Netflix's streaming library is vast. With the download feature, Netflix lets you watch your favorite shows from pretty much anywhere-- you don't even need WiFi anymore. At a fast food place on your lunch break? Killing time at a coffee shop between classes? Waiting to meet someone who is running late? Why not put in your earbuds and watch an episode of your favorite TV show on your phone?
Of course, it depends on what your favorite TV show is. Watching extremely revealing or violent scenes in public is not always a great idea. You don't want to be the weirdo streaming something inappropriate on a computer at the library. You're better than that. Likewise, if you're waiting at a bus stop, don't watch shows with gory scenes on your cellphone. It's just bad form.
Most of the shows on this list are worth watching in the right setting-- preferably on the couch with the curtains drawn and no kids around. Whether it's intended for mature audiences, politically volatile, or just a guilty pleasure, each of these shows is best viewed in the comfort of your own home.
Here are the 20 Netflix Shows You Should Never Watch In Public.
Mindhunter adapts the book Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshanker. By nearly all accounts, it's an excellent show. So why shouldn't you watch it in public? The series got a hard TV-MA rating even though it begins, seemingly, like any other TV-14 network show-- a cop gets out of his car, approaches a hostage taker, tries to negotiate.
Then the hostage taker we've just seen emerges again with his pants around his ankles and a shotgun in his hand. With revealing scenes, it's not something you want on your screen in a public setting.
Then, two minutes later, the hostage taker puts the gun under his chin and pulls the trigger. The scene is horrifyingly graphic. Later episodes feature graphic content and gruesome crime scene photos. Watch this masterful, intense, dialogue-driven series at home.
19 From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series
Created by Robert Rodriguez, who also directed the first of the movies, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series is a gory show with some salacious intimate scenes. It follows the Gecko brothers, two serial killing criminals who encounter vampiric exotic dancers at a gentlemen's club, the name of which we can't print here. True Blood fans would probably enjoy it.
Just like watching True Blood while waiting for a date is a bad idea, watching From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series in public is not something you should do. The first season rehashes a lot of what happened in the first movie, with some new twists thrown in to keep it interesting.
Despite the fact that the cast's biggest names are Jake Busey and Wilmer Valderrama, the acting is surprisingly good. However, remember to draw the curtains before you watch this one.
18 Curious and Unusual Deaths
Curious and Unusual Deaths dramatizes the final moments of folks who got really unlucky at the end of their lives. It's all about real people who died in freak accidents or under unlikely circumstances. The reenactments can be harrowing.
The main reason not to watch this series in public? It's People Dying: The Show. There are no happy endings. In every case, the worst possible scenario is what plays out. Nobody gets out alive.
People get electrocuted, crushed to death, burned alive, buried alive, accidentally shoot themselves, and get heads smashed by falling debris. The main reason not to watch this one in public: it tells it like it is. People who are going out on the town don't like to think about the one dreaded certainty that this show focuses on-- that they and everyone they know will one day die. Don't wreck their day.
Spartacus is filled with a lot of violence and "after midnight" scenes. It's a great show, but it's definitely for adults only. It's all sweaty shirtlessness, bloody fight scenes, intrigue, and lots of bare bodies getting up close and personal with each other in a variety of contexts. There are several individually subtitled Spartacus seasons, each more scintillating than the last. Just don't stream Spartacus in public.
The first Spartacus season, Blood and Sand (2010), starred the late Andy Whitfield as Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator in ancient Rome. The actor's cancer diagnosis and treatment delayed the second season's production.
Gods of the Arena (2011), a prequel miniseries without the titular character, followed. At Whitfield's request, the show recast his character, as his health was failing. Andy Whitfield died in September 2011 at just 39 years old. Liam McIntyre played Spartacus in Vengeance (2012) and the final season War of the Damned (2013).
16 Black Mirror
In Black Mirror's first episode, a terrorist-prankster coerces Britain's Prime Minister into getting intimate with a pig on national television. That's the entire premise of the very first episode.
It's a revolting concept with a lot to say about modern society and the way communications technology and shock culture collude to create divisions between people. No actual farm animal was harmed during the making of the show, thank goodness, but knowing that doesn't make watching the show any easier.
Would you watch a show with several minutes of inappropriate actions with a pig while hanging out in a public place? There's only one acceptable answer and it isn't "yes." The first episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror is certainly worth watching, but not while you're eating and definitely not in public.
You could probably get away with watching some of the other episodes in public, though.
15 Big Mouth
Big Mouth is an adult cartoon about kids going through puberty. The show's creator, Nick Kroll of The League and The Kroll Show, stars as the voice of a boy haunted by a foul-mouthed trollish embodiment of his own hormonal imbalance. Gross-out moments abound in this politically incorrect adults-only cartoon that you definitely shouldn't watch in public.
Let's say you're a parent, and you're out in public with your kid who is not allowed to watch South Park. If it's playing on a screen, you recognize its artstyle immediately, and you can direct your child's attention elsewhere.
