Picking the best original streaming shows of the decade seems like an impossible task, but we’ve got it covered.
Netflix’s streaming platform began in 2007, but it didn’t explode until the 2010s. In fact, Netflix became such a huge success, other companies joined in on the streaming renaissance. Some were more successful than others, but plenty have remained until the end of the decade.
For a while, Netflix dominated the streaming game because of their original content. They had the quality and the quantity to stay ahead of the competition. But sooner than later, Netflix’s competition stepped up their services and started providing equal quality content, even if not quantity just yet. These are the best original streaming shows of the decade, across the most popular platforms.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Daredevil changed the television game and really made a strong case for streaming television in binge-worthy formats. It may not be the greatest show of all time, but it’s a damn good one that deserves credit for everything it did for Netflix and beyond.
When it first premiered, there was nothing else quite like it. The first season is absolute gold: It is expertly well-paced, features incredible performances by a cast of unknowns and “has-beens,” and has some of the most impressive and cinematic shots that have ever been even attempted, let alone nailed. For instance, for months, all anyone could talk about was the “hallway scene.”
Sure, the rest of the series had a hard time living up to the masterful perfection of the first season (the second season was very much not great, but the third season was much, much closer to the first in terms of quality). But this show set its own bar.
It set the bar for all other Netflix and streaming shows on other platforms in its wake, both Marvel and otherwise. Very few other shows in this last decade or others, can say the same thing.
Without the existence of Daredevil, it’s almost impossible to know or even imagine what streaming, binge-worthy shows would look like at this point, or if they’d even still be a “thing.”
When it comes to streaming TV, Daredevil is iconic and worthy of being hailed as one of the greatest achievements in streaming television.
‘Grace and Frankie’
Grace and Frankie has been an unexpected favorite of mine. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda’s reunion, and unmatched chemistry, gave way to one of my favorite friendships on television between two people that are so completely different, yet due to their similar circumstances, they come together.
There is no shortage of laughter when watching the triumphant and often disastrous lives of Grace and Frankie.
It’s not just Grace and Frankie that have made this show a success either; their husbands and children are all played by talented actors and help the series breathe, while delivering beautiful and humorous relationships that are so complicated and well-written. If there was a comedy I believe best explores the dysfunctional family, this would be it.
There’s a reason this is Netflix’s longest running comedy, which is set to come to an end in 2021 with season 7.
‘The Haunting of Hill House’
When I sat down to watch The Haunting of Hill House, I was not expecting it to become my favorite show of 2018 and one of my favorite shows of the decade. I’m not exactly a horror person, although I’ve been trying to delve deeper into the genre and stretch my comfort zone a little bit. Hill House has been the perfect series to start with.
Yes, it’s a horror show, and yes, it’s pretty scary at times, but the story is so fantastic that I found it was MORE than worth it to grit my teeth and feel my heart pounding in my chest once in a while. (Pro tip: If you really want to watch it but are too scared, use my guide to every single scary moment.)
The characters are fantastically complex, the story is woven across several timelines, and the ultimate reveal is satisfying. I find myself still thinking about this series more than a year later, and I can’t wait until Bly Manor hits our screens in 2020.
‘House of Cards’
One of the best original streaming shows of the decade has to go to the series that started it all, House of Cards.
It definitely had its ups and downs over the course of its 6 seasons, but when it was at its best, it could hardly be beat. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright were magnetic, effortlessly capturing their characters’ cold, cunning nature that repulses you, while simultaneously making you root for them anyway.
Unfortunately, some behind the scenes controversy resulted in its lead actor being fired, which also meant a rewrite of the final season.
These unforeseen circumstances, probably, largely contributed to the less than satisfying final season, but even though it may not have stuck the landing as well as many had hoped, that doesn’t take away from all of its accomplishments throughout.
House of Cards practically invented binge-watching. The regular cliffhangers, surprises, and twists, combined with all episodes readily available, created a new culture of TV viewing and set the standard for all future streaming series.
There is so much to love about Stranger Things, I’m not sure I could fit it all into this page link, let alone a paragraph, but I shall try. From the start, this supernatural, suspense, thriller series has subverted expectations and empowered the outsider.
From Eleven to Nancy Wheeler and back again, Stranger Things has changed archetypes left and right, creating favorite characters out of the most unexpected people (#JusticeForBarb), and allowing it’s core cast to grow and change as the story demands.
While season 2 had a couple of missteps, any and all concerns fans may have had about the Duffer Bros getting back to what makes Stranger Things so special were skillfully handled in season 3.
