By: Dani Kessel
Netflix went from an early noughties DVD rental company akin to Blockbuster to a streaming website that produces its own television shows and films. While the first Netflix Originals weren’t that impressive, the company has established its shows as well-developed and entertaining. They create characters and take on plots that cable channels don’t have the freedom to pursue. Because of this, many of their shows push the envelope in all the right ways.
I decided to narrow them down and share just my favorite Netflix Originals.
(No, Stranger Things isn’t on this list. I don’t like the show. That’s just my opinion though. It’s just not for me. If you like it, great! Don’t @ me.)
This NSFW show is comprised of micro-episodes which explore the lives/careers of Tiff, a psychology grad student who moonlights as a dominatrix, and her old friend Pete, a gay comedian who takes on a job as Tiff’s assistant because he needs money. The dark comedy plots introduce viewers to the world of BDSM. Due to the short episodes and its status as a limited series, you can quickly get through the whole thing.
This show deserved so much more than the one season it received. Still, it’s on the top of my list for enjoyable Netflix Originals. The show has Freaks and Geeks vibes throughout. It follows Kate Messner as she navigates her mental health and sexuality in the mid-90s. As a queer adult watching this, I teared up. I remember what it felt like to be a lonely kid having to hide my sexuality because it would be viewed as unacceptable. Everything Sucks! Allows young outcasts to see themselves on screen, and that could make a huge difference in their lives.
Dear White People
If you’re looking for a funny and no holds barred series, this one is phenomenal. I love the acting, storylines, and relevance to today’s world. The show follows Black students at a predominantly white Ivy League school as they navigate college life and race relations at the institution. The show gets its name from a radio show that Sam, a social activist and student, puts on at the university. I adore this show. I care very much about being anti-racist, and this show brings my attention to ways that I can be a better ally to the Black community.
I Am Not Okay With This
Based on a one-off graphic novel, Sophia Lillis leads this show which simultaneously balances a coming of age story and a paranormal origin story in such a harmonious way. Syd’s struggles with her sexuality, family traumas, and school manifest into new telekinesis (connected to her emotions) that she can’t control. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the already-renewed season 2 was canceled. Even with the major cliffhanger at the end, I Am Not Okay With This is absolutely worth watching.
Never Have I Ever
A teen rom-com for the newer generation–the show explores the experiences of disability, race, existing between two cultures, and high school romance in the 21st century. Devi, a first-generation Indian-American, falls for Paxton, the popular boy with much more to him than meets the eye. After a horrible freshman year of high school, Devi devotes herself to taking chances and experiencing “normal” teenage things. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan shines as the heroine of this amazing show. I still say that she should have received an Emmy nomination for her acting here!
This musical drama tells interconnected love stories of people living in L.A. (in the same vein as the Love, Actually and Valentine’s Day movies). The characters frequently burst into song and dance as they attempt to navigate life’s messy, painful moments. The actors are pretty good at lip-syncing too! Most of the characters are overdramatic with loads of baggage. Though the show can sometimes be clumsy, it brings a smile to my face. It appeals to dreamers and musical theatre lovers alike.
Okay, this suspense show follows an obsessive stalker/serial killer. If that’s not your forte, you probably won’t like this show. Still, I enjoy it. Penn Badgley does an amazing job acting as Joe, part-time bookstore clerk and part-time dangerous and manipulative lover. (Honestly, I don’t know if I can even call him a lover though since I don’t classify romantic obsession as love.) While Joe may tell himself he is well-intentioned, he has serious problems. I do enjoy the way they show him unravel further and further though.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
After the horrendous film, I was extremely nervous to watch this Netflix adaptation. Mind you, I haven’t read the books; my judgment of the movie was purely based on it being a bad movie. But, the show is awesome. It really establishes how terrifying and completely evil Count Olaf is. Also, the whimsical imagery and setting throughout the seasons enhance the watching experience. The length of the episodes also makes them great for watching one at a time or bingeing a few at a time. All around, the show entertained.
There you go! My favorites!
Many of these Netflix Originals have kept me entertained throughout quarantine. While many of them are only one season, they each bring a unique perspective and developed characters to the table. I hope you take the chance on them. Let me know what your favorite Netflix Originals are in the comments below. I’m always looking for more shows to add to my Watchlist.