The Best Netflix Original Series Right Now, Ranked!
Netflix’s best series is also one of its most underrated. Set in a world where anthropomorphic animals and humans live side-by-side, BoJack Horseman is about a horse named Bojack (Arnett), the washed-up star of the 1990s sitcom Horsin’ Around.
A throwback and love letter to the early 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, the Duffer Brothers Stranger Things feels both familiar and new. The first season is about a boy named Will (think E.T.‘s Elliot) who is captured by a The Thing-like creature and trapped in a Poltergeist-like world.
Jenji Kohan’s knack for social commentary mixed with humor is perfect for a prison story. Orange Is the New Black is as funny as Weeds in its early years, but Kohan has found a way to infuse poignancy to the overall vibe of her stories.
In theory, American Vandal sounds silly and sophomoric, and it is, but it’s also a genuinely brilliant, incredibly clever, smartly written satire of true-crime documentaries. It plays just like any other true crime docuseries — interviews, investigations, multiple suspects, and numerous conspiracy theories — only the crime here is not a murder.
In Mindhunter, Jonathan Groff plays Holden Ford, a character based on the real-life John E. Douglas (the inspiration for Jack Crawford in the Hannibal series). The series itself is based on the origins of an actual behavioral science unit in the FBI used to study serial killers in the 1970s and 80s.
Natasha Lyonne stars in this Groundhog Day-from-hell remake about a woman who’s forced to relive the last day of her life over and over again. It’s been done before, but this series stands out thanks to its mix of dark humor and a tinge of the supernatural
Relentlessly positive, infinitely quotable, and insanely likable, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt applies the quick-witted, reference-heavy comedy of 30 Rock to the life of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), a woman who moves to New York after being rescued from a doomsday cult.
Aziz Ansari’s Master of None is a post-racial dating and relationship sitcom about millennials. Like the better dating sitcoms of the past, the series still manages to capture the anxieties of dating, of new relationships, and of settling down, only it successfully brings in texting and social media into the mix naturally and without calling attention to itself.
G.L.O.W., from exec producer Jenji Kohan and a couple of her proteges, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, is based on the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television series. Set in the 1980s, G.L.O.W. sees a group of failed actresses and assorted misfits shaped into a female wrestling league by a cult-flick screenwriter (Marc Maron) and a trust-fund kid (Chris Lowell).
Superhero team-ups are a dime a dozen but the TV adaptation of this award-winning comic series created by Gerard Way — yes, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance — feels wholly unique and thus, totally refreshing. The show follows the story of seven kids, all born on the same day to mothers who didn’t even know they were pregnant.
Following in the footsteps of Nick Kroll’s Big Mouth, this British teem comedy is committed to exploring all of the cringe-worthy, taboo topic associated with sex, just not in animated form. The series follows a mother-son duo navigating their way through those uncomfortable “talks.
One of the best and most underappreciated series on Netflix, Dear White People is a television adaptation that manages to improve exponentially on the movie upon which it is based. From creator Justin Simien, Dear White People is a smart, insightful, thoughtful and at times sharply funny examination of racial politics on a college campus, where it’s more than just black people pitted against white people; it’s woke people vs. those who aren’t woke; black people fighting the system versus black people trying to work within the system; and light-skinned black people versus darker skinned black people.
This coming-of-age series set in the ’90s could easily be described as the comedic counterpart to Stranger Things, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a sweet, funny, and heartfelt show about a group of high school kids — popular, unpopular and in-between — searching for their own identities and trying to find their place not only in high school but in the world.
Exec produced by Steven Soderbergh and written, directed, and created by Scott Frank, who wrote Logan and Out of Sight, Godless, is equal parts a feminist Western and s a show about fathers and sons. The series is set in the 1880s in the small mining town of La Belle, where nearly all of the town’s men have died in a mining accident. Enter Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), a charming gunslinger on the run from the mentor he double-crossed, Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), who — along with his crew out desperadoes — had already murdered everyone in another small town for harboring Goode. T
Brilliantly shot, excellently choreographed, and superbly written, Daredevil lives so far outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as to be completely distinct. It is darker, more brutal, and grittier than the film franchise, although there are enough light and humor in the show to make its characters sympathetic. The series nails the tone of the comic, the characters are complex, and it really understands the grey area between hero and villain, and the fine line between the two where violence is concerned.
The animated, coming-of-age comedy from Nick Kroll is full of familiar voices and even more familiar life problems. Centered on a group of pre-pubescent friends, Kroll voices a younger version of himself, a kid named Andrew who’s going through some embarrassing life changes like inconvenient erections and strange wet dreams and bat-mitzvah meltdowns.
