Netflix is piling most of its money into producing original content—but that doesn’t mean viewers are actually watching it. The majority of streamed content still consists of licensed non-original content, meaning users are binge-watching the classics.
This is rather unfortunate, because Netflix produces some amazing original shows. Perhaps there are now so many of them that you simply don’t know where to begin? Or perhaps there just isn’t enough time in the day to try out a show you’re not sure you’re going to enjoy.
Either way, we have a solution for you. Here’s what you need to know to find Netflix Original series that will match your tastes and that you’ll actually enjoy watching.
If You Like… Award-Winning TV
Let’s start with the acclaimed series. That’s not to say the rest of Netflix’s catalog isn’t great; merely that these shows have charmed critics and grabbed the awards.
You’ll certainly have heard of Stranger Things, a supernatural homage to 1980s pop culture. It begins with a group of kids searching for their missing friend, aided by Eleven, a girl with pyrokinetic powers. Its award nominations are far too numerous to list here, but suffice to say, it’s one of the most popular Netflix Originals.
Another runaway hit, Orange is the New Black sees wealthy businesswoman, Piper Chapman, sent to prison for drug-smuggling. While it’s a funny series, it also has a lot of serious things to say about the penal system.
If You Like… Comedies
Looking to Netflix and chill? Few things help you settle down with your significant other better than a good sitcom.
There are series to cater for everyone, including Americans who like British humor. If you love your comedy vibrant and nostalgic, GLOW (“Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”) is ideal for you. If you prefer something sharp and gag-filled, try the madcap The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Or if you’re looking for something darker and more tongue-in-cheek, A Series of Unfortunate Events is perfect. In this context, “more tongue-in-cheek” means “includes a subtitled baby with wisdom far beyond her years and a penchant for biting things.”
If You Like… Superheroes
Comic fans are a dedicated bunch, so if you subscribe to Netflix just for its Marvel exclusives, you’ve probably binged them already.
Binging isn’t always a positive thing, but we can’t blame you for ploughing through Daredevil in particular. Focussing on the blind superhero of Hell’s Kitchen, this is the first Marvel show made for Netflix. After this, carry on with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and (unless you’re squeamish) The Punisher.
Here’s our ranking of the Netflix Marvel shows to help you decide which to watch first.
If You Like… Sci-Fi
Science Fiction remains an immensely popular genre—in film, in TV, and in print. So it should come as no surprise that there’s a vast array of sci-fi on Netflix.
The remake of Lost in Space is surprisingly good. Altered Carbon, based on the cyberpunk novel of the same name, will stay with you long after the credits roll. And when you’ve seen The Rain, you’ll want to check your windows are shut tightly.
If You Like… Anthologies
Anthology titles showcase the sheer ingenuity of the television industry. If you used to love The Twilight Zone, its spiritual successor can arguably be found on Netflix.
This is Black Mirror, created by Charlie Brooker and starring a host of big names like Bryce Dallas Howard, Letitia Wright, and Benedict Wong. Its first two seasons debuted on UK TV, but it was subsequently picked up by Netflix. And man, are we glad!
The series features plenty of dark humor, but you might alternatively like Easy, a rom-com which has attracted actors like Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Orlando Bloom, and Emily Ratajkowski.
If You Like… Gritty Dramas
Netflix gives a home to quite a few mad conceits, like Twin Peaks, which has a big cult following. Fans of Twin Peaks should enjoy Hemlock Grove. This horror/mystery tale concerns the murder of two girls in the titular town. The main suspect is a boy who might just be a werewolf.
However, if you prefer something more realistic, try the acclaimed 13 Reasons Why. This unravels the events leading up to the suicide of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), raising awareness of mental health issues and proving to be one of the best Netflix Originals of 2017.
If You Like… Political Dramas
As good as House of Cards is, the series is now wrapping up. Fortunately, there’s an ideal political thriller waiting in the wings.
Keifer Sutherland plays Thomas Kirkman, the titular Designated Survivor who becomes President after everyone in the line of succession before him is killed in an explosion. He must get to grips with a job he’s not experienced enough to do. while investigating the circumstances that led to his ascension.
Netflix streams this internationally, and could be its future after ABC cancelled it in the US. Fingers crossed—because Season 2 ends on a cliffhanger.
If You Like… Historical Dramas
They say you should always learn from the past, so why not delve into the superb historical dramas that lurk on Netflix? The two prime candidates are poles apart: one is largely overlooked and the other proved an international hit.
The former is Marco Polo, which didn’t do very well despite the money Netflix spent on it. The problem may be that it’s a slow burner, which means you have to make it past the first couple of episodes before you get hooked.
Then there’s The Crown, reportedly Netflix’s most expensive series. And it’s all on the screen: the cinematography is gorgeous, the writing incredibly sharp, and the cast—including Claire Foy (Breathe), and Matt Smith (Doctor Who)—is outstanding.
If You Like… Kids’ TV
While many of the above series are appropriate for children, they might not keep them fully entertained. Netflix is there for you, whether you need something to occupy your kids, or want something to watch with them.
Turbo FAST was the first Netflix original for children, and picks up after the DreamWorks animation, Turbo. This revolves around the quaint idea of a snail gaining superspeed. You’d be surprised at how well this seemingly-small notion plays out across 52 episodes.
And Mark Hamill is the voice of Breakneck, which is awesome. Speaking of which, Star Wars enthusiasts need to check out the long-running Clone Wars.
Alternatively, if you’re trying to limit the amount of time your child plays video games, Skylanders Academy is a solid choice. It’ll only become more popular when its main protagonist, Spyro the Dragon, is revitalised in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
If You Like… Documentaries
Big kids should definitely check out The Toys That Made Us, a documentary series which recounts the histories of popular franchises. It began with Star Wars, a “small” brand rejected by Hasbro and Mattel but picked up by Kenner Products.
Subsequent episodes have focused on Star Trek, LEGO, and He-Man. This is a real hidden gem.
But if you’d like something darker, try Making a Murderer. It was filmed over a whole decade and tells the true story of Steven Avery, wrongly convicted for 18 years before being exonerated in 2003 based on DNA evidence. It’s an eye-opening experience.
Make Netflix Worthwhile With More Original Content
The price of Netflix may have increased, but Netflix is still worth it. And the company is so intent on creating exclusive series and movies that Netflix has shrunk its catalog considerably over the past few years.
Fortunately, it’s still packed with wonderful content, so you should be able to find Netflix movies you’ll love.