When Netflix was founded in 1997, it was impossible to foresee where the company would end up. Initially offered as a way to rent movies through the mail for just 50 cents, the service struggled in its early years to outgrow the competition. Blockbuster was still enjoying the period of late VHS and early DVD selections, prior to cheap on-demand rentals through internet-based storefronts like Amazon and iTunes. In 2002, Redbox was founded with funding from McDonald’s, which began to make instant, cheap DVD rentals a whole lot easier than waiting for your movie through the mail. It wasn’t until 2007 that Netflix found the idea that would make them as big as they are today: instant video streaming, given as a side benefit to the traditional DVD-by-mail subscription fee.
Since then, well, you probably know the rest of the story. Netflix still offers a DVD plan, but the company truly is the streaming platform on the web, managing to stand in front of competition like Hulu and Amazon. More importantly, of course, is Netflix’s innovation and push into original content. Starting with House of Cards in 2013, Netflix began purchasing and distributing original content both made for the online network and picked up from other sources (like separate companies or international offerings). Outside the US, Netflix even made a deal to distribute all CW shows on the platform. It’s all become part of Netflix’s quest to become the next HBO, a big undertaking for what started as a simple DVD-rental company.
Of course, with the success of Netflix also comes an obvious problem. Unlike a traditional network, or even a pay-cable channel like HBO, Netflix can essentially create unlimited amounts of content to air, since it’s always on. It becomes difficult, then, to know what to watch next, a problem solved only by looking up full lists of what the network has created and distributed. Though all Netflix Originals are marked as such, there are different levels to how original their programming is. Some shows, like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, are entirely created by Netflix, designed and commissioned by the company to stream on the platform all around the world. Other shows are co-developed with international partners, or based off pre-existing properties that have had to leave their original networks for whatever reason.
We’ve chosen to focus mainly on the original Netflix content developed by the network, but thanks to some incredible options offered by Netflix, we’ve included a few co-developed and international offerings you must see. Also, this list is mostly aimed at teenagers or adults. Netflix has a lot of family-friendly content, but if you’re looking for the next best show to watch on your own, you’ll probably be happy with what’s offered below. In no particular order, these are the best Netflix Original series you can watch right now. Let’s dive in.
This sitcom was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and stars Ellie Kemper (of The Office) in the title role. 29-year-old Kimmy was rescued from a Doomsday Cult after spending 15 years as an underground hostage, held by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (played by Jon Hamm). She moves to New York to begin her life as an adult, and we get to follow her as she discovers our weird modern world with enthusiasm and zany naivete. Any fans of Fey and Carlock's previous show, 30 Rock will find plenty to love here, including actress Jane Krakowski, who played Jenna Maroney on Fey's previous sitcom. The show has three seasons currently streaming on Netflix, and has been renewed for a fourth season, the first half of which will premiere on Netflix on May 30th.
For twelve seasons and over six hundred episodes, Joel McHale hosted The Soup on E!, a show that focused on McHale sarcastically recapping the week's best and (far more often) worst moments in television. Mocking reality shows, singing competitions, morning talk shows, and even scripted content that seemed to get a bit too ridiculous, McHale's dry sense of humor and the anything-goes attitude resulted in the show growing a cult audience over its 11 years on the air. Though The Soup was cancelled at the end of 2015, Netflix announced in January they had picked up The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, a series that followed closely with The Soup while also allowing for McHale to riff on more global content, as opposed to sticking with American content alone. Any fans of The Soup will find themselves right at home with The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, which premiered on February 18th and has new episodes premiere every Sunday.
Jessica Jones is Marvel's second comic-based series on Netflix. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is a super-powered private eye who mostly wants to be left alone. The one person who won't leave her alone is the villainous Kilgrave, an eccentric psychopath with the power to control minds, played by a terrifying David Tennant. Of the four Marvel-based shows on Netflix, Jones might be the easiest to get into: Ritter is wonderful as the lead character, and Tennant shows a side of himself that Doctor Who fans won't recognize. If you only watch one Marvel show, make it this one—oh, and The Defenders, which sees the return of Jones fighting alongside Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Iron Fist in a war for New York. Two seasons are currently streaming.
The name was a bit of a non-controversy when Netflix first announced the show in 2017, especially since the show is based on a film of the same name first released without any major internet controversies in 2014, but regardless, the show itself is truly excellent. Dear White People comes from the director of the original film, Justin Simien, who took the ideas he originally developed in the film and remade them into this 10-episode season of television. The show follows a crew of black students at a historically-white university, where they must deal with social injustice, finding their way in life, romance, and yes, a bit of racism from some of the other students. Starring Logan Browning as college-radio host Samantha White (the name of the show comes from her radio program, something that manages to get her into some serious hot water), the entire cast here is excellent, as is the cinematography and editing. Season two premieres sometime this year.
