Conversations about Netflix almost always inspire references to the streaming giant's mega-popular hits like Stranger Things, The Crown and American Vandal, but those conversations can never hit upon the deep-cut splendor populating Netflix's growing library of originals. As good as the aforementioned shows are, they unfairly overshadow many other high-quality dramas, comedies, docu-series and more; sometimes to the point where excellent shows like Lady Dynamite face early cancellations. Fans need to make sure Netflix knows which shows we can't live without.
To that end, here are ten awesome Netflix originals that somehow never manage to get the appreciation and attention they deserve for one reason or another. So if you're in need of binge-ready programming that'll add laughs, thrills and mayhem to your couch-engulfed evenings, look no further. Now let's start things off with the most unfortunately under-appreciated vigilante in the MCU.
Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle was granted a standalone series after his highly celebrated debut in Daredevil Season 2, and it had the potential to finally do justice to the hyper-violent war hero/criminal. Justice was indeed found with showrunner Steve Lightfoot's creative team, and The Punisher instantly stood out from other MCU entries as a hyperbolic conspiracy thriller honoring Frank's military background, if not his traditional Punisher persona. Several factors hindered the show's pre-release buzz, though, from an intentionally secretive marketing to real-world mass shootings, and perhaps a later release date would have boosted reactions. Suitable reasoning aside, people should still have been singing The Punisher's praises from day one, since it's not like anyone but Netflix was going to make it.
Santa Clarita Diet
We can all agree that horror's zombie sub-genre has been exhausted, right? Even The Walking Dead has seen its once-mountainous numbers plummeting. But that doesn't mean that there aren't still diamonds in the rough out there, and the social satire Santa Clarita Diet is as shiny as hidden diamonds get. Created by Better Off Ted mastermind Victor Fresco, Santa Clarita Diet stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as Sheila and Joel, married real estate agents whose lives take a distinct turn when Sheila gets killed but doesn't actually stay dead. The result is a rare mix of gore, pot humor, cringe-worthy thrills and a fresh take on the dysfunctional family unit. And we cannot wait for Season 2.
Shot in the Dark
Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler was one of the most striking movies of 2014, shining a grimy car headlight on the world of crime journalism in Los Angeles. But that was a work of fiction, and Netflix's docu-series Shot in the Dark is an all-too-real account of what actual ambulance-chasers and other stringers do to make money off of well-timed exclusives. The results are not necessarily for the faint of heart, as the show's lead subjects are not picky about what they cover, be it deadly car accidents or medical emergencies or house fires with people trapped inside. It's understandable why people don't readily want to talk about the things people do on Shot in the Dark, but people should still readily be talking about the show itself.
We've all seen the "nerdy guy gets the quirky and attractive girl" stories before, but Love isn't about fairy tale romances and friendships. Created by star Paul Rust, Judd Apatow and Lesley Arfin, Love is a journey through the highly toxic relationship between Rust's caring and anti-rebellious Gus and Gillian Jacobs' addiction-friendly rabble-rouser Mickey, and it doesn't pull punches either when the pair are getting along swimmingly, or when their pissed off and at each other's throats. It's a show that seems like it would speak to younger generations facing a damaged dating scene, but everyone should watch for the fake movie songs that Gus and his friends come up with. I'd watch a whole show of just that.
Netflix is as equal opportunity as it gets when it comes to genres, and the company has done wonders for modern westerns. The exemplary standout is now Godless, a pitch-black revenge story that gives Jeff Daniels the relatively rare opportunity to play an intense terror of a villain by the name of Frank Griffin. With a star-studded cast that also includes Jack O'Connell, Michelle Dockery, Sam Waterston, Meritt Wever and Scoot McNairy, Godless did indeed make it into lots of critics' "best of" lists, and for good reason. But when it comes to everyday conversations, Godless doesn't seem to be getting as much attention as it deserves, and Frank Griffin just won't stand for it.
Misfits and Future Man co-creator Howard Overman is obviously someone who loves dabbling in genre storytelling, and Crazyhead is the epitome of that affection. Starring Downton Abbey's Cara Theobold and Chewing Gum's Susan Wokoma, who unpredictably enter into a friendship based on the fact that they can both see demons out in the world. Demon-hunting is a tricky job to have, as one might imagine, and Crazyhead fills its six-episode first season with lots of hilarious hijinks that Netflix subscribers should have been gabbing about since its debut. Anybody who loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, either the TV show or the movie, will find lots of devilish joy to be had here, so tell everyone you know.
She's Gotta Have It
Netflix knows a good TV continuation or reboot, and one of 2017's most refreshing debuts was Spike Lee's return to the world of She's Gotta Have It. An extension of the 1986 feature film with some obvious (and much appreciated) character and story updates, She's Gotta Have It hasn't been at the center of nearly as many "great TV" conversations as it should be. Between DeWanda Wise's winning performance as pansexual icon Nola Darling and Spike Lee's signature directorial style and hit-packed soundtrack, She's Gotta Have It hits all the expected notes and then some. It may not be revolutionizing gender, race and sexual politics quite like the film did, but its voice definitely deserves to be heard.
Everything about Wormwood screams "cult TV." Centered on the formerly secret 1950s government experiment Project MKUltra, in which LSD was secretly used on citizens as warfare research, Wormwood was created by the legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line) and it mixes scripted acting with real-life documentary interviews and footage. The story starts with the sudden and questionable suicide of Frank Olson, played in the dramatization by Peter Sarsgaard, and the doc follows Frank's actual son Eric Olson and his years-long efforts to discover what actually happened to his father. The mixed media adds an apropos hallucinatory sense of confusion at times, and viewers will walk away from Wormwood all the more paranoid that we're all potential pawns. Not exactly one for the whole family, but still worthy of conversations.
F Is for Family
When it comes to Netflix's animated output, BoJack Horseman "reins" supreme -- pun wholeheartedly intended -- but that doesn't mean we should ignore everything else. A '70s cartoon with modern-day sensibilities (and a filthy mouth to match), F Is for Family is essentially a revamped All in the Family as filtered through the high-blood-pressure prism of comedian Bill Burr and Simpsons writer/producer Michael Price, both of whom serve as co-creators. Burr plays family patriarch Frank Murphy, a beer-swilling war vet who wears his many biases on his sleeve, and while the show's political incorrectness likely doesn't sit well with everyone, it's still a highly intriguing mirror to hold up against today's society. If horses could actually talk, they'd be talking about this show.
A co-production between Netflix and Japan's Kansai TV, Erased is ripe for subscribers with a hunger for interesting and non-generic time travel stories. Based on Ken Sanbe's manga Bokudake ga Inai Machi, Erased follows Yûki Furukawa's Satoru Fujinuma, a 20-something artist whose normally boring life is balanced by the insane ability to be able to go back in time to stop bad things from happening, though often with the caveat that he has no idea what he's supposed to be doing. As a murder-mystery, Erased is twisty and fast-paced fun, and while many shows would have made a mess of Satoru's childhood jaunt to stop a chain of events leading to his mother's murder, it's all handled splendidly here. Now go back to last week and tell more people about it.
How many of these shows have you guys watched, and how many will you be starting on soon? Let us know in the comments, and when you're not busy binge-watching, head to our 2018 Netflix premiere schedule to see all the other awesome streaming series coming soon. Then bookmark our midseason premiere schedule to discovery all the new and returning shows outside of Netflix's library.