The 25 Best Netflix Original Series

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The 25 Best Netflix Original Series

The fact that we can even make a list of the best Netflix original series is kind of amazing. Less than five years ago, the now dominant streaming platform was best known as the company that put Blockbuster out of business. House of Cards not only changed all that—it also changed the way TV is consumed, introducing the now ever-popular binge model. History is made by forward-thinking companies and Netflix, let’s be honest, is making history.

The streaming platform is rich with content and, so far, has had only a few true misses (talking to you Iron Fist). To come up with the list of Netflix best original series, we left out shows that originated elsewhere, including those that received a second life on Netflix (sorry Arrested Development, though it’s probably for the best, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life). You can find those titles, and many more, on our list of the 75 Best TV Shows on Netflix.

Here are the 25 best Netflix original series:

25. 13 Reasons Why

Creators: Steve Golin, Tom McCarthy and Selena Gomez
Stars: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Miles Heizer, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh
Premiered: 2017


Here’s something ironic: One of the shows that could be the easiest to take for granted this season could very well be the one about a teenage girl who kills herself because she was taken for granted. Based on author Jay Asher’s young adult bestseller, 13 Reasons Why is about what happens when the bullying, sexting, betrayed friendships, doublespeak conversations, and sheer loneliness of high-school hell get too much for teenager Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). But Hannah doesn’t go down without naming some names and her suicide note comes in the form of audio recording, in which she recounts exactly what (and who) led her to fall into this pit of hopelessness. The message is that everyone had a chance to save Hannah from herself, even the adults. 13 Reasons Why is one of the most important TV shows of the season. Whitney Friedlander

24. Netflix Presents: The Characters

Stars: Lauren Lapkus, Kate Berlant, Dr Brown, Paul W. Downs, John Early, Tim Robinson, Natasha Rothwell, Henry Zebrowski
Premiered: 2016

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Between distributing stand-up specials from comedy’s biggest and brightest and ponying up the resources to produce the much acclaimed Wet Hot American Summer prequel series, The Characters marks the logical next step in Netflix’s master plan to establish itself as a mecca for alt-comedy. The idea of The Characters fits perfectly into the grand tradition of such programs as Mr. Show and The Tracy Ullman Show. Each of the season’s eight episodes highlights a different comedian who proceeds to write and star in their own half-hour show (each one directed by Andrew Gaynord). This results in a loosely structured, near stream-of-consciousness narrative wherein the actor or actress portrays different characters that weave in and out various plotlines and tangents. Such a format inevitably births major ups and downs, but when the hits come—as they do most consistently with Natasha Rothwell’s installment—they are almost transcendent in their comedic dexterity. Mark Rozeman

23. Grace and Frankie

Creators: Marta Kauffman, Howard J. Morris
Stars: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, Brooklyn Decker
Premiered: 2015

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Sometimes the only thing worse than a flat-out bad show is a woefully mediocre one that thoroughly squanders its vast potential. Indeed, despite its luminous cast, respected creative team (Marta J. Kaufman co-created Friends) and timely subject matter, Grace and Frankie never quite shakes the impression that it’s a broadcast comedy masquerading under a thick layer of “prestige half-hour” make-up. The story centers on the titular characters (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, respectively) who end up becoming roommates/reluctant friends after their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) announce they’ve been engaging in a long-term affair with one another and wish to dissolve their marriages to be together. Feeling tossed out to sea in the twilight of their lives, the two women attempt to rediscover life as newly single gals. Cue gags fueled by elder dating, elder sex and the ever-reliable, “elders try to use technology.” It’s essentially How Stella Got Her Groove Back for the septuagenarian sect. These creative shortcomings are all the more disappointing given the unmistakable chemistry between Fonda and Tomlin, not to mention that, as actresses of a certain age, Hollywood is not exactly bowling them over with the roles they deserve. Grace and Frankie is far from a bad show, but it has enough going for it that one wishes it was so much better. Mark Rozeman

22. The OA

Creators:   Brit Marling  and Zal Batmanglij
Stars: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Phyllis Smith, Alice Krige, Jason Isaacs
Premiered: 2016


