netflix originals 2018 - cargo

Matt Nettheim/Netflix

Every notable Netflix original from 2018, reviewed

Get your queue in order.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Aug 14, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 8:51 am CDT

Netflix is now a content factory, promising roughly 700 original series and 80 original films over the course of 2018. It’s a lot to keep track of, so here’s a rundown of all Netflix’s 2018 original movies and series, starting with our recommended titles.

Netflix originals 2018: The best series

1) Babylon Berlin

netflix originals 2018 - babylon berlin

This German-made pre-WW2 drama takes viewers back in time to the Weimar Republic in the Golden Twenties. Creators Tom Tykwer, Hendrik Handloegten, and Achim von Borries recreate the atmosphere with stunning detail. With production costs exceeding $40 million, the show is the most expensive German TV series and non-English language drama series ever. The end result is Cabaret meets crime television. It also offers Americans a dire warning: As the plot progresses, heroes must choose between their morals and nationalism. Babylon Berlin shows us how a progressive nation can crumble when it allows bigotry and intolerance to fester. —Tess Cagle

2) The End of the F***ing World

best netflix original series 2018 - The End of the F***ing World
The End of the F***ing World/Netflix

The End of the F***ing World is a twist on the standard-issue teen love story: Boy meets girl, boy thinks about killing girl, girl makes him feel something other than murderous rage. Audra Schroeder

3) Orange Is the New Black season 6

netflix originals 2018 - OITNB season 6
JoJo Whilden / Netflix

In season 6, Orange Is the New Black’s sprawling ensemble has been thrown into the wind, with some of the inmates at Litchfield being shipped off to a prison in Ohio and others going “up the hill” to the Maximum Security facility following the riot inspired by Poussey’s death. Season 6 focuses heavily on the fallout of the “Litchfield ten” specifically, who were caught hiding out in an abandoned pool during season 5’s explosive finale. New inmates from Litchfield Max help fill the holes left by departing cast members this season, though some viewers will surely be disappointed by the departures. —Chris Osterndorf

4) Luke Cage season 2

luke cage claire temple
Marvel's Luke Cage/Netflix

Luke Cage improves in its second season, developing the tensions within Harlem’s criminal underworld while correcting some of the weaker points of season 1. The villains are a particular highlight this time around, with Mariah Dillard and her partner Shades Alvarez arguably getting a more compelling storyline than Luke Cage himself. They’re also joined by a new rival in the neighborhood, the super-strong John ‘Bushmaster’ McIver, a Jamaican gangster.

5) GLOW season 2

netflix originals 2018 - glow
Erica Parise/Netflix

GLOW is widely considered one of the best shows on Netflix. Season 2 of the half-hour dramedy from Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan—based on the real women’s wrestling league from the ’80s—finds the “gorgeous ladies of wrestling” grappling in the ring and out to produce a cable TV show while also tackling power dynamics and workplace sexual harassment in an era way before Me Too. 

6) Disenchantment *

disenchantment netflix review

Disenchantment is Matt Groening’s first series since Futurama, setting its sights on fantasy. No element is off-limits for parody as it chronicles the mishaps and adventures of a rebellious princess (Abbi Jacobson), an elf (Nat Faxon), and a demon (Eric Andre) in a kingdom that has a life of its own—helped in part by its fantastic voice cast. But while the fantasy elements are a delight and create some hilarious moments, some of the more human elements feel outdated and not as clever or revolutionary as the writers believe them to be.

7) The Rain

best netflix original series 2018 - The Rain
The Rain/Netflix

The Rain follows two siblings as they emerge from their bunker six years after a lethal virus spread by rain wipes out almost everyone in Scandinavia. The duo join a group of survivors and travel to Sweden in search of their father, who they believe can cure the disease, and other signs of life. Along the way, the group struggles to cope in the post-apocalyptic world and find that the only thing from their former lives that remains is their humanity—their ability to feel fear, love, and grief. While The Rain isn’t particularly groundbreaking in its genre, it’s lack of originality doesn’t hinder its ability to hook viewers into the story almost immediately. —Tess Cagle

8) Jessica Jones season 2

netflix originals 2018 - Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones returns for a second season of Marvel’s gripping, feminist thriller. With her nemesis Kilgrave gone, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) investigates the mystery of how she gained her powers as a child. Unlike some of Marvel’s other Netflix series, this show is too intense to binge-watch in one sitting—and that’s definitely a good thing. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

9) Seven Seconds

best netflix original series of 2018 - Seven Seconds
Seven Seconds/Netflix

This anthropological crime thriller from Veena Sud tackles the controversial issues of race relations between law enforcement and the people they serve. It’s Netflix’s statement about the Black Lives Matter movement: The 10-episode miniseries follows the aftermath of 15-year-old Brenton Butler’s death from a hit-and-run accident in Jersey City, committed by a white cop. Straying from the classic whodunnit formula, the show explores each characters’ decisions and motives to show how the killing of an innocent Black boy shakes a community to its core. Despite pacing and acting flaws, Seven Seconds raises a compelling question about when—and for whom—justice is served in this country. —Tess Cagle

10) One Day at a Time season 2

netflix original series : one day at a time

One Day at a Tim reboots Norman Lear’s popular ’70s series with the same title, which was edgy at the time for portraying a divorced single mother raising two teenage daughters on her own in Indianapolis. In the Netflix version, Penelope Alvarez is a single mom raising two teenage kids too, but don’t let the soft lighting and gem-toned clothes fool you: The details of her life are closer to the pulse of the modern American family than you’d think. She’s a war veteran living with post-traumatic stress, her Cuban immigrant mother lives in her apartment with her, and her activist daughter recently came out of the closet. The result is some powerful, timely TV. —Christine Friar

11) Lust Stories

best netflix original series 2018 - Lust Stories
Lust Stories/Netflix

Anchored in urban India, Netflix’s original anthology series, the realistic and messy Lust Stories, explores contemporary complexities of love, sex, adultery, class hierarchy, and contextual power struggles within four original tales by the country’s frontline directors. The quartet of short films serves as a sequel to 2013’s Bombay Talkies for the four individually acclaimed directors (Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, and Karan Johar). Anyone anticipating typical Bollywood fare is in for a shock. Lust Stories accomplishes what relatively few films from the Indian subcontinent, or the world for that matter, do successfully. The four directors center intelligent and amusing narratives around the thoughts and desires of real women, without specific service to masculine ideals. —Kahron Spearman

12) Safe

best netflix original series - safe

A French co-production between Netflix and Canal+, Safe has just arrived on streaming in America while France will air it on channel C8. The series is not set in France or America, though, instead taking place within a gated community in England. It’s there that Michael C. Hall’s Tom Delaney, a surgeon with two daughters, is trying to put his life back together after the death of his wife. As you probably could have guessed, not all of Tom’s neighbors are who they appear to be, and everyone within the community’s secured fences has secrets—including Tom. Things take another turn when Tom’s daughter, Jenny (Amy James-Kelly), goes missing one night after a party. —Chris Osterndorf

13) On My Block

best netflix original series 2018 - On My Block
On My Block/Netflix

From Awkward.’s Lauren Iungerich and co-creators Jeremy Haft and Eddie Gonzalez, On My Block is a series about coming of age in a “rough neighborhood” and all the implications that come with that loaded classification. The four leads, Cesar (Diego Tinoco), Monse (Sierra Capri), Jamal (Brett Gray), and Ruby (Jason Genao) are a close-knit group of friends who find their bond tested as they enter the uncharted waters of high school. Suddenly, the realities of everything from sexual attraction to gang violence are no longer ignorable, and On My Block mines them for equal parts drama and humor. —Chris Osterndorf

14) Love season 3

netflix originals 2018 - Love season 3

Love’s third and final season takes a characteristically unflinching look at Gus and Mickey’s struggle to build a healthy relationship, even as they fight to resist their self-destructive tendencies and the temptation to run back to their old lives. They’ve settled into their own version of domestic bliss by this point, but that doesn’t stop them conjuring up worst-case scenarios for how their relationship could implode or getting into knock-down, drag-out fights against their better judgment. A fleshed-out supporting cast lends the dysfunctional rom-com a greater sense of depth and gives viewers more characters to root for, from Gus’ affable neighbor Chris, who dreams of becoming a professional stuntman, to Mickey’s roommate Bertie, who’s afraid of settling but isn’t quite sure how to take control of her own life. Love technically has a happy ending—you’ll have to watch it for yourself to see what that means—but its characters’ greatest triumph is learning how to love themselves. —Bryan Rolli

15) Arrested Development season 5

best netflix original series of 2018 - Arrested Development season 5
Arrested Development season 5/Netflix

The fifth season of Arrested Development attempts to correct the mistakes of season 4, and depending on your definition of “correct,” mostly succeeds. This time around, the Bluths are forced to come together over two separate causes. The first is to rally behind Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) in a race for Congress; the second is to hunker down following the disappearance of Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli), whom Lindsay ends up running in lieu of. Those who watched last season will remember the efforts of George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) and Lucille (Jessica Walter) to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, so it should come as no surprise that the Bluths are taking a little inspiration from Donald Trump this year. As the two major storylines unfold, season 5 essentially becomes part political satire, part murder-mystery spoof. —Chris Osterndorf

16) The Innocents

netflix originals 2018 - the innocents

The Innocents is a unique combination of Scandinavian mystery thriller and teen paranormal romance, starring a 16-year-old girl who discovers she has dangerous shapeshifting powers. Stylishly shot and cleverly written, it’s great for teens and adults alike. One of Netflix’s best. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

17) The Dragon Prince

netflix originals 2018 - the dragon prince

Following in the footsteps of swords-and-sorcery epics like Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft, The Dragon Prince is a new animated fantasy show from some of the creators behind Avatar: The Last Airbender. With appealing character design and a goofy sense of humor, it only has one significant flaw: a voice actor with an embarrassingly bad Scottish accent. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

18) BoJack Horseman season 5

netflix originals 2018 - bojack horseman season 5

Is there such a thing as a good person or a bad person? Or do all people exist on the same neutral plane, only as good or bad as their latest actions? If the latter is true, then how many horrible deeds must a person commit in a row before they’re beyond rehabilitation? BoJack Horseman seeks to answer these tough, existential questions in its intimately compelling fifth season. As usual, the answers don’t come easy, and creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg plumbs the depths of his characters’ misery as they grapple with their past mistakes and slowly inch their way toward a (hopefully) better future. —Bryan Rolli

19) Big Mouth season 2

netflix originals 2018 - big mouth season 2

Season 2 of Big Mouth again finds 7th graders Nick Birch (Nick Kroll) and Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney) battling against their changing bodies, a battle that’s sometimes physically personified by their respective Hormone Monsters. Fellow classmates Jessi (Jessi Klein,) Jay (Jason Mantzoukas,) and Missy (Jenny Slate) are also onboard for the hormonal adventures, while the supporting cast features Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, and Jordan Peele in multiple roles. The second season also introduces Gina Rodriguez as (shocking) Gina, a girl who’s developing faster than her classmates at school and David Thewlis in a part that’s too delicious to spoil. —Chris Osterndorf

20) Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Netflix originals 2018 - Chilling Adventures of SabrinaRemember all those conservative parents who accused Harry Potter of promoting witchcraft? You have to wonder what they’ll make of the new Sabrina, which involves literal devil worship with a delicate hint of cannibalism. Packed with occult imagery but maintaining a distinctly Riverdale-esque tone, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina introduces a cloven-hoofed Satan within the first few episodes, vying for attention among teen subplots about boyfriends and book clubs. With straightforward teen drama and gleefully overblown witchcraft, this reboot is a gift to self-aware goths both young and old. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

21) Narcos: Mexico

Netflix originals - Narcos Mexico

Narcos: Mexico shifts the focus north, from Colombia to Mexico, exploring the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel during the 1980s. Diego Luna stars an enterprising trafficker who rises to head the Cartel thanks to his shrewd intelligence and a willingness to take huge risks in attempting to form an alliance between a circus of violent, competing criminal fiefdoms. Opposing him is Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña), an ambitious DEA agent with no patience for “established protocols” that only serve to secure the status quo. Their strong performances anchor a twisting, addictive narrative that proves that Narcos is in no danger of running out of steam—or compelling subject matter—anytime soon. —David Wharton

22) She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Netflix originals - She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Netflix’s reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power revisits the beloved ’80s character Adora, who discovers she can transform into the legendary warrior She-Ra. With a tweaked origin story and revamped character design, She-Ra feels fresh and innovative as it dives into the characters’ relationships—and former friends Adora and Catra find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield. —Michelle Jaworski

Netflix originals 2018: The best Netflix original movies

1) Roma

Netflix original movies 2018 - Roma

Inspired by his childhood in 1970s Mexico City, Roma is the latest film from visionary writer/director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity; Children of Men). It’s a moving autobiographical drama about a young woman who works as a housemaid for a wealthy Mexican family, based on Cuarón’s beloved childhood nanny. After earning widespread praise at film festivals, this could be Netflix’s first chance at one of the major Oscar categories. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

2) Annihilation (not available in the U.S.)

