In 2017, the streaming service wars kicked up big time. Hulu led the way with some amazing new shows, the biggest being winning Emmys for The Handmaid’s Tale. CBS Access offered a new Star Trek show and The Good Fight to get fans interested. But Netflix still leads the way. The channel boasts the largest selection of original programming of any streaming service and something for everyone. Drama, comedy, action, it goes all over. That’s not to mention how Netflix has exclusive rights to several CW shows you can’t find elsewhere to binge on. And 2017 was no different; between new and original series, there were a lot of ladies to enjoy. The cast of Orange is the New Black continued to impress; Felicia Day made the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fun; and tons more of intriguing ladies. But a few stood over the rest in various ways.
Yes, they were beautiful and sexy and a few had no issues doffing it all on camera. But they’re also fantastic actresses who had some great turns. A few of them had projects that weren’t that good but somehow, they managed to spark them up just by being there. These are some very interesting ladies, mostly in Netflix originals although one set from a show notable for becoming a binge favorite from another network. There are so many reasons to watch Netflix but these ladies made it even better. Here are 15 who gave fans of the network so much to enjoy in so many ways.
15 Logan Browning Brought Up Major Conversations (Dear White People)
Netflix has a lot of hit shows but only a few have attained that much desired “100 percent rating” at various critical sites. Dear White People has done so with critics united in praising a series that can sometimes be uncomfortable but also stunningly great. Logan Browning stars as the ironically named Samantha White, a student at a mostly white college. Sam keeps up a radio show by that same title where she regularly slams white people on their notions of race and how foolish it is for them to even think they can understand what life is like for black people. However, Sam finds herself attacked by her friends for dating a white man. The series mixed together gripping storylines with huge controversy over white folks dressing in blackface and how it was received. It even brought up the division between “light” and “dark” skinned black people and how that added more trouble.
Browning was steamy in the role, including some very hot love scenes. But her true fire was on the air, bringing up very tough questions that make viewers think on where they stand on such issues. The series remains one of Netflix’s best critical hits and a firebrand thanks to Browning showing how the world is less black and white than we thought.
14 Naomi Watts Made The Most Of Short Time (Gypsy)
Even Netflix isn’t perfect. Gypsy was pushed hard by the network as a must-watch drama and obviously intended to be an awards darling. However, critics didn’t respond well and the show was axed after just one season, a rarity for a Netflix original. Which is too bad as the series did have a very great leading lady. Already a film veteran and Oscar nominee, Naomi Watts was well cast as Jean Holloway, a therapist who could clearly use some therapy herself. Seemingly happily married, Jean is soon pulled into interfering in the lives of her patients. This led Watts to showing some sexy stuff, hooking up with men and women alike and seeming to enjoy her turns. Jean balanced a life with her family with one of living free and got involved in some dark stuff. Yet the lovely actress made it all shine well and pushing the psychodrama up more. The series may have been short-lived yet Watts had to stand as a good lady to captivate for its run.
13 Sarah Gadon Kept Us Guessing (The Handmaid's Tale)
Hulu had a major advantage over Netflix this year with The Handmaid’s Tale, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s bestseller. But Netflix responded by adapting another of Atwood’s works and making it feel just as important. Alias Grace focused on Grace (Sarah Gadon), a woman who’s spent 15 years in jail for murder in 1843. A doctor tries to figure out what really happened, leading to Grace explaining her life. Gadon won massive acclaim for her turn that kept viewers guessing who the real Grace was: A cunning and manipulative murderess or an innocent woman wrongly blamed? While set in the past, the show felt timely talking about such issues as women denied rights, medical help and more while facing rampant sexism. More than once, we see a crime horrible by any standards but excused because of the genders and class, something that feels hasn’t changed much at all. Gadon’s performance was hypnotic, keeping fans enthralled until the end and proved that even in “olden times,” a lady could shine in a hot way.
12 Cobie Smulders Got Friendly (Friends From College)
Imagine if Friends did a revival where it was revealed that for the last twenty years, Chandler and Rachel were sleeping together behind Monica’s back. That’s basically the plot of Friends From College, Netflix’s often raunchy new comedy. Cobie Smulders was Lisa, the wife of Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) who didn’t know that since college, he’d been cheating on her with best friend Sam (Annie Parisse). Already a comedy vet from How I Met Your Mother, Smulders was able to cut loose without network censors to show a hotter side. Whether nailing a great laugh line or so nutty physical comedy, Smulders was up for it and nailed every beat. She got hot and heavy with some love scenes and enjoyed getting a raunchier side to herself than viewers normally saw. The series was criticized for “unlikeable” characters yet Smulders made Lisa’s struggles with her job and relationships easy to enjoy and someone you’d more than want to get friendly with.
11 Rosario Dawson Is The Marvel MVP (Iron Fist)
Rosario Dawson has carved a career in movies for very hot and sexy roles like Rent, Trance, Men in Black II and many more. Funny and very hot, her move to Netflix’s Marvel shows seemed odd but worked. She has appeared in each one and thus in 2017, she did double duty as Claire Randall, a nurse dragged into a world of vigilantes. Iron Fist was seen as a huge letdown to many with bad acting, pacing and writing but at least Dawson elevated it. Claire got to get in on the adventure, flying to an ancient city to face the deadly ninjas and a dry humor to spark the show up a bit more.
