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The 100 Best Netflix Original Series of All Time

From comedy to drama, reality to fantasy, the best of Netflix contains multitudes

Best Netflix Original Series
Illustration by Steven Fiche
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    In 2013, you could count the number of Netflix original series that existed on one hand. Nine years later, that number is, well, a little higher. Over that time, the streaming giant became a huge player in the entertainment world, developing a massive catalog of content spanning all genres, for all audiences, in as many languages as the translators can manage.

    The below list, spotlighting 100 of the best offerings to come from Netflix since those earliest days, does its best to represent how Netflix has provided a home for near-countless series that might never have gotten a greenlight anywhere else, amplifying new takes and new voices just as a new hunger for innovative storytelling on television was being discovered. (For those curious about the rules here, the shows included had to have originated on Netflix, eliminating continuations like Arrested Development and Black Mirror.)

    The entertainment industry was a very different place before Netflix became a purveyor of original content — and more than any other single company, Netflix was responsible for those changes. Debates may wage for decades as to whether or not all of those changes were good ones. But the 100 shows below represent 100 reasons why we’re glad Netflix got in the game.

    Liz Shannon Miller


    100. Emily in Paris

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    What do you get if you mix Sex in the City, the ever-annoying Instagram algorithm, and a Rainbow Unicorn Bang energy drink into a blender? You’d get Emily in Paris, arguably one of Netflix’s most polarizing series of recent memory. Lily Collins’ Emily Cooper is Carrie Bradshaw for millennials and Gen-Zers who live on their For You Page, albeit ditzier and more ignorant as an American in Paris who can’t speak a syllable of French. Some say it’s corny; really, it’s camp. Come for the extravagant outfits, but stay for the soapy, tumultuous, and sex-driven decision making. — Rachael Crouch

    99. Q-Force

    Working from Sean Hayes’s idea for a gay James Bond, showrunner Gabe Liebman’s animated farce features a team of LGBTQI+ secret agents tasked with using their special skills to save the world. With a voice cast featuring Wanda Sykes, Patti Harrison, David Harbour, Laurie Metcalf and more, Q-Force is a treat for anyone who’s ever brunched in West Hollywood and/or can appreciate a reference like “Call me Miss Congeniality, honey, cos I’m a femme top with a gun.” — L.S.M.

    98. Selling Sunset

    When it comes to reality TV, it’s hard to name a show that is juicier than Selling Sunset. This series follows the Oppenheim Group, a Los Angeles real estate firm that sells mega high-priced properties. Of course, because this is a reality show, that isn’t all there is to it: drama and scandal runs rampant in its four seasons.

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    If that isn’t enough to sell you on Selling Sunset, it was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Unstructured Reality Program, and has two spin-offs courtesy of Netflix: Selling Tampa, (basically Selling Sunset but in Florida), and Selling the OC, which is set on California’s Newport Beach. So if you’re looking to peak behind the curtains at the world of the rich and famous, you’re looking for a healthy dose of drama and catfights, or you just want to look at beautiful houses for a while, Selling Sunset is without a doubt the show for you. — Aurora Amidon

    97. Turn Up Charlie

    No one ever went broke betting on the dramatic and comedic potential of teaming up a precocious small child and a gruff adult disillusioned with the world. Turn Up Charlie, created by Idris Elba and Gary Reich, stars Elba as a struggling D.J. whose new nannying gig might help relaunch his music career — provided he can survive serving as caretaker to the irrepressible Gabrielle. While it received a lukewarm critical reception upon its premiere, Elba’s undeniable charms (and solid EDM tracks, created specifically for the show) make this a pleasant low-key watch. — L.S.M.

    96. Daybreak

    Most shows set during the post-apocalypse can be pretty dour experiences, but there’s a level of pure glee built into this short-lived series about a teenager (Colin Ford) who honestly finds life in the chaotic ruins of Glendale, California to be a lot better than the before times. Just going to say this: There are 99 other shows on this list, but this is the only one where Matthew Broderick plays an actual cannibal. Tune in for the wild genre riffs, stay for one of the post-apocalypse’s greatest innovations: American Ninja Idol. — L.S.M.

