Best Original Movies and Shows on Netflix

Searching for the next thing to watch on Netflix can be a tedious endeavor. So many options to go through, so little time to research the quality of the titles you’re interested in. Additionally, you have to worry about certain films and shows that disappear from the database once the rights to stream them have elapsed. It’s a good thing Netflix has its own line of original programming—that pretty much ensures you’ll have a slew of titles that will always be there. To help you get started, we’ve compiled the best original movies and shows on Netflix.

Advertisement

A thing to note: Netflix Originals are usually TV shows, so there’s more of that in this list. There’s also too many good picks to list per category, so in the interest of catering to all types of viewers, we tried to suggest at least one title per genre available. If you have a title in mind that you think deserves recommendation, please leave a comment below!

When you’re in the mood for murder

House of Cards

4 seasons, 13 episodes each

Known as one of Netflix’s earliest and most successful of its original programming, House of Cards promises to give you a taste of what it’s like to fight your way to the top of the political pyramid. Kevin Spacey gives a stellar performance as Frank Underwood, a cold-blooded congressman who, along with his equally determined wife – played by Robin Wright – orchestrates a series of moves that will get him closer to his ultimate goal: A seat in the White House. Expertly written, shot, and played out, prepare for an all-weekend marathon when you decide to put this show on; once you start with the first season, you won’t want to stop until you’ve seen all four.

Advertisement

The Fall

3 seasons, 5/6/6 episodes respectively

Advertisement

This is a highly captivating show that has two characters masterfully intertwined: a serial murderer masquerading as a normal married man and a criminal psychology expert who has been brought in to find him and close the case. Set in Northern Ireland, The Fall’s first two seasons have been given 100 percent ratings on Rotten Tomatoes – which attests to their greatness as shows – and its third just came out, so you’ll have to make more popcorn.

Making a Murderer

1 season, 10 episodes

It took 10 years to film Making a Murderer, a real-life account of how Steven Avery – a previously incarcerated man who, after 18 years, was exonerated on new DNA evidence – found himself once again in the crosshairs of the local law enforcement for a brand-new crime. Be warned: This docu-series will make you want to tear your hair out from sheer exasperation at both the accused and his ineptitude, as well as the apparent corruption exhibited by the people who are tasked to protect us and our rights as citizens. Either way, it’s riveting television.

Advertisement

Amanda Knox

1 hour, 32 minutes

Amanda Knox was arrested, convicted, and then acquitted for a student death in Italy back in 2007. Now, almost a decade later, we get to revisit and review the high-profile case that once grabbed headlines worldwide. Was she guilty, or was she innocent? Watch the documentary and find out which side you’re leaning towards.

Beasts of No Nation

2 hours, 17 minutes

Advertisement

In West Africa, a young boy joins an army of mercenaries as a child soldier when civil unrest destroys his family. Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) and starring Idris Elba as the cruel commandant of the unit, Beasts of No Nation is a heart wrenching drama about war and the costs of being at the center of it.

When you’re in the mood to laugh hysterically

BoJack Horseman

3 seasons, 12 episodes each

‘Tis the tale of the celebrity has-been: He is constantly liquored up, angry at anything and everything, and is fond of remembering the good ol’ days, desperate and longing to bring them back. He is BoJack, and yes, he just happens to be a horse. Apart from having talented actors such as Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris and Alison Brie voicing the lead roles, this show is both incredibly dark and utterly hilarious and is probably one of the best written shows in Netlfix’s slate of original programming.

Advertisement

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

2 seasons, 13 episodes each

What is it like to be an unwitting member of a fake doomsday cult? Just ask Kimmy Schmidt, a woman who, after 15 years, is freed from her underground prison, along with her fellow “mole women.” Excited by the fact that the world did not end, she decides to restart with a bang by moving to New York City, where she moves in with kooky roommates, gains employment from an insecure socialite, and reinforces her already-positive attitude toward life.

Grace and Frankie

2 seasons, 13 episodes each

What one would initially assume to be a geriatric sitcom is made into a highly memorable original, brought to life by heavyweights Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. They play two elderly frenemies who find themselves unlikely soul sisters when their husbands – played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston – decide to leave them for each other and reveal their intention to get married. If you want an easy laugh at the expense of a very relatable plot – how often does it happen, finding out your spouse is gay and are forced to live with someone you’re not particularly fond of? – you’ve got two seasons you can get through in a jiffy.

