Your Netflix Original Content Viewing Guide

With Ricky Gervais’ Derek debuting today on Netflix, it’s obvious the service is staying in the original programming game. And as other series like House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black get tons of buzz, you might wonder what streaming gems will whet your appetite. Check out our guide to Netflix’s content and which television shows you should be watching after you finish your favorite original series.

Arrested Development’s run was stalled in the mid ‘00s, but the series found new life on Netflix earlier this year. The incorrigible Bluths amused fans, with us wondering how low the family members’ unwavering narcissism would take them. If you want more laughs from deluded self-aggrandizing individuals, we’ve got you covered.

Start with a show featuring two favorites from AD. The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, starring David Cross and Will Arnett, features a woefully unprepared U.S. salesman trying to tackle the U.K. market for energy drinks. Be ready  for unbelievably crass jokes, a breakdown of cross-cultural communication, and a comedic cameo from Mad Men’s Jon Hamm (“Boom! That’s the Hammer comin’ down!”).

Another show with members of the AD cast is Archer, with Jessica Walter and Judy Greer as regulars on the animated series. The show revolves around Sterling Archer, “the world’s most dangerous spy,” who’s actually saddled with alcoholism and mommy issues. His veiled cries for help come in the forms of rampant philandering and verbally torturing his co-workers at the second-tier ISIS agency. However, the most biting barbs come from Walter’s character, Archer’s mom who runs the agency. Also keep your ears peeled for guest roles from Cross and Jeffrey Tambor.

And in a six-degrees-of-separation vein, Fox’s Bob’s Burgers stars Archer’s lead, H. Jon Benjamin. Not a ton of narcissism in this family-workplace comedy, but it’s definitely hilarious enough for you to fire up the stream.

For a more quirky fix, check out Fred Armisen’s and Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia. The sketch comedy series lampoons Portland, Oregon’s pervasive hipster culture, with many characters getting their comeuppance when clinging to their bohemian ideals. The creators aren’t lobbing any harsh judgement, so the show’s perfect for anyone who’s not afraid to laugh at themselves.

And our last batch of likeable losers hails from the City Of Brotherly Love. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia takes debauchery to dizzying levels, featuring some of the most unhinged characters ever to grace the small screen. With plots about doing crack to get lifelong government assistance, using a homemade Lethal Weapon video to settle an argument about blackface, and mysteries involving poop, “the gang” could easily be some of the worst people on the planet.

Up Next: Derek

Premiering on September 12th is Ricky Gervais’ latest comedy series, Derek. The mockumentary follows Derek Noakes (Gervais), a caretaker in a nursing home. Over the course of seven half-hour episodes, the show explores Noakes’ quirks, which include an avid interest in reality TV and extreme social awkwardness. Fans of the Brit may have already caught the show on Channel 4 in the UK but it will air exclusively on Netflix in the U.S.

If you are a fan of British humor, then the original Office series should be next on your list after Derek. The U.K. version (also created by Gervais) is led by a much snarkier and less forgiving boss by the name of David Brent. Though, the core relationship between Pam and Jim is still there. However, it’s seen through the eyes of Tim Canterbury and Dawn Tinsley. Unlike the American series, the show calls it quits after two seasons and two specials.

The Steve Carell version is worth watching as well. Though if fans want to zero in on its best years, they should stick to seasons 2 through 5. The addition of Rashida Jones and Ed Helms adds an extra zing to the ensemble show.

Another show that plays on awkwardness and insecurities is Ally McBeal. The dramedy, which premiered 16 years ago(!), explores the work and personal life of McBeal, a lawyer who is forced to work alongside her ex-boyfriend. The quirks of this show are the best, when fans get to see what exactly McBeal is thinking.

If you want to continue down the British dramedy road, then you should add Shameless to your instant queue. The U.K. show, which has been remade for Showtime, tells the hilarious story of a dysfunctional family living in Manchester. It’s highly recommended, especially if you’ve already seen the U.S. version.

Another quirk comedy to explore is Wilfred, starring Elijah Wood. The show, which airs on FX, is perfect for marathon viewing through the ease of Netflix. Fans of Wood will appreciate the risk the actor takes with this show about the relationship between Ryan and his dog Wilfred played by Jason Gann. It’s not the easiest pill to swallow but it’s worth checking out.

Up Next: Hemlock Grove

In case you missed it, Hemlock Grove is an original horror series starring Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgard. The show explores the mysterious town of Hemlock Grove, PA and the murder of two teenage girls. The main suspect is a werewolf played by Landon Liboiron, who implores the help of Roman (Skarsgard), the heir to the Godrey family estate. The show manages to mix fright, gore, seduction and mystery all into one twisted series.

Created by Ryan Murphy, American Horror Story is at the surprisingly twisted and scary show about a family that moves into a haunted house. From the premise, it sounds hokey but the show managed to surprise and thrill. The second season revamped the series, brining back actors but none of the original characters or story lines.

