Believe it or not, Netflix has been around in one form or another as far back as 1997. It was only in 2007, though, that the company became the ridiculously huge juggernaut that it is today. That was the year that Netflix really amped up its streaming side rather than focusing mainly on DVD and later Blu-ray sales.
These days, the majority of households tend to have Netflix at their disposal. With on-demand streaming at the user’s fingertips, Netflix has become a staple of everyday life for many people, with it being the perfect way to devour entertainment in a way that can be tailored to the needs and availability of each individual person.
From movies, to documentaries, to TV shows, to completely original programming, the continuous rise of Netflix over the past two decades has been impressive to behold. One problem that we’ve all had with Netflix, though, is that moment where you find yourself scrolling through the service’s near-endless selection of programming, yet you’re spoilt for choice to such an extent that you have absolutely no idea whatsoever on what to put on.
That’s where this article comes to your assistance, for here we have 15 things that you need to be checking out whenever you’re stuck on what to watch the next time you load Netflix up.
15 He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe
For those of us of a certain vintage, the moment we saw He-Man and the Masters of the Universe pop up on Netflix, a huge grin appeared on our faces. And if you’re asking ‘What’s a He-Man?’ shame on you!
One of the greatest cartoon series of the 1980s, He-Man initially ran from 1983 to 1985, with Adam, Prince of Eternia at the core of the story. With the no-good Skeletor out to claim Eternia’s Castle Grayskull, Adam picks up his Sword of Power and shouts, “By the Power of Grayskull” – magically turning into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.
Campy? Yes. Unoriginal? Yes. Repetitive? Yes. But to a certain generation, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a vital stop on their regular tours of Netflix. And if you’ve never checked out this classic of yesteryear, Netflix has every single episode available for you to give the once-over.
One thing that Netflix is regularly brilliant for aredocumentaries. As such, it’s only right to include a few docs on this list.
Out of all of the plentiful, wide-ranging documentaries available on the streaming service, one of the very best is Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s 2013 Blackfish. Taking a look at SeaWorld and, to a broader extent, the treatment of animals in captivity, the film focuses on Tilikum, an orca that was involved in the deaths of three people.
Copwerthwaite sets out to explore the concept that the treatment of orcas at locations such as SeaWorld can often lead to a buildup of anxiety and aggression in a whale, and she delves into what really goes on behind the scenes at SeaWorld. An eye-opening, game-changing documentary, Blackfish is the stuff of legend when it comes to impactful documentaries.
You may have seen Sense8 in the news lately, and that’s due to the huge outcry from fans over the decision to cancel the series after just two seasons.
Whilst this cult sci-fi series has indeed be canned, that’s not to say you should let that put you off checking the show out. From Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski and The Matrix’s Wachowski siblings, the basic premise of the series is that it centers on eight strangers dotted around the globe who all of a sudden become mentally and emotionally linked together.
Absolutely stunning to look at and with plenty of interesting plot points and dilemmas to mull over, the show really started to up its game as it found its feet with its second season, and the journey taken with the primary characters will have you eager for more. Only, you won't get it, for the show has definitely been scrapped despite various online petitions.
12 Here Comes The Devil
Also known by its original title of Ahi va el diablo, Here Comes the Devil is one of Netflix’s greatest secrets.
So often, we’ve all found ourselves scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through Netflix, staring at movie titles and just waiting for one to jump out at us. Without any of the glamor, glitz, or budget of some of its bigger name horror contemporaries, Here Comes the Devil is a picture that may well have slipped under your radar.
To go into any major plot details would run the risk of spoilers, but Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s movie is a tense, terrifying supernatural effort that hinges on two parents trying to find out what happened to their two children after they’d briefly disappeared. Tinged with dread and with plot twists aplenty, Here Comes the Devil is one of Netflix’s greatest hidden gems.
11 Making A Murderer
The ten-episode Making a Murderer documentary series is one you’ve likely heard of. It’s also ones of those series that you simply have to see if you’ve yet to check it out.