In Alex Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation, we still get to explore Area X, a quarantined area of land besieged by mysterious environmental changes. That’s about where the similarities to the book end. The film uses author Jeff VanderMeer’s spectral setting to get in its characters’ heads. Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biologist and former soldier who is grieving the loss of her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac). He was sent into Area X on a secret mission and feared dead, but he suddenly returns home—altered. Lena’s mission there is one of truth and redemption, but Portman plays her with appropriate detachment. We don’t really know her true motives, and fellow travelers Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny), Josie (Tessa Thompson), and Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have their own reasons for going on an apparent suicide mission. —Audra Schroeder

3) 6 Balloons

best netflix original movies - 6 balloons

In Marja-Lewis Ryan’s 6 Balloons, one long night tests the limits of compassion. It tells the story of Katie (Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson) a woman who’s trying to plan a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend. But as the day goes on she collides with her brother Seth (Dave Franco), a heroin addict who’s using again. “The loneliness inside those dark moments is almost more crippling… not being able to talk about the things; not knowing where to talk,” Ryan tells the Daily Dot. “If this isn’t your story, then maybe you can gain a little empathy for people who are experiencing this. And if it is your story, hopefully, you can feel a little less lonely.” 6 Balloons is very much about middle-class addiction, based on a similar night Ryan’s best friend (and the film’s co-producer) Samantha Housman experienced: Her brother, a lawyer, was addicted to heroin. —Audra Schroeder

4) A Futile and Stupid Gesture

best netflix original movies 2018 - A Futile and Stupid Gesture
A Futile and Stupid Gesture/Netflix

A Futile and Stupid Gesture, Netflix’s feature film adaptation of Josh Karp’s 2006 book of the same name, is an exploration of the creation of humor mag National Lampoon and its odd-couple co-founders, Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson) and Doug Kenney (Will Forte). It’s removed enough from its 1970s origins to offer new insight into its generational influence—and it also recontextualizes satire in an era littered with “fake news.” —Audra Schroeder

5) Calibre

netflix original movies - Calibre
Netflix UK & Ireland/YouTube

A python has never choked me out, but I imagine watching Calibre is a reasonable approximation. The movie starts with hedonistic bachelor Marcus (Martin McCann) and nebbish father-to-be Vaughn (Jack Lowden) getting away for a weekend hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands. When you have a person reticent to shoot a gun prodded along by someone excited to shoot, well, bad things tend to happen. Writer and director Matt Palmer shows restraint throughout by keeping the story tightly contained, making Calibre a thrilling descent into darkness. —Eddie Strait

6) Kodachrome

netflix original movies - Kodachrome

Kodachrome is like going to your childhood home to play a game of catch in your backyard: It’s comforting and you fall right back into the routine. What starts as a paint-by-numbers story of an estranged father and son working out their issues during a long road trip morphs into a genuinely affecting tale of family and mortality with a satisfying emotional payoff. Ed Harris plays the role of a father and renowned photographer, Ben, with customary elegance, but Jason Sudeikis steals the show as his son, Matt. Jonathan Tropper’s script pulls no punches, and director Mark Raso allows the scenes to breathe, making Kodachrome one of the better Netflix releases of 2018. —Eddie Strait


7) The Kindergarten Teacher

Netflix original movies 2018 - The Kindergarten Teacher

When Lisa, a teacher frustrated with her life, discovers one of her students, Parker, has a talent for poetry, she takes a special interest in him. As it becomes clear to her that no one else values his gift as much as she does, she becomes obsessed. Her determination to nurture Parker’s talent leads her down a dark path. Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a tremendous performance as Lisa, and writer-director Sara Colangelo makes a strong impression with tricky material. —Eddie Strait

8) Us and Them

Rene Liu’s film tracks the course of Jianping and Ziaoxiao’s relationship over the course of a decade. The two meet on a train on their way home for the Chinese New Year, then the film checks in on them over the same holiday stretch each year. As their relationship ebbs and flows we watch the characters mature and learn to grapple with their feelings and insecurities. The movie is well acted, but the star here is Liu, who makes her debut as a director and also co-wrote the script. She is a patient storyteller and you always feel like you’re in good hands. —Eddie Strait

9) Roxanne Roxanne

netflix original movies - roxanne roxanne

A long overdue biopic, the dutiful Roxanne Roxanne tells the early ‘80s beginnings of Lolita Shante Gooden, known to the hip-hop world as Roxanne Shante, rap’s first female superstar. Serviceable as a straightforward film, it suffers from lack of depth as it tries to cover as many real-life events as it can. However, the accurate time-period placing, expert editing, and dazzling performances of Chanté Adams, Nia Long, and Mahershala Ali cover most of the film’s tangles. —Kahron Spearman


10) Like Father

Netflix original movies - like father

After being left at the altar, Rachel and her estranged father end up on her honeymoon cruise together, not so much making up for lost time as trying to endure the awkwardness of it all. While formulaic at times, the light comedy succeeds mostly because of the great chemistry between the two leads, Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer, who are more alike than they care to acknowledge—and all of the ridiculous activities aboard the cruise. —Austin Powell

11) The Land of Steady Habits

Netflix original movies 2018 - The Land of Steady Habits

In this riveting comedy/drama, Anders Hill experiences the consequences of his mid-life crisis—in which he quit his job in finance and divorced his wife—and learns escaping a life of steady habits has its fallbacks. By combining tragedy with quippy one-liners, the film explores the growing pains felt in the pursuit of happiness, and how one person’s actions severely impacts the people around him. —Tess Cagle

12) Manhunt

best netflix original movies 2018 - Manhunt

John Woo gets back to basics with the melodramatic and ridiculously entertaining Manhunt. After waking up in bed next to a dead woman, Du Qiu finds himself accused of her murder. To prove his innocence he must go on the run while he looks for evidence. On his trail is detective Yamura. The two men find himself in shootout after shootout and chase after chase. If you’ve ever enjoyed one of Woo’s action movies, you’ll get a kick out of Manhunt. —Eddie Strait

13) Cargo

Netflix original movies - Cargo

In Cargo, the zombie apocalypse is intimate, compelling and showcases the best and worst of humanity in the Australian Outback. And for one father (Martin Freeman), the stakes have never been higher as he only has only 48 hours to find someone to take care of his young daughter before he turns into one of the undead. —Michelle Jaworski

14) Ali’s Wedding


Ali’s Wedding serves as a functional rom-com adapted from star and co-writer Osamah Sami’s memoir Good Muslim Boy, a bright and honest look into the reconciliation of the modern world and Muslim tradition. Desperate to please his father and his community Ali (played by Sami) lies about passing his tests to get into medical school, where he falls in love with Dianne (Helana Sawires, in a moving portrayal), a medical student and the daughter of a Lebanese fish and chip spot owner. In the course of all this, Ali has already been set up in an arranged marriage he’s desperately trying to get out of. Sami and Andrew co-writer Knight make use of all the usual rom-com cliches, but the decisions come with qualitative, selective cheekiness directly aimed at Western filmmakers. In staying true to his roots, Sami has likely helped Netflix attract an international audience and forged a path forward for Muslims worldwide to follow. —Kahron Spearman

15) Forgotten

best netflix original movies 2018 - forgotten
Jhorge Settler/YouTube

South Korean thriller Forgotten is a slick, twisty yarn. It’s also a blast. Jin-Seok gets caught up investigating his brother’s kidnapping, and each new thing he learns makes him question everything about his own life. Nothing is as plain as it seems, and our protagonist comes face to face with long-forgotten demons. Action master Jang Hang-jun’s film is a well-executed genre exercise that delivers an emotional wallop to go with its thrills and jaw-dropping reveals. —Eddie Strait

16) Layla M.

best netflix original movies 2018 - Layla M
Layla M./Netflix

Layla M. is about teenage rebellion gone awry. Layla is just coming into her own as a person and realizing that her own beliefs don’t quite line up with the rest of her family and friends. In the search to find like-minded people, Layla leaves home and gets married. Her new life takes her far from home where she finds herself on the edge of terrorism, as her husband’s commitment to their religion is more radical than her own. The movie is a compelling look at a story most audiences haven’t seen before. Even though the film feels like it’s just getting started by the time it ends, it’s worth your time. —Eddie Strait

17) The Night Comes for Us

Netflix original movies 2018 - The Night Comes for Us

This Indonesian action extravaganza follows Ito (Joe Taslim), a mercenary for the Southeast Asian Triad who decides to leave his brutal lifestyle. But he quickly finds out that there no clean getaways and everything has a cost. With the whole Triad out to get him, Ito must fight for his freedom and life. Writer-director Timo Tjahjanto delivers a raucous two hours full of intricate action scenes both huge and intimate in scale. This film is a must-see for anyone who likes action movies and doesn’t mind a little (or a lot) of bloodshed. —Eddie Strait

18) Outlaw King

Netflix original movies 2018 - Outlaw King

Outlaw King has everything you need from a slightly corny historical epic: gory melee fighting, stirring music, and a heavily fictionalized romance. Chris Pine stars as medieval Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, an honorable man of the people who raises a guerrilla army to fight for Scotland’s independence from England. The screenwriters glaze over Robert’s personality and political acumen, but Pine is charming enough to pull off the basic warrior hero persona. While not quite on the same level as all-time greats like GladiatorOutlaw King makes for a respectable addition to the genre. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

19) Catching Feelings

Netflix original movies 2018 - Catching Feelings

The South African film Catching Feelings follows thirty-something professor Max and his journalist wife, Sam, as their relationship is tested by a combination of money problems, infidelity, and older white writer, Heiner, who moves into their home. The film is much more than a romantic comedy—it’s a weighty, topical film about a man grappling with racial tension in a post-apartheid society. —Tess Cagle

20) The Skin of the Wolf

Skin of the Wolf - netflix original movies 2018

The Skin of the Wolf is gorgeously shot and stark drama about a rough-around-the-edges animal trapper named Martinon (Mario Casas) who lives in an abandoned northeastern Spain outpost. Martinon acquires a wife named Pascuala (Ruth Diaz) to quell his loneliness, and he quickly learns she isn’t built for the rough terrain and inclement weather. After she falls ill, he’s forced to care for her and the unborn child inside. In the course of two short-lived “relationships,” Martinon is faced with life-and-death consequences that abruptly civilize him. As they say, life comes at you fast. —Kahron Spearman


