The Best Netflix Original Series
The glut of excellent television available these days is almost intimidating, and with streaming services like Netflix jumping into the ring with their own all-new content, there are more options than ever. But which ones truly deserve your precious free time? From historical dramas and true crime thrillers to rib-splitting comedies and cooking shows that will make your mouth water, these Netflix original series will bring everything you need to make your next binge watching session truly spectacular.
Netflix’s ode to the British royal family, The Crown centers on Queen Elizabeth II and her nearest and dearest, beginning in the period shortly before she ascended to the throne in 1953 and following along with the monarch through both public and personal challenges. The first two seasons, starring Claire Foye (Elizabeth), Matt Smith (Prince Phillip) and Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret) are available now, while season three, which includes an all new cast to play the older versions of the royals, is expected later in 2019.
Whether you’re fascinated by the lives and creative processes of chefs or you’re just enthralled by grade-A eye candy, Chef’s Table has plenty to please. Each hour-long documentary episode profiles a famous chef from around the world (including Nancy Silverton, Dan Barber, or Enrique Olvera), tracking their path to culinary greatness and exploring their food, lovingly filming dishes in astoundingly gorgeous detail.
Grace & Frankie
Buttoned-up Grace (Jane Fonda) and free-spirited Frankie (Lily Tomlin) are flabbergasted when their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson) announce that they’ve been carrying on a secret romance for the past twenty years. Stunned, the unlikely duo turn to one another to find ways to cope with their new status quo in this Emmy-nominated comedy.
The Great British Baking Show
The Great British Bake Off (GBBO to those in the know) has been a huge hit on UK television for years, but American audiences can now watch it on Netflix. In this feel-good competition show (known here as The Great British Baking Show due to Pillsbury's ownership of the term “bake off”), amateur bakers pit their skills against daunting challenges like exotic bread, chocolate soufflé, and even wedding cake.
This Emmy-winning reboot of the beloved early-00s makeover show features the Fab Five, a group of five queer men, giving the looks and lives of the style-challenged a little zhuzh. With grooming tips, closet revamps, interior design renovations, menu makeovers, and life skill tutorials the Fab Five help and connect with their subjects with heart-warming and often hilarious results.
Wild Wild Country
Netflix’s gripping docuseries introduced a new generation of Americans to the story of Rajneeshpuram, a utopian commune founded in Oregon in the 1980s by cult-leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In the years before its leadership left the country, the group took over thousands of acres of land, attempted to infiltrate local government, and perpetrated the largest bioterror attack in US history.
From the screenwriter of The Hours and The Reader, this four-episode series was a hit on the BBC before Netflix imported it. It stars Carey Mulligan as the police detective assigned to the seemingly random murder of a pizza delivery boy, but as she digs into the circumstances surrounding the killing, it becomes increasingly clear that there’s something more sinister at work.
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
Architecture buffs will love getting a sneak peek inside some of the most unique and adventurous houses around the world. From a retreat crafted from the wings of a 747 to a subterranean Scandinavian paradise, a serpentine space-saver to a Stone Age-inspired communal living space, hosts Piers Taylor and Caroline Quentin explore what it’s like to design and live in these truly out of the box homes.
Based on the novel by Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood, this thriller was inspired by the real life case of Grace Marks, a domestic servant who was convicted of the murder of her employer in 1843 Ontario. The series revolves around a psychiatrist attempting to determine if Grace deserves parole for her crimes, in the process stumbling into questions about Grace’s history, sanity, and whether or not she’s been playing him for a fool all along.
This Emmy-nominated true crime docu-series takes a look back at the cold case of the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik and the links between her death and an abusive priest.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
This clever adaptation of the best-selling children’s book series is a winner for the whole family. The show follows the trials and tribulations of the Baudelaire orphans as they attempt to escape the clutches of the nefarious Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) and uncover the mystery behind their parents' death and the secret society to which they may have belonged. Where the movie mostly failed to deliver on the darkly funny aesthetic of the books, the show captures it perfectly.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Chef Samin Nosrat, author of the James Beard Award-winning cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, hosts a four-episode exploration of the elements that shape our food—yes, fat, salt, acid, and heat—but more fundamentally, the cultural and familial traditions that shape how and what we eat. Nosrat visits with farmers who raise food in Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United States, and spends time in the kitchens of home cooks—most of them women—who make each meal they prepare a quiet celebration of their family and identity.