F is for Family

1 season, 6 episodes

The 70s were a different time: kids roamed freely without fear of being kidnapped, smoking indoors was permitted, and the relationship between man and his TV set was sacred. Featuring the curmudgeon-y comedy of Bill Burr, F is for Family is the profanity-riddled animated sitcom you can laugh at in secret.

Lady Dynamite

1 season, 12 episodes

This is Maria Bamford’s life: She’s a comedian and actress whose star is definitely on the rise, and she suffers a break down trying to handle everything that came with the fame. In this show by Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Pam Brady (South Park), you get to witness a true story of a woman who loses herself to mental illness and takes a journey to wellness, self-love, and making meaningful connections once again…in a comedy format.

When you want to have your mind blown

Stranger Things

1 season, 8 episodes

You’ve probably heard a lot of hype about this new Netflix Original, and they’re all true: Stranger Things is an awesome love letter to the 80s and the thriller/mystery/horror genres. A young boy vanishes without a trace under weird circumstances, and his friends, family, and the local police do everything in their power to try and find him. Instead, they discover mysterious government experiments, a petrifying supernatural entity, and a very strange little girl amidst all of it.

Sense8

1 season, 12 episodes

Sense8 is a show that’s drama, comedy, suspense, romance, and action all rolled into one – a group of people who are scattered all over the world and are inexplicably linked in mind and body must look after one another because they are being hunted for their special abilities. The first episode might be a bit hard to get through, but it gets better and more exciting the more you watch it. Furthermore, if you’d like to find out more about how this show came to fruition, you can also check out Sense 8: Creating the World, a 25-minute Netflix Original that lets you go behind the scenes.

Black Mirror

3 seasons, 3/4/6 episodes respectively

This is a critically acclaimed British television show that helps you imagine the dark and negative impact technology has on modern society. Every episode tackles a story that’s equal parts incredible and entirely plausible, and all of them have the power to creep you out and make you think of how it relates to your reality. Its latest season has just been added recently, so now is definitely a great time to binge-watch this show.

When you want check in with the non-Avengers

Marvel’s Daredevil

2 seasons, 13 episodes each

Charlie Cox stars in this show as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who fights crime in the court room by day; at night, he transforms into Daredevil and, using his other highly enhanced senses, takes justice into his own hands, chasing after villains on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, this show is only one of many on Netflix that will give you a taste of the dark and gritty side of super heroism that’s been lacking from the blockbuster Avenger movies.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones

1 season, 13 episodes

For a franchise that rarely has female superheroes, Marvel did womankind a favor with Jessica Jones – a booze-chugging, leather-jacket-and-boots-wearing badass who turns to a life of private investigating after a short stint as a superhero. Her world of crime-solving takes a turn for the worst when a man from her past comes back and shakes things up. Featuring what fans say is the worst villain you will ever come across in a superhero show, Marvel’s Jessica Jones definitely needs to be on your Netflix queue.

Marvel’s Luke Cage

1 season, 13 episodes

We first meet Luke Cage in Marvel’s Jessica Jones as a bartender who we later learn has superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. His character was so well loved that Netflix decided to give him his own show, where we learn about a failed experiment that gave him his abilities as well as the measures he took to try and bury his painful past. Of course, he is forced to face it when his city is under threat and is in need of a new savior.

When you want to give stand-up comedy a try

Russell Peters vs. the World

1 season, 4 episodes

Interested in finding out more about the comedy of Canadian based comic Russell Peters? You can watch Notorious, his highly popular stand-up special that is also available as a Netflix Original. If you’re looking for a companion series that’ll give you more, this four-part docu-series follows Peters backstage and behind the scenes.

Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping

1 hour, 5 minutes

Trying to always be politically correct is a hard thing to do. So is fatherhood, being a stand-up comedian, and living in San Francisco, among other things. In this one-hour special, comedian Patton Oswalt talks about it all, and does it in his signature unfiltered style you can’t help but find hilarious.

Ali Wong Baby Cobra

1 hour

Pregnancy, when it’s not adulterated by nausea, cramps, mood swings, and weight gain, can actually be a funny experience. Ali Wong delightfully pokes fun at herself as she discusses why she thinks feminism is the worst, Asian men are the sexiest, and other regular things that seem funnier coming from a very fierce and pregnant lady.

