It’s hard to believe Netflix has only been producing original content for its service since 2013. That said, we’re 7 solid years into their rise from DVD distributor, to streaming provider, to a full film and TV production studio. It all started with House of Cards on February 1, 2013. That knock on the desk Kevin Spacey made has been the sound most shows open with over the Netflix logo because it started it all. With seven solid years under its belt, Lisa and I wanted to rank the ten best movies and television shows they’ve created. It’s an interesting time to think about their catalog since Disney+ and Apple TV have launched with many more competitors entering the fray very soon.
These are the top ten shows that were not only the best but held our interest all the way to the end. Shows like Daredevil and Queer Eye were on the shortlist, for example, but didn’t quite sustain interest all the way through.
#10: Chef’s Table
I’m not much of a documentary fanatic, but I couldn’t get enough of this show. Netflix has produced six seasons of this show and for good reason, as it has mashed good storytelling with fantastic food-porn videography. Series creator David Gelb has gone on record to say this is a follow-up to his documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi and it shows. Each episode gets at the heart of the chef as well as the cuisine itself. It also reveals different cuisine from around the world and how the greatest chefs make it more about food and make it about a message.
#9: Bojack Horseman
This show seemed bizarre at first blush. A talking horse voiced by Will Arnett in a world where animals are anthropomorphized with as many mental problems as us humans. The beauty of this show lies in how it crafts real to life psychological drama with a unique comedic angle.
#8: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
When Netflix announced this series was coming I was worried. How do you pull off a prequel to a film that is so important to so many? Would they screw it up? Thankfully they gave the Jim Henson Company a very large budget and all that they needed to pull off such an elaborate undertaking. It’s quite clear a production like this is a rare thing and it’s stunning from script, score, and production.
#7 Grace & Frankie
Who would have thought I’d love Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda so much in their waning years of their career. Strike that, this show proves they’re in their prime. The collection of characters, unique premise–that smartly shifted away from its pilot focus–and fantastic cast are hard to beat.
#6: A Series of Unfortunate Events
I wasn’t a huge fan of Jim Carey’s film of the same content, but I still liked the dark sense of humor. From what I understand this is a series that deserved a TV show order instead of a film and it’s obvious this show maximized the humor and potential of the source material. Neil Patrick Harris is quite frankly the lifeblood of this series making Count Olaf the perfect villain you somehow end up liking quite a bit by the end. It may have screamed a bit too quickly to its end, but this is another example of how Netflix can give creators a huge budget and pull off a truly magical thing.
This show had a lot of advertising behind it which made me hesitant to check it out. Jason Bateman was the reason I tried it at all and I’m kicking myself for not checking out sooner thanks to him and Julia Garner’s excellent portrayal of Ruth. This show has been compared to Breaking Bad in how it turns a seemingly normal family into a life of crime and based on the quality they aren’t wrong.
#4: The Haunting of Hill House
This show is up for a second season and I can’t wait for it to drop simply to see if they continue to progress filmmaking in general. If you haven’t, check out the special features which reveal how a few of the episodes pulled off some impressive one-take and other special effects feats. The show is scary good, but most importantly have you hanging on the edge of your seat thanks to the wonderful acting and character work.
#3: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I was a huge 30 Rock fan so finding out Tina Fey and most of the crew from that show was producing something for Netflix had me giddy. After four seasons of hilarity, I just wish it lasted as long. This is the kind of nonsensical and machine-gun level of jokes comedy that sets it apart from the rest. Tituss Burgess steals the show however as he’s one of the loudest, ridiculous, and empowering characters in a comedy of the last decade.
Absorbing comes to mind when thinking about this show and that goes for your attention, but also the depths at which the characters are explored. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (who has gone on to make the next James Bond film) this film mixes a light sci-fi into the lives of Jonah Hill and Emma Stone’s characters that are hard to look away from. They are broken, but through a pharmaceutical trial they find themselves (or maybe they think they do). The imaginative camera tricks and storytelling risks are enormous and it’s an impressive show that really feels like a long film.
#1: Stranger Things
What can you say about this show that hasn’t already been said? It’s a groundbreaking work that is likely one of the most influential on society of any TV show or movie in the last decade. I’ll admit the second season dipped, but the third season improved upon it tenfold and set up what may be the most anticipated fourth season of any show ever. The ramifications this show has had on our society is unmistakable.
Not for those with a weak constitution, Mindhunter delves into the chilling minds of serial killers and the lives of the FBI detectives who place themselves in close proximity to learn their motives. As the show progresses the duality of life introspection and crossover is very intriguing. If you are a fan of crime dramas or crime documentaries you should check it out.
#9: A Typical
I am a big fan of this show! It is refreshing to see a main character that is on the Autism spectrum. The writers have done a fantastic job of weaving in Autism awareness while maintaining a funny story with a realistic family dynamic. Sam shows us the world through his lens which can mean experiencing his struggles but also discovering a better way of viewing a situation. His relationship with his sister is especially endearing and relatable.
#8: Chef’s Table
Food porn at its best! This series covers every step of the chef’s journey from concept to plate and has amazing montages that will have you drooling. Start making a list and saving your pennies to visit these amazing chefs and their restaurants around the world.
#7: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Funny, witty, fast-paced and over the top looney. The show could just center on Kimmy and Titus’ apartment antics alone but the cast is so phenomenal you will be left yearning for longer episodes.
#6: Santa Clarita Diet
Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are hilarious! This new spin on zombies lightens a macabre subject and leaves you laughing. Nothing pulls a family together like finding Mom’s next meal.
#5: Big Mouth
Who remembers puberty? Who wants to forget it? Either way, you feel about it you will relate to at least one of the moments explored in this hysterical (but raunchy) animated comedy.
#4: Grace & Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are still killing it! Grace & Frankie covers a broad range of topics such as ageism, adoption, homosexuality, relationships and of course, growing older. This show is for everyone. If you have not watched it, do so now.
#3: Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
I am a massive Dark Crystal fan and this was a fitting tribute and prequel to the original movie. You will be swept up in the magic of Thra in the first few minutes. It was so fantastic – I watched it twice.
#2: Stranger Things
Original, dark and ’80s focused, this was a strong contender for my number one. The story and cast were exceptional. Winona Ryder shines as the distraught mother and the cast of young people, well who doesn’t know about their strong performances by now. If there is a person left that has not watched Stranger Things I would wonder if they were in a bunker with Kimmy.
Oh, Jason Bateman. We see a harder, more calculating version of the American smile this time around. Ozark is clever and hard-edged; dropping you right into the story while maintaining a pace that consistently engages you. The world of money laundering is a dangerous place but then again there seems to be a criminal element wherever you move. You will want to binge this one.
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