With a growing number of streaming sites offering huge libraries of new and old content, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the wealth of options. So, let’s break it down and start slow. What are the best original streaming TV shows?
Below, you’ll find our top picks, organized according to where you can watch them among the massive number of streaming services currently on the market.
GLOW is the best original streaming series
Netflix has been around for some time now. It launched House of Cards in 2013, its first original streaming series. It has produced a number of hits since then, including Orange Is the New Black and The Umbrella Academy, Stranger Things and BoJack Horseman. The Crown and a few Marvel shows. But of all of them, the women’s wrestling comedy GLOW takes the cake. The series is about a group of women from the 1980s who find strength and support as the Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. The all-female wrestling team lights up local radio before moving on to a live performance in Vegas. GLOW is one of the most popular original streaming shows on Netflix, even though it was canceled before its fourth season.
- Ozark:A white-collar criminal who is a white-collar criminal causes anger among the wrong people, and he moves his family to Ozarks to start over, but not forgetting his criminal past. This drama, which at first glance sounded like Breaking Bad, has turned out to be a great crime drama.
- Sense8: The Wachowskis’ and J. Michael Strackzynski’s sci-fi series is one of the most ambitious Netflix projects, spanning the globe and following eight characters who suddenly find themselves bonded mentally and emotionally. The show was canceled after two seasons, but thanks to fan outcry, there’s also a film that wrapped up the sprawling narrative.
- Stranger Things:This 80s-style throwback features children from a small Indiana town facing supernatural threats and government agents trying to cover them up.
- Sex Education: The teen son of a sex-therapist gives relationship advice at school in exchange for cash. This leads to many misadventures and a sexual revolution among students.
- The OA: A woman who has been missing seven years returns with new mysterious abilities. In this sci-fi series, which was cancelled too soon, she recruits five strangers as her helpers on a surreal mission.
Station Eleven is the best original streaming show
After a pandemic decimates most of humanity, survivors try to make it work in a new and better world. We follow a traveling theater troupe and its members as they battle a mysterious cult leader, decide how to stage Hamlet, and then make our way to a museum, where other survivors have built a shrine for the world that was. We are able to see how the sickness developed, how a new norm was established, and which areas of society were left behind. Station Eleven is refreshing because it depicts a terrible future in which people actually get together. We see survivors supporting each other with art as a force for unity. There’s conflict — and plenty of it — but the miniseries offers a hopeful portrait of humanity, not a bleak one.
- The Sex Lives of College Girls: This comedy series features a group of college roommates, who navigate the intricacies of college life and the sexual experimentation it brings.
- Search Party:This original TBS sleeper hit was made into an HBO Max original. This dark comedy satirical mocks friends who get involved in a missing person case.
- Raised by Wolves: This sci-fi epic was produced by Ridley Scott. It features a colony made up of androids and humans fighting for an alien planet after a civil war. Season 2 of Raised by Wolves premiered in Spring 2022, and while a third season may never happen, it’s still a great watch.
- Our Flag Means Death: This hilarious comedy follows a wealthy aristocrat who turns to piracy on high seas. This queer fan-favorite series on HBO Max is based loosely on true events.
- Peacemaker: This superhero comedy spinoff of The Suicide Squad features the cartoonishly patriotic antihero Peacemaker working with the government to defend America.
Andor: The best original streaming series
Easily the best of the live-action Star Wars series on Disney Plus, Andor looks at the early days of the resistance, zeroing in on Cassian Andor’s political awakening before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Diego Luna plays Andor again, with Tony Gilroy, Rogue One writer, serving as showrunner. The series presents one of the most compelling and compelling portraits ever of fascism, political action, and Star Wars, along with moving, human stories about those fighting against tyranny. Luna is joined by Star Wars newcomers Adria Arjona, Stellan Skarsgård, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, and more, as well as returning actors Forrest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Alan Tudyk.
- Ms. Marvel: This series follows Kamala Kahn, a teen Avengers superfan trying to fit in when she discovers a family heirloom that gives her superpowers. The coming-of age story is entertaining, moving, and funny. It’s not too closely tied to the rest.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society: A critical hit and fan favorite, this adaptation of the children’s books by Trenton Lee Stewart tells the story of an eccentric genius who puts together a team of orphans to stop a global emergency.
- Daredevil: Technically, Daredevil began as a Netflix original. But, after the rights were returned to Disney, the series moved from Netflix to Disney Plus. That’s where you can watch the dark and gritty adventures of Blind lawyer and superhero Matt Murdock.
- The Beatles: Get Back: Peter Jackson’s three-part docuseries is a fascinating and intimate glimpse into the recording sessions of one of the best rock bands of all time/
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: This Disney Plus show, which is a comedy-drama/musical about coming-of-age, features high school students performing musicals on stage.