21) Maktub

best netflix original movies 2018 - Maktub

Guy Amir and Hanan Savyon, an already-flourishing Israeli TV duo, make the great leap forward onto the silver screen with the serviceable and ultimately rewarding Maktub, a dark hybrid comedy about two low-level mobsters thrust from their thug roles into living guardian angels. Steve (Savyon) and Chuma (Amir) are mob collectors, who as maktub (or fate) would have it, are the only survivors of a terrorist attack after they go into a restaurant bathroom to settle a bet about whether a shirt stain consisted of pomegranate concentrate or blood from a chef they’d just beaten up for money. Maktub‘s leads end up servicing the supporting characters more often than they should, but the plot ends bind together well, mitigating any character shortcomings. Maktub finishes sweet, with Amir and Savyon conclusively nailing their compound of playfulness and gallows humor. —Kahron Spearman

22) Come Sunday

netflix original movies - Come Sunday
Tina Rowden/Netflix

Evangelical biopic Come Sunday chronicles the fallout of Bishop Carlton Pearson when he is dubbed as a heretic for preaching the gospel of inclusion—the idea that no one will go to Hell because Jesus died for everyone’s sins. Director Joshua Marston does a successful job of making viewers feel like they’re watching events unfold in real life, but his insistence on presenting both sides of the conflict without bias hinders the movie from ever fully delving into any true emotion or character development. Come Sunday lacks compelling storytelling and nuance, but it successfully shines a light on the shortcomings of a modern-day Christianity that lacks empathy. —Tess Cagle

23) Set It Up

best netflix original movies 2018 - Set It Up
Set It Up/Netflix

Set It Up stars Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell playing stressed-out assistants seeking to hitch their powerful bosses, ably played by Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu. Harper (Deutch) works for fearless sports editor Kirsten (Liu) while slowly drowning her journalist dreams. Charlie (Powell) waits on irritable businessman Rick (Diggs) hand and foot, leaving no time to consider his life or tend to his wasting relationship with status-chasing model girlfriend Suze (Joan Smalls). The assistants soon bring their alpha bosses together, and of course, this means they find themselves predictably closer as well. Set It Up doesn’t break any new ground, but its stars’ chemistry and diverse casting make it a win. —Kahron Spearman

24) Sunday’s Illness

netflix original movies 2018 - sunday's illness
Sunday's Illness/Netflix

In Sunday’s Illness, the raw emotions between a mother and the daughter she abandoned 35 years ago are on full display as they spend 10 days together, showing what could have been and what will never be with painstaking beauty. Mother Anabel (Susi Sánchez) and daughter Chiara (Bárbara Lennie) constantly push and pull at one another even when they aren’t in each other’s orbit. Sunday’s Illness could have taken its concept into a number of directions with the backdrop—and impeccable cinematography—of an isolated house located on a wooded mountain that helps set the tone. Instead, the film goes down a more emotional and sometimes uncomfortable path, climaxing in a profoundly life-changing experience. Like the snapshots we see, we’re left wondering what it might all say. —Michelle Jaworski

25) First Match

best netflix original movies 2018 - First Match
First Match/Netflix

Monique (Elvire Emanuelle) is teen from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood who’s searching for acceptance and direction after being cycled through foster homes. We first meet her while she’s being thrown out of her most recent home, her belongings raining down on her from above. She’s so used to putting up her defenses that we’re not sure what to make of her, but we can see there’s an anger to be channeled. In an effort to define herself in the chaos, Mo joins the all-male high school wrestling team, which dovetails with her reconnecting with her estranged father Darrel (the tremendous Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who has just gotten out of jail and is trying to make ends meet. He used to wrestle too, and their relationship gets a tentative restart once he starts coming to her matches and helping her train. Like Mo, Darrel is a complex character, and Abdul-Mateen plays his many sides beautifully. He ropes Mo into illegal fighting to earn money. She’s hesitant about getting involved but is pulled along by that need for her father and his guidance, however fleeting. —Audra Schroeder

26) The World Is Yours

Netflix originals: The World Is Yours

Fast-rising director Romain Gavras takes a giant leap forward in the feature film arena with his ballsy, Cannes-approved pulp/crime comedy The World Is Yours. The French-language film demonstrates newfound depth and nuance from the Greek-French auteur—famous for his video work with agro-political pop star M.I.A.—who at last makes good on the promise exhibited in 2010’s stylish but woefully undercooked Our Day Will Come. —Kahron Spearman

27) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Netflix originals: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

A Wild West movie all about white men, where Native Americans only appear onscreen to scalp people and get shot in the head? Groundbreaking. The Coen brothers’ passion for Westerns doesn’t fully translate to a non-Western-obsessed audience in the self-indulgent The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, an anthology of six short stories originally planned as a TV series and later compressed down to a feature-length film. These six stories only manage to include two female characters, and the film’s deliberate whitewashing suggests the Coens wanted to rewrite history to focus on white men, either not noticing or not caring how this might look to everyone else. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is funny, but it also deserves its Netflix release status—it might not have been worth the price of admission otherwise. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

28) Bird Box

Netflix originals: Bird Box

Netflix’s Bird Box invites obvious comparisons to the survival horror hit A Quiet Place, although those comparisons are not especially flattering. A Quiet Place had aliens who hunt by sound, forcing the main characters to live in silence, while the monsters of Bird Box are only dangerous if you look at them. Compared to the surging adrenaline and neat worldbuilding of A Quiet Place, it feels both manipulative and unimaginative. The thrills are effective enough and the cast props up a formulaic narrative, but you can see why it wound up on Netflix instead of getting a big cinematic release. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Netflix originals 2018: The best Netflix original documentaries

1) Springsteen on Broadway

Netflix originals: Springsteen on Broadway

Whether he’s the only person onstage or accompanied by the E Street Band, watching Bruce Springsteen play can be life-changing. Springsteen on Broadway has a similar kind of magic bottled up. Filmed earlier this year at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City, Springsteen reels you in from the first moment to deliver what can feel like an intimate gospel that he’s delivering directly to you—one that’s often heartfelt and emotional as Springsteen breaks down aspects of his myth. —Michelle Jaworski

2) The Bleeding Edge

This horrifying but captivating documentary reveals how lax regulations of the $400 billion medical device industry have led to barely tested projects being approved onto the market—and how devastating the side effects can be for the patients who believe those devices will help them. Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground) bring a sense of clarity and urgency as they unravel an aspect of the healthcare system many viewers might not know about. More than 70 million people have received medical devices over the past decade: That’s everything from pacemakers and stents to birth control, to knee and hip replacements. You’ll squirm. —Michelle Jaworski

3) Seeing Allred

best netflix documentaries 2018 - Seeing Allred
Seeing Allred/Netflix

Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred has been called a “feminist crusader,” “media hound,” and “lightning rod for controversy,” but a new documentary invites the world to consider another descriptor for that list: icon. Directors Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman do an amazing job of contextualizing the lawyer’s controversial four-decade body of work within our current political moment. She got her start advocating for women and victims of gender-based crime in the ’70s, and through interviews with her law partners, industry contemporaries, and Allred herself, profiles the advocate just as she’s taking on two of the biggest adversaries of her career: Bill Cosby and President Donald Trump. —Christine Friar

4) November 13th: Attack on Paris  

This documentary walks audiences through the mechanics, and horror, of the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th, 2015. Directors Jules and Gédéon Naudet piece together footage from that day (some of it news footage and some of it shot with cell phones) and mix it with interviews of the people there that day. From survivor accounts from the restaurants and concert venue, to the responses of both the French government and the police force, November 13th is a powerful glimpse into darkness the courage and resiliency it takes to make it to the other side. —Eddie Strait


5) Ram Dass, Going Home

best netflix documentaries 2018 - Ram Dass Going Home
Ram Dass, Going Home/Netflix

Ram Dass, Going Home is a new documentary short from Netflix that catches up with the iconic spiritual scholar as he enjoys his final years at his home in Maui. Director Derek Peck takes a look at the now 87-year-old thinker as he prepares for what he feels is the next part of his work: dying. The film is much less a biopic than it is a meditation unto itself. It jumps around without any firm linear structure, and like Dass’ teachings, seems intentionally abstract. Ultimately, Dass seems eager to communicate that pain unites us all. To him, pain is where people’s power and beauty stem from, and the sooner they lean into that, the sooner they’ll be able to find peace. —Christine Friar

6) Mercury 13

best documentaries Netflix - Mercury 13

Mercury 13 chronologically documents NASA’s dismissive and then-customary treatment of women as it launched Project Mercury, its first human spaceflight program that would see Alan Shepard become the first American in space in 1962. The film draws from endeavors of a surgeon and pioneering NASA advisor, Dr. William Randolph Lovelace, who created a stealth testing program for women at the time of Project Mercury. The women tested higher than the men in specific cases, but still weren’t allowed training to receive prerequisite jet certification. Mercury 13 lacks details that would have provided helpful context, but it’s still a fascinating document of the frustrating denial of history for talented women in the midst of the Civil Rights struggle. —Kahron Spearman

7) Shirkers

Netflix original documentaries - Shirkers

Sandi Tan’s Shirkers—the name of her 1992 debut film and the documentary about its fateful production—is a study in memory and performance, as well as the complexities of women’s friendship and creativity. In 1992, Sandi Tan and friends Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique gathered in Singapore to film Shirkers, Tan’s low-budget road movie starring her as a killer named “S.” Colorful images from the movie, miraculously recovered after more than 20 years, provide bursts of context throughout the doc, offering a look at the curious movie that might have been a cult hit, had director Georges Cardona not disappeared with the footage. —Audra Schroeder

8) City of Joy

Netflix original documentaries - City of Joy

Netflix documentary City of Joy goes deep into the war-torn Eastern Congo. Director Madeleine Gavin takes viewers to a small gated community, dubbed City of Joy. Its occupants are women who have survived unspeakable suffering at the hands of militias. City of Joy gives light to survivors and the efforts of those working to heal their community. Tough as it can be to watch at times, City of Joy is a paean to perseverance. —Eddie Strait

9) Lessons From A School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane

Netflix original documentaries - Lessons from Dunblane

In Netflix original documentary Lessons From A School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane, two priests grapple with why God allows bad things to happen and struggle together to overcome their grief after the Sandy Hook Massacre that took the lives of 20 children. Alternating between interviews with both priests, footage from the shootings, and reading excerpts of the letters that flew back and forth across the Atlantic, the documentary feels raw and heart-rending. —Tess Cagle

10) The American Meme

Netflix originals: The American Meme

The American Meme gives a raw and (mostly) unfiltered look at the lives of the internet famous as they navigate an ever-changing and often merciless landscape. It reflects on the highs as well as the lows—everything from fan adoration and wealth to anxiety, depression, and mounting pressure to keep up with everyone else—with a healthy dose of cynicism as they try to figure it out with the rest of us. —Michelle Jaworski


Netflix original documentaries - Quincy

Rashida Jones’ documentary about her father, QUINCY, chronicles his vast contributions to American culture and the Black American community. While it lacks objectivity, the film offers an intimate perspective of Quincy Jones through the eyes of his daughter and highlights his creative, political, and humanitarian accomplishments. —Tess Cagle

12) They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

Netflix original documentaries - They'll Love Me When I'm Dead

It took Orson Welles six years to put together The Other Side of the Wind, his somewhat autobiographical movie about a director contemplating the end of his life. Its companion documentary, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, tries to make sense of the ego and mania surrounding the production, and whether Welles really wanted to finish the movie—which became a movie within a movie within a movie. —Audra Schroeder

Netflix originals 2018: The best docuseries

1) The Staircase

best netflix documentaries 2018 - the Staircase
The Staircase/Netflix

You probably won’t come away from The Staircase with any easy answers about Michael Peterson’s guilt or innocence. Even though he was convicted in 2003, by the end of the newly updated 13-episode series it’s still not clear if Peterson murdered his wife Kathleen in December 2001 by pushing her down a staircase at their Durham, North Carolina, home, or if she accidentally fell. But you will spend a lot of time staring at Michael Peterson’s face. Originally released in 2004, The Staircase, directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, has gone through a couple updates, with the most recent being three new episodes featuring Peterson during and after his 2017 plea deal. Netflix picked up the series with those new episodes; two more episodes were added in 2013, after a retrial. —Audra Schroeder