First landing on Netflix at the very tail end of 2015, this soon became one of the hottest properties in recent memory. Looking at the real life story of Steven Avery, we see a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years but then accused of a brutal murder after he was released. Is this another case of pinning the crime on the wrong guy, or did Avery really kill Teresa Halbach as accused?
Filmed over an impressive 10 years, Making a Murderer starts off slow but has one of TV’s most magical elements in its favor: the end of each episode instantly has you hankering to see the next outing.
10 The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake
For anybody with even a fleeting interest in pop culture in the 1980s and into the ‘90s, the name Jake “The Snake” Roberts will instantly conjure up the image of an eerie, sinister wrestling bad guy who loved nothing more than dropping his opponents with his patented DDT before draping his python, Damien, over the body of his fallen foe. Sadly, Jake is also famous for his battles with drugs and alcohol.
If you’ve kept up with Jake’s story over the years, you’ll know he’s had some hideous and horrible lows spiraling from his demons – such as what was documented in the excellent Beyond the Mat. Like so many, Roberts has looked to clean up his life time and time again, only to constantly relapse.
Now, with the help of his longtime friend and fellow grappler Diamond Dallas Page, Jake looks to finally defeat his demons and reclaim his life in one of the most emotional and hard-hitting documentaries you'll ever see. Even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you can’t help but be drawn in by this fascinating film that sees one once-great man striving for redemption.
9 Marvel’s Daredevil
No, not to be confused with the 2003 Ben Affleck-headlined movie, Marvel’s Daredevil is absolutely a must-see.
Don’t be put off by the false notion of shiny superheroes and magical powers, for this is a comic book-driven show that is vastly different from the big-screen antics of gods, super soldiers, and hulking green rage monsters.
Whilst Daredevil – which has Charlie Cox in the title role – is indeed a series based on a famed comic book character, this is a brutal, gritty, engaging and fascinating show that has a dark and adult slant to it. And quite simply, it’s one of the outright most ‘must-see’ things on Netflix right now. Set on the very grim and bleak street level of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daredevil’s two pulsating seasons are the perfect way to get into Marvel’s shared Netflix-exclusive world that also includes Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, and soon Marvel’s The Defenders.
8 Kung Fury
From David Sandberg – who later went on to helm the impressive, atmospheric Lights Out – Kung Fury is one of the most bizarre and brilliant things to come along in many a year.
Clocking in at just 30 minutes, this mini feature takes place in an arcade game-esque setting and sees a badass detective given all kinds of ridiculous ninja skills in order go back in time to fight Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
Truth be told, I’d like to think that you’ve already seen Kung Fury and absolutely loved it, but surprisingly this delightful and kitsch action-comedy seems to have flown under the radar of many people. If you’re one of those, you’ll find there’s no better way to spend half an hour of your time than by enjoying the glorious excesses of Kung Fury.
7 The Final Girls
At times, we all love a disposable slasher movie that we can just pop on and watch play out in the usual generic way with ‘safe,’ unsurprising kills as a brutal murderer runs rampant. With Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls, though, we saw that played-out formula played around with.
American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga plays a teenager whose B-movie actress mother (Watchmen’s Malin Akerman) is killed in a car accident. When Farmiga’s character ends up going to the cinema with her friends to watch one of her deceased mom’s old slasher films, she and her friends end up sucked into the camp and cliched 1970s picture. Not only does this mean that Farmiga’s Max gets to spend time with her mother’s character, but she also has to avoid the clutches of the killer at large in the film while also attempting to get back to the real world.
Funny, poignant, and with a good helping of gore, The Final Girls is well worth hunting down.
6 Searching For Sugar Man
Having won a bucketload of plaudits and awards upon its release – most noticeably a BAFTA Award and an Oscar – Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man is a cult favorite of many. On the flip side of that, however, is the fact that so many people have never even heard of this documentary. If you’re one of the latter, luckily for you, Netflix has this hugely acclaimed film available for your viewing pleasure.
Sixto Rodriguez was a relatively unknown musician who had a small spot of success in the late 1970s. With Rodriguez having garnered quite the cult following in South Africa, Searching for Sugar Man sees two fans embarking on a mission of discovery as the 1990s came to a close. That mission was to find out whether the rumored death of Rodriguez was indeed true, and, if not, then to find out what had really happened to this mysterious figure.
