Binge-Worthy: 20 Best Netflix Original TV Shows

TV shows are more than just a distraction from your everyday life, which can get tedious now and again. Well-produced TV shows with invested performances and engrossing stories help you escape into different worlds and make connections with fictional characters who pull from the human experience in compelling ways. There’s more truth in a well-crafted series than there is in the news. Not only that but a quality TV show inspires the mind and allows us to create communities where we can bond through the appreciation of the shared experience.

These days, no one pumps out quality TV shows quite like Netflix. There seems to be a new Netflix Original Series every month, so it can be a bit intimidating to think about investing your precious time into a new series. Luckily, we’ve done the hard part by tuning in to the deep catalog of original shows Netflix has to offer to determine the cream of the crop. As long as the TV show has the Netflix Original Series stamp, it was eligible for consideration. Without further ado, here are the Netflix Original TV shows that have planted their stories in our subconscious and grown with deep roots.

Big Mouth

Step into the lives of two teenage boys as they deal with the horrors and fascinating little moments of puberty. It’s graphic and disgusting most of the time, but it’s also original with a hearty supply of clever and relatable moments. No topic is taboo, as the show deals with masturbation, menstruation, forbidden thoughts, and everything in between in more ways than one. Although it’s gross, this TV show depicts coming-of-age with brutal honesty. Relive the awkward and poignant moments of adolescence all over again with Big Mouth.

Creator(s): Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg, and Nick Kroll
Number of Seasons: Two

Black Mirror

The Twilight Zone was a sci-fi TV show so ahead of its time that plenty of movies still try to emulate its truly unique stories, making it the best anthology series of all time. Well, we finally have the second coming of that beloved TV show from the late ‘50s in Black Mirror. Dealing with the disturbing truths beneath our digital world, Black Mirror sinks its teeth into techno-paranoia. Every episode scorches your mind and once you turn your screen off, you’ll be staring at that black reflection of yourself, contemplating about the alienation of the modern world. Each stand-alone episode is smart and daring, making you want to unplug and spend more time outdoors.

Creator(s): Charlie Brooker
Number of Seasons: Four

BoJack Horseman

Voiced by the hilarious Will Arnett, BoJack Horseman tells the story of a failed iconic ‘90s sitcom superstar from the famous fictional sitcom Horsin’ Around. Making his way through the thick obstacles of self-loathing, failed relationships, and excessive whiskey drinking, BoJack is clawing for a comeback. This cartoon is a special blend of dark reality with finely tuned comedy. Also starring Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, this original Netflix cartoon show expertly brings to light our fragile insecurities and crushes them mercilessly with sharp comedy.

Creator(s): Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Number of Seasons: Five

Castlevania

Inspired by the classic video games dating all the way back to 1986, Castlevania is a medieval fantasy telling the tale of the lone survivor of the Belmont clan and his goal to save Eastern Europe from Vlad Dracula Tepe. Video games adapted into movies are typically garbage (example: Street Fighter), but this video game turned into an anime series is a winner all the way. With a complex villain and sharp dialogue, especially with the social commentary from Warren Ellis, and faithfulness to the source material, this vampire hunter story is a hidden gem in Netflix’s arsenal of shows.

Creator(s): Konami
Number of Seasons: Two

Daredevil

Rated TV-MA, this hard-hitting, gritty tale of blind vigilante Matt Murdock who fights crime as a fearless superhero makes Daredevil one hell of a TV show. Charlie Cox does a tremendous job playing the tireless, gentle hero with a talent for beating up villains to a pulpy mess. It also stars Vincent D’Onofrio as the King Pin, giving one of the best villain performances in any Marvel TV show or movie — even giving Josh Brolin and Michael B. Jordan a run for their money. On top of its impressive script and character development, it showcases some of the best action sequences of any series out there.

Creator(s): Stan Lee (character), Drew Goddard
Number of Seasons: Three

Dark

Riding the coattails of Stranger Things fame, this Netflix Original TV show deals with the supernatural and missing children. Although it definitely has a Stranger Things vibe, it stands on its own by being more gruesome. Set in a bleak German town, the disappearance of two kids exposes the fractured relationships between four families. It’s a bit of a slow burn mystery, but it’s also tense and frightening with an intriguing payoff. The show is somewhat reminiscent of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, but definitely makes a name for itself and we can’t wait to see more.

