The Best Netflix Original Series Available Right Now

By Brent McKnight | 4 days ago

When it started, Netflix was that company that sent you DVDs in those recognizable red envelopes. Then they transitioned to streaming, which was even more convenient for everyone. Eventually they started producing their own original content and now it’s hard to imagine a world where we’re not buried under a constant avalanche of Netflix Originals.

Seriously, there’s so much it’s overwhelming and feels impossible to keep up sometimes. With that in mind, we thought we’d go ahead and list the best Netflix Original Series. This in itself is an unwieldy proposition, so we have some boundaries to keep things from spiraling out of control.

First, to keep things from being totally subjective, we based this list on the aggregate score from Rotten Tomatoes, the popular site that collects and tabulates the critical response to movies and series. We also only included true Netflix Originals. They often pick up series that originate elsewhere and slap their logo on them. This happens often with international content. Finally, we’re keeping things purely fictional. Netflix has tons of fantastic non-fiction programing, like Wild Wild Country and the 100% fresh Ugly Delicious, but if we try to include everything, it starts to get unwieldy again.

Scene from Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman

  • 93 % Positive Reviews From Critics

Who says cartoons are just for kids? Bojack Horseman certainly is not. In fact, the animated series hits on poignant bits of ennui and desperation that are anything but childish. Will Arnett voices the title character, a sitcom star from the 1990s who has never been able to regain his former glory, fallen on hard times, and plunged head-first into a bottle. Heartbreaking and hilarious, Bojack is relatable, empathetic, and hits uncomfortably close to home for many, many folks.


Netflix Original GLOW

GLOW

  • 93% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on the 1980s phenomenon, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, GLOW follows a crew of female wrestlers fronted by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin as they attempt to stage a show, navigate the entertainment industry and interpersonal drama, and, you know, figure out how to wrestle. Framed as a sitcom, the series is funny as all hell, but also captures bittersweet friendships, the ups and downs of relationships, both romantic and platonic, and the struggles inherent in chasing a dream, compromising your vision, and altering your perspective.


Horror series poster

The Haunting of Hill House

  • 93% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name, Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House is a horror juggernaut. The story follows the Crain family, flashing back and forth between the early 1990s and the present day, revisiting a collective trauma and observing how that trauma impacted the various family members and lingers throughout the years. Remarkably edited and meticulous in construction, the result is harrowing and spooky and just emotionally devastating in equal measures. Though originally framed as a limited series, it will be back for season two with a take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.


Netflix Original Series Stranger Things

Stranger Things

  • 93% Positive Reviews From Critics

Perhaps the biggest pop culture phenomenon Netflix has produced yet, Stranger Things traffics hard in nostalgia. Saturated with nods and references to movies, comics, games, and more, this love letter to the 1980s transcends those trappings. The story of a group of friends, it captures the feeling of being of being an outsider or a weirdo in a small town. All Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin want to do is hang out, watch movies, and play Dungeons and Dragons. When they encounter Eleven, a young girl with supernatural powers, and Will is kidnapped to another dimension, they’re forced to fight for their friend, their town, and so much more. The result is a gleeful ‘80s horror mashup.


Love as an Original Series

Love

  • 94% Positive Reviews From Critics

Mismatched personalities are a staple of the romantic comedy genre, and such is the case for Love. When awkward nice guy Gus (Paul Rust) meets the outgoing free-spirit Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), the resulting relationship bounces up and down as the two navigate the perks and pitfalls of modern romance. Equal parts laughs, cringe-worthy moments that are often a bit too real, and heartfelt earnestness, it makes sense that Judd Apatow created the series, along with Rust, as it features many of the hallmarks of his most notable films.


Dear White People on Netflix

Dear White People

  • 96% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on Justin Simein’s 2014 film of the same name, Dear White People follows a group of African American students as they navigate through life at a predominately white Ivy League college. The series offers humorous and poignant looks at race relations, bubbling tensions, social justice, political correctness, activism, and more in the current climax. It’s sharp-witted, satirical, and often incredibly harsh as it looks at modern American society.


