Back when Netflix announced that its first true original series, House of Cards, was coming out in 2013 and starring Kevin Spacey with David Fincher directing, people took notice. Sure, Lillyhammer came before it, but even now you’re probably thinking “what’s Lillyhammer?” And we would tell you what Lillyhammer is, if only we knew what Lillyhammer is. So for that reason, House of Cards is often considered Netflix’s first Original Series, as it was the first time that outstanding content was released exclusively to subscribers online, and it has since solidified Netflix’s place as one of the top creators of TV - and recently movie - content.
Since House of Cards, Netflix has gone on to dominate prestige TV, debuting Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, Arrested Development, BoJack Horseman, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and much more content that is constantly mentioned when discussing the best television of this generation.
Now that Netflix has had a few years to bask in its successes – like Wet Hot American Summer and Master of None - we wanted to take a look at Netflix’s upcoming slate of Originals and take a look at the ones that stand out the most; the ones that will become instant, binge-worthy classics. Here’s our list of the 12 Most Promising Upcoming Original Movies and Series on Netflix.
Will Arnett is set to play a self-help guru in the new Netflix Original comedy, Flaked. Created by Arnett and Arrested Development creator and all-around genius Mitch Hurwitz, Flaked is set to debut in early 2016 and will no doubt bring Arnett back into our hearts, minds, and TV screens after a trio of quickly canceled shows in Running Wilde, Up All Night, and The Millers.
Seeing as Arnett is playing what he plays best here – a character struggling to stay a step ahead of his own lies – we have nothing but high hopes for his re-teaming with Hurwitz. With a blank slate and the non-existent constraints of the Netflix model, Arnett and Hurwitz are no doubt making something special with Flaked, and it can’t be binged by us soon enough.
11 Lady Dynamite
Another partial Arrested Development reunion, Lady Dynamite has Mitch Hurwitz co-creating with Arrested Season 4’s Maria Bamford, as well as South Park’s Pam Brady acting as showrunner. While you may know Bamford from her delightfully weird stand-up or acting performances, chances are she’s going to be a lot more recognized after this half-hour comedy hits Netflix.
In the vein of an auteur-driven show such as Louie or Master of None, Lady Dynamite is said to tell the story of “a woman who loses – and then finds – her s---.” The dashes presumably referring to a word that we can't say here, but will have no problem appearing on Netflix. With guest stars like Sarah Silverman, Jenny Slate, Patton Oswalt, Adam Pally, and more of the comedy elite, we’re expecting every episode of Lady Dynamite to be a weird gem, and with Hurwitz’s complexity and Bamford’s unique voice, there’s no doubt that that’s what we’re going to get.
10 Degrassi: Next Class
Before "Hotline Bling" there was Degrassi, the long-running Canadian teen drama that everyone knows is the genesis of almost every young Drake meme that we see today. So, in the interest of promoting the careers and eventual memers of future Canadian stars, Netflix has revived Degrassi after the cancelation of its latest incarnation: Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Though the show has been on the air in various iterations for 35 years, 2016 will mark the first time the show streams exclusively online; a move that makes sense when considering teenage viewing habits. With 20 episodes already ordered by Netflix, Degrassi: Next Class is said to cover many of the controversial and important topics that the series has known to tackle in years past. No word yet on whether Drake will return, but we’ll be damned if we don’t keep hoping that he will!
9 9. Luke Cage
It’s safe to no longer call Netflix’s partnership with Marvel an experiment, after Daredevil converted most skeptics to believers, and then Jessica Jones took the world by storm with its grounded and surprisingly mature storytelling. Now, it’s Luke Cage’s turn to deliver the finishing blow to all non-believers.
After Cage’s supporting role in Jessica Jones, he’s now getting his own series in the run before Netflix’s eventual Marvel crossover event, The Defenders. The series is set to debut a few months after the events of Jessica Jones and will focus on a fugitive Luke Cage. Creators say that the show will keep up the adult tone of Jessica Jones, as well as continue tying into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Speaking of which…
8 A Series of Unfortunate Events
A whole generation of people in their 20s – presumably a large portion of readers of Screen Rant – were huge fans of the Series of Unfortunate Events book series. Given that the books are still a global publishing phenomenon, a whole generation of people who are currently children are also huge fans of the Series of Unfortunate Events. And given that their dreams weren’t crushed with the Jim Carrey film, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and our dreams were, don’t we deserve a proper adaptation before they do?
All this isn’t to say that Netflix’s upcoming A Series of Unfortunate Events should cater directly to adults, but a series that matches the tone of the books and tries to appeal to kids as well as adults would be a fantastic way to adapt the rich source material and have a show that reaches all demographics. Though we’ve seen no footage for the series and have heard no casting news, we’re cautiously optimistic. And, well, worst case scenario, there’s still this fan made trailer that more than meets our highest expectations for what this series could be (not to mention the fact that we still don’t believe this isn’t an official Netflix trailer and they’re just messing with us)!
7 Arrested Development: Season 5
When Mitch Hurwitz signed his overall Netflix deal, joining him to the company so he could develop original comedic programming for them, fans seemed to say “sure, sure, great, but more Arrested Development, please.” Not unlike George R. R. Martin, anything that Hurwitz does is greeted by fan cries of “stop doing this and just do more Arrested Development already!” Well, if the producers, cast, and CEO of Netflix are to be believed – which, who else would you believe if not them? – then Arrested Development Season 5 is coming… Eventually. At some point. For sure in 2016. But maybe later? Probably. But definitely.
