Netflix has gone from strength to strength since it was first founded in 1997 as a postal order DVD rental service. 20 years on, Netflix is a household name and pioneer in digital video streaming, worth almost $14 billion dollars. Let that sink in.
It’s not just a video streaming website, but a staple in modern culture. With terms like ‘Netflix & Chill’ and ‘Netflixaholic’ (see my own bio for an example of that in use), it’s part of everyday life. Netflix has literally conquered the world. While it started out streaming the works of other production companies, Netflix took a gamble and started Netflix originals. The first product of this was the political drama, House of Cards. The show launched in 2013 to critical acclaim…and there was no looking back.
Netflix has added so many shows to its repertoire that it’s hard to count. Some have reached heights of success that other companies can only dream of, with millions of avid fans. For 2017 alone, the content budget for Netflix is a whopping $6 billion. It’s a competitive market, and Netflix are prepared to spare no expense.
One of the leaders in their category, the subscription service has to keep on top of their game. Churning out hit original shows is an edge that some could only dream of – but it isn’t always simple. After all, like any business, there will be good investments…and bad ones.
Let’s have a look at The 7 Best and 8 Worst Decisions Netflix Has Made. Happy viewing!
15. 13 REASONS WHY
Since catapulting onto our screens in March this year, 13 Reasons Why rocked the boat in more ways than one. Based on the book by Jay Asher, the teen drama sent tongues wagging around the world, opening up the conversation on teen suicide. The show garnered critical acclaim for almost every aspect – performances, direction, visuals, you name it. Jesse Schedeen of IGN gave the show a 9.2 out of 10, saying the show is ‘a very powerful and hard-hitting series.’ The series caused such a sensation that it was hard to avoid – although not all of it is positive. Critics of the show believed that it was glamorizing teen suicide, despite all efforts to do the contrary. The show was renewed for a second series to the delight of millions.
14. HOUSE OF CARDS
It’s probably not surprising given the amount of time House of Cards has been mentioned in the media, but this show took Netflix to a whole new level. The first Netflix original ever, the political drama starring Kevin Spacey is now in its 5th season and going strong. The show has a few Golden Globes under its belt, with Robin Wright winning best actress in 2014, and Spacey getting his accolade for Best Actor in 2015. The creators have said that the fate of the show gets decided at the end of each season. Don’t be surprised if House of Cards gets elected for a couple more terms. The interest and intrigue surrounding it is still going strong.
13. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of Orange is the New Black. The tale of bad-girl-turned-good-turned-bad-again is enough to captivate any audience – and it did. Frankly, it’s hard to remember life before OITNB, not least because I’m currently devouring the entire new series in my every spare moment. With clever scripts, a stellar cast and incredible performances, the show was a sure fire hit from the get go. The Washington Post sung its praises, ‘In Jenji Kohan’s magnificent and thoroughly engrossing new series, Orange Is the New Black, prison is still the pits. But it is also filled with the entire range of human emotion and stories, all of which are brought vividly to life in a world where a stick of gum could ignite either a romance or a death threat.’ The fifth season was just released and we’ve been promised a sixth and a seventh. Hallelujah!
12. BOJACK HORSEMAN
Starring Will Arnett and Aaron Paul among others, BoJack Horseman is an adult themed cartoon. It was a rocky start for the series after mixed reviews from critics following its 2014 debut. However, as the season went along momentum began to pick up. By the second series, the show had won the critics over and become a Netflix staple. It’s what you would expect from an adult cartoon that centers around an alternate universe where humanoid-esque animals live in harmony (well, some of the time). Former TV star BoJack plots for his return to stardom, although things aren’t always simple. A satirical look at Hollywood, the show was popular and was renewed for a fourth season which is set to premiere very soon.
11. STRANGER THINGS
Like many of Netflix’s big titles, Stranger Things conquered the world. The show was well received by audiences and critics alike. The series focuses heavily on the sci-fi genre, with a vintage 80’s nostalgic feel that is hard to get right these days. The cast of child actors has been heavily praised world over, with British actress Millie Bobby Brown gaining widespread recognition for her role as Eleven. Also starring Winona Ryder, the series has scooped up several awards and continues to be a jewel in Netflix original’s crown. A second series is highly anticipated, with an apt release date of Halloween (that’s October 31st, in case your memory fails you) 2017.
10. UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
There are so many reasons why Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt shouldn’t work. For a start, the plot follows former ‘mole woman’ Kimmy as she escapes from a weird underground apocalypse cult and tries to make her way in the real world. It’s so bizarre, it really shouldn’t work – but it does, and it’s fantastic. Office vet Ellie Kemper shines in the role of Kimmy, with a great supporting cast. The best thing about it? It should have been on NBC, but the network passed it up and sold it to Netflix, who added their magic and made it a sensation. On June 23rd viewers rejoiced as it was renewed for a fourth season. You go, Kimmy!
