I have been waiting for this list to be possible, and the time has come. Netflix has been making huge strides as a content creator over the past few years, as such, we feel confident that we can present a strong Top 10 Netflix Original Series list. To qualify for our list, the series has to be original to Netflix, so continuations of shows like The Killing, and Arrested Development don’t count, nor do shows in which Netflix merely owns the US rights, like Between and Lillehammer. We are also aware that several other great looking originals will be heading to Netflix over the years, this list is representative of shows currently on the service. So without further ado, this week’s Top 10 Tuesday explores Netflix Original Series.
Bloodline is certainly a well made show, with a great cast, and high production values, but it’s artificial levels of dour dreariness, and ridiculously stubborn characters can make it hard to enjoy as entertainment.
09. House of Cards
Netflix’s first big bet, a star studded remake of a British series of the same name, finds its best strength in moments of wry humor, and cunning strategy. The series dropped in quality after the first season, but with a frame chomper like Kevin Spacey in the lead, the series remains highly watchable.
08. Bojack Horseman
Netflix’s entry into the adult oriented animated comedy game, borrows the comic tragedy styling of comedies like Louie, in order to tell a sad, yet funny, story about a washed up Actor. Bojack himself seems largely modeled on Full House Father Bob Saget, who struggled to break away from his family sitcom roots.
07. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
14 years after the release of the cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer, Netflix debuted a prequel that somehow managed to bring back nearly the entire original cast (including current big hitters like Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd) and even expand upon it with significant guest roles (including Mad Men star, and recent Emmy winner Jon Hamm). As for the series itself, it can best be described as profoundly absurd and hilarious. It is highly recommended that you check out the original movie first, which is also available on Netflix.
06. Grace and Frankie
Legendary actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play the wives of 2 long time friends and law partners who leave their wives for each other. Grace and Frankie has a lot in common with Amazon’s Transparent, in that they are both about families (with adult children) who must come to terms with significant lifestyle changes for their fathers. Though in Grace and Frankie, the focus is primarily on the wives, who struggle with accepting their former husbands’ choice to leave them for a member of the same sex, while also dealing with the utter chaos it has spun their lives into at such late ages.
05. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey’s follow up to her beloved NBC series 30 Rock is loaded with charm and fun. Despite a rather dark backstory, the series is never heavy, providing a fast paced, fun, and quirky adventure. In Kimmy, the titular character is rescued (along with her 3 sister wives) from a doomsday cult. Having been told the world had ended, the 4 woman spent 15 years in an underground bunker. Brought into the cult at the age of 14, everything in the modern world is fresh and new to our protagonist. Kimmy must now secure a job, a place to live, and a purpose in life.
04. Orange is the New Black
Netflix’s first monster hit, Orange is the New Black comes to us from Weeds Showrunner Jenji Kohan, who uses a story of an upper middle class white woman going to prison for a sin from her past, as an introduction to a true ensemble story about women in prison. The events are mostly light hearted, though with provocative lessons. Many of the characters begin as absurd, larger than life, and cartoonish characters, before flashbacks and current story events flesh them out into real, and sympathetic, humans. While the tone is mostly light and fun, their is a weight of institutionalism that is palpable, and the characters often face messy obstructions to their own well being and peace.
This Netflix series about the hunt for Pablo Escobar initially caught my attention when they cast Pedro Pascal in the series, directly following his stunning work in Game of Thrones. Narcos, which was beautifully shot on location in Columbia, and is largely presented in Spanish with English subtitles, is a surprisingly fun telling of a time of great violence and corruption. Using narration to educate us on the finer details, Narcos moves at an impressively brisk pace, while embracing the excess of its 1980s setting. Narcos often feels like the more fun criminal elements of Breaking Bad. While the series can often become quite dark in its own right, the characters pop with so much charisma that you can’t help but smile as you watch.
Perhaps the most divisive on this list, Sense8, which comes to us from the Wachowski siblings, is a wildly ambitious series with an ensemble cast. Sense8’s first season filmed in 8 countries, including South Korea, India, and Germany. The story of Sense8 focuses on groups of people called clusters that are psychically linked to each other. As the series starts, the cluster of our protagonists is activated. An evil organization is out to find and capture them, and a man from another cluster is out to save them. People within a cluster can visit each other psychically, and even share abilities and skills. But this larger plot is secondary to the real draw of the show, which is the interesting characters and how they connect with each other, and themselves, emotionally.
The first of Netflix’s 5 series deal with Marvel, Daredevil explores a darker, grittier, street level aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Blind Lawyer Matt Murdock has a secret, he fights crime by night. In a city recovering from the vast destruction of the first Avengers movie, Murdock is protecting the people with the law, and also around it. Perhaps the biggest strength of the series, though, is Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of legendary Marvel villain Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. D’Onofrio is an intimidating presence, and perhaps the best villain in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. We at TVEnthusiast are incredibly excited for the rest of Marvel’s Netflix series. Jessica Jones debuts in November, Luke Cage has finished its primary casting, and rumors have begun to circulate about Iron Fist. On top of that, Daredevil’s second season is bringing us one of the most iconic Marvel characters, The Punisher.
What is your favorite Netflix original series? Tell us in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of Netflix, its originals, and all of your other favorite shows.