Netflix is one of my other obsessions alongside gaming. Do you find that too? If I'm not playing video games, I'm flicking on Netflix, and then, before I know it, a couple of hours have passed. It's bizarre how time flies when you're streaming shows: it seems like something that physicists should be looking at as possible disproof of the theory of relativity.
There's only one real problem with Netflix. When there's so much stuff to watch, it's hard to know what is actually worth your time, and what will suck the life straight out of you. This is particularly the case for Netflix originals. Whereas with a famous network show, you've probably heard people talking about it, when a new show hits Netflix, it's a coin toss every time. Their originals are incredibly inconsistent, sometimes the greatest thing since sliced bread (i.e., Stranger Things), other times just complete garbage that belongs on public access. This year has been no different. There have been many, many Netflix shows launched and about half of them are good, half utter rubbish. In this article, we're going to take a look at 10 of the best Netflix shows of 2018, and 15 that are wastes of time and money.
Whether you like comedies, reality TV, documentaries, or anything else, we hope that this article will help you watch only the best shows going. Without any further ado, let's jump straight into this year's best and worst Netflix originals!
25 Bad: Insatiable
Oh deary me, we're jumping headfirst into the bad with this one. Insatiable is awful. Like "how did this get made" terrible. Firstly, the girl who's pestered for being heavier doesn't find any happiness in herself, only when she loses weight. That is the least of its problems. It makes creepy, skin-crawling jokes about touchy subjects. Every character is a stereotype. It has the incredible ability to offend just about everyone who watches it. Then suddenly it flips towards the end and tries to be respectful. Inconsistent, gross, horrible trash.
24 Bad: Afflicted
If you're British, you might have watched Embarassing Bodies. If you have, you'll probably have had the same thought just about everyone did: that it feels faintly voyeuristic. Afflicted is that taken up a notch. The show follows people dealing with various chronic issues, and instead of taking the compassionate approach you may expect, just throws them under the bus. The show portrays most of these illnesses as being psychosomatic rather than real, which can have a hugely negative impact on other people with these conditions trying to get care.
23 Good: The Final Table
Right, let's get a bit more cheery and talk about something that's great. The Final Table is an amazing show: it pits chefs from around the world against each other in a culinary battle. Each week, the chefs have to cook a country's signature dish for various celebrities and cooks from that country. If they fail, they are put into an elimination round where they must then use one signature ingredient to create an impressive dish. If they fail that, they have cooked their final plate and are eliminated. It develops the Masterchef idea into compelling TV.
22 Bad: Cooking On High
Goodness me. The core concept of this show is that people cook dishes containing a common mind-altering substance. That's a good idea for a Youtube series. That's about it. The show is disjointed as all heck, the judges have barely any cookery knowledge, the ingredients are all ready-prepared in front of them, and the actual focus of the show is barely given any actual screentime. It's just weird and cringey: like someone tried to make an "edgy" countercultural show without actually including any substance.
21 Bad: The Cloverfield Paradox
Man, what happened to the Cloverfield franchise? The first film was a phenomenal and innovative take on the monster movie, the second was pretty good, and then the third was hot garbage. It was marketed during the Super Bowl and released immediately after: it doesn't live up to the hype. It's barely alive. It's a clumsy mix of genres. The space station setting and general vibe seem to want to ape Alien, but it lacks any of the gravitas that film had. There's a bit where someone's dismembered arm gains a life of its own, like Thing from The Addams Family. It's bad, man.
20 Good: Aggretsuko
I'm really glad Aggretsuko was good. A charming, cute, but quite viciously satirical anime series, it is compulsive viewing. The titular Aggretsuko is a disaffected office worker (who happens to be a red panda), who lets out her emotions by singing metal karaoke after work. While its cutesy characters may lead you to believe that the show is going to be fairly soft, it tackles real issues wonderfully. Aggretsuko is a young woman who is bored stiff with her job, and is constantly being ground down by her co-workers, leading to some superb commentary on corporate culture.
19 Bad: The Boss Baby: Back In Business
The Boss Baby was a film that wanted to be as funny as Rugrats and very much wasn't. Lazy and uninventive, how it got a series follow-up, I don't know. It's joyously inconsistent, actually quite funny on occasion, before falling back on the kind of gags we saw Stewie from Family Guy make about 10-15 years ago. What annoys me most about this show is how lazy the writing is: if you've seen any other show or film that is like "what if babies strategized like adults, but are still babies," you've seen this.
