Over the past decade Netflix has worked its way to becoming the primary streaming service in America. With over 10,000 streaming titles to choose from at the touch of a button, it is difficult to know what is really worth a viewer’s time. We’ve all been there. Just when you think you’ve found the next great show it turns out to be utter trash, and the ones you least expect have you binging for days.
It is no lie that Netflix has been knocking it out of the park as of late. According to Business Insider, Netflix has claimed it will be releasing over 1,000 hours of original shows and movies for the year of 2017. In 2016, Netflix released about 600 hours of original content, so that is almost twice as much as last year. With competitors such as Hulu and Amazon Prime, it’s no wonder they are pulling out all the stops. They have even managed to work out an exclusive streaming deal with Disney. It seems as though Netflix can do no wrong.
Or can they?
It would take a viewer over 41 days to watch all of Netflix’s new content, and just like any streaming service Netflix has made some bad deals in the past. How is a viewer to know what is actually worth their time? Because let’s face it, not every show can be Stranger Things. Here are 10 Netflix shows to avoid at all cost and 10 Netflix shows to watch immediately.
20. Orange is the New Black (Avoid)
What started out as a promising series, Orange is the New Black, a look at life within the women’s prison system, now into its fourth season has become anything but enjoyable. Much like Jenji Kohan‘s other main character, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), from Showtime’s Weeds, our sympathy for Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) in O.I.T.N.W. has run its course. It seems that Kohan has a knack for creating dynamic characters and then turning us against them. An interesting talent but not useful if you want to keep an audience invested.
In fact, it seems as though the entire show has started to suffer from fatigue. Somewhere around the middle of the second season, I began to ask myself, “Where are we going with all this?” Now that I have finished the third season, I still cannot give you an answer. To the shows credit, it does have an array of fascinating characters. However, without a plot to hold the show together it’s just a series of interesting interactions that never seems to amount to anything. My advice, don’t even start to commit to this series. All it will leave you with is an unsatisfied desire for content.
19. Better Call Saul (Watch)
Following the success of Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s, prequel series Better Call Saul, starring Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill a.k.a. Saul Goodman, is a triumph of modern television. Well into its third season, the show has proven the value of long form storytelling and in-depth character development.
Odenkirk is phenomenal as the slick and sympathetic lawyer who just can’t seem to catch a break. And fans can not get enough of Better Call Saul’s resident PI and hitman, Mike, played by the incredibly talented Jonathan Banks.
The best part of Better Call Saul is that while the events of the show are leading up to Saul’s eventual introduction to Breaking Bad’s infamous Walter White (Bryan Cranston), no prior knowledge of Breaking Bad is necessary for full enjoyment of the series. Although, fans of Breaking Bad will be excited to know that the third season is about to bring a world of trouble for Saul Goodman, with the reintroduction of a certain owner of the fast food chain, Pollos Hermanos.
18. Santa Clarita Diet (Avoid)
A tired premise and a disgusting gore fest, that is what Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet has to offer its viewers. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) are married real estate agents in Santa Clarita, California. When Sheila suddenly dies their lives are supposed to take a comedic and dark turn. Unfortunately, that dark turn is that Sheila has become a zombie conscious of her own cannibalistic needs. A trope so overused and exhausted that no amount of forced witty dialogue can save this show.
Then comes the gore factor. Where Santa Clarita Diet fails to muster any sincere comedic moments, it works incredibly hard to make up for it with gross out humor. It’s nauseating and in all honesty a complete turn off, landing Santa Clarita Diet on the Netflix skip list.
17. Girl Boss (Watch)
At first glance, Girl Boss, created by Kay Cannon and based on Sophia Amoruso‘s autobiography #Girlboss, may seem like coming of age millennial fodder, but there is much more to this show than meets the eye. In truth, the show is surprisingly heartfelt and entertaining. Sophia (Britt Robertson), hungry for a life of her own discovers she has a talent for flipping vintage clothes on eBay. As her business begins to flourish she is faced with unexpected challenges that will test her grit as a self-started female entrepreneur in the mid-2000s.
What will turn viewers off right away is Sophia’s brashness and over the top dialogue in the first episode. However, if you stick it out you will find that the dialogue mellows out and Sophia’s attitude becomes a strong highlight of the show. This show is absurdly funny with oddball humor and creative conventions. One of those conventions is the portrayal of chat rooms as office tables in a black void where characters can physically pop in and out of the forum to comedic effect. What’s most endearing about the show is that we actually care whether Sophia succeeds or not. While Sophia causes most of her struggles, she handles them in such a human way that we can relate and empathize.
