20 Best Netflix Original Series

Netflix has seen an exponential growth in the last few years and part of their tremendous success is their ability to create compelling, buzz-worthy shows that remain popular even months after they’ve finished. Without any further ado, here are the 20 best Netflix original series to watch right now no matter where you are:

20. Ingobernable

Release Date on Netflix: March 24, 2017
Director: José Luis García Agraz
Runtime: 40 minutes
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Kate del Castillo is riveting as Emilia Urquiza, the fictional First Lady of Mexico, in this tight political thriller. Where will she turn when she becomes the prime suspect in the assassination of her husband, the President of Mexico? Produced in Mexico and almost entirely in Spanish, Ingobernable exemplifies a push by Netflix to expand the range of stories available to audiences.

19. Master of None

Release Date on Netflix: November 6, 2015
Created by: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Runtime: 21-57 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Aziz Ansari writes, directs, and stars in this comedy series he created with fellow Parks and Recreation alum Alan Yang. The show follows 30-year-old actor Dev as he navigates relationships, acting gigs, and life as an Indian-American from South Carolina living in New York. It handles many social issues with a deft touch, encouraging viewers to think about some heavy subjects, but also to laugh about them.

Considering the fact that this production has won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series two years in a row, we believe that it’s earned a well-deserved spot on our list of best Netflix original series.

18. GLOW

Release Date on Netflix: June 23, 2017
Created by: Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch
Runtime: 29-37 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is a real-life ladies wrestling promotion, also called GLOW. The series is a fictionalized account of the early days of the promotion, back in the 1980s. It features a vintage ’80s soundtrack, explores the line between empowerment and exploitation, and shines with captivating writing and performances.

17. Love

Release Date on Netflix: February 19, 2016
Director: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust
Runtime: 26-45 minutes
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Mickey Dobbs (Gillian Jacobs) is a sex-and-love addict who wants to go a year without dating anyone, so of course, he immediately ends up with Gus Cruikshank (Paul Rust). The result is a quirky, delightfully awkward comedy that isn’t afraid to get heavy when it feels right and is the best Netflix original series you could choose for a Netflix & chill night!

16. Castlevania

Release Date on Netflix: July 7, 2017
Director: Sam Deats
Runtime: 23-25 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

After priests burn his wife for science they mistake as witchcraft, Vlad Dracula Tepes swears revenge on all of Wallachia. Richard Armitage voices Trevor Belmont, who is the sole survivor of a family of monster hunters and is reluctantly drawn into the fight against the vampire and his minions.

Castlevania brings a darkness beyond the blood, guts, and gore that one might expect from a story about vampires and demons, exploring themes of duty, revenge, and the worst impulses of humanity. It’s a lot more than one might expect from an animated show based on a video game series.

15. Sense8

Release Date on Netflix: June 5, 2015
Director: The Wachowskis, J. Michael Straczynski
Runtime: 46-124 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Sense8 is a science-fiction drama series created by the Wachowskis of Matrix fame, along with J. Michael Straczynski. The three of them write and direct almost all of the show’s episodes, which focus on eight “sensates” from all over the world. Furthermore, the series explores issues of identity, gender, and religion as the main characters learn to live with their new power. It’s the most popular TV show in southwestern Asian countries, which swear this is the best Netflix original series streaming at the moment.

14. BoJack Horseman

Release Date on Netflix: August 22, 2014
Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Runtime: 25-26 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Comedic genius Will Arnett plays title character BoJack Horseman, a washed-up star from a fictional ’90s TV show. Oh yeah, he’s an anthropomorphic horse, which isn’t that big of a deal in this particular animated world. This one is a personal favorite of ours and we really think it’s the best animated Netflix orginal series.

13. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Release Date on Netflix: March 6, 2015
Director: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Runtime: 22-36 minutes
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) attempts to make her way in New York City after escaping from a doomsday cult in Indiana. She is surrounded by wacky folks: Her roommate Titus (Tituss Burgess), her boss Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), and her landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane). It has been called “the first great sitcom of the streaming era,” as it was originally produced to air on NBC, but instead found a home on Netflix.

12. Lilyhammer

Release Date on Netflix: January 25, 2012
Director: Anne Bjornstad, Eilif Skodvin
Runtime: 43-58 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

A joint production with the Norwegian Broadcasting Company, Lilyhammer was the first original series developed for the Netflix platform. Steven Van Zandt (Sopranos, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band) plays Frank Tagliano, a mobster who asks to be relocated to Lillehammer, Norway after he turns state’s evidence against a new crime boss in New York.

Probably some of the most comedic aspects of this show come from the clash of cultures as this Italian-American tough guy from the city tries (and fails) to keep his head down in a quiet Scandinavian town. If you like crime TV shows, this is one of the best Netflix original series to watch.

11. Marvel’s Daredevil

Release Date on Netflix: April 10, 2015
Director: Drew Goddard
Runtime: 48-61 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Marvel and Netflix team up to bring a previously unseen level of grittiness and realism to the superhero genre. Daredevil introduces the first member of The Defenders, a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) by day, a masked vigilante with superhuman senses by night. He fights to protect his neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen against a host of villains led by the enigmatic and brutal Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio).

The series features deliberate pacing, meticulous attention to detail, and a hauntingly beautiful title sequence. It is perhaps best-known for its iconic hallway fight scene. While the storytelling in season 2 is not as tight as in season 1, the introduction of The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) provides for some riveting action and dialog.

