What to Look Out For on Netflix in 2017

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Netflix has come a long way from February 2013, when first entering the original content market with its high-profile House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and helmed by David Fincher. Today, just four short years later, the streaming giant leads the way not only in awards nominations across the entire board, but it’s also leading the charge in terms of total funding in all of Hollywood – Netflix spent an absolutely mind-boggling $6 billion on its original content last year (just for comparison’s sake, HBO devoted “only” $4 billion), and its figures for this year look to be comparable, if not larger.

Now that we’re finishing out the first quarter of the year, Netflix has started to announce premiere dates for all of its returning (and just a few of its new) dramas – and, on the other end of the spectrum, has officially pulled the plug on some of its lesser-rated endeavors (so long, Marco Polo – may you find peace in the streaming afterlife). This means that 2017 is really starting to take shape, which means, in turn, that we’re able to share our unabashed excitement for all of its original dramas with you.

(Just a quick note here: when we say “original Netflix dramas,” that’s precisely what we mean – ideas greenlit and funded exclusively by the company. This means that co-productions, continuations of pre-existing series, or exclusive domestic rights to international properties won’t be included on this list.)

Without further ado, here are what dramas to look out for on Netflix in 2017, which just may be the platform’s best year yet.

1. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017) poster (cropped)

Season: one

Number of episodes: eight

Premiere date: 01.13.17

It’s hard to overestimate just how important an addition this is to the original Netflix docket: with shows ranging from sci-fi to historical drama to prison comedy, it’s already an eclectic bunch. And yet A Series of Unfortunate Events still manages to stand out with its unique visual style and tone and its ability to thread the realistic seamlessly with the cartoony, the realistic with the silly.

Part of this is the result of its superb production design. Think of vintage Tim Burton, such as Batman Returns or Edward Scissorhands, which is obviously a stylized take on reality, but which you can’t help but fall effortlessly into and accept as the characters’ everyday world. Indeed, half the fun of the series is just seeing how the next set is going to be designed, lit, and staged.

The other part of the show’s success is its wonderful cast. Headlined (and produced) by Neil Patrick Harris, the actors all deliver their sardonic lines pitch-perfectly and manage to otherwise convey the essence of the Lemony Snicket books flawlessly.

It’s nearly impossible to find a more unique show anywhere on the air.

Read more: 15 Things You Need to Know about A Series of Unfortunate Events

2. Iron Fist

Iron Fist Images Danny Rand Finn Jones

Season: one

Number of episodes: 13

Premiere date: 03.17.17

The fourth series in Marvel’s Netflix lineup – it follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage – Iron Fist will continue all the continuity and world-building that its predecessors have been engaged in over the past two years.

Like the other Marvel Netflix installments, the show looks to strike its own distinct tone, perhaps combining Daredevil’s martial-arts leanings with Jessica Jones’s more character-based edginess. Given how stunningly Marvel has been able to choreograph its small-screen action sequences, expect Fist to deliver the best thrills to be found in the entire 2017 original lineup.

What makes this kung-fu fest truly exciting, however, is not how it connects with the previous Netflix productions, but in how it sets up the future ones: The Defenders. The new Marvel team is due to arrive just a few months after Iron Fist, which means this fourth entry will have a lot of heavy-lifting to do in order to help set up how all four Marvel heroes will be able to band together for the very first time.

Read more: Iron Fist Video Goes behind the Scenes of Marvel’s New Series

3. 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why

Season: one

Number of episodes: 13

Premiere date: 03.31.17

Netflix’s second new production of the year is also based off a series of novels, and while they’re also meant to be for a young-adult demographic, the exact audience here is quite a bit different from that of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The general premise goes a little something like this: 13 Reasons Why follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) discovering 13 audiocassettes recorded by a classmate, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), shortly before she committed suicide. True to the title, the audio diaries explain why Hannah was driven to kill herself, singling out 13 students at their school who she holds responsible.

Doing a full-on high-school melodrama is new ground for Netflix, which will only help to broaden its original wares, if nothing else. But this isn’t to sell the new show short – Selena Gomez, who is the executive producer of the series, has referred to it as a “passion project,” and when combined with the company’s track record for delivering high-quality productions across the board, the sky’s the limit for 13 Reasons Why.

