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31 Best Netflix Original Series

It's hard to go a single day without hearing the word Netflix. The streaming service has risen from its humble origins as a DVD delivery service and competitor to Blockbuster to become an unbelievably successfully streaming service, managing to make its way into popular culture with remarkable success.

It seems like every day new content is being added to the streaming service, varying from contemporary comedies to nostalgic favorites. Netflix also produces and distributes their own films and television series, which are branded as Netflix Originals. Though quality certainly varies from exceptional to downright dreadful, thanks to an incredibly vast library, there really is something for everyone on the service.

It's getting increasingly difficult to find something good to watch thanks to an overwhelming cornucopia of choice, so we wanted to provide a guide to some of the very best TV shows you can catch on Netflix. Here are the 31 best Netflix original series.

House of Cards

This series is the one that started it all. While it may not really be Netflix's very first original series, it's certainly the one that put Netflix on the map. The show made the streamer a big-time awards player, winning 7 Primetime Emmy Awards and racking up a hefty number of nominations along the way. The show stars the since-disgraced Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, a Democrat appointed as Secretary of State. Few characters in the history of television are more petty and devious. Francis and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) set out on a mission to destroy anyone and everyone who ever wronged them, as their deliciously dramatic, backstabbing ways chart their rise to the top.

Orange Is the New Black

Created by Jenji Kohan ("Weeds"), Netflix's prison dramedy "Orange Is the New Black" made stars out of many of its cast, including Laverne Cox, Taylor Schilling, Taryn Manning, Uzo Aduba, and many more. Sure, the show was all over the place in its impressive seven seasons, picking up and dropped storylines seemingly at a whim, but the show's cast is absolute dynamite, and simply one of the best ensembles in the history of television. For what it gets wrong about prison, it more than makes up for in compelling stories, brilliant character dynamics, and straight-up entertainment.

Bojack Horseman

"Bojack Horseman" casts a hypnotic spell; from the moment the brilliant theme song starts, it's pretty much impossible to look away. The story is about Bojack Horseman (Will Arnett), a washed-up alcoholic who was once the star of a '90s sitcom, and his efforts to make a comeback into the world of acting alongside his friend Todd (Aaron Paul) and agent and ex-girlfriend Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris). Raphael Bob-Waksberg's show is practically perfect, one of the greatest series of all time, animated or otherwise, and unafraid to examine a deeply troubled, and deeply troubling man.

Tuca & Bertie

Created by "Bojack Horseman" producer Lisa Hanawalt, "Tuca and Bertie" is one of Netflix's very best offerings. The animated show shares a similar style to "Bojack," but it's a world apart when it comes to tone. Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) and Bertie (Ali Wong) are two 30-something birds living in the same apartment building. They are the very best of friends. The incredibly charming and hilarious show was canceled after only one season, but thankfully Adult Swim rescued it and renewed it for a brilliant second season.

Big Mouth

Shocking, disgusting, abrasive, and totally wonderful, Nick Kroll's "Big Mouth" is an extraordinary animated series about kids facing the most mysterious thing of all: puberty. Creator Kroll voices a number of characters in the show, including Nick, hormone monster Maury, and Coach Steve. Surprisingly, the boundary-pushing and provocative show is hardly ever censored, and it's all the better for it. Beneath the constant barrage of funny meta jokes, the show is a deeply sensitive and genuine look at the way kids from all walks of life experience growing up, particularly in relation to their changing bodies.

Stranger Things

Netflix's "Stranger Things" is a delightful nostalgia-tinted sci-fi romp through the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The first season looks at the mysterious disappearance of Will (Will Byers) and some bizarre supernatural happenings around the town, including the sudden appearance of a young girl with psychokinetic powers named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The show, created by the Duffer Brothers, is absolutely overflowing with epic moments, and "Stranger Things" have fans hooked and actively anticipating the series' upcoming fourth season. Frightening, dramatic, and hilarious in equal measure, "Stranger Things" is a special experience and a delightful throwback to classic science fiction.

