When it comes to drama television series, there might not be a better destination than Netflix.
While the streaming giant has picked up several great dramas from networks like AMC and NBC, among others, it also started to make its own original series.
From the early days of The West Wing to the long-running series like Orange is the New Black, Netflix proved they could make some of the best drama originals on any network, streaming or not.
There are great teen drams, political dramas, sci-fi and horror dramas, and everything in between, proving Netflix has something for everyone.
Here is a look at the best drama series you can catch on Netflix as of January 2021.
Updated on January 7 – Every month movies come and go from Netflix, but luckily this month nothing changed for Netflix as far as the original series. However, more new series arrive all the time and we will add new great ones as they come to this list.
Here are some new releases that recently hit for you to check out when you finish our list: The Rain, 3%, The Great Heist, Stranger, Takki, Wentworth, Greenleaf, Baby, Bridgerton, Dare Me, Hollywood, and Equinox.
The Queen’s Gambit
Released in 2020, The Queen’s Gambit took Netflix by storm.
While a series about a chess prodigy is not what most people look for when it comes to a compelling drama, this Netflix original series went above and beyond.
It is a gripping drama, an underdog story with Anya Taylor-Joy starring as orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon in the ’50s and ’60s as she battles both her addictions and the discrimination against her as she proved to be the best in the world.
Iconic teen drama Dawson’s Creek has made its way to Netflix with all six seasons arriving on the streaming giant.
The show stars James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson as four high school friends who discover life and love.
Kevin Williamson (Scream) created the show and it played for six seasons with a total of 128 episodes, all of which are now available to stream on Netflix.
One note. The classic opening theme song “I Don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole is not available when watching on Netflix.
Ryan Murphy of American Horror Story brings a new drama to Netflix in the origin story of Nurse Ratched.
In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nurse Ratched was the nurse in charge of a psychiatric ward that used controversial healing techniques on the patients, including the lobotomy.
In Ratched, the story goes back to her beginning, where the young nurse was getting her start in the industry and began to study some of these controversial techniques.
The first season has eight episodes and there is already an order for a second season, which will come likely in 2021.
13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why might be the most successful drama series that Netflix ever created – as well as it’s most controversial.
The first season dealt with the suicide of a teenage high school girl, and the entire season followed a group of students who received 13 tapes that explained why she took her own life.
The series was controversial because many felt that it might raise suicide rates among youngsters, and Netflix had a discussion video it placed up for fans about teenage suicide.
Future seasons dealt with the possibility of a school shooting and the murder of a jock accused of rape. The fourth and final season hit in June 2020.
One of the newest drama series on Netflix hit in 2019 with The Order.
The Order is a horror drama about a college student named Jack (Jake Manley) who joins a secret society known as the Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, that teaches and practices magic.
However, as he goes deeper into the history of the society, he discovers dark family secrets and a battle between magic users and werewolves.
The second season just hit Netflix in June 2020, and there are now 20 episodes for fans to enjoy.
Hannibal initially aired on NBC from 2013-2015. The series was a spin-off of the movie franchise surrounding serial killer and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs).
This is the origin story of Lecter’s association with FBI special investigator Will Graham – the pairing that worked together in Manhunter and its remake Red Dragon.
Mads Mikkelsen stars as Hannibal Lecter; a role made famous in the movies by Anthony Hopkins. Hugh Dancy stars as Graham, and this was before anyone knew that Lecter was a cannibal, with the series showing the deteriorating relationship between Graham and Lecter.
All three seasons and 39 episodes are on Netflix, from visionary Bryan Fuller.
Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in one of the most-watched crime drama series on Netflix.
Bateman is Marty Byrde, a financial advisor that sets up an elaborate money-laundering scene for a Mexican drug cartel. As expected in these situations, Marty ends up getting in deeper and deeper, and there is no way out.
The series has a similar style to Breaking Bad — money laundering replacing meth production — but it shows Marty and his wife Wendy as they spiral to the depths of morality.
There are three seasons and 30 episodes, and a fourth season is almost sure to happen.
David Fincher executive produced the Netflix original drama series Mindhunter.
The series tells the story of the origin of the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit that fans got to know well in procedural TV shows like Criminal Minds.
Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany star as the two FBI agents, and Anna Torv stars as the psychologist who helped put together the unit to catch serial killers using behavioral science.
