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The best original streaming shows on every major service in 2022
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.
See also: What are the best streaming services?
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.
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.
Best original streaming show: WandaVision
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. The first MCU original streaming show released on Disney Plus remains its best (though Loki and Hawkeye give it quite a run for its money). WandaVision explores Wanda’s emotional state following the events of Avengers: Endgame as she copes with the loss of Vision. Retreating into the illusion of classic sitcoms, she struggles to contain her pain as magical forces conspire against her. It’s a smart and moving addition to the MCU and allows us to spend some quality time with characters who haven’t previously gotten a whole lot of screen time.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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?
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Best original streaming show: Star Trek: Lower Decks
Paramount Plus’ streaming-only animated Star Trek series is a wonderful send-up of previous Treks and fandoms. The series follows Starfleet’s lower-profile employees. The folks who keep ships running without ever touching much of the glory and praise that the main casts of shows like Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation are used to. One of the great pleasures of Star Trek: Lower Decks is its sense of humor about Star Trek as a whole. It’s sometimes an outright parody. But, like all great parody, it’s crafted by folks who clearly love what they’re poking fun at.
- 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.
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.