Squid Game

Few series have had a collective grip on society quite like the Korean drama "Squid Game." The survival drama cannot seem to stop smashing records, as the show has reportedly been viewed over 1.65 billion (yes, that's right, billion) hours. When watching it, it's not that surprising, as "Squid Game" is incredibly compelling viewing. The show is about a group of debt-straddled people who are invited to participate in a competition playing children's games, with a massive, life-changing cash prize. As one of the year's best scenes makes clear, the games have incredibly deadly consequences.

Hellbound

Hot off the heels of "Squid Game" came another Korean thriller on Netflix, though "Hellbound" is an entirely different experience. The thriller focuses on the rise of mysterious incidents where angels appear to those who have presumably sinned, telling them that they are bound for hell. When their time comes, vicious monsters violently obliterate them to a pulp and bind them to the underworld. The show features some truly compelling characters and offers a scathing critique of organized religion and the way people blindly follow dominant ways of thinking.

Ozark

One of Netflix's most unflinching drama series, "Ozark" stars Jason Bateman as Marty, a financial planner who moves his family from Chicago to the Ozarks, as he's on the run after a money-laundering scheme gone wrong. In order to protect the lives of himself and his family, including his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and two kids, Marty needs to launder a whopping $500 million over five years. The show is a great showcase for Bateman, who sheds preconceived notions that he belongs only in comedies, and makes a star out of Julia Garner, who won back-to-back Emmys for Best Supporting actress.

The Crown

Netflix's most prestigious series, "The Crown" charts the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to contemporary times. Every two seasons the cast changes to reflect the changes in time. Claire Foy, Imelda Staunton, and Olivia Colman have all played the Queen. The show has positively dominated award ceremonies, most recently winning every single one of the major seven categories for drama series at the Primetime Emmy Awards. The show boasts great performances, world-class production values (including breathtaking costumes), and more political intrigue than you can dream of.

Grace and Frankie

One of Netflix's longest-running series is a bit of a surprise hit, as stories about aging women don't typically get the attention they deserve. Thankfully, "Grace and Frankie" is a hugely popular series, and its seventh and final season will mark the end of the triumphant and delightful comedy. The show stars truly legendary actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular Grace and Frankie, long-term rivals who become dear friends after their husbands Sol (Sam Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen) leave them for one another.

Master of None

Co-created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, "Master of None" is a beautifully realized story of looking for love in contemporary times. Dev (Ansari) is an actor living in New York City and struggling to find purpose, both in his career and in his love life. He's accompanied by his friends Arnold (Eric Wareheim) and Denise (Lena Waithe). Brilliant episodes like Season 1's "Mornings" and Season 2's "Thanksgiving" showcase the series remarkable understanding of humanity in modern times. The show pivoted in Season 3, shifting its focus to Denise and her relationship, and it reminded audiences yet again of what a special show this is.

Sex Education

Raucous, glorious, and very, very horny, "Sex Education" is a hilarious and honest look at the lives of teenagers. The fantastic ensemble cast features standout performances from Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Gillian Anderson, and Aimee Lou Wood. The British series is about a pair of students who start their own sex-ed service as their school's education is sorely lacking. It's one of the rare shows that seemingly gets better with each passing season, and after the thrilling end of Season 3, we can't wait to see what happens next.

Never Have I Ever

Mindy Kaling is nothing short of legendary and has become a real force in the entertainment industry. "Never Have I Ever," the Netflix series she created with Lang Fisher, is a delightful coming-of-age story. The show features a star-making performance from Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who beat 15,000 other girls who auditioned for the role. Ramakrishnan plays Devi, a high-schooler with a nerdy streak, alongside her besties Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez). The show is a fantastic reminder that diversity makes for unique and interesting programming, and "Never Have I Ever" is equal parts funny, thoughtful, and emotional.

Money Heist

This Spanish series is one of Netflix's finest, and its twisty thrills are a delight to behold. Featuring some really fascinating characters, "Money Heist" is about – well, money heists. There's a criminal mastermind known as "The Professor," and they have a scheme to pull off the biggest heist in history by printing billions of euros right in the Royal Mint of Spain. In order to enact their plan, The Professor recruits eight people, each with certain abilities to help pull it all off, and all of them are linked by one thing: they have nothing to lose.