If you're into crime and serial killer dramas, Mindhunter just might be your newest obsession. This Netflix original series premiered in October and is based on the nonfiction book of the same title, detailing the profession of John Douglas, a legendary figure in the FBI's Serial Crime Unit. Douglas was previously the model for Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs, and with Mindhunter on Netflix, we finally get to see some of his stories and tales adapted for the small screen. Jonathan Groff portrays Holden Ford, a special agent for the FBI in the 1970s working for that very same Serial Crime Unit, trying to solve serial killers by delving into the mind of some of the worst murderers in the United States. The cast also includes Anna Torv, previously seen on Fringe, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, and Colton Smith. Produced by Charlize Theron and David Fincher, the latter of whom also directed four episodes of the series, his second Netflix show after previously working on season one of House of Cards. No official announcement has been made, but it does sound like Mindhunter will be back for a second season in 2018.
Moving away briefly from fictional situations, Last Chance U is a docuseries following the East Mississippi Community College football program, one of the most successful junior college-level schools in the entire country. That team, the Lions, are famous for being the last chance for players who have been reduced from Division I football teams due to academic or disciplinary issues, to make it back to Division I in order to continue their careers. Lions players often come from troubled backgrounds, and the academic struggles of each of the players is focused on in each episode. Together with the academic advisor Brittany Wagner, and head coach Buddy Stephens, the team's players attempt to make it back to Division I schools by improving their test scores—and by winning games. Two seasons are now streaming; a third season in 2018 will follow Independence Community College in Kansas.
Based on the novel of the same name by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon takes place in 2384, placing viewers in a cyberpunk reality not far off from films like Blade Runner or last year's sequel, Blade Runner 2049. In this future, the memories of each person have been separated and placed in "cortical stacks," storage devices originally designed by aliens that have been mass-produced and placed into the vertebrae of the neck of every person. With bodies now functioning as a shell for the human consciousness, the physical part of ourselves—now called "sleeves"—have become disposable. The story begins when Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman, Suicide Squad) wakes up 250 years following the last removal of his previous sleeve, and is given the choice to spend the rest of time in prison for his crimes, or to help solve a murder case.
Glow is one of the best new shows of 2017, founded on the same idea of comedy, drama, and the exploration of womanhood that made Orange is the New Black such a massive success at Netflix. In Glow, you'll explore the world of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, or GLOW, an 80s wrestling expansion designed to appeal to fans of traditional male wrestling with over-the-top comedy and some sexualization of the wrestlers. Glow stars Alison Brie (Community) as Ruth Wilder, a down-and-out actress who stumbles upon an audition for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling league. While trying to manage her new life as a wrestler, Ruth must also deal with GLOW's director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) and the arrival of her former best friend, Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin). Glow has been praised since its inception, having been nominated for several critics awards and making it onto a dozen best-of lists in 2017. A second season will premiere sometime in 2018.
Bloodline is not a show for everyone. It's a slow-paced drama, and though watching the pieces on this chessboard move slowly throughout three full seasons, it can be a bit of a slog for someone looking for action-based entertainment. Still, this Netflix original thriller follows a dysfunctional family of hotel owners in Monroe County, Florida, and if you can get over the slow pace of the story, is really quite good. When Danny, the black sheep of the family, comes home, no one is happy to see him. Skeletons will be brought out of closets, and family will consider unthinkable crimes. The series stars Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame, which earned him an Emmy nomination for his performance in season one. The series, which just closed out its third and final season, also stars Ben Mendelsohn (who also received an Emmy nom) and Linda Cardellini of Freaks and Geeks fame.
From the creator of cult TV classics like Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Better Off Ted comes Santa Clarita Diet. This horror-comedy series stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as a married pair of real estate agents living in Santa Clarita, California. While trying to close on a house, Sheila (Barrymore) begins to vomit extensively. When the emergency room fails to take her in, they return home, only to discover that Sheila lacks a heartbeat and is, effectively, dead. Now driven by her ID more than anything else, Sheila, Joel (Olyphant), their daughter Abby, and their neighbor Eric must protect Sheila's zombie secret from the world—which becomes all the more difficult when Sheila kills their friend Gary in the backyard. The show has two seasons streaming; no word yet on a third season.
There's nothing like Wormwood on television right now, and that's what makes it so special. Part docudrama, part miniseries, this six-part epic is brought to you by director Errol Morris, best known for his documentaries Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line, and The Fog of War. In Wormwood, Morris sits down with Eric Olsen, the son of Frank Olsen, an employee at the CIA in the 1940s and 50s who died under mysterious circumstances in 1953. The miniseries switches back and forth between Eric attempting to learn the truth about what his father endured as part of a secret training experiment, and reenactments of Frank's life, where he's played by Peter Sarsgaard. Molly Parker, Tim Blake Nelson, and Christian Camargo also star in this series that will have you on the edge of your seat through all six chapters.