Brit Marling  and Zal Batmanglij’s flawed, transfixing science (or is it spiritual?) fiction asks its audience, as the title character (Marling) does hers, for trust—to the point that the suspension of disbelief emerges as the subject of The OA, and not merely its mechanism. As the OA, or Original Angel, also known as Prairie Johnson, unfurls a tale of unimaginable trauma for four high school students and their math teacher (the surprising Phyllis Smith), the decision to focus on images of their rapt faces might appear premature, given the first season’s meandering course. And yet, mirroring the OA’s inscrutable message, Marling and Batmanglij’s snarled stories ultimately straighten, as if diagramming an indecipherable sentence or lining a complex hymn: When its nesting narratives come taut, when its forked paths converge, The OA rewards the faith it requires, coming to a climax of such sublime conviction it continues to reduce me to sobs even now, after countless viewings. Matt Brennan

21. Bloodline

Creators: Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Norbert Leo Butz, Jacinda Barrett, Enrique Murciano
Premiered: 2015

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The first season of Bloodline, I found myself asking “Is this good? Do I like this?” after every episode. “Better watch the next one to figure out how I feel about it.” Before long, I was fully invested in the show’s mystery and had made it through all 13 episodes, but I still find myself wondering why I’m not totally blown away by it. It’s got a stellar cast—Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini, Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn (the latter two of whom were nominated for Emmys for their work on the show). It’s got a compelling plot (the family’s black sheep returns home and threatens to reveal a bunch of secrets that could tear everything apart, with flashbacks to a decades-old tragedy mixed in for good measure). It’s beautifully shot, so much so that the Florida Keys are almost another character on the show. And yet there’s something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on, something that hasn’t quite taken the show to where it should be on paper. That said, I’ll probably blow through Season Three in a weekend this May to see if they’ve found it. Bonnie Stiernberg

20. Chef’s Table

Creators: David Gelb, Andrew Fried and Brain McGinn
Premiered: 2015


This docuseries might really change the way you look at what you eat and why. Each episode is a standalone documentary that highlights the personal journey of a different chef. The ultimate focus is on the chef—not the food, not the restaurant—and the show is freaking beautiful. Each episode is gorgeously filmed and an extremely thoughtful look at one chef and his/her career journey. What’s brought into sharp focus is a sense that each of these people, surrounded by families and communities and friends and patrons, is someone with a fundamental sense of being alone. We have a number of programs about food and it’s easy to believe that no one could possibly have anything new to… um bring to the table. But all of the episodes leave me wanting more. Amy Glynn

19. Sense8

Creators: The Wachowskis, J. Michael Straczynski
Stars: Tuppence Middleton, Brian J. Smith, Doona Bae, Aml Ameen, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Tina Desai, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Freema Agyeman, Terrence Mann, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Daryl Hannah
Premiered: 2015

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There is no bigger WTF TV show in the world right now than Sense8. This globe-trotting and glitzy sci-fi series, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (co-directors of The Matrix trilogy) and former Babylon 5 showrunner J. Michael Straczynski, drops us into a world where eight strangers in different parts of the planet are somehow psychically and emotionally linked. The first season’s 12 episodes and the Christmas special follow this assortment of confused and beautiful people as they try to understand this connection, use their newfound abilities to help one another, and engage in not one but two blissfully queer orgies. As wacky 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. Robert Ham

18. A Series of Unfortunate Events
Creators: Mark Hudis, Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, Presley Smith
Premiered: 2017


When Netflix announced its adaptation of Daniel Handler’s beloved, quirky books, my main question was this: Is A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptable to the screen without losing the idiosyncrasies that make it so charming? Fortunately, director Barry Sonnenfeld, Neil Patrick Harris as the evil Count Olaf, and Handler himself (as screenwriter) rose to the challenge magnificently. The series, whose first season contains eight out of a planned 26 episodes, doesn’t consistently hit the emotional heights of Netflix’s best fare, but it more than makes up for this paucity with solid acting, abundant wit and a visual aesthetic that is wholly unique in television—a hybrid of Tim Burton’s gothic glee and Wes Anderson’s diorama cinema. Book-readers will delight at the faithfulness of the adaptation, and while first-timers may take a tad longer to get their feet wet, the colorful menagerie of characters and the dogged perseverance of the Baudelaire orphans should win them over. Zach Blumenfeld

17. Marvel’s Luke Cage
Creator: Cheo Hodari Coker
Stars: Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Erik LaRay Harvey, Rosario Dawson, Theo Rossi
Premiered:2016


