By: Hannah Bernabe
When Netflix began to create original shows around 2012, I immediately loved the new kind of television storytelling the online viewing website contained. The content is fresh, continually pushing the envelope on what people consume online. What I’ve rounded up are all of the Netflix originals that I’ve watched (thus far), kind of a television memory lane of sorts.
House of Cards
I recently just got back from a trip to Washington D.C., and while I enjoyed seeing the monuments and the museums, one of the fascinating parts of my trip was taking the metro from Maryland, to Washington D.C. A big part of my fascination was because of House of Cards. The political drama was one of the first shows that I watched on Netflix, and it is still one of my favorite shows. Politics is something that is part of my life, both personally and in academia. House of Cards is one of those shows that clearly depicts the comings and goings to American politics, and I think that makes great television. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are amazing in their portrayal of Frank and Claire Underwood respectively, and the showrunners led by the formidable David Fincher makes this Netflix Original a classic.
Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black is one of the most revolutionary shows on Netflix thus far. I say this because the prison drama is the only show that depicts a side of femininity and womanhood that no other show will touch. While Orange is the New Black is based on the experiences of Piper Kerman at a female correctional facility, the show has evolved beyond Kerman’s memoir. The amazing Jenji Kohan has used Kerman’s memoir as a starting point, highlighting the lives of women in prison. Each flashback humanizes prisoners, showing us that at one point, these inmates had lives, and it was because of the choices that they made that led them to Litchfield. In addition to that, Orange is the New Black has taken on a social commentary of the prison industrial complex, an issue that has slowly been gaining steam as of late. The show’s most recent season tackles such issues, as well as a strong commentary on the social justice issues as of late, particularly the likes of “Black Lives Matter.” Whatever the case, Orange is the New Black is a show that everyone should pay attention to in the future.
I have a confession to make: the only reason why I watched Narcos is because Pedro Pascal was on the show. My love for Pedro Pascal aside, I quickly realized that Narcos is an amazing show in its own right, portraying the rise and eventual fall of Colombian Pablo Escobar. Escobar’s influence as a drug cartel leader is a caricature of how much his wealth was seen a beneficial to the Colombian people, something that is foreign to American authorities to this day. Narcos is a wonderful narrative of drugs, poverty and power in impoverished countries. Wagner Maura is perfection as the formidable Pablo Escobar, making you feel throughout the show that this man is more than the drugs that he is exporting. What is most fascinating about Narcos is that as much as it portrayed the life and rise of a drug mogul, it’s also a commentary on the way the United States carried the “War on Drugs” in an international level. It’ll be interesting to see where the show will go from here, now that they have ended the story of their main character.
I can really go on and on about how much I love Stranger Things. I honestly light up whenever people ask, “Have you watched Stranger Things?” You can read about my love letter to the show right here. Before I go off and turn this article into another Stranger Things lovefest, I want to talk about how the show represents Netflix’s contribution to the future of television. The show boasts amazing casting, the revival of classic horror tropes, and a beautiful homage to 80s pop culture. It exemplifies Netflix’s model of giving its audiences a different kind of television. What is seen in Stranger Things and other Netflix Originals, is that when showrunners and producers are given a strict episode guideline of 13 episodes, it gives them a challenge of how to give quality television rather than quantity. That being said, we see how showrunners like the Duffer Brothers can play around within the guidelines, still giving us amazing television. I’m so excited for next season and to really see what the show will take on next.
While writing this article, I didn’t realize how many shows I’ve watched. So I have decided to do this into two parts. Keep an eye out for Part Two!