And now we wait, patiently (and sometimes not so much) anticipating the next chapter in the saga of Eleven, her friends, her family, and Hawkins, IN. I’m in for the long haul, no matter what this new decade has in store for our favorite Hawkins-ians. Wherever it takes us, the road is sure to be a fun one, with surprises popping up in the least expected places.
The long-awaited and highly anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s book was finally brought to the screen this decade, courtesy of Amazon. It was well worth the wait. In Good Omens, Armageddon is set to arrive in a few days’ time, when a young boy turns of age and becomes the antichrist.
Both Heaven and Hell have representatives on Earth meant to keep an eye on the boy and make sure Armageddon goes off as planned.
However, it turns out the angel and demon in question are actually longtime friends, and rather enjoy their time on Earth. Thus begins Aziraphale and Crowley’s mission to go against their orders and stop the apocalypse.
Our hero and anti-hero are played by the charismatic Michael Sheen and David Tennant. They’re truly the heart of this series and what keeps you watching episode to episode. Their chemistry is unmatched. The banter is both hilarious and touching, made all the more engaging because of their forbidden romance friendship.
Rounded out by colorful secondary characters, Good Omens is a wild ride from start to finish. It’s funny, it’s fun, it’s heartwarming, and it’s unique. There’s hardly a show that goes for it as much as Good Omens does this, making it one of the best original streaming shows of the decade.
Stephen King has been a household name for decades, but in the 2010s he had a resurgence. A multitude of his novels were turned into films and television series this past decade, but there was only one original streaming show.
Castle Rock isn’t an adaptation of one of King’s books though. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of many of his works, incorporating many inspirations of his best characters, themes, and locations.
Though there are plenty of easter eggs and references for Stephen King fans, you don’t have to be familiar with his works to enjoy this series. Compelling characters are elevated by strong performances from each actor, made all the better with the introduction of Lizzy Caplan in season 2.
Castle Rock has suspense, creepiness, and intrigue fit for any horror and thriller fan.
The Handmaid’s Tale is definitely one of those shows that’s difficult to watch but is also an absolute necessity.
Adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, the Hulu adaptation set a precedent for source material being reworked for the screen. Though Hulu’s program goes beyond Atwood’s tale, it still feels as though it’s very much a part of that world.
And, unfortunately, that world feels more tangible than ever. Perhaps that’s why it landed so well with audiences and why it feels as though it’s something we need to watch, even if we don’t always enjoy what it’s showing us on screen.
Still, Elisabeth Moss does a fantastic job as the main character, supported by several other actors and actresses who bring their all to these roles.
It’s easy to root for some and hate others, but Handmaid’s Tale also provides us perspectives that live in a grey area. We may not always agree with their decisions, but we can certainly understand where they’re coming from.
With a new decade promising changes left and right, both good and bad, it’s more important than ever to consume media like The Handmaid’s Tale.
Disney+ only launched at the tail end of the decade and boasts a meagre two original series, but The Mandalorian is still among the top original streaming shows of the 2010s.
In its current narrative, The Mandalorian is accessible to non-Star Wars fans, even if it’s probably not going to entice them. The plot is sufficiently simplistic that even without background Star Wars knowledge, you can follow well enough.
That said, it does, of course, have plenty of references to the Star Wars universe, so die-hard fans will also be satisfied.
Much like other original streaming shows, The Mandalorian has production values that rival big budget films. CGI and practical effects are well-balanced, which helps it not feel dated. Nevertheless, between the fight scenes, editing, and themes, each episode also feels like a classic Star Wars film, in the best way possible.
More to the point though, the main reason The Mandalorian has become such a huge success so quickly is because of “Baby Yoda.”
The little green baby (practically created, not digitally) became an instant sensation for its cuteness and for the humanity it brings out of Mando. Each episode delivers a new adorable moment, and The Mandalorian has basically become the Baby Yoda show. There are worse things to be known for.
I know Apple TV+ isn’t quite getting the same love as Disney+ or a few of the older streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but I was thoroughly impressed with See. It took an interesting concept, one where humanity has gone blind, and combined it with just enough fantasy to make this world unique and interesting.
Of course, Jason Momoa carries much of the weight on his very broad shoulders, but Alfre Woodard does a fantastic job holding her own. I like that it’s a little bit of Into the Badlands meets Frontier, which are two shows very close to my heart.
I don’t think See got the attention it deserved, which means fans will need to live with the consequences (read: cancellation), but I’m always happy to see Momoa on the small screen in any kind of role that puts him in the middle of the woods wearing animal pelts and crushing some bad guy’s skull.