16. The OA (Avoid)
The OA, created by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, starts out as a very promising piece. Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie (Brit Marling) returns home miraculously with her sight restored. She claims that she is an angel brought back from the dead and while most believe she is dangerous and unstable, a select few choose to believe and listen to her tale.
The main issue with The OA is that it is surrounded with an air of pretension that never seems to let up. As a viewer you are constantly berated with the sense that the show is attempting to be way more important and groundbreaking than it actually is. The acting is great, but the plot is confusing and for some reason it is difficult to connect with the characters. Ultimately the show ends up being a bust with Prairie’s story being used as a vehicle to give its listeners the courage to prevent a school shooting that comes out of nowhere. It is yet to be seen if Prairie truly is an angel with the ability to travel between heaven and earth, but the lack of satisfying answers to the show’s most pertinent questions will make it difficult for viewers to return for a second season.
15. Dear White People (Watch)
Based off the hilarious and relevant film of the same name, Dear White People, created by Justin Simien, is the show we’ve all been waiting for. A social satire for the ages, Dear White People does not hold back for one moment to say what we’ve all been thinking. That racism, white privilege, and discrimination are very real and it’s time we start calling it out for what it is. The series follows a group of diverse students at a predominantly white Ivy League college and shows how they manage to navigate life in a discriminatory and toxic environment.
An ensemble piece, with episodes focusing on various characters, Dear White People does an excellent job of managing its narrative while tackling the issues it brings to light. I don’t want to go too much into it as spoilers may crop up, but trust me when I say this show is definitely worth the watch. The best part about the show is that it is unabashedly unapologetic about its statements and for great reasons. It may not offer much in the way of solutions, but in a way it reflects where we are in our current society. All it takes is to get the conversation started and Dear White People does it in a fun and satirical way that is sure to entertain.
14. 13 Reasons Why (Avoid)
As suicide being one of the major causes of teenage death in America, it is insulting that this show even exists. 13 Reasons Why, created by Brian Yorkey, centers around teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he struggles to work out the reasons why his classmate and crush, Hannah (Katherine Langford), ended her life.
If the show’s purpose was to tackle the difficult questions of suicide in a delicate and sophisticated manner, it certainly failed. The major problem with this show is that its target audience is teenagers. Teenagers, that might very well be going through similar situations as the characters in the show. While you may think relatability would be a positive force for this show, it isn’t. In fact, it’s downright dangerous. The show does such a good job of justifying Hannah’s need for self-harm and eventual suicide that it weaves a sickening trap for any viewer who may be thinking along the same lines. If you watch this show, please watch with precaution, or better yet scroll on and don’t waste your thoughts on it.
13. Fuller House (Avoid)
Caught in the craze of capitalizing on nostalgia comes Netflix’s Fuller House. The show focuses on D.J. Tanner-Fuller, (Cameron Candace Bure) now widowed and returned to her childhood home. Along with the help of her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and her best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber), the three are tasked with raising her three children. Sound familiar?
While the idea of seeing the original show’s premise come full circle through DJ’s perspective is enticing, this show does not have one original bone in its body. Instead of enhancing our nostalgia by moving the story into the modern age, Fuller House relies so heavily on its predecessor it feels as though the actors are being held hostage and forced to repeat the same outdated jokes, catchphrases, and plot points for the sadistic amusement of its “audience.” The irony pervades, but in the worst way. The actors are so self-aware it is not even fun to hate-watch.
12. The Crown (Watch)
You may think The Crown is just another historical drama bent on over-sensationalizing the royal family. Believe me, it is much more than that.
Created and written by Peter Morgan, The Crown, starring Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and John Lithgow, focuses on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and asks the fascinating question, “What is the purpose of having a monarch in a Post-WWII United Kingdom?” Morgan tackles this question with grace and humanity showing all perspectives. The church, the state, the public, and even the royal family have varying opinions and show no fear in forcing their dogma’s upon the newly crowned Queen.
Still, The Crown goes deeper than that. It has a delightfully human side that previous biographical dramas tend to miss. Its characters are riddled with depth and Morgan never misses a chance to showcase it. John Lithgow’s portrayal of Winston Churchill is worth the 10-episode binge on its own. But the real star is Claire Foy as Elizabeth II. With her piercing eyes and excellent poise, she is perfectly suited to bringing England’s conflicted Queen to life.
