Netflix initially started out by shipping DVDs directly to consumers but has since become the biggest entertainment streaming service in the world - and that's thanks in large part to their amazing selection of Netflix original TV shows.
It wasn't until 2013 that the streaming giant started distributing original content on their network, shying away from being only a third-party distributor. But ever since then, their original content library has grown exponentially. Dozens of TV shows now span across all genres - from anime to comedies to talk shows - which means it can be tough to sift through.
We've compiled a list of the 25 best Netflix original TV shows that audiences should give a shot. Note that the following list is based on original content made available to U.S. customers.
25. Luke Cage
Comic book shows can be easy to dismiss due to their imaginative natures, but Luke Cage set all the craziness aside typically associated with superhero shows and gave audiences a grounded, Harlem-set story worth watching. The biggest gripe with Luke Cage is that its first season probably should've ended after only 10 episodes. Other than that, it's a wild ride that will surely captivate comic book fans and general audiences alike. Although it's not considered the best of all the Marvel Netflix shows (there are a few), it's far from the worst, and it also gave fans one of the best villain portrayals in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far.
24. American Vandal
True crime stories are becoming more and more popular nowadays, and that's precisely why American Vandal is so well-regarded amongst its fans; it's different. It circumvents the obvious seriousness of a true crime story by turning the show into a comedy that's focused more on the documentarians than the crime itself. But it's important to note that the mystery - about who spray-painted faculty cars at a high school - is actually quite engrossing too.
Sometimes the best comedy movies and TV shows are revered for their honest takes on the subject material - and that's something that Love does so well. Created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust, Love shows what dating is like in the social media age, from both sides of a relationship. The series is only three seasons long, but it's just long to enough to tell the story of Gus and Mickey's destructive, yet weirdly supportive relationship. And in the end, Love just might deliver one of the most accurate and honest depictions of modern romance on television, albeit with a few dramatic exaggerations from time-to-time.
22. Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones was the first Marvel show to be truly "adult" in many regards, and that's something that continued throughout each season, even though those seasons can suffer a bit from the story being dragged out too long. But when that happens, the story is still intriguing enough to keep viewers watching - and that's important in shows with 13-episode arcs - because it's not about how many punches or superhero moves Jessica Jones can do, but rather it's about her life and how her powers affect her and her friends/family.
When Marvel TV announced plans to create five shows (including The Defenders) for Netflix, some people balked at the idea - but it turned out all right in the end. Marvel's Daredevil TV series was the first to release and it wasn't what people initially expected. Rather than being anything like the 2003 Daredevil movie, Netflix's TV series took a much darker, more serious route emblematic of the comics. While things got more mystical and comic book-y in season 2, Daredevil has always maintained its grounded reality, especially with regard to its interpersonal relationships that drive the series.
One of Netflix's most-watched, yet still underrated shows is Narcos. The series is centered on the Colombian drug cartels, particularly Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel, and their conflict with the DEA. While it can have some seemingly gratuitous violence, its story is gripping and unsettling enough to keep viewers hooked throughout each season. And the acting is quite convincing. Moreover, Narcos differentiates itself from its big screen counterparts (e.g. Sicario) by shying away from total realism and focusing more on the thrill.
19. One Day at a Time
Bringing back hit TV shows after several years can be difficult, but it seems to have worked out quite well for One Day at a Time. Based on the 1970s/1980s sitcom of the same name, One Day at a Time follows a Cuban-American family as they deal with everyday issues as well as issues plaguing the Hispanic community. But what makes the show so special is that it deftly tackles all those issues in a comedic manner that feels unique and refreshing (a rarity!), despite having a concept that has been repeated several times over the years.
18. A Series of Unfortunate Events
It can be a chore to get through Netflix's adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it just might be worth every minute. Granted, the show is not for everyone, but audiences who revel in dark-ish humor and seeing characters go through unnecessary predicaments will feel right at home. Aside from the story, A Series of Unfortunate Events' cast delivers some of the best performances ever seen in a children's TV show. And Neil Patrick Harris is exceptional as the... unpleasant Count Olaf.
