Two years ago, Netflix’s nearly 75 million users watched 42 billion hours of content on the streaming service over the course of that year. Those numbers have only grown since as Netflix has added more original content, including over 50 new seasons of television aimed at adults in 2017 alone. That’s practically a new season of television each week and that doesn’t even include their stand-up specials, original movies, kids’ programming, and docuseries. With so much content and only a limited time with which to watch it, here’s a list of the 10 best new shows on Netlfix in 2017, which should offer viewers a good starting place when seeking out new series to consume.
Ozark, from part of the team behind Ben Affleck’s The Accountant, feels like a combination of another Netflix series, Bloodline, and Breaking Bad, for which Ozark invites many comparisons. Ozark sees Marty (Jason Bateman) — a financial planner turned money launderer — and his wife (Laura Linney) move from Chicago to a small, backwoods Missouri resort town in an effort to clean $8 million in three months, lest their entire family be killed by a Mexican drug cartel. Those efforts are further complicated by a marriage that in free fall and a group of local rednecks determined to steal Marty’s ill-gotten gains. It’s stressful, high-intensity television, although if often suffocates beneath the grimness of the tone. Despite the presence of the glib Bateman and his deadpan sense of humor, Ozark is not exactly a fun show. In fact, it’s barely entertaining. But like Bloodline or an engrossing, page-turning noir, it’s the kind of series that compels anxious viewers to binge through it just to see if the antagonists survive. It’s a seedy, well-written, well-acted series, and a seasoned Bateman is terrific in this, but the entire point of Ozark is to put the viewer through the wringer: We don’t watch for resolution; we watch for relief from the suspense.
Atypical is the kind of single-camera sitcom that would feel right at home among ABC’s family sitcoms like Speechless, Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat and The Goldbergs (in fact, creator Robia Rashid previously worked as a producer on The Goldbergs). It’s a charming coming-of-age show about Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old from Connecticut with high-functioning autism. He’s arrived at an age when he’s decided that he’d like to date and have sex. The first season — a batch eight half-hour episodes — covers his awkward encounters with women, his inappropriate crush on his therapist, and his relationship with the teenage girl he eventually asks to prom. It also deals with the challenges of his parents. His father (Michael Rapaport) is trying to figure out how to truly connect with his son for the first time while his mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) aims to find her own identity apart from being the mother of an autistic child. It’s the older sister (Brigette Lundy-Paine) who is the real stand-out of Atypical. Like the big sister in the film and book series, Wonder, she aims to both support her brother while also carving out a life of her own separate from Sam. It’s not a groundbreaking series, and it has been criticized for its stereotypical depiction of autism, but it nevertheless funny, heartwarming, and very sweet.
8. Alias Grace
Alias Grace, adapted by Sarah Polley from a Margaret Atwood novel which itself is based on a true story, is set in Canada in the middle of the 19th century, where Irish immigrant and house servant Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) has been convicted of a double murder. After spending time in a mental asylum and while imprisoned, an early version of a therapist is called in to try and discern if Grace is guilty, innocent, lying or telling the truth. Grace’s account of the murders is as confounding to the viewer as it is the doctor, but the truth is not the point. The point of Alias Grace is to illustrate how the men in her life and the lives of the women around her have tyrannized and abused them. They are the product of that abuse, of a system controlled by men, and if a woman were to rise up and murder her terrorizer, who could blame her? Deftly and efficiently directed by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol), Grace is an intelligent and brilliantly acted series featuring a mesmerizing performance from Gadon, but more than that — like The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu series based on another Atwood novel — it’s an important television show for right now.
7. One Day at a Time
A remake of a 1970s sitcom produced by esteemed 94-year-old television producer Norman Lear, One Day at a Time is a classic family sitcom with a modern viewpoint that manages to not only match its predecessor but improve upon it. This updated version centers on a Cuban-American family managed by a single mom (Justina Machado) raising three kids with the help of her own mom (Rita Moreno). The broad humor and laugh track feels somewhat out of place on the streaming service, but the jokes still land. More importantly, the characters connect in an honest way as they attempt to live on a modest nurse’s salary and maintain their Cuban heritage while adapting to modern progressivism (comparisons to Fresh Off the Boat are apt). It’s more poignant than funny, but its warm, loving look at the difficulties of single parenting, sexism, and immigration resonates even more in 2017 than the original did in the ’70s.
6. 13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why, based on Jay Asher’s young-adult novel, has an intriguing hook: a teenage girl named Hannah (Katherine Langford ) 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 her 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. They also must keep their secrets hidden as the contents of the tape threaten to destroy relationships and cost the school millions in an ongoing lawsuit. The main focus is on that of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), a classmate who had a crush on Hannah but remains mystified as to what role he had in her suicide. The drama has come under fire for its dark subject material, and the reason it’s 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’s also raw, compelling, heartbreaking, tragic, and admirable for at least what it’s trying to do. 13 Reason Why is a haunting and personal series, and whether it succeeds — or backfires — in its aims will depend largely on the perspective of the viewer.
Executive produced by Steven Soderbergh and written, directed, and created by Scott Frank (Logan, Out of Sight), Godless is equal parts a feminist Western and a show about fathers and sons. Like the fantastic 2007 Western, 3:10 to Yuma, Godless doesn’t exactly reinvent the Western, but it breathes new life into its tropes. 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 women played by Michelle Dockery and The Walking Dead‘s Merritt Wever, a bisexual woman all out of f–-ks to give. It’s a tremendously good and understated series buoyed by beautiful cinematography, poetic language, a few great shoot-outs, and fine performances from the entire cast.
4. American Vandal
In theory, American Vandal sounds silly and sophomoric, and that’s exactly what it is. But it’s also a genuinely brilliant, incredibly clever, deftly 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 isn’t 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 endangers his ability to graduate. It’s a smart whodunnit that just happens to be both a loving homage and a clever satire of true-crime documentary series. The series uses an act of vandalism to get inside the minds of teenagers, and what’s surprising is not how many laughs earns. The surprise is in how unexpectedly poignant the show becomes by the end.
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 show is borne out of the origins of an actual behavioral science unit the FBI used to profile 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 more Ford learns about men like Ed Kemper or Richard Speck, the more Ford takes on some of their personality traits. In some ways, Mindhunter is as much a study of obsession as it is a study of serial killers. 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 delivering the same attention to detail, and the same dedication to character and research over surprising twists and reveals.
G.L.O.W., from executive producer Jenji Kohan (Weeds) and a couple of her proteges, creators 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 familiar tropes and stereotypes, but the characters (played by, among others, by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin) are so likable that it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with these underdog heroes. It’s smartly written, well acted, infectious as hell, and it has a huge heart. Fast-paced, funny and immensely sweet, G.L.O.W. is the most bingeable series of 2017, whether viewers are fans of wrestling or not.
1. Dear White People
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; 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. As astute as it is engaging, Dear White People is the not only one of the best series of 2017, it’s also the most eye-opening show of the year.