Like Wormwood, no one can argue that Lady Dynamite isn't one of the most original things on the air today. Created by Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Pam Brady and based on the life of comedian Maria Bamford, Lady Dynamite stars Bamford as herself, a comedian moving back to Los Angeles after spending six months of her life in recovery for bipolar disorder. Though certainly a sitcom, Lady Dynamite puts a focus on mental health issues and stability, and uses the visual effects readily available in this decade to create a truly remarkable sitcom. Bamford is one of the funniest comedians working today, with her cheery delivered able to cut deep with jokes about depression, suicide, and more. The show was cancelled in early 2018 after a two season run, but that doesn't stop Lady Dynamite from being one of the best shows on Netflix today.
Fans of the delightfully dismal book series and movies won’t be disappointed in this adaptation starring Neil Patrick Harris as the wonderfully wicked Count Olaf. Author Daniel Handler adapted his own material and co-produced the series, which allows a more faithful re-telling than the big-screen version starring Jim Carrey. Season one captures the first four volumes of the thirteen novels published by Handler (under the pen name Lemony Snicket). The troubles of the Baudelaire orphans are lots of fun for us with gorgeous, Tim Burtonesque set design and high production values. If you're a fan of the novels, you'll need to check this one out. Season two just premiered on March 30th, covering books five through nine, and a confirmed third and final season will cover the remaining books.
One of the few shows on Netflix to have been revived from a different network, Arrested Development premiered on Netflix on May 26th, 2013, just a few months after Netflix debuted their first original show, House of Cards. Arrested Development's original run from 2003 to 2006 on Fox was critically acclaimed, but a low viewing audience (for the time) meant it squeaked by quietly unnoticed by much of its potential fanbase. Years of strong DVD sales and, yes, streaming on Netflix, meant that the show was able to be picked up for a fourth season distributed by Netflix, exciting the fanbase and continuing the adventures of the Bluth family. Though the fourth season is occasionally seen as a disappointment (the cast, which includes Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Cera, Tony Hale, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, and Alia Shawkat, have all gone on to do major film and television roles, which made scheduling the fourth season difficult), the show is absolutely worth watching in its entirety. Even more exciting: after years of waiting, a fifth season continuing the story will premiere in 2018.
Originally produced as a Crackle Original, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee became a Netflix Original when its nine Crackle seasons made the move to Netflix in January of 2018. The show's premise is simple enough: each episode involves comedian Jerry Seinfeld introducing a vintage car of his choice and a guest comedian. As they drive around to get coffee, Jerry and his guest talk about anything that comes up, occasionally causing the show to take some pretty strange detours. The episodes have been shuffled and recreated from its original nine seasons into four "collections," each with a cute name like "First Cup" or "Late Night Espresso." Every episode from Crackle's nine seasons is currently streaming with the exception of the Seinfeld reunion episode; season ten will feature twenty-four additional episodes and premiere sometime this year.
Grace and Frankie is the ideal example of how you can start a show with a rocky beginning, and eventually—through finding your own footing as an independent show, become critically acclaimed and lauded for your representation and sense of humor. The show stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as Grace and Frankie, respectively, two retired women whose husbands work together as successful divorce lawyers. At the start of the show, their husbands—played here by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston—leave their wives after announcing they've fallen in love with each other, leaving the two women to deal with their incoming divorces with each other. Despite Grace and Frankie's mutual dislike of each other, the two women band together to try and navigate the next phase of their lives. Season four premiered in January of 2018, and the show was renewed for a fifth season in February.
Easy isn't your typical kind of Netflix show. While most shows feature the same characters throughout each episode of a season, and some shows (referred to as anthology shows) switch up the characters every season to tell a whole new story, Easy is an anthology series where each episode tells a new story about love, relationships, and drama with brand-new characters. Occasionally, characters you meet in one episode will cross over into other stories (for example, Aya Cash plays Sherri in one episode in season one and two episodes in season two), while some characters are met once, followed, and not seen again in the show. Easy is brought to you by Joe Swanberg, a major player in the mumblecore movement in film during the 2000s and the director of films like Happy Christmas and Drinking Buddies. Whether his oeuvre is your thing really depends on personal taste, but for every indie film lover out there, this is the perfect show for you.
The first of many Marvel-Netflix partnerships, Daredevil follows the adventures of Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day and masked vigilante by night. As Murdock fights crime in his spare time in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, he faces down organized crime and eventually more supernatural threats. Daredevil set the bar for Marvel's Netflix offerings, with strong performances, visual style to spare, and impressive martial arts action. Daredevil is far from a perfect show, but it is one of the first Marvel series on television to truly work. Two seasons of the show are currently available to watch (along with the Defenders crossover series), with season three coming to the service sometime in the future.