You don't get that luxury with Big Mouth, whose artstyle is more consistent with family-friendly programming like Phineas and Ferb or SpongeBob SquarePants. It's also arguably grosser and more graphic than South Park.
14 Embarrassing Bodies
Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies is one part reality TV, one part health documentary, and two parts old-fashioned freakshow. Basically, ordinary people go on TV and reveal some super-gross part of their medical histories.
Maybe it's a scar, maybe it's varicose veins, or maybe it's something much grosser. This isn't some Hollywood show, either. It provides very revealing scenes and closeups of things most people would never want to see zoomed in.
You probably don't need to be told why Embarrassing Bodies isn't ideal for watching in public, but we'll tell you anyway. Let's say, you've had a brutal morning. You're on your lunch break at a restaurant across the street from where you work.
You wish for the seconds to move just a little bit slower, when suddenly, Embarrassing Bodies comes on the TV behind the bar, directly in your line of sight-- with its up-close shots of rashes, body hair, pustules, and surgical procedures. Not in public, please.
Watching Conspiracies in public will probably get you some weird looks. With an entire episode dedicated to "Faking the Moon Landings," this is the sort of show that attracts a certain kind of viewer. For conspiracy buffs and readers of Robert Anton Wilson and his paranoid imitators, this show makes for ideal binge-watching.
It's one of those grasping-at-straws shows about things that self-proclaimed conspiracy theorists believe. Since anyone can self-identify as a conspiracy theorist, there's really no limit to the ridiculousness that this show can explore.
That said, unlike similar shows, this one features an authoritative-sounding British narrator. Although some episodes are less absurd than others, they all inevitably slide into silliness and baseless conjecture. We strongly advise against watching it in public. Of course, it's totally your call.
12 Murder Maps
True crime shows are delicious guilty pleasures to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. While NCIS might be fine for passing the time, true crime shows are just a little too real. They're the kind of shows that we don't want to enjoy and yet can't get enough of. In an ideal society-- one without violence nor crime-- they wouldn't exist.
So, if you're in line at the DMV and the person in front of you starts streaming Murder Maps on their phone, you might wonder about them. Murder Maps is a British true crime series with a cartographic gimmick, mapping out the locations of cold cases and using that data to try to narrow down the list of suspects.
The show includes some grim reenactments that make it unsuitable for watching in public.
11 The Borgias
Not to be confused with the Netflix original series Borgia, Showtime's The Borgias is a series about a corrupt pope and his calculating family members. Like its more recent counterpart, The Borgias can currently be streamed on Netflix. Also, like its counterpart, it is set in the 1400s and it has its share of violent and adult content. In short, don't stream it in a public place.
Created by Neil Jordan, writer-director of The Crying Game and The End of The Affair, The Borgias isn't quite Game of Thrones with regards to adult content, but it's still geared towards a mature audience.
If you are a fan of Jeremy Irons, it's must-see TV show. Irons plays Rodrigo Borgia, better known as Pope Alexander IV. Irons' performance would be reason enough to watch it.
10 Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On is a documentary series about the steamy side of the internet. In terms of revealing content, it doesn't show much more than Game of Thrones, but would you watch Game of Thrones in public? Probably not.
Most of Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On consists of candid interviews with adult film stars. Certain episodes contain zoomed-in footage of adult film shoots, so you don't see what's really going on, but you see enough.
As a series, Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On isn't quite as hard-hitting as Hot Girls Wanted, the acclaimed documentary on which it's based. Then again, there is something to be said for the series' gentler approach to the subject matter. If you plan on watching it, don't watch it in a public place.
9 Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States
Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States presents an "alternate" take on American history. Some people insist the director is onto something big. Others point out how ill-fitting the "untold" part of the title is. Still others, put off by his cordial relationship with Vladimir Putin, consider Stone an insidious propagandist and a sower of disloyalty.
Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States is polarizing series. Like Stone himself, it's loud, provocative, and, some would say, trying a little too hard to be relevant. As expected, the JFK director spends a lot of time critiquing U.S. Foreign Policy and lamenting American military involvement in Vietnam.
Regardless of your opinion of his take on history, you probably shouldn't watch this one on the subway, unless you're looking to start a political argument with a potentially unhinged stranger.
8 World War II in Colour
World War II in Colour consists of colorized war footage from newsreels and other World War II era primary source material. Americans, Britons, French Resistance fighters, Russians, and many other Allied nations were at war with Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler, Imperial Japan led by Shigenori Togo and Italy led by Benito Mussolini.
Why shouldn't you watch World War II in Colour when you are out in public? Well, for one thing, you might find yourself in a spontaneous political debate with folks who believe violence is an acceptable response to political opinions contrary to their own.
Watching this one in public might be perceived as an invitation to talk politics, if not as an outright provocation. You should probably think twice before doing so.
7 13 Reasons Why
There are more than 13 reasons why not to watch this in public. It's a politically controversial series about teenage suicide. Controversy arose as parents worried that it glorified suicide. Suicide prevention organizations expressed concerns over its tone. Calls for boycotts followed. In response, Netflix added trigger warnings and information about mental health but refused to take the series down.