The first season was set from 1977-80 and had an interview with a notorious serial killer named Edmund Kemper. The second season has them investigating the Atlanta murders of 1979-81.
House of Cards
House of Cards was the first successful drama series on Netflix, but it also was one that almost crashed and burned due to its leading actor.
The series starred Kevin Spacey as a U.S. Congressman from South Carolina named Frank Underwood, while Robin Wright starred as his wife, Claire Underwood.
The first five seasons all received critical acclaim and was the first Netflix drama series to receive major Emmy nominations, as well as winning Golden Globe awards for both Spacey and Wright.
However, after Spacey’s sexual abuse allegations, Netflix fired him from the show, and the final sixth season of House of Cards starred Wright, with Spacey’s character dying between seasons.
The Crown was a historical drama series that focused on the life and political career of Queen Elizabeth II.
The drama series was an interesting production, as it took place throughout the life of Queen Elizabeth, and Netflix recast the series with older actors cast for her later years.
The first two seasons saw Claire Foy star as Queen Elizabeth with Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as Prince Edward. In later years, Olivia Colman took over as Queen Elizabeth and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip.
Netflix already announced that the fifth season would see Imelda Staunton take over as the Queen. There are three seasons currently on Netflix with 30 total episodes.
The Haunting of Hill House
Based on the classic horror novel by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House tells the story of a family who moves into an old haunted house that eventually drives them to madness.
The series takes place in the past and present. In the past, Carla Gugino and Henry Thomas are Olivia and Hugh Crane, the parents of five kids who move into Hill House, leading to the mysterious death of Olivia.
The present-day sees the kids as adults, all with various mental problems of their own due to their childhood in Hill House, but soon find themselves drawn back to the house for one last confrontation with the evil living within.
A second season is coming based on a different haunted house story – this one called The Haunting of Blu Manor, based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.
Anne with an E
Anne with an E is a retelling of the classic story Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
The series initially aired in Canada on CBC, but it was Netflix that brought the drama series to the world internationally.
There were a total of three seasons that totaled 27 episodes before CBC and Netflix canceled the series.
In 1896, a brother and sister adopted a boy to help out around their farm of Green Gables, but when they go to the railway station to pick him up, they find Anne Shirley, a 13-year-old girl instead.
When Anne faces bullying due to class discrimination, she uses her intelligence and imagination as self-defense to win over the community.
Netflix subscribers get two of the best AMC dramas in history, with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, a prequel to Breaking Bad.
However, for fans who want to catch and binge-watch a fully formed story, from beginning to end, Breaking Bad is a complete series, while Better Call Saul is still in production.
Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as a high school science teacher with lung cancer who decides to start making and selling meth to secure his family’s future before he dies.
Aaron Paul co-stars as a former student named Jesse Pinkman, and the two end up spiraling into a pit of danger in the criminal underworld as their lives fall apart.
Halt and Catch Fire
Halt and Catch Fire initially aired on AMC, but it was overlooked and underappreciated by mainstream audiences.
While it received great reviews, it had very low ratings. Despite that, the series was able to use its critical acclaim to reach four seasons and 40 episodes before ending.
The series took place over a 10-year period, where they depicted the insider point-of-view during the computer revolution of the ’80s and the development of the World Wide Web in the ’90s.
In 2014, Halt and Catch Fire won the Critics’ Choice Awards prize for Most Exciting New Series.
Dark is a German sci-fi drama series that released its third and final season in June 2020.
The first season was confusing and quite brilliant, as the entire season took place over three different timelines in 2019 (present-day), 1986, and 1953.
The series featured time travel that allowed characters to go back-and-forth through time thanks to a wormhole in a cave. Things got even crazier at the end of the first season. A new time frame was introduced in 2053, as well as one more in the past in 1921.
There are 26 total episodes in this original Netflix series.
Orange is the New Black
Arguably, the best critically acclaimed drama series in Netflix history, when it comes to original material, is Orange is the New Black.
The series, created by Jenji Kohan, starred Taylor Schilling as a woman sentenced to prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money for her girlfriend.
The story then shows life in the prison and the various prisoners she meets, as well as corruption in the ranks of the guards.
Orange is the New Black picked up 12 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won three of them. There are seven seasons on Netflix for a total of 91 episodes.
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