10 Shows On Netflix That Will Make You Feel Smarter

Netflix marathons are usually seen as mindless escapes, but just because you're engaging in some binge watching doesn't mean you need to turn off your brain. Maybe you want to unwind by puzzling out a mystery, or memorize a few useful medical facts while you finish up some chores. There's plenty to learn from Netflix, even beyond Bill Nye.

Such as: witty sitcoms and wordy dramas that will train your brain to think faster, just so you can get the joke. And documentary series dedicated to getting you info in an entertaining way. And don't forget the British dramas (they don't really need to do anything except be British in order to feel educational).

Here are some titles streaming on Netflix that are guaranteed to make you a more valuable member of your trivia team. After all, this is a much more enjoyable way of prepping for a pub quiz than reading old Snapple caps.
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The West Wing — 7 Seasons

The West Wing is the show most likely to help you when you get on Jeopardy! — possibly even more so than old reruns of Jeopardy! Besides the general government jargon that's thrown around (which will make you wish you paid more attention in your high school civics class), there's the president's constant lit and musical-theater references, as well as some geography and science facts from White House visitors. Pro tip: Qumar is not an actual country. It would have been bad diplomacy to make American TV viewers associate an actual nation with the kidnapping of the first daughter.
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Frasier — 11 Seasons

Winning the coveted Family Guy distinction as the smartest show on TV, Frasier is more than just fun facts about psychology and references to operas you'll probably need to Wikipedia. It's a show you have to pay attention to, especially for physical-comedy scenes like this one.
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Sherlock — 3 Seasons

If you've actually made it this long without succumbing to the pull of Benedict Cumberbatch and his scarf style, know this: Each episode of Sherlock is a challenge — a series of puzzles for you to figure out. If it's a re-watch binge, remember you're technically learning plots from pieces of classic lit (plus, watching anything with a British and/or Irish accent feels cerebral, right?).
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Black Mirror — 2 Seasons

Society! Morality! Technology! Aside from being the opening of a high school slam poem, these are also things explored in this strange but addicting U.K. drama. Fair warning: It could spark an existential crisis.
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House — 8 Seasons

Almost all medical shows will give you just enough tidbits to make you absolutely sure your headache is a tumor and you need 10 CCs of Epi, stat. But while Grey's Anatomy weaves some medicine around the drama, House is probably about 60-85% medicine. Who knows? Maybe you'll save your roommate a trip to the walk-in clinic and figure out what's going on with his funky rash. (Hint: It probably has to do with that poison ivy growing in your yard.)
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Gilmore Girls — 7 Seasons

Pop culture knowledge may be different than academic knowledge, but they certainly overlap — and the former will help you out a lot more at a party. Plus, someday scientists will conduct a study that proves just following dialogue this fast sharpens your brain.
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House Of Cards — 3 Seasons

A show for those who want all the politics of The West Wing with none of the optimism. Learn how a bill becomes a law, and how a lawmaker becomes a criminal pawn in the workings of plots hatched by the corrupt and powerful. After your binge, the news might become a little less confusing (and, by comparison, less frightening).
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The Mind Of A Chef — 3 Seasons

Really, you could watch this just for the opportunity to make a "brain food" pun. This show doesn't just explore what a chef does in the kitchen but why he does it. It's guaranteed to make you reconsider what you're mixing together for your meals — and challenge you to be a little more creative.
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A Young Doctor's Notebook — 2 Seasons

All bleak Russian period pieces should feature Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe in a bathtub. The series, which is based on a collection of short stories by Mikhail Bulgakov, promises a bit of Russian history, a dash of medical history, and more than enough Radcliffe being awkward and Hamm being charmingly gruff.
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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey — 1 Season

If you didn't already want to learn about space, you will after you watch this trailer. Even if science wasn't your favorite subject in school, you've got to admit the planetarium was the highlight of every museum field trip. Now, it's time to back up that general wonder with some just-as-mind-blowing facts.