I don’t know about you lot, but I spent my Year Inside playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons or watching Netflix. Sometimes both. I live in Melbourne, there was not much else to do. ANYWAY, Netflix churned out a lot of good (and dumb) content this year, content that served as a momentary distraction from constant heartbreak. For example: Tiger King and Emily in Paris. So, to celebrate that the end of this year is finally nigh, here are 18 Original Netflix series from 2020 that absolutely consumed us.
1. Love Is Blind
Remember that time when all we talked about was Love is Blind? If you haven’t watched this one, it’s basically Married At First Sight meets The Bachelor.
Gist: uh, single hot people are put into pods… where they can talk to each other, but not see each other. And then, whenever they decide on ~ the one ~ they propose to each other… and then they get married.
At various points throughout this year, I switched on the finale for some light viewing. Sometimes you just need a dose of reality TV.
2. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Watching this once was enough.
Do I even need to explain what Tiger King is about? It launched when we first plunged into lockdown, so we all kind of watched it simultaneously.
So much has happened in the Tiger King world since then, which I choose to block out.
Unorthodox is a story about a girl who rejects her radicalised upbringing in New York and leaves to start a new life in Berlin. It’s described as one part coming-of-age story and one part thriller, as we watch a girl discover all parts of life, of herself, and her family’s past.
It’s based on the New York Times bestselling memoir of the same name by Deborah Feldman, and it’s an absolute must watch.
It’s fascinating and emotional – it’s the sort of series that makes you go, “Well, now I have to read the book.”
4. The Last Dance
The 10-part series chronicles Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ quest for a sixth NBA Championship in 1998.
I think it’s safe to say The Last Dance will be a lot of people’s #1 Netflix title of 2020, or at least their favourite documentary of the year.
5. Too Hot To Handle
DUMB, but fucking hell this was everywhere.
6. Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever, created by Mindy Kaling, is a coming-of-age comedy about the complicated life of a modern-day first-generation Indian American teenage girl.
I still find it very cool that Kaling used her social media platform to ask people – anyone – to audition for her show, giving total newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan the opportunity to star in a Netflix series.
In an interview with Netflix, Ramakrishnan talked about that entire process.
My friend saw Mindy Kaling’s tweet to the world saying, “Hey, audition for my show.” She screenshotted it and sent it to me. I was lying on my couch ready to say, “Nah, I’m gonna take a nap right now.” But I didn’t, and we went to our library community centre. We filmed a self-tape. We had to spend an hour figuring out how to make my mom’s camera work.
Never Have I Ever is her first starring role. She beat out 15,000 other aspiring actors for it. That rules.
7. Dead To Me, season 2
I haven’t watched this yet, but Twitter would not stop talking about it at the time. Neither will my mates, who said if I don’t include Dead To Me, I’d be dead to them, so here I am. I assume it’s good.
8. Space Force
*’Kokomo’ plays in the background*
Space Force was created by Steve Carell and The Office writer Greg Daniels. It also stars Carell in the lead role as four-star General Mark R. Naird, who is tasked with leading the newly formed Space Force. Its mission? Boots on the moon by 2024.
The rest of the stellar cast is made up of John Malkovich, Tawny Newsome, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Noah Emmerich, Alex Sparrow, Lisa Kudrow, and Diana Silvers. Season 1 also featured the late Fred Willard as Carell’s on-screen father.
With a cast and crew like that, people had extremely high hopes for the show. But when the series came out, it was, uh, savaged by the critics. From memory, the blue ticks of the industry thought the series was clumsy, unfunny, and choppy. Rough.
I didn’t think it was that bad, to be honest, and that might be because I went in with zero expectations because of the reviews I read. The show spent a lot of its first season finding its feet, but I think it got there in the end.
To be honest, I just really liked the dynamic between Yang and Newsome’s K-pop loving characters.
Yes, it has been renewed for a second season. Shocker.
9. Dark, season 3
I don’t know how to explain Dark, but I will say this: the trilogy series came to an end this year, which means that if you haven’t watched it yet you can binge all three seasons and then stare into space in awe.
Dark is a German science fiction thriller series. It begins with the disappearance of young lad Mikkel Nielsen, an 11-year-old kid from this town called Winden.
Winden revolves around its Nuclear Power Plant, which dominates the town. Without spoiling too much here, let’s just say the power plant may or may not have something to do with Mikkel’s disappearance.
No, it is not like Stranger Things.
10. The Umbrella Academy, season 2
Ben’s there too… somewhere… I think.
I mean, I planned my July around the second season of The Umbrella Academy. I still think about that cliffhanger from time to time, not gonna lie. I can’t believe [REDACTED] is [REDACTED], I CAN’T.
The Umbrella Academy is based on the comics by My Chemical Romance‘s Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Bá. It tracks the lives of the Hargreeves siblings, and their unique talent of causing / stopping the apocalypse.
Elliot Page leads the cast as Vanya Hargreeves, joining Aiden Gallagher as Five, Tom Hooper as Luther, David Castañeda as Diego, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison, Robert Sheehan as Klaus, and Justin H. Min as Ben.
