You may not be a subscriber or even a fan, but one thing we can all agree on is that Netflix is a pioneer in its field, whether with its bought or original content.
Of course, the streaming world is much richer now, but back in 2013, when the first Netflix original series, House of Cards, came out, Netflix barely had any competitors. Throughout its run, every time it seems like Netflix might be getting eclipsed by another service, it comes out with yet another original program or show that explodes and breaks the internet. No matter what your favourite top 5 series are, the odds are there is at least one Netflix original series among them. Be it Squid games, Bojack Horseman, or Stranger Things, the list of record-breaking names goes on and on.
On the off chance that you don’t already have a favourite Netflix original series and don’t know where to start, we have put together for you a list of 9 Netflix original series that are not only binge-worthy but also a must-watch.
1. Stranger Things
Whether you’ve watched it or not, the Netflix original series Stranger Things has undoubtedly made enough buzz in its four-year run, earning a place on everyone’s must-watch list, as well as our list of most binge-worthy Netflix shows.
Created by the Duffer Brothers, this science fiction horror drama is set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The show starts with a group of adventure-seeking pre-teen boys who throw caution to the wind in the search for their missing friend, Will. Along their journey, they are met with more hefty adventures than they set out to face.
The real fun and horror simultaneously start when the boys meet Eleven, the 10-year-old telekinetic superheroine who helps them find their friend in an alternate dimension parallel to the human world, aka the Upside Down. The adventures and fights continue throughout the four jaw-droppingly eventful seasons, where we get to witness the characters develop more intricate and complicated traits as well as relationships with each other. How will season 5 (the final season) manage to bring this roller coaster ride of a show to a close? That is what we’ll have to (impatiently) wait to find out.
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Mystery, and Drama
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, and Joe Keery.
IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
2. BoJack Horseman
Although animated, BoJack Horseman is one of the most powerful shows on Netflix and elsewhere, shedding light on important issues such as depression, addiction, and self-worth.
Primarily set in Hollywood, California, this American black comedy-drama revolves around the washed-up 90s hit sitcom star, BoJack Horseman, who has now lost all his fame and glory and is struggling with obtaining his own self-worth minus the celebrity status, so he falls into a deep depression and turns to alcohol for relief.
Although the storyline of the show handles deep subjects, it still manages to be one of the funniest shows on the internet. Somehow, over its six seasons, BoJack Horseman could bring out loads of laughs, then follow them with gut-wrenching tears. More amazingly, this Netflix original series managed to stick the landing and go out blazing with a heartbreaking final season that brings the story to a natural yet emotionally charged ending.
Genre: Adult animation, Drama, Black comedy, and Surreal humour.
Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Starring: Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aron Paul, and Amy Sedaris.
IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
3. Squid Game
Once a decade, a TV series or a movie comes along and makes an impact so big and geographically boundless that it becomes more of a cultural phenomenon than mere entertainment. The South Korean Netflix original series Squid Game did just that when it was released in 2021, breaking Netflix streaming records and becoming the most-watched show in the platform’s history.
The show revolves around a contest in which financially desperate and indebted individuals – 456 to be exact- are made to take part in a series of traditional children’s games to compete for a huge cash prize. Seems harmless enough, right? We discover that all is not as it seems when we discover that there can only be one winner, and the rest of the players (who ultimately lose) are killed one by one – rather violently – over the course of the game.
Although the series can be quite gruesome – to say the least – somehow, this Netflix original series hooked millions worldwide to binge all ten episodes of its first season in just a few days. Will its second season live up to the impossible expectations most people are placing on it? We are all eager to find out.
Running: 2021- Present
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Horror, Mystery and Action
Created by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Starring: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, HoYeon Jung, O Yeong-su, and Heo Sung-tae.
IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
4. When They See Us
There is no story more powerful than a true story. That’s why this 4-episode miniseries made such a strong impact which lasted much longer than it took to stream the show itself.
The biographic Netflix original series is based on the 1989 Central Park jogger case of the five young men of colour from Harlem, New York, who were falsely accused and convicted of violently sexually assaulting a 28-year-old female jogger leaving her for dead in Central Park. The show sheds an eye-opening light on how the media, as well as the authorities (especially the cops), were to blame for wrongfully convicting those young men and wasting years of their lives until the truth was finally revealed in a shocking conclusion.
