With a growing number of streaming sites offering huge libraries of new and old content, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the wealth of options. So, let’s break it down and start slow. What are the best original streaming shows?
Below, you’ll find our top picks, organized according to where you can watch them among the massive number of streaming services currently on the market.
Best original streaming show: GLOW
Netflix has been in the game for a while now, launching its first original streaming series, House of Cards, in 2013. Since then, it has put out a slew of hits like Orange Is the New Black, The Umbrella Academy, Stranger Things, BoJack Horseman, The Crown, and a string of Marvel shows. But of all of them, the women’s wrestling comedy GLOW takes the cake. The series follows a group of women in the 1980s finding strength and solidarity as the Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. The all-female wrestling crew lights up the local airwaves before a move to live performance in Vegas. Despite being canceled ahead of its fourth season, GLOW remains one of the very best original streaming shows on Netflix.
- Ozark: When a white-collar criminal angers the wrong people, he moves his family to the Ozarks to start fresh, while not exactly leaving his criminal past behind. What sounded like a Breaking Bad knockoff at first has proven to be a great crime drama.
- Sense8: The Wachowskis’ and J. Michael Strackzynski’s sci-fi series is one of the most ambitious Netflix projects, spanning the globe and following eight characters who suddenly find themselves bonded mentally and emotionally. The show was canceled after two seasons, but thanks to fan outcry, there’s also a film that wrapped up the sprawling narrative.
- Stranger Things: This 80s genre throwback sees the kids of a small town in Indiana squaring off against various supernatural threats and the government agents trying to cover it all up.
- Sex Education: The teen son of a sex therapist starts giving relationship advice at school for cash, leading to various misadventures and a sexual revolution among the student body.
- The OA: A woman who has been missing for seven years reappears with mysterious new abilities. She recruits five strangers to help her on a surreal mission that challenges the laws of reality in this brilliant sci-fi series cancelled far too soon.
Read: Everything you need to know about Netflix
Best original streaming show: Station Eleven
After a pandemic wipes out most of humanity, survivors do their best in a new and transformed world. We follow a travelling theater group and its members as they face off against a mysterious cult leader, choose how best to stage Hamlet, and make their way to a museum of civilization, where other survivors have built a shrine to the world that was. With jumps back and forth in time, we see how the sickness set in, how a new normal was achieved, and which parts of society needed to be left behind. While most post-apocalyptic fiction takes for granted that humanity would devolve into cruel and violent factions in a dystopia, Station Eleven is refreshing in its depiction of a devastating future in which people actually come together. We see survivors support each other, with art serving as a force for unity. There’s conflict — and plenty of it — but the miniseries offers a hopeful portrait of humanity, not a bleak one.
- The Flight Attendant: A flight attendant wakes up next to dead body, seemingly murdered while she slept soundly beside him. Suddenly, she’s swept up in a major mystery in this dark, witty, and fun modern-day send-up of Hitchcock classics like The 39 Steps and North By Northwest.
- Search Party: Originally on TBS, this sleeper hit has found a second life as an HBO Max original. A group of friends in New York gets entangled in a possible missing persons case in this satirical dark comedy.
- Raised by Wolves: Produced by Ridley Scott, this sci-fi epic sees a colony of humans and androids fighting over an alien planet following a civil war on Earth. Season 2 of Raised by Wolves premiered in Spring 2022, and while a third season may never happen, it’s still a great watch.
- Our Flag Means Death: This swashbuckling comedy adventure follows a pampered aristocrat as he turns to a life of piracy on the high seas. Based very loosely on true events, this queer fan-favorite series is a top choice on HBO Max.
- Peacemaker: The cartoonishly patriotic anti-hero Peacemaker works with the government to protect America in this superhero comedy spinoff of The Suicide Squad.