2) Wild Wild Country

wild wild country - best netflix original docuseries

This six-part series will both astound and frustrate you. Filmmakers Chapman and Maclain Way dug through 300 hours of footage and interviews to present the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian guru who moved his following to a ranch in Wasco County, Oregon, in 1981 in an attempt to build a utopia of religious freedom and higher thinking. As his followers, dressed in red, descended on the ranch, the neighboring working-class town of Antelope, Oregon, population roughly 40, took notice. And it only gets weirder from there. —Audra Schroeder

3) Bobby Kennedy for President

best netflix documentaries 2018 - Bobby Kennedy for President
Bobby Kennedy for President/Netflix

Netflix and director Dawn Porters’ four-part docuseries Bobby Kennedy for President provides a comprehensive, heart-wrenching, and ultimately devastating dive into the life, death, and legacy of Kennedy. Although its plagued at times with poor quality visuals and audio, the series provides a stunningly detailed summation of Kennedy’s political life through rare, newly digitized footage as well as interviews with his close confidantes. —Tess Cagle

4) Flint Town

best netflix docuseries Flint Town

Flint Town gives watchers an intimate look at Flint, Michigan, through the eyes of its police force in the wake of the city’s water crisis. Over the course of eight episodes, filmmakers embedded with local police officers throughout 2016 show the difficulty of policing a community that neither trusts government officials—thanks to the coverup of the water contamination—nor law enforcement, as cops around the country continue to be called out for unjustly targeting Black Americans. Co-directed by Zackary Canepari, Jessica Dimmock, and Drea Cooper, it provides a small sample of the anger and opposition felt by both members of the Black community and of police officers. —Tess Cagle

5) Medal of Honor

Netflix originals: Medal of Honor

Netflix’s docu-drama series highlights the stories of soldiers whose acts of valor in battle earned them the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest honor. The show features stories about people in impossible situations who risked everything to protect their brothers in arms. While these stories all took place on the battlefield, the impact of the soldiers’ actions reverberated throughout their lives. The show’s focus on the humanity behind the soldiers’ actions makes it essential viewing. —Eddie Strait

6) Explained

Vox Entertainment’s Netflix collaboration, Explained, is a no-brainer. With documentaries thriving in the streaming age, editor-at-large and Vox co-founder Ezra Klein finds himself in an ideal position—with a built-in, receptive audience—to present bite-sized documentaries. They’re fun and compelling arguments for anyone to consider, and they cover everything from dead-serious politics to Korean pop music. The series’ greatest strength is that even in a short amount of time, it’s invested in illuminating how events of the past shape modern times, and it delivers in every episode. —Kahron Spearman

7) Somebody Feed Phil: The Second Course

In Netflix’s latest travel foodie pickup, Somebody Feed Phil: The Second Course, Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond‘s creator) oozes infectious enthusiasm for all of the food he eats. Over six hour-long episodes, Rosenthal ventures out to Venice, Ireland, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Cape Town, and New York City, his hometown. He’s no Anthony Bourdain, so don’t expect him to tour the cities’ underbellies or explore the sociopolitical nuances of the locales. Rosenthal is simply a man in love with food, who asks you to try everything—everything life has to offer—and find appreciation in it all. —Kahron Spearman

8) Ugly Delicious

In Body Image

In this eight-episode docuseries, celebrity chef David Chang explores American staples like pizza, tacos, and fried chicken while grappling with his own massive success in the culinary world. The hour-long episodes are highly bingeable but also dense enough to space out over time and treat as eight mini documentaries. Chang started his culinary career as an underdog—a young chef with an outsider’s perspective on the fine dining experience—but he’s since graduated into a member of that establishment he used to rebel against. In Ugly Delicious, it’s a role he seems determined not to take lightly. —Christine Friar

9) I am a Killer

netflix's i am a killer

Focusing on 10 death row inmates over 10 episodes, I am a Killer examines different aspects of each one of these men’s cases, from their personal histories to how they fit into the larger criminal justice system. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ve been convicted of capital murder and been sentenced to execution. The frankness with which some of the men discuss their crimes is unsettling, while in other episodes, a sense of mystery remains around the acts in focus. Overall, the show is captivating enough, though it rarely dives below surface level. —Chris Osterndorf

10) Trump: An American Dream

Trump the American Dream

For many Americans and spectators around the world, the election of President Donald Trump was unexpected, shocking, and—above all else—random. But nothing ever truly happens by chance and docuseries Trump: An American Dream, produced by 72 Films for the U.K.’s Channel 4, seeks to prove that by diving into the last four decades of Trump’s life. Through collected footage and interviews with both friends and enemies of Trump, the series provides background information about the ascent of the business mogul into a politician. Most importantly, the series uses that context to build an argument about Trump’s personality—one that shows him lacking morals and empathy for others. —Tess Cagle

11) Dirty Money

dirty money review

This chase-cutting investigative documentary series takes you on a set of extraordinary rides filled with Volkswagen scandals, Mexican drug cartels, Québécois maple syrup cartels, and complicit governments—including, possibly, our own. Produced by genre master Alex Gibney (Going Clear), the six-part series investigates some of the world’s most greedy and power-hungry instigators. Armed with a dangerous, even rockstar appeal, Dirty Money entertains as well as it informs—but you may need a shower afterward. —Kahron Spearman

Netflix originals 2018: The best Netflix comedy specials of 2018

1) Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

best comedy special netflix

In Nanette, Hannah Gadsby isn’t serving one-liners; she’s often setting up arguments and theories or braiding personal and observational. She reassesses her self-deprecating style, especially as someone who already exists in the “margins,” and questions whether it’s time to quit comedy. Gadsby constantly tests the joke structure that rests on setup-punchline and attacks those ingrained ideas about how comedians must turn pain into jokes. Nanette doesn’t end on a joke or big laugh; this is Gadsby “controlling the tension,” but also her story. 

2) Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife

best netflix comedy 2018 - ali wong hard knock wife netflix
Ken Woroner/Netflix

Hard Knock Wife is a lot of things: an exploration of fame; an indictment of American healthcare and its lack of maternity leave; an illustration of the body horror of motherhood. But this is Ali Wong’s take, so she’ll tell you up front that sometimes, when you’re breastfeeding, a duct will become clogged, resulting in “a kidney stone in your titty.” It’s a line that might make you involuntarily grab your own, and a good portion of Hard Knock Wife explores the intricacies and indignities of motherhood. She unravels the fantasy versus the reality; being a stay-at-home mom is not ideal when you’re in “solitary confinement” with a “human Tamagotchi.” She likens joining a new moms’ group to linking up for survival in The Walking Dead. Breastfeeding is “chronic, physical torture,” and her daughter is the bear in The Revenant. She deftly plays the two sides of being told she’ll need diapers after giving birth—for herself. Wong isn’t ragging on motherhood for laughs; these are things she and so many other women learned on their own, through trial and error, and Wong subtly plays up the loneliness, confusion, and despair of being a new mom. 

3) Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here

The title of Tig Notaro’s first Netflix special could have a few different meanings, but that’s probably by design. Notaro’s comedy has always leaned on wordplay and language; Happy to Be Here could be referencing the traditional standup greeting or it could be applied more broadly to existence. Filmed in Houston, Texas, and executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres, Happy to Be Here is Notaro’s first standup special since 2015’s special Boyish Girl Interrupted. She again plays with words and meaning, admitting early in the set that she’s mistaken for a man once a week, but she now has an equalizing retort. A bit about talking to her cat goes on a thrilling linguistic journey and abruptly turns a corner when her wife, fellow comedian and actor Stephanie Allynne, warns her not to accidentally hang the cat while playing with it. These situations might seem unremarkable, but Notaro finds the glimmer of absurdity within each. 

4) John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous

best netflix comedy specials 2018 - John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City review
Anna Tendler Mulaney/Netflix

Live from Radio City, John Mulaney delivers his fourth special. Mulaney has proven himself to be reliably and consistently funny, and Kid Gorgeous feels of a piece with prior specials The Comeback Kid and New in Town. Mulaney riffs on the silliness of school assemblies, college, and recalls his time as a writer for Saturday Night Live. After being a darling of comedy nerds for nearly a decade, Mulaney is proving that the hype is justified. —Eddie Strait

5) Chris Rock: Tamborine

Chris Rock’s first special in 10 years finds the comedian in a more contemplative mood. He offers up his thoughts on police brutality and racism, but these bits have a different weight now. Rock is a father, and the jokes filter through that lens. Tamborine is a more intimate special, and while not all his insights hit, he does open up about his life and his past mistakes in a way that balances comedy with vulnerability. 

6) Katt Williams: Great America

In Katt Williams’ Great America, “it’s fucked up” is his mantra, and it also describes America’s state of affairs. But this is nothing new to Williams. As a 20-year veteran of standup, his routines have become synonymous with a brutally honest Black perspective. It’s tragic yet hilarious. —Adam Weightman


7) The Comedy Lineup

best standup netflix

Netflix continues shifting the sands of the hourglass with The Comedy Lineup, which sees 15-minute sets from eight comedians: Michelle Buteau, Sabrina Jalees, Tim Dillon, Jak Knight, Ian Karmel, Taylor Tomlinson, Phil Wang, and Sam Jay. The program feels more timely than many hourlong specials, and with four women on the lineup, there is more pronounced commentary on sexual assault and Me Too. Michelle Buteau assures men that “nobody wants to see your dick,” while Sabrina Jalees addresses the predator purge via a squirrel analogy. Karmel gets especially meta when he challenges one idea about the structure of a comedy show, telling the audience that he knows a set has to end with some “really big joke” because that’s the “social contract” we’ve all entered into. But is that really what you want?

8) Todd Glass: Act Happy

best standup on netflix - todd glass act happy

Todd Glass keeps his energy up, jumping from topic to topic, often starting a joke and abandoning the punchline in favor of a new one in Act Happy. He covers house-flipping shows, flossing, pigeons, and admits he has a song prepared in case he doesn’t have enough material. It appears he does have enough material, but sometimes a lack of focus hinders the delivery. Two highlights: He does a spot-on Brian Regan impression in a bit about man caves and channels Rodney Dangerfield doing Mitch Hedberg jokes, which I could have watched for another 15 minutes. 

9) The Standups season 2

Over the last year Netflix has debuted a run of specials from marquee comedians, names that are big enough to warrant multiple specials and often, on the backend, critiques about their worldviews and ideologies. The Standups proposes a different kind of marquee. The second season showcases mid-tier acts with smaller fanbases and gives them 30 minutes to work with. Filmed last fall in Los Angeles, the second season spotlights Aparna Nancherla, Joe List, Rachel Feinstein, Gina Yashere, Brent Morin, and Kyle Kinane, comedians who each have their own audience but could overlap audiences too. It also feels more timely than other marquee Netflix specials. 

