For two decades, Netflix has been an absolute goldmine when it comes to movies and TV. However, it’s only since 2011 that the company began placing a heavy emphasis on developing original content, and that focus has only increased since then.
While there are countless Netflix original series to choose from, we here at Epicstream have compiled a list of 10 that we believe are absolute must-watches. Check out our picks and let us know what you think in the comments section!
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return
One of the funniest sci-fi shows of all time, MST3K: The Return is as good as the movies it parodies are bad. The movie theater on the Satellite of Love is more ruthless than a cage of Klingons when it comes to savaging B-movies. Whether you were a fan of the series’ original run or not, MST3K: The Return will certainly leave your sides in stitches.Advertisement
A Series of Unfortunate Events
When Netflix announced its adaptation of Daniel Handler’s beloved, zany books, many people questioned whether A Series of Unfortunate Events would be adaptable to the screen without sacrificing the nuances that make it so charming. Fortunately, director Barry Sonnenfeld, Neil Patrick Harris as the evil Count Olaf and Handler himself (as screenwriter) rise to the challenge magnificently. The series doesn’t consistently hit the emotional heights of Netflix’s best offerings, but it more than makes up for this faux pas with solid acting, abundant wit and a visual aesthetic that is wholly unique in television — a blend of Tim Burton’s gothic whimsy and Wes Anderson’s diorama cinema. Book-readers will rejoice in the faithfulness of the adaptation, and while first-timers may take a bit longer to get their feet wet, the colorful menagerie of characters and the dogged perseverance of the Baudelaire orphans should win them over.
This globetrotting sci-fi series, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (co-directors of The Matrix trilogy) and former Babylon 5 showrunner J. Michael Straczynski, drops you into a setting where eight strangers in different parts of the world are somehow psychically and emotionally linked. Through the first season’s 12 episodes, we follow this assortment of confused and beautiful people as they try to understand this strange connection and use their newfound abilities to help one another. As bizarre and over-the-top as Sense8 can often get, the series remains important as it deals with issues of sexuality and gender identity through the work of trans actress Jamie Clayton and performers Miguel Silvestre and Alfonso Herrera’s portrayal of a gay couple in Mexico City.
Voltron: Legendary Defender
Season 7 of the rebooted Voltron recently made its way to Netflix, which means more of Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge and Shiro in their intergalactic battle against the evil alien force led by King Zarkon. The updated format, which favors season-long story arcs as opposed to standalone episodes, has been incredibly successful thus far, particularly when it comes to capturing the attention of adult viewers who grew up watching the original Voltron cartoons. Plus, speaking of cartoons, The Legendary Defender is far and away one of the best-looking ones on Netflix thanks to the kinetic, visually stunning animation that allows the battle and transformation sequences to shine like no fan watching Defender of the Universe back in the ‘80s could have possibly dreamed of.
GLOW is a series that follows an out-of-work actress in the 1980s as she enters the newly developed world of women's wrestling, exploring many of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the sport. The show sports a rich, diverse cast of characters, almost all of which are multi-dimensional and bring more to the table than what’s expected. Some characters sadly don't get the time to develop in Season 1, but Season 2 makes a conscious effort to rectify this. Ultimately, GLOW is a wonderful love letter to wrestling fans, but with so much tasteful humor and an overall theme of empowerment, it’s sure to entertain just about anyone.
BoJack Horseman is one of the most underrated comedies ever made, and it’s appalling that it doesn’t earn more praise. Right from the title sequence, which documents the titular, anthropomorphic horse’s sad descent from network sitcom star to drunken has-been, it becomes clear that this is one of the most thoughtful comedies ever made. Which doesn’t mean it’s not hilarious, of course. Will Arnett is the perfect voice for BoJack, and Paul F. Tompkins could not be better suited for the child-like Mr. Peanut Butter. This is a show that isn’t above a visual gag or vicious banter or a cheap laugh, but it also tackles some very hard realities of life head-on. There are times when you will hate BoJack — this is not a straight redemption story, and the minute you think he’s on the upswing, he will do something horrible to let you down. Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism that keeps people away, or maybe it’s the animation, but if you look beyond those elements and settle into the story, you’ll be amazed by this comedy that toes the line between hilarious and sad like no other.
Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black is perfectly suited for the Netflix binge-watching model, if only because it would have been agonizing to wait a week for a new episode. And yet, the construct feels cinematic compared to your average show, as though the all-at-once release plane freed the creators to make something less episodic and more free-flowing. Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a woman living a content modern life when her past rears up suddenly to tackle her from behind, and the story is based on the real-life events of Piper Kerman, whose book of the same title was the inspiration. Schilling is the engine that drives the narrative, and her odd combination of natural serenity mixed with the increasing anger and desperation at the late turn her life has taken strikes the perfect tone for life inside the women’s prison. Over the first few episodes, prison is treated like an almost-quirky novelty she’ll have to experience for 15 months, and the wisest choice director Jenji Kohan made was to heighten the stakes so that what begins as an off-kilter adventure soon takes on the serious proportions prison life demands.
Since springing into the cultural consciousness immediately with its release, Stranger Things has been hailed as a revival of old-school sci-fi, horror, and ‘80s nostalgia that is far more effective and immediately captivating than most other series of its kind. The influences are immensely deep-rooted, with imagery evoking Amblin-era Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Tobe Hooper films that drip from nearly every frame. With a stellar cast of child actors and several different characters whose hidden secrets you desperately want to see explored, Stranger Things hits every note necessary to motivate a weekend-long Netflix binge. As questions now swirl about the direction of the impending third season following a stellar Season 1 and a slightly less satisfying Season 2, we’re all hoping that the same group of characters will be able to re-conjure the chilling, heart-pounding magic of a perfectly constructed series.
Prior to 2015, the most comic-book-accurate live-action version of Daredevil fans had was the one played by Ben Affleck in the 2003 film that was detested by fans and critics alike. However, that all changed when Marvel and Netflix partnered up to begin building a new branch of the MCU – one that could bend the rules in comparison to the studio’s family-friendly films. Although season one outweighs season two in terms of quality, Daredevil as a whole is everything fans could have asked for in a live action depiction of Matt Murdock. Incorporating elements from classic comic book stories such as The Man Without Fear and Born Again, the Daredevil we see on-screen is every bit as compelling as the version fans have been reading for years. Additionally, Vincent D'Onofrio’s depiction of Wilson Fisk sets the gold standard for superhero TV show villains – a bar that has yet to be surpassed even slightly.
Master of None
Master of None is, at first glance, your run-of-the-mill story about a single guy trying to find love. However, after Season 1, it becomes clear that it’s more than that; this show is funny, romantic, and it goes far deeper than most similarly themed movies and TV shows. What’s more, this show isn’t afraid to tackle some of the big issues facing American society, yet it does so without taking itself too seriously and without pointing fingers. It’s a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and drama, and while it does start off a bit slow, you’re time and patience will most certainly be rewarded.