If you’re trying to pin down Netflix’s mystery crime thriller, the best way to describe it is to call it a German version of Stranger Things minus the demogorgon. The show centers on four families whose lives and dark deeds are brought to light after two children vanish in the woods.
As an episodic series, Jessica Jones occasionally falters. Jones is a private detective with certain special powers, but the series doesn’t put her P.I. talents to much use, instead focusing on one storyline surrounding the big bad, Kilgrave (David Tennant) for the entire 13 episodes.
13 Reasons Why has an intriguing hook: A teenage girl named Hannah takes her own life and leaves behind a suicide note in the form of 13 tapes, each one directed at a particular individual at least partially responsible for the decision to kill herself. The tapes are then passed around to the 13 people, who have to deal with the guilt they feel for the role they played in her death, as well as keep their secrets hidden as the contents of the tape threaten to destroy relationships and cost the school millions in an ongoing lawsuit.
A British import licensed in America exclusively by Netflix, Peaky Blinders is roughly the UK equivalent of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, taking place in the same time period and covering similar terrain.
The End of the F***ing World is a dark-black comedy based on the comic series by Charles S. Forsman about James (Alex Lawther), a withdrawn and disturbed 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath, and his burgeoning Bonnie
The third entry in Marvel’s Defenders series, Luke Cage follows the title character — introduced originally in Jessica Jones) — to Harlem, where he works as a sweeper in a barbershop and as a dishwasher in a restaurant. Cage –who has superhero strength and unbreakable skin — gets dragged against his better instincts into crime-fighting in order to save Harlem from violence and corruption.
At once intimate and sweeping, The Crown presents an inside view of the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy, and the first few years of her reign. John Lithgow is featured as the indomitable Winston Churchill, struggling with the ignominy of age at the end of his career.
At first glance, On My Block is just another teen drama about a group of funny, street smart kids trying to figure life out. But the show, which has been praised for its diverse cast and its ability to touch on real issues like immigration and the effects of gang violence, provides a refreshing viewpoint while concentrating on the lives of these four friends making it on the rough streets of an inner Los Angeles neighborhood.
While the second season doesn’t quite live up to the near-perfect first, that freshman outing offers slow-burning greatness, doling out revelations about the Rayburn family incrementally. The series follows the Rayburn siblings, John (Kyle Chandler), Meg (Linda Cardellini), Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Danny, portrayed by the Emmy-nominated Ben Mendelsohn, who gives one of this decade’s best television performances It’s Danny who’s the powder keg, the black-sheep brother who returns home to hotel business and upends the entire family, outing their secrets and putting them all in danger.
The Wachowksis’ Sense8 is about a group of people around the world who are suddenly linked mentally. Like Cloud Atlas, the disparate stories about love and relationships weave in and out of each other. For all its sci-fi flourishes, however, Sense8 is about big, sloppy profound love, and as unwieldy as the series can often be, there’s at least one moment in every episode so powerful that viewers can’t help but to feel moved by the affection the characters feel for one another.
Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley returns as a scumbag we can’t help but swoon over in this Lifetime drama that’s now been handed off to the streaming platform. Badgley plays Joe Goldberg, a seemingly-sweet guy who works at a bookshop in the city and courts a beautiful blonde named Beck (Elizabeth Lail).
Travelers is a sci-fi series co-produced by Netflix and a Canadian television network Showcase starring Eric McCormick (Will
A remake of a 1970s sitcom produced by 94-year-old iconic television producer Norman Lear, One Day at a Time manages to not only match its predecessor but miraculously improve upon it. This updated version centers on a Cuban America family headed by a single mom (Justina Machado) raising three kids with the help of her mom (Rita Moreno).
Ozark, from part of the team behind Ben Affleck’s The Accountant, is an example of what I call stress-watching television. A combination of Breaking Bad and Bloodline, Ozark sees a money launderer (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Laura Linney) move from Chicago to backwoods Missouri in an effort to clean $8 million in three months, lest their entire family be killed by a Mexican drug cartel.
Veena Sud’s follow-up to The Killing uses a similar structure — one season devoted to one case — but it takes a more holistic approach and injects a heavy dose of racial politics into the mix. The series sees a white cop, Peter Jablonski (Beau Knapp), run over a 15-year-old African American kid on his bike and leave him to die. There’s no question that the initial hit was an accident, but the drama comes from the cover-up.