This musical drama chronicles the birth of hip-hop and the death of disco, set in the South Bronx in 1977. The show was created by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann, whose specific art design and style has won over fans of his aesthetic worldwide. Though the series initially suffers from a slow burn, the show is both creative and visually-inspired, with a diverse cast led by Jaden Smith and Jimmy Smits. The show finished airing after two "parts," making it a perfect weekend binge for fans of musical dramas and R&B alike. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “It suffers from a 90-minute pilot that will be divisive in its aesthetic choices--think West Side Story, not Spike Lee--but rises again in the next two episodes to give all the crazy a chance at becoming something really good.” If you had a strong opinion about Moulin Rouge or 1996's Romeo + Juliet, you'll probably feel similarly about The Get Down; series co-creator Baz Luhrmann directed both of those films in his signature bombastic style.
Nostalgia for the 1990s has hit a peak throughout the 2010s, so it makes sense for one of Netflix's newest original comedies to focus on teenagers growing up at a small-town high school in 1996. Everything Sucks! follows two groups of students at Boring High School in 1996. The first, a group of freshmen boys, are seen as outcasts among the high school until they join the A/V Club. Meanwhile the Drama Club deals with the destruction of their sets, causing the school play to be cancelled. The two groups come together when Luke, one of the freshmen, suggest the Drama Club work with the A/V Club to create a student film. The show isn't perfect—some reviews criticized the show's over-the-top tropes—but the performances are solid, and the latter half of its first season really picks up the pace. If Everything Sucks! is a show about figuring out who you are, it makes some amount of sense for the show to take its time finding out what it is as well. The show hasn't been renewed for a second season yet, but the ten-episode first season premiered in February.
A romantic comedy developed by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust, Love is a down-to-earth look at dating that explores the nature of romantic relationships through a variety of characters. Stars Rust and Community's Gillian Jacobs are forced to navigate their newly-formed relationship. The series isn't perfect—it suffers from a number of problems we've seen with other Apatow productions, including an overlong pilot—but if you're in the mood for some dark romantic comedy in the vein of You're the Worst or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you'll find plenty to love here (no pun intended). All three seasons are premiering, with the third and final having been released last month.
In this Marvel superhero story, Mike Colter plays Luke Cage, an ex-con with unbreakable skin and super strength who also made an appearance as a short-term love interest on Jessica Jones. Luke wants to live a quiet life, but his determination to right wrongs makes him a reluctant hero of Harlem—and a target for local gangsters with big plans. When Pop, the barber he works for, is murdered, this serious and soulful man becomes the reluctant hero, righting some of the wrongs in the neighborhood. That means he has to come up against Cottonmouth Stokes, the gangster who runs a nightclub—and the neighborhood. This third series from Netflix and Marvel stands out with both a thoughtful focus on its largely African-American cast and a winking 70s Blaxploitation aesthetic. It's tons of fun.
It's a little hard to recommend someone start watching House of Cards in 2018, but the show remains popular enough to stay on our list for now. Netflix's first original series, the show follows congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey, whom will talk more about in a moment), who manipulates politicians and the general public to push his own agenda from behind the scenes, with the help of his wife Claire (Robin Wright) and his assistant Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly). If you haven't already dived into House of Cards, of course, whether now is the time is really up to you. After a strong first season (buoyed by two episodes directed by David Fincher, who also worked on Mindhunter on Netflix), the show has received a fairly mixed critical reception for its spinning plot lines. Kevin Spacey's presence is certainly uncomfortable as well, following the accusation and subsequent admission of sexual assault by Spacey towards young men in Hollywood over several years. Spacey has been removed from the show, which is set to end with a truncated sixth and final season in 2018 now starring Robin Wright as the lead character. A teaser for that final season premiered in March, and we expect the show out sometime this fall.
The original One Day at a Time ran for nine years from 1975 to 1984, and was developed by TV legend Norman Lear (and created by Whitney Blake and Allan Manings). When Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce decided to recreate the original sitcom for Netflix, they chose to rework the entire show to focus on a Latinx family consisting of single-mother Penelope (Justina Machado), her children Elena and Alex, and her mother Lydia (played by EGOT winner Rita Moreno, one of twelve people ever to manage to win all four awards). Together, they help Penelope manage her love life, family life, and her difficulties adjusting to normal life after being involved with the military and going back to school. One Day at a Time is regarded as one of the best shows on television right now, and with two seasons currently streaming, you have plenty to catch up on. The show was renewed for a third season in March.