Read more: 13 Reasons Why Teaser: A Deadly Young Adult Mystery

4. The Get Down

Justice Smith and Shameik Moore in The Get Down Netflix

Season: 1.5

Number of episodes: six

Premiere date: 04.07.17

Combine disco, hip-hop, ‘70s period costuming, drug-running gangs, an adolescent love story, kung fu, and some pretty hefty production values (with a budget of approximately $9 million an episode), and you get The Get Down, an experimental undertaking by Baz Luhrmann, the director of Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.

The good news regarding the show is that the second half of its first season is almost finally here (we’ve been waiting since last August for its continuation), and going by its teaser, it’s full of the same quirky ingredients that made the first six installments so enthralling. The bad news, unfortunately, is that it looks like season 1.5 will more than likely be the last – given its astronomical price tag and relative lack of social-media presence or representation in the awards circuit, the writing’s pretty much spray-painted on the wall at this point.

Still, that shouldn’t stop viewers from partaking in a show that is pretty much unlike anything else currently on TV – yes, even including all the rest of Netflix’s 2017 pantheon, which is saying quite a lot.

Read more: The Get Down Part Two Teaser

5. Sense8

Sense8 Season 2 - The Sensates Celebrate

Season: two

Number of episodes: 10

Premiere date: 05.05.17

Without any sort of hyperbole, Sense8 has the most potential of any Netflix series yet. Following eight "sensates" from around the world that suddenly become telepathically linked, showrunners Joe Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) and the Wachowskis (The Matrix) really do helm a worldwide production, shooting on several different continents and making it one of the most audacious television productions undertaken yet. Given the creative pedigree of its writers – Straczynski is the father of American serialized television, after all – and the fact that they’ve fully mapped out a five-year storyline, we should expect great things from this series.

Unfortunately, thus far, all we’ve received is a lot of set-up. If the ‘90s sci-fi classic Babylon 5 is any guide, however, this second season should really start to see the overarching narrative heat up, barreling us towards a humdinger of a finale – and, hopefully, a third season thereafter.

(Note: the first two episodes of this upcoming season were released back in December as a Christmas special, though they barely have anything to do with the holidays. The remaining eight installments are what’s on tap in May.)

Read more: Sense8 Christmas Special Trailer and Special Message from Lana Wachowski

6. House of Cards

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards

Season: five

Number of episodes: 13

Premiere date: 05.30.17

The granddaddy of them all, House of Cards continues to be one of the most compelling, most sophisticated dramas currently out there. Following Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) as he charts his climb to power from minority whip in the House of Representatives to, ultimately, president, the fourth season ended on the show’s biggest cliffhanger yet: revelations of all his underhanded dealings coming to light, right on the eve of the 2016 election.

More than the eerie context the show has now taken on thanks to the current controversy-ridden political landscape in the country, House of Cards has other types of drama currently attached to it: namely, the removal of its creator and original showrunner, Beau Willimon, for a brand-new duo, Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson. Coupled with the story’s appearance of entering its final phase and the latest-ever premiere date for the upcoming season (it’s usually February, not May), one can’t help but get the feeling this just may be Cards’s final hurrah.

Read more: House of Cards’s Fifth Season Should Be Its Last

7. Orange Is the New Black

Orange is the New Black Season 5 Teaser Trailer Image

Season: five

Number of episodes: 13

Premiere date: 06.09.17

Netflix’s most popular series is also one of its most uneven, featuring seasons that careen wildly from zany, lighthearted comedy (the odd-numbered ones) to dark drama (even numbers). Last year’s fourth season was no exception, piling on layers of socio-political commentary as Litchfield Penitentiary started to feel the full effects of its being dumped by the Federal Department of Corrections and purchased by private company MCC, including overcrowding and guard brutality – culminating in the accidental death of one of the inmates, which, in turn, results in a full-blown prison riot.

It’s impossible to see how Orange Is the New Black can go anywhere but an even more intense direction as the fifth season picks up on its biggest cliffhanger yet, but if it holds true to form, audiences should expect a pivot back to more comedic fare by the end of the season. Then again, given the fact that this upcoming slate of eps only takes place over the course of three days (thereby helping to milk main character Piper Chapman’s [Taylor Schilling] 15-month sentence for all it’s worth, squeezing two additional seasons out of it), it’s hard to see how lightheartedness can begin to creep back into the narrative equation.