11. Miranda Sings: Haters Back Off (Avoid)
Where to even begin? To be honest I do not want to waste too many words on this. Miranda Sings: Haters Back Off takes a novelty Youtube comedy act and drives it into the ground. It is true that Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger) was a viral hit and her cult following cannot be denied. However, the moment you take Miranda beyond her Youtube fame, you begin to realize just how flat the entire premise is.
Miranda Sings exists in what appears to be a world not unlike Napoleon Dynamite’s, where apathetic and uninteresting characters reign. Honestly, it’s almost as if the writer’s did not even try with this one. The comedy in this show is so lacking it is depressing. Even Miranda, who managed to garner a laugh or two on Youtube, is so obnoxious it hurts. The next time you find yourself scrolling through Netflix in search of a show that will have you rolling in stitches, scroll on my friend. This show will not only fail you, it will make you wonder if comedy is dead.
10. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Watch)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, is comedic genius. On the brink of releasing its third season, the show centers around Kimmy, (Ellie Kemper) an incredibly optimistic young woman who finds herself readjusting to life in New York City after being rescued from an apocalyptic cult.
Kimmy Schmidt is witty, heartfelt, and absurdly hilarious. If you are a fan of 30 Rock this show is definitely for you. The characters are well-written, lovable, vibrant, and best of all quotable as hell. Especially Titus Andromedon, (Titus Burgess) who constantly steals the show with his flamboyant fierceness. Trust me, if you haven’t seen Titus’s self-made music video “Peeno Noir” you are missing out.
9. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Avoid)
I will be honest, I had high hopes for this one. Neil Patrick Harris has had many hits in the past. With his resurgence in popularity from How I Met Your Mother to his excellent portrayal of Dr. Horrible in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, there was very little doubt that N.P.H.’s A Series of Unfortunate Events would be anything else but a success.
While the show has plenty of quirk and a decent amount of comedy, what it is severely lacking is heart. Fascinating characters are whittled down to base caricatures. The Baudelaire children, whom the series follows after a mysterious fire seemingly kills their parents and burns down their childhood home, are stiff and bland. Even N.P.H. consistently feels flat as the devious and eccentric villain of the show, Count Olaf.
8. Iron Fist (Avoid)
As a huge fan of Marvel and all its properties, Iron Fist, the latest edition to Netflix’s corner of the MCU was a major disappointment. Bestowed with a mystical force known as the Iron Fist, Danny Rand returns to New York City in hopes of discovering his purpose in life. Let’s be clear, how this show fails to meet expectations could be an article all on its own. What could have been an action-packed martial arts thriller turns out to be a poorly written, plot-hole ridden, soap opera slog-fest.
There is not one redeeming aspect to this show. The characters are bland and the actors who portray them are worse. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is completely unlikable as our would-be hero. Jones’s portrayal of Danny is so inconsistent you cannot get a bead on who the character actually is. Even Colleen Wing, (Jessica Henwick) who could have been a fascinating character is eclipsed half-way through the series by a pointless plot twist that negates everything we’ve come to learn and actually like about her. Worst of all, what little martial arts there is in the show is just plain awful. Recycled fighting patterns edited to pieces to hide the fact that Finn Jones cannot fight. I cringe at the thought that Danny Rand will be a staple character in the upcoming Defenders series. The promos look promising but thus far any footage of Danny shown is damaging to my hopes and dreams.
7. Halt & Catch Fire (Watch)
On the verge of releasing its fourth season, Halt & Catch Fire is the unsung hero of AMC. Set in the 1980s, the series takes you on a tour of the technological revolution through the eyes of an engineer, a visionary, and a prodigy whose innovations challenge the corporate giants of the decade. This show has it all. Arresting dialogue, high stakes, and passionate characters.
It’s hard to tell who in this show is more thrilling to watch: Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) with her revolutionary genius and rebel attitude, Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) with his hunger to achieve relevance and unfailing ability to stick his foot in his mouth, or Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) the wordsmith who can make any situation profitable. And while we continuously root for this trio and want them to overcome their corporate foes, it is even more fun to watch the team clash and ultimately self-destruct at every turn. I will admit, I have been guilty of binge watching this show to point of pulling several all-nighters. It draws you in that much. It’s remarkable that Halt & Catch Fire has gone unnoticed for this long, but trust me when I say this show is definitely worth your time.
6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Watch)
Thanks to the magic of crowdfunding, Mystery Science Theater 3000, is back and stronger than ever! Created by Joel Hodgson, the premise of the show is that a human test subject (Jonah Ray) has been imprisoned aboard the spacecraft “Satellite of Love” and is forced to watch terrible moves to see which one will make him go mad. In other words, the entire show is an excuse to sit down and make fun of bad films.