Over the last few years, the true crime genre has seen something of a renaissance in popular culture. Though true crime has been around for decades as both a film and literary art form (think Helter Skelteror Capote's In Cold Blood, of which the latter has spawned three different film adaptations), both season one of Serial--a weekly podcast covering the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee--and Netflix's own Making a Murderer have brought new fans to the genre. It was only time until someone stepped up to parody the tropes of a true crime series, and that's exactly what American Vandal intends to do. Shot as a mockumentary, Vandal tells the story of a high school prank gone wrong, with several faculty cars tagged and vandalized. The series plays its subject matter straight-faced, with a sophomore from the school investigating whether the accused senior was responsible. American Vandal spawned from two creators who previously worked on Funny or Die and CollegeHumor, so if you're in the mood for a full satire of the true crime craze, it's a perfect show to binge. An eight-episode season one is currently streaming on Netflix, and you can watch the trailer for the upcoming season two here.
The original Gilmore Girls ran from 2000 to 2007, telling the story of Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory, and their reconnections with Lorelai's parents after nearly two decades of radio silence. The show is known for its pop culture references, it's incredible sense of wit, and its fast-paced dialogue, and though the later seasons of the show (particularly the sixth and creator-less seventh season) were rough, the show is held in high regard today. And so, a revival was nothing if not necessary, bringing back almost the entire cast in some shape and form (with the exception of the incredible Edward Herrmann, who played Richard Gilmore on the original show) and recreating the magic for one miniseries in Gilmore Girls: A Day in the Life. Though certainly not a perfect recreation, any Gilmore-head reading this will want to make sure they don't miss out on the continuing adventures of Lorelai and Luke, Rory and Logan (and Jess!), and Emily's new Richard-less life.
In the mid-2000s, Bravo aired a series titled Queer Eye, a show that used the stereotype of gay men as experts in fashion, grooming, interior design, and culture to makeover another person (usually a heterosexual man), offering advice on grooming, lifestyle choices, and diets. The show was revived as a Netflix Original in 2018 with an eight-episode first season, following an all-new "Fab Five" and now filmed in Atlanta as opposed to New York. The revival has seen critical praise, with most reviewers describing the show as a strong adaptation for a modern, more-accepting era while still retaining the same sense of fun and charm that the original series had in the 2000s. Though the show hasn't been officially renewed for a second season, creator and showrunner David Collins has spoken about wanting to bring a second season to the midwest, where he grew up.
Master of None represents the culmination of much of Aziz Ansari's stand-up, which focuses primarily on relationships and dating in the 21st century. Ansari, who also co-created and writes the show along with Alan Yang, stars as Dev Shah, an actor living in New York who hasn't seen much success over his career. In the first moments of the show, we find him hooking up with a girl named Rachel, an incident that ends with a trip to the drug store for Plan B. The show revolves around Dev's relationships with both his friends and women, including Rachel, and see him exploring career options, trying new things, and even travelling the world. With some incredible cinematography, acting, and specific standalone episodes like the Emmy-winning "Thanksgiving" or "New York, I Love You," Master of None represents a must-watch. The first two seasons are streaming on Netflix; no word on a third season yet, but if it does arrive, it won't be until 2019 or later.
Eight strangers from around the world find that they are psychically linked to each other's minds, experiencing whatever the other seven feel. This strange but promising premise comes courtesy of the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas). It shuffles a diverse, interesting cast in creative ways, making for lots of intriguing, unexpected developments. Despite the complicated plot, the fanbase grew a cult following over its first two seasons of production. The show was unexpectedly cancelled after those two seasons, but public outcry from the show's massive fan base led to the greenlighting of an upcoming two-hour Netflix original movie in 2018 to wrap up the show's plotlines.
In all honesty, this show shouldn't have worked. The original Wet Hot American Summer, first released in 2001 to middling reviews and poor box office returns before slowly but surely growing into a cult classic, is like lightning in a bottle. Nearly every line or action in the film is quotable ("You taste like a burger. I don't like you anymore."; "The phone! The phone! Where's the—phone!"; several other quotes we can't mention on a family-friendly site), the cast is filled with incredible names you'd recognize immediately (Amy Poehler! Bradley Cooper! Paul Rudd! Molly Shannon! Christopher Meloni! Elizabeth Banks! The voice of H. Jon Benjamin!), and it's basically endlessly rewatchable. So when this prequel series set at the start of the 1981 summer covered in the film hit just as hard as the original, we were as shocked as anyone. Fans of the original must see this continuation of a cult classic.
...and once you're done watching First Day of Camp, you can jump back in with Ten Years Later, the series that makes good on the promise set during the original film to reunite exactly ten years after their summer at camp, in 1991. Ten Years Later doesn't hit quite as hard as the original film or First Day of Camp, playing almost like a greatest hits and a reunion special than even the original prequel series did. But for those fans of the original film, you can't quite beat seeing what happened to your favorite character over the decade since they went to camp together. This is as much a sequel to First Day of Camp as it is to the original film, so you'll want to make sure you've seen both before diving into the closing chapter of the Wet Hot American Summer story.
