10 Recent Netflix Shows That Lived Up To The Hype – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Netflix has come under fire for prioritizing quantity over quality, but it has still managed to produce a ton of worthwhile content.
The television industry has been able to up its game in impressive ways to dominate many pop-culture trends. There have never been more distribution channels to consume content, and the streaming wars, which are still in full force, properly gained steam through Netflix’s illustrious original programming. Standards continue to grow higher when it comes to television content and the parameters for what qualifies as “prestige TV” grow more restrictive.
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Netflix slowly shifted to a development strategy that seemed to prioritize quantity over quality, but this philosophy doesn’t mean that it didn’t produce any worthwhile content. A lot of Netflix content comes across as disposable, but there are some recent series from the streaming service that are well worth the investment.
Mike Flanagan has produced a number of TV series and feature films for Netflix, none of which have disappointed, and he has even more on the way. Flanagan’s most recent Netflix offering, Midnight Mass, is without a doubt the filmmaker’s most personal work, but it’s also widely viewed as his magnum opus.
Midnight Mass flows with the eerie tension of a Stephen King novel from the 1980s. It tells a remarkable story about the power of faith and how it can be a tool for both rebirth and destruction. A small community gradually transforms in horrific ways, all while a growing power manipulates its religious leaders. It’s a rare masterpiece that’s scary, thought-provoking, and deeply human.
Curiously, the whole "death game" subgenre is popular subject matter in anime. In this sense, the nine-episode Squid Game isn't necessarily anything new. Its premise where disenfranchised social outcasts are forced to participate in deadly games for a monumental cash payout is par for the course, but Squid Game stands out because of its inspired performances and hard-boiled writing.
Netflix fully embraced Squid Game and wants to extend this popular series into a rich universe. There are debates to be had over whether more Squid Game material is a good idea, but the original series illicits a strong burst of adrenaline.
There's a good deal of luck involved with which Netflix original productions suddenly click with audiences and grow into cultural phenomena. The Queen's Gambit is an austere and methodical period piece that digs into Beth Harmon, a tortured chess prodigy who's sublimely portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy.
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A seven-episode miniseries that's focused on chess, addiction, and power dynamics may not necessarily seem like everyone's cup of tea, but The Queen's Gambit became one of Netflix's most popular series in 2020 and continued to bring in new audiences throughout 2021.
Comedy is subjective, but it’s incredibly comforting that Netflix is willing to take chances on absurdist fiction like I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. An underappreciated talent back on Saturday Night Live, Tim Robinson is able to let his surreal impulses fly with no compromise on this new sketch comedy nightmare.
I Think You Should Leave breaks down awkward social interactions, but this show’s style of humor is so unpredictable that it's truly unlike any other sketch show. Each episode is also distilled down to its strongest parts, and there is absolutely no fat on any installment. Thankfully, there’s at least one more season of I Think You Should Leave that’s on the way.
There is no shortage of haunting horror content on Netflix, but it’s very possible that Brand New Cherry Flavor is the weirdest and most intense of these offerings. Set back in the 1990s, the stylized neon nightmare unpacks a jilted would-be filmmaker’s attempts to curse the abusive producer who steals her project.
Brand New Cherry Flavor truly feels like David Lynch meets Quentin Tarantino meets David Cronenberg. There are mindless zombies, cat consumption, and gnarly body horror that won’t ever leave the audience’s mind. Brand New Cherry Flavor is a breath of fresh air that’s only strengthened by Rosa Salazar’s virtuoso performance as Lisa Nova.
Some of the most exciting content to come to Netflix during the past few years have been international acquisitions and co-productions, which can effectively highlight how different storytelling and structure can be outside of North America. Coming from South Korea, Hellbound is a stark meditation on guilt, life, and faith that explores a cryptic pact that begins to dismantle the world.
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Beasts from hell begin to drag guilty parties to damnation, but this scenario intensifies when seemingly innocent individuals are also subjected to this unholy judgment. Hellbound is only six episodes, but it tells a complex and thought-provoking story in that short period of time.
Netflix’s relationship with horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan has turned into one of their most fruitful connections. The Haunting of Bly Manor is Flanagan's second installment of his Haunting anthology series, and its delicate take on Henry James' gothic fiction is powerful, yet not for everyone.
Bly Manor lacks some of the visceral scares of its Hill House predecessor, and it's interested in telling more of an internal struggle. Some consider Bly Manor to be a step down from Hill House, but Flanagan moves his melodramatic anthology series to new thematic territory instead of just repeating himself.
Netflix was able to build a name for itself by taking larger risks on ambitious ideas that weren’t guaranteed to be sure hits. Kyle Mooney is a brilliant comedic mind from Saturday Night Live who passionately channels his love for the Saturday morning cartoons from the ‘80s and ‘90s into an effortless genre pastiche. Saturday Morning All-Star Hits! functions like a lost TV show that’s suddenly been recovered.
It mixes live-action with a myriad of animated parodies, all of which transform throughout the show’s timeline as a commentary on commercialization. Saturday Morning All-Star Hits! is niche humor, but those who are on board with Mooney’s understated style will never want to turn off this nostalgic bliss.
Netflix continues to excel with its unconventional horror series, but sadly, some of these programs get lost in the shuffle. Archive 81 is a supernatural series that begins as a film conservationist gets hired to restore old videotapes from the 1990s, only for him to stumble upon demonic and sinister forces that are still active.
The engrossing narrative in Archive 81 plays out between two time periods, which ultimately come together in a satisfying manner. Admittedly, Archive 81 was canceled after its first season, yet there's still a sense of closure that's provided by the end of season one. It's still very possible to enjoy Archive 81 as a self-contained horror story.
The abundance of streaming services like Netflix have helped anthology-style programming become major hits, and some of the most exciting genre exercises on television. Love, Death + Robots comes from executive producers David Fincher and Tim Miller.
What initially began as a reboot of the animated anthology film, Heavy Metal, has grown into an even more varied collection of eclectic science fiction stories and animation styles. 35 installments have been produced across the show's three volumes. None of these bold presentations feel like weak links, and there's surely at least one episode that will open up the audience's eyes in new ways.
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Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer, comedian, and critic, who lives in the cultural mosaic that is Brooklyn, New York. Daniel’s work can be read on ScreenRant, Splitsider, Bloody Disgusting, Den of Geek, and across the Internet. Daniel recently completed work on a noir anthology graphic novel titled, “Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Noir: A Rag of Bizarre Noir and Hard Boiled Tales” and he’s currently toiling away on his first novel. Daniel’s extra musings can be found @DanielKurlansky on Twitter.


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