Creator(s): Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
Number of Seasons: One

House of Cards

Netflix’s first original TV show is still one of the best in its lineup despite the star being cut out of the show in the latest season. Francis Underwood is a ruthless Congressman played with a steely menace by Kevin Spacey, and Claire Underwood is his ambitious wife played by the talented Robin Wright. House Of Cards helped to redefine how television is produced –the direction, acting, and story are all silver screen-worthy. The protagonist is aware of all the little secrets in politics and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty to become president of the United States. Yes, the show lost steam after Spacey was fired but the final season still proved to be a worthy entry into the series thanks to Robin Wright’s superlative performance.

Creator(s): Beau Willimon
Number of Seasons: Six

Jessica Jones

Playing the antihero dealing with PTSD, Krysten Ritter is perfect as a grounded, rebellious protagonist who doesn’t have the typical superhero persona. Ritter has come a long way since her smaller role in season two of Breaking Bad and she does a fantastic job as the lead in this detective drama. The show is much heavier thematically than other Marvel efforts and can be a slow burn at times, but Ritter’s charisma makes the show work so well.

Creator(s): Stan Lee (character), Melissa Rosenberg
Number of Seasons: Two

Luke Cage

Set in the grimy streets of New York, this superhero show is socially conscious with a magnetic lead in Mike Colter. Luke Cage is an ex-con with incredible strength and indestructible skin thanks to a sabotaged experiment, but he’s still grounded in reality. The righteous protagonist tries to find a new life in Harlem until he has to confront his past and protect the city. With a first-rate cast, great music choices and slice of urban culture, this is one of the best Marvel efforts.

Creator(s): Stan Lee (character), Cheo Hodari Coker
Number of Seasons: Two

Making A Murderer

Making A Murderer uses the documentary format to peel back the layers of a mystery surrounding a man who spent 18 years in prison for being wrongfully convicted of sexual assault. After finally being released, he was sent back to prison for murder. It’s a slow burn series that gives you an in-depth look at how the system works, taking complex legal subjects and making them digestible for a wide audience. The second season continues to be a captivating exploration of the U.S. justice system.

Creator(s): Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos
Number of Seasons: Two

Maniac

What if you were given the option to have all of your problems solved permanently? Maniac tells the story of two strangers who are part of an exclusive pharmaceutical trial that promises to wash away their issues with no side-effects or complications. Obviously, things don’t work out exactly as planned. With dedicated performances from Academy Award-Winner Emma Stone an Academy Award-Nominee Jonah Hill, this clever TV series makes the most of its inventive premise, giving you insight into the human condition with bold, often comedic strokes. And, it leaves quite an impression visually with its dazzling set pieces.

Creator(s): Cary Joji Fukunaga and Patrick Somerville
Number of Seasons: One

Master of None

Following the personal and professional life of an actor in his 30s named Dev, the premise of this show isn’t anything groundbreaking. However, the offbeat execution and relative humor make this show one of the champs in the Netflix Original Series category. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang seem to pull from their lives and experiences to give this show authenticity. It deals with becoming a fully-functional adult, finding a relationship that will stick, dealing with your career, and finding the perfect taco.

Creator(s): Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang
Number of Seasons: Two

Mindhunter

Following the same vibe and themes as Zodiac and Silence of the Lambs, Mindhunter follows an FBI agent in the ‘70s tasked with interviewing and analyzing serial killers to create personality profiles. The show gives special attention to character development and every episode is directed with ambitious cinematic visuals with its pale, drained colors. This often chilling show shines the brightest when it spends time with the monsters, allowing us a look into the dark side of the human psyche. We’re patiently waiting on season two which will supposedly feature the Charles Manson murders.