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    95. History of Swear Words

    You get six episodes of Nicolas Cage and guests — ranging from pop culture personalities like Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, Jim Jefferies, and Isiah Whitlock Jr., to legitimate scholars like Elvis Mitchell and Mireille Miller-Young — discussing the secret history of profanity with playful poise, archival footage, and colorful historical reenactments. What more could you want? — Jordan Blum

    94. Disenchantment

    Lacking the pure irreverence that’s made The Simpsons and Futurama classics, Disenchantment is in some ways Matt Groening’s undervalued stepchild. But that’s not entirely fair. It’s a very different type of show, one that actually seeds an intricate storyline throughout its seasons rather than the general sitcom setup of those other series. In that, it arguably exceeds Groening’s past cartoons, as following Bean, Elfo, and Luci becomes more than just “what wacky thing will these characters do next” and begs for investment in true arcs. Along with Groening’s trademark humor, some wonderfully inventive animation, and a stellar cast (Abbi Jacobson, Eric André, Nat Faxon), it’s a fun, funny fantasy that, given the chance, will wrap you up in its magic. — Ben Kaye

    93. Lost in Space

    The Space Family Robinson got a Martian-level facelift in Netflix’s three-season chronicle of their quest to join the rest of humanity on Alpha Centauri. It suffered from the same pacing and tonal problems as any Netflix show, but made up for it with Parker Posey as a wily, manipulative take on Dr. Smith and the Internet’s favorite thicc robot. — Clint Worthington

    92. W/ Bob and David

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    Despite their increasing mainstream fame, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have never let go of their semi-surrealist sketch comedy roots. Nowhere is that more evident than W/ Bob and David, the spiritual successor to their classic HBO series Mr. Show. While not reaching the cult status of the latter, W/ Bob and David still effectively showcased and evolved their absurd humor for a mainstream audience that has finally caught up to their sensibilities. — Erin Brady

    91. Never Have I Ever

    Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher gave us a whole new type of teen girl hero in Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a Sherman Oaks high school student coping with her grief over her father’s passing and her determination to finally get herself a boyfriend, all while dealing with the pressures of school and family expectations. Devi is smart, funny, complicated, and flawed, and thanks to Ramakrishnan’s winning performance it’s impossible not to root for her. The supporting cast, including Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Darren Barnet, Jaren Lewison, Helen Hong, Ramona Young, Lee Rodriguez, and John McEnroe as Devi’s inner monologue, is also packed with standouts whose own stories have gotten only richer over the first two seasons. — L.S.M.

    90. Too Hot to Handle

    Netflix has cracked the code on what makes good trash television – isolating a group of obnoxious hot people from society and letting them do their thing. Too Hot to Handle is perhaps the trashiest of the streamer’s dating show fare, which is ironic given how its premise hinges on the rule that nobody can be intimate with each other. However, how entertaining can a reality dating show be if all the rules are followed? Sexy and messy times await for anyone who wants to resist temptation for $100,000. — E.B.

    89. A Series of Unfortunate Events

    The second attempt at Lemony Snicket’s macabre children’s novels managed to deliver a quirky (and complete) adaptation that satisfied both its young fans and very-much-adult original audience alike. Though Neil Patrick Harris never delivers a reaction this elite, he nails the menacing Count Olaf while baby Sonny took a big bite out of our hearts. — Bryan Kress

    88. Brand New Cherry Flavor

    One of the common complaints against Netflix’s original library is that the majority of its titles aren’t particularly risky or unique. Brand New Cherry Flavor is the bizarre, bloody, and downright weird outlier of this belief. With all of its outlandish plot diversions and eyebrow-raising sex, its core tells a powerful and unfortunately relatable story of female creativity at the whims of patriarchal capitalism. Given its divisive reaction upon release and subsequent TikTok infamy, Brand New Cherry Flavor is a uniquely chaotic experience that needs to be seen to be believed. — E.B.

    87. The Floor Is Lava

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    One of the benefits of Netflix’s throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach is a multitude of bizarre game shows that in another time would have just been a Saturday Night Live game show sketch. The best of these is The Floor is Lava, a sort of Double Dare-style obstacle course version of the classic game every bored kid has played on their furniture at home. — Al Shipley

    86. Magic for Humans

    Magician and former Food Network host Justin Willman packages dense topics like fear and fatherhood into digestible episodes with man-on-the street crowd-pleasers, child-led focus group tricks, and the occasional social experiment that might make participants wish they could stay invisible. No matter what, you’ll never hear the name Susan the same again. — B. Kress

    85. The Chair

    One of Netflix’s more recent endeavors, The Chair is a fun and poignant half-hour comedy-drama that you can easily whip right through. Set at the fictional Pembroke University, the show follows Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh), a professor who has been freshly appointed as the chair of the school’s English department. In her new position, she must navigate and attempt to transform an administration that holds an abundance of outdated customs and views.