Read: Everything you need to know about HBO Max
Best original streaming show: Ms. Marvel
Following a few Marvel shows tied to varying degrees to the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney invested hard in MCU television on its dedicated streamer, Disney Plus, in early 2021. After several strong outings like WandaVision and Loki, Disney landed on its best MCU show yet with Ms. Marvel. The series follows Kamala Kahn, a teen Avengers superfan trying to fit in when she discovers a family heirloom that gives her superpowers. With her new powers, Kamala travels to Pakistan looking for answers about her family history. She fights off new enemies, including a shadowy government organization, in her quest to become a hero in her own right. The coming-of-age story is funny, exciting, and moving, and it feels refreshingly like its own adventure, not tied too tightly to the rest of the MCU.
- The Mandalorian: One of the first original series to launch with Disney Plus, The Mandalorian takes the Star Wars universe back to its roots as a space western (emphasis on the western), following a mysterious bounty hunter trying to make things right when he finds that his latest assignment involves an innocent child.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society: A critical hit and fan favorite, this adaptation of the children’s books by Trenton Lee Stewart tells the story of an eccentric genius who puts together a team of orphans to stop a global emergency.
- Daredevil: Technically, Daredevil started out as a Netflix original, but when the rights reverted back to Disney, the series moved to Disney Plus. That’s where you can watch the dark and gritty adventures of Blind lawyer and superhero Matt Murdock.
- The Beatles: Get Back: Peter Jackson’s three-part docuseries is a fascinating and intimate glimpse into the recording sessions of one of the best rock bands of all time/
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: A coming-of-age comedy-drama-musical based on the popular film series, this Disney Plus show features high schoolers putting on stage musicals.
Read: Everything you need to know about Disney Plus
Apple TV Plus
Best original streaming show: For All Mankind
One of Apple TV Plus’ flagship shows, For All Mankind explores an alternate American history. What if the Soviet Union had put a man on the moon before NASA? What if the moon landing became the central battleground in the Cold War, with both sides investing more heavily in space exploration? The show follows a group of astronauts and other NASA employees as they adjust over many years to a vision of American ingenuity that cleverly pushes back against the reality we know. With sharp writing and top-notch performances, For All Mankind is Apple TV Plus’ best show. Frankly, it’s one of the best shows on any platform.
- Servant: M. Night Shyamalan‘s Servant is a slow-boiling horror story about a live-in nanny to a couple whose child died and was replaced by a life-like replica. But with the new addition to the household, something strange is happening. The child may be alive and well after all.
- Dickinson: This historical drama refigures American poet Emily Dickinson’s youth with some modern twists.
- Severance: In the near future, employees at a mysterious company undergo a procedure separating their work and personal memories from one another. When one employee encounters another outside of work, he begins looking into his employer’s motives and practices.
- Schmigadoon!: This infectious send-up of classic Hollywood musicals sees a couple whose relationship is on the rocks trapped in a town where people break into song and dance and where they need to find true love to get back out.
- Ted Lasso: A classic fish-out-of-water comedy, Ted Lasso is about an American football coach who relocates to England to coach a soccer team, even though he knows nothing about the sport.
Read: Everything you need to know about Apple TV Plus
Best original streaming show: High Fidelity
Hulu’s High Fidelity is an absolutely brilliant re-imagining of the Nick Hornby novel of the same name. The book was first adapted by Stephen Frears as a film starring John Cusack in 2000. The series recasts white, straight, male, Gen-X music snob Rob as a Black, bisexual, millennial woman, played by Zoë Kravitz. (Kravitz’s mother, Lisa Bonet, appeared in the original film.) Rob still owns a record shop in the newer series, and she struggles with the same relationship woes, working her way through past boyfriends and girlfriends to figure out why she can’t find love. The show sadly wasn’t picked up for a second season, but season one is easily one of the best original streaming shows on the Disney-owned platform.
- Only Murders in the Building: A hilarious send-up of America’s obsession with true crime, this series follows a trio of huge fans of a Serial-like podcast as they come together to investigate a murder in their own Manhattan apartment complex.
- The Great: The Great is a black comedy about the early days of Catherine the Great as she acclimates to life in Russia with her new husband. Pitch-perfect performances by Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult make this essential viewing for Hulu subscribers.