Then in The Defenders, Claire is still doing her job, getting Luke Cage and Danny Rand to meet and realize they’re on the same side. She also plays interference with the other heroes and their allies and a much-needed voice of sanity to things. Dawson didn’t show a lot of that body but still looked stunningly hot to show you don’t need a costume to stand out on these shows.
10 Michelle Dockery Got Wicked (Godless)
Downton Abbey is well known for its charm and showing a staid British world. Michelle Dockery was a highlight as Lady Mary, a calm and suave woman of manners. Since the show ended, Dockery has sure been leaving that image behind. On TNT’s Good Behavior, she’s great as Letty, a hard-drinking, bed-hopping con artist tied in with a hitman and acting up in nasty ways. But this year, Dockery got huge attention for Godless, Netflix’s acclaimed Western mini-series. It’s a classic story as a ruthless outlaw gang track a renegade member to a small town. However, because most of the men died in a mining accident, the women have to step up and defend the place. Dockery was great as the mother fighting on, able to blast guys away and make those outfits look nice. It got hotter, including Dockery baring it all on camera for the first time in some gripping sequences. The show got huge critical attention and should have been more watched to see Dockery get a lot dirtier than fans expected.
9 Bella Thorne Made A Terrible Movie Watchable (The Babysitter)
Like any cable channel, Netflix does some original movies. And sadly, quite a few of them turn out to be frankly horrible. The Babysitter has to fit into that category. The movie has a twelve-year-old kid watching his babysitter and her friends play spin the bottle…and then stab the guy the bottle lands on. They’re a demonic cult trying to pull off a sacrifice and the poor kid is next on their plate. It’s meant as a black comedy but just comes off lazy with cheap scares and laughs and no real plot besides meandering around. However, it does boast a reason to watch in Bella Thorne. The always smoking hot redhead looks fantastic as Allison, who spends the movie in a cheerleading outfit. The sight of Thorne’s great legs in that skirt is enough to get attention with her sardonic humor and making out with another girl. True, the rest of the movie is a mess but Bella manages to captivate and make it worth sitting through just for her.
8 The Ladies Made Riverdale Worth Binging (Riverdale)
One of Netflix’s best moves was to have an exclusive deal with the CW which allows them to release entire seasons of that network’s shows just a day after their finale airs. This turned out to be a big deal for Riverdale. At first, the idea of a moody take on the Archie comics sounded like a joke but the show turned into a surprise hit for the network. Yet many believe it really took off over the summer as the Netflix release allowed new fans to binge the whole season and realize how cool the show was. And a key reason was the ladies. Lili Reinhart and Camilla Mendes gave new spark to the Betty/Veronica relationship (complete with a brief kiss). Each was shown tough and willing to go to extremes yet hot stuff. The scene where Betty dresses in black wig and swimsuit to take on an attacker was wild and added to the show’s vibe.
Perhaps best of all was Madeline Petsch who stole every scene as Cheryl Blossom. With her fiery red hair and outfits, Cheryl was already hot. But the way she was shown as possibly a total nutcase made her even more endearing and smoking. Yes, the show is intriguing with its plots, twists and turns yet it was its trio of main female leads that helped make this a must-binge and why Netflix is tops in that department.
7 Katherine Langford Broke Our Hearts (13 Reasons Why)
Few TV shows made such a huge impact this year like 13 Reasons Why. Adapting the best-selling novel, the series rocked viewers, especially teenagers with its powerful tale and acting. After a young teen kills herself, she leaves behind a set of tapes listing the various people who pushed her to this and why. Katherine Langford was Hannah Baker and her performance pulled in viewers by the droves. Talented beyond her years, Langford showed a very complex figure in Hannah, at times easy to root for but other times easy to hate. She was no saint and it’s obvious many of her “recollections” are through her own viewpoint and not what really happened.
Many are divided on this show because of that tough material, the questions of whether or not to agree with Hannah and more. Yet Langford was just astounding in the role and captivated in her ups and downs. The biggest was the actual suicide scene, gripping and stunning and could make fans tearful. Many can debate the character but Langford was the biggest reason to watch this show.
6 Rose McIver Caused A Huge Fuss (My Christmas Prince)
Rose McIver has had a good presence on Netflix. The New Zealand actress gained fame as Yellow Ranger Summer on Power Rangers RPM. Thanks to Netflix’s exclusive deal with the CW, fans can enjoy all three seasons of iZombie with McIver as an undead medical examiner. However, McIver got some unique attention with the Netflix original movie My Christmas Prince. The story had McIver as a reporter headed to a small European nation to do a story and soon falls in love with the handsome prince. It’s a light-hearted comedy, better fitting for Hallmark and thus somewhat forgettable.
