Over the past decade, Netflix has made a monumental shift. In the mid-2000s, Netflix and Blockbuster (Redbox too) dominated the home-rental scene, with Blockbuster double-dipping in both brick-and-mortar rental stores, along with their home-delivery service which allowed users to order movies that would arrive by mail. Netflix had a similar delivery model and still does to this day. The service was as revolutionary for the entertainment industry as milk delivery was for the dairy industry.
Today, Blockbuster has become nothing more than a faded imprint on closed buildings and I think it’s fair to argue that Netflix aided in driving the nails into Blockbuster’s coffin. From the ashes came a Netflix that was its own entity and would produce its own content on a grand scale. From runaway success stories like Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, and the cult classic Sense8, Netflix is showing no signs of stopping.
However, much like David S. Pumpkins on the “100 Floors of Frights” SNL skit, not every endeavor Netflix produces is a hit and we’re here to help you sort through some of the best and worst the streaming service has to offer.
Did you see something on Netflix that you think belongs on this list? Be sure to leave a comment and share this article with all of your binge-watching friends!
16. Flop: The Babysitter
The Babysitter was Netflix’s Halloween horror film created to go alongside its other spooky October release: Stranger Things 2. Sadly, it seems that Stranger Things didn’t have to steal the spotlight, because it looks like The Babysitter never really had its moment to begin with. It’s a tough spot to be in for Netflix, because if they advertise something too far in advance, the hype can die out too quickly. But in this case, failing to properly advertise and promote the film contributed to its downfall. The cast was sizeable, featuring the likes of Robbie Amell (from The Flash), Samara Weaving, and Bella Thorne. The film was available to stream starting October 13, 2017 and was rather quick in receiving less-than-stellar reviews. Although it has above a 6 on IMDB, which is really not awful as far as horror movies go, it isn’t something to write home about either. If you’re a die-hard horror fan, there might be something of value in this for you, but you may be hard-pressed to find it enjoyable otherwise.
15. Hit: American Vandal
I first heard about American Vandal through the Twitter grapevine and figured that if so many people in my circle were talking about it, I should at least give the first episode a shot. And so I did, and I finished the first episode. Then the second. Then the third. Before I knew it, I had almost watched the entire series in one sitting. The show is a fictional high-school piece but is framed as a serious documentary investigation similar to Making a Murderer in terms of style and presentation. The crime the show centers around is a large-scale act of phallic vandalism on the faculty lot of a high school and the documentary sets to find the culprit responsible, or at least to exonerate, the prime suspect of the crime who claims he didn’t do it. It’s a captivating show that walks the line between realism and reality, considering some of the characters are so genuine that it feels like they aren’t even acting.
14. Flop: Death Note
From the moment the news broke that Death Note would be a reimagining of the classic anime set in America, it was met with harsh criticism and for good, fair reason. Before this announcement dropped, American cinema (both Hollywood and Netflix) were under fire for whitewashing characters that were originally of Asian descent because it took the opportunity for Asian actors and actresses to star in these films. The prime example of this was Scarlett Johansson’s casting in Ghost in the Shell. All this negative press definitely impacted the reception of the film, but the film itself did have some redeemable qualities. The most notable of these redeemers was Willem Dafoe’s iteration of Ryuk, however, that was also met with sharp criticism when Dafoe acknowledged that he hadn’t watched the series before filming.
13. Hit: GLOW
GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling) was a show that went under the radar for me for quite some time, but is a show that is worthy of binging and enjoying. Following the success of other Netflix period pieces (ie: Stranger Things), GLOW seeks to give its viewers an inside look into the world of wrestling during the 1980s and it’s exactly how you would imagine it. The show centers around its large cast in a way similar to Orange is the New Black. Having this different focus set allows for the show to stay fresh and then allow all the characters to come together and interact or in most cases, fight. I highly recommend the show to anyone looking for a dramatic, yet humorous, and well-choreographed show. I’m interested to see how this show does in the years to come.