Wild Wild Country is a docuseries from Netflix that covers a controversial community of followers that was based in Oregon. The tale begins when controversial Indian guru Rajneesh moves into a large settlement of land in Oregon covering almost 65,000 acres. As the guru and his followers begin to try to build a community and town, tensions rise with the surrounding towns. As violence begins to break out between the two collections of Oregon residents, the government looks to step in to prevent more attacks. It's a must-watch documentary, produced by the Duplass brothers and directed by Mcclain and Chapman Way. And at only six episodes, it doesn't take long to watch at all.
One of the biggest documentary series in recent history, Making a Murderer became a cultural phenomenon when it premiered at the tail end of 2015, offering viewers the story of Steven Avery, a man who served 18 years in prison for sexual assault and attempted murder before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2003. Though the show briefly covers these events, the true tale picks up in 2005, when Avery is arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach. The show explores the issues that led to Avery's original conviction, along with pointing out that the sheriff's department may have had it out for Avery when they arrested him in 2005. Brendan Dassey, Avery's nephew, is also followed through the series as he goes through the legal process following his arrest for the crime, a charge largely based on his admission under interrogation. Making a Murderer is chilling, especially in our current societal state, but it's a must-see. A second season is forthcoming.
In the late 1980s, a show premiered on cable access television in Minneapolis on Thanksgiving, an unassuming show that promised to mock classic B-movies with a full commentary track. The show exploded in popularity, and when the cable access station filed for bankruptcy in 1989, the creators of the show took the opportunity to jump to a national level. Mystery Science Theater 3000 made its premiere on Comedy Central in 1989, nearly a full year following its premiere on KTMA-TV, and since then, the show has aired ten seasons over two networks, and published a major motion picture released in theaters. So when the show returned to Kickstarter in 2015, it wasn't surprising that the show managed to surpass its goal. In April 2017, the show finally premiered on Netflix with a whole new season, new host (comedian Jonah Ray!) and brand new movies to make fun of. MST3K: The Return marks a new start for the series, and thankfully for fans of the long-running bad movie show, it's only the beginning: a twelfth season is coming soon.
This Netflix original series traces the rise and fall of real-life drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), and the U.S. and Colombian authorities who worked to bring him down. The series has a documentary sensibility, and is very true-to-life when the showrunners must have been tempted to sensationalize things. The show doesn't have many sympathetic characters, but the tense writing and strong performances will keep you invested. Two seasons were previously streaming, and a third recently released on September 1st. If you're new to the show, be careful to avoid spoilers!
The Punisher has a mixed history on the big screen. The first Punisher film, made in 1989 and starring Sylvester Stallone as Frank Castle, was released to negative reviews and a poor box-office return. In 2004, Thomas Jane stepped into the role for some mild success, though once again, a poor critical reception. A sequel was planned and subsequently cancelled, and the series was rebooted for the silver screen just four years later, with Punisher: War Zone, directed by Lexi Alexander. The film tanked at the box office, and Frank Castle was finally hung up to dry by the studios until 2016, when he was unleashed as a supporting character in season two of Netflix's Daredevil. Now Castle is back with his own show, played by The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal, also recently seen in this summer's sleeper hit Baby Driver. Though not lauded by critics, most agree this is the best adaptation of the character yet, with the 13-episode first season having premiered in November 2017 (following its delay after attacks in Las Vegas). If you're a fan of the Marvel universe or its characters, you'll enjoy the gritty take on Marvel's vigilante. It doesn't quite hit the highs of Jessica Jones, but we're excited to see something new coming from Marvel and Netflix.
Look, those readers trying to find the next great American drama won't be interested in this, but bare with us. For our teenage readers looking for something relatable and filled with both laughter and drama, you'll want to give Netflix's continuation of the long-running Canadian teen-soap Degrassi a try. Next Class picks up right where Next Generation picked up, retaining several characters introduced in the later seasons of the show while introducing new characters along the way, but it's the perfect place to jump in if you're new to the show. With higher production values and shorter seasons than before, binging through the first four seasons of this Gen-Z drama won't take long at all. Next Class tackles a new major issue every season, from online harassment and gender issues to the plights of modern refugees and police brutality towards minority students. Degrassi's at its peak with this new series, and seasons five and six are currently in the planning stages.
The Crown follows the early life of Queen Elizabeth II, first beginning as she marries Prince Philip in 1947, and intends to cover the entirety of the Queen's life before the show wraps up. Based partially on the 2006 film The Queen, Peter Morgan (writer of the 2006 film) creates a world that covers the drama and intensity of ruling in the aftermath of World War II. The series has been acclaimed for its production value and performances, as well as its immaculate cinematography. Each season seems ready to cover about a decade of time in total, with plans in place for both season two and three. Claire Foy (Rosewater) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) play Elizabeth II and Philip, respectively, and are joined by John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. Seasons one and two are currently streaming, with season three set to premiere sometime in 2018. Olivia Colman (Peep Show, The Lobster) and Tobias Menzies (Outlander) will take over for Foy and Smith.