- Devs: A young woman looks for answers from the tech start-up where she works after her boyfriend dies under suspicious circumstances. Does her employer’s enigmatic CEO know more than he’s letting on?
- Reservation Dogs: This coming-of-age comedy drama, created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, follows four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma as they steal to save up for a move to California.
- The Handmaid’s Tale: Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, this Hulu original imagines a dystopian future where women are treated as property and follows a group who resist against the totalitarian regime.
Read: Everything you need to know about Hulu
Amazon Prime Video
Best original streaming show: The Underground Railroad
Amazon’s stunning miniseries The Underground Railroad literalizes the historical Underground Railroad. The network of abolitionists who worked to help secure freedom for individuals escaping slavery by providing shelter and access to secret routes here becomes a genuine railroad built underground, tracks and all, for the same purpose. Creator and director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) adapts the novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead. Using magic realism, breathtaking cinematography, and a beautiful score by Nicholas Brittell, Jenkins and his gifted cast tell a haunting, beautiful, disturbing, dream-like story about America’s shameful past.
- The Boys: Amazon’s superhero series takes a gritty approach to capes, presenting a team of egomaniacs competing for fame. But they’re also competing for endorsements and PR representation, and a coveted seat among well-funded supergroup The Seven. What happens when a team of regular folks, The Boys, stands up to them? Season 3 premiered on June 3, and it’s stacking up to be one of the best streaming shows of the summer.
- The Expanse: Cancelled after three seasons at Syfy, The Expanse has been an Amazon original since season four. In a future where space is being colonized, different factions fight for resources and self-determination.
- Reacher: Based on the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, Reacher follows the titular drifter as he accidentally gets himself into trouble, solving crimes and killing bad guys along the way.
- Fleabag: Co-produced with the BBC, Fleabag is a dry, dark, and witty look at one woman’s journey of healing as she faces modern life in London.
- A League of Their Own: Inspired by the classic film of the same name, this uplifting sports drama/comedy sees a group of women making their mark on the world of professional baseball in the 1940s.
Read: Everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Video
Best original streaming show: Succession
HBO Max replaced older HBO streaming services, but the premium cable channel still has its own library of original titles, so it seems fair to single a few out, even though you’ll be finding them over on HBO Max. One of the top titles you’ll find at HBO is Succession. The family drama premiered in 2018 and follows the Roy clan, a family of spoiled rich kids vying to take over the family media conglomerate from their father. Succession feels like it captures everything that’s wrong with the world, all condensed into one over-privileged family. And somehow it’s still tremendous fun to watch.
- Watchmen: This adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic superhero deconstruction feels less like a new take on the original comic and more like an engagement with its core concepts, updated for the current day. It’s a brilliant piece of television and well worth checking out.
- I May Destroy You: Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, co-produced with BBC, is a raw look at a woman taking stock of her life, relationships, and career after she’s sexually assaulted in a nightclub. It’s smart, moving, devastating, funny, and brilliant.
- The Leftovers: A devastating and beautiful look at a world where 2% of the world’s population mysteriously vanishes, leaving the survivors to pick up the pieces of their lives without any answers as to why they lost their loved ones.
- Barry: A hit-man having an existential crisis finds a new calling when he follows a mark into an LA acting class. His old life won’t stay behind him though, and he has to balance two conflicting worlds.
- The Righteous Gemstones: A hilarious satire of televangelism, The Righteous Gemstones follows a famous preacher and his kids, who fight over who will inherit the family business.
Read: The difference between HBO and HBO Max
Best original streaming show: Yellowjackets
A high school girls soccer team is stranded in the wilderness in 1996 when their plane crashes on the way to a national tournament in Showtime’s breakout hit. Through jumps in time, we learn that the girls eventually descend into Lord of the Flies-esque group madness, with more than a few hints of the supernatural. Within the first episode, we get glimpses of ritual killings and cannibalism months after the crash. In the present day, we catch up with survivors. As they work to put the past behind them, reminders of the woods creep into their lives, bringing them back together. With huge spikes in viewership from episode to episode and a well-earned season renewal in 2021, Showtime’s Yellowjackets is a major win for the cable network and its streaming division.
