Netflix has only been producing and distributing its own content for about five years now (where it started out with two instant classics, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black), and in that short amount of time, they’ve managed to completely corner the market. They left HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, ABC, NBC, CBS, you name it, behind in their dust. A large part of that is the sheer volume of content that they’re pumping out. It’s been reported recently that by the end of this year, there will be 700 original movies and series on Netflix. That’s crazy! And despite this massive amount of content getting produced, the quality isn’t affected. Just look at Master of None, Stranger Things, BoJack Horseman, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, GLOW, Narcos, The Crown, Mindhunter, F is for Family, Easy, Big Mouth – they’re all phenomenal shows! And of course, the well isn’t drying up any time soon. As is always the case when it comes to these Netflix originals, there’s never any shortage of content to look forward to. We’ve pored through the entire Netflix schedule for 2018, examined the full roster of upcoming shows, and handpicked the 10 that we’re most excited about. So, here are the top 10 most anticipated Netflix original series heading your way in 2018!
10. The Rain
You can always count on the Danish for a good drama series. Denmark – well, Scandinavia as a whole, really – is as famous for its drama as New Zealand is for its comedy. The Danes gave us The Killing (the original one), The Bridge, and Borgen. And this year, they’ll be giving us The Rain. The Rain will be a bleak post apocalyptic story set in a future world where a biochemical disaster has wiped out most of humanity. The first season was written by Jannik Tai Mosholt, the mastermind behind Borgen, and the whole thing will be released on Netflix later this year, making it the streaming giant’s first ever original Scandi drama. Set a decade after a virus killed off a huge chunk of the world’s population, The Rain will follow two siblings as they journey towards safety in this dark new world, armed only with their father’s notebook about the dangers of the virus. The series looks to tell a beautiful, grounded human story with a theme of family against the backdrop of a dull, cruel post apocalyptic landscape. Mosholt said of the series, “I’m interested in finding out what we humans will do if the day should come when civilization as we know it vanishes. And I want to see it through the eyes of youth. Those who are too young to understand it all when everything and everyone disappears around them, and who then have to find out who they are and what they will become.”
9. A Little Help with Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett is back! This screen legend was a trailblazer for women in comedy, inspiring every woman with a sense of humor to pursue their dreams. Two such women were Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who in 2016, presented Carol Burnett with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and their tribute was very flattering. At the time, there was a lot of media coverage surrounding Leonardo DiCaprio’s big Oscar win for The Revenant, and Fey and Poehler roped him into their tribute to Burnett saying, “Let’s all calm down about Leonardo DiCaprio and how hard it was to shoot The Revenant, okay? So you slept in a horse and you ate bison liver, big whoop. Carol would have slept in that horse, worn it, done a song and a dance, and made a much funnier face about eating something very disgusting. The point is, Carol is better than all of us. We’re gonna give her a prize for it.” And soon, Carol Burnett will be back on our screens with her new Netflix show A Little Help with Carol Burnett, in which she will be joined by a bunch of four to eight year old kids who offer advice to celebrities to solve their everyday problems. How fun!
8. On My Block
Lauren Iungerich is on a winning streak. After bringing many adolescent fears to life in her comedy drama show Awkward, which told the story of an angsty teen who struggles in social situations after she gets into an accident that the other kids mistake for a suicide attempt, she will now be bringing a series called On My Block to Netflix. It’s a coming of age tale focusing on the lives of some Hispanic kids in South Central Los Angeles, which will be great for the representation of racial minorities and the lower social classes in the media. For too long, minorities and the working class have been either neglected or demonized – it’s time to start turning things around and giving them a voice. From what’s been revealed about the show so far, it seems like what they’re going for is a kind of inner city Freaks and Geeks, which would be awesome. The show will specifically focus on four childhood friends who begin to drift apart as they enter into high school and start carving out their individual identities and cliques, which sounds like we’re in for a bittersweet blend of both comedy and drama. On My Block is one of the most imminent Netflix releases, with the first season appearing in the streaming service’s library as early as March 16, so get excited for that!
