris, and Bill Bellamy.
In "What/If," Renée Zellweger plays Anne Montgomery, a venture capitalist who strikes a deal with a young start-up founder, Lisa (Jane Levy), and her husband, Sean (Blake Jenner). The deal is that Anne will give Lisa a bunch of money for one night with Sean. It gets hot and twisty from there!
Based on a memoir of the same name by Deborah Feldman, this part-Yiddish series follows a young Orthodox woman who decides to leave her arranged marriage and strict religious sect behind in Brooklyn escape on her own to Berlin.
From the creator of "The Killing," Veena Sud, comes a new cop drama with an even more emotionally-charged center. "Seven Seconds" stars the magnificent Regina King and Clare-Hope Ashitey. King plays a mother grieving over the death of her son, a young black man who was killed by a white officer in a hit-and-run incident. Ashitey stars as the prosecutor trying to find some justice in a system that feels stacked against her and for the young man who lost his life so senselessly.
"Black Earth Rising"
Starring Michaela Coel from "I May Destroy You," this thriller follows the journey of a woman who — after being rescued from the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide as a girl and raised in London — decides she wants to know the truth about her dark past.
Netflix's fourth Spanish original series (following "Cable Girls," "Elite," and "Money Heist") takes place in the late 1940s, telling the story of a luxury transatlantic liner traveling from Spain to Brazil and the murder that is committed onboard. The catch: the murder victim is a woman who's not on the passenger list and whom no one remembers.
"Collateral" has everything you could want in a show: crime, drama, and mystery! It stars Carey Mulligan and follows London detectives as they investigate the murder of a random pizza delivery man. What they don't know is this murder will lead to a series of strange connections and circumstances that link to the greater British society.
A French detective gets caught up in her own investigation when her daughter goes missing.
The Netflix miniseries "Inventing Anna" is based on a true story about a journalist uncovering the truth about a young woman who tricked New York's elite into believing she was a German heiress. Julia Garner stars as Anna Delvey.
"The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman"
This true-crime investigative miniseries tells the story and aftermath of a conman who charms, manipulates, and steals from many victims, tearing apart families and relationships as he goes.
"Boo, B*tch" stars Lana Condor as a high-school senior who dies coming home from a party and returns as a ghost. Also starring Zoe Colletti, the comedy series is very funny but will have you in tears by the end.
"King of Stonks"
"King of Stonks" is a German series about a finance "mastermind" who cheats his fake company up to the top of the stock market.
"The Mess You Leave Behind"
In "The Mess You Leave Behind," a teacher starts a job at a new high school in the aftermath of a suspicious death. Soon, she starts to fear for her own life.
"The Longest Night"
In the Spanish-language series "The Longest Night," armed forces surround a psychiatric prison, intent on kidnapping one of the inmates. A major battle ensues.
"Worst Roommate Ever"
The documentary series "Worst Roommate Ever" tells the stories of some of the truly most vile, dangerous, and terrible roommates . . . ever.
No, this isn't about "The Little Mermaid." Netflix's limited series "MerPeople" dives into the world of professional mermaiding. Performers dress up as mermaids — complete with heavy, intricately designed tails — to dive into water tanks to amuse adults and kids alike. The series focuses on the performers who bring these delightful, otherworldly performances to life. But the mermaid world comes with a heavy cost. Tails can cost in the range of thousands of dollars, and to be able to perform underwater, a merperson has to have incredible stamina. The docuseries provides a look at a unique world and the passionate people who bring it to life.
"The Serpent" tells the story of Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer who preyed on travelers on the so-called "Hippie Trail" in the 1970s. Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) and his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) make an eerily charming pair, and the story is made even more intense by the fact that it's true.
In "Treason," the chief of MI6 is poisoned at a holiday party, and Deputy Chief Adam Lawrence (Charlie Cox) takes over while he's recuperating. But it turns out the whole scheme has been set in motion by Adam's ex-girlfriend, a Russian spy, and she blackmails him into helping her. Meanwhile, both MI6 and the CIA are on his case as he tries to get out from under this tangled web. His complex story unfolds over the course of five episodes.
"Queen Charlotte" is the first "Bridgerton" spinoff series. It follows a young Charlotte as she marries King George III, and they fall in love despite some major challenges. The series also dives into the backstory of Lady Danbury, including what happened to her husband to make her a widow. It's unclear what other "Bridgerton" spinoff series we'll get, but this is a much watch for romance-lovers everywhere.
This mystery miniseries follows a detective who decides to pursue a 17-year-old murder case after another murder occurs on its anniversary. His investigations force everyone involved to revisit the past — like suburban mom Morgan, who is hiding the details of her life before she started her family, and Ray Levine, a struggling photographer still haunted by the disappearance that happened 17 years ago.
In this South Korean thriller series, Kim Momi is an office worker who once dreamed of becoming a dancer before society's impossible standards killed her aspirations. To cope with her insecurities about not meeting society's beauty standards and to live out her dream of being a dancer, she begins living a double life: office worker by day, and a masked camgirl called "Mask Girl" by night. But when one night of drinking her feelings away goes terribly wrong, she's thrusted onto a crash course with her coworker, Ju Ohnam.
