2017 has been a reasonably strong year for Netflix's original programming. While A Series of Unfortunate Events gave Lemony Snicket fans the adaptation they'd been waiting for, 13 Reasons Why garnered a major teen fanbase while receiving some critical concerns about its portrayal of suicide. The revival of One Day at a Time breathed new life into a classic sitcom and gave it a surprisingly progressive update, and Santa Clarita Diet expertly combined suburban satire with gleeful zombie gore. Arguably the only major clunker on Netflix's roster this year has been their latest foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Iron Fist struggling to keep up with its successful siblings and floundering under bad storytelling and questionable casting.
Nonetheless, the streaming service remain leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in terms of commissioning original television that reaches its intended audience. Both Amazon and Hulu have excellent shows on their respective platforms, with Emmys on the shelves and auteurs lining up to make their mark in the medium, but it’s Netflix that has the potent combination of quantity and convenience for viewers. TV remains Netflix’s bread and butter, and the service has got more new shows than anyone else coming over the rest of the year.
This summer alone sees an incredible variety of content coming to the streaming service: From a biographical comedy to a sharp satire on race in America; from wrestling ladies to pot smoking retirees, and exploring fresh territory overseas and across the border. While critics have concerns over Netflix’s sheer glut of shows and films, some of which struggle to be noticed over the sound and fury of Peak TV, there’s a real joy as a viewer to be found in having a seemingly limitless resource of entertainment at your fingertips. The potential for exploration and finding something out of your comfort zone is one of the service’s real strengths. With summer on its way, there will be plenty of time to marathon through a few new series, so luckily, there are some great ones on the way.
Based on the memoir-slash-motivational guide by Sophia Amaruso, Girlboss is an autobiographical comedy inspired by Amoruso's rise from eBay vintage clothes seller to CEO of the popular fashion empire Nasty Gal. The show has some powerful creative names behind the title, with Kay Cannon, the writer of Pitch Perfect, acting as showrunner, and Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) in the producer's chair. Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) plays Sophia. The former CEO (she stepped down before Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy) has made a name for herself by branding her success story as an inspirational motivator for feminists in the world of business, but she is not short of controversy. A 2015 lawsuit filed against Nasty Gal while Amoruso was still CEO alleged that employees were fired for taking maternity leave, and her reputation as a boss has been criticized frequently by former employees. Still, Girlboss could be a fun watch for Netflix viewers looking for a lighter drama about the struggles of starting a business.
Girlboss is available now on Netflix.
Dear White People
Justin Simien's debut film, Dear White People, took the festival circuit by storm and won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The satirical drama focused on racial tensions at a prestigious Ivy League university, and gave Tessa Thompson a starring role before Creed and Thor: Ragnarok. Simien has now transferred the action to the small screen, with a new cast that picks up where the film left off. Dear White People promises to explore the intersections of race, academia, activism and culture with the same razor-sharp focus of the film. It's already garnered controversy, with calls for boycotts from those claiming the show itself is racist against white people. As Justin Simien himself said about the backlash, it really just proves the point of the show.
Dear White People is available now on Netflix.
True crime has been having a moment for a while now, from NPR’s groundbreaking podcast Serial to the recent Emmy-winning dramatization of the OJ Simpson murder case in American Crime Story. Netflix has benefited well from this boon, with Making a Murderer standing as one of the service’s most notable achievements. Perhaps hoping to recreate that buzz, their latest multi-part documentary series The Keepers follows similar territory. From director Ryan White (The Case Against 8), the series will focus on the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a Baltimore nun and Catholic high school teacher who went missing in 1969 for two months before her body was found. The case is shrouded in mystery, but has remained a major issue in Baltimore, with accusations of clergy abuse and institutional cover-ups implied as part of the conspiracy. True crime always brings with it an element of unease, especially as modern audiences, hungry for the truth, turn to amateur sleuthing to uncover what happened, further blurring the lines between real life and entertainment. Yet it's undeniable that sometimes that very public nature of the show can make a difference, as witnessed with Making a Murderer and HBO's The Jinx. Whatever the case, it seems that the true crime wave is as potent as ever.
The Keepers will premiere on May 19th.
In the 1980s, many women looking to get into show business turned to the unlikely world of wrestling to establish their names. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, or GLOW, never reached the heights of the WWE, but their story found recognition in later years thanks to a successful documentary. Now, the group are getting the TV treatment with a fictionalized retelling of the pro-wrestling circuit of the decade, with Alison Brie (Community) in the leading role. This is showrunners' Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch's first time in charge of a series, but both cut their teeth on Showtime's Nurse Jackie. Jenji Kohan of Netflix's Orange is the New Black joins them as an executive producer.
GLOW will premiere on 23rd June.
The work of show-runner Chuck Lorre often inspires derision amongst viewers and critics, but few people in TV comedy today have garnered the commercial success he has, thanks to mega-hits like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mom. Netflix seems like the perfect fit for a man whose shows are best consumed in binge-watching chunks, so this Summer he brings his latest creation to the service. Disjointed stars Oscar winner Kathy Bates, who herself has seen her career resurge thanks to her time in the Ryan Murphy ensemble, as a pot legalization advocate who finally gets to live her dream running a cannabis dispensary in LA. With the promotional material giddily playing up the fact that "all of them are more or less constantly high", it's safe to say that Disjointed (get it?) will have a very specific audience in mind, but crossover potential is high as sitcoms have always done well for Netflix, even when critical opinion is less than stellar. Besides, who doesn’t want to see Annie Wilkes stoned out of her box?
Disjointed will premiere on August 25th.
Las Chicas Del Cable
International television remains something of an enigma to many English language viewers. While breakout shows like The Killing and Borgen highlighted the appeal of foreign language series on a smaller scale, it's still considered too much of a risk for major networks. Fortunately, Netflix's worldwide reach offers it incredible opportunities to delve outside of the expected markets and reached untapped audiences. Las Chicas del Cable is the service's first original series filmed entirely in Spain, and follows the call centre of a national telephone company in 1920s Madrid, where four women from very different backgrounds begin work as operators. Netflix does air Spanish shows such as Velvet (a wildly popular soapy drama with an estimated 500,000 Euros per episode budget), and with Spanish speakers one of the biggest growing demographics both in America and worldwide, it seems like a smart move for the service to appeal to that market.
Las Chicas del Cable will premiere on April 28th.
Anne With an E
For a certain generation of women, Anne of Green Gables is the defining text of their childhoods. Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic series inspired many a girl who found solace in her tales of growing up amidst the idyll of Prince Edward Island. There have been countless adaptations of the books, including the 1985 mini-series from CBC that many fans consider definitive, but it's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation who bring us this latest iteration, which will be broadcast globally outside of Canada by Netflix. While some fans remain apprehensive, this is an adaptation that carries some serious pedigree - head writer Moira Walley-Beckett is an Emmy winner who is responsible for some of Breaking Bad's most iconic episodes; The two-hour pilot is directed by Niki Caro, the recently announced director of Disney's upcoming live-action remake of Mulan, and multi-award winning actress Geraldine James joins the cast. The material is still fresh and deals with ever-relevant topics, so hopefully a whole new generation will discover the joys of Anne’s world.
Anne With an E will premiere on May 12th.
Which upcoming Netflix series are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!