If you want more suspense, then check out Alfred Hitchcock Presents. From 1955 to 1958, the master of suspense brought his twisted fantasies to the small screen with a parade of stars leading each new story. Thankfully Netflix has the entire televised program available on instant.

If you’ve been avoiding The Walking Dead, this might be a good time to check it out. The character drama focuses on the people attempting to survive the zombie apocalypse. As the story unfolds so do the characters, each peeling back the layers of who they are as survivors forced into a pack on the run.

Twin Peaks is an interesting choice to follow the Grove with. But the psychological thriller is perfect for fans of cult mystery. Like Grove, the first series revolves around an unsolved murder of a local girl. The show blends together horror, camp and supernatural elements in a twisted, fantastic ride led by Kyle MacLachlan.

What better way to get more cult and horror than The X-Files? The show will satisfy your craving for supernatural elements while keeping you on your toes as FBI agents Scully and Mulder solve mysterious cases involving the paranormal. The show will take you further down the mythical creature world than just werewolves and zombies but it’s the dynamic between the two agents that keep it grounded.

Up Next: House Of Cards

House Of Cards is one of Netflix’s biggest success stories. Launched in February, the show quickly earned raved reviews for it’s outstanding cast, which includes Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara. The political drama tells the story of a Congressman (Spacey) who decides to exact revenge on those who betrayed him after he gets passed over for an appointment to Secretary of State.

Another show to earn rave reviews for its twists and turns and strong cast was Damages. The FX series saw Glenn Close, a high-stakes attorney and mentor to Rose Byrne’s character. After working on different high-profile cases in the first few seasons, the show turned two leads against each other in a final show down. The overlooked series is perfect for Netflix explorers.

If D.C. politics is something you want more of, the best show to follow HOC with is Scandal. The series, now in its third season on ABC, is a sexy, layered show about Olivia Pope, a crisis manager dealing with high-profile cases week to week. Kerry Washington leads an ensemble cast of characters that explores life inside and outside the White House.

The West Wing is an obvious choice for anyone interested in shows about D.C. There’s less scandal and intrigue and more focus on the inner-workings of the White House. However, it’s a sharp-tongued show that makes you dizzy with all the walk and talks. The complete series is available on Netflix. So gear up for the long haul.

The Tudors takes the drama, scandal, intrigue and betrayal of HOC and puts in sixteenth-century England in the fictionalized retelling of the Tudor dynasty. Jonathan Rhys Meyers portrays King Henry VIII and he leads a cast supported by his many wives and advisors.

Mixing elements of Scandal and HOC is the family drama, The Black Donnellys, which ran for one season. The show focuses on four working-class Irish brothers tied to the NYC crime scene. Loyalty is tested when the brothers work to protect their family and territory in the city. The Paul Haggis penned drama is worth checking out.

Up Next: Orange Is The New Black

Orange Is The New Black was heralded as Netflix’s summer hit, a dramedy set in a women’s prison. The ensemble cast features compelling characters, including the yuppie former lesbian who once smuggled drugs for her girlfriend, the tough cafeteria head, the transgender inmate who’d do just about anything to complete the transition to womanhood, and the super shady male prison guard. Looking for other strong women fighting against the odds?

Showtime’s Weeds is easily OITNB’s streaming sister. Both shows were created by writer and producer Jenji Kohan. Plus, both shows have female leads who suddenly have their privileged lifestyles uprooted by life on the wrong side of the law. Mary-Louise Parker shines as a suburban widow juggling nosy neighbors, two sons, and a marijuana business.

Family pressure isn’t lost on Tara Gregson, an artist and mom dealing with dissociative identity disorder in another Showtime series, The United States Of Tara. Even with her supportive husband, Tara’s issues can’t withstand the stress from her self-centered teen daughter, her seemingly jealous sister, and her demanding clients.

Speaking of demanding clients, Alias’ Sydney Bristow was at the behest of the CIA as an international double agent. But her job wasn’t all about kicking ass. The ABC series captured Sydney’s struggles with her clandestine life, which proved emotionally taxing. Not to mention her relationship with her dad…

Bones’ forensic scientist Dr. Temperance Brennan is adept at navigating skeletal remains, but has more trouble with live humans. Fox’s series shows how the anthropologist relies on empirical evidence more than her emotions, which may help with her work, but obviously presents fertile ground for the character’s growth.

AMC’s The Killing involves an extremely dark turn, but the gripping narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat. Seattle detective Sarah Linden is all set to pack up her family and move to California when a homicide investigation keeps her occupied. The unfolding of the probe into Rosie Larsen’s death, and Sarah’s commitment to finding out the truth, is nothing more than heart-wrenching.

[Photo: Netflix]