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7 New Netflix Shows in December, and the Best Reasons to Watch

In addition to an onslaught of Christmas specials, Netflix offers a mix of fantasy and frights this holiday season.

The Witcher Season 1 Netflix

Henry Cavill in “The Witcher”

Katalin Vermes

To use an old expression for a modern inconvenience, finding the best new shows on Netflix is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. With so many options to choose from — and so many more added each month — the act of sorting through the growing pile of offerings can be overwhelming. And no one’s looking to be overwhelmed when they want to watch TV. They just want to relax.

So what can you do? Well, IndieWire is here to help. Whether it’s surfacing upcoming original series you didn’t know about or reminding you about a newly added show that you forgot to add to your list last time, here’s an easy way to sort through each month’s hay delivery. The best new shows of the month will be listed at the very top, ranked in order of importance, while past months’ lists will be archived underneath.

And don’t worry: If your taste skews toward reality TV or obscure acquisitions, well, we might have those in our top section of best picks, but we’ll definitely have them in the full list of new titles underneath. Either way, you’ll know what’s available on Netflix each and every month.

Knowing what you’re paying for is more important than ever: With the streaming wars upon us, titles you’re used to seeing on Netflix may move to another service. Which service has the show I want to watch? Which service has the most shows I want to watch? Which has the best shows I know I need to watch? With Disney+ and Apple+ joining the already crowded streaming market filled by Amazon, HBO, and Hulu, Netflix is changing — but it’s still offering the most new content, it’s still relied upon by 165 million subscribers, and it’s still the dominant streaming option in the U.S.

So let us help you make the most of it. Check out the list below, watch what you like, then bookmark this page so you can come back next month and update your Netflix queue (or the “My List” section, as it’s now titled). Now then, onto the full list:

1. “The Witcher” Season 1 (available December 20)

Why Should I Watch? “The Witcher” isn’t just Netflix’s biggest December series debut; it’s the streaming giant’s biggest attempt to snag “Game of Thrones” fans. With the HBO juggernaut over and its creators (David Benioff and D.B. Weiss) developing future shows for Netflix, “The Witcher” should help brand the service as destination for grand fantasy storytelling, now. (Also helping: “The Dark Crystal” and its immaculate reviews.) Starring Henry Cavill as a “monster hunter” named Geralt of Rivia, this big-budget action epic comes with a built-in fanbase from the video games that started the franchise. Of course, that also means it’s got an uphill battle ahead, considering most video game adaptations do not go well, but perhaps “The Witcher” will be the exception to the rule.

Bonus Reason: Reviews are embargoed until the release date, December 20, which is never a good sign for a show’s quality, but an early PR push by Netflix illustrates the series’ importance. “The Witcher” debuted footage at Comic-Con in July, Netflix gave the show an early Season 2 renewal in November, and the events team held a “Witcher” fan experience in December to show off the costumes, creatures, and production design. Plus, Henry Cavill has been really, really enthusiastic about the show. So if you’ve got any interest in seeing Superman in a sword fight with a giant spider, “The Witcher” won’t let you down — and there’s definitely more of it (and shows like it) on the way.

2. “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch” (available December 24)

"John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch" Netflix Season 1

“John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch”

Jeffrey Neira / Netflix

Why Should I Watch? The inventive stand-up comedian and Emmy Award winning actor, writer, and producer returns to Netflix for the fourth time with an eclectic, throwback variety show. Following his stand-up specials “Kid Gorgeous,” “The Comeback Kid,” and “New in Town,” Mulaney enlists a bevy of kiddos to help complete his latest project, calling in a few famous friends to help out, as well. (Per a trusted source, we are not ready for whatever Jake Gyllenhaal does.) This Netflix entry is also embargoed until its release date, but it’s best to go into the 70-minute special sans preconceptions anyway. Mulaney has more than earned the trust.

