The Binge | The Best Original Streaming Series

Photo Credit: Netflix/Media Rights Capital

In the early 2000s, original cable programming series including The Sopranos, The Shield, and The Wire led to a new golden age of television, Thanks to HBO, Showtime, FX, and several other cable outlets, the market for new TV shows exploded.

While some argue that the new golden age hasn’t ended, we have entered the era of Peak TV, which has more original series in production than at any previous point in Hollywood’s history. Some of that increased output is due to the emergence of streaming original series that rival or even exceed the production values of cable and network fare. Netflix’s first original series, Lilyhammer dropped in 2012. And in four short years, the streaming services have changed the game like never before. Now, original series that may not have been able to breakthrough on television have homes online and they have amassed sizable followings. A few of the streaming originals are even legitimately the best shows, period.

For this week’s installment of The Binge, we’re looking at a brief selection of series from the major players in streaming: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Because of the sheer number of shows available, this is far from a definitive list. So, be sure to share your favorite streaming original series in the comment section below!

Netflix is by far the most aggressive streaming service when it comes to original content. Since 2012, Netflix has produced over 50 original series, and there are at least another 50 in development that will premiere in the next two years. That’s not even counting the Netflix original movies that are also in production. It seems as if Netflix is prepared to be able to remain the dominant streaming service even if the major studios eventually decide to pull their content.

The Best Netflix Original Series: Bloodline

BloodlinePhoto Credit: Netflix/Sony Pictures TV

Even among Netflix shows, Bloodline tends to get overshadowed. But this is a thriller that is well worth a binge, especially with the second season slated to drop on May 27. The series follows the Rayburns, a successful family in Florida that has several dark secrets percolating beneath the surface.

Bloodline has a very sharp cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek. It also has a very engrossing story by Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, and Daniel Zelman, the creators of Damages.

The Best Netflix Original Series: Daredevil

DaredevilPhoto Credit: Marvel TV

No one was quite sure what to expect from the first of four series that Netflix and Marvel TV had lined up. The Daredevil movie didn’t quite live up to the comic, and Marvel’s previous original TV shows had a light touch that didn’t seem suitable for this property. Fortunately, the creative team behind Daredevil stayed true to the spirit of the source material and delivered the darkest and most exciting comic book hero on TV.

The recently released second season of Daredevil introduced the Punisher and Elektra into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe while maintaining the series’ reputation for top-notch action and stories.

The Best Netflix Original Series: House of Cards

House of CardsPhoto Credit: Netflix/Media Rights Capital

House of Cards was Netflix’s first original series that managed to muscle in on the nominations for Best Drama at the Emmys. It’s the story of Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood, a ruthlessly ambitious politician as he double crosses and murders his way from a lowly congressman to the President of the United States, before focusing on Frank’s struggle to retain the power he’s gained.

Netflix has already renewed House of Cards for a fifth season that is slated to premiere in 2017. So, don’t forget about Frank Underwood. He hasn’t forgotten about you.

The Best Netflix Original Series: Jessica Jones

Jessica JonesPhoto Credit: Marvel TV

Netflix went two-for-two with its Marvel series, as Jessica Jones took the source material even further and gave Krysten Ritter’s title character a very compelling edge. While not as adept at action as Daredevil, Jessica Jones’ story was riveting and it also had the benefit of David Tennant’s Kilgrave as a great villain, with a very entertaining turn by Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Marvel’s next hero to get his own Netflix series.

Jessica Jones has a second season order in hand, but it’s not clear when it will premiere on Netflix.

The Best Netflix Original Series: Orange is the New Black

Orange Is The New BlackPhoto Credit: Lionsgate Television

Orange is the New Black appears to be Netflix’s biggest breakout hit. Netflix doesn’t release its streaming numbers, but Orange wouldn’t have been renewed through its seventh season if it was anything less than a blockbuster for Netflix.

The genius of Orange is the New Black is that Jenji Kohan’s comedy/drama about the inmates of a women’s prison filled a void that wasn’t being served by cable or network television. That it happens to be a great series has allowed Orange to become a show unlike any other.

Click over to the next page for the best original series from Hulu!