9. MAKING A MURDERER
Netflix turned its hand to documentary with this 10-part series that captivated viewers. The series told the story of Steven Avery, a man wrongly convicted of assault and battery. He was imprisoned and released after serving 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit. The shocking story took us all on a roller coaster as Avery is charged for the murder of Teresa Halbach. I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it – but it is compelling viewing that took us all on a quest to be judge and jury. The series is far from over, with new aspects of the case playing out in the media. Netflix has renewed it for a second series on the cards for late 2017. Now that we’ve had a look at the greats, let’s have a look at some flops.
8. HEMLOCK GROVE
The horror thriller series was released in April 2013, based on Brain McGreevy’s novel of the same name. The plot revolves around the strange goings on in a small town (Hemlock Grove), in Pennsylvania. Netflix snagged acclaimed horror director Eli Roth to produce the show, but even that didn’t save it from scathing reviews. Coming shortly after House of Cards, Hemlock Grove had a lot to live up to, and it just couldn’t manage it. TV buffs worldwide slammed the show for the shoddy acting of main cast members Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron, as well as the painfully slow pace. It was that badly thought of that Time named it one of the worst shows on TV that year. Ouch. It ran for three seasons before being cancelled in 2015.
After its release in summer 2016, Flaked broke hearts. The show was developed by the creator of hit show Arrested Development. Expectations were high – and maybe that was the problem. Starring Will Arnett, the plot is as flaky as the title, following the life of a self-help guru called Chip. The show divided audiences and has a score on Rotten Tomatoes of 42%. Entertainment Weekly described the show as ‘too cute to be serious and too lame to be funny.’ Burn. Clearly one for flogging a dead horse, Netflix renewed the show for a six episode second season which premiered earlier this month. Something tells me this pony’s not long for the slaughter.
6. MARCO POLO
If ever there was a bad investment, this is it. Netflix paid an astonishing £90 million dollars to create this show – and that’s just for the first 10-episode season. Not only was it one of the most expensive Netflix endeavours ever, but as it turns out, one of the stupidest. Although advertising was on point and the hype-o-meter was set to explode, the finished result was just a little…blah. Critics called the show ‘lifeless’, ‘sluggish’ and even ‘emotionally empty’. With other period and fantasy style shows such as Game of Thrones doing extremely well, this show about the 13th century explorer Marco Polo does little to rev the engine. It was renewed for a second season, but it still tanked. The show was cancelled in 2016.
Michael McGowan clearly hadn’t had his coffee when he came up with this sci-fi drama. The plot revolves around a pregnant teenage daughter of a small town minister. Everyone over the age of 21 has been killed off thanks to some mysterious disease – and critics didn’t get it. Netflix collaborated with Canadian production company City for this project. This was also the first time that the streamer released episodes weekly rather than as a full season. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t enough to keep viewers coming back. The acting was praised but the general premise of the show was dull as dishwater. Variety called it ‘an utterly ho-hum addition to Netflix’s original line-up.’ Despite all this, the series is still going. The second season premiered last summer and while there’s no word on a third season, there’s been no word to the contrary either.
4. SENSE 8
Like Marco Polo, Sense 8 was highly anticipated. The show comes from two of the most revered directing duo’s of all time, creators of The Matrix Lana and Lilly Wachowski. The sci-fi drama popped onto our screens in 2015, telling the story of eight people from all over the world that are eerily connected mentally and emotionally. The concept is a little strange, and it left most viewers too puzzled to appreciate it. It wasn’t anywhere near as successful as Netflix had hoped it would be, with viewers struggling to keep interested due to the slow and complicated nature of the program. It ran for two seasons before bosses decided to call it a day earlier this year.
3. FULLER HOUSE
While this show continues to do well ratings wise for Netflix, it hasn’t been well received by critics. Let’s face it, how badly did we really need a reboot of Full House? The lighthearted comedy isn’t trying to fool anyone – it’s not supposed to deliver any sort of message or be particularly binge worthy, but perhaps this is the issue. We have come to expect gripping characters and riveting plots from Netflix, so when they serve us up a doozy like this one, it’s hard to digest. Boring, tired jokes and questionable acting had critics laughing for all the wrong reasons. It just goes to show that while something may be making the money, that doesn’t make it a success.
The talk show that was supposed to not be a talk show, Chelsea, is remarkably like…a talk show. In the run up to the release of Chelsea Handler’s return to TV, it was sold as a new and innovative take on the traditional format. However, it’s often a little flat. Despite Handler’s sass and obvious excitement to be back on our screens, the show really is just a talk show. The only difference is that we can stream it. Although the show boasts a plethora of interesting guests, Chelsea never delivers the goods. The idea of a talk show that would turn the tables was a great one, but it didn’t work in this instance. The show was renewed for a second series which began earlier this year – maybe it might pick up.
French political drama Marseille made its debut in 2016. Starring legendary actor Gerard Depardeiu, the show follows the story of an aging corrupt politician. The series took a battering from critics upon its release, with many believing that the French drama was far too Americanized stylistically, making it awkward viewing. Comparisons were made to House of Cards, which was virtually the kiss of death. We know that Netflix likes to give all of their originals a second chance, so it’s not surprising that despite the critical roasting, the show was renewed. Filming of the second season started in April this year.
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