By Mattie Sienknecht
With each set of fresh releases, Netflix comes out with at least one original series that hits the jackpot. After racking up a hefty nine nominations in the television categories for this year’s Golden Globes, the streaming service proved itself a force to be reckoned with yet again. The recent unveiling of shows like “Dark” and “The End of the F***ing World,” along with some lesser known series such as “Alias Grace” and “Godless,” offers no relief to Netflix junkies with ever-growing watchlists.
“Dark,” released Dec. 1, 2017 and ranked 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, is the streaming service’s first German-made and German-language original series with many viewers comparing it to “Stranger Things.” The new hit, despite lacking the slew of comedic moments and notably young cast of the Duffer brothers’ pop culture sensation, provides an inherent creepiness that any thriller fan is sure to love. The 10 episode-long first season focuses on a family living in a small German town with a supernatural twist. After several mysterious disappearances, perplexing relationships between the town’s inhabitants come to light. While the progression of “Dark” has been noted as slow-moving, the gradual culmination of the plot does not come across as boring, but rather builds unbearable tension that rises to a nail-biting crescendo, proving why this raw, refreshing hit might well become a coveted classic.
“The End of the F***ing World” sticks with Netflix’s creepy theme but notably lacks the supernatural focus that skyrocketed “Dark” and “Stranger Things” to popularity. Based on Charles Forsman’s comic book series and released this January, “The End of the F***ing World” focuses on a young boy and girl in the throes of adolescence. When an impromptu road trip across England goes awry, the true intentions of these two teens becomes clear. This dark drama doubles as a screwed up coming-of-age story with the characters growing significantly throughout the season and bringing viewers to like the often unlikable duo. Compiled into eight 20-minute-long episodes, “The End of the F***ing World” offers a surprisingly tender chronicle of two kids who might just be more relatable than they first seem. Viewers who have already binged season one are probably scouring the internet for any word of season two, but as of yet Netflix is not giving anything away.
Along with these shows which probably invaded your homepage for months on end, Netflix also released several noteworthy series in late 2017 that managed to fly under the radar. “Alias Grace,” adapted from the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, proves itself to be one of the most enjoyable shows on Netflix despite its lack of hype and publicity. Set in mid 1800s Canada, the miniseries tells the story of Grace, a young murderer who has been imprisoned for 15 years, and Dr. Simon Jordan, a psychiatrist charged with the task of evaluating Grace’s sanity. Although this adaptation’s release was overshadowed by “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, it deserves just as much praise. Make no mistake, this newest masterpiece contains just as many thought-provoking feminist themes as the more popular Atwood classic. Packed into six 45-minute-long episodes, “Alias Grace” hooks the viewer’s interest as the plot grows thicker and more suspenseful with each unexpected turn.
“Godless,” another Netflix series that fell to the wayside with the release of more heavily advertised shows, comes highly recommended from those who were lucky enough to find it, and was even nominated for several Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors’ Guild awards. Set in the American Southwest, “Godless” is a series that any fan of classic westerns would love. With a cast that includes several strong female characters, “Godless” also provides something different that makes the show perfect for 2018 and more appealing to a wider audience. As someone who tries to stay away from the standard, male-dominated western films, I can personally attest that this new limited series provides a fresh take on the classic genre.
If you’re hoping for a break from that aggravating pile of unwatched shows growing exponentially before you, you are out of luck. Netflix shows no sign of stopping when it comes to exciting new releases for every TV fan.