Last Updated: September 9th
There are a lot of good TV shows on Netflix (and you can find more with these secret codes). But what’s the best Netflix original series? The streaming service has put more and more emphasis into their own programming over the last few years, and with over 100 Netflix originals — between shows and movies — browsing aimlessly can be daunting. If you’re trying to figure out exactly which original show to watch next, here’s a great place to start with a look at a ranked list of the 55 best Netflix series right now.
1. BoJack Horseman
5 seasons, 60 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Netflix’s best series is also one of its most underrated. Set in a world where anthropomorphic animals and humans live side-by-side, BoJack Horseman is about a horse named Bojack (Arnett), the washed-up star of the 1990s sitcom Horsin’ Around. After a decade boozing on his couch and sleeping around, Bojack tries to resurrect his celebrity relevance with decidedly mixed results. His agent and on-again, off-again girlfriend is a Persian cat (Amy Sedaris); his rival (Paul F. Tompkins) is a golden labrador; he’s in love with a human woman who works as a ghostwriter (Alison Brie); and he has a layabout roommate (Aaron Paul) with whom Bojack has a co-dependent relationship. On the face of it, it’s a zany satire of Hollywood and celebrity culture. What’s unexpected, however, is that Bojack Horseman may be television’s most honest and thorough examination of depression. The writing is sharp, the jokes are layered, and the situations are hilarious, but there’s a melancholy undercurrent to the series. Despite being a horse, Bojack is also one of the most human characters on television. It takes two or three episodes to hook viewers into its world, but once it does, it’s an impossible series to stop watching.
2. Stranger Things
3 seasons, 25 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
A throwback and love letter to the early 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, the Duffer Brothers Stranger Things feels both familiar and new. The first season is about a boy named Will (think E.T.‘s Elliot) who is captured by a The Thing-like creature and trapped in a Poltergeist-like world. His mother (Winona Ryder) recruits the local sheriff to investigate Will’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Will’s dorky, Goonies-like best friends take to their bikes to do some sleuthing of their own and eventually befriend an alien-like girl with telepathic powers (the E.T. of the series). The investigation into Will’s disappearance and the arrival of the telepathic girl all seem to lead back to a power plant operated by a character played by Matthew Modine. It’s great PG horror/sci-fi, like the blockbusters of the early ’80s, but for those who didn’t grow up in the era or aren’t intimately familiar with Amblin Entertainment’s catalog, the series may not hold as much appeal.
3. Orange is the New Black
7 seasons, 91 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Jenji Kohan’s knack for social commentary mixed with humor is perfect for a prison story. Orange Is the New Black is as funny as Weeds in its early years, but Kohan has found a way to infuse poignancy to the overall vibe of her stories. The diverse, engaging ensemble cast is chock-full of fan favorites, and while Orange is the New Black traffics in stereotypes, it also challenges and complicates them. The acting is superb, the writing is brilliant, and the storylines are addictive. More importantly, it forces us to root for people who make poor decisions and appreciate the fact that we all make poor decisions because we’re human. The series will make viewers laugh and think, and every once in a while, it will break viewers’ hearts. It is a smart show, but most of all, it is good, in every sense of the word.
4. American Vandal
2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
In theory, American Vandal sounds silly and sophomoric, and it is, but it’s also a genuinely brilliant, incredibly clever, smartly written satire of true-crime documentaries. It plays just like any other true crime docuseries — interviews, investigations, multiple suspects, and numerous conspiracy theories — only the crime here is not a murder. It’s a high school student who has been accused by the school board of spray painting dicks on 27 cars, a crime that threatens his ability to graduate. It’s a brilliant whodunnit that just happens to also be the best parody of 2017, and it even earned a Peabody Award earlier this year. With the show’s second season, the guys are investigating a new mystery: the case of the cafeteria’s contaminated lemonade. If you thought there were a lot of dick jokes in season one, just wait until you see how many sh*ttakes the’ve got planned.
2 seasons, 19 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
In Mindhunter, Jonathan Groff plays Holden Ford, a character based on the real-life John E. Douglas (the inspiration for Jack Crawford in the Hannibal series). The series itself is based on the origins of an actual behavioral science unit in the FBI used to study serial killers in the 1970s and 80s. Ford is a young FBI Agent who takes a keen interest in psychology which, in turn, grows into an interest in the psychology of sequential killers. It’s a fascinating exploration into the origins of what now seems commonplace, a science that has inspired dozens of police procedurals. What’s more interesting here, however, is that while Ford is studying serial killers (all of whom are based on actual serial killers from that era), Ford develops his own obsession with serial-killers which mirrors the obsession serial killers have with their victims. The series comes from Joe Penhall and executive producer David Fincher (who also directs several episodes), and fans of Fincher’s Zodiac will appreciate Mindhunter for its same attention to detail, and the same dedication to character and research over surprising twists and reveals.
