Ah Netflix, we love to loathe ‘ya, but on your 25th birthday, we at Gizmodo have decided to celebrate you. While you may have axed some of our favourites ahead of their time (you’re seriously going to do that to Archive 81?), you have blessed us with some of our favourite content. As a staff, we have compiled a list of our favourite Netflix shows of past and present to raise a toast to you. So thanks, Netflix. Here’s what you’ve done for us.
I Think You Should Leave
Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave is a sketch comedy show done right. The show’s humour simply doesn’t stop as every episode features a handful of cringe-worthy and absurd sketches beginning with some trivial event before spiraling into wonky and weird territory. Created by Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin, the show also features cameos from actors like Vanessa Bayer, Patti Harrison, Cecily Strong, Steven Yeun, Tim Heidecker, and Bob Odenkirk.
David said: “I Think You Should Leave is the funniest sketch show in production anywhere. Tim Robinson is a maniac and it’s the perfect vehicle for his weird, awkward humour. And it keeps getting better each season.”
At the beginning of a global pandemic, Netflix dropped a gem: Outer Banks. The teen adventure drama tells the story of a young, working class man named John B whose father goes missing while looking for treasure off the coast of North Carolina. John B then sets off in his father’s footsteps to find him and the treasure along with his friends. There’s a turf war between the rich kids and poor kids, family drama, and melodramatic romance, but somehow it manages to stick the landing.
Kevin said: “I started watching Outer Banks in April 2020 when there was nothing to do except disinfect your groceries, stay inside, and watch Netflix. It’s got a lot of heart, but it is also balls-to-the-walls bonkers. I was also living in South Carolina at the time, so I was able to live out my dream of a Southern coastal summer in the midst of self-isolating.”
Bojack Horseman is a Netflix favourite featuring the titular anthropomorphic horse voiced by Will Arnett, who is a washed up actor having starred in a 90’s sitcom, looking to find his way back into the limelight. The animated series has a star-studded voice cast, featuring the likes of Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Aaron Paul, and is noted for its humour juxtaposing its existential themes.
Isaac said: “It is a rare example of how to create a beautifully introspective show in an absurd context…which is perhaps why it succeeded in tackling such heavy topics in the first place.”
The Dragon Prince
Two half-brothers and an elf must help end a thousand-year-long war between humans and magical creatures while nurturing a baby dragon in The Dragon Prince.
Kyle said: “I love it because it’s the follow up to Avatar: The Last Airbender that doesn’t get nearly as much attention, mostly because the first season’s animation is pretty janky.”
Daredevil kicked off the MCU’s foray into television with the introduction of Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer played by Charlie Cox, who moonlights as a masked vigilante. The release of Daredevil was an unprecedented move for Marvel, who flirted with the television format with Agents of Shield, but Netflix let the studio be darker and grittier in their telling of this New York superhero.
Linda said: “The first season of Daredevil became my whole personality for like 6 months. Besides the great acting, it really felt like it was giving fans the grittiness that was missing from the MCU. The story felt lived in, and every decision was really fantastic. Charlie Cox did an amazing job, and the writers were truly at the top of their game.”
LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS
Look no further for an example of an anthology show done right (looking at you American Horror Stories). LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS explores a multitude of different genres and topics as each episode tells a self-contained narrative. From a refrigerator that holds a miniature version of humanity to a completely silent exploration of conquistadors being massacred by a Puerto Rican siren, every episode has its own style.
Passant said: “The show provides the perfect bite size glimpse into twisted realities, and displays an insane level of creativity and talent from different animation teams (it’s also great to watch when you’re high).”
The show that needs no introduction. Breaking Bad tells the tale of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who develops inoperable lung cancer. Realising he and his family will be up to their eyeballs in medical debt, White and former student Jesse Pinkman decide to start cooking and slinging crystal meth.
Artem said: “I watched the pilot for Breaking Bad on AMC and didn’t continue it until it landed on Netflix. This was the 2nd show I truly binge-watched and caught up to the 3rd season. Netflix really helped bring the show to a bigger audience.”
