Last Updated: April 17th
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: 8.5/10
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
2 seasons, 17 episodes | IMDb: 8.9/10
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
6 seasons, 78 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
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.