Read more: How Orange Is the New Black Challenges the “Good Person” Myth

8. The Defenders

The Defenders Team Luke Cage Daredevil Jessica Jones Iron Fist

Season: one

Number of episodes: eight

Premiere date: July (expected)

Despite 2017 being Netflix’s biggest and best year yet, containing some of the best productions in its short original lifespan, The Defenders still easily takes the cake of being the most anticipated and the most epic of the company’s shows.

Think of the eight-part miniseries as being the television equivalent of The Avengers: after having already well introduced the likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist (and, we’re thinking, the Punisher [Jon Bernthal], who became the breakout star from Daredevil season 2), Marvel will now unite them all to defend their beloved city of New York from the biggest threat it’s ever seen – which appears to be headed up by none other than Sigourney Weaver, who is playing the brand-new and rather mysterious character of Alexandra. Of course, coming along for the ride are a whole bunch of associated characters, both main and recurring, from the four previous series, truly making The Defenders an event.

What’s the story that accommodates all of this world-building? We’re not quite sure as of yet, as Iron Fist will do much of this preparatory work, but it seems to have to do with Daredevil’s preoccupation with the Hand, an ancient Japanese guild that has apparently found the secret to immortality (in the form of mystical resurrections) and is now seeking to unleash some supernatural horror from New York’s very bowels.

Read more: Marvel: A New Complete Guide to the TV Universe

9. Bloodline

Bloodline Season 2

Season: three (final)

Number of episodes: 10

Premiere date: July (expected)

If The Get Down is Netflix’s weirdest show, and Orange Is the New Black the funniest and Sense8 the most audacious, then Bloodline is the most intense. Watching the previous two seasons is like watching a massive car crash unfold in slow motion across 23 long and torturous hours – there is no better way to describe the systematic unraveling of the Rayburn family and the implosion of the show’s main cast. It oftentimes makes for Netflix’s most charged viewing experience.

Luckily for Bloodline, it also features some of the most beautiful cinematography and, as is now to be expected, an absolutely stellar cast (headed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn). The series’s unique setting of the Florida Keys also doesn’t hurt at all, providing the viewer with some absolutely gorgeous eye candy as the characters in front of it irrevocably destroy their lives.

Unluckily for Bloodline, however, Netflix has opted to pull the plug on the project after the upcoming season in an effort to more fully balance its books; Sony Pictures Television allowed its other streaming property, The Get Down, to go way over budget, and dismissing Bloodline can help steer Netflix’s ship back to solvency. The show’s creators and showrunners have repeatedly said they have a full five or six years’ worth of material lined up, however, so here’s to hoping that another distributor will rescue the series from its impending demise.

Read more: Bloodline Ending after Season 3

10. Narcos

Season: three

Number of episodes: 10

Premiere date: October (expected)

The fact that Narcos is only the second Netflix drama to get multiple seasons picked up at once (the first being Orange Is the New Black, of course) is a testament to its popularity and its high standard of quality. Best described as three parts historical drama and one part documentary, the show is an interesting creative endeavor; real-life pictures and footage of the people and events that Narcos attempts to recreate are sprinkled throughout, just to remind audiences that what they’re watching has had real consequences for both Colombia and the United States.

The end of last year’s second season wrapped up Narcos’s initial focus on Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), the legendary Colombian drug lord and founder of the Medellin Cartel; season three will pick up largely where its predecessor left off, focusing on the Cali Cartel’s ascension in the wake of its rival’s destruction. Showrunner Eric Newman has promised that there’s plenty more story after that, as the revolving door of drug kingpins in the country continues on to the present day – as well as hinting that just perhaps the series can make a quick jaunt over to Mexico to follow Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was just extradited to America to prevent his making yet another of his legendary escapes.

