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 actually 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!