The 12 Best Science TV Shows to Watch on Netflix
Who says you can’t learn while being entertained? From chemistry and physics to the world of wildlife, here are the best science TV shows on Netflix. These educational shows for adults are perfect to watch when you’re stuck at home.
These science TV shows are all available in the US, or by using ones of the VPNs that still work with Netflix .
It’s eerie. Netflix released Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak at the end of January 2020. Days later, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the world. This six-part series is a must-watch in today’s times.
Pandemic seems prescient as it follows scientists, doctors, and activists across the world who are all preparing for the next rapid contagion. They are convinced that a global virus could hit any day, and, in hindsight, we know they were right. As one of them says, “When we talk about another flu pandemic happening, it’s a matter of not if but when?”
The series starts off strong and the first two episodes are a compelling watch. It gets a bit broad and sometimes uninteresting, but then picks up again in time for the last episode.
Bill Nye “The Science Guy” is back to entertain and educate a new generation of kids (and adults). Nye’s Netflix show spans 25 episodes across three seasons. He explains topical scientific issues, debunks pseudoscience, and does a few experiments along the way. It’s one of the coolest TV series for lab experiments.
While it’s family-friendly viewing, Nye is more snarky and combative than his earlier show. Common Sense Media even advises parents that this series is better suited for teenagers than younger children, as the host pokes fun at people he disagrees with and also handles mature topics like sex.
For teens and adults alike though, it’s an entertaining balance of scientific views and public opinion.
Have you noticed how much glass is around you? Every gadget with a screen, the windows, the kitchen; even entire office buildings. Spending more time at home is making us realize how many things we take for granted in daily life.
Everyday Miracles celebrates the wondrous inventions all around us by examining what life was like without them, and the stories of their invention. Materials scientist Mark Miodownik is a bundle of energy, and his enthusiasm about the world around us is infectious. Making this a great educational show for adults and kids both.
This child-friendly BBC show takes one theme for every episode, and explores it fully. For example, there is a wonderful episode on the humble razor blade, and how glass entirely changed how mankind builds everything.
4. Brain Games
The one reason to tune in to the National Geographic channel regularly is Brain Games.
Brain Games explores how the human mind is capable of tricking itself and others. The show’s greatest accomplishment is how it involves viewers and audiences. Often, you will be asked to participate in the ongoing illusion or mind trickery. It’s one of the best TV shows teaching science.
Part of the magic is Jason Silva, a fantastic host who plays both the dupe and the expert, as the situation demands. If you like math, a few of the episodes have fun with numbers. But Brain Games is not great for binge watching. Instead, we would recommend watching one or two episodes at a time.
The ever-popular MythBusters is no longer available on Netflix. But the build team behind MythBusters got their own show. Hosts Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara (whom you may have seen before) conduct crazy experiments to test some wild claims.
But first, understand that this isn’t MythBusters. Think of it as an homage at best, and you’ll enjoy White Rabbit Project (WRP). If you’re expecting a spin-off, you’ll be disappointed. WRP has its own style and sensibilities, with each host bringing their own expertise to design grand experiments.
The single 10-episode season sees the team test everything from potential superpowers to intricate heists and thefts. And yes, fans of chemistry TV shows can look forward to cool and crazy lab experiments. It takes a few episodes to warm up to the hosts, but by the end of it, WRP makes you feel like you’re part of the gang.
6. 100 Humans
100 Humans is kind of a soft sciences TV show, a bit like a psychological version of Mythbusters. The fun and wacky series conducts experiments on a group of 100 anonymous people (only identifiable by their T-shirt numbers). The idea is to answer questions like what do humans find attractive, pain vs. pleasure, and so on.
Science correspondent Alie Ward and comedians Zainab Johnson and Sammy Obeid host each episode. They banter and joke around, interview the contestants and experts, and set up each experiment. To be fair, the experiments don’t always employ strict scientific conditions, so chalk this one up more as fun science than true science.
The first season has eight episodes, with about three to five experiments per episode. Start with episodes where you find the subject interesting. Once you get into the groove, you can enjoy the others too.
Vox Media’s short video explanations were going viral on YouTube. So Vox and Netflix teamed up to make a science TV show to simplify complex topics. Everything is based on hard facts, logic, and science. It’s like a mixture of things you need to know and things you were too afraid to ask about.
Explained focuses on a new topic in each of its 30 episodes, which last about 18 minutes. It imparts facts and data through a combination of animations and infographics that makes it easier to digest. Each episode has a new narrator and features interviews with experts on the topic.