Marvel’s third Netflix venture isn’t perfect—the structure of its villain hierarchy needed some serious recalibration—but it is good, very good in fact, and most of all it’s ballsy. Who writes a superhero show around a naked discussion of what it means to a black American in 2016? Luke Cage is obviously a Marvel product, but it’s also the product of its creator, Cheo Hodari Coker, and its cast, including Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, and Erik LaRay Harvey (plus appearances by Frankie Faison, Ron Cephas Jones and, of course, Method Man): The series has more flexibility in addressing its subject matter thanks to its platform, but it’s hard to imagine that it’d speak as loudly or as boldly even on Netflix without Coker driving the narrative forward. Even though he stumbles during the show’s midsection, his errors don’t add up to more than an inconvenience. Luke Cage blends its source material with a wide range of influences, from jazz to rap to horrors ripped straight from the headlines, and churns out a yarn that’s as powerful as it is irresistibly poppy. Andy Crump

16. One Day at a Time

Creators: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce, Norman Lear
Stars: Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz
Premiered: 2017


I can’t remember a time I loved something the way I love the new One Day at a Time. Part of my affection stems from the fact that the show was such a discovery. It arrived January 6 of this year with almost no hype. I write about TV for a living and I barely knew it was premiering. Almost immediately I dismissed the show as yet another ill-advised remake. How wrong I was. The comedy is a pure delight. A throwback to the defining comedies of the 1970s with a modern twist, the show deftly tackles some hot-button issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, wage inequality and teenage sexuality amid real conversations about generational differences and Cuban heritage and traditions. Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) is fantastic as the recently separated veteran raising her two adolescent children with the help of her mother Lydia (living legend Rita Moreno) and her landlord Schneider (Todd Grinnell). Moreno gives an amazing speech in the series 12th episode that should easily nab her an Emmy nomination this year. But above all the show is funny and grounded. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to watch this gem one day at a time. Amy Amatangelo

15. Love

Creators:   Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust
Stars: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty
Premiered: 2016

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If you’re a fan of Undeclared or Freaks and Geeks, you should make it your business to give Judd Apatow’s latest series, Love, a try. In a lot of ways, it feels like what would happen if Sam Weir and Kim Kelly wound up dating in their 30s—we meet Gus (Paul Rust), a dorky on-set tutor for the child star of a witch-themed teen drama, and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), a radio producer struggling with her sobriety, as they’re both reeling from tough breakups and watch as they fall for each other. Like anything Apatow’s got his name on, there’s an underlying sweetness here and an incredibly strong cast (Claudia O’Doherty steals pretty much every scene she’s in as Mickey’s roommate, Bertie), and the addiction plot lends some dramatic muscle. The characters are complicated (and not always likable), but hey, so is love. Bonnie Stiernberg

14. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Creators: Michael Showalter, David Wain
Stars: Elizabeth Banks, Lake Bell, H. Jon Benjamin, Michael Ian Black, Michael Cera, Josh Charles, Bradley Cooper, Judah Friedlander, Janeane Garofalo, Jon Hamm, Nina Hellman
Premiered: 2015

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When a follow-up comes along for any project with a huge cult audience, it seems doomed to disappoint. Arrested Development’s fourth season’s breaking apart of the cast was bound to frustrate, and Anchorman 2 could never reach the surprising joy of the original. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp obviously came with a certain amount of trepidation. But instead of trying to recreate the glory of the last day of camp, as seen in the 2001 film, First Day of Camp added a considerable amount of depth to the original film and explained aspects of Camp Firewood that never needed to be understood, but make the entire history of these characters feel more whole. The Netflix series managed to redefine these characters that we fell in love with over a decade ago, all while giving us laughs and immense heart as well. Ross Bonaime

13. The Crown

Creator: Peter Morgan
Stars: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, John Lithgow, Jeremy Northam, Victoria Hamilton, Eileen Atkins
Premiered: 2016