Bonus Reason: It’s impossible to sell the show better than John Mulaney himself, so I’m just going to let him do it. Here’s his statement, sent to the press with the first trailer:

I’m John Mulaney, and I am a 37-year-old man. ‘The Sack Lunch Bunch’ is a group of children ages 8-13 who are more talented than me. In this special, we are joined by celebrity guests like David Byrne, Tony Award Winner Andre De Shields, Natasha Lyonne, Annaleigh Ashford, Shereen Pimentel, Richard Kind, and Jake Gyllenhaal from the movie Zodiac. The result is a collage of Broadway caliber showstoppers, comedy sketches for all ages, meditations on the unknown from children and adults, and a papier mâché volcano. It’s funny, musical, joyous, anxious, and surprisingly profound.

3. “You” Season 2 (available December 26)

YOU Season 2 Netflix


Beth Dubber/Netflix

Why Should I Watch? With some critics convinced Season 1 was so bad it’s good and others praising the series outright, the one thing most agreed upon was what helped make it a hit: “You” is very, very watchable. Adapted by Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble from Caroline Kepnes’ 2014 novel of the same name, “You” follows Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a bookstore owner — who also happens to be a serial killer — who becomes obsessed with a customer and begins stalking her with escalating intensity. While the first season largely functioned as a denunciation of delusional romantic constructs, often propagated by movies and shows, plenty of viewers were so hooked by Joe’s story that the creators and stars had to speak out against their very obvious villain. Season 2 is said to be based on Kepnes’ follow-up novel, “Hidden Bodies,” so it should be fascinating to see how the filmmakers’ approach to their story has shifted.

Bonus Reason: Though it likely has little impact on the story, “You” itself shifted from Lifetime to Netflix for its second season. After originally premiering on the cable network, Lifetime’s shifting originals plan led to the sale of its distribution rights to the streamer, including this upcoming season. The first season has been on Netflix for over a year now, so many may already identify the show as a Netflix Original, but this release marks the first official rollout — and could result in even more viewers jumping on board. Depending on how you feel about how the show frames its lead — protagonist or antihero — the move could be good or bad. Netflix means easier access for more viewers, so this show about unhealthy obsession could very well become a case study of itself.

4. “The Confession Killer” (available December 6)

The Confession Killer — Henry Lee Lucas (center) being escorted by Ranger Bob Prince (left) and task force

“The Confession Killer”

Courtesy of Netflix

Why Should I Watch? Netflix’s latest true crime docuseries starts where most of its genre companions end up: with a confession. Henry Lee Lucas confessed to hundreds of murders in the early 1980s, sketching victims’ portraits for the police and recounting telling details from each crime scene. And yet… his timeline doesn’t add up. With new DNA evidence and impossible contradictions in his stories, later it became clear that Lucas couldn’t have killed everyone he’d claimed credit for, which makes you wonder: Why’d he take credit in the first place? Directed by Oscar-nominee Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”) and Taki Oldham, “The Confession Killer” examines a complicated figure caught in a flawed justice system — adding a fresh twist to the true crime genre in the process.

Bonus Reason: If you’re a fan of Kenner’s past feature documentaries, the director promises you won’t be disappointed in his first series. “‘The Confession Killer’ is my first series, yet I see it as thematic extension of my past films,” Kenner said in his director’s statement to Netflix. “‘Food, Inc.’ revealed how animals, consumers and the environment suffer from prevalent agribusiness practices. ‘Merchants of Doubt’ showed how the same corporate tactics employed to distract from the scientific research correlating smoking with cancer are used to cast doubt on climate change. ‘Command and Control’ exposed the dangers our nuclear weapons pose on our own soil. In different ways, these projects look at the flaws in a system.” Now, you can add “The Confession Killer” to that impressive list.