While Flaked and Lady Dynamite are definitely coming first, the only thing everyone seems to agree on is that more Arrested is coming; it’s just a matter of when. And considering how long we waited for the fourth season and how rewarding it turned out to be – and make no mistake, it was rewarding, despite what many may claim on various comment boards – we’re willing to wait as long as it takes for season 5. But, c’mon, let’s hurry it up.
6 Pee Wee's Big Holiday
Pee Wee Herman is back, and this time he’s bringing Judd Apatow and Netflix along for the ride. And that may be the most exciting sentence ever uttered in 2015.
Yes, a new Pee Wee Herman movie is coming exclusively to Netflix subscribers in March 2016, and chances are it will be as off-the-wall insane as you could ever hope for. Written by Pee Wee Herman himself and fantastic comedian/writer/podcast guest Paul Rust, Pee Wee’s Big Holiday has been in the works since 2010, and the amount of anticipation for comedy nerds couldn’t be higher. Though we don’t really know anything about the film beside who’s involved in front of and behind the camera, that’s enough for us to get excited about a whole new film jam packed with Pee Wee Herman’s screeching and excessive smiling.
5 Special Correspondents
If anyone’s seen The Invention of Lying they would know what a weird little gem Ricky Gervais’ film is. If anyone’s seen Ricky Gervais host the Golden Globes they would know that he’s British, and he’s pretty funny. Put those two groups of people together and you have the potential audience for Special Correspondents, a film co-starring, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais to premiere exclusively on Netflix.
The film, which also stars Vera Farmiga, Eric Bana, and America Ferrara, is about a radio journalist who fakes front line war reports while hiding out above a Spanish restaurant. With Gervais’ sharp satire skills and deadpan sense of humor, Special Correspondents looks to be a fantastic comedy that will bring Gervais’ cringe-worthy sense of humor to a binge-worthy platform.
Apparently the Pee Wee’s Big Holiday team had so much fun working together that they decided to do it again, and this time it’s with Love, an original comedy that Netflix has already given two seasons to work with. Starring Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs, Judd Apatow has created his first TV series since Fox’s Undeclared, so expectations are obviously sky high.
Love has a traditional Apatowian set-up, in that it’s not going to be about much, but it’s therefore going to be about everything. Following a couple “as they navigate the exhilaration and humiliations of intimacy, commitment, and other things they were hoping to avoid,” Love will feature Apatow’s voice in a way that the show he’s currently executive-producing, Girls, never could. With the freedom to do what he wants on Netflix and the guarantee that his series won’t get canceled right away like Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, we’re excited for Apatow to take what he’s learned from the feature-world and apply it to a TV world that has changed dramatically since Undeclared showed its final episode.
3 The Get Down
Netflix’s first dive into the world of music, Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan are teaming up for The Get Down, an hour-long series described as “a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco.” Starring Jimmy Smits, The Get Down should feature that gritty Shawn Ryan vibe while somehow simultaneously showing off that larger-than-life Baz Luhrmann glossy shine. At the very least, this show will be an endlessly interesting visual feast.
With the right budget and a writer who knows what he’s doing, Luhrmann could churn out a masterpiece here, complete with all the green screen sets and beautiful people dancing that money can buy. If The Get Down can capitalize on its unique setting and time-period, the show will be one unlike anything else currently on Netflix. And considering that the streaming giant built its reputation on taking risks and expanding our TV horizons, this is a program worth watching out for.
2 Bloodline: Season 2
Not enough people are talking about Bloodline, even though it is one of the best Originals that Netflix has ever made. This richly shot and perfectly acted series was as ambitious as anything else during its first season, and now that the storylines from those first 13 episodes have all largely been resolved, we’re looking forward to the show re-inventing itself while retaining everything that made this slow-burn drama so great the first time around.
Available in 4K, Bloodline really showed off the format and put Netflix on the map as one of the first creators and distributors of this beautiful technology. And while the technical advancements will no doubt be on display when Season 2 premieres, so too will the Emmy nominated performances by lead actors Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn. A TV series that is rewarding on every level, including those that lurk deeper than the murky water of the Florida swamps, Bloodline Season 2 is no doubt one of the more exciting offerings that Netflix has in the pipeline.
1 The Defenders
The Defenders has a lot to prove as the culmination of what you might call "Phase 1" of Netflix’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. While shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been more than a little disappointing when it comes to joining heroes together, hopefully The Defenders can build on the four previous series that will have come before it – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist – and be an Avengers-caliber crossover event that leaves audiences satisfied while simultaneously wanting more.
The idea of a season long team up of heroes that we’ve already met sounds like a great idea, and would give Marvel and Netflix the chance to turn an epic event into a New Golden Age of Television masterpiece. Rather than being burdened by the need to deliver an astonishing climax to several series in a two hour film, The Defenders has the luxury of stretching things out and giving everything time to breath. Seeing the heroes of their respective Netflix shows interact and fight alongside one another is an exciting prospect, and one that will hopefully be a high point on both Netflix’s list of original programming as well as Marvel’s.
Which Netflix Original are you most excited about? Share your favorites in the comments!