It’s a fact universally acknowledged that, at some point in our lives, we will utter the words, “I’ve watched everything on Netflix.” Despite the fact that, y’know, we absolutely haven’t.
Whether you’ve burned through your queue or your recommendations, the streaming service is still packed to the brim with brilliantly bingeable box-sets – many of which are, in fact, Netflix Originals.
So, to help you sniff out the TV shows that’ll keep you hooked throughout the weekend and beyond, we’ve compiled a list of the best Netflix Original series (so far), to watch or rewatch as you see fit.
And don’t worry: we’ll be sure to keep the list updated as and when new titles drop…
Maid, which is based on Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, And A Mother’s Will To Survive, follows the story of Alex (Margaret Qualley), a young mother who’s desperate to escape a toxic relationship. It is a seemingly impossible feat, though, as Alex has no support system. She has, as the onscreen running total of her finances makes abundantly clear, no money. And her tricky relationship with her own mother (Andie MacDowell) is a constant source of regret and disappointment.
Alex, though, is a fighter – and it is her hope for a brighter future, her gritty determination, that lends levity to this deeply emotional story and makes it so very watchable.
One of Netflix’s biggest series to date, Bridgerton takes us back to Regency London and introduces us to Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), who is 100% ready to make her societal debut and – you guessed it! – bag herself an eligible husband. And, while it’s hate-at-first-sight when she runs into the impossibly attractive Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), the couple “pretend to form an attachment” in a bid to improve their social standing.
He’s convinced that their little arrangement will cause “every presumptuous mother in town” to leave him well alone (he’s sick of being hounded by all the debutantes’ mamas). She, in turn, hopes it will give her a newfound sense of allure and draw “every suitor” back to her. And we, the audience, are positively salivating over the impossible chemistry between the two of them…
A beautiful hybrid between Luther, Sherlock, and Ocean’s 11, Lupin follows Assane Diop (Omar Sy), who – inspired by Maurice Leblanc’s novels about gentleman thief Arsène Lupin – sets out to steal Marie Antoinette’s necklace from the Louvre. It’s gritty, funny, and stylish – not to mention packed to bursting with puzzles, cool capers, and surprising twists. And, yeah, it’s proven to be a Netflix hit.
Watch the trailer below:
The Last Dance
In the fall of 1997, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls allowed a film crew to follow them as they went for their sixth NBA title in eight seasons. As such, the award-winning The Last Dance offers a positively stunning portrait of one of the NBA’s most iconic athletes.
The documentary rocketed its way up the Netflix charts to become an unexpected hit with pretty much everyone, whether they’d watched a single professional basketball game or not.
The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit (based on a tragic true story) has won widespread acclaim thanks to its emotional storylines, magnetic performances (all hail Anya Taylor-Joy), and outstandingly beautiful aesthetics. It’s the period drama to end all period dramas, essentially. It’s the show that made us believe we could all become chess masters, if only we put our minds to it. It’s the series that is well and truly deserving of its 100% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
And, yeah, it’s the show that convinced us we wanted a blunt copper bob with baby bangs, just like our flawed heroine Beth Harmon. So sue us.
Set in Los Angeles, the hilarious and thoughtful Gentefied (which boasts a 91% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes) tells the tale of three Mexican-American cousins chasing the American Dream, even while that dream threatens the things they hold most dear, including their neighborhood, their immigrant grandfather and the family-owned taco shop.
Watch the trailer below:
The Baby-Sitters Club
Starring Clueless’ Alicia Silverstone, you better believe us when we say that Netflix’s big-hearted adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club isn’t just for kids. All about smart, ambitious girls, it focuses on championing kindness and empathy. And, better still, it expertly dismantles sexist trope after sexist trope, too.
Everyone on Twitter has long been obsessed with this tense drama, all about a criminal mastermind’s plan to pull off the biggest heist in recorded history – and his eventual showdown with the police.
Boasting a whopping 93% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is it any wonder Money Heist was awarded an International Emmy Award?
