There have been so many great original series on Netflix, from “House of Cards” to “Stranger Things”. Thrillist went and ranked every Netflix original series, except for kids shows, and I love it (except for “Master of None”).
5. DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
Writer-director Justin Simien stretched his own feature debut and Sundance breakout, Dear White People, into a 10-episode Netflix series, and the result is even more cunning, tense, and consistently hysterical than the original. Race relations on the campus of Winchester University are boiling after a group of white students throw a blackface party, and each member of the black student union reacts in his or her own fashion. Dear White People weaves through the perspectives of class leaders, local rebels, the college newspaper reporter, and Sam, host of the provocative “Dear White People” radio show (who also happens to have a white boyfriend). Familiar college-age behavior breathes life into the political and social questions, and Simien raises the stakes to heart-pounding intensity in the fifth episode, just when you wonder what else it can say. Dear White People is the most human show on Netflix, period.
4. UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
A castaway from NBC’s primetime line-up, creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s 30 Rock follow-up found life in the early days of Netflix original programming, and became a gut-busting beacon of hope for the platform. If 30 Rock was the sitcom tradition done to perfection, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the Elon Musk approach to comedy hijinks. The idea of throwing together a childlike kidnapping survivor, a gay black man with the voice of angels, a conspiracy-theorizing old lady, and an upper-crust divorcee is an even bigger risk when there’s room left to explore the tragic side of the situation. But the keys are star Ellie Kemper, delivering amped-on-Pixie-Sticks-level commitment, and Tituss Burgess, who gives the show a song-filled backbone (from “Pinot Noir” to “Boobs in California”). Even if Season 3 stumbles, it’s still a joy to see just what Fey and Carlock cook up with the freedom of Netflix.
3. BOJACK HORSEMAN
When you write it, it sounds strange: A cartoon about a talking horse is one of the funniest and most accurate representations of depression on TV today. But it’s true. As you join the title character, voiced by Will Arnett, on his quest for Hollywood redemption, you’ll encounter killer visual gags, whip-smart dialogue, complex-as-hell characters, and genuine feels — the kinds that’ll make you evaluate (and re-evaluate, and re-re-evaluate) your own life. We can’t recommend BoJack enough.
2. MASTER OF NONE
Master of None is the platonic ideal of a Netflix series: It’s about the anxiety of unlimited choice, that slow drip of dread that starts every time you fire up your Roku or Apple TV or whatever device you use to fill the void of emptiness left by modern life. Sounds funny, right? Thankfully, the show, which was co-created by comedian Aziz Ansari and former Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang, is able to find laughs in seemingly mundane topics, like the difficulty of online dating and the hunt for the perfect plate of pasta. Taking inspiration from Louis CK’s FX comedy Louie, Ansari has made a show that’s formally nimble enough to make room for poignant digressions like the Season 1’s “Parents” and Season 2’s “Thanksgiving,” but still grounded in a specific comedic tone. Even if the romantic arc of the second season, which found Ansari pursuing his engaged Italian friend Francesca, felt a little undercooked, this show remains Netflix’s most consistently pleasing dish.
David Fincher loves serial killers. The director of Seven, Zodiac, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo launched Netflix into the world of original television when he applied his dark, brooding aesthetic to a different kind of sociopath: obscenely ambitious politician Francis Underwood, focal point of House of Cards. But where House of Cards feels a bit like a desperate child crying out for attention — “Look at me!” — Mindhunter arrives fully mature, concerned more with exploring the depths of headlines already written than creating new ones. The show follows a young, self-assured FBI agent, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff); his mentor, Bill Tench (Holt McCallany); and psychologist-turned-consultant Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) as they establish a division of the Bureau tasked with solving a “new kind of crime” that lacks what most law enforcers think of as rational motives. In short, they’re inventing what will become the famous “FBI profiler” department, responsible for ferreting out criminal sociopaths, but Mindhunter‘s success arises from its ability to generate what serial killers lack: empathy and nuance. You feel not only for the agents and their decidedly second-priority romantic partners, but also for the killers, some of whom possess knife-edge intelligence and a caustic self-awareness, while others inspire near-instant revulsion. Add in the time-tested conventions of true crime mysteries, plus a steadfast unwillingness to write another FBI hagiography, and Mindhunter is highly bingeable, yet offers a depth that rewards slow-burn viewing.
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