5. “The Magicians” Season 4 (available December 16)

Olivia Taylor Dudley, "The Magicians"

Olivia Taylor Dudley in “The Magicians”

Eric Milner/SYFY

Why Should I Watch? Syfy’s best ongoing series hasn’t hit the skids after four years, instead just the opposite. It’s kept the quality up, even as it experiments with creative and exciting storytelling. Another entry from Sera Gamble (a co-creator here with John McNamara), “The Magicians” exists in a world where magic is real and even taught in schools — well, in one very special school at least: Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy. It’s there that Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) is trained to be a magician, but the same school that grants him sanctuary turns his best childhood friend away, as Julia Wicker (Stella Maeve) goes in search of magic from less reputable sources. By Season 4, the strong ensemble is dealing with alternate personalities and rationed magic, but if you aren’t caught up, don’t worry — that’s no spoiler. Get to a binge if you’re looking for a rewarding new TV addiction.

Bonus Reason: “The Magicians” is one of the rare shows to see an improvement in critics’ reactions from season-to-season, starting with a 60 rating on Metacritic for Season 1 before moving up to a 74 in Season 2 and topping out at 81 in Season 4. Now, sometimes those increases reflect the fact that only the critics who like it keep up, but even the critics I know who don’t file formal reviews are still big fans of “The Magicians.” It’s more than a cult sensation and often in the discussion among the year’s best shows. With Season 5 right around the corner (it premieres January 15), there’s no better time to start watching.

6. “Lost in Space” Season 2 (available December 24)

LOST IN SPACE Season 2 Netflix

“Lost in Space”

Courtesy of Netflix

Why Should I Watch? The first season of Netflix’s reboot offered a family friendly adventure with impressive special effects — and a very special robot. Even though it doesn’t appear Netflix took my notes for Season 2, the Robot, rather than the Robinson family it’s sworn to protect, is definitely the main reason to keep watching. The plot of the second season hinges on finding the lost Robot, which, on the one hand, is an understandable and imperative quest — who wouldn’t move heaven and Earth to rescue this magnificent creation? — but that also means we probably won’t see much of the Robot in the early episodes. Hmm. Is it worth sitting through hours of Robot-less “Lost in Space” to get more scenes of the Robot falling off cliffs and showing off his special robot abilities? I leave that to you, dear reader. Only you know your TV budget, so only you can decide where Robot ranks.

Bonus Reason: I honestly don’t remember a single thing about this series other than the Robot. Wait wait wait. That’s not true. Parker Posey is always worth watching, even if she’s asked to be a cartoonish villain. And Molly Parker is very good, so long as she’s given enough to do. If Season 2 steps up for its female leads, that might solve the above Robot conundrum.

“The Last O.G.” Season 2 (available December 4)

The Last O.G. Season 2

“The Last O.G.”

TBS / WarnerMedia

Why Should I Watch? Tracy Morgan. The former “SNL” and “30 Rock” star proved himself a worthy leading man in the first season of this TBS comedy, about an ex-con looking to make things right with his family after spending years behind bars. The ratings are strong, the reviews are solid, and the story should make for a very enjoyable binge — but Morgan is the essential ingredient. Playing an aspiring chef, Morgan brings all his endearing goofiness to a role that requires an optimistic outlook even when things seem dire. He makes every episode a treat, often with just that infectious smile of his.

Bonus Reason: Tiffany Haddish. While not given enough to do in Season 1, the actress and comedian is in a plum role as a successful businesswoman who doesn’t want to be dragged down by her ex-con-ex. Yes, she’s Tracy’s prime love interest and the mother of his two children, but there’s only so long you can keep Haddish from being Haddish. So tune in to see if she let’s loose in Season 2.

