I was hesitant to give a Netflix original a try back in 2013, but when the buzz around “Orange is the New Black” became too loud to ignore, I was swayed to appreciate the brilliant concept streaming really is: Consumers like it because of the lack of annoying network regulations and censorship, plus no commercials, and the ability to devour episode after episode without waiting a week in between (thanks to Netflix for that; other platforms like Hulu lack that particular perk). Showrunners probably appreciate the flexibility and innovation. And Netflix, well they get to see their numbers start shooting up because no one wants to be left out when the hype starts circulating about an awesome new show, so they hurry to sign up. Without delving into too much research, I believe Netflix was the first to offer streaming-only television. Now Hulu and others like Amazon Prime and HBO Go have jumped on the money-making bandwagon. I haven’t strayed too far from Netflix because it’s still top banana in my eyes, but I may have to make an exception soon to check out Aaron Paul in “The Path” (Hulu).
Anyway, the list of Netflix originals started small and has significantly expanded over the past couple of years and within the past few months, I’ve finally started to branch out and try a few more. Some of the newer ones with short episodes and truncated seasons take barely a day to watch. Others are more of a long-term commitment. And many are pleasant surprises. Below is a sampling of the ones I’ve tried so far and where they rank in my personal opinion.
The OG of Netflix originals. I was hooked instantly on the story of Piper Chapman, a wealthy good girl whose brief stint as a drug mule catches up to her just before the statute of limitations reaches its cut-off. She winds up having to leave her fiancé and incredulous family grappling with many questions and a slight inability to cope with these revelations as she enters a women’s prison in upstate New York for 15 months. What ensues is a very real, scary, uplifting, unflinching, funny, and sometimes heart-breaking look at life as an inmate. I read the biographical tale on which the show is based and was impressed with how the smallest paragraph in writing became a running theme for an entire episode on screen. I love learning the backstories of these incredibly complex characters. The show does hit some speed bumps, particularly as the seasons go on, but it still has that X factor that keeps you coming back for more. It’s also morphed into an all-out event that keeps viewers itching with anticipation. When season 3 was released a day early last year, the social handles for the show knowingly acknowledged that people would be devouring it all on the spot, tweeting out questions like, “Who’s still with us?” at 4 a.m. with winking emojis. It’s fun to feel like you’re part of a collective watching party and few shows elicit that vibe the way OITNB does. Continue reading