The best original shows on Netflix right now – CNET

There are no shortage of original Netflix series to binge this weekend. But which ones are truly worth your time? Here’s a personal list of the best of the best for November. 

‘American Vandal’  

Metacritic score: Season 1: 75

Mockumentaries are my absolute favorite. And while I think we collectively burned out a touch after primetime sitcoms decided to commandeer the genre, it was about time the mocuseries got back to its roots as truly delightful satire. “American Vandal” knocks it out of the park. The “documentary” investigates a high-school prank in which 27 cars in a faculty parking lot have penises spray painted on them. It’s clever in unexpected ways, and it captures high school in a way that’s supremely relatable.

‘The Keepers’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 78

I’m just going to level with you: This docuseries may wreck you emotionally. “The Keepers” investigates the 1969 unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a Catholic nun and high-school teacher, and how her murder possibly links to a pervasive sexual predator from the school, the priest Joseph Maskill. The seven-part series was nearly impossible for me to turn off, completely and utterly gripping from the onset.


Metacritic score: Season 1: 72; Season 2: 80

Maybe it’s because I’m a somewhat dysfunctional single millennial, but lately I’ve been worried that love is actually more challenging than Disney movies initially led me to believe. Which is probably why I found both seasons of “Love” so completely enjoyable. “Love” focuses on the budding relationship between Gus and Mickey. There’s nothing showy about it — the real razzle-dazzle comes from a sharp, hilarious script.





Metacritic score: Season 1: 78

Big fan of true crime? This new offering from Netflix will probably be right up your alley. “Mindhunter” centers around two FBI agents in 1977 interviewing serial killers. If you’re mildly obsessed with psychopaths, it’s a pretty fascinating look at the early days of criminal profiling. Even though “Mindhunter” benefits from the strong visual stylings of David Fincher (who executive produced the show and directed four of its episodes), you could honestly just throw this on in the background while you cook dinner.

‘Master of None’

Metacritic score: Season 1: 91; Season 2: 91

You have to hand it to Aziz Ansari — after the first season of “Master of None” was unanimously well received, the second season had an almost impossible bar set for it. And yet it resonated with me even more so than the first. Ansari clearly has a lot to say about life, love and finding yourself in the 21st century. We’re listening intently.


Metacritic score: Season 1: 72

The great thing about an anthology drama series like “Easy” is that they’re so easy to watch. So much so, you don’t need to actually add “Easy” to your Netflix watch list. Statistically, if you hang out with a group of three or more millennials for more than an hour, “Easy” will inevitably end up on the television in the background. “Easy” is well written, well executed and thoughtful. Enjoy any of the eight episodes as they come your way.

‘Dear White People’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 85

Did you ever catch the movie? I thoroughly enjoyed “Dear White People” when it came out, and was thrilled that the show manages to capture the uniquely powerful and savvy storytelling style of the film. The show focuses on the lives of students of color at a mostly white university. It’s thoughtful at a time many of us are looking for thoughtfulness in our media, and it’s also really funny.


Metacritic score: Season 1: 81

Are you ready for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling? I was skeptical at first (nostalgia is a slippery slope), but I thoroughly loved this 1980s women’s wrestling throwback. While the dramatic side of the show throws weaker punches, the comedic campy side is a total knockout. Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin have the perfect frenemy dynamic. In fact, the elements of “GLOW” that work really highlight why wrestling in general makes for such captivating entertainment.


“Jessica Jones”


‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 81

Netflix has its work cut out, trying to make small-potato TV shows that match the behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With only one exception, they’ve done an arguably better job than network television. If you’re looking to start with a Marvel show, “Jessica Jones” is probably your best bet. The first season villain is straightforward, and Jessica Jones is probably the most accessible of the TV superheroes (badass leather jacket and all).

‘One Day at a Time’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 79

Netflix only has three sitcoms, and this one is by far my favorite of the bunch. This show, about a divorced working class mother raising her two kids is a reboot of the original 1970s Norman Lear classic, but with a remarkedly fresh perspective. On numerous occasions I’d find myself thinking, “Wow, this show is surprisingly woke.” It’s honest and heartfelt, in a way that made me think twice about the future of sitcoms.