The biggest reason not to play this one in public is that everyone has an opinion about it. You'll be constantly interrupted by people voicing their objections or decrying the negative press that the show has received or explaining that they didn't understand what all the fuss was about.
You'll also encounter people who never watched the show who insist on explaining why it's awful or good. Best to watch this one on your own.
6 Occult Crimes
Occult Crimes is a cheesy true crime show about crimes committed by cults and alleged devil worshipers. The actual Church of Satan publicly denies any affiliation with such dangerous superstitions and denounces such gruesome rituals as having nothing to do with its peace-loving religion. However, why let inconvenient facts get in the way of good old-fashioned exploitative fear-mongering fun?
To anyone who is aware of the plight of the West Memphis Three, who spent years in prison for the crime of dressing like goths, being interested in the Occult, listening to heavy metal, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, this sort of show is an offensive step backwards for society at-large, reinforcing ridiculous stereotypes.
It's fine as a guilty pleasure. Watch it in private, invite some friends over to mock its ignorance, just don't watch it in public.
Berserk is the awesome medieval fantasy anime about a great warrior named Guts, a fierce warrior-woman named Casca, their enigmatic leader Griffith, and a demon named Nosferatu Zodd-- objectively the coolest name for a monster ever-- in addition to a cast of other great characters.
It's a bloody, gory, adults-only adventure that's definitely just for home viewing. The story just gets darker and darker as it goes on.
The animation is beautiful and the production values rival those of Akira. This is a must-watch series for fans of anime and animation in general. That said, it's relentless and explicit.
Men, women, and children die gruesome deaths and there are multiple depictions of assaults and other heinous acts. Berserk should be required viewing, but watching it in public is out of the question.
4 Inside the American Mob
Watching Inside the American Mob in public all but guarantees that you will be mistaken for the most incompetent undercover cop in history. If that's what you want to do, go for it.
Otherwise, watch this one on your own time in private. Inside the American Mob features interviews with former wiseguys giving first-hand accounts of their heinous crimes. It features grisly crime scene photos, stylized reenactments, and foul language.
The show documents the fall of the Five Families, with a focus on the 1970s. Everything from the assassinations of Joe Colombo and Crazy Joe Gallo in New York to the story of FBI agent Joe Pistone, better known by his undercover alias Donnie Brasco, gets covered by this fascinating and disturbing series.
The episode on Pennsylvania's Angelo Bruno and the mob war between Philadelphia and New York makes for particularly compelling at-home viewing.
3 The American Bible Challenge
Each episode of The American Bible Challenge features candid footage of the contestants at home, doing acceptable Christian things and just being generally wholesome and religious.
The contest is a standard game show format, wherein host Jeff Foxworthy asks contestants Bible questions and makes dry, family-friendly quips as only Jeff Foxworthy can. If that's your thing, then, by all means, check out this show, but not in a public setting.
This isn't straightforward Bible trivia. Instead, the show inflicts upon its viewers and contestants "fun" and "hip" Bible questions like, "Which Biblical person tweeted the following tweet?" No doubt some strict Christians will take issue with the show's approach.
Likewise, aggressive atheists or, more likely, people who really dislike Jeff Foxworthy's "redneck" schtick, might feel the need to put their two cents in. The cringe-inducing questions make watching this show in public a big no-no.
2 Pee-wee's Playhouse
Starring Paul Reubens, Pee-wee's Playhouse is a campy kids show about a feckless, fourth wall-breaking, cheap suit-wearing simpleton named Pee-wee Herman. For a kids' show, it's pretty great.
Captain Carl, Pterri the Pterodactyl, and Clocky are all iconic characters, and Pee-wee's laugh is truly infectious. However, it's very much a show for children, and since we aren't kids anymore, it's probably best that we don't watch Pee-wee's Playhouse on our tablets at the cafe.
For one thing, parents might get suspicious. Then there's the fact that the star of the show, Paul Reubens, has had some inglorious run-ins with the law over the years. If you're old enough to remember the '90s, you can recall all too well Reubens' unceremonious fall from grace, which followed with his arrest for touching himself in an adult movie theater. Long story short, wait until you get home.
1 Cold Justice
Cold Justice: Sex Crimes contains graphic descriptions of assaults. One thing that Cold Justice: Sex Crimes has going for it is that it's different from the overproduced schlock we're used to. Different isn't always better, though.
While the tone is perhaps more respectful towards the victims than Nightmare Next Door's tone, the editing, pacing and soundtrack bring to mind reality TV. It's like Pawn Stars or American Pickers, only instead of making deals they're eliminating suspects, interviewing witnesses, and solving crimes.
In terms of objectionable content, this show is pretty low on the list, but it still qualifies on account of the out-of-place reality TV vibe. Some episodes are so matter of fact about these actual crimes that it's jarring to watch. As a guilty pleasure, Cold Justice: Sex Crimes is entertaining and bingeable, but you'd probably feel embarrassed if somebody caught you watching it in public.
Can you think of any other shows on Netflix that you could never watch in public? Let us know in the comment section!
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