10) W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro

best netflix comedy specials 2018 - W Kamau Bell: Private School Negro
W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro/Netflix

W. Kamau Bell wants you to know the president is certifiably racist in his new one-hour Netflix standup special, Private School Negro. The comedian Bell has no problem choosing his words, and it’s refreshing to hear someone in the entertainment industry not dance around the themes being played out in the headlines daily. Bell uses that friction as a foundation to explore topics like Blackness, fatherhood, and what it’s like to be expecting a third child in the current political climate. But then he fires up an impromptu singalong or chats with audience members. In the end, his inclusive set proves a welcome reminder that it doesn’t take very much for us all to get on the same page. —Christine Friar

11) Harith Iskander: I Told You So

harith iskander i told you so

Harith Iskander is Malaysia’s “godfather of standup.” His work, which made him the Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World in 2016, is an extension of personal and cultural experiences as an outsider. This is a good introduction—a mix of crowd work, goofy observational bits, and personal stories. He has the easy confidence that comes with over 25 years of experience. There’s an extended bit about “Singaporeans do it like this, and Malaysians do it like this.” The crowd guffaws at the light cultural jabs, and you’ll laugh at how universal his stuff can be. —Eddie Strait

12) Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now

Jim Jefferies has become the comic with the gun control bit, something he points out in his latest Netflix special, This Is Me Now. Filmed in London, the special follows up 2016’s Freedumb, which dunked on Donald Trump and Bill Cosby. This Is Me Now doesn’t focus on either, though there is an extended bit about Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comment. Rather, the title of the special could be broadly applied: This is a comic at 40 looking at his place in life. 

13) Joe Rogan: Strange Times

Netflix comedy specials 2018: Joe Rogan Strange Times

Joe Rogan: Strange Times features the comedian honestly accepting the modern perils of being a white man, in a world quickly shading away from his dominance. Rogan goes on smart riffs on how we can’t get the president right as a country, Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, the differences between cats and dogs, professional wrestling’s homo-eroticism, and the use of the word “gay.” Ultimately, Strange Times is a sound and appropriate set for the comedian in the midst of a surge. Anyone who can make a bit on the return of Christ via a true story of a knife stabbing and a woman’s underdeveloped reproductive system is at the peak of his powers. —Kahron Spearman

14) Mo Amer: The Vagabond

Netflix comedy specials 2018: Mo Amer Vagabond

Netflix’s latest standout standup special, Mo Amer: The Vagabond, features the emergent Palestinian-American comedian (full name: Mohammed Amer) in full bloom and in full command of his talents. The Dave Chappelle-approved comic tackles identification, code-switching, and “Mohammed” keychains, and he revisits his viral run-in with Eric Trump, which resulted from a flight upgrade. The Vagabond features a rising comedian who’s put in the work is ready for the bright lights. —Kahron Spearman

15) Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh

Netflix comedy specials 2018: Adam Sandler 100% Fresh

Adam Sandler’s new Netflix special, 100% Fresh, might just be the return to form we’ve been waiting for. A collection of standup comedy and songs performed at various locations over a stretch of time, it’s a venture that returns Sandler to his roots. The humor is dumb and broad, as simple as the stuff that originally made him famous. But it’s also a well-crafted and funny showcase for some of his best instincts, and a surprisingly heartfelt effort from a guy who’s looked emotionally detached in nearly every movie he’s made over the past decade. —Chris Osterndorf

Netflix originals 2018: The best of the rest

1) The Break with Michelle Wolf

Though Michelle Wolf previously served as a writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers and an on-air correspondent for The Daily Show, the 32-year-old stands out in contrast to her contemporaries. Rather than try to explain or help digest the carcass of today’s news cycle, Wolf offers a hilarious respite from the severity of your Twitter timeline. Her new Netflix talk show The Break is sharp and true-to-self without trying too hard. If the world is on fire, then Wolf wants us to laugh while it burns. —Sarah Jasmine Montgomery

2) Aggretsuko

This new original anime follows the life of Retsuko, a young professional red panda trying to make it in the big city. She’s “single, a Scorpio, blood type A” with a demeaning office job and two obnoxious supervisors, but she also has a secret: She has a death metal karaoke persona—an aggressive Retsuko, if you will—Aggretsuko. In other words, angry is the new cute. —Christine Friar

3) Sense8

Clocking in at 150 minutes, the Sense8 finale is ridiculous, indulgent, and packed with eyebrow-raisingly ambitious new background lore. In other words, a perfectly tuned gift for Sense8′s adoring fanbase. While the final one-off episode inevitably leaves a few loose ends, it wraps up the elements we actually care about. It’s a glimpse of what might have happened in season 3, and while the conclusion is unavoidably rushed, it gives us the emotional closure we need. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

4) John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons

John Leguizamo absurdly surveys the past 600-odd years of oppression suffered by Latin Americans in the winning Latin History for Morons, his Tony Award-nominated solo Broadway play. Filmed over three June performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the special finds the actor/comedian earnestly conveying his failures as a father while tackling larger issues, such as oppression and self-identification.Kahron Spearman

5) Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj brings a fresh voice to the crowded late-night political comedy landscape. Minhaj speaks boldly to younger audiences, particularly Asian-Americans, with a format that splits the difference between talking-head news and standup special. Minhaj is unafraid to tackle controversial issues, and if Patriot Act finds an audience, it could be the first late-night comedy effort to capture a truly progressive voice in the Trump era. —Brenden Gallagher

Netflix originals 2018: Everything else

House of Cards: Season 6

For our current cultural moment, the last season of House of Cards makes for a fitting finale. Just last year, people wondered if the show would become boring amidst our real-life political circus. But this season fascinates as a searing commentary on the #MeToo era, a reflection on the age of streaming television, and a continuation of the series’ classic “ripped from the headlines” approach to storytelling, which is no less outrageous than what we read about on a daily basis. By giving the final episodes to Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), Netflix has shown how we can achieve some justice by putting talented women in the positions of power they deserve. Meanwhile, audiences are left to wonder how things might have gone were this Wright’s show from the beginning.Chris Osterndorf


Wanderlust follows psychoanalytic therapist Joy and her husband Alan embark on the awkward—although at times triumphant—journey of an open marriage. The TV series suffers from occasional slow pacing and hollow supporting characters, but its convincing dialogue and heart-wrenching examination of modern-day marriage ultimately succeeds. —Tess Cagle


With its high-concept dream sequences and accomplished visual style, Maniac is a magnet for adjectives like “weird” and “trippy.” But amid all the musical numbers and surreal dives into the subconscious mind, it’s surprising how familiar this all feels. The show stars Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill), who both volunteer for a clinical trial that sends them into Inception-like dream universes, designed to help them untangle their deepest traumas. Maniac aims to tell a story about mental illness and fractured family relationships, but it also embraces humor and ridiculousness over lofty, self-serious dialogue. A collection of highly desirable attribute put it several steps above the style-over-substance success of Legion, without being quite substantial enough to achieve its full potential. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan

When Hisone Amakusa joined the Air Self-Defense Force in hopes of finding something only she can do, she didn’t expect to be eaten by a dragon and subsequently fly it from within its stomach. It’s not just a “girl and her pet” taleHisone and Masotan‘s cute art style belies a surprisingly substantial story about the unfair expectations and assumptions that many women face in the workplace. Caitlin Moore

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Christine McConnell is a strange, wraithlike woman with an immense talent for baking and a style that’s best described as “the good parts of Tim Burton.” She lives in a sprawling, beautiful house that sports “upscale Halloween chic” decor year-round. McConnell herself is like the offspring of Bob Ross, Martha Stewart, Morticia Adams, and the dreamlike Martian Girl from Mars Attacks! Between preparing beautiful, intricate confectionary creations, she deals with the antics of her housemates—a trio of monstrous curiosities created by the Henson company. A little bit Cake Boss, a little bit Addams Family, a little bit MST3K, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell has all the makings of an annual Halloween staple. —David Wharton

Girls Incarcerated

The docuseries follows the lives of a group of teenage girls incarcerated at the Madison Correctional Facility in Indiana as they struggle with the consequences of drug use and violence—and strive to become better young women. At its best, Girls Incarcerated is an emotional, impactful, and at times overwhelming look into what compels a teenager to act out and walk down the wrong path—and how these young women are working with all kinds of odds against them to forge a new path toward a brighter future. —Tess Cagle

Welcome to the Family

The Catalan dark comedy is an occasionally tedious series of 13 episodes. Starring Spanish TV star Melani Olivares (La embajada) as the downtrodden Àngela, a struggling single mother of a mixed family, the ultimately heartening production upends most definitions of family. —Kahron Spearman

The Warning

Here lies a silly, convoluted thriller. I hope you’re reading this in time to stop yourself from watching it. The Warning is a Spanish movie without a purpose and a hollow exercise: After his friend is shot at a gas station, Jon’s search for the shooter uncovers a link to past tragedies at the same place. It’s twisty for the sake of being twisty and the surprises land with a thud. The characterization is thin, at best, and the filmmaking is depressingly workmanlike. —Eddie Strait


The docuseries from the production team behind Parts Unknown is a true-crime saga about food. The six-episode installments avoid focusing exclusively on the horrors of food production like other docs that scream “Do you know where your food comes from?” The common thread is the invisible hand that moves the food trade. the shadowy corporations and government regulations that obscure origins, and the human labor that brings you your food. —Audra Schroeder


Extinction is the latest twist on the apocalyptic survivalist dad genre, starring Michael Peña as Peter, a man with prophetic nightmares of an alien invasion. While it does have hidden depths beyond the initial premise, it doesn’t offer enough to stand out in the crowded field of alien invasion stories. It has more of a “watch on your laptop when you’re taking a sick day” vibe: a competent if unoriginal thriller where the scary parts aren’t too scary, and the sci-fi ideas don’t go too deep. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Dark Tourist

The grotesque documentary series features Kiwi journalist David Farrier committed to a mindbending, worldwide tour de grim. Over seven moderately offensive episodes, the television reporter visits morbid and tragic places that have somehow attracted tourism. A European tour stop features World War II gunfire exchange reenactments and vacationing Danes in full Nazi SS garb. Understanding why people travel to these places proves to be the series’ truth. —Kahron Spearman

Father of the Year

Father of the Year stars Joey Bragg (Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie) and Matt Shively (Santa Clarita Diet, The Real O’Neals,) as Ben and Larry, two childhood best friends home for the summer after graduating college. One night, they get into a drunken argument about which one of their dads would win in a fight. When Ben’s father, the white trash Wayne (David Spade,) hears that Larry’s father, the nerdy Mardy (Nat Faxon) has said that he could beat Wayne up, things quickly get taken too far. —Chris Osterndorf

The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants

The wildly successful series of Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey was turned into a successful movie by Dreamworks, and now DreamworksTV and Netflix have adapted it into a great TV show. Captain Underpants follows the adventures and pranks of George and Harold. The best friends create comic books and pull all manner of shenanigans at Jerome Horowitz Elementary. After accidentally turning their nemesis Principal Krupp into the titular hero, the boys take on a series of goofy characters and the perils of school over 13 episodes. —Eddie Strait


Netflix’s first Brazilian sitcom, Samantha!, follows its title character (Emanuelle Araújo), a has-been child star who’ll do almost anything she can scheme up to hang onto her evaporating stardom. Now a low-level lounge singer in her 30s doing old kiddie TV songs, her agent urges her to give up or take the porn route following a particularly sad performance. The seven-episode series builds into a charming, if unoriginal, take on a D-list celebrity’s seeking of redemption that nails most of the right satirical notes. American viewers will understand these celebrity follies all too well. —Kahron Spearman

How It Ends

When a mysterious force knocks out the power across the country, Will (Theo James) and Tom (Forest Whitaker) must drive from Chicago to Seattle to save Sam, Will’s soon-to-be fiancee and Tom’s daughter. The two men begrudgingly learn to respect each other as they navigate the treacherous roads. How It Ends is a fine, if unremarkable, action thriller. It’s the kind of movie that is just good enough to keep you watching, but you could probably do better. —Eddie Strait

Fate/Extra: Last Encore

If you’ve been considering getting into the Fate franchise on Netflix and weren’t sure where to begin, here’s a tip: Don’t start with Fate/Extra: Last Encore. This latest anime to come out of the long-running multimedia franchise is as newbie-unfriendly as they come. Although there is plenty of exposition about the features unique to Fate/Extra, such as the SE.RA.PH. system and Dead Faces, the script presumes the audience is familiar with the fundamentals of the Holy Grail War that has been the centerpiece of the franchise since Kinoko Nasu’s original visual novel. And while Fate/Extra: Last Encore isn’t a good starting place for newbies, with weak writing and characterization and a dour outlook, it isn’t much fun for established fans either. —Caitlin Moore