Frequently branded “the best show ever,” Good Girls sees suburban moms Beth, Annie and Ruby become fed up with working for the man, playing by the rules and not getting the respect they deserve. In a bid to regain control of their lives, they band together to stage a heist at their local grocery store. However, it’s not long before they get pulled deeper into the world of crime… and find themselves way outta their depth.
All three seasons of the show are available to binge on Netflix now.
Based on Deborah Feldman’s memoir of the same name, the critically-acclaimed Unorthodox tells the story of young ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman Esther Shapiro (Shira Haas), who flees her arranged marriage that sours as she struggles to consummate the relationship and produce a baby.
In this prequel to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ratched – starring Sarah Paulson as the eponymous character – focuses on a guarded young nurse as she slowly makes her monstrous presence felt at a mental institution.
Set in the small mining town of La Belle, where nearly all of the town’s men have died in a mining accident, this feminist Western pits a town of women against a brutal, merciless outlaw gang. Look out for Downton Abbey‘s Michelle Dockery, who shines bright as an almost unrecognisable (and shotgun-wielding) pioneer woman who is entirely out of fucks to give.
Orange Is The New Black
The first-ever Netflix Original series, Orange Is The New Black is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison.
When They See Us
Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us dramatises the true story of the Central Park Five, five boys who were wrongfully convicted of rape and assault in 1990 and spent years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit as a result of police corruption and racism.
It’s the lavish Netflix Original that needs no introduction. For those who have somehow missed The Crown up until now, though, know this: it chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy/Olivia Colman) from the 1940s to modern times. And it is… well, it’s compelling, to say the least.
Dear White People
Based on the acclaimed film of the same name, this Netflix Original series follows a group of students of colour at Winchester University, a predominantly white Ivy League college.
Unbelievable is the powerful Netflix miniseries based on the true story of a serial rapist and one woman who was charged with falsely reporting her assault.
The Haunting Of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House was easily one of the most talked-about TV shows of 2018… and for good reason: it was bloody terrifying. Based on the novel of the same name, it jumps between past and present as the Crain family recalls one terrible summer that they spent in (you guessed it) the virulently haunted Hill House – and it’s not the sort of show you should watch alone.
Never Have I Ever
Beloved by many, including Stylist’s Helen Bownass, Never Have I Ever is Mindy Kaling’s tale of an Indian-American teen who just wants to spruce up her social status. Too bad, then, that her friends, family, and feelings won’t make it easy on her.
To quote Stylist’s Meena Alexander: “Sex Education crept onto our Netflix ‘Recommended’ bars with little fanfare at the beginning of last year, then suddenly it was all anyone could talk about. A refreshingly honest depiction of the messiness of growing up, we fell hard for tough girl Maeve, virgin-turned-sex-therapist Otis, and his scene-stealing best friend Eric… [and offered] a crash course in the trials of teenagehood.”
This breathtaking anthology series sees Detective Harry Ambrose investigate various atrocious murder cases and do his best to analyse the reasons behind ordinary people committing heinous crimes.
Dead To Me
Dead To Me, starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, is all about two women who grow close after meeting at a grief counselling session. Jen Harding’s husband had been killed in a hit-and-run, while Judy Hale was struggling to come to terms with the loss of her baby… or so we thought, anyway.
A word of warning: go in expecting both seasons of this deliciously dark comedy to end on the mother of all cliffhangers, folks.
When his cheating girlfriend leaves him, people-pleasing nice-guy Gus moves into a trendy apartment complex inhabited by lots of college students. A chance encounter introduces him to wild-child Mickey, also recently single, and who despises her job in radio. Though wildly different, the two are drawn to each other… and in the end, their differences may be what helps them figure out just what love is.
The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance
Just like the original Dark Crystal movie, this prequel series takes place on the planet of Thra, and tells the story of three Gelfling who discover the secret to the soul-sucking Skeksis’ power and set out on a journey to try and save their world.