Lemony Snicket series poster

A Series of Unfortunate Events

  • 96% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on the best-selling children’s books by Lemony Snicket (the pen name of novelist Daniel Handler), A Series of Unfortunate Events tracks the misadventures of the Baudelaire children. After the death of their parents, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny bounce between foster homes, pursued the whole time by the nefarious Count Olaf. Along the way they discover mysteries about their family, have adventures, come of age, and bond as siblings. Gothic and moody, the series is weird and hilarious and contains a gleefully unhinged performance from Neil Patrick Harris under heavy prosthetics. It’s definitely a spectacle.


Netflix Original Series Special

Special

  • 96% Positive Reviews From Critics

Created by, starring, and based on Ryan O’Connell’s own book, I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, Special adapts O’Connell’s own life growing up gay, with cerebral palsy, and deeply millennial. Snarky and sarcastic, the series both offers a unique perspective as well as relatable tales of a young man trying to find his way in the world and define who he is on his own terms. It offers much-needed on-screen representation of and insight into a too-often marginalized group, genuine warmth and heart, and, most important for a comedy series, genuine laughs.


Netflix Original based on the Central Park Five

When They See Us

  • 96% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on the case of the Central Park Five—a case where five young African American men were wrongly accused of the brutal rape and assault of a jogger—Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us is a harrowing, poignant look at race, the legal system, and disenfranchisement. Powerful and significant, it never bogs down under the weight of the subject, themes, or source material. DuVernay directs all four episodes with a strong hand, and with cinematography by Bradford Young, it both captures a specific period in time and remains pressing in the modern day.


Maria Bamford in Lady Dynamite

Lady Dynamite

  • 97% Positive Reviews From Critics

There’s nothing quite a hilarious as a mental breakdown, right? Okay, mental health is usually no laughing matter, but it plays a central role in Netflix’s Lady Dynamite. Comedian Maria Bamford plays a lightly fictionalized version of herself, moving back to Los Angeles after time away dealing with bipolar disorder and learning to cope with her new normal. Running for two seasons, the episodes are meta and surreal, and funny and moving in equal measure.


Netflix Serial Killer Series

Mindhunter

  • 97% Positive Reviews From Critics

The kids sure do love serial killers. And nowhere are there quite as many as on Mindhunter. The David Fincher-produced series (he also directed a number of episodes) follows FBI Agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) as they interview notorious murderers to see what makes them tick. Based on real events and real history, the series tracks early attempts by law enforcement to profile killers and use their findings to solve open cases. Tense and pressure filled, it’s a show where two men sitting in a room calmly talking is beyond harrowing.


Original Series On my Block

On My Block

  • 97% Positive Reviews From Critics

Kids in the suburbs aren’t the only ones who come of age, have awkward teenage years, and experience the joys and pains of growing up. On My Block follows the lives and adventures of four friends as they navigate life, love, and all the rest in a rough, inner city high school. Two seasons deep, with a third on the way, the series is funny and touching and thrives on the chemistry of it young leads.

Russian Doll on Netflix

Russian Doll

  • 97% Positive Reviews From Critics

The Groundhog Day, one-day-repeating-on-a-loop conceit has been used many times and in many ways. But rarely has it been as effective and awesome as with Russian Doll. Following Natasha Lyonne’s software designer, Nadia, as she finds herself stuck in a repeating, inescapable birthday party, a brisk pace carries the series through radically shifting moods. By turns funny and heartfelt and sad, it balances various tone and wildly inventive execution. This is easily one of the most bingeable shows Netflix has produced yet.


Netflix Original Unbelievable

Unbelievable

  • 97% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning article and dramatizing a series of rapes that occurred in Washington and Colorado, Unbelievable is not a light or easy watch. But focusing on the survivors and their stories, it puts a human face on the true-crime formula. It’s heavy and heartbreaking, but also powerful and moving, aided by a trio of top-tier performances from Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as police detectives, and Kaitlyn Dever as an abuse survivor. Not the fluffiest binge to be sure, it’s absolutely worth the investment despite the emotional toll.