Sure, this show is based off a children’s book series, but that doesn’t mean the adults can’t enjoy it too. For fans of Lemony Snicket’s darkly-fun tale of a trio of orphans trying to escape the machinations of their evil guardian, an eccentric villain named Count Olaf, Netflix’s on-screen interpretation hits all the right notes.
Alias Grace, adapted by Sarah Polley from a Margaret Atwood novel which itself is based on a true story, is set in Canada in the middle of the 19th century, where a house servant Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) has been convicted of a double murder. After spending time in a mental asylum and while serving time in prison, an early version of a therapist is called in to try and discern if Grace is guilty, innocent, lying or telling the truth.
The highly bingeable political series is the grandfather of Netflix original programming, and now with five seasons under its belt, it’s had a lot of highs and plenty of lows. The first season is impeccable, as we see the beginning of Frank Underwood’s ascent to power from Speaker of the House to eventual President of the United States.
Atypical is a family sitcom that would feel right at home among ABC’s family sitcoms (Speechless, Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat, etc.). It’s also a charming coming-of-age show about Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old from Connecticut with high-functioning autism.
Set in 1973, the Netflix animated series from Bill Burr is based on his childhood experiences in Massachusetts, and while it is not a particularly original family sitcom, it’s deceptively smart, hilariously profane, and pays great attention to the details of the 1970s.
Michael C. Hall stars as a well-to-do British family man whose daughter goes missing in this thriller. There are a bunch of moving storylines in this one as Hall’s character jumps from flashbacks to the present, wrestling with guilt over his wife’s death and frantically searching for his missing teen who may have uncovered a decades-long secret kept by those closest to him right before she vanished.
“I’m a 45-year-old woman who’s clearly sun-damaged! My skin is getting softer, yet my bones are jutting out, so I’m half-soft, half-sharp!” Maria Bamford says in a shampoo commercial fantasy sequence within the show within the show that’s drawn from the life of a real-life stand-comedian, who suffers from depression and bipolar disorder.
With Narcos, Netflix takes on the rise and fall of Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Medellín drug cartel. Splicing together dramatized scenes and actual news footage, Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha (Elite Squad) combines Scarface and Goodfellas to track the life of Escobar.
Viewers who didn’t like the original Wet Hot American Summer movie or haven’t seen it shouldn’t bother with the Netflix series without at least watching the film first. The series operates like an inside joke within an inside joke referencing a bunch of ’80s teen movies (Zapped, Summer School, School Spirit, Meatballs, etc.) that only a particular demographic will understand.
Netflix’s sixth Marvel series falls victim to the same problems that have beset the previous Marvel series, namely it takes a strong character and stretches the story entirely too thin. Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is, save for Jessica Jones, arguably the most compelling character in the Netflix’s Marvel universe.
Based on the 2002 science fiction novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon mixes a few great, new ideas with a lot of derivative ones and delivers a series that alternates between frustrating and brilliant. The show is set in a future where everyone’s consciences have been downloaded into stacks, which can be transferred into different “sleeves,” or bodies.
The Defenders is the Avengers of the Marvel Netflix universe, a superhero team combining Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the Iron Fist against Elektra and The Stick (in the first season, at least). It is decidedly decent, not as good as Jessica Jones but not as bad as Iron Fist.
Boasting a stellar cast led by Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant and a compelling premise — a suburban mom/realtor is mysteriously infected by a zombie virus and has to murder to stay alive — this zombie comedy is nevertheless all over the place.
Starring veteran actors Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, and Martin Sheen, Grace and Frankie follows the lives of two reluctant best friends who move in together after their husbands leave them for each other.
Friends from College — from husband and wife team, Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors) and Francesco Delbanca — is a tonal nightmare. It meshes sitcom television tropes with dark relationship drama with very mixed results.
The four-episode revival of the popular cult series Gilmore Girls is something of a mixed bag. It’s great to see the characters we know and love from the original series return to Stars Hollow, and much of the quick-witted barbs and fast-paced banter remains intact, although the jokes and pop-cultural references are badly out of date.
Like FX’s You’re the Worst and Amazon’s Catastrophe, Netflix’s Love is another anti-romcom sitcom, but unlike the other two series, its leads aren’t funny or boisterous enough to overcome how unsympathetic they are.
Anyone who has seen the work of Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas) should know to expect from his TV series: A lot of well known, well-liked actors (Aya Cash, Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Orlando Bloom, Hannibal Buress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, etc.) improvising through a premise supplied by Swanberg. T