Apple TV Plus
For All Mankind is the best original streaming series
One of Apple TV Plus’ flagship shows, For All Mankind explores an alternate American history. Imagine if the Soviet Union had sent a man to the moon before NASA. What if the moon landing was the main battleground of the Cold War? With both sides investing more in space exploration? The series follows a group made up of NASA employees and astronauts as they adjust over the years to a vision that celebrates American ingenuity, which cleverly challenges the reality we know. With sharp writing and top-notch performances, For All Mankind is Apple TV Plus’ best show. Frankly, it’s one of the best shows on any platform.
- Servant: M. Night Shyamalan‘s Servant is a slow-boiling horror story about a live-in nanny to a couple whose child died and was replaced by a life-like replica. Something is going on with the new addition to their household. The child might be alive and well.
- Dickinson: This historical drama refigures American poet Emily Dickinson’s youth with some modern twists.
- Severance:In the near future, employees of a mysterious company undergo a process to seperate their personal and professional memories. When one employee encounters another outside of work, he begins looking into his employer’s motives and practices.
- Schmigadoon!: This hilarious parody of classic Hollywood musicals shows a couple who are in a relationship crisis. They find themselves trapped in a town that encourages song and dance, and need to find true love.
- Ted Lasso:Ted Lasso’s classic fish-outof-water comedy is about a coach from America who moves to England to lead a soccer team.
High Fidelity: The best original streaming show
Hulu’s High Fidelity is an absolutely brilliant re-imagining of the Nick Hornby novel of the same name. Stephen Frears was the first to adapt the book as a movie starring John Cusack. The series recasts white, straight, male, Gen-X music snob Rob as a Black, bisexual, millennial woman, played by Zoë Kravitz. (Kravitz’s mother, Lisa Bonet, appeared in the original film.) Rob still owns a record shop in the newer series, and she struggles with the same relationship woes, working her way through past boyfriends and girlfriends to figure out why she can’t find love. The show sadly wasn’t picked up for a second season, but season one is easily one of the best original streaming shows on the Disney-owned platform.
- Only Murders in the Building: A hilarious send-up of America’s obsession with true crime, this series follows a trio of huge fans of a Serial-like podcast as they come together to investigate a murder in their own Manhattan apartment complex.
- The Great:The Great is a dark comedy about Catherine, the Great’s early days as she adjusts to her new life in Russia with her husband. Hulu subscribers will find this movie to be a must-see. Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult give pitch-perfect performances.
- Devs:After her boyfriend’s suspicious death, a young woman searches for answers at the tech startup where she works. Does her employer’s enigmatic CEO know more than he’s letting on?
- Reservation Dogs:This comedy drama about coming of age, created by Taika waititi and Sterlinharjo, follows four Indigenous teenagers living in rural Oklahoma. They steal to save money for a move from California.
- The Handmaid’s Tale:This Hulu original is based on Margaret Atwood’s novel. It depicts a dystopian future in which women are treated like property. The story follows a group of people who resist the totalitarian regime.
Amazon Prime Video
The Underground Railroad is the best original streaming show
Amazon’s stunning miniseries The Underground Railroad literalizes the historical Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad is a network of abolitionists who helped people escape slavery by providing shelter and access via secret routes. It was underground railroad that was built for the same purpose. Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight and If Beale Street could Talk, adapts Colson whitehead’s novel. Using magic realism, breathtaking cinematography, and a beautiful score by Nicholas Brittell, Jenkins and his gifted cast tell a haunting, beautiful, disturbing, dream-like story about America’s shameful past.
- The Boys: Amazon’s superhero series takes a gritty approach to capes, presenting a team of egomaniacs competing for fame. But they’re also competing for endorsements and PR representation, and a coveted seat among well-funded supergroup The Seven. What happens when a group of regular people, The Boys, stands up against them? Season 3 premiered on June 3, and it’s stacking up to be one of the best streaming shows of the summer.
- The Expanse:The Expanse was cancelled after three seasons on Syfy. It has been an Amazon original since its fourth season. Different factions vie for resources and self-determination in a future where space has been colonized.
- Reacher:Based on the Jack Reacher novels written by Lee Child ReacherFollow the titular drifter, as he accidentally gets into trouble, solving crimes and slaying bad guys along the journey.
- Fleabag: Co-produced with the BBC, Fleabag is a dry, dark, and witty look at one woman’s journey of healing as she faces modern life in London.
- A League of Their Own: Inspired by the classic film, this sports comedy/comedy celebrates the achievements of a group women in professional baseball in 1940s.
Best original streaming show: Succession
HBO Max replaced older HBO streaming services, but the premium cable channel still has its own library of original titles, so it seems fair to single a few out, even though you’ll be finding them over on HBO Max. One of the top titles you’ll find at HBO is Succession. The family drama follows the Roy family, a group of spoiled rich children who try to take over their father’s family media conglomerate. Succession feels like it captures everything that’s wrong with the world, all condensed into one over-privileged family. And somehow it’s still tremendous fun to watch.
- Watchmen: This adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic superhero deconstruction feels less like a new take on the original comic and more like an engagement with its core concepts, updated for the current day. It’s a brilliant piece of television and well worth checking out.