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid

1 hour, 1 minute

John Mulaney is a former SNL writer who is now in an off-Broadway comedy act with Nick Kroll. To see why the latter is gaining a lot of buzz, you can check out his special on Netflix, where he shows a jam-packed Chicago Theater his stand-up chops and amuses them with his experiences as an altar boy, a temp, a newlywed, and meeting Bill Clinton.

When you want to feel culturally smart

Chef’s Table

2 seasons, 6 episodes each

To partake in six different culinary experiences, there’s no need to book flights to various parts of the world: All you need is a Netflix membership so you can watch Chef’s Table. This astonishing docu-series visits the kitchens of six of the world’s best and most sought after chefs. Each one gets their own episode, where they talk about their lives as well as the inspiration behind their gastronomic masterpieces.

Cooked

1 season, 4 episodes

If you still need something food-related to watch on Netflix, this four-part documentary is another must-see. It discusses the main elements – earth, air, fire, and water – and the many parts they play in cooking all throughout history. Expect to get majorly hungry after seeing this.

Sky Ladder: The Art Of Cai Guo-Qiang

1 hour, 19 minutes

Prepare to see something truly magnificent in the artful use of gunpowder, of all things. Featuring the work of Chinese modern artist Cai Guo-Qiang, Sky Ladder needs to be seen, not explained.

When you want to {{{feel}}} things

Orange is the New Black

4 seasons, 13 episodes each

Orange is the New Black’s central plot revolves around Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who finds herself imprisoned for a decade-old drug-related crime along with Alex Vause, a former associate who was also her former lover. But what makes this show incredibly profound and highly addicting is the heartfelt and dramatic portrayal of the many faces that exist behind bars – along with their many trials and tribulations – that regular people almost never get to meet. Hurry up, you’ve got roughly 52 hours to get caught up.

The Little Prince

1 hour, 46 minutes

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince is probably one of the most beloved books of all time, and there is a reason: It discusses the act of growing up in the most heartfelt way. Netflix’s animated version of the book – which was also made into a film in 1974 – surpasses all expectations and presents a visually beautiful masterpiece. Voiced by big names like Jeff Bridges, James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, and Benicio Del Toro, this is a movie that is perfect to watch with your entire family.

13th

1 hour, 40 minutes

The title of this documentary refers to the 13th amendment to the Constitution, or the one that says there shall be no more slavery in the United States. Director Ava DuVernay believes that it’s actually a lie, that there’s actually a little clause, an exception that allows it if you think someone is a criminal. This documentary provides an insight into this belief as it takes a deep dive into the history of the prison system in the United States, where proof of racial inequality is obvious and still thriving.

Audrie & Daisy

1 hour, 38 minutes

When we were kids, bullying meant getting in someone’s face and taunting them in the flesh; when one was caught, they were punished, and that was that. With the advent of modern technology, this problem is magnified by the ability to maintain anonymity as well as the inability to avoid abuse or assign blame. Audrie & Daisy is an important film that scrutinizes what online bullying can do to a victim, their friends, their families, and their community.

Tallulah

1 hour, 51 minutes

Ellen Page plays Lu, an aimless vagrant who impulsively takes a toddler from a drunken stranger she deemed was too neglectful to be a good caregiver. Having no one else to turn to, she asks help from her ex-boyfriend’s mother – played by Allison Janney – who takes them in, thinking the baby is her grandchild. Prior to premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Tallulah was acquired by Netflix to be part of its roster of original programming, allowing people to watch this excellent drama from the comfort of their own homes.

The Fundamentals of Caring

1 hour, 37 minutes

Paul Rudd stars in this movie as Ben, a retired writer who becomes a caregiver after going through a personal loss. His first client is an 18 year-old potty mouth suffering from muscular dystrophy. Together, they go on a road trip to visit new places and meet new people along the way, all the while developing a deep friendship.

My Beautiful Broken Brain

1 hour, 24 minutes

After suffering a hemorrhagic stroke, 34 year-old Lotje Sodderland navigates through life in an alien world of sorts, sans the ability to speak and comprehend. A story of hope and the unlimited power of the mind, My Beautiful Broken Brain proves that with perseverance and the miracle of science, the possibilities are endless.

When you can’t get enough of crime dramas

Lilyhammer

3 seasons, 8 episodes each

Missing The Sopranos? Steven Van Zandt, who plays Silvio Dante in what is arguably the best TV show of all time, stars in Lilyhammer as New York Mafia boss Frank Tagliano, who testifies against his cohorts, is given a new identity, and is relocated to Norway, in the rural town Lillehammer. Of course, hilarity ensues.

