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The 11 best hidden gems on Netflix: how to get more from your subscription

Horse Girl
(Image credit: Netflix)

You've probably been getting more out of your Netflix subscription than ever in the past couple of months, but there's always more stuff to stream that you haven't watched yet. Whether it's a great movie, an obscure short film or fantastic import series, there's a lot more to the streaming service beyond obvious heavy hitters like Orange is the New Black and The Witcher.

Here, we've rounded up our favorite Netflix hidden gems, with the goal of finding a few new movies and shows to add to your watch list. Check out our best Netflix movies, best Netflix shows and best Netflix documentaries lists for recommendations on our other favorites. 

Cable Girls

(Image credit: Manuel Fernandez-Valdes)

Las Chicas Del Cable in its native Spanish, Cable Girls is a period drama set in 1920s Madrid. Revolving around the lives of four young women who work at a telephone exchange, it dives into the pasts, families and partners of the women while also highlighting the male dominated society of Spain in the 1920s. Murder, corruption, love affairs and betrayal, Cable Girls is well worth turning on the subtitles for. With the fifth and final season recently released, now is the perfect time to binge. 

Horse Girl

horse girl

(Image credit: Netflix)

Written by and starring Community, Mad Men and GLOW alum Alison Brie, Horse Girl is a strange, ephemeral film about a typical horse girl. You know: geeky, overly cutesy, not good at talking to people. 

She’s happy enough with her job at the craft store and working part time at a stable, but when her glamorous roommate sets her up on a date, things take a turn for the worse. Brie’s character starts to experience vivid dreams, begins sleepwalking, and believes aliens are interfering in her life, with mysterious goals. 

Toast of London

(Image credit: Channel 4)

It's not a hidden gem in his native Britain, but Toast of London stars Matt Berry (seen in FX's What We Do in the Shadows), and that alone is reason enough to tune in. Berry plays Steven Toast, a washed up actor who doesn’t quite know he’s washed up. His life is more about the scandals he creates off stage these days than his performances on it. Toast of London is essentially a less serious BoJack Horseman. 

Three series are on Netflix now, but in true British style that’s just 19 episodes in total. A fourth is apparently on the way, but there’s nothing concrete on that yet. 

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is a truly international film. Set in Afghanistan and co-produced by studios in Ireland, Canada and Luxembourg, it tells the story of an eleven year old girl Parvana and her family living under the tyranny of the Taliban. Her father, a war veteran with only one leg, is arrested for insulting a Taliban member, leaving no male breadwinner in the household. With girls not allowed in public without a male escort, Parvana disguises herself as her male cousin Aatish and must provide for her family in an unspeakably hostile environment. 

Derry Girls

(Image credit: Netflix/Channel 4)

Derry Girls is Ireland’s most popular sitcom, but it hasn’t garnered too much recognition away from its native shores. The Irish Troubles of the ‘90s doesn’t seem like the ideal setting for a comedy, but by digging into the very human experiences of that era, it carries the heavy themes flawlessly. It's about four Irish school girls and the first boy to go to their school (he couldn’t go to the boys school or they’d beat him up for being English). Derry Girls offers a new, uplifting perspective to a tragic time in history. 

Viewers in Ireland and the UK can watch both series on All4

Wentworth

(Image credit: Foxtel Now)

It does Wentworth a disservice to call it the Australian Orange Is The New Black, but it’s a fairly accurate description. If you’ve blazed through the misadventures of Piper, Taystee and Alex, Wentworth might satisfy that craving. A remake-cum-prequel of the cult ‘80s show Prisoner: Cell Block H, Wentworth tells the tale of Bea Smith, a woman awaiting trial for the murder of her husband. Through her naive eyes, we see how the world works in a women's prison. All the classic characters from the original are there, but you definitely don’t need any knowledge of it before you go in. 

UK viewers will have to watch this one on Amazon Prime Video.

Seoul Searching

Seoul Searching not only has the best name of any movie in history, it’s also a wonderfully colorful Korean tribute to the work of John Hughes. 

Set in 1986 but made in 2015, it features a set of foreign born Korean teenagers heading back to South Korea for a summer camp. It borrows heavily from The Breakfast Club but does it knowingly, and is careful to reinvent Hughes’ tropes while injecting fresh life into the premise by tackling it from an entirely new perspective.

First They Killed My Father

(Image credit: Roland Neveu)

First They Killed My Father is a Cambodian biographical drama about the 1970s regime of the Khmer Rouge, told through the eyes of young Loung Ung. Initially from a middle class family, Ung’s life is turned upside down when they’re forced out and into a primitive work camp, leading to the death of her father. 

Ung went on to become an award-winning author and human rights activist, and the movie gives a startling insight into the horrendous conditions which shaped her into the woman she became. Through director Angelina Jolie, this one has a touch of Hollywood to it too.

WHAT DID JACK DO?

(Image credit: Netflix)

How do you feel about the idea of cult favorite director David Lynch interviewing a monkey about a murder? You probably already know if that's something you want to watch or not. 

That's literally what this short film is, and you might've seen it come up in your recommendations if you've watched anything Twin Peaks-y on Netflix lately. WHAT DID JACK DO? is a mere 15 minutes long. You'll watch it, you'll scratch your head, and you may laugh at its extremely surprising ending. 

Flavors of Youth

(Image credit: Premiere Pro)

Ending the list with a little bit of animated wonder, Flavors Of Youth is a Japanese Chinese anthology movie centered around food. If your favorite part of any anime is the animation of the meals, you’re definitely going to want to watch this one.

It’s only the first segment which really puts food in the spotlight, but in the tradition of Paris, Je T’aime, all of the stories link up by the end. With gorgeous visuals, a heartwarming plot and likeable characters, Flavors Of Youth is the perfect palate cleanser.

Money Heist

A promo shot from the Netflix show Money Heist

(Image credit: Netflix)

Now, calling Money Heist a hidden gem is slightly disingenuous, since it's actually Netflix's biggest non-English TV series, but anecdotally you're less likely to hear English-speaking people talk about it than, say, The Witcher or Sex Education. But they really should be.

Spanish drama Money Heist is part crime thriller, part telenovela. Told in two series of two parts (four parts total), the first series focuses on a multi-day heist of the Spanish Royal Mint. The robbers battle with the hostages inside of the Mint and the police outside, with flashback sequences establishing the five month long planning preparation and the motivation of each character. 

While Ocean’s Eleven is built around the glamor of the caper, Money Heist puts its characters in the driving seat. Part three takes a look at the aftermath and next job, while part part four is set to drop on April 3rd. Just in time for you to binge all of it.

Stacey Henley

Stacey is a freelance games journalist with experience in OpEds, interviews, reported features and video. She has previously written for The Washington Post, IGN, Fandom, Polygon, VG24/7, EuroGamer, SyFy Wire, and NME, on topics from television to video games to music to comic books to film, and is an editor for Into The Spine.