Creator(s): Joe Penhall
Number of Seasons: One

Narcos

Pablo Escobar is one of the most infamous men in history, earning $21.9 billion a year in personal income via cocaine smuggling, and Narcos is a magnificent portrayal of the notorious drug lord. This original series follows Escobar’s chaotic life, as well as DEA agent Steve Murphy as he tries to make his way through the chaos to get to the cocaine king. Wagner Moura and Boyd Holbrook turn in dedicated performances and the drug war history is depicted without filters. The show gets better every season, taking us deeper into the dark world of the cartel with every episode.

Creator(s): Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato, and Doug Miro
Number of Seasons: Four

Orange is the New Black

The typically law-abiding Piper Chapman is convicted for transporting drug money to an ex-girlfriend and finds herself behind bars. The original series thoughtfully depicts prison inmates, crushing any convict cliches done to death by other TV shows. It’s a successful blend of dark humor and heavy drama with a talented cast of female actors led by Taylor Schilling. Even in its sixth season, Orange is the New Black is still as fresh as it was when it first entered the spotlight.

Creators: Jenji Kohan
Number of Seasons: Six

Ozark

Better known for his comedic role in Arrested Development, Jason Bateman shows you his dramatic acting chops in this suspenseful thriller. Following a financial adviser forced to carry out the task of laundering $500 million in five years by a drug boss, this original series is a dark drama with pockets of comedy. Similar to Breaking Bad, it takes a seemingly righteous family man and slowly reveals what he’s truly capable of doing. With all the right ingredients, this TV show has the potential to be the next best classic crime drama.

Creator(s): Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams
Number of Seasons: Two

Peaky Blinders

We were spoiled from the ‘70s to ‘90s with classic gangsters flicks like The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Donnie Brasco. Recently, there haven’t been any notable gangster epics on the big screen. Thankfully, Peaky Blinders was created to deliver an epic story of power filled with bullets and blood. Set in 1919 Birmingham, Peaky Blinders follows a gang led by the fierce Tommy Shelby played with gusto by Cillian Murphy. The rest of the cast is also superb, including the always ace Tom Hardy. A much-needed vintage gangster drama, Peaky Blinders delivers a healthy diet of sex, drugs, and violence.

Creator(s): Steven Knight
Number of Seasons: Four

Stranger Things

Arguably the best original TV show on Netflix, Stranger Things is both a love letter to classic ‘80s films and an exercise in creative sci-fi storytelling. It features a talented young cast, including Millie Bobby Brown in the star-turning role of Eleven. The show works so well because you can connect to these outcast kids and want to join them on their extraordinary adventure involving top-secret government experiments and a nightmarish dimension. There’s a sense of adventure in this show that’s addicting, taking you back to your childhood with every episode. Stranger Things reminds us that friendship is everything, which you’ve heard many times before but the popular TV show presents the message in a way you’ll remember.

Creator(s): Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer
Number of Seasons: Two

The End of the F***ing World

Alex Lawther got his start in one of the craziest episodes in Black Mirror and now he stars in his own TV show along with the equally talented Jessica Barden. This violent coming-of-age series pairs a psychopath teen named James and a moody, rebellious teenager named Alyssa, as they embark on a road trip to find Alyssa’s father. This odd nihilistic Netflix original TV show is a dark comedy with bleak themes, yet there are some bright moments you can’t help but savor when they present themselves. The two protagonists pretend to care about nothing in the world, but as the episodes roll along, you start caring about them as their shields melt away.

Creator(s): Charles S. Forsman
Number of Seasons: One

The Haunting of Hill House

Based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, The Haunting Of Hill House is a terrifying horror series and a gripping family drama with tremendous performances from the entire cast, including Victoria Pedretti and Henry Thomas, who you might remember as Elliot from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. With meticulous character development, a bold, inventive storyline, eerie set pieces, and amazing camerawork, this is one of the best horror TV shows ever. It’s a series that studies grief, loss, and even our fragile relationship with fear. As the family suffering from the trauma of the hauntings confront the ghosts lurking in their minds, you can’t help but be pulled into the truly captivating story.

Creator(s): Mike Flanagan, Shirley Jackson (story)
Number of Seasons: One

10 Netflix Hacks You Need To Know

Now that you’ve been exposed to the quintessential list of original Netflix TV shows, it’s time to make sure you’re using Netflix to its full potential. Check out the 10 best Netflix hacks and start your binge-watching.

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