Charlie Brooker might be best known as a presenter and broadcaster on British television, but Brooker is also the creator of one of the best science-fiction shows on television. A modern day Twilight Zone, Black Mirror first started airing in 2011 in Britain, but it wasn't until the series moved to Netflix in 2014 that it began to grow in popularity Stateside. The show, which recently premiered its fourth season, has now hit nineteen full episodes of varying length (ranging from a breezy 41 minutes to a full 89-minute, movie style film), each with different actors, writers, and plot that takes place in a not-so-distant future, exploring our paranoia, our modern society, and how the future of technology might lead us down terrifying paths. Most of the show isn't meant to be watched lightly, typically featuring a sense of cynicism and dark satire, but a few episodes—"San Junipero" in particular—highlight their happy endings in a way that subverts expectations. If you're a fan of science-fiction or anthology series, you'll fall in love with Black Mirror. Definitely check it out.
Do you consider yourself a fan of strange, dark, obscure humor? Fans of shows like Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job or sketch shows like Kroll Show and Key and Peele owe it to themselves to check out Mr. Show with Bob and David, an influential 90s sketch show that helped kickstart the careers of both Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. Once you've visited some of the best sketches from that HBO show on YouTube, check out the Netflix successor, W/ Bob and David, a four-part sketch show (along with a Making-of documentary) that allows Odenkirk and Cross a break from their major careers as actors and award-winning comedians to get back to where they started. It isn't a perfect show (as with any sketch show, not every sketch lands), but with only four parts, it's more than worth watching. Both Cross and Odenkirk have hinted they want to make more episodes, but Odenkirk's Better Call Saul schedule makes it difficult at the moment.
Based on the bestselling novel, 13 Reasons Why is a chilling teen mystery drama that follows high school student Clay Jensen in the aftermath of the suicide of his friend Hannah Baker. When Clay, still in mourning from the loss of Hannah, comes home to find a box of cassette tapes on his porch, he's shocked to discover each tape is an audio diary made by Hannah, detailing the thirteen reasons she decided to take her own life. Clay is shocked when he discovers that each person who receives the box of tapes is one of the reasons, and as he works through each side of the tap, Clay begins to piece together what he did that put him on the list, and the hardships Hannah had faced prior to taking her life. 13 Reasons Why is a hard watch, and one that shouldn't be seen around young children or, arguably, teenagers with histories of mental health issues (depression, anxiety, and so on), because the show can be potentially triggering. Still, for teenagers and young adults looking for a mystery-drama, 13 Reasons Why is slick and well-produced. A second season following the same characters (not based on a book) will premiere in 2018.
We couldn't complete a list of the best Netflix originals without mentioning their anime output. It's started slow, but Netflix currently has more than 30 original anime productions being worked on, and one of their first also happens to be one of their best. Castlevania is a four episode anime based on the video game of the same name. Whereas a Castlevania film would likely flop (as most video game-related films do), the anime series is able to use its stylish approach to the material to tell a fascinating story. After losing his wife to being burned at the stake for witchcraft, Count Dracula declares all citizens of Wallachia to be his enemies. With the world overrun with monsters, Trevor Belmont, a disgraced demon hunter, begins to fight back against the Count, aided by magician Sypha and Dracula's half-son Alucard. The series is based directly on the third Castlevania game, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, released in 1989 in Japan for the NES, but the artwork is far more similar to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, still considered one of the best games ever made. A second season featuring eight episodes is in production.
This Netflix documentary series may raise a lot of buried, raw feelings in viewers, but it's worth watching for its message and what it presents. Taking place at the same time as the 2016 presidential election, Flint Town follows residents of Flint, Michigan between November 2015 and February 2017, in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis that occurred in 2014 and is still ongoing. Flint Town focuses specifically on the thoughts and conflicted emotions of the Flint-area police officers, as the police department lowers from 300 cops to just 98 for 100,000 people, one of the lowest ratios in the country to date. Flint Town is a tough watch, but for anyone interested in the politics and the emotions of modern Americans, it's a must-see.
Another limited-run miniseries similar to Wormwood, Godless is a western-drama following Roy Goode (Jack O'Connell, Skins, Unbroken), an injured outlaw on the run from a former boss. Jeff Daniels plays Frank Griffin, the boss Goode is running from, who hunts down his former son-like partner after being betrayed during a robbery. Over seven episodes, a tale of revenge, defense, and romance play out over a gorgeous backdrop of sand, dirt, and sun, as Daniels delivers an incredible performance. With co-stars Scoot McNairy, Kim Coates, and Sam Waterston (previously mentioned in Grace and Frankie) also appearing throughout the show as allies and enemies to Goode, this drama is perfect for anyone looking for a single story told over just a few episodes. Bonus: the show was created by Scott Frank, who also wrote 2017's superhero-western hit Logan.