- Black Monday: A group of outsider investors takes on the establishment to eventually cause Black Monday, the worst stock market crash in Wall Street history. Black Monday isn’t as high-profile as some of the other titles on this list, but it’s one of the best original streaming shows around.
- Ziwe: Absurdly talented and wickedly clever writer, comedian, and internet star Ziwe brings her unique brand of comedy to a hilarious variety show featuring celebrity interviews, musical numbers, and sketches.
- Billions: U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades wages war on a hedge fund billionaire in this high-stakes drama about the haves and the have nots, and about who really gets to live the American Dream in a country rife with economic inequality.
- The Chi: The residents of the south side of Chicago are brought together by an act of police brutality in the coming-of-age drama about growing up Black in America.
- Shameless: Frank Gallagher is a single father of six, but he’d rather be at the bar than looking after his kids, who look out for each other in this darkly comic family drama.
Read: Everything you need to know about Showtime
Best original streaming show: The Amber Ruffin Show
Anyone who’s watched Late Night with Seth Meyers likely knows the singular talent of Amber Ruffin. A writer on the storied NBC late-night talk show since 2014, the comic has been an on-air personality with Meyers in recent years. Recurring bits like Jokes Seth Can’t Tell and Amber Says What have been standouts of the show. Thankfully, the folks at NBCUniversal were wise enough to recognize Ruffin’s talent. In 2020, Peacock launched The Amber Ruffin Show, a huge critical hit that blends monologues and sketch comedy. It’s a top streaming choice for anyone trying out Peacock.
- Dr. Death: One of Peacock’s prestige dramas, based on a true story and the podcast of the same name, Dr. Death tells the story of a star neurosurgeon whose colleagues begin to notice disturbing patterns among his patients’ health outcomes.
- We Are Lady Parts: A hilarious and thoughtful series about an all-female Muslim punk band in England. The show presents the band finding their voice together, navigating cultural differences, and rocking out.
- Girls5eva: When a rapper samples their biggest hit, a 90s girl band sees it as their chance to get back in the game with a comeback tour in this hilarious buddy comedy.
- MacGruber: Based on the feature film and SNL skit of the same name, MacGruber follows the titular hero and his allies as he fights to save the world from various threats.
- Rutherford Falls: Two lifelong friends find themselves on opposite ends of a local debate in their sleepy town in this clever comedy.
Read: Everything you need to know about Peacock
Best original streaming show: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Paramount Plus’ streaming-only Star Trek: Lower Decks takes place before the events of the original series and spins off from Star Trek: Discovery. The show blends the aesthetics of modern Star Trek shows with the fun, episodic adventures of Treks of yesteryear. Each week, the crew of the storied USS Enterprise goes on a different mission, under the command of Captain Pike. The old-school format leaves room for sillier one-off episodes and the deeper philosophical explorations that have always defined Trek. When all those pieces come together, Strange New Worlds is quite simply the best Star Trek show currently on Paramount Plus.
- Younger: Originally on TV Land, the clever Younger has been a Paramount Plus original since its seventh season launched this year. The show follows a 40-year-old woman who pretends to be in her 20s to avoid the ageism of her publishing industry job.
- 1883: This prequel to the Paramount Network’s hit western family drama Yellowstone sees the Dutton family in its early days before they founded the Yellowstone Ranch.
- The Good Fight: A sequel series to The Good Wife, The Good Fight sees Diane Lockhart fighting her way back up the ladder at a new law firm with new challenges and conflicts.
- Mayor Of Kingstown: Two brothers act as go-betweens for prison inmates wanting to communicate with the outside world in this gritty crime drama.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks: A delightful animated Star Trek show about the folks who keep ships running without ever touching much of the glory and praise that the main casts hog for themselves.
Read: Everything you need to know about Paramount Plus
That’s just a sampling of the best original streaming shows you can catch up with on all the major streaming services. Click through to our longer pieces on each site for a more complete list of available content.