There’s a lot of TV on Netflix, but which are their best original series?
Netflix has produced a wealth of original television shows since their first property, House of Cards, turned into a runaway hit in 2013. A mere three years later and Netflix has provided hit after hit, in various genres. In fact, it seems like every time you check Netflix now there’s a new original series available to binge. But how do they measure up against each other?
This list consists of the Netflix original series I have seen, so if your favorite isn’t on here, pocket the outrage and save it for another time.
9) ‘Hemlock Grove’
There is a clear divide between Hemlock Grove lovers and haters. It definitely isn’t one of the strongest executed shows Netflix has delivered. Hemlock verges campy, is sometimes difficult to follow, and is maybe just too weird for the average viewer. There are those who just go with the crazy and enjoy it for what it is: gruesome and ridiculous, with characters who you can’t decide if you love or hate them.
It looks cool, and if gore is your thing, Hemlock has it in spades, but it could have done with story lines that made a little more sense, and supernatural ‘rules’ that were easier to understand.
Bloodline seemed to resonate more with critics than average viewers. Perhaps it’s the slow burn that viewers have little patience for, or the depressing tone that sticks with the series the whole way through.
Ben Mendelsohn is fantastic and gripping as Danny, but the ‘good people who did a bad thing’ theme that permeates through the series can only keep you interested for so long before you expect a big payoff that doesn’t really happen. To be sure, questions get answered, it’s just that it feels anticlimactic. Bloodline starts strong but loses steam along the way, and it almost feels like you’re only finishing it just to see what Danny will do next.
7) ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’
You can’t help but fall in love with Kimmy Schmidt. Her endearing and hilarious innocence helps bring life to this fairly unoriginal story of ‘naive girl goes to New York and is amazed by what she sees.’ But of course, credit must go to Ellie Kemper for making this character’s overwhelming positivity and wonderment so delightful.
The humor isn’t entirely original either, feeling a lot like 30 Rock, but with more sugar. It’s so silly and ridiculous, but that’s exactly why we like it. The same goes for Titus. As exuberant as he is, we wouldn’t have him any other way. He’s the perfect partner in crime for Kimmy, as well as incredibly lovable on his, with hilarious lines you’ll quote for weeks. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kimmy Schmidt was created by our comedy queen, Tina Fey.
Netflix’s first Marvel series set the bar high for their original series based on comics to come. Charlie Cox deftly leads an all around great cast, consisting of two phenomenal villains over the course of two seasons. After all, a hero can only be as strong as his/her antagonist, and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, and Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle are definitely high caliber of villain.
Dialogue is realistic and quotable, and cinematography is fluid and masterful. Every fight scene is choreographed and shot beautifully, although there are a few too many of them. Eventually it gets to the point of, “Okay we get it, let’s move on,” and the impressiveness wears off when it’s done too often. Daredevil also manages to balance the bleakness and humor, mostly due to Foggy, who’s one of the only people able to make Matt smile every once in a while.
Narcos suffers from having few to zero sympathetic and/or relatable characters, and for some viewers, the drug trade storyline is banal and trite. The rest of the show, though, is on point.
Based on the true story of Pablo Escobar’s exploits, Narcos cleverly makes use of real life videos of Escobar and events that transpired during this time. It’s a great way to remind the audience that as ridiculous as some of these occurrences are, they actually happened. And like Netflix’s first original series, House of Cards, Narcos‘ antagonist main character is a delight to watch. You hate him, but you kind of love him too. The 11 episodes go by quickly, and it’s definitely in the ‘just one more episode’ camp.
4) ‘Jessica Jones’
Despite the superpowers of the main hero and villain, Jessica Jones is as real as it gets. The darkest and grittiest Marvel property so far, Jessica Jones may take a few episodes to find its footing and start engaging, but once it does, it hits the ground running and rarely lets up.
Much like its titular character, Jessica Jones is unapologetically honest and brutal. It may have a physically super strong heroine, but it isn’t just about fist fighting and action (although it does have that). Jessica Jones is also a psychological battle, for various characters, and it’s this struggle that makes them, and the show, engaging. And oh yeah, it’s feminist too.
3) ‘Orange is the New Black’
Orange is the New Black has lost steam and is probably overstaying its welcome by this point, but when the show is at its best, it truly is one of Netflix’s best shows. It has diversity of all kinds, including gender, sexuality, and race; it can be stomach-crampingly hilarious, and tear-jerkingly sad and heartwarming.
The plethora of well-developed characters makes it difficult to pick a favorite, a great problem to have. Some of the charm of it has occasionally gone missing over the seasons, but it can be forgiven and (mostly) forgotten because you know there are great moments to come, even if not as frequently as season 1.
2) ‘Master of None’
Maybe it doesn’t always have the most laugh out loud jokes, but Master of None does provide something new in comedy. Young 20-somethings talk life, family, love, and sex, in the way that young 20-somethings do. The conversations are relevant, relatable, and realistic, with various characters who break and conform to a stereotype in the freshest way possible.
With so many story lines and subjects tackled, you’re bound to find at least one that resonates with you personally. Master of None doesn’t just have laughs either, it also has heart. If you don’t get even a little emotional in the family episode, you might want to reevaluate yourself.
1) ‘House of Cards’
Topping the list is of best Netflix original series is the first original series they produced, the show that got the world hooked on binge-watching. House of Cards tops the list because it’s just damn good. It’s true season 3 was a snoozer, and we worried it had lost its steam, but season 4 proved it was just a bump in the road, a pesky KKK sign easily explained away and forgotten.
Frank and Claire Underwood are both terrific and terrible leads. Like a giant forest fire, they’re captivating to watch, even though we know they’re horrible. Although House of Cards has turned more into a soap opera than a political drama, it’s still some of the best TV out there, with sharp writing, intuitive directing, and believable performances.