6. Russian Doll
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
Natasha Lyonne stars in this Groundhog Day-from-hell remake about a woman who’s forced to relive the last day of her life over and over again. It’s been done before, but this series stands out thanks to its mix of dark humor and a tinge of the supernatural. Lyonne is one of the often overlooked OITNB stars, but it looks like this series is giving her a chance to show off her comedic chops as her character, Nadia, endures a constant loop of partying, dying, then waking up to do it all over again. As bleak as the premise is, Lyonne manages to find a silver lining, a universal message that basically read, “The world is sh*t, let’s help each other out if we can.”
7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
4 seasons, 51 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Relentlessly positive, infinitely quotable, and insanely likable, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt applies the quick-witted, reference-heavy comedy of 30 Rock to the life of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), a woman who moves to New York after being rescued from a doomsday cult. Kimmy, a 30-year-old woman with the pop-cultural IQ of a ’90s teenager, must navigate the cynical big city while dealing with her own form of PTSD. She’s helped along by her conspiracy-theory minded landlord (Carol Kane) and her irresponsible, flighty gay roommate (Titus Burgess). Its fast pace and wide-eyed wonder of its lead make it one of the most bingeable series on Netflix. It’s almost impossible not to finish each season in one or two sittings because it’s a near-perfect sitcom about the power of human optimism that’s as life-affirming as it is funny.
8. Master of None
2 seasons, 20 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Aziz Ansari’s Master of None is a post-racial dating and relationship sitcom about millennials. Like the better dating sitcoms of the past, the series still manages to capture the anxieties of dating, of new relationships, and of settling down, only it successfully brings in texting and social media into the mix naturally and without calling attention to itself. It also explores intimacy without resorting to gender stereotypes or relationship clichés. It’s new, and unique, and most of all, it is kind. It’s a good series about genuinely good people, and the chemistry between Ansari’s character and his love interest (Noel Wells) in the first season is electric. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but Master of None is funny in its observations, clever in its writing and honest in the depiction of its characters. It’s a truly great sitcom and something of a roadmap to dating for a new generation.
3 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
G.L.O.W., from exec producer Jenji Kohan and a couple of her proteges, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, is based on the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television series. Set in the 1980s, G.L.O.W. sees a group of failed actresses and assorted misfits shaped into a female wrestling league by a cult-flick screenwriter (Marc Maron) and a trust-fund kid (Chris Lowell). There’s nothing particularly original about G.L.O.W., which traffics in a number of tropes and stereotypes, but the characters (led by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin) are so unbelievably likable that it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with these underdog heroes. It’s a fast-paced, funny and immensely sweet series that goes down like candy. It’s smartly written, well acted, infectious as hell, and it has a huge heart, making it one of the best that Netflix has to offer, whether viewers are fans of wrestling or not.
10. The Umbrella Academy
1 season, 10 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
Superhero team-ups are a dime a dozen but the TV adaptation of this award-winning comic series created by Gerard Way — yes, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance — feels wholly unique and thus, totally refreshing. The show follows the story of seven kids, all born on the same day to mothers who didn’t even know they were pregnant. They’re adopted by a mysterious billionaire and trained to use their supernatural abilities to fight evil in the world, but when they grow up, their dysfunctional upbringing catches up with them, and they’re left struggling to live normal lives. It’s all kinds of weird, which is exactly what the genre needs right now.
11. Sex Education
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Following in the footsteps of Nick Kroll’s Big Mouth, this British teem comedy is committed to exploring all of the cringe-worthy, taboo topic associated with sex, just not in animated form. The series follows a mother-son duo navigating their way through those uncomfortable “talks.” Of course, the mother here happens to be a sex therapist named Dr. Jean Milburn (a terrific Gillian Anderson) and her son Otis (Asa Butterfield) is the kid enduring her overbearing tendencies at home while doling out sex advice of his own in an underground sex therapy ring amongst his friends. Sex is a comedy goldmine, and although the show loves to play up ’80s high-school tropes, there’s real nuance and thought that goes into how these teens are portrayed and their interactions with sex. Plus, Anderson’s comedic timing is spot-on.
12. Dear White People
3 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 6.3/10
One of the best and most underappreciated series on Netflix, Dear White People is a television adaptation that manages to improve exponentially on the movie upon which it is based. From creator Justin Simien, Dear White People is a smart, insightful, thoughtful and at times sharply funny examination of racial politics on a college campus, where it’s more than just black people pitted against white people; it’s woke people vs. those who aren’t woke; black people fighting the system versus black people trying to work within the system; and light-skinned black people versus darker skinned black people. It’s an eye-opening, smartly crafted television show that’s as entertaining as it is important, and it features an outstanding cast, led by Logan Browning.