12. Flop: Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later
I loved Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and felt that it was a great way to go back to the characters and wackiness of the film the series with, but I didn’t really see it going farther than a single season, given that there was only so much that could be done with the concept — or at least that was what I thought. As it turns out, a new season was going to be centered around the characters coming back for a ten-year reunion at the camp where hijinks would undoubtedly ensue. Most of the cast came back for the new season of the show — aside from Bradley Cooper, whose departure from the show was handled really well surprisingly enough. In the past 10 years, his character has had facial surgery that turns him into a completely different person (played now by Adam Scott) and the show continues on without a hitch. It’s a quirky show with a dedicated fanbase, but that sadly didn’t help the lukewarm reception of the new season.
11. Hit: Chris D’elia: Man On Fire
I’ve been a huge fan of Chris D’elia ever since I first heard him on “Ten Minute Podcast” and have stayed up to date with the comedian as he’s gone from shows like Whitney and Undateable to a series of Netflix original stand-up specials. The latest special from D’elia is Man on Fire which I rewatched while writing this article and had to pause it several times because I was once again laughing too hard and couldn’t focus on my writing. Turns out a lot of other people had similar experiences because the special is one of the funniest I’ve seen in a while and is one of D’elia’s best shows I’ve seen to date. I can’t recommend this special enough and I’m glad it has seen success. If you liked Man on Fire, you absolutely must check out his “Congratulations” podcast, I know you’ll love it.
10. Flop: Friends From College
Friends from College is a Netflix original comedy series created by Nicholas Stoller. You might recognize that name from a number of films and TV shows since the turn of the millennia. Some of his credits include directing both of the Neighbors films, a series about Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne dealing with unruly fraternity and sorority neighbors. This, coupled with a number of other notable credits had me interested in Friends from College when it was first announced. The show seemed like it was going to be similar to Friends, but with a cast of vulgar friends from college who start to reconnect with their old pals. As you can probably imagine, mischief ensues. I enjoyed multiple moments throughout the show but I never really got hooked on the series to the point where I still have a few episodes left and not much of a desire to go back and finish them.
9. Hit: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
If you have yet to see Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, I implore you to watch it as soon as you can. The film offers a unique look into what it truly means to become a character and Jim Carrey’s release of the documentary footage from Man on The Moon has allowed viewers to get an intense, in-depth look into who he is as a person, both during the time of the film and in this documentary, where you see two very different versions of Carrey’s persona. Present-day Jim Carrey exudes an air of introspectiveness and reflection on his past like someone who lost a close loved one but can remember them fondly. He speaks of metaphorical masks and how the on- and off-screen versions of himself would switch like a light. So many seem to see today’s Jim Carrey as someone who has gone crazy, but in fact, one could argue that he has simply let the idea and preoccupation over one’s own ego go in the wind, and he is now a man who exists in the present, simply being, never hesitating.
8. Flop: 13 Reasons Why
During its initial release, I remember 13 Reasons Why being heavily criticized for the way it handled its source material. There were numerous reports of the show misrepresenting depression, suicidal tendencies, and the entire process of recovery/procedure in the show. This sparked heated debates and left a sour taste in the mouths of many as the show premiered. This kind of divide was something that was also seen in some other Netflix shows this year, some of which are also on this list. Each episode of the show revolves around one of the “13 reasons why” the main character took her own life. It’s an interesting concept, but seemed to be handled poorly across the board. I only made it through a few of the episodes in the show before deciding that I had seen enough. Maybe I wasn’t the target audience for the show, so I’d love to know what you think of it in the comments section!
7. Hit: The Punisher
When I first saw The Punisher in the second season of Daredevil, I turned to my roommate and asked him how long do you think it would be before we would see Punisher in his own series. Turns out, fairly quickly, and for good reason too. Jon Bernthal is one of the most consistently excellent actors I have seen, whether it be in the film or television venue, and he absolutely stole the second season of Daredevil whenever he was on screen. We’ve seen a few live-action iterations of the Punisher in the past, but none can measure up to the level of graveness that protrudes from Frank Castle like Bernthal, and many others would agree with me on that. The show released in November of 2017 has received mostly positive reviews overall, so I think it is safe to say we’ll see another season from this show. It’s a pipe dream, but I’d love to see Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the Punisher come together on screen someday. Make it happen Disney!
