Five perfect TV episodes to watch on Netflix
(Credit: Netflix)


Five perfect TV episodes to watch on Netflix

Once upon a time, Hollywood looked down at the grey television box in the corner of everyone’s living room. Small-screen offerings were indeed nothing special when they were popularised in the 1950s, with light sitcoms like I Love Lucy ruling the industry alongside news broadcasts and throwaway comedies. There was harmony between cinema and TV, with a vast difference in quality between the two mediums. 

This steadily changed, however, as the new millennium neared closer and the quality of TV sets began to improve. Indeed, by the dawn of the 1990s, if you were willing to pay the money, you could have a pretty well-kitted-out living room, and TV studios began matching their content to fill the needs of the consumer who wanted bigger and better shows for their marvellous home cinemas. 

Donning themselves as producers of box office television, the arrival of HBO significantly changed the makeup of the entertainment industry, with early hits like Oz, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under having such high production value that they felt more like cinema rather than a mere television show. Suddenly, the value of high-quality TV sky-rocketed with the small screen content of the 21st century, rivalling the feats of cinema for the first time ever.

Offering writers more time and space to flesh out their characters and intricate tales, modern television has produced some of the finest motion picture tales ever told. Here, we have five utterly perfect episodes of TV for your enjoyment.

Five perfect TV episodes to watch on Netflix:

‘The Entire History of You’ – Black Mirror (Brian Welsh, 2011)

Whenever a new series of Black Mirror comes around on Netflix, viewers flock to its arrival thanks to its deft analysis of society’s relationship with technology. This is thanks to the excellent writing of Charlie Brooker as well as guest collaborators like Jesse Armstrong, who penned arguably the greatest-ever episode of the dystopian sci-fi show, 2011’s ‘The Entire History of You’. 

Set in a very near future, the story is set in a world where memories can be recorded and played back to oneself through a chip embedded in the brain. Liam is just one of many people caught up in this reality, with the paranoid soul using the chip to reinforce his own insecurities about his job and marriage. It’s one of Black Mirror’s simplest episodes, as well as its most effective, speaking directly to how technology can complicate our lives rather than provide solace while providing the show with some of its most disturbing imagery.

‘The Constant’ – Lost (Jack Bender, 2008)

Although the sci-fi show continued becoming more unwieldy and nonsensical the longer it went on, ‘The Constant’ perfected the often-maddening formula that Lost had bet the farm on, by combining temporal shenanigans and unanswered mysteries with real human drama.

With Henry Ian Cusick’s Desmond and Naveen Andrews’ Sayid being transported to a freighter, turbulence causes the former’s consciousness to slip back and forward in time between 1996 and 2004, adding multiple layers onto Desmond as a character through means, motivation, and backstory while also filling in several notable gaps in the Lost mythology. Rooting the far-flung concept of time travel and psychological dissonance in a doomed romance that may yet have a happy ending, it was the best example of everything Lost was and wanted to be at the apex of its popularity, a watermark the show would never reach again.

Lost arrives on Netflix in July 2024.

‘Wedding’ – Peep Show (Becky Martin, 2007)

While Americans can make a mean drama series, nothing can quite compare to the British comedy track record. The volume and quality is simply staggering, but overall, Peep Show must come out on top as the greatest comedy series that the country has ever produced. It leads with a strong narrative, innovative point-of-view filming style, and so much cringe-worthy content that you’ll want to bite your own tongue off to relieve the tension. 

On the topic of tension and cringe-worthy tales, the sixth episode of season four is the programme’s peak. We see the true essence of Mark and Jeremy’s disparate characters as the former consigns himself to a “loveless husk of a marriage” for the sake of living life by the book, while Jeremy tries his darndest to hold in a very desperate urge to urinate. Superhans also flits through one of his greatest appearances, setting out in a puddle of his own vomit and ending by stealing Nancy away from Jeremy. It’s the very best of Peep Show in all its finery, speaking to just how pathetic we humans can be if we never rise to face our challenges.

‘Everyone’s Waiting’ – Six Feet Under (Alan Ball, 2005)

The HBO show Six Feet Under, created by Alan Ball, ran for five seasons in the early 2000s and explores the lives of a family of funeral directors, questioning what being faced with death on a daily basis does to a person. The family is made up of actors Peter Krause, Frances Conroy, Michael C. Hall and Lauren Ambrose, with several other supporting actors playing romantic or business partners, like Freddy Rodriguez and Rachel Griffiths. 

Darkly comic and oftentimes very moving, the show’s final episode, ‘Everyone’s Waiting’ made audiences sob. After years of getting to know these characters nearly inside out, Ball wrapped up their story nicely – albeit rather emotionally. The characters navigate both new life and grief, and it feels bittersweet watching them adapt and accept life’s simultaneous joys and tragedies. Then, as Sia’s ‘Breathe Me’ plays, a montage of the characters, revealing when and how they all die in the future, rounds off the episode, leaving not a dry eye in the room. It’s a brutal watch but apt for a series that makes you view death in an entirely different light.

‘Ozymandias’ – Breaking Bad (Rian Johnson, 2013)

As one of the greatest TV shows of all time, Breaking Bad has plenty of episodes that can comfortably sit amongst the finest moments in small screen history, but it’s hard to look past ‘Ozymandias’ as the most devastating instalment by far.

A culmination of Walt’s double life coming back to haunt him, he desperately pleads for Hank’s life in exchange for every single penny he’s made from his drug manufacturing operations, only for the realisation to strike him that there was never any chance his brother-in-law was getting out of the desert alive.

Individually focusing on each arc of Breaking Bad‘s key players before zeroing in on the immediate aftermath of Hank’s death, Walt’s outing as a criminal mastermind, and the revelations that shatter the extended White family apart, ‘Ozymandias’ was the finest hour for a show that was almost defined by them.