Netflix Originals: The Best and The Worst


Lauren Hevel

Corey Hevel sits down to watch every Netflix show ever.

Spoiler Warning: This story will contain some spoilers for the first episodes of some Netflix shows.
Over the past few years, Netflix has created many original shows. Some are good, and capture the attention of millions. Others… not so much. With the amount of shows Netflix has created, it’s sometimes hard to know which to check out, and which to not waste your time on. Which is why I decided to watch the first episode of every Netflix original show to determine which are the most underrated and overrated, and the best and worst. Of course, this would be too tall a task if I did every Netflix show, so I will only consider shows that are American made. I will also not consider documentaries or comedy shows, because it’s hard to fairly compare those genres with each other.

After watching the pilots for over 30 shows, I can say with confidence the worst show on the streaming service is Black Summer. This show makes absolutely no sense. After 40 minutes of runtime the only thing I know about the plot is that it’s a zombie show. I learned more from the show’s description before watching than I did in the pilot. Don’t get me wrong, making a viewer ask questions is a normal strategy for a pilot. However when you don’t explain literally any of them, it creates a problem. I have no idea how the virus is supposed to spread, someone has an injury from a zombie and turns into one. Then, later in the episode, someone gets hit by a car and turns into a zombie, with no zombie being nearby. Does it transfer due to DNA, or just them simply dying? It’s never explained or even possible to infer. It’s just there to confuse you. I don’t even know most of the character’s names, it constantly switches perspectives. However, sometimes there are multiple people in those perspectives, and they don’t elaborate which one’s perspective we are following. One time, I was pretty confident we were following one character, but then he doesn’t appear for the rest of the episode, and someone else from the background of that perspective shows up later. So I have no clue which one of them is the important character, and which one isn’t. The show only makes negative progress in making you interested in, or understand the show.

On the other hand, the show Warrior Nun is one of the most underrated Netflix Originals. I don’t recall it getting that much attention when it dropped, but from the first episode, it is a superhero show that rivals the recent MCU Disney Original shows. The story focuses on a sect of nuns that fight against demons. But when things go poorly, they must hide the source of their power inside a dead body. This brings the body to life, which is how we are introduced to our main protagonist. The pilot has the perfect balance of leaving some things unexplained to draw you in, but gives you enough info to make you feel like you understand what’s going on. Her powers are interesting, and the villain they hint at near the end of the episode looks incredibly interesting. With a second season announced to be coming, now is a great time to start watching Warrior Nun.

Pieces of Her likely has to be the most overrated show on the platform. I believe it got top five in the popular shows on Netflix when it dropped. The main problem with this show is they constantly ignore logic in order to create plot devices for the show. For example, the show’s main protagonist is a police dispatcher. In one of the scenes, she is having lunch with her mother while wearing her uniform. For one, dispatchers don’t even typically have uniforms, unless they have another job in the police force that has a uniform, or they live in a heavily populated city. Neither of which is true for her. It is shown she never leaves her office at work, so there is literally no need for a uniform, no one except for her coworkers see her when she is working. Yet, she has to have one because it is important to the plot that someone mistakes her for a regular officer with a gun. Another example is later in the episode when someone breaks into her mothers house while she is in the garage. She calls the cops, which is the only sensical thing she does in this entire scene. She then leaves her phone in the garage, so she can’t easily call again if the situation changes, while she goes inside the house to check on the situation. She is a dispatcher with no police training for these situations, why is she looking for the criminal? But it’s okay, she probably has a plan. She walks through the kitchen and grabs a weapon to defend herself. What may that weapon be? A knife, a frying pan perhaps? No, it’s a potted plant. She walks through a kitchen and grabs a plant, instead of the many metal weapons in the same room. She later finds someone twice her size with a knife, who has her mother tied up. She gets the drop on him and hits him with the plant, which doesn’t knock him out. If she grabbed a knife or pan, he’d either be dead or knocked out right now, but instead he grapples with her and pins her down. Then, somehow, she gets his knife turned around and stabs him with it. There is no way she should be able to overpower him enough to do that. She should be dead by now, but the plot demands she live. Pieces of Her has to be the Netflix Original with the most plot holes and nonsensical events forced to make the plot work. For someone like me who hates glaringly obvious flaws in logic, this show is insufferable.

The best original, without question, is The Crown. Going into this show, I was sure I wouldn’t like it. There’s nothing about this show that’s something I typically like. I am an avid hater of historical fiction of all forms, I usually find it incredibly boring. But, The Crown was different. Watching that first episode made me feel like I was watching a feature length film, not just an episodic show. It’s a rare occurrence for a show to be able to hold a viewer’s attention for all 40 minutes of runtime. Usually there are at least some segments where things stagnate and the pace slows. However, The Crown manages to keep the same pace throughout the entire first episode. It is simply a great show that even managed to make someone who hates the genre enjoy every second of it.
Of course, this is just an analysis of the pilot episodes. Some of these shows could get better after the pilot, or get worse. However as it stands, shows like Warrior Nun and The Crown excel at keeping the viewer’s attention while setting up the show, while Black Summer and Pieces of Her fall short.