There’s nothing like coming home to unwind with a few back-to-back episodes of your favorite show, but do you often find yourself spending more time trying to pick a Netflix choice than you do watching one? Or, in many cases, just throw the remote from the frustration of the overwhelming, seemingly endless sea of titles available at your fingertips? Well, you can kick indecision to the curb with this list of the best Netflix Original Series. In the past few years, Netflix has started to produce original content of its own, thus offering some quality entertainment without the need of a cable subscription. That said, the list below is composed of both original or revived shows that are, frankly, far better than Richie Rich. And no, this list does not include Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. We all know they’re pretty phenomenal.
After the premiere of season one, critics are in a tizzy over Bloodline’s performances, writing, cinematography, and — as the Wall Street Journal once said — the show’s “magnetic pull.” From the creators of Damages, Bloodline transports you to the hot, sticky Florida Keys where Detective John Rayburn (aka Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame) and his dissembling family run a hotel. The unraveling of the Rayburn family’s dark, secretive history peppered with murder begins as John’s troublesome older brother returns home entangling himself in crime and dragging the family name through the mud. Bloodline is no normal family drama, though, but instead a mysterious, twisting show that finds its grounding in half-truths and partial answers. With Bloodline, it seems the only thing that is for certain is the premiere of season two in 2016.
If you haven’t seen David Gelb’s captivating documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you can’t possibly have complete respect for the alluring art of making sushi or the story behind the face to the food. Gelb is at it again with Chef’s Table, taking his audience on another culinary journey across the globe in a six-episode docu-series. The show captures the lives of some of the world’s best, most innovative chefs and their succulent accomplishments. From the Michelin studded plates of New York restaurants to frozen Jarpen, Sweden, each episode is its own documentary focusing on the intricacies of the chef’s personal and professional lives. Season one has already received critical acclaim among many including The New York Times saying, “there are no hokey competitions or artificial deadlines here. Just chefs with vision, from all over the world, talking about what they’re trying to accomplish and why.”
The early 2000s were the breeding ground for the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, with a then largely unknown cast of newbies such as Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and Bradley Cooper leading the pack. Fourteen years later, the whole gang returns — along with new additions like Jason Schwartzman — for the prequel, which might actually even be better than the original film if you believe what the critics have to say. Regardless, the sketch-style show follows the journey of Camp Firewood campers through early adulthood and sexual maturity, while showcasing their musical talents in the process. With an 83 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this absurd, goofball style series is well worth the trip down memory lane.
If your viewing capacity for ruff-and-tumble crime dramas is on the verge of “I want to puke”… then hold the upchuck for one more because this one’s gripping. Starring Sarah Lancashire (Oldham) as Catherine Cawood, a no-nonsense police sergeant in rural England, Happy Valley captivates through a layered kidnapping and serial killer plot while exposing Cawood’s tormented past and the death of her daughter. Filled with thrilling, agonizing violence, The New Yorker explains its addictive quality as “a psychological grip that lingers longer than expected.”
As the No. 1 watched Netflix Original series, Marvel’s Daredevil resurrects a character some feared would never grace screen again. The blind avenger of justice is back, though, and Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) faces new challenges in season one with a murder case tied to a corporate crime syndicate. The highly-anticipated second season, which is due to air in 2016, will hopefully live up to the critical acclaim of first season’s action sequences, performances, and ominous tone. The show was illegally downloaded more than 2 million times according to The Guardian, which perhaps, has something to do with Cox’s award-winning performance or the mere fact many believe it to be excellent television.
The notoriously dysfunctional, unconventional, and flat out deranged Bluth family is back for season four of Arrest Development. Everything returns in Netflix’s reboot of the show, too, including the entire cast and set of reoccurring jokes (“Marry me,” “C’mon,” etc.) Some familiar cameos make an appearance as well, including the likes of Ben Stiller, Carl Weathers, John Krasinski, and Seth Rogan. The Emmy-winning series still follows Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), who serves as the glue that keeps the cast of misfits together through a new series of family dysfunctions. It’s all back with a vengeance, whether talking Tobias’s fetish with the Blue Man Group or George Sr.’s plots to get rich quick.
Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is head of Peaky Blinders — one of the most dangerous mob gangs of post-WWI England — at a time of lawlessness, corruption, and relentless violence. No matter the cost, the irrationally dangerous Shelby attempts to make his family gang into a legitimate business. However, things get complicated with the arrival of an unyielding government agent, played by Sam Neil, who is determined to clean up the city. Oscar nominated scripter Steven Knight leads the Peaky Blinders gang though brutal gang battles, cocaine binges, and hoards of sex in this historical crime drama. Season three is set to premiere soon, too, meaning it likely won’t be long before the show becomes the talk among critics once again.
Kimmy Schmidt may seem like your typical Manhattan girl, but those red locks are the workings of years of captivity in a doomsday cult in India. After making a brave escape to the Big Apple, however, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) finds herself navigating a new life with the help of her street-wise landlady Lillian (Carol Kane) and her roommate played by comedian Tituss Burgess. Tina Fey and fellow writer Robert Carlock penned the lighthearted comedy, which has received widespread acclaim, with publications such as The Week highlighting it as one of the first great sitcoms of the streaming era. A second season is rumored for spring 2016, but sadly, Netflix has yet to make an official announcement.
It doesn’t get any better than a self-loathing, half-horse half man — now that’s entertainment, people. Will Arnett voices BoJack Horseman, an ex-sitcom star struggling to find happiness in his has-been, boozing life of loneliness. Living in Hollywood, a place inhibited by humans and anthropomorphic animals alike, Bojack befriends the likes of Persian cat Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), and former sitcom rival and yellow lab, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins). The dark, sarcastic comedy is layered with jokes and digs on celebrity culture, yet, has an underlying seriousness that elongates the life of the series. We can only hope season three, which is set to debut in 2016, will offer more binge drinking, cynicism, and phenomenal BoJack quotes. “I need to go take a shower so I can’t tell if I’m crying,” pretty much sums up his life.
Sense8 has been around for less than two months and is already receiving some serious recognition. The sci-fi series, although not heavily reviewed, gets the award for most original and mind-bending plot. From the Wachowskis, the filmmaking duo behind The Matrix and Cloud Atlas, comes the story of eight strangers across the globe who find they can tap into and experience the senses of one another. For instance, one character can telepathically feel and hear what’s happening to their unknown counterpart somewhere in the distance, which encourages a woman in Mumbia to reach for an umbrella on a perfectly sunny day because her sensate is attending a rain-soaked funeral elsewhere. What makes the show even more dynamic and interesting is the different genre approach taken with each character, whether it be a gritty crime thriller or a lighthearted comedy that’s a little more tongue-and cheek. Shot in eight different countries, the cerebral drama plays on the Wachowski’s reoccurring theme — that we are all interconnected, across distance, age, race, class, and sexuality.