11 Best Netflix Original Series 2021

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11 Best Netflix Original Series 2021

best netflix original series 2021

Elaine Chung

By now, your nightly scroll through, across, up, and down Netflix is as much of a staple in your routine as eating dinner. We usually know what is coming out on Netflix every week because this is our job, and still most nights, we wind up scrolling aimlessly for longer than we’d like to admit. Thankfully, the cruel beast that is Daylight Savings is behind us, spring is upon us, and as the weather warms up, we’re hopeful that more evenings will be spent outdoors. But still, just in case, it’s nice to have a list of the best bets on the platform right now—an abbreviated rundown that keeps you from getting arthritis in your scroll thumb.

From true crime documentaries that’ll keep you up at night to new adaptations of classic films, Netflix is churning out something for everyone this year. Here are the best of the original series that have been released so far.

Sweet Tooth

Produced in part by Robert Downey Jr. and based on the work of the same name by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth is a fantastical dive into the post-apocalyptic world where “The Sick” has taken just about everyone out and the children being born? Half-animal, half-human. The “hybrids” are killed off in a mass exodus, but a few remain. This story follows Gus, aka Sweet Tooth, as he tries to make it to a safe haven in Colorado.

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High on the Hog

The four part docuseries from Netflix is some of the best food, nay, general TV content that’s come out in years. Food writer and host, Stephen Satterfield, paces the series perfectly as he traces the lineage of American gastronomy from West Africa to the United States. The most beautiful part is that he allows the people who know better than him to tell their own stories, opening up a whole global history all through the lens of food.

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Sons of Sam

Not your standard Netflix true crime doc, Sons of Sam is rewriting history instead of retelling it. The doc is told with the help of the archives of journalist Maury Terry, who spent his life trying to convince the world that notorious New York serial killer David Berkowitz did not carry out the murders he pled guilty to alone. Instead, the docuseries presents Terry’s evidence to show that Berkowitz was part of a Satanic cult—while also positioning Terry as an obsessive unreliable narrator who spent his life going too far down the rabbit hole. It’s both a biography of Terry and a fascinating display of his life’s work, compelling and powerful enough to forever impact the way we remember the infamous Son of Sam case.

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Shadow & Bone

The fantasy book series comes to life on Netflix in this new adaptation, which won’t disappoint its die-hard fans. The Grishaverse is mostly done justice in Shadow & Bone, which follows orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov as she discovers her powers—which create for her great allies and enemies alike—in war-torn Ravka. The series is perhaps slightly confusing to follow for non-book fans, but hey, isn’t that what fantasy worlds are all about? (Also, we can help with that.)

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Last Chance U: Basketball

We’ve come to expect to shed a tear or two whenever a new season of Last Chance U lands on Netflix, and this season of Last Chance U: Basketball is no different. On the heels of cultural phenomenon Cheer, Last Chance U: Basketball follows the hopeful D1 athletes at East Los Angeles College. Touching, hilarious, and raw, the season, which features some of best personalities we’ve ever seen in the series, is not to be missed.

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The Serpent

With drugging, robberies, and brutal murder, BBC/Netflix series The Serpent is not for the faint of heart. It’s an eight-part dramatic retelling of the terrifying real life crimes committed by Charles Sobhraj around Asia in the 1970s, as well as the story of the Dutch diplomat who worked to bring him down. What’s more chilling is that Sobhraj is still alive today, serving a life sentence in Nepal for one of the murders depicted in the series—but he has never been arrested or prosecuted in Thailand, where the bulk of his crimes occurred.

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Murder Among the Mormons

Perhaps the niche world of rare Mormon document dealing does not immediately come to mind when you think of criminals, bombs, and murder. But Murder Among the Mormons, a new docuseries from filmmakers Tyler Measom and Jared Hess, is an unbelievable tale of crime and deception that shook the Latter-day Saints Church in 1985 Salt Lake City, and it will undoubtedly shock you, too.

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Pretend It’s A City

In Pretend It’s A City, the viewer traverses and discovers New York City with the guidance of legendary writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz. In a series of conversations with Martin Scorsese, the documentary serves as both a roast and celebration of New York’s quirks, crannies, and foul smells with love and honesty.

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Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer

This four-part docuseries chronicles the crimes and investigation timeline in the infamous Night Stalker case. Kidnapper and serial murderer Richard Ramirez terrorized Californians in the mid-eighties for nearly a year until his arrest, and this series, told primarily from the perspectives of the detectives who worked the case, highlights the long-winding and frustrating investigation, as well as the victims and survivors of the attacks.

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Fate: The Winx Saga

Fate: The Winx Saga is Netflix’s new teen drama series inspired by the Nickelodeon animated series Winx Club. In it, fairies attend a magical boarding school where they learn to master their powers while balancing their friendships, love lives, and fighting monsters. You know, all the normal high school stuff. The cliffhanger at the end of the six episodes will certainly leave you awaiting a Season Two announcement.

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Cobra Kai

The third season of Netflix’s fan favorite Cobra Kai, a martial arts comedy-drama based on the original Karate Kid films, hit the streamer this January. A smash-hit with fans of all ages, the wait until Season Four might be a while, so catch up on the first three seasons of high-stakes Karate school drama now.

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The first French show to break into U.S. Netflix’s Top 10, Lupin is a thriller that follows suave gentleman burglar Assane Diop (Omar Sy) as he attempts to expose the corruption of an affluent Parisien philanthropist and in doing so, clear his late father’s good name. The good old-fashioned heist series is action-packed and suspenseful, but also smart and full of emotion. Part 1 of Season 1 hit Netflix this January, but Part 2 isn’t expected until the summer, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the first six episodes.

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Bling Empire

Bling Empire is Netflix’s chaotic new reality show that follows a handful of ultra-wealthy Angelenos as they shop, bicker, and dine in style. The first American reality series helmed by an all Asian-American cast, the drama-filled series is both a window into Asian culture and a very welcome escape to a world of couture, private jets, and Gucci party favors at children’s birthday parties.

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Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire, where she covers pop culture and television, with entirely too narrow of an expertise on Netflix dating shows.

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