18 Bad: Paradise PD
If you look up the word "edgy" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll see this show's title card next to the definition. Everything is played for laughs: harassment, addiction, weight, class, age, and mental illness. That's not necessarily a bad thing, if it were done with even a hint of aplomb. Much like its predecessor, Brickleberry, it is not. It bashes you over the head with its attempts at humor, garnering a few laughs, but not nearly as many as it needs. Largely, you're left cringing rather than doubled-up in laughter. Maybe season 2 will improve it.
17 Good: The Haunting Of Hill House
Most of the time, when a horror series or film is released around Halloween, I automatically assume it will be a cash-in. The Haunting Of Hill House most definitely is not. A fantastic series that creates some genuine scares and uses incredibly well thought out horror imagery, it's one of the best horror series that I've ever seen. The child actors are all superb rather than cringey, the show's depiction of psychological torment is handled brilliantly, and it's shot beautifully too. Essential viewing for any horror fan.
16 Bad: A Little Help With Carol Burnett
The venerable Carol Burnett returning to TV should be a cause for celebration. She was the first female host of a variety show back in the 1960s and 70s, which makes it tragic that her return should be so bad. She chairs a panel of children who offer advice to those needing it. It's saccharine sweet, but, just like aspartame, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. It doesn't know who it's aimed at. Adults won't find it funny unless they're watching it with a child, and children won't find it funny because the kids' opinions will be normal to them.
15 Bad: Disenchantment
I wanted Disenchantment to be good. It's been a while since Futurama ended, and what with The Simpsons continuing its downward spiral, I haven't been enthralled by a Matt Groening property for a long time. Sadly, Disenchantment cannot change that. The worst problem it has by far is that each of its characters feels like a collage of previous Groening ones. Princess Bean feels like a mix of Fry and Leela from Futurama, Luci feels like Bender, and Elfo effectively feels like Bart Simpson mixed with a character from his work before The Simpsons.
14 Good: Narcos: Mexico
It's always a risk when a well-established and loved show moves its location dramatically. Shifting the focus from Colombia to Mexico was always going to have to happen if Narcos wanted to carry on, and I'm happy to say they've pulled it off. It tracks the rise of the Guadalajara cartel with just as much skill as it did the Medellin and Cali cartels. Michael Peña performs superbly as Kiki Camarena. While it follows similar plotlines to the other Narcos seasons, it has enough fresh faces and interesting writing to pull it off easily.
13 Bad: Extinction
I'm a sucker for a good alien invasion movie. Sadly, Extinction is far from good. Co-written by the writer behind Arrival, it had a lot of promise. Sadly, the plot soon becomes muddled. The film has social commentary littered throughout it, but none of it is done particularly well. The film's climactic showdown is foreshadowed in the protagonist's visions, robbing it of any shock. Its visuals are distinctly average and its pacing is hugely lackluster, leaving the film feeling oddly disjointed, as though it hasn't been edited whatsoever. Hugely unsatisfying, sadly.
12 Good: Dark Tourist
The idea of a show that sees a journalist traveling the world visiting the sites of various disasters and atrocities sounds incredibly ghoulish. However, in practice, Dark Tourist is a phenomenal documentary series: David Farrier is an incredible presenter. While the places he travels to are unmistakably dark and disturbing, it's his honesty that I truly appreciate it. He looks scared when it's appropriate, and doesn't try to stay cool like so many journalists in similar circumstances. He has the human touch, and it makes this show extremely enthralling.
11 Bad: Follow This
Netflix have been partnering up with a couple of internet media companies lately. With Vox, they've made Explained, which is good, and Follow This, made with Buzzfeed, which is not. The show follows strange internet trends. This might seem like ripe fodder for a series, given their number and oddity, but Buzzfeed's journalists lean on the twee side, and it comes through in this series. It tells you very little about its various subject matters, spending 20 minutes ticking boxes rather than doing anything investigative.
10 Good: 1983
Netflix's first Polish-language original has knocked it out of the park. Its conceit is that Polish communism never fell, and the Cold War is still ongoing. Set in 2003, 20 years after a massive attack changed the course of history, we follow the protagonists as they uncover a huge conspiracy. The script is smart, replete with intelligent references but never pretentious, and is not afraid to deal with huge, heavyweight themes. The set design and cinematography is immersive, and all in all, it is a masterwork of dystopian fiction.