10. Marvel’s Luke Cage

Release Date on Netflix: September 30, 2016
Director: Cheo Hodari Coker
Runtime: 44-65 minutes
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Netflix and Marvel continue their excellent string of streaming superhero fare with this dynamic series about the hero of Harlem. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is a bulletproof brother who battles against both criminals and a corrupt justice system. The series confronts social issues head-on but avoids being overly preachy or simplistic. Simone Missick’s turn as Misty Knight adds depth in this area.

9. Marvel’s the Defenders

Release Date on Netflix: August 18, 2017
Director: Douglas Petrie, Marco Ramirez
Runtime: 44-55 minutes
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist come together to become The Defenders, the small-screen Netflix equivalent to the big screen’s The Avengers. After establishing each of the four main characters in their own mostly-excellent series, Netflix and Marvel give us this 8-episode miniseries that plays like an 8-hour movie. Despite not quite living up to the extremely high standard set by the first three Netflix/Marvel series, the action and interplay between the main characters and supporting cast are top-notch.

8. Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Release Date on Netflix: November 20, 2015
Created by: Melissa Rosenberg
Runtime: 46-55 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

The second entry in the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jessica Jones is a neo-noir take on a private detective with superpowers who doesn’t want to be a superhero. Krysten Ritter (Breaking BadDon’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23) turns in a complex performance as the title character, who deals with PTSD from her torment at the hands of her nemesis, Kilgrave. David Tennant, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Mike Coulter round out a stellar cast that gives this superhero series a lot of weight.

If you love the Marvel universe, these last four suggestions are the best Netflix original series you could watch!

7. Voltron: Legendary Defender

Release Date on Netflix: June 10, 2016
Program creators: Joaquim Dos Santos, Lauren Montgomery
Runtime: 23-69 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Voltron: Legendary Defender is a well-received reboot of the 1980s cartoon series. The title character is a giant humanoid robot formed by five smaller robot lions, each piloted by a paladin. Especially relevant is the fact that this show is one of many Netflix animated projects that is both suitable for children, but also entertaining for adults, particularly given the nostalgia that many have for the original show. Not content to rely on nostalgia, this new adaptation is built upon compelling characters and quality storytelling.

6. Grace and Frankie

Release Date on Netflix: May 8, 2015
Director: Marta Kauffman, Howard J. Morris
Runtime: 25-35 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are brilliant as the title characters in this quirky comedy that’s equal parts The Golden GirlsWill and Grace, and Grumpy Old Men. Grace and Frankie are two older women whose husbands (played by the also brilliant Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen) leave them for each other.

5. Making a Murderer

Release Date on Netflix: December 18, 2015
Director: Larua Ricciardi, Moira Demos
Runtime: 47-66 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Making a Murderer is a documentary series telling the story of Steve Avery, a Wisconsin man tried for a new murder after already having previously served 18 years in prison for a different murder for which he was ultimately exonerated. Suspiciously handled evidence, a coerced confession from his nephew, and a pending $36-million lawsuit bring the motives of the police and prosecutors into question.

4. Orange Is the New Black

Release Date on Netflix: July 11, 2013
Director: Jenji Kohan
Runtime: 51-92 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

This series about life in a women’s prison toes the line between comedy and drama so successfully that Uzo Aduba won Emmys for her role in both comedy and drama categories. The show has also been nominated for many other Emmys, including for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

If this sounds good to you but still aren’t convinced this is one of the best Netflix original series, we urge you to check out its main plot and more details in our article about OitNB!

3. House of Cards

Release Date on Netflix: February 1, 2013
Director: Beau Willimon
Runtime: 43-59 minutes
IMDB Rating: 9.0
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Kevin Spacey kills it as Frank Underwood in this dark take on the power-hungry machinations of Washington. He’s joined in a very strong cast by Robin Wright (The Princess BrideWonder Woman) and Kate Mara (The Martian).

House of Cards is a U.S. adaptation of both a novel and a British TV series of the same name. It is the series that first established the Netflix template of producing and releasing an entire season of a series at once. It has also changed the perception of series produced for the internet, which were once limited to shorts and low-budget fare. We recommend reading our full guide to the House of Cards Netflix original as it’s one of the most challenging, realistic, and best Netflic original series.

2. Stranger Things

Release Date on Netflix: July 15, 2016
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Runtime: 42-55 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.9
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

This popular Netflix series starts with the disappearance of a young boy and delves into a world of science fiction and horror. Set in a fictional small town in the early 1980s, the series is reminiscent of early Steven Spielberg films. In addition to a number of Emmy nominations and wins, it earned a spot on the American Film Institute’s Top 10 TV Programs of the Year.

Even though it got the second place on our list, it’s one of the best Netflix original series of all times – we seriously urge you to check it out! If you want to read more about it, you can do so in our guide to the Stranger Things series.

1. Narcos

Release Date on Netflix: August 28, 2015
Created by: Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro
Runtime: 43-60 minutes
IMDB Rating: 8.9
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Narcos tells the story of the conflict between the Colombian government, the DEA, and the extraordinarily powerful drug cartels of the 1980s and ’90s. Wagner Moura is compellingly charismatic as Pablo Escobar, a kingpin who considered himself a man of the people, but who ordered the deaths of thousands of his countrymen. Filmed on location in Colombia, Narcos has a grit and realism that contrast with tremendous wealth accumulated by the cartels.

This is, by far, the best Netflix original series so far – if you are curious and want to learn more about it, check out our article about the first seasons of Narcos!

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection of the 20 best Netflix original series and that you’ll be able to spend some relaxing hours in the company of these entertaining shows. Be sure to check them out and let us know in the comments below which one is your favorite. Furthermore, if you’re looking for more captivating series to watch, check out our article on good series on Netflix and take your pick from 11 high-quality productions currently available for streaming.

One Response

  1. Dawn

Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares