Let’s be honest: you’ve already binged every single second of Stranger Things 2. Nobody blames you, it’s fabulous and it’s already been one whole week. But now you need something new to binge on Netflix and unfortunately, nothing else seems to effectively combine the nostalgia, spookiness, mystery, fun, powerful catharsis, and charming cast of characters quite like that group of kids in Hawkins, Indiana.
That being said, there are plenty of excellent original shows on Netflix, each of which captures one or more of the compelling flavors of Stranger Things while also giving you a brand new rabbit hole to fall down.
Frank Castle’s supporting role in Daredevil Season 2 proved that Marvel’s Netflix creative team knows exactly how to balance the character on the razor’s edge that has kept the anti-hero a fan favorite for decades. And now with his own series, The Punisher seems focused on dissecting his past and the circumstances that surrounded his horrific origin story.
Alternating between a sympathetic, manipulated victim and a roaring, morally righteous storm of death, Jon Bernthal’s fantastic portrayal eschews the boring fascist fantasy of revenge tales and instead infuses the character with varied emotional energy that repeatedly reminds us that, in a world with flying robots and magic hammers, some apocalypses are entirely personal and not everyone can overcome their trauma with shiny, colorful, consequence-free, clean-cut resolution. (And thankfully, Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page will also be there to keep our most deep-seated romantic hopes alive.)
Perfect if you’re a fan of: Marvel’s Daredevil and John Wick.
Throw a rock at cable television over the last 15 years and you’ll hit dozens shows centered on the police’s ongoing efforts to understand, predict, and prevent the heinous crimes carried out by serial killers. But there was a time when this work – and even the term “serial killer” – was unheard of and that’s where David Fincher’s Mindhunter comes in.
Chronicling the birth of behavioral analysis and criminal profiling at the FBI in the 1970s, the show distinguishes itself from its fictional contemporaries like Dexter or Criminal Minds by using stories based in reality and slowing down the familiar police procedural to focus not on bloody carnage but on the men and women exploring the then-burgeoning cerebral aspect behind law enforcement.
There’s arguably no better living director than Fincher (Seven, Zodiac, Gone Girl) and his penchant for tackling tension, eminently compelling dialogue scenes, and the complicated relationships forged in the service of capturing monstrous human beings is on full display throughout Mindhunter.
Perfect if you’re a fan of: Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, True Detective, the My Favorite Murder podcast.
High-profile westerns are few and far between these days, as the concept of cowboys and gunslingers largely became predictable and outdated for most audiences. Thankfully, Netflix’s first original limited series Godless aims to change that by juxtaposing the familiar and different, mixing the “outlaws on the run” trope with the fresh idea of “a small town only inhabited by women”.
The decision to transport the satisfying and fascinating “No Man’s Land” concepts of Wonder Woman’s Themyscira or the Vuvalini clan from Mad Max: Fury Road to the old west (an arena regrettably long since dominated by stale male stereotypes and underwritten female characters) is reason enough to give Godless a chance.
And with a creative braintrust lead by Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich) and Scott Frank (Logan, Shameless, Minority Report), the seven-episode Godless promises to update one of America’s classic genres with clever and compelling sensibilities.
Perfect if you’re a fan of: The Magnificent Seven (both new and old), Deadwood, The Furies, Meek’s Cutoff.
With the simple and hilarious driving question of “who drew the dicks?” American Vandal absurdly blends the sobering reality of Netflix’s Making a Murderer with the simple, sophomoric humor that guided most of us through our teen years. A mockumentary that is played with complete sincerity from beginning to end, the show treats a ridiculous, small act of vandalism (someone spray painted 27 dicks on cars in the teacher's parking lot) with all the seriousness of a federal crime and is consistently funny while doing so. In less qualified hands, American Vandal would wear out its welcome in a 3-minute comedy sketch but because of the intelligence, attention to detail, and cinematic passion both in front of and behind the camera, the show remains funny and engaging for its entire runtime in a way that not only rivals true crime documentaries and even more artistic fictional mysteries like Twin Peaks.
Perfect if you’re a fan of: Making a Murderer, College Humor videos, Seth Rogen comedies.