The Rest of Incoming TV

“Nightflyers” Season 1 (available December 1)
“Team Kaylie” Part 2 (available December 2)
“Magic for Humans” Season 2 (available December 4)
“Greenleaf” Season 4 (available December 5)
“Home for Christmas” (available December 5)
“V Wars” (available December 5)
“Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show” (available December 6)
“The Chosen One” Season 2 (available December 6)
“Fuller House” Season 5 (available December 6)
“Glow Up” (available December 6)
“Three Days of Christmas” (available December 6)
“Triad Princess” (available December 6)
“Virgin River” (available December 6)
“Outlander” Season 3 (available December 10)
“Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” (available December 18)
“Soundtrack” (available December 18)
“Ultraviolet” Season 2 (available December 19)
“Private Practice” Seasons 1-6 (available December 22)
“Transformers Rescue Bots Academy” Season 1 (available December 23)
“Carole & Tuesday” Part 2 (available December 24)
“Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020” (available December 24)
“Alexa & Katie” Season 3 (available December 30)
“The Degenerates” Season 2 (available December 31)

November TV

1. “The Crown” Season 3 (available November 17)

Why Should I Watch? Peter Morgan’s award-winning historical drama has gone through a major change for its third season, jumping forward in time just a year but enlisting a brand new cast to play the Royal family. Performances have always been the main reason to watch “The Crown,” and one in particular remains the most enticing reason to return: Olivia Colman is the new Queen of England.  Fresh off her Oscar-winning turn in Yorgos Lanthimos’ divine black comedy “The Favourite,” Colman is trading Queen Anne’s crown for Queen Elizabeth II’s. Never doubt Colman’s innate ability to entertain, as the beloved “Broadchurch” and “Fleabag” star has proven time and time again she can surpass even the highest expectations. Tune in to see her do it again.

Bonus Reason: OK, OK, but there were great actors in the original cast besides Emmy-winner Claire Foy, so who’s going to fill those lofty heels? Well, Helena Bonham Carter is taking over for Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, in such an inspired bit of casting it feels too good to be true. Tobias Menzies is your new Duke of Edinburgh, replacing Matt Smith as the queen’s husband, Philip. Josh O’Connor will star as the maturing Prince Charles, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Ben Daniels as Lord Snowdon, Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten. Just in time for Thanksgiving, you’ve got a whole new family to meet.

2. “Green Eggs and Ham” Season 1 (available November 8)

Green Eggs and Ham Netflix Season 1

“Green Eggs and Ham”


Why Should I Watch? Long in the works at Netflix, this adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ beloved book expands the 65-page illustrated children’s story into a six-and-a-half hour season of television. Part of the four-year wait stems from creator and executive producer Jared Stern’s (“Dr. Ken”) insistence on using hand-drawn animation to honor the look and feel of the original artwork. Early footage certainly feels like it’s pulled from decades prior, but with the vibrant colors and sharp designs of today. Throw in a cast including Adam Devine, Jillian Bell, Daveed Diggs, Michael Douglas, Tracy Morgan, John Turturro, and Ilana Glazer, and “Green Eggs and Ham” might sound better today than it did in our heads all these years prior — and that’s the real test of these televised updates: Can they live up to not only Dr. Seuss’ imaginative standards, but our own?

Bonus Reason: “Green Eggs and Ham” hits Netflix exactly four days before Disney+ launches, and that doesn’t feel like a coincidence. Just as streaming subscribers are thinking it’s time to trade in a service better known for its adult fare than its children’s favorites, in comes a series built for kids that also plays on parents’ nostalgia. Everyone knows Dr. Seuss, just like everyone knows Mickey Mouse — maybe there’s more of a library for the latter, but Netflix has old favorites, too. Even if it has to start from scratch.

3. “The End of the Fucking World” Season 2 (available November 5)

The End of the F***ing World

Jessica Barden in “The End of the F***ing World”

Courtesy of Netflix

Why Should I Watch? Welp, it’s here. Whether you were begging for a sequel to Charlie Covell’s 2017 adaptation or pleading them to end it where they did (which is where comic book author Charles Forman concluded his original story), the sheer popularity of “The End of the Fucking World” forced a second season into existence. Why should you watch? If you were one of the beggars, you’re already onboard — you can’t let it end on such a devastating cliffhanger, so here’s what happens next. But if you were one of the pleaders, wishing to honor the original ending, well, you have a tough choice to make: revisit one of your favorite characters and see what comes of her morbid romantic foray through teendom, or you can stop and live with the presumptions you’ve already established. We can’t say one is better without watching, but you probably already know what you’re going to do.