Master of None
Master of None premiered on Netflix in 2015 as Aziz Ansari’s foray into poignant scripted drama with a hint of humour thrown in. Master of None follows former commercial actor Dev Shah as he coasts through life on the residuals from his time as the face of Go-Gurt. Now an adult, Dev and his pals are navigating sex, dating, racism, sexuality, and adulthood in New York City. While this might sound like a cheap knock-off of Happy Endings, New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, or any 2010’s adult sitcom, it’s got a ton of heart and introspection.
LeAnn said: “This is one of the most delightful shows ever streamed on Netflix…if you don’t take into account Season 3 and Aziz Ansari’s brief fall from grace) Alooora!”
In this sequel to The Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their roles in Netflix’s Cobra Kai. Zabka plays Johnny Lawrence from the original film who, after being defeated by Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso, has fallen from grace but decides to turn his life around by opening the Cobra Kai dojo after helping a local boy. Sounds like an awful reboot cashing in on 80’s nostalgia? Well it’s not.
Michelle said: “A sequel to The Karate Kid movies that Netflix saved from YouTube Red after it went belly up. It’s far better than it has any right to be, capturing enough of the goofy fun of the originals while also diving into what it means for these characters to solve all of their problems through, and base all of their self worth on, violence.”
No show has chronicled the sweetness of coming-of-age romance quite like Heartstopper, Netflix’s adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. Charlie Spring is a recently out teenage boy looking for love amongst his classmates, eventually setting his sights on the popular rugby player Nick Nelson. The series captured the hearts of critics and audiences everywhere.
Gabriella said: “I’m always a sucker for a rom-com and then plus a coming of age story, and just one about two boys falling in love, plain and simple…it’s uplifting, has great characters, and is based off the great web toon by Alice Oseman.”
The Queen’s Gambit
Anya Taylor-Joy is a woman in a man’s world in The Queen’s Gambit. The Netflix limited-series explored how Taylor-Joy’s Beth Harmon explores the realm of chess as a prodigy in the 1950’s and 1960’s — navigating a cycle of familial trauma and the looming clouds of misogyny. Critics loved this show for Taylor-Joy’s performance, the costuming, and the ability of the miniseries to make chess exciting.
Blake said: “Not to be so basic, but I did love The Queen’s Gambit. My brother got me a chess set that Christmas because I kept asking everyone in the family to play with me via text.”
The Witcher is the Netflix adaptation of the popular video game franchise, and since most video game franchises have royally flopped, audiences were understandably wary of getting their hearts smashed into a million pieces again. Told throughout different points in time, Henry Cavill plays a witcher — a magically enhanced monster hunter — who is spiritually linked to a princess.
Molly said: “It’s a surprisingly engrossing introduction to an enormous world. It does a lot of great world-building while also helping a newbie out to what’s going on in a complex fantasy land…and Henry Cavill is GREAT…also the catchiest theme song in the world.” Molly also described this as the “ultimate sword lesbian show.”
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a prequel to the 1982 film The Dark Crystal following three Gelfings on the planet Thra as they inspire a rebellion against their rulers. The show was met with critical acclaim but was unfortunately cancelled after one season.
Germain said: “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance packed more heart, excitement, drama, and mythology into a single season than most shows pack into an entire series. And it did it with puppets. Cancelled before its time, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is — in our mind — one of the best pieces of genre entertainment created in the past decade, period.”
Crashing Landing on You
Crash Landing on You is a South Korean romance about a successful businesswoman who is stranded in the North Korean Demilitarized Zone after a being swept into a storm. There she meets an army captain who helps her hide. One thing leads to another and I think you can guess what happens next.
Jody said: “I discovered this gem of a K-drama during the pandemic when I was just starting to get into K-dramas. At first, I wasn’t too into it. There was this storm scene that had really eh, crappy, CGI and I was suspicious. However, I continued watching and absolutely fell in love with South Korean woman Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) and North Korean Captain Ri Jeong-hyuk (Hyun Bin). Yes, you read that right. It’s a North-South love story. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I have with Crashing Landing on You, but it was a good ride, full of laughs and happy tears (as well as heartbreak tears, let’s be honest). I wasn’t the only one hooked on K-dramas — like seriously, just look at the amount of K-dramas on Netflix — and Netflix obviously knows they’re very addictive and important to its audience.”
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