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35 Netflix Originals You Probably Aren’t Watching but Definitely Should Be

By 16 junio, 2023No Comments

Blood & Water | Episode 1 | Netflix

In many respects it’s a top-tier teen drama, starring Ama Qamata as Puleng Khumalo, a teenage girl who’s lived her entire life in the shadow of a sister that was taken as a baby by human traffickers; Puleng’s parents even hold a birthday celebration for the sister each year. When invited to a party by popular Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema), student at an elite school in Cape Town, Puleng can’t help noticing their similarities. Steeped in the story of her sister, Puleng transfers to the school to get to the bottom of things. There’s plenty of juicy high school drama and family secrets, but the show is elevated by its unexpected dramatic heft. It was just recently renewed for a fourth season, an increasingly rare lifespan in the days of modern streaming cost-cutting.

Shadow and Bone (2021– , third season renewal pending)

​Shadow and Bone | Official Trailer | Netflix

Based on the fantasy books of Leigh Bardugo from her series of the same name, Shadow and Bone, the series follows Alina Starkov, an orphan and cartographer who discovers and grows into her vaguely magical Grisha abilities. It’s a beautiful and dense fantasy world; one that might be a little hard to grasp at first, but only because the series is content to drop you into its world without a lot of exposition. It’s worth the investment.

Sex Education (2019– , renewed for a fourth season)

SEX EDUCATION Official Trailer (2019) Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Netflix Movie HD

There’s plenty of sex on TV (not complaining), but that’s not the same thing as sex-positivity. In this British comedy-drama, Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson star as an insecure, shy teenager named Otis and his mother, Jean, a frank and sometimes painfully honest sex therapist. When a school bully needs some sex advice, Otis dispenses some of the wisdom he’s picked up from mom, eventually making a name for himself around school by selling his knowledge as expertise. It’s funny and charmingly raunchy show, treating sex with humor and positivity.

Special (2019–2021, two seasons)

Special: Season 1 | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

One of the benefits of the age of streaming television has been the increase in real representation for diverse groups—in many cases moving light years beyond broadcast TV in telling stories by and about more than just the usual suspects. Special is a great example: a heartfelt, funny work/sex comedy about a gay man with cerebral palsy, starring and created by… a gay man with cerebral palsy (Ryan O’Connell). The result is charming and real, while also touching on perceptions of disability, as early on, Ryan rewrites his own narrative by telling people that his distinctive mannerisms are the result of a car accident.

Heartbreak High (2022– , renewed for a second season)

Heartbreak High | Official Trailer | Netflix

There’s a lot of history here that you don’t really need to enjoy the show, but Heartbreak High is a sorta soft-reboot of a popular and long-running 1990s show in Australia, which was itself a spin-off from a 1993 movie. Here, there’s a pretty solid blend of teen drama (sealing with issues related to gender identity, race, and teen sexuality) and comedy (the main characters corralled into the Sexual Literacy Tutorial, with the unfortunate acronym SLT). It all starts with Amelie and Harper, two students at a diverse Sydney high school, who set off a firestorm when they create a detailed map of the sexual exploits of the school’s students.

Dark (2017–2020, three seasons)

Dark | Teaser [HD] | Netflix

Dark began as a mystery involving a missing child and evolved over its three seasons into one of the most complex series on television: a time travel-driven narrative that explores (appropriately) dark family secrets over the course of several generations. The first Netflix original import from Germany (after a few minutes, you won’t even notice the subtitles). It’s got a striking look and an incredibly atmospheric feel. After a few minutes, you won’t even notice the subtitles. 1899, from the same creators, was cut short after only one season…but Dark comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Mo (2022– , renewed for a second and final season)

Mo | Official Trailer | Netflix

A solid, and unique, entry in the “comedian plays a version of their own life” sitcom genre, Mo Amer plays himself as a Palestinian refugee living in Houston and seeking asylum. The comedy is on point, and Mo’s perspective sets the show apart.

Derry Girls (2018–2022, three seasons)

You Should Totally Watch | Derry Girls | Netflix

A legitimate sitcom that just happens to be set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1990s, when clashes between nationalists and unionists frequently resulted in violence. It’s a fascinating contrast, brought to life by a writer and creator (Lisa McGee) who lived it. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny—though doesn’t make any allowances for audiences unaccustomed to Irish accents, so don’t feel bad if you need subtitles until you get the hang of it. The show ended after three seasons, but comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Virgin River (2019– , renewed for a sixth season)

Virgin River | Official Trailer | Netflix

We have plenty of edgy TV lately, and there’s nothing at all wrong with something a bit cozier. Virgin River stars Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel, a nurse practitioner and midwife who finds unexpected complications when she moves to the title Northern California town. It’s high-end comfort viewing, and has a pretty dedicated fanbase, even without the buzz of something like Stranger Things.

