The 20 Best Netflix Original Series to Watch Right Now
By Scott Beggs
Almost a decade after House of Cards changed our perceptions of what streaming content could look like, Netflix has compiled a library of more than 100 original series (and that's only counting the English language stuff). Here are 20 Netflix original series that rank among the best.
1. The Night Agent (2023-Present)
Netflix scored an immediate international hit with this thriller about an FBI agent (Gabriel Basso) who discovers a traitor lurking in the halls of the White House. Creator Shawn Ryan was behind The Shield.
2. Wednesday (2022-Present)
Jenna Ortega headlines this fresh look at The Addams Family from director Tim Burton, in which dour teen Wednesday Addams turns into a macabre private detective when a string of murders hits Nevermore Academy.
3. You (2018-Present)
Penn Badgley is Joe Goldberg, a self-professed nice guy who has stalker’s tendencies. When he spots his object of affection, he won’t let anything get in his way. After a muted debut on Lifetime, the series moved to Netflix, where it’s become a bingeable hit.
4. Squid Game (2021-Present)
This South Korean drama from creator Huang Dong-hyuk emerged out of nowhere in October 2021 to become the most-watched title on the platform. The less you know going in, the better, but be prepared for a dystopian game show experience: Contestants file in hoping to be awarded a cash prize, only to be caught in the middle of a cruel sociological experiment.
5. Stranger Things (2016-Present)
The kids and monsters of Hawkins, Indiana, own our Steven Spielberg-loving hearts. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the crew navigate adolescence in a dangerous world filled with face-splitting interdimensional beasts and phones that don't work unless they’re tethered to the wall. Terrifying! As the kids have grown up, the terror they face has been ratcheted up. A fifth and final season is currently in production.
6. Midnight Mass (2021)
With The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and now Midnight Mass, Mike Flanagan has become Netflix’s resident horror auteur. He oversees this sharp, atmospheric thriller about a small town that becomes enchanted with a new priest promising salvation.
7. Cobra Kai (2018-Present)
Who knew that 1984’s surprise hit film about a karate rivalry between two California teens would, more than 30 years later, lead to one of the most binge-worthy series on television? Cobra Kai takes the characters of The Karate Kid and joins them in middle age, as successful car dealer Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) once again crosses paths with wayward Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and a new generation of kids struggles with the warring philosophies of their respective dojos. Part nostalgia trip and part martial arts soap opera, Cobra Kai has all the right moves.
8. Bridgerton (2020-Present)
Julia Quinn’s novels get the lavish Netflix adaptation treatment: In Regency-era London, debutantes and their would-be suitors circle one another. Shonda Rhimes (Scandal) is the executive producer; Julie Andrews narrates.
9. Ozark (2017-2022)
Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in this domestic crime thriller about a financial planner (Bateman) who finds that money laundering isn’t the secret to a happy home life.
10. Russian Doll (2019-Present)
Nadia (Natasha Lyonne, who also co-created the series) is a game developer stuck in a time loop that keeps killing her and depositing her back at her own birthday party. If you roll your eyes at Groundhog Day situations, roll them back, because this incredibly inventive take from Lyonne, Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler is deeply funny, strange, sad, and celebratory all at once. One woman’s existential crisis is our binge-worthy content. As a bonus, Harry Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up” will be permanently stuck in your brain.
11. The Sandman (2022-Present)
After decades of false starts, Neil Gaiman’s fantasy epic finally gets its live-action adaptation. As Morpheus, Tom Sturridge departs the dream realm to mingle with humans and find powers that were stolen from him.
12. GLOW (2017-2019)
Anchored by Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and a stellar ensemble cast, GLOW follows a group of women who launch a wrestling show backed by a trust fund kid and a cranky cult horror director (brilliantly played by Marc Maron). It scored laughs for how awkward everything was early on, but the show really sailed when Brie and her cohorts began to fully own the weird, wonderful spandex assault they were creating. You can enjoy all three seasons now.
13. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (2019-Present)
Tim Robinson is a Saturday Night Live alum whose sketch show couldn’t be further from that mainstay’s sensibilities. Where SNL is the McDonald's of comedy, I Think You Should Leave is the hole-in-the-wall place only you and your friends love because it keeps changing the menu with new dishes you can’t get anywhere else. It’s fair to call the show outlandish, but its comic brilliance stems from the simplicity of its setups and the deranged lengths the characters go to in order to stick with that premise. Learn nothing else and dive in.
14. BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)
It’s the silly cartoon show here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff. Like emo music for grownups, Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Lisa Hanawalt’s brilliant series focuses on the addiction, self-loathing, and career envy of its eponymous anti-hero as he attempts to crawl out of the cheesy ’80s sitcom stardom of his past and into something more respected. No other show can get away with this many animal puns while exploring the depths of despair that result from trying to fill a bottomless pit in your soul.
15. Lupin (2021-Present)
Master thief Assane Diop (Omar Sy) declares war on a wealthy family that betrayed his father in this critically acclaimed French series. (The “Lupin” of the title refers to famous fictional French criminal Arsène Lupin, whom Diop emulates.)
16. Emily in Paris (2021-Present)
Lily Collins stars in this ingenue-out-of-water story about a marketing executive who finds her dream job in Paris is accompanied by a serious case of culture shock.
17. Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)
One of Netflix’s original originals is still one of its best. Jenji Kohan found a perfect follow-up to Weeds with this adaptation of Piper Kerman’s memoir about a young suburban woman going to a minimum-security prison. The fish-out-of-water comedy, drama, and horror only lasts as long as it takes for the show to blossom into a gorgeous, emotional roller coaster that shines the spotlight on all of its women—from the surly cook Red (Kate Mulgrew) to the sweet/troubled Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba)—to humanize them beyond the personas they adopt to survive.
18. The Crown (2016-Present)
Peter Morgan’s historical drama has taken advantage of the new format and the lengthy reign of Queen Elizabeth II to craft a charming, devilish exploration of the scandals and triumphs of her adult life. As The Crown has covered decades and decades, it has shifted from Claire Foy playing the young queen (post-WWII) to Olivia Colman playing her through middle age (Winston Churchill’s death and Soviet espionage intrigue) and will eventually star Imelda Staunton as the older queen closing out the show in the early 2000s (the years, not her age). It’s an anglophile’s delight with keen dramatic instincts and a huge list of world events to tackle.
19. Mindhunter (2017-2019)
Based on Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, the series—created by Joe Penhall and executive produced by David Fincher—uncovers our earliest understanding of serial killers and the pioneering research conducted by letting FBI agents interview the country’s most notorious murderers about their crimes. The fictionalized team played by Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv battles bureaucracy and old paradigms in order to get their fledgling, vital program to succeed in using the criminal mind to help solve future cases. It’s a delicate, gorgeous show exploring our worst impulses and, chillingly, uses real serial killers’ own words to describe their acts.
20. Murderville (2022-Present)
Will Arnett stars in this (mostly) improvised series about a salty detective paired with a different celebrity partner each episode. Their job? To solve a murder using the clues provided, all while coping with Arnett’s provocations. Conan O'Brien, Kumail Nanjiani, and Sharon Stone are standouts.
A version of this story ran in 2020; it has been updated for 2023.