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee season 10

It’s the 10th season of Comedians in Cars if you can believe it, though it’s the first to premiere on Netflix. While not all of the new episodes of Comedians in Cars land, the fact that the show is disposable is the point. The chance to drive around in classic cars, talk to a few fellow funny people, and drink some coffee along the way is Jerry Seinfeld’s way of trolling conventional talk shows. His cranky “back in my day” attitude rears its head in nearly every episode of the new season, though the 64-year-old comedian also frequently muses on death and mortality throughout. So what if most of the episodes have nothing new to say? Seinfeld has made a whole career out of saying nothing. —Chris Osterndorf

Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial

This standup briefly explores the special’s title and surveys the pop culture of the early aughts. Remember Sidekicks?! But then it settles into the material Shlesinger is better known for: jokes about dating, body image, and the differences between men and women. It’s such well-tread territory, and Shlesinger is obviously comfortable there, but there were several moments when blanket statements about women’s behavior made me wonder who exactly this special is for. —Audra Schroeder

White Fang

This latest, animated version of White Fang features the voice talents of Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, and Paul Giamatti. Sadly, all of the bite has been taken out of Jack London’s book here. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the animation was at least good, but much of it feels like an unpolished video game, or a low-budget short film.  —Chris Osterndorf

The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

For director and co-writer Jody Hill and co-writer and star Danny McBride, The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter is a blandly likable leftover about a father-son relationship in desperate need of mending. At the center of Whitetail is Buck Ferguson (Josh Brolin), a renowned hunter with a low-rent TV show called Buck Fever. Buck is going through a divorce and he’s taking his son, Jaden (Montana Jordan) hunting. The plan is for Jaden to kill his first whitetail deer and to capture the moment on Buck Fever. So Buck, Jaden, and Buck’s cameraman Don (McBride) head for the great outdoors. Whitetail is nearly humorless with bad, crude jokes kneecapped by the soft rating, and it feels like a palate cleanser for Hill and McBride. Here’s hoping the comedy stars got whatever Whitetail is out of their system. —Eddie Strait

The Forest

La Foret (The Forest) is the kind of show where a major character can be trapped in a burning room and still not generate tension. The French import investigates the death of 16-year-old Jennifer and disappearance of her friends Maya and Oceane. With only six episodes to tell its story, the bland plot moves quickly, reducing characters to a collection of cliches. The Forest has the trappings of your standard mystery show: missing girls, a community with buried secrets, enigmatic characters to give the small town personality. But it’s still a tedious, paint-by-numbers job that will bore genre fans and fail to win over casual viewers. —Eddie Strait

Kiss Me First

From the mind of Skins co-creator Bryan Elsley and Lottie Moggach’s book, Netflix short series Kiss Me First is a genre-confused, saccharine-sweet affair. Tallulah Haddon stars as Leila, a lonely young English woman who’s just lost her mother, and whose “friends” reside in her other realm: the cyberworld of Azana. The wondrous Azana is where Leila becomes her avatar Shadowfax, but it’s also a place of apparent violence, where similarly afflicted souls come to escape, rage out, or otherwise free their minds from real chaos. With its underdeveloped characters and problematic gapping, Kiss Me First comes off as a Dollar Store version of Ready Player One. By the time you reach the incoherent climax, you’ll be ready to take off the VR helmet. —Kahron Spearman


The bumbling, technology-gone-awry Netflix thriller TAU accompanies the street-smart Julia (Maika Monroe), who ends up captive in the experiment of a demented (supposed) genius named Alex (Ed Skrein). Her frenemy, Tau, is an advanced A.I. developed by Alex, who protects the futuristic house with creepy drones. Veteran Marvel storyboard artist Federico D’Alessandro fails to spice up a well-worn trope in his debut feature, and by the end of TAU—if you’ve made it beyond the hand-wrung bargaining—the humans are inconsequential. For D’Alessandro, it is the machine that receives deliverance—an unsettling final message that arrives via one last science fiction trope. —Kahron Spearman

Recovery Boys

Opioid abuse, specifically in the Appalachian region of the United States, has exploded over the last decade, destroying entire communities in a comparable fashion to the crack-cocaine epidemic of the ’80s. Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Recovery Boys tells stories of four men at various stages of recovery, learning to parse out their emotional baggage at the Jacob’s Ladder rehabilitation program. Sheldon steers away from the well-tread, poverty-stricken, trailer-park visions of rural addicts, instead focusing on working-class males—a demographic often forgotten or overlooked in the crisis. Recovery Boys only glazes over the root cause of opioid abuse, but the weight of the film is crushing all the same. —Kahron Spearman

To Each, Her Own

To Each, Her Own is a manic story in search of some breathing room. It’s about a young woman, Simone, and the tumultuous few weeks that redefine her life. She’s in love with a woman, but she develops feelings for a man she’s planning to go into business with. On top of that she’s dealing with pressure from her conservative Jewish parents to settle down and start a family. To Each, Her Own packs a lot into its short 95-minute runtime. While the movie would unquestionably benefit from having more room to explore all of the ideas it introduces, it still has a few moments that work well. —Eddie Strait

Brain on Fire

Netflix’s Brain on Fire is a flailing mess disguised as a film adaptation of Susannah Cahalan’s 2012 memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. In this botched reframing, Cahalan goes from an ace cub reporter with the full confidence of her editor (Tyler Perry) to having bouts of paranoia, delusion, and violent eruptions, to full catatonia, in a matter of weeks—roughly 30 minutes of screen time. The film’s medical process is wholly unrealistic, and the story lacks the emotional heft to keep things interesting. Despite its best efforts, Brain on Fire is a 90-minute shrug. —Kahron Spearman

Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden follows a former child soldier in an ambiguously European country in the late stages of a vaguely World War I and II-inspired conflict. Her commanding officer’s final order was for her to live and love freely before he went missing-in-action. But Violet, after spending her life being treated as a killing machine, doesn’t understand how to follow through. Violet Evergarden may be Kyoto Animation’s most gorgeous series yet, with visuals bordering on theatrical quality and nary a stiff or off-model shot. But the stories carry the nuance of your average Hallmark film, falling somewhere into the uncanny valley between calculatedly maudlin and embarrassingly sincere. —Caitlin Moore

Gabru: Hip Hop Revolution

Gabru: Hip Hop Revolution is the story of hip-hop’s rise in India, told through the character of Gaurav (Amol Parashar). The 10-episode first season is packed to the gills with gratuitous music drops, questionable acting, and predictable plotting—but it’s endearing. The entertainment value of the show skyrockets in the second half, when the story turns more dramatic. Western audiences may laugh off its soap opera tendencies, but between the slo-mo, flashbacks, and wonky camera angles, there is never a dull moment in Gabru. —Eddie Strait

Sara’s Notebook

Spanish film Sara’s Notebook follows Laura Alonso (Belén Rueda), who departs on a perilous search into the Democratic Republic of Congo to find her missing sister. Laura’s relentless mission becomes entangled with the country’s inner turmoil, where warring factions compete for minerals worth trillions of dollars. While the introduction of Congo’s minerals seems like it might lead to a larger sociopolitical discussion of the global interest in Africa’s natural resources that have caused much of the continent’s inner conflict, the story never takes a turn in that direction. Instead, the main premise of Sara’s Notebook is a story of family and survival, employing a humanistic lens to relate the struggle of people trying to turn bad into good. —Danielle Ransom

Children of the Whales

Children of the Whales tells the story of Chakuro, a young man living on a giant vessel known as the Mud Whale that floats aimlessly through a sea of sand. The people of the Mud Whale lead peaceful lives, but when a ruined boat holding a young woman chances to drift by, they find that there is a much wider world out there. With a fascinating speculative world, truly stunning animation, and a compelling premise, Children of the Whales could have been one of the best fantasy series of the decade. Instead, it’s dry, exposition-heavy, and fails to deliver on any of its early promises—a master-class in wasted potential. —Caitlin Moore

Arrested Development Season 4 Remix: Fateful Consequences

Fateful Consequences smooths out a lot of season 4’s rough edges, but it can’t reclaim the show’s legacy. Just as creator Mitch Hurwitz used digital technology to create a new kind of sitcom in the 2000s, one with shorter scenes and layers of jokes, he used the new freedom afforded to him by streaming to create an ambitious yet flawed reboot in the 2010s. The remix tries to merge these impulses, and although it makes a valiant effort, the final result is a conflicted one. As the show keeps trying to return to its former glory days, the reality that those days are behind us eventually becomes undeniable. —Chris Osterndorf


Ibiza is unrelentingly lame. That is the only way to put it. Gillian Jacobs plays Harper, who works for a PR firm and is sent overseas by her caricature of a bad boss, Sarah (Michaela Watkins). On their first night out, the women hit a party, Harper sees the DJ on a screen, and immediately falls in love. But Harper only has a couple days, plus a cumbersome work meeting, standing between her and true love. Ibiza is one of the more forgettable Netflix releases to come out. It’s a bad movie, but not bad in an entertaining way like The Cloverfield Paradox or The Polka King. It’s bad in the way that makes you resent having spent your time on it. —Eddie Strait

13 Reasons Why season 2

In season two of 13 Reasons Why, Liberty High and the surrounding community are still reeling from the death of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) as well as the attempted suicide of another student. Old wounds are opened again when Hannah’s parents decide not to settle their lawsuit against the school, instead taking it to court and forcing many of the students featured on Hannah’s tapes to testify. Many start receiving threats, warning what will happen to them if they don’t keep their mouth shut. Meanwhile, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), stumbles into a conspiracy involving old polaroids which reveals an even deeper history of sexual misconduct at Liberty High. To complicate matters, he also begins seeing Hannah as a ghost, imagining her everywhere he goes and talking to her when he’s unsure of himself. —Chris Osterndorf

The Kissing Booth

When Elle Evans, runs a kissing booth at her high school’s Spring Carnival, she unexpectedly finds herself locking lips with her secret crush–Noah Flynn, the brother of her best friend, Lee, who is absolutely off limits according to the rules of their friendship pact. Instead of being a coming-of-age movie about a woman who discovers her autonomy, The Kissing Booth plays far more into sexist undertones and allows Lee and Noah to commodify Elle’s body, turning her into a thing to fight for ownership over rather than a person who’s allowed to make her own decisions. —Tess Cagle

Evil Genius

In August 2003, pizza delivery driver Brian Wells robbed a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania, with a bomb strapped to his neck. He didn’t get far: Wells died after the bomb exploded, his agonizing last minutes caught on police dash cams. The mind-boggling crime, also known as the collar bomb heist and the pizza bomber, is the starting point for Netflix’s Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. Before we’re taken through the truly bizarre events of that day, we’re introduced to Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, a longtime Erie resident who, we’re told, had a difficult childhood and later developed mental illness. Any further analysis will have to wait, though. The four-part series, produced by the Duplass brothers and directed by Barbara Schroeder, devotes its first episode to Wells, who was supposed to be sent on a macabre scavenger hunt after robbing the bank. A stoic coroner explains that they had to decapitate Wells (in a “caring way”) in order to get the clunky bomb off, something his family was not happy about. He’s painted as a quiet man who happened to get involved with some bad elements, but over four episodes that focus gets softer. —Audra Schroeder

End Game

In just 40 minutes, End Game makes a big impact. Filmmakers Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein bring viewers face to face with terminally ill people receiving palliative care as they prepare to die. Grappling with one’s own mortality is obviously heavy subject matter, and the film embraces that in order to show you what the process has on the patients, the family members, and the doctors themselves. End Game is a tough watch, but it does offer perspective and is worth your time. —Eddie Strait