7. Green Eggs and Ham
“This show is gonna combine two of my favorite things: Dr. Seuss and binge watching,” Ellen DeGeneres joked when she announced that Netflix had greenlit the exhaustive three year production of her TV adaptation of Seuss’ beloved book Green Eggs and Ham. The book, just 50 words in length, tells the story of an unnamed narrator (who, in the new Netflix version, will be called Guy) as he is persistently harassed by a loudmouthed character named Sam-I-Am who wants him to eat some green eggs and ham. In the 13 half-hour episodes that will premiere later this year, this premise will be expanded as the two characters find themselves on a cross country road trip as they grow closer as friends and discover new things. DeGeneres is just producing the show, with no intentions to voice a character (despite her proven track record to breathe life into animated characters, specifically the one and only Dory). What would be truly great is if the writers of the new Netflix adaptation of Green Eggs and Ham sticks to the themes that Seuss addressed in his original text. Not a lot of people realize this, but Dr. Seuss was a fierce political satirist, and everything he wrote – no matter how wacky or child friendly – had a sharp subtext about a social issue. In Green Eggs and Ham, that issue is race. The allegory teaches us not to judge food (or people) too soon, purely based on their color. Race is one of the biggest issues in America right now, and if Netflix manages to tackle it head on with a positive message delivered through a kids’ cartoon, that will be something truly special.
6. Harvey Street Kids
This surreal little animated comedy series is being produced by DreamWorks Animation based on the characters from Harvey Comics. If you’re not familiar with Harvey Comics, just picture a cross between Peanuts and Twin Peaks. It’s at the same time a weird, oddball little story and also the delightful tale of some children in a close-knit neighborhood. In a very postmodern fashion, the show will blend together a number of different genres, including action, adventure, musical, slapstick, and urban fantasy. It certainly sounds like it’s going to be interesting. As described by Deadline.com, the premise of Netflix’s Harvey Street Kids series is this: “From its never-ending games of kickball to the infinite flavors of its ice cream truck to the greatest climbing tree in the universe, every day on Harvey Street feels like a Saturday. And that’s largely thanks to the Harvey Girls – Audrey, Lotta, and Dot – the block’s self-appointed guardians and the world’s bestest BFFs. They will do whatever it takes to keep Harvey Street the best block to never grow up on and transform every afternoon into a wild adventure.” From the producer of Phineas and Ferb, expect this new show to be every bit the delight of that one.
5. The Umbrella Academy
We’ve gotten some wonderfully dark screen adaptations from Dark Horse Comics source material in the past, from Hellboy to Sin City to 300, and this year, on Netflix, we’ll be getting yet another one. The Umbrella Academy is a slick, grim comic book series about a dysfunctional family of superheroes called The Monocle, Spaceboy, The Kraken, The Rumor, The Séance, Number Five, The Horror, and The White Violin, who are working to solve the mystery of their father’s death. It’s essentially Six Feet Under with superheroes. It’s Six Feet Under meets The Incredibles. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! Studios and producers have been trying to get an adaptation of The Umbrella Academy off the ground for years. Talks began in 2010 with DodgeBall director Rawson Marshall Thurber at the helm of a movie version that was subsequently cancelled. It’s finally getting made as a Netflix series written by Jeremy Slater, the guy who gave us the disastrous Fantastic Four reboot (boo!) and the TV remake of The Exorcist (yay!), with a first season set for an exclusive release on the streaming service later this year. And if all of that still isn’t enough to get you excited to see the show, then this will: it stars the brilliant Ellen Page!