Trust us, though: this show might involve Jim Henson’s puppets, but its dark themes make it far more suitable for adults than children…
Every single episode of Netflix’s Queer Eye is an utter delight. All you need do is settle down and watch the Fab Five (that’s Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness) turn people’s lives around and help them feel better, both on the inside and out. And, you know, make our hearts swell two sizes larger in the process, too.
One of the platform’s darkest and grittiest crime dramas, Ozark sees a financial advisor drag his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder money to appease a drug boss. As you do.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
At a glance, the critically-acclaimed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t sound like a recipe for happiness. Our eponymous heroine begins episode one in a doomsday bunker, after being kidnapped by a crazy pastor some 15 years ago. This show, though, focuses on her life after her time in the cult, as she reclaims her life by venturing to New York and moving into a flatshare with Titus Andromedas, a gay wannabe Broadway actor. Her wide-eyed enthusiasm as she gets to grips with everyday life? It’s a recipe for the ultimate feel-good show.
The Umbrella Academy
The Umbrella Academy tells the story of a group of ragtag misfits with superpowers, but not as you know it. Each of the outcasts was born on the same day 30 years ago – to mothers who were mysteriously not pregnant until that morning. When their special powers became evident, they were adopted by an enigmatic businessman named Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a man intent on crafting his own school for superheroes.
But now Hargreeves is dead and the kids are all grown up, facing their biggest threat yet: an evil mastermind who wants to bring about the end of the world as we know it. Of course.
Alias Grace is a six-hour miniseries based on Margaret Atwood’s 1996 historical novel of the same name. It tells the tale of Grace Marks, a poor Irish immigrant to Canada who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery. And, as gripping as it is terrifying, we have a feeling the show will definitely please fans of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Cheer, which focuses on the cheerleading squad at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, follows the team throughout their cheerleading season as they prepare for the national championships. With so much to lose, only one thing’s for certain: this team – and their coach Monica – does not play around when it comes to winning.
The Witcher, set in a universe of magic and monsters, offers everything you might expect from an inter-dimensional adventure epic where no expense has been spared. Namely, a stellar cast, a gripping story, incredible special effects, and well-curated sex scenes.
A riot of hot pink leotards and 80s nostalgia, GLOW documents struggling actress Ruth Wilder’s audition for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and the fictionalisation of the characters involved. An inspirational story of female empowerment.
The Get Down
Baz Luhrmann spent 12 years working on this high-energy, high-drama musical for 12 years, and it shows. Set in the late 70s, the series chronicles the inception of hip hop. It follows a wannabee DJ, Shaoline Fantastic, his wordsmith, Zeke, and his ambitious love interest, Marlene, as they try to overcome the tumultuous political climate in the Bronx to make it as music stars.
Seven Seconds, starring Emmy winner Regina King, focuses on the hit-and-run of a Black teenager from Jersey City by a white police officer, as well as the subsequent coverup, its aftermath, and the trial of the century.
You is all about bookshop employee Joe’s deadly obsession with drifting writer Guinevere ‘Beck’ Beck. And, despite hurling some pretty ridiculous storylines into the mix, the chilling series makes for addictive watching.
If you haven’t seen Stranger Things on Netflix, where have you been? The nostalgia-inducing 80s drama feels like the lovechild of Stephen King’s It and The Goonies: think heartwarming levels of camaraderie, missing kids, chilling monsters, and enough sci-fi twists to leave you on the edge of your seat.
On the surface, Squid Game – which has been viewed by a whopping 111 million accounts since debuting on Netflix in September – is all cutesy colourful fun, as 456 people come together to play traditional children’s games in order to win a huge cash prize. Much like the infamous Battle Royale, however, there’s a pretty major catch: to lose the game means… well, it means death, and a horribly violent death at that.
Who will win? Who will lose? And, if you can get past all of that shock value, gore and mayhem, it’s time to tackle the biggest question of all: what is the purpose of this twisted game?
This article was originally published in July 2020.
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.