Set in a future where everything is recorded through the eyes and human beings have exact footage to rely on rather than pesky memories, Anon stars Clive Owen as Sal Friedland, a detective investing a hacker played by Amanda Seyfried who may or may not be responsible for multiple murders. As he digs deeper, he’s shocked to learn that this woman, known to Sal only as “ANON,” appears to have deleted all her own records, making her nearly untraceable. The movie has a clever premise, but the problem is that Anon is so focused on its own cleverness, it fails to create an interesting world or characters around it.  —Chris Osterndorf


In Sometimes, director Priyadarshan attempts to tackle the dismal, tragic subject of AIDS—which claimed more than 62,000 lives in India in 2016, making it the third largest HIV epidemic in the world. While Priyadarshan’s intentions were noble, his Netflix film plays out like a prolonged public service announcement rather than a riveting drama. Tess Cagle

Candy Jar

Candy Jar chronicles the intense rivalry between two debate champions who can’t stand each other… for no good reason. The story is predictable at every turn and occasionally elevated by the cast. That said, there are a couple of moments that stand out, particularly in the climactic debate. But much like my own debate skills, Candy Jar plays things too safe to make a strong case for itself. —Eddie Strait


Psychokinesis, Yeon Sang-ho’s film about a guy who drinks magic spring water and becomes a telekinetic superhero, is silly in ways that will charm you. But for every laugh, you’ll find a moment that makes you roll your eyes. The hero is Seok-heon, a bank security guard uses his newfound powers to help his estranged daughter Roo-mi, whose hot dog stand becomes the target of a generically villainous construction company. The movie moves quickly and Seok-heon and Roo-mi are a likable father-daughter duo, but the story lacks tension and the tone skews frustratingly toward silliness. You’ll be amused with Psychokinesis, but can probably do better. —Eddie Strait

The Rachel Divide

The Rachel Divide showcases just how the story that introduced Rachel Dolezal to the world uprooted her life, but those hoping for any kind of reflection or retrospect from its subject will be left disappointed. Dolezal—former Spokane, Washington NAACP president who identifies as Black but isn’t—struggles to find a job after she’s let go from her position at Eastern Washington University, at one point complaining that no place wants to be the first to hire her again. The film might not have necessarily aimed to humanize Dolezal, but it ends up happening to an extent as it closely follows her life. Still, The Rachel Divide can’t reach a consensus on what Dolezal has done and how it affects her work, and instead shows her embracing many of her old ideas. It feels like a feedback loop—one that we’re bound to hear again soon enough. —Michelle Jaworski

Kevin James: Never Don’t Give Up

Kevin James isn’t exactly known as a standup after the success of his sitcoms Kevin Can Wait and The King of Queens, but in his new one-hour special for Netflix, the comedian is hoping to prove that he still has his chops. Never Don’t Give Up is at its best when James is exploring his need to project macho confidence—when he suspects that he doesn’t actually have very much macho confidence to begin with. The comedy is so broad and relatable that it verges on white noise, ranging from colonoscopies to pedicures to “what’s the deal with food allergies?” The special would have felt more at home in 1995, but it may very well be worth recommending to a certain kind of father in your life. —Christine Friar


The story of four friends attempting to navigate their changing lives in the weeks leading up to high school graduation, Dude has essentially been billed as a stoner comedy, with Netflix dropping it intentionally on 4/20. While there is a lot of pot-smoking in the movie, there’s a lot more going on too. If anything, Dude is a coming-of-age dramedy, containing some very funny moments but also a few very serious ones. In other words, a female Superbad this ain’t. —Chris Osterndorf

I Am Not an Easy Man

Netflix original French-language film I Am Not An Easy Man follows app maker and shamelessly chauvinistic manchild Damien as he navigates an alternate universe, forced to cope with his newfound gender repositioning. The film is darkly funny, purposefully ham-fisted with its unnuanced gender-flipped cliches and specific situations that Damien finds himself in, shoe now on the woman’s foot. But problems arise when he starts dating the gambling, seductive writer Alexandra, because in this woman’s world, we get a story about a man—and only the misguided Damien finds himself changed. —Kahron Spearman

Lost in Space

Originally a spin on The Swiss Family Robinson, the classic premise of a family in the future who get stranded on an alien planet along with a robot, a military officer, and a sneaky doctor remains mostly the same here. This is a big, expansive concept, chock full of nostalgia, in a genre people love, done in mass appeal, “four quadrant” fashion, on a platform which throws money at content like it’s going out of style. There’s even some gender-bending casting going on, for good measure. It’s easy to make fun of remakes and revivals in an age where seemingly every show is coming back, but at least on paper, resurrecting Lost in Space is a great idea.  That doesn’t change the fact, sadly, that the new Netflix version is underwhelming, and kind of a mess. —Chris Osterndorf

The 4th Company

Mexican crime film The 4th Company doesn’t rise to the level of genre mainstays like Goodfellas, City of God, and A Prophet, but you can see what co-directors Mitzi Vanessa Arreola and Amir Galvan Cervera are aiming for. The film, set in the late 1970s, follows Zambrano, a young man with a passion for American football who gets sent to the Mexico Distrito Federal Penitentiary for car theft. Zambrano joins the prison’s football team, Los Perros, and quickly learns that the Dogs double as the warden’s personal goon squad, the 4th Company. Arreola and Cervera are clearly determined to show the corruption of the prison system, to the point that the football aspect of the story feels like an afterthought. But if you enjoy crime films, this one will scratch your itch until the next one comes along. —Eddie Strait

Orbiter 9

Orbiter 9 starts as a compelling sci-fi piece, then the plot kicks in and it becomes dull. Helena has lived alone in a space station for 20 years by the time repairman Alex visits for a maintenance appointment. The two fall for each other—of course—and once they make their big break from the station, Orbiter 9 becomes a rote chase movie. While Alex shows Helena the real world, the Big Bad Scientists are busy tracking her down, resulting in a half-romance, half-sci-fi thriller that fails on both fronts. It’s a shame because the story has the heft to carry a better movie, but Orbiter 9 is ultimately another misfire for Netflix. —Eddie Strait


Writer-director Ryan Koo’s Amateur is a Blue Chips for the Instagram generation, following a basketball prodigy, Terron, as he navigates the seedy world of amateur hoops. Koo crams a TV show season’s worth of ideas into his 96-minute feature, trying to make Amateur a mentor-mentee story, a cautionary tale, and a rags-to-riches story all at once. But condensing the story takes the air out of the ball and renders the movie flat, and what’s left feels like a jumble of narrative threads that don’t cohere. If any player were as predictable as Amateur, they would get their shot sent into the stands mercilessly. —Eddie Strait

Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity

Hilarity for Charity is Netflix’s new Seth Rogen acquisition, and a test of its algorithm. It’s got standup from Tiffany Haddish, Sarah Silverman, and more. There’s a bit of talk show and sketch comedy. It’s a bit thrown together, but the special also has weed jokes and musical numbers from the Muppets for Rogen’s fanbase. —Audra Schroeder

Happy Anniversary

Romance is easy. Love is hard. Romantic comedies are even harder. Sam and Mollie, played by Ben Schwartz and Noël Wells, spend their third anniversary debating their future as a couple. As the movie goes on the story presents a more compelling case in favor of the couple breaking up than staying together. The performances play into that, and both shine brighter in the fight scenes. But at a scant 78-minute runtime, Happy Anniversary is a minimal time investment with enough charm to get by.  —Eddie Strait

The Titan

Set in 2048 with Earth on the verge of becoming uninhabitable, The Titan is about mankind’s search for a new home. A potential planet has been found, but humans will have to be genetically modified in order to survive in this potential new environment. Directed by Lennart Ruff with a screenplay by Max Hurwitz, the film is captivating because inside the macro themes there’s an intimate film. At the heart of the story are Lt. Rick Janssen (Sam Worthington) and Dr. Abigail Janssen (Taylor Schilling). Rick has been chosen to participate in an experiment to genetically enhance the human body to survive Titan’s conditions. As an actor, Worthington never really got a fair shake from audiences. Between Terminator Salvation and Avatar he was anointed as the next big thing and it didn’t stick. He’s solid here: It’s a role predicated on physicality, and Worthington sells it well. —Eddie Strait

Game Over, Man

Workaholics fans can rest assured knowing that, besides an inordinate amount of blood and gore, the trio’s Game Over, Man makes virtually no changes to their tried-and-true comedic formula—for better and for worse. Here they’re tasked with readying the hotel for a massive party hosted by the Bey of Tunisia, a billionaire playboy and Instagram celebrity who loves talking shit and spending money frivolously. Then some terrorists show up and it turns into a Die Hard homage. —Bryan Rolli


In Rapture, hip-hop’s influence is drawn out across eight episodes. It doesn’t function like a typical documentary with chronological breakdowns and archival footage and talking-head interviews. Instead, it assesses each subject’s influence and growth, and that’s especially true for the episode featuring Nas and Dave East. The production, animation, and cinematography of Rapture are solid, and as an entry into Netflix’s documentary canon, it’s a welcome one. —Audra Schroeder

Ricky Gervais: Humanity

Gervais’s specials have always been more like TED Talks, and Humanity is no different. He’s not telling quick-fire jokes, he’s sitting with them. There are some times where the momentum drops, like a bit about backlash he got for a nut allergy joke. He gets more serious when he talks about freedom of speech and breaks down how people on social media want to be angry about comments but not deal with their own issues. If you’re someone who works online all day, there’s a shade of truth there, but at times during Humanity it feels like Gervais is just calling out random Twitter trolls and not necessarily looking deeper at his own issues. —Audra Schroeder

Nailed It!

In each episode of Nailed It!, three home bakers compete for a cash prize of $10,000 by trying to mimic different fancy dessert creations. As the show’s meme-inspired title suggests, more often than not there’s a big gap between the originals and the contestants’ recreations. The best part of the show is host Nicole Byer, who’s perennially funny and adds something to whatever she’s in. —Chris Osterndorf

Take Your Pills

Alison Klayman’s Take Your Pills begins with a description of the physical effects of Adderall when it becomes a routine. There are quick cuts, swatches of color, cartoonish animations, and pulsing music. It’s a flood of information to match the film’s subject matter: our need for focus. Unfortunately, the film needs some too. The doc boasts declarations from interview subjects about how we live in a “hypercompetitive order” and are “human capital,” which might seem benign until you start to look at the fringes of the billion-dollar Adderall and Ritalin industry, which, as the film shows, is insidiously marketing medications to kids, and parents, with the promise of better “performance.” —Audra Schroeder

The Outsider

There was a time when the words “Netflix’s Jared Leto yakuza movie” might not have been instant cause for panic. In 2018, however, it should come as no surprise that The Outsider, a new Netflix original starring Leto as an American G.I. in post-World War II Japan who rises through the ranks of the yakuza, is a disaster. The film gets off to a decent start, dropping us in a Japanese prison and introducing us to Leto’s Nick with no explanation. But what starts out as a sense of patience graduates into a feeling of bewilderment as we leave the intriguing setting of the prison. As Nick climbs up the yakuza ladder from there, the movie goes downhill fast. —Chris Osterndorf

Marseille season 2

In season 2 of Netflix’s French political drama, the power structures within the titular city are shifting, but the problems that plagued the first season persist. This show wants to be House of Cards, full of scheming and power-hungry politicos, but the deck is stacked against it. It’s definitely better than the first season, but a promotion to “mostly competent but forgettable” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement to make this your next binge watch. Far and away the most entertaining character this season is Jeanne Coste, a charismatic, love-to-hate-her far-right schemer clearly intended as an homage to former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. —David Wharton


Mute is the spiritual successor to Duncan Jones’ acclaimed 2009 thriller Moon, although it may disappoint some of Moon‘s sci-fi audience. Alexander Skarsgard stars as a mute bartender searching for his missing girlfriend in a noir mystery with Blade Runner influences. Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux are characteristically fun as a duo of Tarantino-esque criminal surgeons, but Mute doesn’t quite measure up to the originality of recent neo-noir hits like Drive. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Fullmetal Alchemist

Set in the fictional European-inspired country of Amestri, Fullmetal Alchemist follows the journey of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric. They become state alchemists to find the Philosopher’s Stone and undo the horrific incident that took Alphonse’s body away. Danielle Ransom

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale

Joel McHale knows mocking the vapidity and disposability of modern media with a vapid, disposable talk show is a fool’s errand in the age of Twitter hot takes and socially conscious prestige television. But it’s his willingness to do so anyway that makes The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale an entertaining slice of escapism. The spiritual successor to The Soup finds its host taking jabs at TLC’s Sister Wives and South African soap 7de Laan with characteristic snark and self-awareness. Not every joke lands, and a run-in with some of McHale’s Community co-stars will make viewers pine for a reunion, but for now, it’s a worthy consolation prize. —Bryan Rolli

Irreplaceable You

Netflix’s cancer drama Irreplaceable You is a formulaic movie with enough good moments to make it worth your time. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michiel Huisman star as Abbie and Sam, who have been in love with each other since they were 8 years old. All of their plans are derailed by Abbie’s terminal diagnosis. Instead of planning the rest of their lives together, they’re forced to plan for the end of their relationship. —Eddie Strait

Everything Sucks!