And now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one man who had no choice but to keep them all together. No, it's not Arrested Development again—it's Ozark, a new crime drama from Netflix starring Jason Bateman. He plays Marty, a self-employed financial adviser who lives with his family in Chicago. While there, he and his partner begin laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. Marty is forced to relocate his family to the Missouri Ozarks after one of his money laundering schemes goes south. The show isn't perfect, and has drawn its fair share of comparisons to Breaking Bad (especially with Bateman, a comedic actor, taking on a dark dramatic role, as Bryan Cranston did before him), but with some excellent performances and incredible cinematography, any fans of Bateman, Breaking Bad, or crime thrillers won't want to pass up this excellent Netflix original. Season one is currently streaming; the show was recently renewed for a second season.
Romantic comedy fans, rejoice—you aren't out of luck. While shows like Crazy Ex Girlfriend take the tropes of the classic rom-com and flip them on their head, fans of more traditional, if slightly raunchy, comedy originated by the likes of When Harry Met Sally will fall in love with Lovesick, a British import co-produced by Netflix with three seasons streaming on our favorite service. The show was probably best known for its original name, Scrotal Recall, which picked up a lot of flack when the first season premiered in 2014. Don't let it fool you, though, because the name change was a good way to get new viewers onto this excellent love story about a man going back through his romantic history to figure out where it all gone wrong (and, well, also to let his past lovers know about a health concern). Lovesick's third season just premiered on Netflix on New Year's Day 2018, which gives you plenty of time to fall in love with Dylan, Luke, and Evie if you haven't already. Definitely check this one out: it's a hidden gem.
Don't let the cartoonish-look of the show fool you—Big Mouth is very much an adult-animated sitcom about growing up as an awkward tween and teen. Created by comedian Nick Kroll (best known for The Kroll Show on Comedy Central) and writer Andrew Goldberg (Family Guy), along with Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, the show is based loosely on Kroll and Goldberg's experiences growing up together in the suburbs of New York. Kroll plays Nick Burch, while close contributor and fellow comedian John Mulaney steps in to play Andrew Glouberman, along with an all-star cast of comedians and voice actors, including Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate, Jessi Klein, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, and Jordan Peele. The show has received critical acclaim for dealing with teenage issues in a realistic matter while simultaneously not shying away from the gross parts of growing up. A ten-episode season one is currently airing on Netflix, and a second season has been ordered for some time in 2018.
Stranger Things is both a loving tribute to 1980s science-fiction and horror, while also telling the story of four children growing up in the '80s who find their town hides supernatural secrets. The story begins when Will, one of the four boys returning home after a night of playing Dungeons and Dragons, goes missing without a trace, leaving behind a lost girl with a shaved head in his place. With twists and turns, gruesome murders, and a mystery as thrilling to solve as it is to watch play out, it's no wonder Stranger Things was a breakout hit when it first premiered in the summer of 2016. Featuring outstanding performances from Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Will's mother Joyce and the town's police chief Jim Hopper, respectively, plus breakout stars Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard (who you may recognize from 2017's It adaptation), Stranger Things is a must-see piece of entertainment. Season two dropped in October of this year, and a third season is already under pre-production. We'll stop short of calling the show a masterpiece, but if you're in the mood for some good, old-fashioned fun, there's plenty to be found here.
BoJack Horseman is set in an alternate reality where humans and anthropomorphic animals co-exist together. BoJack is the washed-up star of a '90s sitcom titled Horsin' Around, a show similar to Full House in nearly every regard. Though early episodes deal with his plan to return to stardom and relevance by writing an autobiography, BoJack Horseman isn't just another animated adult sitcom. This show focuses on celebrity culture, drug abuse, anxiety and depression in a way no other show has quite managed to do. Though we're living in a golden age of dark comedies (see also: You're the Worst, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), BoJack Horseman stands out not just as the best of the bunch, but one of the best Netflix original series to date. Despite a slow start in early episodes, the back half of the first season one sees the BoJack team find their footing, and season two onwards is must-watch television. The fourth season of this Emmy-nominated show just premiered on Netflix, and all four seasons are currently available for streaming, with a fifth on its way in 2018.
Netflix has plenty of options for coming-of-age series, from Stranger Things to One Day at a Time. On My Block is one of the few shows that deals with the lives of teenagers living in an inner-city. Set in modern Los Angeles, the series follows four brilliant teenagers as they begin high school in their neighborhood. Monse is a bossy tomboy and the leader of their friend group of Afro-Latina descent looking for her birth mother; Ruby is a genius at math and of Mexican descent; Jamal is the nerd of the group, and is African-American; Cesar is the intelligent friend, but is forced into gang life when his brother is released from prison. Together, the four friends have to try to navigate their school lives and their personal lives. The show has been praised by critics and viewers alike for its representation, direction, acting, and writing. Don't miss this one.