- I May Destroy You: Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, co-produced with BBC, is a raw look at a woman taking stock of her life, relationships, and career after she’s sexually assaulted in a nightclub. It’s smart, moving, devastating, funny, and brilliant.
- The Leftovers: A devastating and beautiful look at a world where 2% of the world’s population mysteriously vanishes, leaving the survivors to pick up the pieces of their lives without any answers as to why they lost their loved ones.
- Barry:A hitman in an existential crisis finds a new calling after he enrolls in an acting class in Los Angeles. His old life won’t stay behind him though, and he has to balance two conflicting worlds.
- The Righteous Gemstones:The Righteous Gemstones is a funny satire about televangelism. It tells the story of a famous preacher and his children, who fight over who gets the family business.
The best original streaming show: Yellowjackets
A high school girls soccer team is stranded in the wilderness in 1996 when their plane crashes on the way to a national tournament in Showtime’s breakout hit. We learn that the girls eventually fall into group madness, reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, with hints of the supernatural. We see ritual killings and cannibalism several months after the crash in the first episode. We catch up with survivors in the present. Reminders of the past creep into their lives as they try to move on from the past, which brings them together. With huge spikes in viewership from episode to episode and a well-earned season renewal in 2021, Showtime’s Yellowjackets is a major win for the cable network and its streaming division.
- Black Monday: Black Monday is the worst Wall Street stock market crash since the 1930s. A group of investors outside the Wall Street establishment takes on the establishment. Black Monday isn’t as high-profile as some of the other titles on this list, but it’s one of the best original streaming shows around.
- Ziwe:Ziwe is a comedian, writer, and internet star who is both insanely talented and wickedly smart. She brings her unique brand comedy to a hilarious variety program that features celebrity interviews, musical numbers and sketches.
- Billions:Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. Attorney, waged war against a billionaire from a hedge fund in this high-stakes drama. It is about the haves versus the have nots and about who can live the American Dream in a country that is rife economically with inequality.
- The Chi:An act of police brutality brings together the residents of Chicago’s south side in the coming-of age drama about growing up Black in America.
- Shameless: Frank Gallagher is a single father of six, but he’d rather be at the bar than looking after his kids, who look out for each other in this darkly comic family drama.
The Amber Ruffin show is the best original streaming program
Anyone who’s watched Late Night with Seth Meyers likely knows the singular talent of Amber Ruffin. Since 2014, Amber Ruffin has been a writer on the NBC late-night show. In recent years, Meyers has also featured Ruffin as a comedian. Recurring bits like Jokes Seth Can’t Tell and Amber Says What have been standouts of the show. Thankfully, the folks at NBCUniversal were wise enough to recognize Ruffin’s talent. Peacock launched The Amber Ruffin Show in 2020. This hugely popular show combines monologues and sketch comedy. It’s a top streaming choice for anyone trying out Peacock.
- Dr. Death: One of Peacock’s prestige dramas, based on a true story and the podcast of the same name, Dr. Death tells the story of a star neurosurgeon whose colleagues begin to notice disturbing patterns among his patients’ health outcomes.
- We Are Lady Parts: A funny and insightful series about a female-only Muslim punk band from England. The show features the band discovering their voice, navigating cultural divides, and rocking out.
- Girls5eva: A 90s girl group sees a rapper sampling their greatest hit as an opportunity to get back into the game. This hilarious buddy comedy offers a chance for them to do a comeback tour.
- MacGruber: MacGruber, based on the feature film and SNL skit with the same title, follows MacGruber and his friends as they fight to save the world.
- Rutherford Falls: This clever comedy sees two friends become lifelong foes in a local debate.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the original streaming series that is best
Paramount Plus’ streaming-only Star Trek: Lower Decks takes place before the events of the original series and spins off from Star Trek: Discovery. The show combines the modern Star Trek aesthetics with the episodic adventures of Treks from the past. Each week, Captain Pike commands the crew of Enterprise, a storied spaceship. The old-school format allows for both the more mellow episodes and deeper philosophical explorations that have made Trek a classic. Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek show on Paramount Plus when all those elements come together.
- Younger: Younger was originally a TV Land original. Since its seventh season, this clever Younger has been a Paramount Plus original. The series follows a 40 year-old woman who pretends she is in her 20s to escape the ageism of her job in the publishing industry.
- 1883: This prequel to the Paramount Network’s hit western family drama Yellowstone sees the Dutton family in its early days before they founded the Yellowstone Ranch.
- The Good Fight: The Good Fight is a continuation of The Good Wife. Diane Lockhart struggles to climb the ladder at a new firm with new conflicts and challenges.
- Mayor Of Kingstown: In this gritty crime drama, two brothers serve as intermediaries for prisoners who want to communicate with the outside world.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks: This animated Star Trek show is a delightful animation about the people who keep ships running, without ever claiming any of the praise and glory that the main casts get.
That’s just a sampling of the best original streaming shows you can catch up with on all the major streaming services. To see a full list of available content, please click through to the individual site’s longer pieces.
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