Finding a new TV show is always exciting. So many shows have several seasons, long episodes, and are great to sink into. It’s fun to relax on the couch with some snacks and start watching a long series that’s going to have viewers’ attention for quite a while to come. But, when searching for something new to watch, audiences are not always looking to start a show that has several seasons. Sometimes, a show with only a season or two fits the bill.
Whether it’s a show that was canceled early, a limited series that ended after a few episodes, or a show that fans are still waiting for the second season of, finding a short show can be pretty exciting. Short shows are great for relaxing on the couch in front of the TV for a few days when viewers are trying to avoid leaving the house or completing their to-do list – everyone needs that once in a while!
Updated on October 25th, 2021, by Hannah Saab: Limited series and short TV shows on Netflix have become increasingly popular over the past year, as more audiences want options when it comes to the length of their viewing time. Not everyone has the time or energy to dedicate to one show for weeks, which is why shows that only last a few days or even hours are the ideal choice for some. There are also more genres to choose from as Netflix’s selection expands. From informational documentaries to entertaining period dramas, there’s no shortage of great recent short shows that can keep audiences glued to their screens all weekend.
Netflix offers up What/If, a dramatic TV series that premiered in 2019 with 10 episodes. It stars Renée Zelwegger as Anne, a wealthy woman who decides to become an investor in the startup of a brilliant young scientist named Lisa who is desperate for funding.
Anne tells Lisa that she’ll fund her project and give her all the money that she needs to complete her research under one condition: Anne gets to spend the night with Lisa’s husband and keep everything that she sees there a secret. Is it worth taking the money? Lisa is forced to decide.
The Circle (2020)
The Circle is a reality series with a seriously futuristic twist. Like Big Brother meets Black Mirror, it’s a reality competition series in which a group of contestants move into an apartment building and begin interacting with each other. The catch? They’re all on their own in separate apartments and can never actually meet face to face.
Players talk to each other and go through challenges in a digital interface that helps them to get to know each other. Then, they rate each other and the top-rated contestants get to decide who goes home each week. Because the contestants never see each other, they can present themselves to the other contestants any way they want.
Russian Doll (2019 – )
Russian Doll is an underrated Netflix original comedy-drama that stars Natasha Lyonne and premiered on the streaming service in 2019. So far, the series only has one season, but it was renewed for a second that will hopefully be coming soon. However, with only eight episodes in the first season, it is perfect to watch during a single weekend.
The series stars Natasha Lyonne as Nadia, a woman who is on her way to a party in her honor in New York City one night when something terrible happens: she dies. Each morning, she wakes up again and is forced to live the entire day out until it happens again. Can Nadia figure out what’s going on and get out of this loop or is she doomed to live this day over and over?
Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991, 2017)
Twin Peaks is a series that aired from 1990 through 1991 for a total of two seasons and one prequel horror film before being brought back in 2017 for one more special season. The series has a total of three seasons, the original two of which are on Netflix, making it a slightly longer watch but definitely one that’s worth it, both for people that enjoyed it during its original run and total newcomers to the series.
The show is a semi-surrealistic crime drama that follows an FBI agent who is tasked with traveling to a small town to investigate the mysterious death of high school student Laura Palmer. As Agent Cooper learns, nothing about this case is as it seems.
The Curious Creations Of Christine McConnell (2018)
The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell is a Netflix original series that started out as a YouTube series before being adapted to the streaming service with six original episodes. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after only a single season, but McConnell still makes videos on YouTube for people that want more after they’re done with the six episodes on Netflix.
In this series, Christine McConnell welcomes viewers into her home to make delicious treats and some really unique and clever DIY crafts. It’s like a cooking show, but with a dark and spooky twist. If home and garden gurus like Martha Stewart are simply not strange enough, this Halloween queen may be what some viewers are looking for.
Chambers is an original series by Netflix that was canceled after only one season of 10 episodes. Luckily, unlike some other shows that are prematurely canceled, this series wrapped up its loose ends and didn’t leave viewers wondering about any huge cliffhangers at the end of its run.
This series follows Sasha, a high school student who suffers from a heart attack one night. Luckily, her life is saved when she’s given a transplant from a girl her age that lives nearby. When strange things begin to happen to Sasha, she reaches out to the family of the girl whose heart she got in order to try to get some answers as to what happened to her.