Sweet Magnolias (2020– , third season coming soon)

SWEET MAGNOLIAS | Official Trailer | Netflix

In a similarly cozy vein (in the best possible way), Sweet Magnolias stars JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Brooke Elliott, Heather Headley and Jamie Lynn Spears as a group of childhood friends supporting each other through various life crises in Serenity, South Carolina. The cast is engaging, and the quality of the performances adds some emotional heft to the show’s sweetness.

Gentefied (2020–2021, two seasons)

Gentefied | Official Trailer | Netflix

A half-hour comedy-drama, but with an emphasis on the comedy, Gentefied follows three Mexican-American cousins who have built lives in Los Angeles, only to be faced with a new challenge: the looming gentrification of the neighborhood they helped to build. This bilingual series has a lot of heart, and, though cut short after two seasons, the second is even better than the first.

The Way of the Househusband (2021– , third season renewal pending)

The Way of the Househusband | Trailer | Netflix Anime

It’s a little bit of a throwback, sure: the Mr. Mom-style story finds a former yakuza boss getting out of the business in favor of taking over the household chores while his wife goes off to work. Wild! Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had as the deeply intense Tatsu deals with the daily complications of normal life. It takes a typical anime action show star and drop him into a show about making dinner—a solid premise executed with tongue firmly in cheek.

Feel Good (2020–2021, two seasons)

Feel Good | Official Trailer | Netflix

Co-created by and starring Mae Martin, the semi-autobiographical Feel Good goes to dark places to find the light (it’s firmly in comedy-drama territory). Living in Manchester, comedian and former drug addict Mae meets the highly repressed George, and the two very different women are forced to come to terms with their separate issues as they attempt to build a relationship together.

Raising Dion (2019–2022)

Raising Dion | Official Trailer | Netflix

There’s a bit of a Stranger Things-vibe to Raising Dion—a single mom helps her kids to cope with a wildly unexpected turn of events in their lives—but instead of supernatural horror, they’re dealing with their burgeoning superpowers. Seven-year-old Dion, specifically, develops mysterious abilities following the death of his scientist father (played in flashback by one of the show’s producers, Michael B. Jordan). The show wisely doesn’t shy away from depicting the unique challenges of being a Black single mother, which grow further complicated, naturally, when your kid can freeze objects in mid-air.

Young Royals (2021– , renewed for a third and final season)

Young Royals | Official Trailer | Netflix

Steamy soap Young Royals follows the fictional Prince of Sweden, Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) as he embarks on a romance with another student, Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg) at their elite boarding school. While possessed of all the addictive qualities of the teen drama genre, Young Royals takes itself a bit more seriously than some, and feels remarkably fresh in its commitment to casting age-appropriate actors in all the key roles.

Sacred Games (2018–2019, two seasons)

Sacred Games | Teaser [HD] | Netflix

A crime-drama with a uniquely complex facility with world-building, this Indian import begins with an honest Mumbai cop played by Hindi-language film star Saif Ali Khan. Just as the rookie has become entangled in the police department’s corruption, he’s contacted by a long-believed-dead crime boss who warns him that, without his help, everyone in Mumbai will be dead in 25 days. The familiar cop-show beats play out against a larger-than-usual canvas, making for one of the best recent crime dramas from any country.

Ghoul (2018, one short season)

Netflix’s second original Indian import (after Sacred Games) is also a Blumhouse production (in part), so go figure. It’s an effective and unique miniseries that blends dystopian science fiction and horror in the story of a fascist regime and the military officer willing to do just about anything to prove her loyalty to the state. When she’s tasked with interrogating a prominent terrorist, she comes to understand that her target is something other than human.

Ghoul | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Seven Seconds (2018, one season)

Seven Seconds | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

They had me at “Regina King,” though this miniseries isn’t always an easy watch. On one level, it’s a gripping crime drama that deals with the aftermath of the death of a Black teenager, hit while riding his bike by a car driven by a white cop. The ensuing coverup leads to violence, as investigators and families search for the truth. Of course, with a premise that explosive, the show does well not to limit itself to the tropes of the crime procedural, widening its scope to become a powerful indictment of a deeply flawed system.

