Netflix may have started out with just a handful of their own original programming, and while viewers may have been hesitant at first, the streaming network now has a dedicated fanbase for their own unique line of programming that ranges from intense Marvel shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and the upcoming Punisher series, to the 80’s style horror series Stranger Things that has its own cult following now. Here are a few of the Netflix shows that we have loved the most this year.
Comedian Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite is not only legitimately hilarious, but it’s unlike any other show on TV right now. With her fourth-wall breaks, open acknowledgments that “this is a TV show,” and the way she addresses mental illness (Bamford struggles with OCD and bipolar disorder in real life), it’s an underrated triumph. As if all that wasn’t enough, there are also TONS of memorable cameos from beloved comedians like Patton Oswalt, Ana Gasteyer, Jenny Slate, Judd Apatow, and Sarah Silverman.
Now that Downton Abbey has bid us adieu, Netflix’s grandiose aristocracy series The Crown is a more than suitable replacement. Although few things in this world can measure up to Lady Violet’s sass, each episode of this show documenting a young Queen Elizabeth II’s rise to power and the early days of her marriage to Prince Philip is more lavish than the next. It moves a little slow, but Claire Foy and Matt Smith give incredible, Emmy-worthy performances as Elizabeth and Philip that easily make up for it. Additionally, there are a few particularly stand out moments from Jared Harris (playing an ill King George VI) and John Lithgow (a pitch-perfect Winston Churchill), and with a rumored (and frankly jaw-dropping) $130 million budget, The Crown is visually spectacular.
The Get Down
The music. THE MUSIC, you guys. Baz Luhrmann’s mesmerizing hip-hop epic The Get Down — which follows a group of Bronx teenagers in the ’70s — has one of the best original soundtracks to hit TV in some time. One of the biggest criticisms of the show is that it can come off as one big, messy whirlwind, but with an incredible cast (including Justice Smith, Jimmy Smits, and Shameik Moore) and some truly mind-blowing visuals anchoring the first half of its beautiful debut season, it shines. If nothing else, watch simply for the performance of “Set Me Free” in episode five. It’s pure magic.
Regardless of how you felt about Chelsea Handler’s late night talk show Chelsea Lately, trust us when we say that Chelsea Does is an entirely different beast. Rest assured Handler’s biting wit and “did she really just say that?” brand of humor is still in full effect, but this time it’s funneled into a thoughtful documentary style. Handler tackles a divisive new subject in each episode (drugs and racism are standouts), alternating between discussing the issues with friends and fellow comedians during a casual dinner setting, and going out into the world to investigate. It’s funny, educational, and eye-opening.
In recent years, shows about people mysteriously and miraculously returning from the dead have been popping up left and right. Let us assure you that Glitch is the first one worth watching since the original French version of The Returned (Les Revenants). Clocking in at just six episodes, this Australian sci-fi drama about a group of six strangers who pull themselves from their graves one night — naked, gasping, and in perfect health — is twisted, fantastically acted, and addicting. Struggling to piece together what brought these people back will have you on the edge of your seat, and the final few twists go right for the jugular.
With the seemingly endless stream of reboots and remakes announced this year, it’s no wonder they’ve become such a contentious topic for many TV watchers. That hasn’t kept Fuller House from regaining its ’90s popularity ever since hitting Netflix in February, giving loyal fans a glimpse into what the Tanner family is up to now. Is it cheesy? Yep. Do some of the jokes fall flat? You betcha. Is there a questionable Bollywood scene? Of course. Did any of that stop people from falling all over themselves to binge it this year? Not a chance.
If you somehow managed not to get swept up in Stranger Things mania, our only question for you is: HOW?!?!?!?!? And actually, also: WHY?!?!?!?!? People went bananas over this sci-fi series thanks to its heavy ’80s influence, complex characters, and original story. Even if you’re not usually into sci-fi or the idea of a creature from another realm dragging you to your death, it’s going to be around for a while, so you might as well get used to it.
After the success of Jessica Jones, Marvel fans were eager to get their hands on the next piece of The Defenders: Luke Cage. Not only is the show about the bullet-proof Harlem superhero one of the most diverse on TV, but it has phenomenal fight scenes, a killer soundtrack, and one of the most interesting (and clearest) origin stories of any previous Marvel property. Its 13-episode run might feel a hair too long, but at the end of the day, Luke Cage ends up being way more than just a show about superheroes.