Netflix’s latest coming-of-age tale really wants to let you know it’s 1996. The 10-episode series, set in the real town of Boring, Oregon, fairs better when it’s not blasting you with references. The premise isn’t exactly unique, either: Three freshman friends and AV club nerds collide with the drama nerds. Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) finds himself drawn to fellow AV clubber Kate (the wonderful Peyton Kennedy), who is struggling with her sexuality. They are outsiders trying to find their people. They are freaks, geeks. The last couple of episodes tonally shift from the first half, and present a clearer sketch of that feeling of invisibility and need for acceptance. Kate and Luke’s storylines reach a more satisfying end by episode 10, it just takes Everything Sucks! a little too long to figure out what it wants. —Audra Schroeder

On Body and Soul

The latest from writer and director Ildikó Enyedi, On Body and Soul examines the lives of two slaughterhouse workers, Endre (Géza Morcsányi) and Mária (Alexandra Borbély), whose paths converge when they realize they’ve been meeting every night in their dreams. Each one is struggling with being differently abled, in Endre’s case, because of a paralyzed arm, and in Mária’s, because of an undefined social disorder, which seems to put her somewhere on the spectrum. After discovering their unexplainable connection, they begin a tentative romance, which challenges the simplicity of their serene dreams. Oh, and for good measure, in their dreams they are both deer. Chris Osterndorf

When We First Met

If, for some reason, you missed the lamebrain guys from your high school who used to complain about girls putting them in the “friend zone,” then you’ll find plenty to commiserate about with When We First Met star Adam Devine. The film follows Devine’s character, Noah, as he travels back in time to make his best friend, Avery, fall in love with him and keep her from marrying her beefcake fiancé, Ethan. These Groundhog Day-esque hijinks are physically painful to watch, as Devine proves unfit for a rom-com leading man role, and the supporting cast fails to show even mild enthusiasm. Ultimately, it tries to split the difference between cutesy and crude, and subsequently accomplishes neither. —Bryan Rolli

The Ritual

This indie flick stars Rafe Spall (Life of Pi, Hot Fuzz), Robert James-Collier (Downton Abbey), Arsher Ali, and Sam Troughton as four friends on a lads’ holiday hiking in Sweden after a recent tragedy. As you might’ve already guessed given that this is a horror movie, the trip does not go as planned. One of the men hurts his foot, sending them off the main trail and onto a shortcut through the woods. The third feature from director David Bruckner, the film is essentially a mythological riff on Deliverance. —Chris Osterndorf

Fred Armisen: Standup for Drummers

Fred Armisen’s latest special is basically a Portlandia sketch. The comedian stays on brand and gets hyper-specific with his audience for his first Netflix special, literally doing standup for an audience of drummers. If you’re not a drummer, you might still eke out a “heh” for his joke about mispronouncing Paiste or Neil Peart; if you’re a live music fan, you’ll likely recognize some of the onstage dude behavior that he mimics, which has become fodder for Hard Times headlines. If you have no vested interest in drumming, Armisen still has some bits for you, but you’ll have to wait for them.—Audra Schroeder


Formerly called One of Us in its original iteration on the BBC, the drama winds the viewer up for a disappointing fall that leaves you wondering why you’d wasted your time with it. Retribution is a four-part miniseries about two families, joined by the marriage of Adam Elliot and Grace Douglas. Mercilessly murdered at the hands of a drug addict, these newlyweds’ stories unwind curiously. But you’ll discover an ending so bad you’ll want to smash a hole through your TV with the Roku remote. Maybe that’s why Netflix added it to our queues? So we’d all tweet about it? Retribution may end up as a cult classic, a lesson on how to find yourself locked into an interminable set of plot holes you can’t write your way out of—and we fell for it. —Kahron Spearman

The Cloverfield Paradox

Directed by Julius Onah and featuring Black Mirror’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Selma’s David Oyelowo, The Cloverfield Paradox doesn’t attempt to answer any questions from its predecessor. We never see that movie’s protagonist, but we know that power running out on Earth due to some sort of catastrophic event. A multinational space mission is above Earth, trying to find a new source of energy with a particle accelerator, but when that fails, the words of a keyed-up conspiracy theorist (Donal Logue) foreshadow monsters to come—otherworldly menaces that have been briefly featured in the previous two films but never explained. We do get a final “Oh, shit” shot that neatly sets up the next film, or ties it into the first Cloverfield, depending on your interpretation. —Audra Schroeder


Through a bounty of interviews with cops, criminals, and addicts, Dope makes one thing clear clear: The war on drugs is, and always has been, horrible. The casually depressing way America’s narcotics policies are portrayed in this show makes it a frustrating watch, shocking and completely unsurprising at once. But, despite its other faults, it’s worth watching. —Chris Osterndorf

Step Sisters

Here lies a dance movie that is utterly dull on the dance floor. The movie has the ingredients for a fun time, but it’s like someone forgot to turn the stove on. Jamilah, a successful Black woman on a path to Harvard Law, is forced to help a white sorority rebuild its image after one of its sisters is caught having sex in a viral video. The dean’s only hope to avoid a firestorm is to have Jamilah teach the white sorority to step in order for them to win a dance contest. But there are too few dances scenes, which is especially disappointing coming from director Charles Stone III, who gave the world the joy of Drumline. Step Sisters needs to step aside. —Eddie Strait

Drug Lords

Each episode of Drug Lords explores the life of a different narcotics boss, as well as their organizations and the law enforcement officials who eventually brought them down. All of these stories have been fictionalized at least once, so the best part of the series ends up being the comparisons it invites to the Hollywood retellings. Many players from these events are interviewed, with results that range from extremely candid and revealing to by-the-book recounts of historical events. —Chris Osterndorf


Unrest is a blunt look at the harsh realities faced by those who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Between the lack of public awareness and the medical community’s inability to find a cure or treatment, those afflicted with CFS struggle to get out of bed, literally. CFS upends the lives of the people stricken as well as their family’s. Unrest seeks to educate and motivate, and by the turning the camera on herself, director Jennifer Brea is successful on both counts. —Eddie Strait

Where’s the Money

Logan Paul, Mike Epps, and Terry Crews liven up this clunky, star-studded heist comedy you’ll passively stream. Del (Vine star Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor) is a carefree guy going nowhere, working at his family’s gym. Del’s dad, Dre (Epps), left a cool million dollars from a robbery in the walls of a run-down house in Crenshaw. Del just needs to pop in and all of his problems will be solved—except the flophouse has succumbed to gentrification and is now a frat house. Obviously, Del has to pose as a student and rush the frat, where YouTube star and controversy machine Logan Paul is perfectly cast as an affable Greek bro, and take the most circuitous route to the basement. You’ll laugh, you’ll groan.  —Eddie Strait

Altered Carbon

Starring Joel Kinnaman as a futuristic soldier-turned-detective, Altered Carbon is a rather derivative cyberpunk thriller. The crime storyline owes a lot to Blade Runner and suffers from some unfortunate sexist overtones, but the hero’s flashback scenes offer a much more compelling sci-fi story. Worth watching if you want a sexier, more violent alternative to The Expanse, but not as ambitious or interesting as Netflix’s last big-budget sci-fi series, Sense8. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

The Open House

The Open House is a prime example of Netflix’s “dump it and see what happens strategy.” It stars Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why) and Piercey Dalton as a mother and son who move into a friend’s mountain home when they can’t afford their rent following a family tragedy. Unexplained, eerie, and haunted stuff follows. It’s a slow-cooking and predictable flick, with an unearned payoff that boils to a gruesome ending. If you like carnage, skip to the end. —Chris Osterndorf

Tom Segura: Disgraceful

Tom Segura is by no means a political comic: he spends most of his time focusing his recent weight loss, becoming a new dad, and buying porn for his friends back when he was an old-looking teen. But he also seems acutely aware that in 2018, an American comedian can’t really upload a one-hour performance to a major streaming service without addressing our broader cultural climate in some way. Like Dave Chappelle did in his own Netflix specials earlier this month, Segura seems tickled at how quickly our standards of behavior can change. But Me Too has created a set of circumstances that can be powerful for comedy in the right hands, and he’s leaning into the challenge. —Christine Friar

The Polka King

The Polka King, by writing-directing team Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky, is a disjointed dark comedy about an odd true crime. Jan Lewandowski (Jack Black), who goes by the “rhyming Jan Lewan,” was indicted in 2004 for running a Ponzi scheme. He bilked his victims out of $4 million. Jan spun the ill-gotten cash into a music empire. Jenny Slate as Jan’s wife Marla and Jacki Weaver as Marla’s mother are both silver linings, but The Polka King needs to face the music. —Eddie Strait

Cocaine Coast

Netflix continues to go all in on covering every facet of the transcontinental drug war’s heyday, adding yet another Spanish/Galician production, the undercooked Cocaine Coast (Fariña). Regrettably, the 10-part series hastens into a soft-boiled hybrid narco novella/biopic that’s equal parts Narcos knockoff and cheddar-cheesy soap. —Kahron Spearman

On Children

It’s hard to watch Netflix’s Taiwanese show On Children and not think about Black Mirror. On Children is an anthology show, consisting of five individual stories. The episodes all riff on familial themes. There are kids rebelling against their parents, parents controlling their kids, peer pressure, first loves, broken marriages, and more. And like Black Mirror, these stories tweak reality enough to play as satire, but for On Children, the horrors and joys of family life play better when the show plays things straight.Eddie Strait

I am a Killer

Focusing on 10 death row inmates over 10 episodes, I am a Killer examines different aspects of each one of these men’s cases, from their personal histories to how they fit into the larger criminal justice system. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ve been convicted of capital murder and been sentenced to execution. The frankness with which some of the men discuss their crimes is unsettling, while in other episodes, a sense of mystery remains around the acts in focus. Overall, the show is captivating enough, though it rarely dives below surface level. —Chris Osterndorf


Insatiable tells the story of Patty, an overweight high schooler who vows revenge after slimming down. But the series doesn’t quite know what story it wants to tel and its proposed satire is a bit obscured. Insatiable is trying to say something about women’s anger and rage—how it’s channeled and sometimes misplaced. But much of that gets lost in the noise. —Audra Schroeder

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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*First Published: Aug 14, 2018, 6:00 am CDT