The amount of subscribers to Netflix is constantly increasing: nearly 200 million worldwide and more than 8 million in France alone! Figures inflated by the confinement in 2020 (+30% during this period), which have made the network even more unavoidable.
It must be said that the offer of Netflix continues to grow, with films, series and documentaries of quality. But faced with this endless list, it’s not always easy to choose: which series or movie should we watch today?
To help you, we have compiled a list of the 20 best Netflix series in this year 2021!
A study conducted by the American magazine Times in 2019 revealed that the Netflix catalog consisted of 32,600 hours of programs. So you would need almost 4 years of confinement to watch everything!
But you don’t need to go to all that trouble… especially since not all programs deserve the same attention! If you’re still new to the world of TV series, we’ve spotted 20 Netflix original series that you absolutely must see in your lifetime. Our selection includes the series with the best storylines of the moment, but also some must-sees.
From series for which we liked the synopsis, or the acting, to critically acclaimed programs, our top 20 drama, comedy, action or thriller series should make for a great night out!
- 0.1 Squid Game
- 0.2 Stranger Things
- 0.3 La Casa de Papel
- 0.4 Lupin, in the shadow of Arsène
- 0.5 Sex Education
- 0.6 The Queen’s Game
- 0.7 Dear White People
- 0.8 Love, Death + Robots
- 0.9 Ozark
- 0.10 You
- 0.11 Elite
- 0.12 Who killed Sara ?
- 0.13 The Bridgerton Chronicle
- 1 The Witcher
- 2 The Rain
- 3 The Crown
- 4 Dark
- 5 Black Mirror
- 6 The Haunting of Hill House
- 7 The Umbrella Academy
A South Korean whirlwind, Squid Game is off to the best start in the history of the Netflix platform, with over 130 million viewers in its first three weeks. As the streaming giant’s new golden goose, we strongly hope to see a season 2 hatch.
In this gory drama series, we play children’s games to survive. Hundreds of people in debt, even broke, have been enlisted to play games with a payout of 45.6 billion won (about 32 million euros). What they don’t know is that every loser dies, and in a rather violent way… A real surprise, Squid Game is unleashing social networks, and even schoolyards, even though this program is not recommended for children under 16.
In second position of this ranking, Stranger Things, which plunges us into the atmosphere of the best SF movies of the 1980s. You’d think Steven Spielberg or J.J. Abrams were at the helm, in a bewitching mix between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Super 8, roughly speaking.
Here, the viewer is invited to Hawkins, a typical small town in Indiana. In season 1, young Will Byers mysteriously disappears and young Eleven appears just as mysteriously, endowed with supernatural powers. Will’s friends will need them to find their friend and face the Upside Down and the terrible danger that threatens Hawkins. If the coronavirus pandemic has postponed the shooting of season 4, we are already waiting for it ! Initially planned for the beginning of 2021, the broadcast of season 4 will have to wait until the end of the year…
La Casa de Papel
Launched in 2017, La Casa de Papel was immediately a huge success on Netflix. Its team of eight masked, red-clad thieves, who attack the Royal House of the Spanish Mint, seduced viewers around the world.
On the menu: suspense and explosive scenes. Nothing very original, but the direction is hyper-efficient and the characters are charismatic. Moreover, a spin-off (or several) could see the light of day to prolong the success of the series after the fifth season, announced as the last!
Lupin, in the shadow of Arsène
Lupin is the Netflix series that made a lot of noise when it was released on January 8, 2021. Inspired by the adventures of Arsène Lupin, Assane Diop seeks to avenge his father of a terrible injustice. Subscribers have quickly become attached to Omar Sy who plays the role of the modern day avenger to perfection.
The first five episodes of season 1 were unfortunately quickly devoured and we were all waiting for the second part. Fortunately, it arrived faster than we thought, only a few months after the first part…
So, no, despite its title, Sex Education (by Laurie Nunn) is not a series reserved for adults… quite the contrary! And precisely (as its title indicates!), this Netflix production deals with the way we can (or should) talk about sex to teenagers.
In Sex Education, we meet Otis, a young boy who is a virgin but who knows a lot about sex, and for good reason: his mother is a sexologist!
One thing leading to another, Otis is going to create a clandestine sexology practice in his high school, along with the terror Adam and the young rebel Maeve. Political correctness is not really on the menu of the first two seasons, but the British series manages to handle humor without falling into the gravelly (nothing to do with American Pie!). Offbeat although sometimes stereotypical, one would almost want to say that this series is… enjoyable! Oops!
The Queen’s Game
The Queen’s Gambit has managed to make a somewhat outdated board game sexy and popular: chess. The drama series tells the story of Beth Harmon, a young orphaned chess prodigy in the midst of the Cold War. At 28, Beth struggles with her addictions while trying to establish herself as the world’s greatest chess player.
