How Original Are Netflix Originals?
By. Livan Samudio
Various streaming platforms ranging from Disney+ to Hulu are creating exclusive original TV shows and movies to stand above the rest. One of the platforms to start this endeavor was Netflix. A “Netflix Original” is a show produced and commissioned by Netflix and only available to stream through Netflix. These tend to spring from nowhere and it can be difficult to know whether they are worth a watch at first glance. Here I offer my services as a “Netflix Originals'' guinea pig; I’ve watched several recently, and I will judge them on a scale from 1-10 based on how “original” they are (from 1: not original at all, to 10: unique) so you can save yourself the scrolling time and dive right in to your next series binge.
Trinkets: 8/10 - Drama
Following the friendship of three girls who meet in a Shoplifter’s Anonymous meeting, this series reveals life-altering events testing the girls’ relationships. Dramatic, juicy, and a little cheesy (let’s be honest, we all fancy a cheesy movie sometimes), I give this show a high rating because, although juvenile at times, it steps away from the more stereotypical high-schooler topics like parties and crushes and portrays the unconventional addiction of shoplifting. With a well-executed plot, it continued to surprise. Two seasons are available on Netflix.
October Faction: 6/10 - Fantasy Drama
The fact that parenting is difficult is an understatement for Fred and Deloris Allen. Fred and Deloris are both monster hunters and parents of teenage twins. This series about monsters is saved from conventional tropes of fantasy as it swiftly evolves into a complex drama when dark family secrets are revealed. Unfortunately, it scores low on my ‘must-see’ scale. Despite a strong start and a fresh plot, predictability creeps in after the third episode. Overall, the show was exciting, but I wish it took a different direction. One season is available on Netflix.
Grace and Frankie: 9/10 - Drama/Comedy
Two older women discover their husbands are each having an affair, and to top it off, the husbands’ affairs are with each other. Both women divorce and bond through their mutual trauma. They move to a beach house and struggle through their life transition together with vitality and humor. In terms of originality and quirky storytelling, this show ranks high. Although the plot fails to fully address the character’s trauma, it is touching in its sweetness, and the chemistry of the stars lifts the story to new heights. All I can say is that I was captivated. Although a show about two aging divorcees may not sound appealing to all, I assure you that the show’s perfect balance of humor and drama keeps you totally hooked.
Sense8: 10/10 - Sci-Fi/Drama
This series revolves around eight individuals across the world that become telepathically connected. We follow their lives and how they cope with being emotionally connected to seven other strangers. The plot is unique and enthralling; every episode has suspense and intrigue. The sequence of events is perhaps deliberately complex at times, yet it remains seductive and mysterious and pulls the viewer into streaming the next episode. The viewer becomes invested in the lives of the characters through mysterious glimpses. In my opinion, the value of this show lies in its truly unpredictable nature.
On My Block: 8/10 - Romance/Drama/Comedy
Detailing another teenage coming-of-age experience, this show follows four friends navigating their way through high school while living in South Los Angeles.
This show’s genre isn’t new or original per se, but it is one of the better Netflix originals because the chemistry between the four teens is exciting and carries the plot. Additionally, this series focuses on the trials of living in a rough neighborhood. Despite its overall light tone, the show is poignant in its reflections of real-life struggles that all teens can relate to. With this balance of serious insight and comedic relief, the show remains charming and endearing in its focus on what could be realistic experiences of young minority groups.
Livan Samudio is an editorial intern whose interests and passions include fashion, music, television shows, and pop culture.