If you want to relive the cliffhanger, aggressively click on the link below. But beware, it’s packed with spoilers.
11. Selling Sunset, season 3
I hadn’t watched Selling Sunset before this year (oops), so I like to think this is one of the series that really got me through the middle of Melbourne’s intense lockdown period. I binged all three seasons. For a solid week there, it was how I switched off.
All I cared about were the luxury houses and Christine Quinn‘s unreal wedding.
12. Lucifer, season 5, part 1
People (and my mum) absolutely froth Lucifer. Mum forced me to watch the latest season with her. She is in love with Tom Ellis.
It’s basically a cop show (from Jerry Bruckheimer), featuring the devil (Ellis), so there are some supernatural antics in there too. Lucifer, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, was cancelled by Fox for whatever reason (and despite its massive fan base). Netflix eventually picked it up and renewed it a bunch of times.
Season 5 was split into two parts, with the second coming out sometime next year.
I feel like Ryan Murphy announced a lot of new titles this year, including Hollywood, The Politician season 2, and all the AHS news, but the one I really cared about was Ratched. Why? Sarah Paulson.
Ratched is the origin story of fictional asylum nurse Mildred Ratched (Paulson). In 1947, Mildred arrives in Northern California to try and land a job at a leading psychiatric hospital where new and deeply disturbing experiments have begun on the human mind.
On the outside, Mildred is a dedicated nurse. On the inside – well, that’s for you to find out.
If anything, watch it for the costumes.
14. Emily In Paris
I’ve watched a lot of dumb shit in my life, in fact I even pride myself on it. But holy shit, Emily in Paris was something else. I watched approximately one (1) episode and then screamed into a pillow – I just, it’s SO SILLY.
Emily in Paris – pure escapism – follows an ambitious 20-something marketing executive (Lily Collins) from Chicago, who unexpectedly lands her dream job in Paris when her company acquires a French luxury marketing business.
I don’t even like the show, I just like how mad it makes people (me).
Remember that time French critics took a sledgehammer to it because it was so painfully clichéd? Or how Emily’s job makes no sense? OR – my personal favourite – how this joint in Chicago called out the series for dunking on its deep dish pizza.
Honestly, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Yes, it’s been renewed for a second season.
15. The Haunting of Bly Manor
Bly Manor is the second instalment in the Haunting anthology series from Michael Flanagan.
The gist: after an au pair’s tragic death at Bly Manor, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) hires a young American nanny (Victoria Pedretti) to care for his orphaned niece and nephew (Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). Those children may or may not be evil, I don’t know!
Amelie Bea Smith is also the voice of bloody Peppa Pig. It makes Bly Manor slightly less creepy.
Even though I almost always shit myself doing it, I love finding all the hidden ghosts throughout the seasons. Season 2 is nowhere near as scary as season 1, but I found the plot more stirring. I cried a whole bunch at the end. It was sad!!!
More of the ghosts, below.
16. The Queen’s Gambit
I just love this picture so much.
The Queen’s Gambit is my pick for Netflix’s best Original series this year. I loved it so much I got in touch with a chess club in Melbourne to learn more about the game, and then I wrote 1000 words about it. Consider me mildly obsessed.
The limited series, based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, focuses on a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) as she discovers her astonishing talent for chess, while developing an addiction to tranquillisers and alcohol.
The series has led to an absolute resurgence in chess in popular culture, with inquiries for chess sets on eBay up 250%. Toys and games juggernauts, Goliath Games, has recorded a 178% increase in sales over the same period last year.
According to Netflix, The Queen’s Gambit made the Top 10 list in 92 countries. It achieved the #1 ranking in 63 countries, including Australia, where it stayed in that spot for two weeks.
17. The Crown, season 4
The Crown‘s fourth season caused quite a kerfuffle, hey? Basically, a lot of people in power and ~ sources ~ close to the real Royal Family got their knickers in a twist because they wanted Netflix to add a “fiction” disclaimer to the beginning of every episode.
Oliver Dowden, British secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, said he feared people would mistake fiction for fact. Even Helena Bonham Carter, who starred as Princess Margaret in seasons 3 and 4, said Netflix has a “moral responsibility” to tell its viewers that The Crown isn’t some sort of drama documentary.
Netflix said no, lol.
“We have always presented The Crown as a drama – and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events,” Netflix said in a statement to Deadline.
“As a result we have no plans – and see no need – to add a disclaimer.”
ANYWAY, season 4 tracked the ultimately doomed marriage of Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), as well as Margaret Thatcher‘s (Gillian Anderson) reign as Prime Minister.
Bridgerton is decadent, horny content. It’s basically Gossip Girl, but set in Recency London times. And the narrator is Dame Julie Andrews.
From Shondaland and creator Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton is an adaptation of Julia Quinn‘s bestselling romance novel series. It focuses on young Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) as she enters the (gross) marriage market, as well as the very scandalous high society column written by the mysterious Lady Whistledown.
The identity of Lady Whistledown is kept a secret until the season finale, hence the Gossip Girl vibes.
Bridgerton premiered a few days ago and already it’s everywhere.