Top 10 Best TV Shows and Original Series on Netflix
Created by: David Hare
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Billie Piper, Jeany Spark, Nathaniel Martelo-White, John Simm
In the era of #PeakTV it’s impossible to watch everything, but here’s a show that you can binge in a very limited amount of time and get maximum satisfaction in return: Collateral. The four-hour BBC-produced limited series hails from writer David Hare (The Hours) and director SJ Clarkson (Jessica Jones). Carey Mulligan stars as a confident and charismatic detective in London who’s tasked with investigating the murder of a pizza deliveryman, who may be an immigrant or refugee.
A Robert Altman-like ensemble forms the tapestry of this story, but by the end of the four hours you’ll be in awe of how well all the disparate characters’ storylines fit together. This is a show that digs deep into issues of immigration and racial tensions in a post-Brexit England, but maintains a sense of joy and humor throughout so as not to drown the viewer in despair like some other British dramas. It’s immensely compelling, supremely satisfying, and Mulligan gives one hell of a lead performance that has colors of Fargo’s Marge Gunderson. And it’s only four hours! This is an incredibly easy recommend. – Adam Chitwood.
Created by: Chris Van Dusen
Cast: Regé-Jean Page, Phoebe Dynevor, Adjoa Andoh, Jonathan Bailey, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Ruth Gemmell, Claudia Jessie, Ben Miller, Luke Newton, Golda Rosheuvel, Polly Walker, and Julie Andrews
If Gossip Girl meets Downton Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice sounds intriguing to you, the Netflix original series Bridgerton will absolutely be your jam. Based on the series of novels by Julia Quinn, the drama-romance takes place in the competitive world of Regency London’s high society, where a number of young girls are presented and tasked with finding a suitor. The stakes are raised when a mysterious woman named “Lady Whistledown” begins writing a column about the goings-on of the day, complete with gossip and preferences for specific pairings. Dramatic twists, intense love scenes, and even some hijinks ensue. This very well could be your next obsession.
3. The Queen's Gambit
Created by: Scott Frank
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Marielle Heller, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling, Bill Camp, and Moses Ingram
You don’t have to be interested in chess to fall for the seven-episode limited series The Queen’s Gambit, because at heart the show isn’t really about chess at all. It’s an intensely dramatic story about a young orphan working through her trauma to find some semblance of joy anywhere she can, and the people she meets along the way.
Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) is revelatory in the lead role of Beth Harmon, a young chess prodigy, bringing a cool confidence to the character while also nailing the nuances of her emotional complexity. Scott Frank, who writes and directs every episode, brings the 1950s and 60s to life in vivid fashion with stunning production design and gorgeous costumes, but it’s the way he captures the chess matches that really makes this thing soar. They’re thrilling and captivating not because of the specific moves, but because the show does such a great job of making you so invested in Beth’s story. And with seven episodes and a full-on ending, you don’t have to worry about this show being cancelled – it’s a complete story from beginning to end. – Adamn Chitwood.
4. Schitt's Creek
Created by: Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy
Cast: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Chris Elliott, and Jenn Robertson
Imagine a less cynical Arrested Development crossed with an inverted Beverly Hillbillies, and you’re close to Schitt’s Creek—one of the most joyful shows on all of television. The Canadian sitcom tells the story of a wealthy family who loses everything when they’re defrauded by their business manager. The only thing they do own is a tiny, backwoods town the patriarch (Eugene Levy) bought for his son (Daniel Levy) as a joke gift back in 1991, and they’re then forced to move there and live out of a motel. They slowly begin to accept their new lives and even love their new town, despite their many, many quirks. The comedy is delightful, anchored by a phenomenal performance from Catherine O’Hara as the family matriarch, a former soap actress in denial about her social status. It’s also a delightfully forward-thinking series, as the son’s pansexuality is met not with scorn or judgment, but with full loving embrace. Hilarious, witty, and oh-so-sweet, Schitt’s Creek is the perfect show for when you need a pick-me-up. – Adam Chitwood.
5. The Haunting of Hill House
Creator: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Carla Gugino, Michael Huisman, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Elizabeth Reaser, Victoria Pedretti, Lulu Wilson, Timothy Hutton, Violet McGraw, Julian Hilliard,
Hush and Gerald's Game filmmaker Mike Flanagan delivers his most ambitious Netflix project yet (and that's really saying something when you're talking about someone who successfully adapted Gerald's Game) with The Haunting of Hill House. Inspired by Shirley Jackson's seminal ghost story, the series carries over almost none of Jackson's narrative (though occasionally too much of her prose), and focuses instead on the haunted lives of the withering Crain family. Bouncing back and forth between the summer the Crain's spent in the titular haunted mansion and the years of grief and family trauma they endured in the aftermath.