Netflix's "Painkiller" tells the story of the opioid crisis. It specifically focuses on a pharmaceutical company called Purdue Pharma, owned by Richard Sackler and his family and the producer of OxyContin. Matthew Broderick plays Richard, with Sam Anderson and Clark Gregg as other members of the Sackler family. Uzo Aduba plays a prosecutor who goes after them, and West Duchovny plays an employee at the company.
"The Haunting of Bly Manor"
"The Haunting of Bly Manor" is based on a novella by Henry James titled "The Turn of the Screw." In this horror series, an American au pair arrives in Britain to take care of two young children, not knowing that their house enter is haunted.
"Anatomy of a Scandal"
Based on the novel of the same name, "Anatomy of a Scandal" is a six-episode series about a Tory minister of Parliament who finds out her husband has been having an affair. It stars Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, Rupert Friend, and Naomi Scott.
"Devil in Ohio"
"Devil in Ohio," starring Emily Deschanel and Madeleine Arthur, is about a psychiatrist who tries to help a cult survivor, putting her own family's lives on the line.
"The Midnight Club"
"The Midnight Club" is a mystery series about a group of teens living in a hospice home where nothing is as it seems. One of the residents is convinced there's a secret way to survive their terminal diagnoses, and she drags them all down a dark path before the series ends, uncovering secrets.
"Tales of the City"
Set in 1970s San Francisco, a young, single woman moves to the city and finds an unexpected community among her quirky neighbors.
Set in a Wild West town run by women, "Godless" challenges every trope Hollywood has ever established for the Western genre. Here, the women aren't waiting to be rescued, they're running the show. And while their town is no utopia, it's a place where they are all free to be exactly who they are without fear of judgment.
This four-episode limited series stars David Tennant as an English vicar and Stanley Tucci as a death-row inmate. Their lives intersect in twisting and terrifying ways.
Like "American Horror Story," "The Sinner" is another anthology thriller series. Each season, it rotates through a cast of A-listers, who include Jessica Biel, Tracy Letts, and Chris Messina. The constant in the series is Bill Pullman as Harry Ambrose, a police detective. The first season features Biel as a troubled woman who stabs a man to death.
"The Bonfire of Destiny"
This French period drama takes place around the time of the devastating 1897 fire in Paris (which is known as the Charity Bazaar Fire), following three women whose lives are forever changed following the tragedy.
"Surviving R. Kelly"
After years of abuse allegations against music star R. Kelly, this docuseries shares the testimony of several women who detail the abuse they suffered at his hands.
"The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez"
Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died due to the abuse of his mother and father. The signs were all there, but somehow all the reports slipped through the cracks. The court case brought into question not only the actions of Gabriel's family, but how the government systems failed to protect him.
When family man Nick Brewer is kidnapped and his abductor uploads a video threatening to kill him if the ransom video hits five million views, his family rushes to save him before the viral video hits that horrible number.
It's hard to imagine Sacha Baron Cohen playing a serious role, but you get your chance to when you watch this miniseries. He stars in this miniseries as Israel's real-life top Mossad spy Eli Cohen, following his years undercover inside Syria in the 1960s.
This series about a magnetic priest who arrives in a small town, bringing miracles and new religious fervor along with him, was made by the same folks behind "The Haunting of Hill House," so you can definitely expect some supernatural twists and turns along the way.
"We Are the Wave"
This German coming-of-age drama loosely based on the novel "The Wave" by Morton Rhue, centers around a group of teens who fall under the influence of a mystery new classmate and dream up an idealistic revolt against nationalism — though eventually, those ideas evolve into dangerous action.
After she leaves her emotionally abusive husband to start a new life in this affecting story about the failures of America's social systems and the resilience of single mothers.
This one-season drama follows a mother whose daughter has just been murdered by a serial killer. When she tries to take her life after her daughter is gone, she comes back again and realizes she went back in time and now it's one week before the murder takes place. She must find out who the killer is or her daughter will be gone forever.
"Age of Tanks"
Learn more about the history of military tanks in this documentary series that dives into the roles they played in history from World War I to the 21st century.
This docuseries focuses on the city of Flint, MI, and explores the difficult and complex relationship between the people and law enforcement following the controversial water crisis and coverup. It also grapples with social, cultural, and racial tensions within the political climate of the city and country.
This investigative docuseries follows a Louisiana pharmacist who, after the drug-related murder of his son, seeks to avenge his son's death by researching and exposing major players in the opioid epidemic crisis
"How to Fix a Drug Scandal"
This true-crime miniseries follows the case of two crime drug lab chemists who tampered with multiple pieces of evidence and explores the domino effect it has on the Massachusetts judicial system.
This psychological comedy-drama is set in a futuristic New York City where two strangers meet and connect in a dangerous, psychological pharmaceutical trial.
"Stay Close" is a fictional drama miniseries about the mysterious disappearance of two men. It explores the intertwined relationship of everyone they knew and loved and offers plenty of intrigue along the way.
The docuseries "Gunther's Millions" tells the true story of the supposed heir of a massive fortune — who happens to be a German Shepherd named Gunther. The series explores the group of followers who formed around Gunther, as well as the man in charge of managing his legacy.