The Royal family were allegedly concerned when creator Peter Morgan refused all offers of assistance in bringing The Crown to life. The fact that Netflix’s first costume drama manages to make someone as famously insensitive as Prince Philip appear deeply sympathetic proves the Palace needn’t have worried. That’s not to say that this fascinating portrait of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is a piece of sycophantic fluff—it doesn’t exactly shy away from the conflicts that plagued her early years. But the first season, which centers on events from 1947 to 1955, does humanize the monarchy in a way that very few royal dramas have done before. Indeed, the reported $100 million budget has understandably garnered the most headlines, but as sumptuous as The Crown’s sets are, it’s Morgan’s meticulously researched screenplay that impresses the most. Exquisite performances from Claire Foy as the young woman thrust onto the throne in her twenties and a never-better John Lithgow as the formidable Winston Churchill also ensure that Netflix’s ambitious royal gamble well and truly pays off. Jon O’Brien

12. Making a Murderer

Creators: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos
Premiered: 2015


After the Serial podcast captured the zeitgeist, Netflix brought viewers the true story of Steven Avery, a man wrongly convicted of a brutal assault. He sued law enforcement, and while in the middle of that suit, he became a suspect of a brand new crime. The 10-part docu-series covers 30 years in Avery’s life, and like Serial, became a phenomenon that had us all playing armchair judge and jury. Amy Amatangelo

11. Lady Dynamite

Creators: Pam Brady, Mitch Hurwitz 
Stars: Maria Bamford, Fred Melamed, Mary Kay Place
Premiered: 2016


Generally speaking, we like our comedies and our comedians to be funny. Maria Bamford—actress, voice actress, stand-up—is funny in the strictest sense possible, but her Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, blends her humor with melancholy and hurt. Don’t worry: You’ll laugh. You will laugh! Lady Dynamite is hysterical, and it’s hysterical on a wide array of axes, incorporating everything from slapstick, to absurdism, to cringe humor into one hyperactive rush of comic goodness. But it’s also deeply human and deeply sad, the kind of comedy series where the laughs tend to catch in one’s gullet, or squeeze through gritted teeth. Sometimes you laugh so as not to wince, or just to keep yourself from shedding tears in front of your friends (or in front of your own damn self). Sad comedies are a dime a dozen in 2016, especially for Netflix junkies, but the manic qualities of Lady Dynamite’s humor, its frank approach to its themes of mental illness, and its cavalcade of comedian guest stars—whether they’re mainstream comedians, alt comedians, or mainstream-alt comedians—give the show a brio and soul all its own. Andy Crump

10. Marvel’s Daredevil

Creator: Drew Goddard
Stars: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio
Premiered: 2015

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Marvel and DC have both tried to leverage their movie dominance onto the small screen many times over, but so far, the only beloved TV show based on a comic book has come from indie publisher Image with The Walking Dead. That changed with Netflix’ new offering Daredevil. The Hell’s Kitchen of Matt Murdoch’s world is much grittier than that of his Marvel cohorts on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—no surprise since the show was created by Drew Goddard, director of Cabin in the Woods. Goddard, who’s written episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias and Lost is also no stranger to the comics world, having written a few issues of the Buffy comics. The fight scenes are riveting (and often bloody), and the hero and his companions are well-developed, but it’s Vincent D’Onofrio complicated turn as the crime boss Wilson Fisk that elevates the show into something special. Both Fisk and Murdoch want to clean up the city, and will go to great lengths to do it. The difference between hero and villain is just a matter of ends-justify-the-means degrees. Not since Rick Grimes tangled with the Governor or Walter White went up against Gus Fring has there been a protracted battle this gripping on television. Your move, DC. Josh Jackson

9. Narcos

Creators: Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro
Stars: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, Joanna Christie, Maurice Compte, Stephanie Sigman, Manolo Cardona, André Mattos, Roberto Urbina, Diego Cataõ
Premiered: 2015

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One popular line of criticism has it that Narcos romanticizes the violence and degradation associated with the Colombian drug wars—and drug culture in general—and I would agree that the excellent Wagner Moura plays kingpin Pablo Escobar so engagingly that he becomes a sort of Walt White-esque antihero. And the rhythms of the documentary-style narration are fast-paced in a way that’s reminiscent of Guy Ritchie, whipping us along at an almost breakneck speed. Nevertheless, this valid criticism misses the important point that we are watching a work of fiction based on historical figures—not a real documentary. And when viewed that way, Narcos was one of the most successful new shows on TV, in how it managed to flesh out some very dark characters and tell a complicated story with such urgency and clarity. This is not the hyper-realist drug fiction of Traffic or 2015’s wonderful Sicario, but as conflict entertainment goes, it succeeds wonderfully. Shane Ryan

