The Best Netflix Original Series for Your Next Binge Session
How many of these have you seen?
Netflix might be slowly sliding down the ranking of streaming services, what with its policies about sharing accounts and its trend of canceling shows after a couple of seasons, but that doesn’t erase the fact that it has put out some of the most famous and beloved shows of the last decade.
From science fiction stories that sparked waves of ’80s nostalgia to brilliantly acted comic book dramas and shows that shine a spotlight on the Regency romance genre, Netflix really has some gems in its catalogue. (It would be nice if they weren’t an exception to a generally unsatisfactory rule, though.)
If, by chance, you haven’t already watched every single original show available on Netflix, here are 10 of the best-of-the-best English-language shows the platform has ever produced—in no particular order. Here’s to hoping they make more, or at least stop with the en-masse cancellations.
Wednesday (2022 – present)
This new take on the Addams Family’s eldest daughter, played by Jenna Ortega, was helped along by Tim Burton and is one of Netflix’s most recent successes. Wednesday‘s first and so far only season skyrocketed to second place in the list of the most-watched English-language series on Netflix. The story follows Wednesday as she gets enrolled by her parents—Actual Best Couple Ever™ Gomez and Morticia Addams, played by Luis Guzmán and Catherine Zeta-Jones, respectively—into Nevermore Academy, a private school for monstrous teens in which she soon finds herself dealing with the murder mystery du jour. Plus, the show stars Gwendoline Christie as Nevermore’s principal, Larissa Weems—and everything with Gwendoline Christie is an immediate masterpiece, in my opinion.
The Witcher (2019 – present)
The two—soon to be three—seasons of The Witcher are inspired by the book series of the same name written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, and which also serves as the source material for a very fortunate video game franchise. The story follows Geralt of Rivia, the titular witcher—a human who is magically enhanced to hunt monsters—as he journeys across kingdoms and realms doing exactly what his job description says. Geralt crosses paths with a series of people who greatly impact his life, from the sorceress Jennifer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) to the traveling bark Jaskier (Joey Batey), and of course the runaway princess Ciri (Freya Allan), who is bound to Geralt by destiny. Things will probably get rocky for The Witcher after its upcoming third season—with Liam Hemsworth taking over from Henry Cavill—but the first two seasons are definitely a fun time for all lovers of the fantasy genre.
The Umbrella Academy (2019 – present)
Based on the comic books of the same name—written by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame and illustrated by Gabriel Bá—The Umbrella Academy revolves around a very peculiar family, consisting of one billionaire and his seven adopted children who were all born in the exact same day at the exact same time, and all happen to have superpowers. The siblings reunite from their various walks of life for the funeral of their adoptive father, just in time to learn from one of them—Five (Aidan Gallagher), who can jump through space and time—that the apocalypse is imminent and they have to do their best to stop it from happening. The show currently has three seasons, with a fourth and final season confirmed in 2022.
The Diplomat (2023 – ongoing)
Another very recent Netflix product, The Diplomat only has one season so far, but it has already been renewed for a second. As the title suggests, the story delves deep into the world of international politics, following Kate Wyler (Keri Russell) as she takes on the role of the new US ambassador to the United Kingdom. Of course, the daily struggles of her job are mirrored at home and in her marriage with fellow diplomat Hal Wyler, played by Rufus Sewell.
Sex Education (2019 – present)
Of the many shows revolving around teens that Netflix has produced over the years, Sex Education remains one of the best. All three of its currently available seasons are a delight, and one can assume that the upcoming fourth season will be great as well. The story follows Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), who sets up a sex clinic at his school using advice from his mom, Jean (Gillian Anderson), a professional sex therapist. He’s joined by a funny cast of characters, among whom the most important are definitely Otis’ best friend Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) and his partner-in-crime turned crush Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey). An important note: Sex Education is also the first time actress Simone Ashley graced our Netflix screens in the role of Olivia Hanan, a member of the school’s popular kids. It was not the last, though—more on that further down the list!