‘The Crown’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 81

Look, it was expensive. You’re paying for Netflix after all (well you, or your parents, or your ex, or some third cousin you only met once), so you may as well get your money’s worth, right? The upside is that this historical drama about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II works. It’s engaging and strongly performed. And maybe it’s just because of the subject matter, but it’s definitely the most tonally mature fictional show Netflix has to offer.

‘Chef’s Table’ 

This docuseries on the culinary arts is pure visual poetry. Every episode tells the story of a different world-renowned chef. As a generally stoic person, I’ve cried maybe three times over a movie or TV show in my entire life. The first episode of “Chef’s Table,” which tells the love story of Massimo Bottura and his wife, had me sobbing on my couch. Make of that what you will.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’ 

Metacritic score: 74

If you’ve never seen the 2001 cult classic “Wet Hot American Summer,” do so immediately, and then go check out the two follow-up Netflix series: “First Day of Camp” (the prequel series) and “Ten Years Later” (the sequel series). “First Day of Camp” is definitely the stronger of the two, packed full of your favorite comedians and absurd, but hilarious, plot lines.

‘Orange is the New Black’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 79; Season 2: 89; Season 3: 83; Season 4: 86; Season 5: 67

Everyone expects a TV show to take a nosedive in quality around its fourth or fifth season. Maybe the most recent season of “OITNB” was weaker compared to previous seasons, but it’s all relative. The weakest season of “OITNB” still managed to hold my attention in ways many other TV shows can’t. The show has struggled in giving enough screen and story time to its extensive and well loved ensemble cast, but are we really going to fault a show for having too many incredibly talented actors?

‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ 

It’s basically “Chef’s Table,” but for designers. The eight artists featured in the first season range from a footwear designer to an car designer, and each episode narrates the story of a single artist (something I find so compelling about “Chef’s Table”). Netflix is so adept at documentaries at this point it’s almost mocking us with its constant three-pointers. “Abstract” is visual candy, perfect for quiet nights when you just want make a cup of tea and sink into yourself.


“Stranger Things”


‘Stranger Things’ 

Metacritic score: Season 1: 76; Season 2: 77

Look, if you didn’t watch this one last summer like the rest of us, stop procrastinating. You’re special. You’re unique. You deserve to have “Stranger Things” in your life. This sci-fi fantastical horror 80s-nostalgia throwback is probably the most addictive offering on Netflix. The second season goes live on Oct. 27 and I’m not going to spend any longer trying to convince you to watch it, because it should already be playing on your TV right now. Go!

‘Big Mouth’

Metacritic score: Season 1: 80

Oh hello, “Big Mouth.” Take a walk down memory lane into Nick Kroll’s childhood, and prepare to laugh your ass off. This adult animated series is stacked with many of my all-time favorite comedians, including John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas and Maya Rudolph. Also I’ll save you some time: Maurice the Hormone Monster is voiced not by Will Arnett, but Nick Kroll. (A coincidence that should remain between Amy Poehler and her therapist.)

‘BoJack Horseman’

Metacritic score: Season 1: 59; Season 2: 90; Season 3: 89; Season 4: 87

Word of advice: Skip “Flaked,” a show about a brooding middle-aged man starring Will Arnett and just watch “BoJack Horseman,” an animated show about a brooding middle-aged (horse)man starring Will Arnett. Slickly written and painfully honest, “BoJack” makes a fresh case for why adults should take more animated shows seriously. But maybe don’t watch this one if you’re going through a rough patch in life. I learned that lesson the hard way.


“Black Mirror”


‘Black Mirror’ 

Metacritic score: Season 3: 82

Continuations of series that previously aired on another network exist on a spectrum ranging from, “Why would you ever bring this back?” to, “Rejoice, our prayers have been answered!” “Black Mirror’s” third season on Netflix makes a solid case for letting continuations continue. The sci-fi anthology series tapped into our deepest fears of the future and technology. Since each episode stands alone, at least give San Junipero an hour of your time; it won two Emmys.


Metacritic score: Season 1: 77; Season 2: 76; Season 3: 78

Pro tip: Unless you’re fluent in Spanish, this is not a good show to “watch” while doing puzzles. But if you do make that mistake, at least it’s good to know that it’s worth rewatching. “Narcos” tells the story of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, the DEA agents investigating him and the cartel that rises after Escobar’s fall. This show has been getting stronger with each season, and who can complain about that? 

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