Black Mirror

Created by Charlie Brooker, "Black Mirror" is a British anthology series that focuses on stories about the perils of a technology-focused society. It originally started on British Network Channel 4 before moving to Netflix, which has produced more seasons. Each episode is entirely discrete, and the series covers a wide swathe of genres — from a classic sci-fi satire with a twist in "USS Callister" to a beautiful romance in "San Junipero" and straight-up horror in "Black Museum." Performers like Daniel Kaluuya, Andrea Riseborough, Miley Cyrus, and Jesse Plemons have all starred at various points. 

Queer Eye

Not to be confused with the original "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy," the Netflix "Queer Eye" reboot is a wonderful and life-affirming experience. The reality show has a fairly straightforward premise: a group of five queer men travels around America to change the lives of deserving people, doing everything from showing them new recipes to completely renovating their home. The show is absolutely exuberant, and practically every episode is going to make you laugh and cry. When times feel bleak, there's nothing quite like a joyous celebration of life like Netflix's "Queer Eye."

American Vandal

It's an absolute travesty that the ingenious "American Vandal," one of the funniest shows ever created, was canceled after two seasons. Taking aim a the rise of the true-crime genre, "American Vandal" is a mockumentary series that mimics shows like "Serial" and "Making a Murderer." The first season investigates a high school prank that left 27 faculty cars covered in penis drawings in its wake, while the second focuses on the exploits of "The Turd Burglar" at a private Catholic high school. "American Vandal" is always hilarious, but what's most remarkable is that its parodies are genuinely intriguing, and you'll find yourself hooked on the mysteries.

Unbelievable

We can't deny that "Unbelievable" is hard to watch. The limited series follows Marie Adler (a brilliant Kaitlyn Dever), a teenager charged with lying about having been raped. Detectives Grace Rasmussen (Toni Colette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) are assigned to the case and uncover a complicated path that leads to the truth. Anchored by brilliant performances, the show is a fascinating story on what it means to believe, and how doubt can seep into your mind and take over, causing you to question everything you once knew. The show is ultimately a rewarding experience and is definitely one of Netflix's best series.

Five Came Back

This tremendous documentary series focuses on five legendary directors — William Wyler, Frank Capra, George Stevens, John Huston, and John Ford — and their work on the frontlines during World War II. The series is narrated by Meryl Streep, and features talking heads from contemporary directors including Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Guillermo del Toro. Drawing on fascinating archive footage, the series is an incredible look at filmmaking and the remarkable challenges faced filming on the frontlines. The series is an absolute must for film fans, especially for those interested in the production process.

One Day at a Time

Executive-produced by television legend Norman Lear, Netflix's "One Day at a Time" is a lovely, timely, and funny show about a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles. Justina Machado stars as mother Penelope Alvarez, an Army Nurse Corps veteran. The iconic Rita Moreno plays her mother Lydia, and Penelope's kids are played by Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz. The show offers the delights and comforts of your typical sitcom, with a fresh modern take on traditional situational comedies. Unfortunately, Netflix canceled the show after Season 3. The show was given a second go from PopTV, but was sadly cut short due to the pandemic.

Feel Good

For those looking for a unique take on the well-worn romantic comedy genre, "Feel Good" is an excellent choice. The show is a semi-autobiographical story of Canadian stand-up comedian Mae Martin, who stars as a fictionalized version of themself. Her love interest is George (Charlotte Ritchie), who seriously struggles with the very concept of coming out. The series is an unflinching look at queer love and is unafraid to tackle difficult topics like mental health, addiction, and sexual assault. "Feel Good" delivers laughs with bracing honesty and the show's unique perspective is a joy to watch unfold.

The Baby-Sitters Club

Based on the classic young adult novels by Ann M. Martin, "The Baby-Sitters Club" is a modern update on the novels, in which a group of middle-schoolers establishes their babysitting business in the charming town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. While you could dismiss the series as kids' stuff, you'd be missing out on one of the most surprising, charming efforts on television. The girls all come from different walks of life and each has a unique set of skills and problems. It's endlessly charming to watch these young girls go through the trials and tribulations of life, and this series is a warm hug the world desperately needs.

