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The best Netflix original series of 2019, ranked

Netflix

Netflix wasted no time this year.

It only took a matter of weeks for contenders to emerge for the best Netflix original series of 2019. The streaming platform has already pumped out a gut-busting high school sex comedy, a time-bending detective show, and a nuanced comic book superhero adaptation. And those are just the new Netflix originals; several other series have also returned with great new seasons this year. The best part is, judging by our guide to Netflix release dates for 2019, there’s a lot more to look forward to for the rest of the year.

The best Netflix original series of 2019

1) Russian Doll

Netflix original series 2019: Russian Doll Netflix

There are plenty of TV shows and movies about alternate realities and star-crossed timelines, but Russian Doll takes that premise and builds in a detective show and a philosophical exploration of morality. Series co-creator Natasha Lyonne plays Nadia, a former game designer who dies on her 36th birthday only to be rerouted back into that night to relive it again. As Nadia investigates her situation she has to take a look at herself as well, but the series resists giving us a neat ending or “fixing” her. —Audra Schroeder

2) Sex Education

Netflix original series 2019: Sex Education Netflix

Netflix original series Sex Education tells the story of socially awkward 16-year-old Otis Milburn, who begins an underground sex clinic with witty bad girl Maeve at their high school to capitalize on their peers’ coital concerns. The series is both the Skins for Gen Z and a public service announcement for inclusive sexual education. The series tackles everything—masturbation, impotence, abortion, pubic lice, sex, LGBTQ relationships—in a frank and often graphic way. It addresses the modern-day growing pains of puberty in a bluntly tragic and often hilarious manner. —Tess Cagle

3) The Umbrella Academy

Netflix original series 2019: Umbrella Academy Netflix

With a compelling cast and a refreshingly unpredictable plot, The Umbrella Academy blows most comic book shows out of the water. Using the framework of superhero origin stories, the show explores the kind of themes you usually see in indie dramas. The main characters are a squad of super-powered siblings who were adopted at birth by an eccentric billionaire. Instead of using childhood trauma as the motivation to become a hero, The Umbrella Academy explores how parental issues actually get in the way of these characters fulfilling their heroic destiny. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

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4) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 4.5

Netflix original series 2019: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 4.5 Netflix

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ends its run on Netflix much as it began: hilarious, poignant, and criminally under-appreciated. For those of us who stuck in there, the back half of season 4 holds plenty of rewards. (The first six episodes dropped last year, just in time for Emmy qualification.) The book Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) wrote to teach boys not to be creeps starts catching on, just as Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) and Lillian (Carol Kane) realize that younger men are interested in them now, as younger women have raised their standards. Titus (Tituss Burgess) discovers that all you have to do to be in Cats is walk onstage and brags about his role as a doorman on an unreleased episode of Daredevil to win his ex Mikey (Mike Carlsen) back. And the show reckons with the Me Too movement in the most Kimmy Schmidt way possible—through puppets. —Chris Osterndorf

5) Trigger Warning with Killer Mike

Netflix original series 2019: Trigger Warning with Killer Mike Netflix

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike distills the controversial Atlanta rapper’s various sociopolitical musings on hurtful ideologies, nationality, America’s addiction to porn, and contextual Blackness/otherness into a cultural docuseries. More or less an imperfect, six-episode thought experiment, Trigger Warning finds the affable Run the Jewels MC serving humor, absurdity, and truth in equal portions. —Kahron Spearman

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6) Grace and Frankie season 5

Netflix original series 2019: Grace and Frankie Season 5 Netflix

Can Grace and Frankie truly live apart? That’s the question the Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda-led series is building to in season 5, which also takes “the alternative” into consideration: an alternate reality where Grace and Frankie were never friends. This season also plays with “senior moments,” a failed business idea, and looks at how women of a certain age assert themselves. —A.S.

Still not sure what to watch tonight? Here are our guides for the absolute best movies on Netflix, must-see Netflix original series, documentaries, docuseries, and movies.

Looking for something more specific? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, rom-coms, LGBT movies, alien movies, gangster movies, Westerns, film noir, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, old movies when you need something classic, and standup specials when you really need to laugh.

Bryan Rolli

Bryan Rolli

Bryan Rolli is a reporter who specializes in streaming entertainment. He writes about music and film for Forbes, Billboard, and the Austin American-Statesman. He met Flavor Flav in two separate Las Vegas bowling alleys and still can’t stop talking about it.