Happy Valley

2 seasons, 6 episodes each

An anxious accountant comes into a police station to report a crime. Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood soon finds out that everything is not what it seems and realizes that she is in the midst of a crime scheme gone awry. Can she figure things out before someone gets hurt? This British TV show only has two seasons so far, and both have gotten 100 percent ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a worthy watch.

When you want something light or random

Love

1 season, 10 episodes

Relationships are f**kin’ bulls**t. Just ask Mickey and Gus, a couple of survivors of their previous romantic entanglements who met by chance at a convenience store. Together, they attempt to understand and get a better grasp of commitment, intimacy, and everything messy that comes with it. Starring Gillian Jacobs (Britta in Community) and Paul Rust, this new comedy co-created by Judd Apatow is certainly worth a peek.

Master of None

1 season, 10 episodes

Aziz Ansari is incredibly funny, and anyone who’s seen him as Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation or watched his stand-up specials can attest to that fact. Master of None is an unexpected gift of comedy centered on Dev (played by Ansari), an actor in his thirties navigating life in – where else – New York City. This show garnered various accolades at the 2016 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing.

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

1 hour, 30 minutes

If you don’t have the $$$ to watch a Justin Timberlake show, don’t fret—you get to do it through Netflix! Catch his final show during his 20/20 Experience World Tour, filmed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It features 25 band members of The Tennessee Kids as well as a ton of memorable performances that prove why Timberlake is one of the most popular recording artists to date.

Easy

1 season, 8 episodes

This star-studded series follows a Chicago-based circle of friends as they experience love and sex in the millennial age of technology and culture. The episodes actually tackle eight individual stories – from a married mom and dad trying to spice up their sex life to a curious couple exploring Tinder and the prospect of threesomes – so it’s like watching something new every time you hit “next.”

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

1 season, 8 episodes

This is actually a prequel series to the 2001 cult film of the same name, and it features most of the original cast, including a few new ones you will surely recognize. The 8 episodes follow the shenanigans of campers and counselors alike on their first day at Camp Firewood. Worried you might not get it? Feel free to watch Wet Hot American Summer first, which incidentally, is also currently available to stream on Netflix.

Chelsea

1 season, new episodes weekly

Love her or hate her, Chelsea Handler is a fun watch. And just to prove how one of a kind she is, she does a talk show through a platform you least expect: Netflix. Every week she has guests come and discuss topics that are actually interesting, and she asks questions other people would be ashamed to. For a quick taste of overshare, check out the latest Chelsea ep.

When you want to go back in time

Marco Polo

2 seasons, 10 episodes each

When Venetian adventurer Marco Polo sets foot in 13th century China, he is promptly captured by Kublai Khan. As his prisoner, Marco Polo must learn to get through the political and cultural trappings of court life, all while making himself useful to Kublai Khan, who is currently working on his goal to become leader of the world.

Narcos

2 seasons, 10 episodes each

If you’re looking for a drug show to binge-watch that’s not Breaking Bad, Narcos is definitely a shoo-in. Set in the 70s, it tells the story of Pablo Escobar – noted Colombian drug kingpin – his steady rise to power, and the quest to put him behind bars. The entire second season just became available on Netflix, so you’ll have more than enough to quell your thirst for gut-wrenching drama.

The Get Down

1 season, 6 episodes

Another great thing about the 70s? The music. In this 6-episode saga, you get to see the rise of hip-hop in the ashes of disco. Co-created by Baz Luhrman- director of artful films like Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and The Great Gatsby The Get Down is actually Netflix’s most expensive show to date, with an alleged $120 million price tag. That’s a price worth checking out, for sure.

Peaky Blinders

3 seasons, 6 episodes each

If crime dramas are more your thing, here’s a show that brings you back to the 1920s, when the Peaky Blinders gang ruled the streets of Birmingham, England during the butt end of the First World War. Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby as the gang’s leader and Sam Neill as the detective assigned to bring the group down.

The Crown

1 season, 10 episodes

Inspired by true events, this show lets you follow the life of Queen Elizabeth II in her early 20s as she comes in to take the highest place in the most important monarchy in the world during a time of political decline and disorder. The Crown is set to go live on Netflix on November 4th and has garnered so much buzz leading up to the date that it’s something Netflix fans need to keep their eyes on, especially those with a penchant for historical drama.