Bonus Reason: I’m sorry, are you unfamiliar with “The End of the Fucking World?” The first season follows James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old kid who believes he’s a psychopath because he likes killing animals. When he gets sick of murdering squirrels, James decides he must want to kill more challenging prey, so he moves on to a 17-year-old classmate named Alyssa (Jessica Barden). She’s a bit more rebellious and challenging than James anticipated, which leads to a prolonged fascination, which in turns leads to an ill-fated road trip. That’s where Season 1 leaves off, and Season 2 (thankfully) focuses more on Alyssa, as well as a new character named Bonnie (Naomi Ackie). Whether you could stomach the twisted drama or not, the two leads were quite impressive, and seeing what Barden does with Alyssa post-Season 1 should prove compelling on its own.

4. “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings” (available November 22)


“Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings”

Tina Rowden / Netflix

Why Should I Watch? Overwhelming curiosity, perhaps? After finding success via TV specials in the past, the award-winning country singer is taking her stories to Netflix via an anthology series showcasing the core themes that led to her most cherished music. Each episode is scored by new and classic tunes by Parton, while each hour-plus entry will tell a new story with a fresh. Holly Taylor (“The Americans”), Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), and Ray McKinnon (“Rectify”) all co-star in this sure-to-be-fascinating twist on musical storytelling.

Bonus Reason: If you don’t already love Dolly, here’s your chance. And if you don’t want to, then look elsewhere — “Heartstrings” may feature an expansive ensemble, but it’s still a one-woman show.

5. “Atypical” Season 3 (available now)

ATYPICAL Season 3 Netflix

Keir Gilchrist in “Atypical” Season 3

Beth Dubber/Netflix

Why Should I Watch? “Atypical” is very good! For whatever reason, the well-reviewed half-hour comedy hasn’t been able to build much awards buzz (though the Peabody Award is a good start) over two strong seasons. No matter. Keir Gilchrist is delivering a stellar performance as Sam, a 19-year-old on the autism spectrum who’s about to start his first year of college in Season 3. Sweet, funny, and smart about its stories, “Atypical” will make for a great binge if you haven’t yet tried it out.

Bonus Reason: Sarah Gilbert and Eric McCormack join the cast in Season 3 as Sam’s new ethics and art professors, respectively. With the “Will & Grace” revival bidding adieu and his Netflix sci-fi series “Travelers” axed, it’s good to know you can still get your recommended dose of McCormack via an even better show — bring some of those “Will & Grace” numbers with ya, big guy! — and Gilbert definitely deserves a few extra good supporting roles after carrying “The Conners” to safe ground.

6. “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” Season 2 (available November 8)

The Great British Baking Show Netflix

“The Great British Baking Show”


Why Should I Watch? “The Great British Baking Show” just ended its 10th season, and the void in your life must be filled. Was this year’s competition more manipulative, dramatic, and infuriating than years’ past? Absolutely. Does such a tonal shift bode poorly for the future of the inspiring series? You bet. But the “Holidays” special is much lower stakes, and even the most devilish producers shouldn’t be able to amp up fake anxieties or dwell too long on failures when eight former fan-favorite bakers return to the tent for two hourlong specials. Assuming Season 2 follows the same format as Season 1, each episode will name a new Christmas Star Baker, as bakers from past seasons compete once more. Those contestants have yet to be named, but series regulars Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding, and Sandi Toksvig are all expected to return.

Bonus Reason: T’is the season for miracles, so perhaps the special will offer episode introductions that are actually funny, hosts’ outfits that don’t deserve to be baked in the oven, and the death of Paul Hollywood’s gross handshake prize. Come on, Santa Claus — deliver us from evil.