This short science TV show has been such a success that Netflix ordered two spin-offs. The Mind, Explained is a 5-part mini series narrated by Oscar winner Emma Stone, delving into topics like memory and dreams. Sex, Explained is another 5-part mini-series narrated by singer-songwriter Janelle Monae talking about topics like attraction and birth.
8. Our Planet
Is there a better voice to describe the natural world than the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough? Our Planet combines the legendary British natural historian with the team behind some of his previous TV shows, including Planet Earth, The Blue Planet, and Frozen Planet. That alone is reason enough to watch this marvelous eight-part Netflix original series.
Importantly, Our Planet not only looks at wildlife but also how human beings are affecting it. It shines the harsh light on climate change and the human impact on the natural world and all living creatures. The documentary is almost a call-to-arms for us to protect important habitats and do our bit.
Each episode explores a new ecological system, and how it works in different parts of the world. It presents the marvel of life with breathtaking footage captured in a variety of ways.
In the wild, a lot of action takes place after the sun sets. Nocturnal creatures have a much better ability to see and hear in the wild than humans. But modern technology is catching up to provide a never-before-seen look at life after dark.
In Night on Earth, low-light cameras, heat-tracking, and other technologies come together to show what happens in the moonlight. It feels strange but fascinating, and you’ll slowly get used to it. From predator attacks to mating rituals, Night On Earth has all the elements of a classic wildlife show, but with a fresh new palette.
Sometimes, the way the makers have enhanced images feels artificial, but it’s not a dealbreaker. Narrator Samira Wiley and the story-telling team do a good job of entertaining and educating. But the highlight here is not what you hear as much as what you see.
Bill Nye and others try to make science TV shows fun and educational. Edge of the Universe is for science nerds who know their basics, and want to know more.
This three-part series features scientists who explore one aspect of the cosmos in each episode. First, they tackle the question of alien life and habitable Earth-like planets. Next, they look at asteroids and comets, and how they formed the Earth. Finally, they look at the beginning of the universe, and how enormous it is today.
If you have ever wondered about all that lies beyond Earth, this is the TV show you need to watch. It’s a whole new way to see and explore the universe.
11. A Year in Space
Science fiction has often fed us the fantasy that one day, we’ll all be living on the moon or on Mars. But in all of those, our bodies function normally. No one has really thought about what happens to the human body without the Earth’s natural gravitational force. Watch A Year in Space to find out.
Astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year on the International Space Station conducting experiments, and as an experiment himself. His twin brother, astronaut Mike Kelly, was still back on Earth. NASA tested the brothers before, during, and after that year-long period to find out the effects of zero-gravity upon humans.
The 12-part mini-series tracks those 12 months of Kelly’s life aboard the ISS, the longest by any NASA astronaut. It also features interviews with family, friends, and NASA officials and experts, and slowly unravels what Kelly’s year could mean for the future of space exploration and living in the great beyond.
Put on your tin foil hat and have a little fun with this one. The first conspiracy of Conspiracy is whether it’s called Conspiracy or Conspiracies. Because while the title says Conspiracy, the show’s featured image and Wikipedia page both say Conspiracies.
Now, we all know that the internet is full of websites exploring conspiracy theories. But if you value your sanity you don’t want to go trawling through those. Instead, let this 13-episode show tell you about some of the most popular conspiracy theories in different subjects.
Each episode tackles one subject. Like rock’n’roll, for example, which has several conspiracy theories attached to it, such as the rumor of Paul McCartney’s premature death. It’s not all about the theories themselves though. Science is at its best when it questions each aspect of a “fact,” and that’s what this show will make you do.
13. Behind the Curve
Behind the Curve is a must-watch documentary for anyone with a scientific bent. Over 95 minutes, director Daniel J. Clark introduces you to the world of flat-Earthers in the USA and explores the idea of whether it’s actually true.
Scientific temperament requires that you allow your deep-set notions to be challenged, and conduct experiments, observe, and draw conclusions. The documentary asks for an open mind, and talks to experts on both sides of the argument. While it’s no surprise that hard science wins out in the end, the journey is fascinating.
A fantastic scene captures the flat-Earthers conducting a common logic experiment to emphatically prove their point. And there’s an emotional story in the middle of it all, which only heightens the experience. Behind the Curve, more than anything else, teaches us how to think scientifically while maintaining empathy.
From Science TV Shows to Science Fiction Movies
If you haven’t seen any of these science TV shows yet, we would recommend starting with Our Planet. It’s one of the best cinematic experiences among those listed above. But given the current environment, Pandemic may just be the best educational show for adults available on Netflix.
It’s not all about education though, is it? You can love science and still want to be entertained. So we’ve also rounded up the best science fiction movies on Netflix .
Image Credit: Stuart Jenner/Shutterstock
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