6. Flop: Sandy Wexler
Sandy Wexler is another entry into the Netflix original vault that was created following the partnering of Adam Sandler with Netflix. Given the popularity of Sandler’s career over the past few decades, nailing down a contract of this level is something that should have been the makings of some great comedy and been a return to form for Sandler, whose recent releases in film have been received much more lukewarm than his classics of the past. The film is a period piece set in the 1990s where Sandler plays the titular character, Sandy Wexler, as he works in Los Angeles as a manager seeking to find the next big talent. As of November 2017, the film has a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 5.1/10 based on over 8,000 ratings.
5. Hit: 1922
This year was definitely the year of Stephen King. From the runaway success of IT: Chapter One, based on King’s 1986 novel, to the horrifying, yet incredible 1922, to The Dark Tower, Stephen King is showing no signs of slowing down in the entertainment industry. King is one of my favorite authors and has served as an inspiration for some of my own personal works. The movie 1922 is one of the most visceral film experiences I’ve ever had and was rivalled only by some historical war films that I’ve seen. The movie is quiet and serene and is so isolated that it becomes suspenseful just by existing. The cinematography is beautiful and all of the actors in the film kept me genuinely engaged with the film. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you consider yourself to be a horror fan in any way, shape, or form, you owe it to yourself to check out 1922.
4. Flop: iBoy
If you haven’t heard of iBoy before this post, I don’t think you’d be alone in that statement. The film is an adaptation of the 2010 book by the same name, written by Kevin Brooks. The film is a sci-fi crime film that centers around a character named Tom who gets bits of his cell phone stuck inside of his skull after being shot in the head. This dark origin story gives Tom some interesting powers (hearing signals, etc), but overall, the film was received with mediocre taste. I never saw any advertising leading up to the release of the film, which is surprising considering the star power that Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame brings to any project she appears in. Some of the crime aspects of the film are far fetched. And that’s saying something considering the film is more convincing with cell phone superpowers than it is in the criminal department.
3. Hit: Stranger Things 2
I don’t think anyone expected the followup to the first season of Stranger Things to be anything less than a smash hit, and we were right. The second season of the show followed its own path, set forth in the first season and timed the latest entry in the show around the Halloween season, an absolute no-brainer for a show set in the 1980s horror aesthetic. This season delivered on what made the first season great: letting the kids just have a good time and then everything else will fall in place. In this season, we got to see the conclusion of arcs that started in the first season and also how some of those events played out over the last year of time in the world of the show. Everyone is divided over the seventh episode of the season, which saw Eleven depart the small town for an episode that really didn’t seem to fit in the vision of the second season, but only time will tell as to how important it is.
2. Flop: The Defenders
I was so conflicted about putting The Defenders on the flop section of this article, but looking back, it seems like the place where the series belongs. I think it’s safe to say that the pinnacle of Marvel’s Netflix shows is a toss up between Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones. The Defenders saw all four of Netflix’s heroes; Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist, come together to take down an entity that has been building since the first and second seasons of Daredevil. In what should have been a series event similar to The Avengers, getting to see all of the Netflix heroes band together had some impact, but not enough to carry it to the top tier category of Daredevil. Iron Fist is just as much of a hinderance to his own good as he was in his own series, and I’m interested to see if he will get a standalone series or maybe a Heroes for Hire show starring him and Luke Cage.
1. Hit: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I think I’m in the minority on this, but I saw Ellie Kemper on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt before I ever saw her performance in The Office, and I think that was sort of a blessing in disguise. Kemper carries with her this sort of alertness as an artist that allows her to fully engage in scenes and simply be present, which is a technique that few have mastery over. This completely juxtaposes the ridiculous nature of the show perfectly and creates some incredibly funny and heartfelt moments throughout the show. If I had to describe the character of Kimmy Schmidt in one word, I think it would be earnest. If you have yet to see the show, I think you’ll know what I mean within only a few episodes of the first season. This year saw the release of the third season of the show, which is typically a proving ground for new media to see if it can be a long-running show or if it should wrap up in another season or two. I could honestly see the series going either way, but I know that the journey will be great regardless.
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