Ramya Ponnambalam

There’s no denying Netflix’s immense success. Since its founding in 2007, the company has tripled its revenue to a whopping 9 billion dollars. A large part of this success comes from Netflix’s ventures into original content, which have resulted in incredible shows such as House of Cards, Stranger Things, and Orange is the New Black.

However, Netflix has way more content than just those ten or so crazy popular shows you can name off the top of your head, with around 250 original titles online right now. It may be hard to parse through this massive amount of content in search of the diamond in the rough, so here are five shows you probably haven’t heard of but should seriously consider watching.

3%

If you’re a fan of Black Mirror and The Hunger Games you will fall in love with this show. 3% is a thrilling dystopian show set in Brazil centered around a group of 20-year-olds living within a highly unequal society who go through a series of rigorous tests to become part of the 3% of the population who get to live in paradise.

While the premise itself isn’t very original, the show’s message about income equality and the consequences of capitalism set it apart from other dystopian shows. Despite the show’s obviously small budget, the amazing actors and impeccable storytelling from Oscar-nominated director Cesar Charlone make it a more than worthwhile watch.

River

River is a creative iteration of the widely explored crime show genre following John River, a slightly unstable but very intelligent police detective who can see ghosts. While it seems a little gimmicky, the show is heavy and dark, getting more and more intense as we question whether or not River is really insane.

What makes the show is the incredible performance by Stellan Skarsgård, who plays River. He does an excellent job of delivering the breadth of emotion River needs without appearing unrealistic. The show’s cinematography is also incredible, revealing plots and twists in unexpected ways. If you enjoy dark crime shows, River is definitely a fresh take on the time-tested genre.

Ajin

Ajin’s gripping story line definitely makes it at an interesting watch. Ajin is about a group of demi-humans, called ajins, who find out they’re actually immortal. However, Ajin takes a dark view on immortality, as those who find out that they’re immortal are captured by the government and taken in for experiments. No one seems to have any problem with how the ajins are treated, but despite this, we can’t truly sympathize with the protagonist, as he isn’t exactly kind-hearted either.

The plot and story-telling are fantastic, but the animation isn’t exactly up to par. Ajin uses a CGI style of animation, which oftentimes looks a little unnatural. Overall though, Ajin is a great show.

Tales by Light

Tales by Light is a visual spectacle. A joint collaboration between National Geographic and Canon, each episode examines the world through the eyes of a different photographer. The storyline comes in second to the cinematography here, but the cinematography is so awe-inducing that it more than makes up for it.

The show goes through all kinds of places: from the humpback whales in the Antarctic to the celebrations of Holi in India. The character of each photographer really shines through the visuals, and the show is truly mesmerizing to watch. Tales by Light is a great choice if you’re ever in need of a little reminder of just how beautiful the world really is.

Happy Valley

Happy Valley is a rather innocuous sounding name, but the show is anything but. Catherine Cawood is a detective in the suburbs who’s barely managing to keep it together after her daughter’s death. While the premise of the series is pretty typical, Sarah Lancashire’s understated acting as Cawood really helps set it apart.

The show’s use of violence is also interesting: it is often criticized for its brutality, but to me, the story is more powerful because of it. Happy Valley is an exploration of human morality, much more than just a simple mystery show.

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