Having doubled its original programming in 2016, Netflix once again proved that it’s a force to be reckoned with in the TV landscape. This year, the streaming service brought us some truly fantastic new scripted series, including the widely adored Stranger Things and Marvel’s highly acclaimed Luke Cage. Below, check out the 10 best new original Netflix shows of the year:
1. Stranger Things
One of the biggest phenomena of the summer came in the form of this wildly entertaining ’80s-set, sci-fi series. Part fantasy, part horror, and pure fun, this kid-focused monster story serves as a moving homage to both the early work of Spielberg and the beloved series of the ’80s. Adventurous, funny, and sometimes frightening, Stranger Things didn’t just mark a strong freshman entry for Netflix, but also one of the best new TV shows of 2016 overall.
2. Luke Cage
Marvel and Netflix hit it out of the park once again with their third solo hero series together. Like its predecessors, Luke Cage is immersive and entertaining, but with an even more socially conscious-driven point of view. Star Mike Colter delivers a hugely charismatic performance in the titular role, backed by a solid supporting cast. With a great response from critics (resulting in a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score) and audiences alike, it’s no surprise the popular show was recently green-lit for a sophomore season.
3. Lady Dynamite
Netflix’s comedy, based on the life of comedian Maria Bamford, may be too quirky to appeal to a mainstream audience, but it’s one of the company’s strongest original shows to date. The series provides an in-depth portrayal of a troubled woman’s chaotic life in the comedy industry. Though the exhaustively deep, meta portrait makes for somewhat of a surreal premise, it’s an extremely well-executed one — as evidenced by the show’s 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics call the series a “subversive” and “boundary-busting” comedy that makes “the perfect showcase” for Bamford’s point of view.
Hailing from director Joe Swanberg, the anthology series follows a group of diverse Chicago characters as they fumble through the modern maze of love, sex, technology and culture. The eight-episode freshman season features Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, and Emily Ratajkowski. The show, which boasts a strong 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, has earned high praise for its raw and authentic sketches of the Chicago residents and their struggle to balance their dreams with their everyday lives.
5. The Crown
Netflix shelled out a reported $100 million in production costs for this ambitious period drama, chronicling the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom. Luckily, the gamble seems to have paid off. The show has garnered basically universal critical acclaim, earning high praise for its strong cast and top-notch cinematography. With a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the drama seems destined to become an award season contender in 2017.
6. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
The highly anticipated revival, in which Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel reprise their roles as the titular mother and daughter duo, garnered a widely positive response from critics and viewers alike. Though not perfect, the four-episode miniseries boasts many of the original show’s best qualities — from the fast-paced witty banter to fun cameos to the plethora of pop culture references. The new episodes scored an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Judd Apatow-produced series delivers an honest and unflinching portrait of what it takes to forge a genuine human connection and the many bumps along the way. Grounded by two appealing leads, Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs, the romantic comedy has earned high praise for its clever and realistic depiction of relationships, although critics warn that — just like real love — the show requires a little patience and commitment. The series currently holds an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. The Get Down
Netflix’s music-driven series, created by Baz Luhrmann, is the streamer’s most expensive production to date and it shows. The first half of its debut season, though uneven in narrative, is full of dazzling visuals and a mesmerizing aesthetic. Backed by a pulsing soundtrack and a talented cast, the larger-than-life drama garnered mostly positive reviews, scoring a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. If it can settle long enough to get its story in order, the second half of the show’s season could have even more to offer.
9. The OA
The new Netflix original, which dropped just before the end of the year, stars Brit Marling as a young woman who shows up back home after seven years missing with mysterious new abilities. The series, co-starring Emory Cohen, Scot Wilson, Nikolai Nikolaeff, and Alice Krige, has earned mostly positive reviews and a 72% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Though some critics have slammed it for taking itself too seriously, it’s also garnered plenty of praise for its twist-filled riveting tale, which blends sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, and drama.
The new true crime docuseries, produced by Doug Liman, examines the story behind various international hostage situations through the eyes of the victims, the negotiators and the perpetrators. The show has earned solid reviews, with critics praising the slick production and compelling storytelling. It currently holds a 67% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
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