It’s hard to believe that it’s only six years since Neflix commissioned its first original content – the political thriller House of Cards.
It was a bold, bold move at the time, and it seemed almost puzzling that such big names (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright) would be willing to star in a… web series?
However, now almost every star is getting in on the action, and you can hardly budge for Netflix original content.
Which, of course, means plenty of gems getting lost in the noise. Every month, a Netflix Original or two launches a thousand memes — but what about the less lively ones?
So that your new favorite show or movie doesn’t get lost in the algorithmic matrix, here are some of Netflix’s best and most underrated originals.
money robbery (TV series, one season, 2017–)
Known as La Casa de Papel (paper house) in his native Spanish, money robbery is Netflix’s most-streamed non-English language show. The bank robbery is a tired dramatic trope these days, but don’t let that or the show’s boring English-language title put you off – creator Álex Pina has made something special. The heist here, led by a mysterious man known only as the Professor, consists of breaking into the Royal Mint of Spain and printing 2.4 billion euros. There are more twists and turns than hostages in the 15 episodes of the series.
One day at a time (TV series, two seasons, 2017–)
In stark contrast to the offbeat, understated comedy that’s currently dominating television – the kind that elicits lopsided grins rather than hearty laughs – One day at a time is a big, bright sitcom shot before an endlessly enthusiastic studio audience. You didn’t think the story of a Cuban-American Army veteran/nurse/single mother – who suffers from PTSD and depression – would fit into this format, but she does it so beautifully, tackling issues of sexuality, racism, and sexism in the process .
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private life (movie, 2018)
Based on writer/director Tamara Jenkins’ own struggles with fertility, “Private Life” stars Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti (both with brilliant performances) as a prickly, affectionate middle-aged couple desperate for a baby. They even bring their enthusiastic but irresponsible niece Sadie (Kayli Carter) into the mix, much to the dismay of Sadie’s mother (Molly Shannon, who turns a potentially repulsive character into a compassionate one). It’s subtle, understated, and beautifully executed.
Big mouth (TV series, two seasons, 2017–)
Raw, rude and full of surprising emissions and bodily functions, animated sitcom Big mouth is also a sensitive, nuanced in-depth look at the various horrors of the teenage years. When 12-year-old Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney) is visited by the hormone monster (Nick Kroll, who voices many of the show’s best characters), he finds his life changed irrevocably – and seemingly disastrously. Unlike many other puberty comedies, Big mouth takes as much time with his confused female protagonists as he does with his male ones; Maya Rudolph is a delight as the female hormone monster, and watch out for Kristen Wiig’s wonderful role as the talking vagina.
Easy (TV series, two seasons, 2016–)
Joe Swanberg’s style of defiantly undramatic mumblecore isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve enjoyed his earlier films, drinking friends and Merry Christmas, you’ll find plenty to admire in this anthology comedy-drama series. Well-known stars such as Orlando Bloom and Aubrey Plaza make an appearance, as does Jane Adams – who you may remember from Todd Solondz’s chronically depressing 1998 film Luck – is the heart of the show and Marc Maron is its jaded soul.
love (TV series, three seasons, 2016–2018)
community‘s Gillian Jacobs is brilliant as prickly, magnetically recovering addict Mickey, who forms an unusual – and arguably downright unwise – relationship with her nerdy neighbor Gus (Paul Rust). Despite Gus’ pathological need to be the nice guy, we’re never quite sure who or what we’re cheering for — what that constitutes love such complex, compelling contemplation.
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (Stand Up Special, 2017)
In 2016, comedian Patton Oswalt’s wife, true crime writer Michelle McNamara, died suddenly in her sleep. This topic doesn’t exactly scream stand-up special, but Oswalt managed to make something funny and deep out of his devastating loss. Over the course of an hour, he processes his grief on stage and manages to find humor in the struggle of raising his grieving six-year-old daughter alone.
Santa Clarita Diet (TV series, two seasons, 2017–)
Admittedly, this horror comedy, in which Drew Barrymore plays a neurotic real estate agent who suddenly develops a taste for human flesh, is really silly and really, really gross. But it’s also oddly charming and funny. Timothy Olyphant is excellent as Sheila’s disheveled husband Joel, and the couple’s idiosyncratic but respectful relationship with their bright teenage daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) is unlike anything else on television right now.