So if you enjoy heckling and tearing awful film to shreds, look no further – this show is for you and all your friends. The best part is the show does not require any serious thinking to enjoy. In fact, you don’t really even have to fully pay attention for it to induce copious amounts of laughter. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is great to have running in the background as you entertain guests, finish work on your computer, or if you just need something mindless playing to relax you. Did I mention Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day lend their talents to this round of the series as the nefarious Mads?
5. Hemlock Grove (Avoid)
It’s hard to believe that Netflix’s first foray into original material was a complete disaster. Hemlock Grove, created by Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman, is gothic horror at its worst. In short, the show is another painful product of the vampire vs. werewolves craze spurred on by the misjudgment that audiences wanted a grittier version of Twilight.
I honestly cannot understand how this show still has a following or how it has lasted three seasons. The premise is as tired as the first thousand times it was tried and literally offers nothing new to the mythos. The actors are boring and the plot is horrendous. Hemlock Grove may have kicked off Netflix’s supply of original content, but it is certainly a foundation that would best be forgotten.
4. Black Mirror (Watch)
Hailed as the modern Twilight Zone and revived by Netflix, Black Mirror is not a show you want to miss. Created by Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror is an anthology series committed to revealing the dark side of life in the technological age. Each episode consists of a different cast of characters and focuses on the horrors created by present and futuristic technology. The scariest part of the show is that most of the tech presented would be completely viable given a couple decades of innovation.
But it isn’t just horror that Black Mirror has to offer. The stories presented are thrilling and enticing. They are human and horrific. Best of all they are character driven. With actors such as Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), and Mackenzie Davis (Halt & Catch Fire) on board it is no wonder this show is a smash hit. With season four on the horizon and the show’s hype very much alive there is no better time to start watching. Black Mirror is guaranteed to entertain. It is also guaranteed to leave you lying awake at night asking one of society’s harrowing questions, “Is technological progress really good?”
3. Sandy Wexler (Avoid)
If you have seen one Adam Sandler film you have seen them all. An egotistical egghead with a lisp who finds love, but is so incompetent that it takes a miracle for him to win the girl. Sandy Wexler is Adam Sandler at his most obnoxious. A talent manager in L.A. with no backing is put to the test when he falls in love with his newest client, the talented singer, Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson).
The entire Happy Madison team comes out for this one and personally I wish they hadn’t. It just reminds you how dependent they are on Adam Sandler’s success in the 90s. Which brings me to my next point. Adam Sandler’s comedy, while a hit in the 90s is no longer relevant. Audiences are craving a different style of humor these days and Sandler just doesn’t seem to know how to deliver anymore. Sandy Wexler is dry and devoid of humor, and where it attempts to be heartfelt it fails.
2. The Get Down (Watch)
The Get Down, created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis, is a phenomenal show set in the 1970s, all about a group of teenagers from the South Bronx who find empowerment through the birth of hip-hop, punk, and disco. If there was ever a show about pulling yourself up by your own boot straps, this is the one.
New York City is in disarray and on the verge of bankruptcy, yet Ezekiel “Books” Figuero (Justice Smith) is able to see the light. He pours his soul into poetry which eventually turns to rap with the help of DJ Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), and their friends who come to be known in the Bronx as The Get Down Brothers. Meanwhile Figuero’s love interest, Mylene Cruz (Herizen F. Guardiola) dreams of a life of music as a disco star, and finds herself propelled into the music industry against her ultra-religious father’s wishes. These two narratives dance between each other showcasing the best and the worst of New York City in the 1970s. The show does not shy away from tackling racism, injustice to minorities, and gang violence either as Ezekiel and his crew often find themselves at the center of the fight for the Bronx’s very soul. A vibrant and historically relevant show with a fantastic score and amazing musical numbers, The Get Down is a must watch for all Netflix viewers.
1. Bill Nye Saves the World (Watch)
Bill Nye is back and he is here to save the world. A phenomenon of the 90s, kids flocked to their televisions to learn science from Bill Nye’s hilarious and engaging series, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Now Bill is back and he’s got a lot to say about how science impacts politics, society, and pop culture. In other words, Bill is here to say, “Wake up! And stop ignoring the scientific facts!” A bit pretentious you might think, but Bill tackles dispelling anti-scientific claims made by politicians, industry, and religious leaders in the best way. He confronts these issues head on with humor and a biting sarcasm that never fails to entertain. Best of all, it’s a science talk show, thus creating a mainstream media for scientific debate and intriguing discussion.