Netflix added just under a season of original television per week in 2017. Alongside returning favourites Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, a load of new hits caught the eyes of the viewers, including women’s wrestling comedy GLOW and disturbing true-crime doc The Keepers.
It would have taken a serious stint of unemployment, or incredible levels of dedication to keep up with it all – so don’t worry if you missed out on a show or two.
Here is our guide to the best shows that went under the radar this year.
This German chiller creeped onto our devices at the beginning of December, when most Netflix subscribers were just counting down the minutes ’til Love Actually arrives (it’s the 14th). Heralded as a spiritual successor to Stranger Things, it follows the seemingly supernatural disappearance of two young boys in a small rural town, but what unfolds is more sinister, and distinctly more complex, than the Duffer Brother’s nostalgic series.
The Good Place
NBC’s high-concept after-life sitcom cannot be talked up enough – it has carved out a new mould that hasn’t been seen in a network sitcom since Seinfeld changed the game back in the 1990s. The series follows the lives of four individuals who have landed themselves in some sort of secular after-life, except one of them (Kristen Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop) is there by mistake. A series of twist and turns throughout the first season prelude a massive shake-up in season 2, which consistently leaves the audience wondering where on earth it can go next, and always manages to exceed expectations.
David Fincher’s gloomy serial killer drama didn’t quite make it to the water cooler when it arrived in October, but its slow-building intrigue gripped enough people for Netflix to renew it for a second season. The series follows soft-spoken FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and his gruff partner Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they tour the USA interviewing the nation’s most heinous serial killers. While it takes a bit of time to truly get going, the season soon develops into an intriguing character study, as Ford becomes more and more emotionally entangled in his work.
Netflix’s mockumentary appears unwatchably silly on paper – but it’s sharp satire of the true crime craze and some subtle humour underlying an overarching dick joke make it well worth a try. The series sees a young filmmaker from a US high school’s AV Club attempt to find out who spray painted 27 dicks on cars in the faculty parking lot. Class clown and serial dick-artist Dylan Maxwell professes his innocence, but literally everyone thinks it was him. There’s even an eye-witness who claims to have seen the whole thing unfold. Yet, as with all the best mysteries, all is not as it seems…
First came Narcos, the Latin American drug trafficking drama that became a global addiction. Can Suburra, Netflix’s first Italian Original series, possibly match up? Mixing the political machinations of House of Cards with the criminal underworld of The Godfather, Suburra is seedy, seductive and oh so Italian. Political players rub shoulders with the Mafia underworld; however, because this is Rome, the Vatican wants a piece of the action too, and all three factions are falling over each other in a bid for power.
In the absence of Kevin Spacey, Jason Bateman leads the line for Netflix at the Golden Globes as the only actor from a Netflix Original show to be nominated for the best actor in a drama series gong – not bad for a man who cut his teeth on comedy. The Arrested Development star is excellent in this dark (thematically and literally) drama in the mould of Breaking Bad, which follows an accountant who takes on a side gig as a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel. When things go belly up, he uproots his adulterous wife and traumatised children to a rural lakeside town and is forced to do the will of a scary drug baron under intense pressure.
Is Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig’s New Yorker anime pretentious, or just really, really, sickeningly ironic? The answer is probably a bit of both, and if you’re willing to take every single line in the show with a pinch of salt (*offered squid ink linguine* “well, that is the most melancholy pasta”) you’ll be rewarded with a dry and acerbic 6-piece comedy. Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Richard Ayoade, Jaden Smith, Stephen Fry and a boatload of other top notch actors lend their voices to the series, which chronicles the adventures of a young demon hunter in fictional Neo Yokio (the only possible setting for a white American’s anime).
Remember Jessica Biel? While the actress was on the verge of falling into Hollywood’s abyss of forgotten stars, The Sinner has thrust her back into the spotlight for all the right reasons, marked by her recent Golden Globe nomination. The series is an unconventional mystery: we know from the beginning that Biel’s Cora Tannett committed the murder at the heart of the story – what we want to find out is why.