Throughout the four-part dramatization of this already devastating story, we are faced with the prejudice and injustices those five young men had to face, especially Korey Wise (played by Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome), who was the only one sentenced as an adult.
Genre: Biography, Drama, True Crime, and Tragedy.
Created by: Ava DuVernay
Starring: Jharrel Jerome, Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Michael Kenneth Williams, Marquis Rodriguez, Felicity Huffman, John Leguizamo, and Vera Farmiga.
IMDB Rating: 8.9/10
5. Russian Doll
Although the concept may be a little familiar, the way Natasha Lyonne’s dramedy approached it gave it a unique and fresh look that earned the first season four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, as well as a place among Netflix’s most streamed and highest-rated series.
Russian Doll’s first season, which aired in February 2019, is centred around a game developer named Nadia Vulvokov, who is stuck in an ongoing time loop, forced to relive her 36th birthday and repeatedly die, only to be reborn and do it over and over again. While trying to figure out her situation and ultimately break this endless time loop, Nadia discovers that she is not the only one going through this.
The show’s second season aired on April 2022 and was not as well received as the first. However, the exciting performance of Natasha Lyonne, Elizabeth Ashley, and Chole Sevigny, as well as the rest of the ensemble cast, along with its still intriguing plot, made for yet another delightful season of television drama. Will Netflix go for a third one? That is still undetermined.
Genre: Drama, Comedy, and Mystery.
Created by: Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler.
Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Barnett, Greta Lee, Annie Murphy, Yul Vazquez, Elizabeth Ashley, and Chloë Sevigny.
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
6. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
You might be a bit thrown off when you see that a sitcom made it among these serious and heavy series. However, this Tine Fey creation is no mere sitcom, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt received a total of twenty Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including four nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. That is in addition to the rave reviews it received from both viewers and critics; critic Scott Meslow even called it “the first great sitcom of the streaming era”.
This Netflix original series is centred around a 29-year-old young woman named Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), who was rescued from a doomsday cult’s underground bunker in the fictional town of Durnsvilla, Indiana, where she was held for 15 years. The show follows Shmidt as she tries to adjust to life after captivity and make sense of the world and society she has been away from for over a decade. Over the course of four seasons, the chipper-as-ever Kimmy Shmidt takes us along for the persevering and oh-so-exciting journey of her living her adult life with the innocence of a child.
Created by: Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
Starring: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, and Jane Krakowski.
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
7. Dear White People
Based on the 2014 film of the same name, this Netflix original series revolves around a group of African American college students at a fictional predominantly white Ivy League School named Winchester University.
Over the course of four seasons, the show presents us with a closer look at each character’s story and experience at the school while progressively touching on common issues surrounding modern race relations in America. The show may seem a bit too bold for some, and might even be problematic, but those who gave it a fair shot and watched it with an objective view agreed that it presented some relevant issues to today’s world that are worth talking, and even arguing, about.
Genre: Comedy, Drama.
Created by: Justin Simien.
Starring: Logan Browning, Brandon Bell, Deron Horton, Antoinette Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins, and Marque Richardson.
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10
8. 13 Reasons Why
This vastly popular teen drama is quite different from other shows in its category. The issues it approaches and stories it sheds light on are somewhat controversial and are not exactly a common topic of conversation in the entertainment industry, especially on a show performed by and intended for teens.
The Netflix original series is based on the 2007 Jay Asher novel Thirteen Reasons Why, centering around the suicide of high school student Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford). We witness the aftermath of her death and its effect on her school and classmates, especially Clay Jensen (played by Dylan Minnette) who gets a hold of the 13 cassette tapes she left behind detailing the reasons why she chose to take her own life as well as a list of the people she believes pushed her over the edge.
As previously mentioned, the show is extremely controversial; some might even say graphic. Season two, in particular, is believed to be the darkest, as each episode begins with a warning video. So viewer discretion is highly advised.
Genre: Teen Drama, Mystery, and Thriller.
Created by: Brian Yorkey.
Starring: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Alisha Boe, Christian Navarro, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Ross Butler, and Devin Druid.
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10
Now that you know our favourite Netflix original series, it is your turn to share yours with us. You may have a hidden favourite that we don’t even know, so don’t hesitate to give us your list of recommended binge-worthy Netflix original series, and we’ll be sure to give it a watch!