4. Lost in Space
Yes, Netflix is remaking the classic ‘60s science fiction series Lost in Space. This new one will again be telling the story of the Robinson family, the space colonists whose ship goes off-course and lands them in intergalactic trouble. It was only a matter of time before someone tried another crack at it, because Hollywood will never let anything with even a whiff of brand recognition die, and it’s been twenty years since that terrible movie version starring Matt LeBlanc that critics called “the dumbest and least imaginative adaptation of a television series yet translated to the screen.” To be fair, from the trailer, this new one on Netflix looks very exciting, very retro, and also somehow manages to cultivate its own look and style, despite paying homage to the feel and tone of the original series. Lead actor Toby Stephens has said of the new series, “It’s a very clever, modern reworking of a great story. Lost in Space is Swiss Family Robinson in space, so it was a story that existed before Lost in Space. The fundamental story is that it’s a family that is lost in a difficult, life-threatening situation and how it challenges them and brings them closer together. That is essentially what the story of this is, it’s just the context is a lot more modern. It’s a more modern take on the ‘60s version. If you look at it now, it’s charming, but it seems so innocent. Whereas this is a version that is for our time. I’m hoping it will still have humour and humanity in it, but it has obviously gotta be for a modern audience.”
Over ten years after they each launched their careers as A-list movie stars with the raunchy high school comedy Superbad, Jonah Hill and Emma Stone are reuniting for a black comedy series on Netflix called Maniac. It’s set to be a lot darker and more psychotic than their previous on-screen collaboration, as they play a pair of mental patients locked up in an asylum. The show, which will premiere its first ten half-hour episodes later this year, will be set in the fantasy worlds that they conjure up in their twisted, deranged minds. It sounds devilishly grim, and the director at the helm, Cary Fukunaga, knows a thing or two about telling devilishly grim stories – he’s the guy who gave us the rich and detailed first season of True Detective, for which he was rewarded with an Emmy (perhaps history can repeat itself with Maniac). Some other great cast members alongside Hill and Stone are Justin Theroux, Sally Field, La La Land’s Sonoya Mizuno, and Girls’ Jemima Kirke, so we’re looking at some pretty big and talented names in this one. Based on the premise and the star power involved, this should be one interesting addition to the Netflix comedy library.
2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
“We are streaming, motherf**kers!” That was how the Coen brothers announced to the world that they would be making a new TV series for Netflix. Aside from being the executive producers of Fargo on FX, which is adapted from the tone and style of their groundbreaking ‘90s black comedy movie of the same name, the Coens have never made a television project before, so this will be a first. It could be the Fargo series that has inspired them to do so, as their Netflix drama The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will also be an anthology show. Perhaps Fargo has made the two visionary Academy Award winning masterminds behind The Big Lebowski and No Country For Old Men fall in love with the format. Little is known about their new show apart from the fact that it will be a western, in the vein of the Coens’ earlier work True Grit, which is certainly exciting stuff. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of the incredible cast they’ve got lined up for the show: Liam Neeson, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson, James Franco, Stephen Root – there’s some phenomenal talent in front of the camera on this one! Frequent Coens collaborator Tim Blake Nelson will play the title role of Buster Scruggs. Netflix’s vice president of original content Cindy Holland has said of the show, “The Coens are visionary directors, masterful storytellers, and colorful linguists. We are thrilled for Netflix to become home to the full range of their talents.” Full range, eh? Hopefully that means we’ll be treated to their particular brand of twisted humor, witty dialogue, peculiar characters, shocking plot developments, and beautifully bleak landscapes. The first season of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, consisting of six episodes, will be arriving on Netflix later this year.
Matt Groening is responsible for two of the greatest and best loved animated series in the history of television, and now, he’s creating a third for Netflix. After his groundbreaking show The Simpsons, which just became the longest running primetime show in the history of American television and has spent that time receiving reams of critical praise, a mountain of awards, and millions of worldwide viewers returning every week for three decades, and Futurama, a cult classic forerunner to Rick and Morty that presented us with a skewed and satirical view of the distant future, his third show will be called Disenchantment. It’s a fantasy comedy about an alcoholic princess named Bean, her elven companion, and her personal demon. This may sound like a departure from Groening’s previous shows, but it will reportedly “bear his trademark animation style.” After tackling the traditional blue collar family unit with The Simpsons and balancing workplace ensemble comedy with science fiction homage in Futurama, Groening has created a whole new world to immerse us in. That world is the medieval realm of Beanlandia – let’s hope it can rival Springfield and New New York on the awesome scale! No matter how you spin it, a new animated series from Matt Groening is the most exciting TV event of the year.