One of the largest media companies in the world, Netflix has established its place as a superpower in the film industry. The company started releasing original content in 2013 and is now approaching 1,000 high-quality series and movies of their own. The streaming service spent approximately $13 billion on their original content last year and they are expected to spend even more this year (Variety). Instead of watching the over 90,000 minutes of Netflix originals yourself, we’ve compiled a list of a few that are absolutely worth the watch.
1. Stranger Things
Now on its third season, Stranger Things has become one of the most iconic series on Netflix. By combining the nostalgia of the 80’s and the excitement of a sci-fi thriller, the story appeals to audiences of all ages. The impressive cast brings a level of genuine urgency that can easily be lost in a highly unrealistic genre such as this. Using the kids as the protagonists and highlighting their relationships with their parents in the show makes the viewer feel more invested in their wellbeing. We highly recommend keeping up with Stranger Things and finding out more about what mysterious force has made this small town turn upside down.
2. Dead to Me
One of the most impressive qualities of Netflix originals is their uniqueness. Taking generic plots and twisting essential elements brings an exciting change of dynamic to almost all of their content. A prime example of this is Dead to Me. In this dark comedy, the viewer is under the impression that they know everything they need in order to form opinions about the situation and characters involved, however as the story develops, details are revealed and everything changes. The relationship between the two main characters is one of the main draws to this show. They are perfect foils for each other and the viewer wants them to work out so badly despite the extremely dark secret that is kept from most of the characters.
A more recent release from Netflix, Trinkets is about three unlikely high school friends who meet at a shoplifters anonymous meeting. The protagonists all come from very different groups and seem to have little in common which makes the way they connect much more interesting and genuine. Trinkets is another example of Netflix adding key elements (unparalleled cinematography, a relevant soundtrack, curated styling, shoplifting, thorough character development) to what would normally be just a regular high school drama. Incorporating family troubles, friend drama, and a few run ins with the law, this show delivers excitement from all angles.
4. Orange is the New Black
In 2013, Netflix released its first three original series. One of those was Orange is the New Black. Following a “normal” woman as she turns herself in for the crimes of her past, OITNB shows the struggle and camaraderie in Litchfield Penitentiary, a minimum security women’s federal prison in upstate New York. By showing the relationship between the prison guards and the inmates from the perspective of the incarcerated, the viewer becomes more receptive to the stories behind the crimes and the people who committed them. This six-season series is bound to have you locked in.
5. Black Mirror
What is a black mirror? Try looking at your phone screen when it’s off. Netflix is taking our modern world to an extreme and presenting the unexpected consequences of our actions. Each episode is a completely different story. However, the general theme revolves around the misuse of technology and what it is doing to our society not only today, but more importantly, in the future. With elements of a psychological thriller and science fiction, Black Mirror is mentally stimulating, visually beautiful, and infinitely captivating.
6. Bird Box
This film demonstrates Netflix’s inventive writing with elements of fear and mystery. Supported by a star-studded cast, Bird Box tells the story of an unknown force that wreaks havoc on the world’s population along with the unexpected relationships that are formed as a result. The way this show hides the “monster” keeps the viewer engaged and curious while simultaneously causing uneasiness about the unknown dangers faced by the characters. This feeling is accentuated by the fact that the destination at the end of the protagonist’s treacherous, blindfolded journey is anything but guaranteed to be safe.
7. Salt Fat Acid Heat
Extraordinary food from around the world captured in a stunning way. What more could you want? Based on her best-selling, James Beard Award-winning book, Salt Fat Acid Heat follows Chef Samin Nosrat as she travels to four locations around the world to learn more about each of the four elements she believes are essential for creating a delicious dish. Nosrat is a wonderful personality for this four-part documentary and brings such a bubbly energy to everyone she meets. Her passion for the art of food shines through in everything she says and makes the viewer excited to learn. This show is both visually exquisite and deeply interesting.
If you want to be absolutely fascinated by what seem to be the simplest of topics, this show is for you (aka everyone). This docu-series is in partnership between Netflix and Vox, one of the most comprehensive and beautifully communicated sources of modern journalism. Combining these creative forces results in purely excellent, informative media. Topics such as the water crisis, diets, monogamy, and music are dissected accurately and meticulously to reveal clear details that often change your perspective and make you question what you thought you knew. However, the small details of Explained are not to be overlooked. Down to the smallest sound effects that accompany the graphic animations, this show is stimulating not only to your brain but your senses as well.
Set in a time similar to the present, Maniac follows two medical trial participants looking to fix all of their mental health issues with a series of pills. Each of the pills transport the characters into a seemingly random world/identity and adventure always ensues. As are most Netflix originals, this show is shot beautifully. Each pill’s story brings a completely different cinematic feel and context which results in such a varied manner of conveying themes. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill deliver captivating performances and embody such an impressive range of characters.
10. Homecoming: A film by Beyoncé
This documentary is something so special. It’s not just a concert video and it’s not just a documentary about the process. It’s both and more. First and foremost, the concert visuals are breathtaking and her performance is beyond description. However, there are a few other factors that make this film so dazzling. The production quality of the performance is as good as it gets. Every stomp and clap from the stage that could be easily lost is tastefully present and adds the sensation of actually being at Coachella. Between periods of performance, the viewer gets an inside look at Bey’s rehearsal process and how she reached this level of physical ability after her pregnancy with twins. The historical significance and personal context of the performance are conveyed with beautiful voice-overs by Beyoncé herself and no detail is overlooked. Leave it to the queen.