Read more: Narcos Creators Discuss Series Plans beyond Pablo Escobar

11. Stranger Things

Stranger Things Season 2 trailer - giant monster

Season: two

Number of episodes: eight

Premiere date: 10.31.17

Stranger Things is, quite simply, one of the most refreshing and delightful series to come out of Netflix’s development pool – no small compliment, given the caliber of all of its predecessors. The combination of retro ‘80s sensibilities, X-Files paranormal mystery, and moody atmospherics makes for some of the most compelling television around, and it also easily explains how the series was able to dominate the social media conversation last summer when its first season premiered.

Even better, each and every update since last July has only served to up the excitement ante. Creators and showrunners, the Duffer brothers, have made clear their intention of treating their series like Harry Potter, allowing the narrative to grow up with their young (and extremely talented) cast; the new photos and monster details are nothing short of amazing; and the second season teaser is one of the best to land in a long time.

For many Netflix enthusiasts, Stranger Things is right up there with The Defenders in terms of hype, and it’s hard to argue with that assessment.

Read more: Stranger Things, Season Two: Every Update You Need to Know

12. The Punisher

Marvel's The Punisher TV show casting

Season: one

Number of episodes: 13

Premiere date: November (expected)

Never a part of the original Defenders master plan that Marvel Television and Netflix came up with several years ago, the existence of The Punisher as a spinoff series can solely be credited to the way that Daredevil’s writers scripted the character and actor Jon Bernthal brought him to life. This depiction of Frank Castle is a fascinating, haunted, nuanced man, the polar opposite of the individual depicted in the recent big-screen outings.

Of course, the fact that this iteration of the Punisher can stand on the shoulders of his Netflix predecessors doesn’t hurt any, either; the upcoming series is sharing at least one main cast member with its siblings, and there looks to be more in the way of continuity references and crossover appearances – especially considering this will be the first of the post-Defenders seasons to air. Given that Punisher will more than likely be the darkest and most violent of the Marvel series yet (and that’s saying a lot), this will be a refreshingly different take on the comic book formula, one that will help serve as a springboard for the new seasons of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and, just maybe, Luke Cage that are due to arrive next year.

Read more: Punisher Cast Photo: Say Hello to Team Punisher

13. The OA

The OA - Netflix poster (Cropped)

Season: two

Number of episodes: 10

Premiere date: December (expected)

Okay, yes, it’s something of a cliché now: some of the most unique stories on television, one of the best casts. But that doesn’t make it any less true for The OA, an oddball sci-fi series that can perhaps best be described as a cross between the super-indie classic Primer and the spookiness of The X-Files.

The premise follows Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling) as she suddenly returns from a seven-year absence, with a series of gruesome scars on her back and her ability to see, after being blind for most of her life, being mysteriously restored. As Prairie – who now calls herself “The OA” – begins to recount her bizarre story to an unlikely group of high-school students and one of their teachers, the audience gets to experience the afterlife along with her and fellow near-death experimental subjects, getting to see what might honestly be the most ethereal and the most beautiful renditions of a dream or afterlife sequence ever committed to film anywhere in the world.

The recent announcement that The OA would be getting a second season is just as much of an unexpected surprise as was the first season’s sudden appearance on Netflix, and if it’s anywhere near as well-crafted or engrossing as the show’s freshmen outing, then viewers are in for one of the best possible Christmas presents.

Read more: The OA, Season Two: What’s Next for Netflix’s Weird Sci-fi Story?

14. Castlevania

Season: one

Number of episodes: eight

Premiere date: Q4 2017

A surprise announcement from just a few weeks ago, not much is currently known about Netflix’s Castlevania series, but what few morsels have managed to come forth thus far are nothing but reassuring and exciting: the adaptation of the insanely popular and long-running videogame series will be animated, will be “something dark and scary and not for kids,” and, furthermore, it’ll have a Game of Thrones vibe.

Given the 31-year-old source material’s rich mythology, which follows multiple generations of the vampire-hunting Belmont family and their never-ending crusade against the immortal Dracula, there’s enough to furnish multiple seasons of the television series; werewolves, magical items, secret passageways, Gothic architecture, and, of course, incredibly moody and atmospheric music should all be expected to play a major role at one point or another. If Netflix plays its cards right – and, given all the other entries on this list, there’s no reason to believe it won’t – this could easily become the highlight of the year, blowing everything else out of the water, as impossible as that may seem.

Read more: Castlevania Gets an Official Poster

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