8. The Get Down

Creators:   Baz Luhrmann, Stephen Adly Guirgis
Stars: Justice Smith, Herizen F. Guardiola, Shameik Moore, Jaden Smith, Skylan Brooks, Tremaine Brown Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jimmy Smits
Premiered: 2016


The Get Down, from Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis, bears the imprint of its creators’ extensive experience on the stage, mustering more musical zeal than the many other contemporary rock ‘n’ roll series. The story of aspiring MC Ezekiel Figuero (Justice Smith) and his love interest, disco singer Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola), The Get Down edges closer in affect to Singin’ in the Rain or West Side Story than to its brethren on TV. Whether a function of its interest in the origins of hip-hop or the spirited optimism of its protagonists, determined to escape, or transform, the South Bronx, The Get Down is buoyed by its kinetic energies, even as it strains to bring its sprawling cast and sociopolitical interests into sharper relief. Each episode is a kaleidoscope of musical influences, from disco to ’90s rap. Throughout the first few episodes, the camera combats the intermittent sluggishness of the writing, zooming, swooping, circling and retreating before cycling back to the beginning, painted all the while in bright swatches of color. The Get Down recalls the aforementioned classics not because it’s made with similar aplomb, then, but because the series’ chaotic construction nonetheless reflects the musical’s central premise: The music isn’t the setting for the story. The music is the story. Matt Brennan

7. House of Cards

Creator: Beau Willimon
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Corey Stoll, Michael Kelly
Premiered: 2013

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It’s been called a gamble. It’s been called a revolutionary step in television. However you look at it, House of Cards, Netflix’s first original series, is certainly something you need to witness. Whether you watch all the episodes in one sitting or spaced out over a few weeks, the show has an undeniable draw that will suck you in. The political thriller, starring the incomparable Kevin Spacey, is an adaptation of BBC’s show of the same name (also worth checking out on Netflix). It sets out to take on drama juggernauts from HBO, Showtime and AMC; succeeding in part. The most compelling aspect of the show is Spacey’s take on Frank Underwood. He’s able to carry scenes and sometimes entire episodes. The series focuses on Underwood’s ruthless rise to power alongside—and, at times, in opposition to—his icy, ambitious wife, Claire (Robin Wright). The show lies somewhere between the exceptionally boundary-pushing first season of Homeland and the intelligence of the early The West Wing episodes. Adam Vitcavage

6. Jessica Jones

Creator: Melissa Rosenberg
Stars: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Rachael Taylor, Mike Colter, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, Erin Moriarty, Wil Traval, Susie Abromeit
Premiered: 2015


Marvel’s first team-up with Netflix, 2015’s excellent Daredevil, took the shiny Marvel Cinematic Universe and rubbed much needed dirt on it. Jessica Jones furthers the trend with a psychological thriller that is, somehow, more brutal and dark than its Hell’s Kitchen contemporary. Unlike Daredevil, Jones not only redrew the lines for a Marvel production, but redefined what a comic book show could be. The emphasis is not on the physical, but instead the mental destruction caused by Kilgrave (the phenomenal David Tennant), a sociopath with mind-control powers. Netflix’s binge model is used to its full-effect, each episode’s conclusion begging the viewer to let the train roll on. And, like a victim of Kilgrave, it’s impossible not to abide. Jessica Jones keeps the viewer guessing, leaving them suspended in a state of fear and anxiety for 13 perilous, wonderful hours. Eric Walters

5. Stranger Things

Creators: The Duffer Brothers
Stars: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine
Premiered: 2016

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The only question viewers tend to ask about the quality of Netflix’s Stranger Things isn’t “Is this a fantastically entertaining show?” but “Does it matter that the show is so homage-heavy?” Our take: No. 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 gripping than most other examples of its ilk. The influences are far too deeply ingrained to individually list, although imagery evoking Amblin-era Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper films drips from nearly every frame. With a stellar cast of child actors and several different characters whose hidden secrets we 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 Season Two, following the first season’s explosive conclusion, we’re all hoping that the same group of characters will be able to re-conjure the chilling, heart-pumping magic of a perfectly constructed eight-episode series. Please, TV gods: Don’t let Stranger Things go all True Detective on us. Jim Vorel

4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Creators:   Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Karkowski, Carol Kane, Lauren Adams, Sara Chase
Premiered: 2015

