Netflix has established themselves as a major player in the scripted television landscape, with award-winning series like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. But not all of its original TV shows have gotten the attention they deserve. These comedies and dramas have all debuted to little fanfare, despite earning strong reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Below, check out the original Netflix shows that don’t get enough credit.
1. Lady Dynamite
Netflix’s comedy, based on the life of comedian Maria Bamford, may be too quirky to appeal to a mainstream audiences, 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 is somewhat of a surreal premise, it’s also 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. “Yes, anything can happen in Bamford’s world, and that sense of endless possibility makes Lady Dynamite a joy to watch,” Entertainment Weekly writes of the show.
The anthology series, created by director Joe Swanberg, 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 made a relatively quiet debut last year, despite featuring a slew of celebrities, including Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, and Emily Ratajkowski.
If the star-studded cast isn’t enough to peak your curiosity, maybe the show’s critical acclaim will. The series boasts a strong 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Chef’s Table
Each episode of this original documentary series profiles one of the most renowned chefs in the world, taking audiences into their lives and their kitchens. The chefs, including the likes of Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallmann, Dominique Crenn, and Enrique Olvera, share their inspirations, personal anecdotes, and respective cooking styles.
The show has aired two seasons already to relatively little fanfare — which is strange because the series, while food-related, isn’t particularly niche nor exclusive to foodies. In addition to revealing fascinating and often inspiring aspects of their personal lives, the chefs on the show don’t waste a ton of time attempting to describe what their dishes taste like to an audience who will likely never taste them.
Instead, they focus on the more practical, but just as interesting aspects of their careers: the development of their menus, their interaction with the rest of the kitchen staff, their successes and failures, and their attempt to capture each of their respective city’s essence through food. The result is a satisfying, entertaining, and inclusive docuseries, which will appeal to experienced cooks and novices alike.
4. Last Chance U
The 2016 documentary series goes behind-the-scenes of the 2015 football season at East Mississippi Community College (EMCC). The six-part show follows the EMCC Lions in 2015 as the undefeated team attempts to win their fourth consecutive national championship. The EMCC Lions have become somewhat of a phenomenon in junior college sports, attracting elite athletes, including some who have been held back by poor academics or behavioral issues.
While the show hasn’t drawn national attention like some of Netflix’s other multi-part documentaries, it’s still a compelling and highly binge-able watch, even if you’re not typically a sports fan. As you follow the team’s fight for victory, you can’t help but care about each of the troubled, but talented young players and the precarious position they face as they strive for a successful future.
Last Chance U has a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Judd Apatow-produced series didn’t garner much mainstream attention for its 2016 debut, but it’s worth giving a second look. Though the show requires a bit of patience and commitment on the part of its viewers, it delivers an honest and unflinching portrait of what it takes to forge a human connection.
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. The series currently holds an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Grace and Frankie
This comedy drama, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, is two seasons in and only consistently improving. Case in point: though Season 1 earned mixed reviews (scoring a 55% on Rotten Tomatoes), Season 2 garnered a considerably more positive response from critics (an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Though the stellar cast was always undeniable, the show improved its pacing in its sophomore season, delivering a heartfelt and hilarious story you’ll want to see more of. Luckily, Season 3 has already been green-lit.
7. F Is for Family
Co-created by stand-up comedian Bill Burr and writer and producer Michael Price, Netflix’s animated sitcom follows the Murphy family back to the 1970s, when kids roamed wild, beer flowed, and everyone was allowed to smoke indoors. The comedy, inspired by Burr’s life, features Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long, and Sam Rockwell among its voice cast.
Though the sitcom hasn’t earned as much attention as some of Netflix’s other comedies, F Is for Family is among some of the streaming service’s most well-received shows. The series earned positive reviews in its freshman season, which currently holds an 82% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics admit that the show often relies on vulgar and profane humor, but also praises its “deceptively nuanced” and “surprisingly heartfelt” storytelling.
F Is for Family has been renewed for a 10-episode second season.
8. The OA
If you’re looking for a show that blends sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, and drama, this new Netflix original — which dropped just before the end of 2016 — will do the trick. It stars Brit Marling as a young woman who shows up after being missing for seven years, with mysterious new abilities.
The series, co-starring Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Nikolai Nikolaeff, and Alice Krige, has earned mostly positive reviews and a 72% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Though some have criticized it for taking itself too seriously, it’s also garnered plenty of praise for its compelling, twist-filled, riveting storyline.
Produced by Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman, this true crime docuseries examines the story behind various international hostage situations through the eyes of the victims, the negotiators, and the perpetrators.
Though it hasn’t spurred the same media blitz as some of Netflix’s other true crime titles, the show has earned solid reviews for its slick production and compelling storytelling. It currently holds a 71% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
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