Dark tourist (TV series, one season, 2018–)
New Zealand journalist David Farrier is an unusual TV presenter, just like Louis Theroux – he’s a bit awkward in almost every scenario he finds himself in. But like Theroux, Farrier’s weakness is actually his strength, allowing him to endear himself to the many unusual people he meets on his journey through the world’s most questionable tourist destinations. Farrier’s stops include the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the street where JFK was murdered, and the Milwaukee suburbs where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered his victims.
holy games (TV series, one season, 2018–)
Based on Vikram Chandra’s epic 2006 novel, Netflix’s first Indian original series is a slowly unfolding gem. The first season of holy games — which follows a troubled cop (Saif Ali Khan) who has 25 days to save his city thanks to a tip from a presumed-dead gangster — comprised just a quarter of Chandra’s 1,000-page novel. As the show itself explained when announcing the upcoming second season, “the worst is yet to come.”
dumplings (movie, 2018)
If the trailer for dumplings Landed first, all the ingredients seemed to be in place for a film that’s unmusical at worst and vaguely condescending at best. Thank heavens the trailer did that dumplings such a bad service. With Danielle Macdonald (who broke through in the excellent 2017 film Patti Cake $) as Willowdean, a self-proclaimed “fat girl” who attends a local pageant to tease her former beauty queen mother (Jennifer Aniston), Dumplin’ is as funny, warm-hearted, and sensitive as its protagonist – and featuring a killer doll, Dolly Parton loaded soundtrack to boot.
Dark (TV series, one season, 2017–2020)
This sci-fi thriller — set about disappearing children, a mysterious local power plant, and scenes from the ’80s — has drawn comparisons to , for obvious reasons stranger things. but Dark is even more seductive and (true to its name) less family-friendly than stranger things.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (movie, 2017)
Although somewhat tarnished by claims that director David France appropriated the work and research of trans filmmaker Reina Gossett, this documentary is nonetheless a loving, respectful tribute to gay rights activist Marsha P. Johnson. One of the key figures in the Stonewall uprising (although her involvement was almost entirely eradicated in 2015, is hated by critics stone wall), Johnson modeled for Andy Warhol, performed on stage with the drag group Hot Peaches, helped found the Gay Liberation Front, and died under suspicious circumstances in 1992.
on my block (TV series, one season, 2018–)
This coming-of-age series might not have garnered as many eyeballs as it deserved last year, but the ones it did have been glued to the screen. In fact, it was the most binged series of 2018 — meaning it had the highest watch time per session watched of any Netflix original. Created by Awkward‘s Lauren Jiingerich, on my block follows a group of Los Angeles teenagers as they navigate both the drama of high school and the perils of inner-city life.
Set it up (movie, 2018)
Two ailing assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) conspire to bring their overwhelmed bosses (Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu) together to get their lives back in this winning romantic comedy. Set it up is not only responsible for coining the term “over-dicking” (it’s a lot more innocent than it sounds), but for reviving a tired genre.
charge (movie, 2017)
Martin Freeman plays the father struggling to protect his young daughter from a zombie epidemic that is spreading across Australia. So far, so over the top. But this drama-thriller, directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke and based on their 2013 short film of the same name, throws a handful of unpredictable wrenches into the work.
3% (TV series, two seasons, 2016–)
Like a cross between The hunger Games and CW series The 100th, this Brazilian dystopian thriller set in an indefinite future centers around an impoverished community called Inland. Every year, every 20-year-old takes a series of tests; The 3pc with the highest score will be chosen to live in offshore paradise. It’s a fascinating and addictive commentary on class and privilege.
godless (TV series, one season, 2017)
With shading by John Ford The Seekers, this dreamy western was critically acclaimed but quickly forgotten after it landed on Netflix in 2016. Set in 1884, it follows Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his notoriously ruthless band of outlaws who seek out their injured former ally, Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), who is hiding in a small town inhabited exclusively by women , after a mine accident killed all his men. An armed Michelle Dockery clearly enjoying the change of scenery after years of living Downton Abbeyand a taciturn Jack O’Connell are in brilliant form.
American vandal (TV series, two seasons, 2017–2018)
Partial satire of true crime documentaries such as make a killersometimes carefully observed portrayal of teenage life, American vandal was criminally underrated during its two-year run. It’s now been cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up and then write Netflix a strongly worded email.
atypical (TV series, two seasons, 2017–)
This coming-of-age series about a teenager with autism was sweet and well-intentioned from the start, but its first season was criticized for a handful of inaccuracies and a lack of autistic actors. Instead of drowning in a sea of defenses — like too many shows do — it listened and brought in autistic actors and writers for its stellar second season.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/netflix-the-best-hidden-gem-originals-you-might-have-missed-from-big-mouth-to-money-heist-41649626.html Netflix: The Best Hidden Gem Originals You May Have Missed, from Big Mouth to Money Heist