9 Bad: Mute
Pitched as a spiritual sequel to Moon, Duncan Jones' Mute is a beautiful but ultimately vapid film. The film's protagonist is a mute, Amish bartender on the trail of a missing person. That sounds amazing, right? If it had more substance, and was less hollow, it would be an incredible movie, but the plot is a confused mess of dystopian futures, not really making an effort to truly paint a picture with its set design at all. The film's climax sees someone attempt to take a young girl while the mute tries to make a noise and alert people. Farcical.
8 Good: Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina
A tie-in to Riverdale that manages to be far more entertaining than its sister show, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina was another surprisingly good Halloween offering. It is far more self-aware than Riverdale for one, and doesn't try to take itself at all seriously. Sabrina is half-witch, half-ordinary teenager following a coming-of-age story like no other. All the while, it's also exceptionally good at being scary whenever it wants to be, while keeping you spellbound with dreamlike, beautiful cinematography. If you don't like Riverdale, don't worry: you should watch this anyway.
7 Bad: Requiem
You'd think that a collaboration between the BBC and Netflix would have been great, wouldn't you? Requiem fails, sadly, to tell its intriguing story in anything like a timely fashion. It's occasionally scary, but without any sense of adventure to balance that out. Often, its attempts at scaring you are built on cliches, and then there's its plot. It throws red herrings at you like a fishmonger trying to get fired, but these get incredibly confused, leaving you with absolutely no idea what's happening. Not as scary as it should be, and with an overly-convoluted story, this is the disappointment of the year.
6 Good: My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
A cumbersome title, perhaps, but a superb show. David Letterman has come out of retirement, but unlike his previous shows, this one focuses on just one guest per episode. They are interviewed both inside and outside of a studio, which gives the whole show a much more intimate feeling than The Tonight Show. It allows Letterman to talk to the real person underneath their media personality, and the show has attracted a host of very famous individuals. People interviewed include Barack Obama, Jay-Z, Howard Stern, and Malala Yousafzai. If you want a superb series of interviews, check out this show.
5 Bad: The Outsider
This film has a lot of top talent involved with it, but ultimately fails to be anything more than trash. Jared Leto, fresh from being a terrible Joker in Suicide Squad, returns as a white Yakuza member, who's frankly boring journey is ispliced with stone-faced brutality. There are scenes which involve fingers being cut off, katana flourishes, and more, but they can't save the film from being, effectively, dull. There is no sense of character growth whatsoever, and its climax is entirely undeserved.
4 Good: Lost In Space
A reboot that I don't think anyone asked for, but that I'm very glad we got. Lost In Space is a great reimagining of the original series, putting the Robinson family on a remote planet and challenging them to survive. It's a fun series that is not only excellent sci-fi, but also packing a lot of emotional depth behind that. It's got some comic touches too, that are very much appreciated. The main source of its charm is that it's a very old-fashioned sci-fi that you don't see much of these days, focusing on character rather than allusions.
3 Bad: Game Over, Man!
If you're having trouble going to sleep, I can only recommend this as a sleep aid. The film is inspired by Die Hard, tasking three hapless housekeepers with rescuing hostages at a party gone bad. The film is vulgar in a way that it doesn't earn whatsoever. All of its characters feel like bad caricatures of frat boy comedies from 30 years ago, and then there's the cheapness of it all. The amount of anatomical jokes is breathtaking, while other times the comedy goes out of the window with a range of overly silly finales. It's weird, and it doesn't work.
2 Good: Wild Wild Country
Are you interested in cults/new religious movements at all? If you are, check out Wild Wild Country. This documentary tells the story of the Guru Osho and his followers who set up a community in Oregon. The documentary uses brand new interviews as well as more than 250 hours of footage to tell its strange story across a remarkably trim six hours. Trust me, it will fly by: this is one of the best documentaries in many a year. A beautiful, heartfelt retelling of a strange saga and the people wrapped up in it, you need to watch this.
1 Bad: All About The Washingtons
You know something has gone horribly wrong if a show is canceled after just one season. Such a fate met All About The Washingtons and for good reason. It is terrible. It is joyless. The writing is awful, the leads are wooden, and it just doesn't work in any respect. What's strange is that the couple at the show's heart is a real couple: presumably, they aren't so wooden in day to day life. If this was written by a student at film school, they would be held back a year.