Like Unorthodox, this is a mini-series of 7 episodes but it will make you dive into its elegant universe. We regret a second season that will probably not see the light of day… indeed, the novel on which the Game of the Queen is inspired was entirely adapted during this mini-series.
Dear White People
Dear White People is a series based on the 2014 film of the same name. Justin Simien made the choice, three years later, to turn his film into a series. Launched in April 2017, the series has seen 4 seasons in a row. Although a fifth season is not in the works, Dear White People remains a timely series in light of the latest events in 2020.
The story takes place on a prestigious college campus plagued by white/black rivalries. It starts with a revolution of white students who arrive in the evening wearing a “blackface” in order to protest against a radio show called “Dear White People”, hosted by a mixed-race student Samantha White. She denounces the injustices and racist behaviors observed on campus.
Love, Death + Robots
For its originality alone, Love, Death + Robots is worth watching. David Fincher and Tim Miller teamed up to create this UFO of 18 animated shorts!
As the title indicates, love, death and robots are at the honor of this series which approaches all the genres, from the violent manga to the most childish cartoon… Well, not quite, because Love, Death + Robots is a series forbidden to under 18 years old, where the scenes of violence regularly follow the scenes of sex.
Each short film is independent and the series can be watched in any order. One thing is sure: watching them will not leave you unmoved. If the long-awaited season 2 was less surprising, we still look forward to season 3… soon!
We continue this ranking of the 20 Netflix series to discover with Ozark, a dark series whose season 3 was released in spring 2020. Season 4 will unfortunately be the final season of the series.
Often compared to Breaking Bad, it plunges the viewer into the heart of the American Midwest, between Arkansas and Missouri. Marty Byrde (played by Jason Bateman), a seemingly nice financial advisor, also collaborates with a drug lord in Chicago. But when Marty is betrayed by his former partner, he moves with his family to the Ozarks (hence the title).
Pursued by the FBI and hounded by drug dealers who are not always very considerate, the man will do anything to save his life and that of his family. Classic and not always subtle, but really very effective, especially since the series only improves over the seasons and episodes! The proof, Julia Garner (also noticed in the finale of The Americans) received the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in September 2020.
Season 1 of You made a nice splash when it came out in 2018, becoming one of the most watched series of the year on Netflix. It did so again the following year with season 2. The third salvo was a bit different but was just as well received. A fourth season is already announced for 2022.
It must be said that You has all the ingredients of a binge-watching series: “endearing” characters (the famous Penn Badgley from the series Gossip Girl), a gripping plot, a steady pace, suspense … Under its marshmallow airs, You acts in reality as a breathless thriller, adapted from the novels of Caroline Kepnes and featuring a … serial killer!
In season 1, Joe Goldberg, manager of a bookstore in New York, falls in love with a customer. A love at first sight that turns into an obsession and that will lead him to stalk his target everywhere, in his daily life, on social networks… Joe will be ready to do anything to seduce this woman he wants.
If season 1 took place in New York, we move to Los Angeles for season 2. We leave the city for the northern Californian suburbs for season 3. And season 4 seems to take place in Paris, the city of love.
Read our dedicated article :
A Spanish series that is a hit on Netflix? No, it’s not La Casa de Papel… but it’s just like it! It must be said that the commonalities between the two works are not limited to nationality, as the cast of Elite includes Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente and María Pedraza, who play Rio, Denver and Alison Parker respectively in La Casa de Papel.
But rather than bank robbers, Elite features a group of middle-class teenagers who find themselves admitted to a prestigious private school in Spain. Tension, backstabbing and jealousy are the order of the day until everything goes wrong and a murder occurs…
At first, Elite looked like a simple sitcom… but this Spanish series is much more than that! After a very caliente season 4, a new season is in preparation…
Who killed Sara ?
Who killed Sara? is the Mexican series that surprised everybody. While season 1 was released in mid-March 2021, season 2 was already released on May 19, two months apart between the two seasons. Its success is such that the series remained in the top 10 for many consecutive weeks.
Sara is a teenager who dies in a skydiving accident. But the thesis of the accident is quickly questioned… Her brother Alex is convicted even though he is innocent and has nothing to do with the death of his sister. Once out of prison, he will investigate to find the culprit.