17. Santa Clarita Diet
There's an abundance of zombie-related shows on television, and one of the most unique shows is Santa Clarita Diet. The series follows a married couple in Santa Clarita, CA, as the wife (Drew Barrymore) transforms into a zombie and her husband (Timothy Olyphant) tries to help her survive by finding brains for her to eat, all while attempting to lead normal lives as real-estate agents. That's just a very brief summary of the show.
Only two seasons have aired so far, but that's more than enough to judge this series of its impressive staying power. No matter what each episode is about, it still manages to maintain viewers' attention. What truly sets Santa Clarita Diet apart from all the other comedies, though, is that it doesn't hold back... on anything.
Wormwood is a unique property for Netflix. It's a docudrama miniseries - a miniseries that features dramatic re-enactments of real-life events, not a biopic - instead of being a drama series inspired by a true story. Starring Peter Sarsgaard as CIA biological warfare scientist Frank Olson, Wormwood is a six-episode TV show that dives into the mystery behind Olson's sudden death (and apparent suicide) in 1953. While true crime documentaries are all the rage these days, Wormwood presents an intriguing investigation from a different perspective that is gripping and unyielding all throughout.
Sense8 had a lot going for it when it first premiered. It was created by the Wachowski siblings - the same people who made The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, and Jupiter Ascending - and it was the streaming giant's first major science fiction series. But Sense8 wasn't as successful as they wanted it to be, which is why it was initially canceled after only two seasons, but then renewed for a two-hour series finale. The problem is, Sense8's execution wasn't always matched by its ambition, but the story and the characters were compelling enough to keep viewers interested throughout the series, that's why it developed such a loyal cult following, to begin with.
14. Lady Dynamite
Lady Dynamite has a similar concept to Seinfeld in that the series stars stand-up comedian Maria Bamford as herself in a comedic story that's loosely based on her life. And what's impressive is that series creators Pam Brady and Mitch Hurwitz were able to make it work so well in the 21st century. But it's different from Seinfeld in many, many ways. Lady Dynamite is about Bamford's fictional struggle with mental illness but told in a hilarious way that makes each episode as enjoyable and funny as the one before it.
13. Dear White People
Justin Simien's Dear White People movie was so successful when it released in 2014 that he adapted the story into a full-fledged TV series for Netflix in 2017. What resulted was something that was even smarter and had a more honest depiction of social injustice than the feature film. Dear White People is about a group of black students who attend a predominantly white Ivy League university and deals with social commentary in an interestingly humorous way as those issues come to a head. And just as with Santa Clarita Diet, this show doesn't know when to hold back - and that's a good thing.
12. The Punisher
The newest Marvel series to debut on Netflix is The Punisher, starring Jon Bernthal as the eponymous anti-hero. Although The Punisher has only been around for one season, the character's story, as well as Bernthal's portrayal, has been unanimously applauded from the moment the actor made his debut as Frank Castle in Daredevil season 2. In spite of its sheer brutality and occasional slow-burn, The Punisher will go down as one of Marvel's best shows ever to grace the small screen, including all the non-Netflix shows.
The best thing about GLOW is that it really pushes what Netflix does best as a streaming service. It's a comedy series set in 1985 about the famed 1970s/1980s wrestling promotion, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). Created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, GLOW follows Alison Brie's Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress who turns to wrestling. While it may or may not have worked as a regular TV series, binge-watching GLOW is the perfect way to experience the story because it allows the side characters to shine, and they are the ones that make the series worthwhile in the end.
10. 13 Reasons Why
Based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Netflix's 13 Reasons Why stars Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker and Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen, who receives a box of (13) tapes in which Hannah recounts the reasons she committed suicide. Even if audiences never read the novel and aren't interested in a young adult TV series, this story is striking enough that it will maintain viewers' interest throughout all the episodes, even though some are a bit tough to get through. Plus, at times, 13 Reasons Why manages to present a hauntingly accurate depiction of teenage grief as well as the difficulties people face in tackling those issues head-on.
9. The End of the F***ing World
The End of the F***ing World is... weird. The series is a dark comedy that centers on teenagers James and Alyssa as they journey on a cross-country road trip. Sure, that may sound like a typical rom-com, but this show is anything but that. Alyssa is a rebel who wants to escape her suburban life, whereas James is looking to murder Alyssa; he's already used to killing animals. Of course, not everything goes according to plan for either of them (though their plan wasn't particularly rock-solid from the start) - and that's when things get interesting. What really draws this series home, however, is its dialogue. It's so simple, yet dark, humorous, and shocking all at the same time. Again, The End of the F***ing World is a weird show, but it's the best kind of weird out there.