The Sandman (2022 – present)
Here I am, back on my Gwendoline Christie agenda. And this time she’s playing Lucifer—when I tell you that learning of Christie’s casting made every cell of my little, queer, and Catholicism-traumatized heart vibrate at a frequency that could shatter glass, I’m not being hyperbolic. The Sandman revolves around the titular “sandman,” who is none other than Morpheus of the Endless, the personification of dreams (Tom Sturridge). Captured and trapped by a human thanks to an occult ritual at the beginning of the 20th century, he manages to escape after a century and has to restore order in his realm, the Dreaming, which was left in disarray by his absence. The show is based on Neil Gaiman’s comic book of the same name and has been renewed for a second season after a very successful first season released in August 2022.
The Crown (2016 – present)
With its cascades of Emmy and Golden Globe awards, The Crown is definitely one of the most lauded shows that Netflix has ever produced. With brilliant performances and impressive stage design, The Crown tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II starting from the very beginning and follows her through the decades of the 20th century, chronicling changes in politics and society as well as personal struggles within the royal family. The show has five seasons so far, with a final sixth season in the works which will follow the start of the 21st century. The Crown has become famous for its changing cast—an understandable choice considering that it spans so many decades. The first two seasons saw Claire Foy and Matt Smith as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, with Vanessa Kirby taking on the role of young Princess Margaret. The third and fourth seasons had Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies stepping up as Queen and consort, with Helena Bonham Carter continuing on as Margaret and the introduction of Josh O’Connor as a young Prince Charles, as well as Emma Corrin as Lady Diana. The fifth season saw yet another casting change, with Elizabeth and Philip being played by Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce, while Lesley Manville, Dominic West, and Elizabeth Debicki stepped in as Margaret, Charles, and Diana, respectively.
Heartstopper (2022 – present)
Based on the very popular graphic novel series of the same name by Alice Oseman, Heartstopper is yet another teen romance that has garnered massive success worldwide. The story follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), who befriend each other at school and eventually fall in love. Around them is their group of friends, each with their own daily struggles and victories. Heartstopper has earned praise left and right for its portrayal of the LGBTQIA+ community, and it has been lauded as the kind of show that many queer people would have loved to see growing up. It also has a particularly beautiful style of cinematography, which we’ll all be able to enjoy again once season 2 premieres.
Bridgerton (2020 – present)
Coming straight out of Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, Bridgerton was a pop culture phenomenon pretty much from the very beginning. Based on the series of novels of the same name by Julia Quinn, the story revolves around the eight siblings of the Bridgerton clan, a family of high-standing in London’s Regency era society, and all dealing with the ton’s marriage mart and the mysterious Lady Whistledown—who sees all gossip in town and writes it down in her scandal sheet. Each season focuses on one sibling, with season 1 following the fourth child and eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she pretends to be in a relationship with the ton’s most eligible bachelor, Duke Simon Bassett (Regé-Jean Page)—of course, everyone knows how the fake relationship trope usually plays out. Season 2 shines its spotlight on the head of the Bridgerton family, Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony Bridgerton, who falls head over heels in rivalry and love with Simone Ashley’s incredible, show-stopping Kate Sharma. While waiting for season 3—which will focus on Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan of Derry Girls fame) and the third Bridgerton child, Colin (Luke Newton)—Bridgerton also acquired a spinoff, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, which focuses on the marriage of the supreme ruler of the ton, Queen Charlotte herself (played by Golda Rosheuvel in Bridgerton and India Amarteifio in Queen Charlotte).
Stranger Things (2016 – present)
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without one of Netflix’s flagship series, Stranger Things. Created by the Duffer Brothers there are four seasons currently available, with a fifth and final season in the works. Filled with ’80s nostalgia and references to other iconic pieces of pop culture media, the story revolves around a group of people in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana—which happens to be located not too far from a research center where they experiment on children and open dimensional gates between worlds. Things really kick off when Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) disappears into the Upside Down: his friends, his brother, his mother, and the town’s Sheriff, as well as a mysterious girl with psychokinetic powers all do their best to look for him and bring him back. The show incidentally also features one of the best characters ever put to screen—I am, of course, talking about Joe Keery’s Steve Harrington.
(featured image: Netflix)
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