Special

It's hard to stand out as a comedy series, but "Special" manages to do that thanks to its lovely sense of humor and bold, unique perspective. The show stars Ryan O'Connell as Ryan, a gay man interning at a start-up and balancing his struggles with his love life and personal relationships. Ryan has cerebral palsy, which is something he hides from his coworkers; they think he walks with a limp because of a car crash. The show was a bit short-lived, only making it to two seasons, but there's more than enough charm to make up for a lack of episodes.

The End of the F***ing World

A whole new take on the teen show, "The End of the F***ing World" is a pitch-black dramedy series. The series is based on Charles Forsman's graphic novel of the same name and follows Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a young rebel, and James (Alex Lawther), who has concerns that he may in fact be a psychopath. The pair end up becoming an unlikely duo and take off as runaways, living dangerously in a fresh, unexpected take on the classic road story. The brilliant second season goes bolder and darker, and you never really know what to expect watching "The End of the F***ing World."

Atypical

Created by Robia Rashid, "Atypical" is a wonderful coming-of-age dramedy focusing on the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), who is on the autism spectrum. Sam is very intelligent and extremely passionate about penguins. He works at a tech store with his best friend Zahid (Nik Dodani) and lives at home with his overbearing mother Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), father EMT father Doug (Michael Rapaport), and athletic younger sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine). "Atypical" has plenty to interesting say about living as a neurodiverse person and features a great cast and a genuinely compelling story.

Making a Murderer

Did Steven Avery do it? That's one of the many questions at the core of "Making a Murderer," the 2015 true-crime series that helped provide an enormous boost in the popularity of the true-crime genre. The docuseries uses painstaking reconstructions, talking heads, and many more devices to try and examine Avery's bizarre story. Once you start, it's incredibly difficult to not watch the whole season in one sitting. The show's second season throws even more twists into the mix, and we still have plenty of questions we hope will get answered one day.

Lovesick

Dylan (Johnny Flynn) is something of a hopeless romantic and has slept with quite a long list of women on his adventure in seeking true love. Dylan discovers he has a sexually transmitted disease and has to go back through his list and get in touch with everyone he's slept with to inform them of the diagnosis. The series has a really unique and interesting structure, in which every episode focuses on a different woman from Dylan's list, flashing back to the major moments in the relationships, that frankly, Dylan would likely much rather forget.

The Queen's Gambit

This show turned rising talent Anya Taylor-Joy into a superstar, "The Queen's Gambit" is an outstanding limited series. The show tells the story of chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy), who battles an addiction to become the best chess player in the world, a rare achievement for a woman at the time. The show has been an enormous success for Netflix, and though there won't be another season, the show has raked in accolades. "The Queen's Gambit" won a staggering 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, and Taylor-Joy won a Gloden Globe for her performance.

Dear White People

Created by Justin Simien and based on his own 2014 film, "Dear White People" is captivating television that feels timelier than almost anything else on television. The hugely referential and extremely meta series focuses on the lives of students of color at the fictional Winchester College, a predominantly white Ivy League university. While Samantha White (Logan Browning) is a the core of "Dear White People," this is a cutting and hilarious ensemble show through and through. Though the show goes slightly off the rails with its musical-infused fourth season, the show is a landmark for representation and a hugely entertaining and incisive show.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

From the brilliant comedic minds of Tina Fey ("30 Rock") and Robert Carlock ("Mr. Mayor"), "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" is comedy at its most optimistic and uplifting. The delightful Ellie Kemper stars as the titular Kimmy Schmidt, who finds herself readjusting to life in the regular world after being imprisoned in a cult for the last 15 years. While the synopsis reads like a miserable drama, the show is actually the opposite and is seemingly overflowing with joy. The incredible cast includes Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Dylan Gelula, Jon Hamm, and Jane Krakowski, and the show is undoubtedly one of the very best Netflix original series.