Netflix has long been a source for TV junkies to catch up on shows from decades past, but the streaming giant recently got into original content in a big way. Though many were concerned that Netflix shows that were produced in-house wouldn’t pique consumer interest the way that old episodes of “Breaking Bad” had in the past.
While exact viewership figures have not been released in regards to Netflix’s streaming original content (and may never be, as Netflix is not measured by Nielsen, the company responsible for traditional ratings figures, according to the L.A. Times), series like “Arrested Development,” “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” have become buzz-worthy, both in social media and in popular culture at large. The latter was even nominated for several Emmy Awards recently, including one in the much-desired “best drama” category.
As of August 2013, there are five original Netflix shows currently being streamed. These shows span several genres and are designed to appeal to a broad range of viewers. Check out the synopses below and if one appeals to you, you can check one (or all) of them out on Netflix. If you have never subscribed to Netflix before, first-timers can stream original Netflix shows during a 30-day free trial.
5 Original Netflix Shows to Watch
“House of Cards”
This political thriller stars Kevin Spacey as a manipulative D.C. congressman who gets passed on for a promotion to the Secretary of State position, and decides to take vengeance on those who he feels contributed to his loss of the position, including the President of the United States. “House of Cards” has been critically lauded for its dark and cynical take on D.C. politics, and Spacey’s performance as main character Frank Underwood has been praised as incredibly nuanced and menacing.
“House of Cards” earned nine primetime Emmy nominations in 2013. The drama currently only has a single season, but Netflix has announced plans to produce a second some time in 2014.
A horror series from Eli Roth (the man behind the “Hostel” franchise), “Hemlock Grove” takes place in a town where something sinister is brewing. The world in which the show takes place is a darker version of our own, where the rich have all the power, and the poor never seem to be able to get ahead. When two young women are gruesomely murdered, the local outcast Peter Rumancek is immediately suspected. But while the town is placing all the blame on this young teenager, the real horror lies in wait behind the walls of the Godfrey Institute for Biomedical Technologies, where atrocities beyond measure are committed every day.
This show has also been renewed by Netflix, and a second season is set to debut next year.
This series about a dysfunctional family started out on the Fox Network in the mid-2000s, but after it’s much-publicized cancellation almost a decade ago, Netflix resurrected this comedic gem and premiered a fourth season, exclusive to the service.
The new season picks up during the present day, but features the series’ trademark flash-forwards and flashbacks to help viewers fill in the blanks as to the Bluth family’s exploits during the past several years. Though the series has never been strictly linear, the fourth season features episodes that revolve around specific characters and is conducive to the “binge-watch” format that Netflix has pioneered.
“Orange is the New Black”
This drama, based on the memoir of real-life inmate Piper Chapman, who is sent to federal prison for 15 months for transporting a suitcase full of drug money for her former lover. The show chronicles her fall from a comfortable urban life and subsequent rebirth in prison society.
The series has been praised for it’s true-to-life feeling, and its unflinching portrayal of traditionally disenfranchised female characters. This series has the distinction of generating more viewers and hours viewed in its first week than any other Netflix original series to date.
Though this comedy from Ricky Gervais has already premiered in the UK, Netflix has exclusive rights to air this show about a elder care worker in the United States.
The comedy has been somewhat controversial in its native country, as some have taken the opinion that the show’s portrayal of a man with what appears to be limited mental faculties (the show never states explicitly that he does have a disability, but some of his mannerisms suggest he does) is mocking when it could be empowering.
However, others have taken the opposite view, saying the titular character of Derek brings an honesty to the screen not found in other shows. The first season is expected to premier September 12 on Netflix, with the second season set to premier sometime next year.
These Netflix shows are sure to continue in popularity, year over year, and they’ll likely continue churning out original content for the next decade. Make sure you have optimized your Netflix streaming, so you can get the best entertainment experience.