Kimmy Schmidt in her series

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

  • 97% Positive Reviews From Critics

The story of a woman adjusting to the outside world after being held captive in a bunker by a doomsday-obsessed preacher doesn’t automatically sound super funny, but then you run across Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The sitcom is hilarious and strange and off the wall, and it also happens to be the saga of a woman dealing with deep trauma. Along the road, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) assembles a collection of weirdos, oddballs, and outcasts, and at the same time the series is utterly ridiculous, it also contains a core of absolute earnestness, heartfelt friendship, and positivity in the face of overwhelming opposition.


Netflix Original Series American Vandal

American Vandal

  • 98% Positive Reviews From Critics

In two seasons, American Vandal asks the big questions, who drew the dicks and who is the Turd Burglar? Lampooning the likes of Serial and Netflix’s own Making a Murderer, the faux true crime series follows two high school documentarians as they dig into a case where someone spray painted penises on cars at their school and another where a mysterious party cause another school to poop its collective pants. As inherently ridiculous as the premise is, the series plays the concept absolutely straight, perfectly mimicking the inspirations, which makes it all the more hilarious and effective. Cancelled after two seasons, it’s still two of the funniest seasons of TV you’ll hope to find.


One Day at a Time Netflix remake

One Day at a Time

  • 98% Positive Reviews From Critics

Based on Norman Lear’s 1970s sitcom of the same name, One Day at a Time reimagines the series, following a working class Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles. While the show tackles various hot-button issues, including racism, immigration, sexism, mental illness, and more, it does so with humor and heart. At its core, it’s about a family trying their best to navigate life in all its complexities. It’s fun and funny, and heartwarming and sincere all at the same time. And don’t worry, this version also has its own Schneider.


Scene from Tuca & Bertie

Tuca & Bertie

  • 98% Positive Reviews From Critics

Cancelled barely three months after it debuted, Netflix’s Tuca & Bertie left an impression nonetheless. The animated series follows a pair of 30-something female birds—voiced by Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong—who live in the same apartment building. One is carefree and impulsive, while the other is uptight and anxious. Outrageous and over the top, as one might expect with these leads, the show delves into the trials and tribulations of friendship and the pressure and anxiety of trying to be an adult. It also arrives with a big-name voice cast of recurring characters and guest appearances.


Big Mouth a Netflix Original Series

Big Mouth

  • 100% Positive Reviews From Critics

Another Netflix animated series with near universal acclaim, Big Mouth may revolve around children, but it’s certainly not for kids. At least not exclusively. Featuring a literal hormone monster, the series tracks a group of near-adolescent seventh graders voiced by the likes of Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, and Jason Mantzoukas, among many others. As puberty hits them, hard, they deal with raging hormones, changing bodies, wet dreams, menstruation, sexual awaking, and a period of life where “everything is embarrassing.” It’s coming of age with a foul mouth and an empathetic heart.


Aziz Ansari in Master of None

Master of None

  • 100% Positive Reviews From Critics

Many people feel adrift, especially of a certain age where you’re no longer a child but hardly feel like a real adult. Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, Master of None follows one such individual, Dev (Ansari), as he navigates his romantic, social, and professional life. Framed as a rom-com, it offers a unique, relatable perspective that’s by turns funny, cringe-inducing, and all too relatable. Nothing we see is particularly high stakes, lives don’t generally hang in the balance, but it hits close to home with the anxieties and concerns of day to day existence in the modern world.


netflix original MST3K

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

  • 100% Positive Reviews From Critics

Long after its demise, Netflix revived fan-favorite comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000. The original run was never a ratings dynamo, but it developed a rabid cult following. The revival didn’t tweak the formula much—it remained a guy and his robot pals poking fun at and riffing on B-movies of all stripes—though it did bring in some new participants, like Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day. Snarky and sarcastic, the return offered what fans loved about the show along with enough updates to keep it fresh. Netflix recently cancelled MST3K, but creator Joel Hodgson has said he hopes to find another outlet soon. (And yes, we know this didn’t originate on Netflix, we just really like MST3K.)


Netflix is loaded with great content, but the streaming competition is heating up. Streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple Plus and Disney Plus are getting in the originals game too. Find out how Netflix Original Series stack up to Disney Plus originals with our guide to The Best Shows On Disney Plus Right Now.

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