However, in mid-December, Netflix put out a tweet noting that 53 users had watched the movie at least once a day since it premiered “and we know your names.” The reaction varied from amusement to outrage Netflix knew so much of its customers. But it proved to be a genius marketing tool as suddenly people were watching the movie to see what the fuss was about. Thus, McIver got a lot more coverage to show her lovely charms and made this an unlikely holiday treat.
5 Krysten Ritter Got Her Action Jones On (Jessica Jones)
Many critics call Jessica Jones the best of Marvel’s Netflix series. That’s mainly for its leading lady as Krysten Ritter was terrific as the super-strong gal with a huge chip on her shoulder. In that series, Jessica was a woman working as a private eye while handling with a monstrous enemy and romancing Luke Cage. It was dark and gripping and fans excited for her return in The Defenders. Jessica was the best part of that show, more grounded than the other heroes but smart, using her investigative skills to help. Her sardonic humor was terrific with barbed one-liners and a willingness to drink anyone under the table for info. She handled the action scenes like the great hallway fight and tossing a car through a window as an entrance cue. The show was a great team-up yet Ritter was the one giving it special spark and much-needed gal power to make it all work. Fans are more excited than ever for the next season of Jones as Ritter made jeans and leather jacket hotter than any swimsuit and Jessica a great heroine despite her protests.
4 Claire Foy Was Regal (The Crown)
While it wasn’t the awards darling as hoped, The Crown still won over critics majorly. The idea of telling the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II is intriguing and Claire Foy matched the daunting task of bringing this iconic figure to better life. Foy captures the look of Elizabeth but also rises up as she has to become Queen and handle a difficult time. The first season was good but the second season was much better. Elizabeth has to handle a war in Egypt, becoming a mother and her husband’s infidelity. She has to do it all as Queen, the face of her nation and Foy was amazing showing what hid under that cool exterior. A great episode was a visit from President Kennedy and Elizabeth taken aback that Jackie seemed to have the “queen” role much better in hand than she did. Foy will be ceding the role to Olivia Coleman for season three but for these two years, she did her subject proud to be a truly regal presence and actually make Elizabeth hot.
3 Robin Wright Got Her Turn (House Of Cards)
The legacy of House of Cards is sadly marred forever. Thanks to the charges of Kevin Spacey having spent years doing terrible things to young actors, Netflix’s acclaimed drama has taken a severe blow. Spacey was its heart as the corrupt Frank Underwood but the show must now deal with how to continue without him. Thankfully, they have a fantastic backup plan in Robin Wright. Since the beginning, Wright has been terrific as Claire, the Lady Macbeth of this tale, as genius a power player as her husband. The latest season really ramped it up as Claire managed to become Vice-President to work under her husband, carrying on an affair but still able to stand up to a dark Russian President.
But bigger was the moment where, for the first time, Claire addresses the camera just like Frank always does. It was short with her simply saying “I always knew you were there, I just didn’t care” and threw viewers. Things pushed more and more with further twists and gave Wright a brilliant chance to shine. The final shot of the season was Claire declaring “my turn” to the camera. That turn will come in the final season for Wright to remind folks she was a better reason to watch this show.
2 Alison Brie Was A Ring Warrior (Glow)
For some years, Alison Brie has been building up a resume as a fun actress. She got attention as a wife on Mad Men and made the most of her time there. That led to her breakout as the quirky Annie on the beloved comedy Community. Brie has popped in movies as well, balancing good comic timing with great, hot appeal. That’s paid off with her leading role in GLOW, cited by critics as one of the best new shows of the year. As would-be actress Ruth, Brie is great playing a woman clearly overestimating her talents and stardom. She soon finds herself cast in a TV show of a female wrestling group and taking on the character of a nutty Russian heel. Complicating matters is how among the cast is Ruth’s best friend who’s just discovered her husband has been sleeping with Ruth.
The pilot was notable for Brie going nude for the first time in a hot love scene. But since then, she’s shown the great depths of the character, looking great in the ‘80s fashions and hair and in the ring. Brie looked terrific but made you care for her character, flaws and all, to elevate the show and make this better than most modern wrestling.
1 Katee Sackhoff Arrested Our Attention (Longmire)
Katee Sackhoff has always had an ability to get the attention of viewers. That started with her role as Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica that got sci-fi fans going. She followed it with turns on various TV shows from CSI to The Bionic Woman and managing to stand out well. Sackhoff had found success with Longmire, an A&E series playing Victoria “Vic” Moretti, a Philly cop who took what she thought would be a quiet job as deputy of a Wyoming town. However, Vic soon finds herself with a boss who acts like a classic cowboy and battles with drug dealing Native American gangsters. The show was axed after four seasons but massive fan demand had Netflix reviving it for two more.
The latest aired this year to give Sackhoff meaty material as Vic prepares for motherhood before a personal tragedy changes things. Somehow, Sackhoff made that deputy uniform look incredibly hot and sexy and yet matched it with a rugged toughness that wouldn’t quit. It built up to a series finale where Sackhoff got a major turn to leave viewers happy. The show was never a huge ratings hit but still got a good audience for Sackhoff to arrest viewers well.