Starting with their very first original series House of Cards in 2013, Netflix has defined the streaming industry and what audiences can expect from it. Directly or not, the platform’s focus on investing so heavily in original content has, in a way, forced other services to come up with original content of their own.
Netflix produces hundreds of original programs every year. Most of them fly under the radar because of how mediocre they tend to be, but some end up being standouts for consumers and critics. In fact, every year when awards season rolls around, Netflix picks up a few more nominations and wins than the previous year.
Updated on April 1st, 2021 by Svetlana Sterlin: As Netflix continues to roll out more and more “originals”, some that previously held top 10 spots have been bumped down. Critics have been taking streaming services more seriously, with Netflix, in particular, being a serious contender for awards like the Oscars and Emmys. As the streaming service adapts to its evolving audience, the content it produces changes, too. Thus, here is an updated list of Netflix’s best original series, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
15 Lupin (98%)
Lupin‘s main character is professional thief Assane Diop, the son of an immigrant from Senegal. They moved to France when Assane was a child so that he might have a better life. When Assane is a teenager, his father is framed for a crime and hangs himself, leaving Assane orphaned.
Years later, in his adulthood, he’s inspired by a book about legendary gentleman thief Arsène Lupin that Assane’s father had gifted to him. Assane plans to get revenge on the people who framed his father, but he uses the tactics Lupin employs.
14 Tuca & Bertie (98%)
Tuca and Bertie are two thirty-year-old friends who live in the same apartment building. They’re also animated birds, but this cartoon is made for adult viewers. With personalities to match, Tuca is a toucan and Bertie is a songbird.
They live in the metropolis of Bird Town, where the two women separate so that Bertie can move in with Speckle, an architect. Tuca moves in upstairs from them, so they’re not far apart.
13 Unbelievable (98%)
Stories about sexual assault can be challenging to write. Creators must ensure that they are being responsible and handling the subject with care, as it’s such a sensitive topic. Based on critic reviews, Unbelievable is one of the few shows that manage to do just this.
The title of the series comes from the Pulitzer-winning news article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” about a series of sex crimes that occurred in Washington and Colorado around 2010.
12 American Vandal (98%)
True crime has grown in popularity significantly in recent years, and without a doubt, Netflix’s slew of docuseries has contributed to this. But American Vandal isn’t just another documentary based on a true crime – rather, it’s a parody of the genre.
The satire follows two high school teenagers who track down a culprit after they vandalize several cars with lewd images. They are also trying to track a criminal by the name of “The Turd Burglar.”
11 Alias Grace (99%)
Based on true events and the novel by Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace follows Grace Marks’ life in Canada. Grace is a poor Irish immigrant who now works as a domestic servant when she’s convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper.
James McDermott, the stablehand, is also convicted and hanged, but Grace is sentenced to life behind bars. She is considered one of the most notorious women of the 1840s in Canada.
10 Big Mouth (99%)
Puberty is tough, even for a cartoon character. Andrew is experiencing the horrors of growing up for the first time, but the humor with which the show approaches his journey is definitely aimed at adults.
Andrew’s friends Nick and Jessi are right there with him growing up in the suburbs of New York, but they are starting to form a romantic relationship, something Andrew is left out from. The show has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season by Netflix.
9 One Day At A Time (99%)
Based on the 1975 series of the same name, this sitcom spent three seasons on Netflix before its cancelation. However, luckily for fans, the show was swiftly picked up for another season by another network, CBS’s Pop.
The show follows Penelope, an army veteran, and her Cuban-American family. Penelope is newly single and a nurse, raising two headstrong kids. Whenever she feels lost, she asks her traditional mother for help. The show follows the family as they go through the ups and downs of life and it never loses sight of its optimism.
8 Crazyhead (100%)
Amy and Raquel are best friends who have become close after their experiences with the supernatural. Amy is able to see ghouls, while Raquel is a demon hunter – well, kind of.
Raquel’s knowledge comes from the Internet and her equipment from online sellers. The somewhat dysfunctional duo teams up to conquer demons – both literal and internal.
7 Blood Of Zeus (100%)
As the title suggests, this animated series dives into Greek mythology. The show follows the illegitimate son of Zeus, who is tasked with uniting Heaven and Earth. However, he faces challenges and obstacles when a powerful goddess threatens to interfere with his duty.
The show is designed for adult viewers and is known for its epic battle sequences, excellent voice acting, and sleek animation. Netflix recently announced that the show would return for a second season.
6 Call My Agent! (100%)
This boisterous French comedy follows a group of agents at A.S.K., a talent firm in Paris. Struggling to keep their celebrity clients satisfied and the business afloat, the agents are often in a world of upheaval and chaos.
Mathias, Gabriel, and Andréa juggle all aspects of their lives – personal, private, professional – as they dedicate themselves to their stars. The series is first and foremost a comedy, so viewers can expect entertainment and a good laugh.
5 Giri/Haji (100%)
“Giri/Haji” translates to “Duty/Shame”. The title also reflects the show’s duality in other aspects, like its setting. The thriller takes place in both Tokyo and London.
The main character is a detective from Tokyo who is searching for his supposedly dead brother in London. His brother has been accused of murder, which could lead to a war between the gangs of the city. This leads the detective to investigate the corruption of London’s underworld.
4 Dash & Lily (100%)
This endearing Christmas rom-com tells the story of Dash and Lily, two teenagers living in New York. They’re both lonely and love books, but apart from that, they don’t have a lot in common. Most importantly, Lily loves the festive season while Dash despises it.
When Lily leaves a notebook of dares hidden at The Strand, she doesn’t expect anyone to pick it up, but Dash does. The two begin completing each other’s dares and writing to each other, but they’re hesitant to actually meet in person.
3 Feel Good (100%)
This semi-autobiographical rom-com series explores the modern landscape of gender fluidity and sexuality. Created by and starring Mae Martin as herself, the story follows Mae as she recovers from addiction and begins a relationship with George.
Mae is a comedian, an aspect of her character that permeates the series. The world is a little intense for her, what with her addictive tendencies and all-consuming romance with George, but there’s always room for levity in this romantic comedy.
2 The Baby-Sitters Club (100%)
This sweet comedy-drama from Netflix follows a group of young girls as they start up a babysitting business. Of course, being only children themselves, they’re in for an adventure.
The series has recently been renewed for a second season, which will continue exploring these girls’ relationships. The show is a modern adaptation of the books by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier.
1 Master of None (100%)
Parks and Recreation ended in 2013, and its cast has since scattered near and far to pursue many great projects. Notably, Chris Pratt has enjoyed the success as Star-Lord in the MCU, but his co-star Aziz Ansari isn’t doing too bad either.
In collaboration with Netflix and Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang, he co-created the comedy-drama Master of None. Starring as the lead, Ansari’s show is based on his own life experiences and is one of the best-rated series on the platform with a solid 100% rating.
NEXT: The Queen’s Gambit (& 9 Other Netflix Shows You Didn’t Know Were Adapted From Books)
Grey’s Anatomy: 10 Times The Main Characters Should Have Been Fired In Seasons 1-3
About The Author