    Unsurprisingly, Oh’s performance is excellent, and the show is worth watching just for that. It’s a plus that it also takes a fresh look at academia, which is a subject often unexplored in TV. For now, there’s only one season, but due to The Chair’s largely positive reviews, there is hopefully a second lurking on the horizon. — A.A.

    84. Frontier

    There are so many elements of this underseen Canadian-produced historical drama to recommend it. First of all, there’s the time and place: Focused on the fur trade in late 1700s North America, the series plays like Deadwood with more snow and only slightly less cursing. Plus, there are the bonkers epigrams, with each episode introduced by quotes from sources including Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Beyonce, Ice-T and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But the biggest thing to recommend it is a solid cast led by Jason Momoa, proving years before Aquaman just how compelling a leading man he can be. — L.S.M.

    83. Anne with an E

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    CBC’s 2017 adaptation of Anne of Green Gables was a bit darker and more grounded than previous incarnations: It gave its titular dreamer (a lovely AmyBeth McNulty) a torturous childhood, for one thing. But it still carries that same spirit of imagination and pastoral adventure as the books, and its three short seasons find plenty of hope amid its defiant, endearingly modern take on the material. — C.W.

    82. Narcos

    With stellar performances from its diverse cast, Narcos chronicles the rise of the cocaine trade in Colombia and abroad, centering around Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel. It also highlights the war on drugs from the perspective of law enforcement, politicians, and civilians; allowing the viewer to empathize with all parties involved. The original three-season series was so popular that a spin-off, Narcos: Mexico, was created — ensuring plenty of Narcos content going forward. — Okla Jones

    81. Dash & Lily

    What could be more delightful than Christmas in New York? The knowledge that no matter what time of year or wherever you might live, you can experience the joys of the city at its best through Dash & Lily.

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    The sweetly sincere adaptation of Rachel Cohn & David Levithan’s book Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares stars Austin Abrams and Midori Francis as the titular teenagers, whose holiday breaks get tangled up together after one of them stumbles across a notebook of dares left behind by the other. While the show was canceled after the first season, those eight episodes remain a delightful time capsule to be enjoyed year-round. — L.S.M.

    80. Dead to Me

    Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini anchor this twisty dark comedy thanks to their truly magnetic chemistry. While the main plotline itself is a bit bonkers — a ticking time bomb of sorts that will eventually explode — the clever writing pays attention to the details in female friendship. The pacing may not be the smoothest when compared to many other shows on this list, but it remains incredibly watchable and, often, tons of fun. — Mary Siroky

    79. Teenage Bounty Hunters

    Our titular Teenage Bounty Hunters are two gun-toting, churchgoing private school girls (Anjelica Bette Fellini and Maddie Phillips) who stumble into an after-school job under the tutelage of seasoned skip tracers (Kadeem Hardison and Method Man). Few of Netflix’s many one-season wonders deserved renewal more than this unorthodox coming-of-age story, especially because the finale ended with an inspired twist. — A.S.

    78. Murderville

    Making brilliant use of the controlled chaos of improv, Krister Johnson’s murder-mystery parody show throws Will Arnett, as grizzled detective Terry Seattle, and a different celebrity guest partner (who doesn’t know the script) into a different kooky mystery every episode. The improv-friendly folks (Conan, Kumail) are good, but the real joy comes from left-fielders like Sharon Stone and Marshawn Lynch. — C.W.

    77. Love

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    Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs’ modern love story follows their messy but honest path from irresistible companionship to mutual, unconditional acceptance. The series has some great musical moments, particularly Gus’ bizarre band meetings that result in theme songs for movies like While You Were Sleeping, but the finale’s swoon-worthy resolution nabs its most enduring needle drop with Wilco’s “You and I.” — B. Kress

    76. The Eddy

    Produced and in part directed by La La Land helmer Damien Chazelle, The Eddy continues the cause of championing jazz music while uniting Chazelle with Moonlight star Andre Holland. Holland leads an international cast as Elliot, a former musician running a jazz club in Paris. While there are enough dramatic twists to push The Eddy occasionally into thriller territory, the show excels most as a collection of vibes, with a soundtrack featuring original songs from Glen Ballard and Randy Kerber. — L.S.M.

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