When They See Us (2019)
One of the most notable drama series around is When They See Us. It is based on the Central Park Five and was released in 2019. The series has only four episodes, but it’s heavy and intense based on an infamous real-life court case, so the fact that it has so few parts doesn’t change the fact that it is a highly impactful miniseries.
The series follows the five people that were accused of attacking a jogger in Central Park. It spans from 1989, when they were originally accused and questioned for the crime, through 2002 when they were exonerated, and to 2014 when they settled with the city for their wrongful conviction suit.
Love Is Blind (2020)
Love Is Blind is a reality series that premiered on Netflix in 2020. New episodes were released over the course of three weeks in this event and it had people all over the place talking about their favorite contestants, favorite couples, and who people thought would make it after the show ended.
The series puts thirty men and women, who are hoping to find love in the house, and splits them up by gender. Then, in a speed dating-esque scenario, they’re put into pods and can talk to one another through a wall, but can’t actually see each other. After getting to know the other singles, they can propose and are moved out of the house into a romantic location with their future spouse, where they’re given some time to get to know each other and decide if they’re going to tie the knot or split up.
Maniac is a limited series that stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. It premiered in premiered on Netflix in 2018 with a total of 10 episodes. In the series, they play Annie and Owen, a pair of strangers who sign up for an unusual pharmaceutical trial.
The series is dark and dramatic with some funny elements to it. For people that are looking for a strange and surreal show with enough mystery and twists to keep any viewer engaged, this limited series is definitely one to check out.
Daybreak is a post-apocalyptic series that premiered on Netflix in 2019. Unfortunately, this series was canceled after a single 10-episode season but it is definitely still worth checking out for anyone that loves zombies and comedic horror shows.
In this series, all the adults in the world have been transformed into mindless, zombie-like creatures known as Ghoulies. It follows a single teenager, Josh, as he traverses through the city he once called home in an attempt to track down and reunite with his girlfriend who he became separated from.
Viewers who are looking for the best Westerns on Netflix should look no further than Godless, a drama series set in 1884. It follows the story of Roy Goode who winds up in a small town governed by strong women.
Roy’s past catches up with him in the sleepy town, as the criminal Frank Griffin and his group don’t intend to give up on looking for their former member who betrayed his fellow outlaws. The residents of La Belle are more than ready to meet them, though, and will use all of their skills and firepower to fend off the criminals. This all unfolds in just seven episodes that audiences will likely speed through over the course of a weekend.
The Queen’s Gambit (2020)
The Queen’s Gambit is a part period drama, part coming-of-age miniseries that revolves around the chess prodigy, Beth Harmon. It became massively popular after its initial release in 2020, thanks to its compelling plot and the cast’s excellent performance.
Beth’s struggles with substance abuse are thoughtfully portrayed and explored by the miniseries. Most viewers likely find themselves sympathizing with and rooting for her during every new match. Her story is told in the short but fast-paced show that highlights Beth’s life and the game of chess in seven exciting episodes.
Alias Grace (2017)
Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel of the same name which is also based on real-life events from the 19th century, Alias Grace tells a riveting story of a young lady accused of murder.
The protagonist, Grace Marks, struggles to defend herself against the accusation that she has murdered her employer and their housekeeper. The odds are stacked against her, not only because of her gender but also because she’s a poor Irish immigrant who doesn’t have the means to prove her innocence. The six-episode show is a fascinating glimpse into the extreme inequalities from that period and a faithful adaption of the classic book it’s based on.
Fans of true crime will likely keep their eyes glued to the television once they start watching Unbelievable. The eight-episode miniseries is a dramatization of the serial rape cases that occurred in Washington and Colorado back in 2008.
When a young lady shows up at a police station and talks about being assaulted, she’s charged with lying about it. Two female detectives figure out that something is fishy about the entire situation. They follow a winding path of clues and twists to ultimately arrive at the shocking truth behind all the heinous crimes.
Wild Wild Country (2018)
Wild Wild Country is a six-episode docuseries that sheds light on the creation and end of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s cult, from its roots in India to the rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon.
The series boldly explores the contribution of prominent members like Ma Anand Sheela, who played an important role in keeping their organization alive and growing. The documentary also details the conflicts the cult faced both from their government in India and their new neighbors in Waso County, who weren’t too happy about what they perceived to be a takeover of their small town.
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