With each episode, we want more. So even if this series is riddled with implausibilities, we want to know the outcome of the story. At the end of season 2, even if we discovered a lot of things, we still don’t know who killed Sara. A season 3 is essential…
The Bridgerton Chronicle
The Bridgerton Chronicle is the series that shared the top spot with Lupin at the beginning of 2021. Inspired by the books of Julia Quinn and produced by Shonda Rhimes (to whom we owe Grey’s Anatomy), we are immersed in the London of the early nineteenth century in the middle of the ball season. The story is about the aristocratic Bridgerton family whose daily life is tormented by Lady Whistledown who anonymously shares all the little secrets of London’s high society in her column…
The first season focuses on Daphne, the eldest daughter of the family, who enters the world and must, on this occasion, allow herself to be courted. Her meeting with the Duke of Hastings will turn her plans upside down. The next season should be about Anthony, her older brother.
While season 2, scheduled for December 2021, is highly anticipated, a new season is already planned. The Witcher is a fantasy saga based on the original books released 30 years ago. Video games have also been derived from it, so immersive is the universe.
Swords, fights, mythology, remarkable visual effects, all in a superb setting, everything is gathered to please. Game Of Thrones being no more, The Witcher has all the space necessary for its success. Although the beginning is slow because of the complexity of the story, we finally manage to get used to it.
The advantage with Netflix is that you can discover series from all over the world. After Brazil and Germany, direction Denmark for The Rain.
In this apocalyptic series, we follow the journey of a brother and sister who must survive alone (or almost) in a world decimated by a deadly rain. A journey obviously full of pitfalls for these two teenagers that we sometimes want to slap, but whose adventures we follow with great interest. The season 3 broadcast in the summer of 2020 has been announced as being the last one… normally.
After action and science fiction, let’s go to the historical series! Awarded multiple times at the Golden Globes and Emmy Awards, The Crown is a British series that traces the life of Elizabeth II, from her earliest years to her accession to the throne and to her current reign.
If Olivia Colman replaced Claire Foy in the role of the Queen, the series has not lost anything in the change. And don’t think that you have to be a fan of the crowned heads to be captivated by The Crown: it is definitely one of the best historical series of the moment! Like Downtown Abbey, with the added bonus of historical reality!
If you don’t like “headache” series, then Dark is not for you. It all starts with the banal story of a missing child in a small German town (because yes, Dark is a Teutonic series). But quickly, the plot takes a new dimension based on time travel, in the past as well as in the present or the future.
In the shadow of a nuclear power plant, the time loop is turned upside down… as well as the family trees. In short, it’s enough to make you lose your Latin and your German. You have been warned: the 3 seasons of Dark will turn your brain upside down!
Although the last season of Black Mirror is getting old (2019), it remains a must-see. If Black Mirror is supposed to be a science fiction series, it is its “potentially realistic” side that makes it more creepy. And therefore more exciting. Some may find it hard to get through the first episode, which is as creepy as you could wish!
Just like American Horror Story, here, the episodes do not follow each other. Black Mirror is an anthology and the only point between the different episodes is this famous “black screen”, which refers to smartphones and other technological gadgets omnipresent in our society. The series denounces the excesses of social networks, voyeurism and the control of personal data. In short, a dystopia that leads the viewer to question his relationship with technology and that (generally) leaves no one unmoved.
The Haunting of Hill House
Horrific series are not the most numerous in the Netflix catalog. A first good reason to be interested in the Hill House mansion. It is here that Olivia and Hugh Crain move in with their children. This house from the past will soon reveal curious mysteries and paranormal events will follow one another.
Expect to be startled a few times (but not too many) and to shiver when you go to bed after watching one or more episodes… Conceived as an anthology, The Haunting of Hill House was given a season 2 in 2020, entitled The Haunting of Bly Manor. Even more terrifying, it seems…
The Umbrella Academy
The Umbrella Academy is a superhero series but in a completely different version. In 1989, 43 babies are born to women who are probably not pregnant… A rich industrialist decides to adopt 7 of them and create the Umbrella Academy, in order to exploit their magical powers in the hope of saving the world.
As the years go by, the siblings split up and meet again a few years later to solve the mystery of their father’s death. The apocalypse gets in the way of this reunion and the differences in their personalities quickly take over to complicate everything.
Unfortunately, this third shooting is complicated and delayed, we should not see the arrival of season 3 of The Umbrella Academy before 2022…
Netflix is not only original series, it is also a lot of American or foreign series, like for example the excellent Peaky Blinders or The Walking Dead.
We can imagine that this top 20 will not please everyone, and it is not easy to be exhaustive! For example, it was difficult but we had to avoid House of Cards (with Kevin Spacey) which was, between 2013 and 2018, one of the first series that allowed Netflix to establish its reputation.
But if you had to pick just one, which would be THE must-see series on Netflix? What series(es) do you think are missing from this list? Unorthodox, The Serpent, Ratched, Lucifer, The OA, Orange is the new Black…