7. “The Irishman” (available November 27)

(From l to r) During a break in the trial of Jimmy Hoffa, Chuckie O’Brien (Jesse Plemons), Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano), Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and Hoffa (Al Pacino) are shocked at the news of JFK’s assassination. © 2019 Netlfix US, LLC. All rights reserved.

“The Irishman”

© 2019 Netlfix US, LLC. All rights reserved.

Why Should I Watch? No, Martin Scorsese’s epic “old man movie for the ages” isn’t a TV show. And, no, I’m not trying to reignite the great “movie or TV show” debate brought on by “Twin Peaks: The Return.” That was a TV show, this is a movie, and everyone is going to agree on both those facts. (OK, they won’t, but the last time ol’ Marty took a stab at TV, everyone did agree he better stick with movies.) By listing “The Irishman” at the bottom of this list, all I’m trying to say is the investment of your time is about the same as taking on a TV show, and I’d be lying to you if I said you’d be better off spending three-and-a-half hours with other Netflix offerings like “Chip and Potato” Season 2 or “Dirty John.” “The Irishman” is almost as long as heralded miniseries like “Olive Kitteridge” and “Hatfields & McCoys,” and it’s actually longer than “Empire Falls”; it’s just over an hour longer than a full season of “The Good Place,” and you could watch both “El Camino” and “American Son” — two TV movies — in the time it takes to get through Scorsese’s decades-spanning Oscar frontrunner. Should you? No. Watch “The Irishman.” That’s all I’m sayin’ here.

Bonus Reason: Setting aside the three leads, who should be reason enough to watch the movie, the supporting cast is stacked with TV favorites, including “True Blood’s” Anna Paquin, “Parenthood’s” Ray Romano, “Friday Night Lights'” Jesse Plemons, and even “Vinyl’s” Bobby Cannavale. Maybe you wish you could see it on the big screen, but these small screen stars will make you feel right at home (in your own home).

The Rest of Incoming TV

“Hache” Season 1 (available now)
“Hello Ninja” Season 1 (available now)
“Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!” (available now)
“We Are the Wave” Season 1 (available now)
“Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Go Team Roberts” Season 1 (available now)
“Mars” Season 2 (available now)
“Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans” Seasons 1-2 (available now)
“The Devil Next Door” (available November 4)
“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” Season 4 (available November 4)
“SCAMS” Season 1 (available November 6)
“Busted!” Season 2 (available November 8)
“Greatest Events of WWII in HD Colour” (available November 8)
“Wild District” Season 2 (available November 8)
“Little Things” Season 3 (available November 9)
“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” Volume 5 (available November 10)
“Chief of Staff” Season 2 (available November 11)
“Harvey Girls Forever!” Season 3 (available November 12)
“The Stranded” Season 1 (available November 14)
“Avlu” Part 2 (available November 15)
“The Club” (available November 15)
“I’m With the Band: Nasty Cherry” (available November 15)
“Llama Llama” Season 2 (available November 15)
“The Toys That Made Us” Season 3 (available November 15)
“Mortel” Season 1 (available November 21)
“The Dragon Prince” Season 3 (available November 22)
“High Seas” Season 2 (available November 22)
“Meet the Adebanjos” Seasons 1-3 (available November 22)
“Nailed It! Holiday!” Season 2 (available November 22)
“Nobody’s Looking” Season 1 (available November 22)
“Trolls: The Beat Goes On!” Season 8 (available November 22)
“Dirty John” Season 1 (available November 25)
“Merry Happy Whatever” Season 1 (available November 28)
“Mytho” Season 1 (available November 28)
“Levius” Season 1 (available November 28)
“Chip and Potato” Season 2 (available November 29)
“La Reina del Sur” Season 2 (available November 29)
“The Movies That Made Us” (available November 29)
“Sugar Rush Christmas” Season 1 ((available November 29)

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