Atypical (2017–2021, four seasons)

Atypical | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

There are plenty of shows featuring characters who serve as analogues for individuals on the autism spectrum (think Big Bang Theory), but very few that seem willing to, I dunno, forefront characters with autism. In that regard, Atypical isn’t perfect—in trying to show the positive face of autism, the well-intentioned series doesn’t always let the characters feel like real people. Still, issues aside, it’s a likable and funny show that gets closer to a realistic portrait of life on the spectrum than most.

Sense8 (2015–2018, two seasons and two specials)

Sense8 | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Look, it’s a superhero show, but with orgies. That’s not the actual tagline, but maybe the show would’ve gone past two seasons had it been. Really, though, it’s a high-concept science fiction premise involving eight strangers from around the world who find with and between themselves with a deep, inexplicable connection. On one level, that means they can share their special abilities when needed. On another, it’s an impressively uplifting call for connection, and a recognition of our mutual interconnectedness. Also, the show is super queer—unsurprisingly given it sprung from the mind of the Wachowskis (who co-wrote the episodes with Babylon 5‘s Michael J. Straczynski).

3% (2016–2020, four seasons)

3% | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

The metaphor isn’t terribly subtle: in a near-future dystopia, the young, impoverished people of Inland have one chance to get out—“The Process”, a gamut of tests and puzzles to determine who will get to set off forever to live in a bountiful paradise. Most fail, and some die, leaving 3% of participants to move on to a utopia that it’s not much of a spoiler to say isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be. Yeah, it’s more-or-less a Brazilian Hunger Games, but with longer-form storytelling and well-drawn characters that sell the concept.

Godless (2017, one season)

Godless | Teaser: Welcome to No Man’s Land [HD] | Netflix

Godless leans into many of the conventions of the western genre, and hard. Whether that strikes you as a positive or not will depend on your own tastes, but it’s undeniable the show is an absolutely gorgeous (and bloody) spectacle, making the absolute most its New Mexico locations. It also introduces a wrinkle to the genre in its tale of a former outlaw who seeks sanctuary in a town entirely populated by women.

Alias Grace (2017, one season)

Alias Grace | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

In some ways, it’s the other recent Margaret Atwood novel adaptation (existing well in the shadow of the bigger, buzzier Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu), but this miniseries is every bit as biting and well-crafted. It’s based on the true story of a poor Irish immigrant found guilty of a double homicide in 1843 under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and following a life of trauma. Years later, a psychiatrist comes to examine her and explores her past and the circumstances that might (just might) have driven a disenfranchised and powerless girl to murder.

One Day at a Time (2017–2019, three seasons on Netflix)

One Day at a Time | Official Trailer

This one received a fair bit of acclaim, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of it, but the viewership never quite seems to have lived up to its quality or credentials. Norman Lear’s popular and groundbreaking ‘70s/’80s original is refreshed (complete with a Gloria Estefan cover of the theme song) to focus on a Cuban-American family lead by a single mom struggling with her return to civilian life following a career in the Army. It’s a traditional sitcom on the surface, but stocked full of believable characters and real emotions. Plus, it’s got Rita Moreno! The show lasted three seasons on Netflix before being picked up for a fourth season by Pop—though the pandemic meant only seven of a planned 13 episodes were produced. Unfortunately, the second cancellation seems to have stuck.

On My Block (2018–2021 , four seasons)

ON MY BLOCK Official Trailer (2018) Netflix Teen Comedy HD

The comedy and the drama don’t always sit together comfortably in On My Block, perhaps by design. It’s the story of four friends just starting high school, and the various complications that test their relationships. At moments it can feel almost like a sitcom, as when one of the friends has to hide the fact that he quit the football team from his parents by faking injuries. But the show is set in South Central LA, and refuses to look away from the realities of life in a neighborhood where gunshots aren’t uncommon. Even if it doesn’t always gel, it explores something much closer to real life than we get from other, frequently sanitized teen dramas. The show came to a planned conclusion after four seasons.

Ethos (2020, one season)


There’s no catchy high-concept here, just a solid, smart drama that follows several characters in Istanbul, all of whom discover an unlikely connection to Peri, a part-time cleaner who consults a psychiatrist following a series of fainting spells. It’s built on solid performances and thoughtful interpersonal drama, and in that sense feels a bit more grown-up than many of the flashier genre shows that get all the attention. Its variety of characters also paint a vivid portrait of modern Turkey, a society with uniquely diverse, and sometimes conflicting, components.