13. Everything Sucks!
1 season, 10 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
This coming-of-age series set in the ’90s could easily be described as the comedic counterpart to Stranger Things, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a sweet, funny, and heartfelt show about a group of high school kids — popular, unpopular and in-between — searching for their own identities and trying to find their place not only in high school but in the world. The main story sees a freshman from the A/V club, Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), falling in love a with Kate (Peyton Kennedy), who is trying to come to terms with her own sexual identity as a lesbian. While the issues they face are specific to their characters, the range of feelings they experience as universal — falling in love, heartbreak, seeking acceptance and validation from others. It is a comedy infused with ’90s nostalgia, but it doesn’t rely on nostalgia to tell its story, and the story it tells is one of those most hopeful, optimistic, and deeply affecting series in the Netflix catalog.
1 season, 7 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Exec produced by Steven Soderbergh and written, directed, and created by Scott Frank, who wrote Logan and Out of Sight, Godless, is equal parts a feminist Western and s a show about fathers and sons. The series is set in the 1880s in the small mining town of La Belle, where nearly all of the town’s men have died in a mining accident. Enter Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), a charming gunslinger on the run from the mentor he double-crossed, Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), who — along with his crew out desperadoes — had already murdered everyone in another small town for harboring Goode. The series ultimately pits a town of mostly women against a brutal, merciless outlaw gang. Scoot McNairy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Sam Waterston play lawmen, but the standouts in Godless are Downton Abby‘s nearly unrecognizable shotgun wielding pioneer woman Michelle Dockery and Merritt Wever, a bisexual woman all out of f–ks to give. It’s a tremendously good series buoyed by beautiful cinematography, poetic language, a few great shoot-outs, and fine performances from the entire cast. It’s one of the best Netflix series of 2017.
15. Marvel’s Daredevil
3 seasons, 39 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Brilliantly shot, excellently choreographed, and superbly written, Daredevil lives so far outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as to be completely distinct. It is darker, more brutal, and grittier than the film franchise, although there are enough light and humor in the show to make its characters sympathetic. The series nails the tone of the comic, the characters are complex, and it really understands the grey area between hero and villain, and the fine line between the two where violence is concerned. The fight scenes are brutal, and one couldn’t ask for a better Matt Murdock than the one depicted by Charlie Cox. The villains — Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin in the first season, and Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle in the second — are not caricatures. They’re three-dimensional and at times sympathetic in their own right. It’s a potent combination of writing, acting, and directing that makes Daredevil one of the best Netflix originals and the best superhero series on television, although one that begins to flag in the back half of season two.
16. Big Mouth
2 seasons, 21 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
The animated, coming-of-age comedy from Nick Kroll is full of familiar voices and even more familiar life problems. Centered on a group of pre-pubescent friends, Kroll voices a younger version of himself, a kid named Andrew who’s going through some embarrassing life changes like inconvenient erections and strange wet dreams and bat-mitzvah meltdowns. All these traumatizing and hilarious happenings are usually caused by Maurice, Andrew’s own Hormone Monster (also voiced by Kroll) who takes pleasure (literally) in abusing the poor kid. As painfully accurate as the show is, if you’re lucky enough to be removed from that angst-ridden era of life, you’ll probably appreciate the humor in all of it.
2 seasons, 18 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
If you’re trying to pin down Netflix’s mystery crime thriller, the best way to describe it is to call it a German version of Stranger Things minus the demogorgon. The show centers on four families whose lives and dark deeds are brought to light after two children vanish in the woods. There’s plenty of familial drama here and a supernatural twist or two to keep things interesting.
18. Marvel’s Jessica Jones
3 seasons, 39 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
As an episodic series, Jessica Jones occasionally falters. Jones is a private detective with certain special powers, but the series doesn’t put her P.I. talents to much use, instead focusing on one storyline surrounding the big bad, Kilgrave (David Tennant) for the entire 13 episodes. Tennant’s character, however, is the best reason to watch the series — he’s captivating yet repugnant, alluring yet vile — and the themes of rape and domestic abuse resonate loudly. Unfortunately, when Kilgrave is not onscreen, the series drifts. Krysten Ritter’s title character is too often dour and sarcastic, robbing the series of some much-needed levity. Still, it’s a captivating, thematically-rich series that covers ground no other superhero series would dare to explore, and while that doesn’t make it the most entertaining Marvel series, it is the bravest and most original.
19. 13 Reasons Why
2 seasons, 26 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
13 Reasons Why has an intriguing hook: A teenage girl named Hannah takes her own life and leaves behind a suicide note in the form of 13 tapes, each one directed at a particular individual at least partially responsible for the decision to kill herself. The tapes are then passed around to the 13 people, who have to deal with the guilt they feel for the role they played in her death, as well as keep their secrets hidden as the contents of the tape threaten to destroy relationships and cost the school millions in an ongoing lawsuit. The drama came under fire in its first season for its heavy subject material, and the reason it stirred so much controversy is that it is an honest and unflinching look at teen suicide. It’s a heavy series, especially for one featuring teen characters, but it is also emotionally raw, incredibly compelling, heartbreaking and admirable for at least what it’s trying to do. 13 Reason Why is a haunting and very personal series, and whether it succeeds — or backfires — in its aims will depend largely on the viewer.