House of Cards
The show that started the Netflix original programming empire. In the wake of the scandal surrounding star Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct, the award-winning House of Cards (an American reboot of the ‘90s British hit) has undergone a major revamp, killing off Spacey’s ruthless Francis Underwood and making room for Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood to take over as President of the United States. The show’s sixth and final dramatic season land this fall.
This slow-burn family drama centers on the Rayburns, who are hiding some dark secrets behind their facade as pillars of their Florida Keys community. Starring Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini, and Norbert Leo Butz, this twisting show delves into the dark side of an American family.
Chef David Chang (of Momofuku fame) digs into the history of your favorite dishes like pizza, tacos, and fried chicken to question everything you think you know about authentic eating. Playful, informative, and irreverent, this show is guaranteed to change the way you think about your go-to meals.
The home makeover show meets Airbnb when designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate guru Peter Lorimer team up to help short-term rental owners revamp their properties and business strategies.
Life takes a turn for the weird for four young friends as they try to uncover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of their pal, Will. What they uncover—a world of superpowered girls, government conspiracies, and monsters from a dark alternate universe—will permanently change them and their sleepy little town in this Netflix mega-hit.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This lauded Netflix comedy revolves around Kimmy, a young woman who moves to New York after spending years underground with a doomsday cult. If that doesn’t immediately sounds like a laugh riot, take in the fact that it’s the brainchild of creator Tina Fey and garnered 18 Emmy nominations in its four-season run, then give this plucky misfit and her found family, including comedy greats like Jane Krakowski and Carol Kane, a chance.
Somebody Feed Phil
Feeling the wanderlust? Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal eats his way across the world in this charming food travelogue. Between noshing on pasta with Massimo Bottura and sharing a bite with Nelson Mandela’s grandson, he explores all of the sights and experiences of some of the most beautiful and unique travel destinations on the planet with an excitement and wonder that is sure to inspire your next vacation (or vacation daydream).
Lost in Space
A new spin on the classic 1960s family sci-fi, this Netflix adaptation pits the Robinsons against the elements, an alien robot, and a mysterious doctor (played by the delightful Parker Posey) who is not all that she appears. Thoughtful, action-packed, and full of heart, this family show has something for everyone.
For thriller addicts, this drama series tells the story of the early years of the FBI’s behavioral analysis program. By delving into the psychology of serial killers like Ed Kemper (played by Cameron Britton in an Emmy-nominated performance) FBI agents Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Tench (Holt McCallany) challenge traditional crime-solving techniques to try and catch a nefarious murderer.
Million Pound Menu
There’s more to running a restaurant than just food. On this reality competition, UK food entrepreneurs open pop up to vie for the attention and backing of some of the biggest names in the restaurant industry, proving not only their culinary creativity but also their business and branding prowess.
One Day at a Time
Nostalgia fans and sitcom lovers will fall for this modern take on the beloved ‘70s comedy. Centered on Penelope, a newly single Army veteran raising her kids with the help of her mother (the indomitable Rita Moreno) and her over-involved landlord, the show brings classic sitcom laughs while addressing modern issues like immigration and sexual identity.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown
For anglophile foodies, this reality competition pits families of British home cooks against one another to serve up their tastiest and most creative meals for celebrity chef judges Rosemary Shrager and Giorgio Locatelli.
Fill the gaping hole that Breaking Bad left in your TV schedule (and heart) with this tale of financial planner Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) as he’s forced to move his family to Missouri after a failed money laundering scheme lands him in hot water with a drug cartel. To make up for the loss, Marty has to take on an even bigger laundering enterprise while navigating the seedy criminal underbelly of the Ozarks.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.