Hilda (2018– , renewed for a third season)

Hilda | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Hilda’s world feels a bit like it could have come from Miyazaki, but with more trolls (it’s not Japanese, for the record, but based on a British graphic novel). The title character lives with her mother in the remote wilderness, a magical landscape filled with magic and animals that adventurous Hilda is very familiar with. Circumstances force the two to move to the city of Trollberg, a place that appears to have significantly less magic. It’s a distinctly lovely looking show, with a curious and empathetic protagonist who’s also incredibly stubborn and set in her ways. It’s wonderful for kids and adults, and stars Belle Ramsey (The Last of Us) as the title character. There’s a feature-length movie (Hilda and the Mountain King, also on Netflix), with a long-in-the-works third season seemingly coming someday.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (2020, three seasons)


A collaboration between DreamWorks and the South Korean animation studio Mir (The Legend of Korra), this enchanting adventure series follows Kipo Oak as she seeks out her father in unique future dystopia: at some point, mutated animals rose up against their human oppressors and forced humans into underground burrows. During her journey, Kipo discovers new things about herself (for example, that she’s not 100% human), and finds friends and allies among the animals. It’s a gorgeous and delightful adventure, with a fair bit of casual diversity and queer representation.

Anne With an E (2017–2019, three seasons)

Anne | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

It doesn’t sound, on its face, like a great idea: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel Anne of Green Gables is pretty well synonymous with old-timey kid lit and a beloved ‘70s miniseries, and any modern adaptation could have run to treacly irrelevance or edgy revisionism. Instead, the reboot revisits the novel and mines its text (and subtext) for new ideas without betraying the spirit of the work. It feels perfectly fresh modern in unexpected ways.

Street Food (2019– , three seasons)

Street Food | Official Trailer | Netflix

There are plenty of food and cooking shows, and even others that deal with varieties of street food. But where Street Food excels is in emphasis on the human stories behind the preparation of these often incredible looking dishes. Sometimes it’s about family connections, tradition, or cooking as a way out of poverty, each episode establishes a web of connections. The first season travels across Asia, the second visits Latin America, and the third hits major American cities.

Immigration Nation (2020, one season)

Immigration Nation | Official Trailer | Netflix

There’s perhaps no better evidence of the organization’s power and arrogance than the fact that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) participated in this documentary miniseries, presumably believing that they’d come off far better than they do. Filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz were given unprecedented access to the agency, both in the field and behind desks. What’s revealed, very often from the mouths of agents and administrators, is a portrait of a brutal agency operating on the bare fringes of legality, with devastating impacts on the lives of those desperate to experience the promise of America.

The Pharmacist (2020, one season)

The Pharmacist | Official Trailer | Netflix

COVID may have pushed the opioid epidemic out of the headlines, but it hasn’t gone away. This thoroughly fascinating documentary miniseries revisits the beginnings of the crisis in an unexpected way: The barely investigated murder of his son set pharmacist Dan Schneider on a quest for justice that gave him the skills and resources to examine the growing surge in OxyContin prescriptions in the early 2000s. It’s an unlikely lens through which to explore the very timely issue, and an important look at a deadly epidemic that hasn’t gone away just because we’ve stopped paying attention to it.

Our Planet (2019, one season)

Our Planet | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Now in his late 90s, David Attenborough remains every bit as prolific as he’s ever been, perhaps having developed a greater sense of urgency in his mission to educate on issues of the environment and conservation. His focus in Our Planet, Netflix’s first nature documentary miniseries, is on species endangered by climate change. A spin-off of the Planet Earth series, its wall-to-wall, high-def nature footage is every bit as stunning as you’d expect.

Kingdom (2019–2020, two seasons)

Kingdom | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

It’s not exactly a history lesson, but Kingdom does open a window into the middle of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty, a centuries-long era that ran to nearly the 20th century. During which time there wasn’t an actual zombie plague…so liberties have been taken. The show very deftly combines horror and medieval-esque political intrigue, making it something wholly unique to either genre. Based on a webcomic series authored by show creator Kim Eun-hee, it’s Netflix’s first original South Korean series. So far there are two seasons and a feature-length special episode, with unconfirmed talk of a spin-off.

All of Us Are Dead (2022– , renewed for a second season)

All of Us Are Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix

You really kinda think that zombies are done, but All of Us Are Dead is yet another reminder that the formula is remarkably malleable. This one’s set primarily in a fictional South Korean school in which the normal high school dramas and conflicts are heightened and mirrored by the hordes of invading zombies. The show doesn’t entirely reinvent the wheel, though it does tweak the rules quite a bit, and provides some truly thrilling sequences while diving into the emotional lives of the school’s students.

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