Flanagan has proven in previous works that he's got a knack for upsetting visuals and well-composed scares, but his great success in The Haunting of Hill House is the way he ties the scares into a rich, intertwining tale of family tinged with tragedy. Led by a spectacular ensemble, the series veers between emotional revelation and moments of horror that give you full-body chills. It's the most moving and honest portrayal of mortality and grief this side of Six Feet Under, but it'll give you a whole lot more nightmares. Haleigh Foutch
6. The Haunting of Bly Manor
Creator: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, T’Nia Miller, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Amelia Eve, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelia Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, and Carla Gugino
The follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House is a new story with new characters and a new setting, but it’s just as emotionally devastating as that Netflix original series. Based on the works of author Henry James, most prominently Turn of the Screw, this terrific new season takes place in the 1980s and follows a young American woman with an enigmatic past who is hired on as an au pair for two young children at the titular Bly Manor. But all is not what it appears to be at Bly, and horrors ensue. While Hill House was extremely scary, The Haunting of Bly Manor is not – nor is it trying to be. This is Gothic romance ghost story, and in that way it’s actually quite romantic and emotional, but definitely still spooky. And you will definitely be an emotional mess by the time you reach the end. – Adam Chitwood
|Photo: Seventeen Magazine
7. The Umbrella Academy
Created by: Steve Blackman and Jeremy Slater
Cast: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore, and Justin H. Min
The Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy is the perfect antidote to those fatigued by the glut of superhero movies and TV shows. Based on the graphic novel series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, the story revolves around seven children with extraordinary powers who were adopted by a strange (and very rich) man who trained them to be heroes. Their troubled upbringing drove them apart, but they reunite at the beginning of the first season when their estranged father turns up mysteriously dead. Not only that, but their brother — who's been missing since they were children — appears via time travel and warns them the apocalypse is coming in a matter of days. This show is extremely joyful and funky and weird, giving weight each of its disparate characters while carrying on a compelling serial mystery all its own. If you want a show that's fun and mysterious and a little spooky, check this one out. - Adam Chitwood
8. The Witcher
Created by: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
Cast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Eamon Farren, and Anya Chalotra
The Witcher is an absolute blast and a half. The fantasy series is indeed very fantasy—it’s more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously and whole-heartedly embraces all aspects of fantasy storytelling and gaming, including fun side-quests, POV battles, and even a bard who follows Henry Cavill’s titular human/creature hybrid around singing songs about his glories. The show’s first season follows three stories destined to converge: Cavill’s Witcher is a muscle-for-hire monster hunter who begins to question why so many princesses have been turning into creatures; Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check; and princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is on the run after the sacking of her city, but harbors secrets of her own. Steeped in lore and world building but always engaging, The Witcher is a perfect kind of binge-viewing show. – Adam Chitwood
9. Love, Death and Robots
Created by: Tim Miller
Executive produced by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and legendary filmmaker David Fincher, the animated anthology series Love, Death & Robots is kind of the perfect catch-all for sci-fi fans. Each episode hails from a different writer and director, and the theme holding them all together is the idea of sci-fi technology. As a result you get a wide range of tone from uber-violent to romantic to hysterically funny. All in all, though, there’s just some really great sci-fi storytelling in here. – Adam Chitwood
10. Anne with an E
Created by: Moira Walley-Beckett
Cast: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R.H. Thomson, Lucas Jade Zumann, Dalila Bela
Even though Moira Walley-Beckett‘s retelling of Lucy Maud Montgomery‘s classic Anne of Green Gables stories leans heavily into the darker side of Anne’s orphan upbringing and the bullying she experiences in school once she gets to Prince Edward Island, Anne with an E is a happy one. And in case you forgot, yes! Dramas can be joyous!
The second season moves away somewhat from its beloved source material, but in doing so, it’s able to find its own voice and become even better. The series is also finding modern relevance with the inclusion of more “woke” storylines, but it never feels forced — it all fits in with Anne’s (McNulty) optimistic view of the world and the people in it. Anne is joyous, funny, and ultimately a delightful exploration of teenage life. And though it’s set over 100 years in the past, the series does an exceptional job creating a deeply relatable mood and aesthetic, one that makes both the perils and precious moments of growing up feel as raw and real as they do in real life. The new season is full of triumphant moments and joyous subplots, as well as scenes of sorrow and hardship. It all adds up to an uplifting season that concludes with Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, and all those around her, looking towards the scope of possibilities in an ever-widening world. — Allison Keene
**For more Top 10 Best Movies to Watch on Netflix in 2021, click here!
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