A commentary both on fandom and on mercurial figures who have a huge rise and a prompt fall from grace, Search for Sugar Man is a documentary you’ve likely never heard of, but it’s also one you simply need to see.
5 Stranger Things
Chances are, you’ll have heard a whole load of people championing Stranger Things over the past year or so. And rightly so.
From the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things is one of those shows that came from nowhere and became an instant hit. A 1980s-set mystery tale, the show wears its influences loudly and proudly with the likes of The Goonies, Stand by Me, It and even The Monster Squad all clearly having played a part in the Duffers putting this together.
With a stunning cast of young relative unknowns topped off with bigger names such as Winona Ryder and David Harbour, Stranger Things is expertly put together and brimming with stunning performances. It’s also one of those shows that once you start, you’ll rip through its eight-episode debut season in one sitting. With Season 2 set for this October, this is a series you simply must check out ASAP.
4 Bates Motel
Despite the whole notion of reinventing Psycho in a contemporary setting being one that many longtime genre fans didn’t take to too kindly, Bates Motel has gone on to be one of the very best TV shows of the past decade – if not the best, in the eyes of some.
With Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga as Norman and Norma Bates, respectively, this series serves as a prequel of sorts to Alfred Hitchcock’s famed Psycho. And while it does tweak things a tad, every change and difference feel justified and well thought-out for the world in which the show inhabits.
Given that the minds behind Bates Motel always envisioned it as a five-season show, it means that the series never feels anything less than perfectly paced. With the first four of those seasons now on Netflix, you'd best check in with Bates Motel to get up to speed before Season 5 lands on the on-demand service.
3 Green Room
Big fan of neo-Nazi-driven thrillers? Well, Green Room will be right up your street.
In fairness, Jeremy Saulnier’s 2015 movie will appeal to most viewers, for it’s one of the more suspenseful efforts to come along in the past decade. When a small-time punk band (including the sadly deceased Anton Yelchin) take a gig at an isolated club, it soon becomes clear that their hosts are actually a bunch of neo-Nazis. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the band soon see something terrible take place – something that sees the Patrick Stewart-led neo-Nazis determined not to let the group out of the venue alive.
Sir Patrick is in fine form, as are Anton Yelchin and the rest of the film’s key players, and Green Room marks director Saulnier out as a huge talent to keep your eye on.
2 The Battered Bastards Of Baseball
Chapman Way and Maclain Way’s The Battered Bastards of Baseball is one of those rare delights that you really would never believe was true… apart from the fact that it all really happened and is totally, totally true.
A documentary, this feature looks at the Portland Mavericks baseball team. Now defunct, this minor league team had no ties to any parent team in the big leagues and had to constantly fight an uphill battle to keep on going as an independent organization.
Focusing on a team of misfits who simply just loved the game of baseball, the Portland Mavericks were owned by Kurt Russell’s father Bing, and at one point had Kurt (and his glorious chin!) as one of their star players. In addition to this, they had players disregarded by the bigger teams for being too old, plus their share of once-disgraced players.
An enjoyable celebration of the underdog, The Battered Bastards of Baseball will absolutely amaze you with its near-unbelievable tale.
1 Hunt For The Wilderpeople
For anyone familiar with director Taika Waititi’s previous features – Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, and What We Do in the Shadows – you’ll know what sort of heartwarming and unique talent the New Zealander is. And with Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Waititi has made his most popular picture yet.
Much like those aforementioned three titles, Wilderpeople is one of those films that you really can’t do justice to by trying to explain it to someone. In its simplest form, the movie revolves around a young boy (Julian Dennison) and his grumpy old foster dad (Sam Neill) as they get lost in the bush while social services attempts to track them down.
As mentioned, to sum up the plot of any of Waikiki’s pictures is always a tricky one, but Wilderpeople is a fun, quirky, emotive, beautiful, and truly stunning film that you’ll instantly want to tell all your friends about.
Sources: Netflix, Wikipedia