8. House of Cards
There was a time when Netflix was the new kid on the block, not a leader in original content creation and distribution. Sure, they have dozens of movies and TV shows right now, but it all started with House of Cards just a few years ago. The long-running political drama debuted in 2013 and took the world by storm. Although the series has had its ups and downs, thanks to its intriguing grasp of U.S. politics as well as its main cast's convincing performances, it's continued to be a top show for the streaming service. Plus, there's a reason House of Cards has amassed a whopping 33 Primetime Emmy nominations over the years.
Mindhunter is a David Fincher produced TV series about hunting down serial killers. If that's not intriguing enough, then perhaps knowing that Mindhunter is also one of Netflix's best shows to date may help. Created by Joe Penhall and based on the book of the same name by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshake, Mindhunter follows two FBI agents and a psychologist in the late 1970s as they essentially establish the Bureau's profiling division. The series is a slow burn, which may turn off many viewers, but its gripping story and characters are more than worth it in the end.
6. Orange is the New Black
After House of Cards, Netflix really hit their stride with Orange is the New Black - their second and arguably better original series. It's created by Jenji Kohan and based on the novel of the same name by Piper Kerman, which recounts Kerman's experiences spending a year inside a minimum-security federal prison. Although it has dramatic elements, Orange is the New Black never ceases to produce lots of laughter. And what's important is that it doesn't shy away from the tougher issues that plague the prison system (and the series). Overall, Orange is the New Black has something for everyone - and it has a lot of everything.
Film screenwriter Bill Dubuque used his knowledge that he amassed while writing the screenplays for films such as The Accountant and A Family Man to co-create Ozark, a TV series starring Jason Bateman about a financial planner who launders money for a Mexican cartel in the Missouri Ozarks. It's essentially a Breaking Bad-esque family drama, which may not sound too great on paper considering it's less about conquering the drug world and more about protecting one's family, but it works exceptionally well on-screen. And Ozark furthers the belief that comedy actors can provide dramatic performances.
4. Stranger Things
Stranger Things premiered without much of a marketing campaign in 2016 and quickly became a global phenomenon. The '80s-set TV series borrows elements from classic genre films and TV shows, such as E.T., Rambo, and The Goonies, and produces a story filled with monsters, friendship, alternate dimensions, government conspiracies, and everything in-between. It expertly deviates from the gimmicky nostalgia that's there for the sake of nostalgia and, instead, takes audiences on a journey that's compelling enough to keep viewers hooked to the TV screen throughout the entire season. And who wouldn't want to see Eleven take on more bad guys with her telekinetic superpowers?
Related: How Long Will Stranger Things Last?
3. BoJack Horseman
BoJack Horseman takes some time to get going, but once it does, its quality only gets better and better. This show is the epitome of animation for adults, not just because it has an adult sense of humor but also because of its honest depictions of adult (and young adult) issues. Plus, it has some of the smartest and reflective writing in the entire television industry. Bundle all that up with a voice cast consisting of the likes of Will Arnett and Alison Brie and BoJack Horseman is a bonafide hit that continues to deliver quality content.
2. The Crown
Historical dramas are one of Hollywood's cornerstones, that's partly why The Crown has been so successful. The other reason is that it's an amazing show and a force to be reckoned with. As the result of Peter Morgan's growing interest in Queen Elizabeth II's story following the success of 2006's The Queen and 2013's The Audience (both of which he scripted), The Crown aims to tell the Queen's life story on the small screen over the course of six seasons. So far, only two seasons have aired, but that's more than enough to showcase the cast's exceptional performances, the show's eye-catching cinematographer, as well as its overall production quality.
1. Master of None
A 3-time Emmy Award-winning comedy TV series written, directed, and produced by - as well as starring - minorities, which has gone on to win numerous awards and be hailed for its representation, is wondrous, to say the least. Created by Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari and writer Alan Yang, Master of None follows a 30-year-old actor's life in New York City. Although the idea itself isn't particularly intriguing, what Ansari and Yang have created is a unique and engaging story that makes virtually every episode relatable in one way or another. Plus, the show itself is pretty funny.