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NBC has made any number of mistakes over the years, but few bigger than shelving Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s 30 Rock follow-up, before punting it over to Netflix. The fast-paced and flip sitcom features breakout performances by Office vet Ellie Kemper as the titular former “mole woman” trying to make it on her own in New York, and Tituss Burgess as her flamboyant and put-upon roommate, Titus Andromedon. Throughout the first season’s run, some writers and critics seemed dead set on finding some kind of flaw to pounce on with the show, zeroing in on how the minority characters are represented. This may be a wild generalization, but I think this was a natural reaction to one of the most overtly feminist sitcoms ever produced. Kimmy Schmidt is most certainly upsetting the natural order of your typical network sitcom. The show’s titular character is defining her life on her own terms and by her own standards. For some reason that still freaks some people out so they dismiss it or find some way to poke holes in the vehicle for that idea. That is what makes the show so exciting. Just as the show can go in a myriad of different directions, so too can Kimmy Schmidt. Now that she has put the awful time in the bunker to bed, she can face a new day with that infectious smile, bubbly attitude, and enthusiastic embrace of life experience. Sorry nitpickers and network executives; Kimmy Schmidt is going to make it after all. Robert Ham

3. Orange is the New Black

Creator: Jenji Kohan
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael J. Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Biggs
Premiered: 2013


  Orange is the New Black is perfectly suited for the Netflix delivery system, if only because it would have been agonizing to wait a week for a new episode. But there’s more; the construct felt cinematic and compared to your average show, and I couldn’t help but feel that the all-at-once release plane freed the creators to make something less episodic and more free-flowing. Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, a woman living a content modern life when her past rears up suddenly to tackle her from behind; a decade earlier, she was briefly a drug mule for her lover Alex Vause (the excellent Laura Prepon), and when Vause needed to plea her sentence down, she gave up Piper. The story is based on the real-life events of Piper Kerman, whose book of the same title was the inspiration, but the truth is that the screen version is miles better. Schilling is the engine that drives the plot, 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 (and there are many) was to heighten the stakes so that what begins as an off-kilter adventure soon takes on the serious proportions prison life demands. And as great as Schilling and Prepon are together, the supporting cast is so universally excellent that it almost beggars belief. There are too many characters who make gold with their limited screen time to mention individually, but suffice it to say that there’s enough comedy, pathos and tragedy here for a dozen shows. The fact that they fit so successfully into one makes OITNB a defining triumph for Netflix. Shane Ryan

2. Master of None

Creators:   Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Stars: Aziz Ansari, Noél Wells, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, H. Jon Benjamin 
Premiered: 2015


Like its creator and star, Master of None is stylish, smart and clever—a half-hour comedy that ranks as one of Netflix’s best efforts in original programming. Following the trend set by Louie, Transparent, You’re the Worst and many other modern sitcoms, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang built a show that doesn’t mind the occasional laugh hiatus. Instead of pushing the joke quota to astronomical levels, Master of None is content to find poignancy amid the humor, and if the former outshines the latter, so be it. The result is a show that is fun to watch, emotionally satisfying and thought provoking. It’s also been paramount in furthering the discussion about race and representation on television, both with its own casting and the topics it addresses. There is so much to say about this show, and these few hundred words are a pathetic attempt to do it justice. Master of None is not only one of the best shows of Netflix, but one of the most important in a long, long time. Eric Walters

1. BoJack Horseman

Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins 
Premiered: 2014

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  BoJack Horseman is one of the most underrated comedies ever made, and it almost pains me that it doesn’t earn more praise. Right from the title sequence, which documents BoJack’s sad decline from network sitcom star to drunken has-been—set to the beautiful theme song written by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney—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, who is in my mind the funniest man on planet Earth, could not be better suited to the child-like Mr. Peanut Butter. This is a show that isn’t above a visual gag or vicious banter or a wonderfully cheap laugh, but it also looks some very hard realities of life straight in the eye. 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 absolutely horrible to let you down. (There’s a special irony in the fact that a horse is one of the most human characters on TV, and the unblinking examination of his character makes “Escape from L.A.” one of the best episodes of TV.) So why isn’t it loved beyond a strong cult following? Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism that keeps people away, or maybe it’s the animation, but I implore you: Look beyond those elements, settle into the story, and let yourself be amazed by a comedy that straddles the line between hilarious and sad like no other on television. Shane Ryan

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