We feel your pain. Navigating through the menus to find the best shows on Netflix (opens in new tab) can be a pain. On average, most Netflix users browse 40-50 tiles before settling on something new to watch, and even then you’re not guaranteed that the show you select - whether it's a Netflix original or a licensed show - is going to be the best. Luckily for you, then, I attended the Netflix ‘What’s next’ show in Rome, getting a look at the streaming service’s summer / fall line-up. And there are some brilliant Netflix original shows coming up - from blockbusters like Luke Cage 2 through to lesser-known European crime dramas and even hot new documentaries. So, if you only watch ten new things on Netflix in 2018, you should probably check out these beauties. I’ve included the release date, where we know it, and all the shows air on Netflix globally. Or, if TV isn't doing it for you, here are the best movies on Netflix (opens in new tab) right now.
Luke Cage season 2 (June 22)
Anyone who has dipped a toe into Marvel’s TV offerings will know about Luke Cage (opens in new tab), the man with the unbreakable skin. The first season started well but lost pace half way through, when a certain character was killed off before their time. The showrunners are well aware of that, and have applied a different structure for season 2, meaning we’ll get more twists and action beats more frequently, without ruining the flow of the story. The first episode of the new season is directed by Lucy Liu, and we already know that Danny Rand (Iron Fist (opens in new tab)) will appear at some point in the show. Ok, that’s not necessarily a good thing but… trust me, this season is shaping up real nice so far.
GLOW season 2 (June 29)
The original GLOW (opens in new tab) is a delightful slice of ‘80s nostalgia, as we witness the birth of female-only wrestling in America. Lead by Alison Brie (Community) and Betty Gilpin, the show offered heaps of laughs and miles of Lycra, but underneath all the silliness it dealt with serious issues like equality, abortion, and estranged parenting. The second season is all set to pick up where the original left off, and there will be plenty of funnies and classic ballads rock throw in. However, where season 2 is likely to push GLOW forward is in the big issues it’ll tackle, and the way it represents the underbelly of glizy ‘80s culture. Seriously, this is going to be huge.
The Innocents (August 24)
The latest original to come from the UK, this tells the story of a teenage girl (June) who runs away from home with her boyfriend (Harry)… only to discover that she’s a shapeshifter, and can assume the appearance of other people. Guy Pearce plays a sinister type (sure, he’s probably the villain) who is interested in tracking down shapeshifters to try and understand the condition. And probably use it for his own agenda, whatever that is. Think of this as Twilight meets The End of the F***ing World, with the smart writing and plotting of the latter, and the supernatural romance vibe of the former. Expect more on this real soon.
1983 (TBC 2018)
You’ve likely never heard of 1983 (no, not the actual year), but it’s a Polish spy drama coming later this year. The premise is that it’s an alternate history show, which looks at what would have happened if a devastating terrorist attack had changed the course of Poland’s history after the Cold War. Set in 2003 - 20 years after the event - it’s all set to expose a web of conspiracies and lies that could have an impact for everyone in the world. The sizzle trailer we saw looked moody and cold - classic Cold War drama territory - with some excellent performances thrown in for good measure. One to watch, especially if you’re ok with subtitles.
The Rain (May 4)
Netflix is pushing this as ‘the next big European’ show, and it’s due really soon. The first ever Danish original it follows the lives of a brother and sister pairing who are trapped in a bunker for six years after a horrific virus finds its way into the rain, wiping out most of the world’s population. The show essentially kicks off as the siblings leave the bunker to discover what the post-apocalypse is like, and to search for their father who may have a cure for the killer virus in the rain. I’ve seen a few episodes of The Rain and… it’s bleak. While there isn’t much strong horror, there’s a definite sense of menace and hopelessness throughout. So, if you’re into a bit of disaster TV - like The Walking Dead season 8 (opens in new tab) - this could be for you.
The Staircase (Summer TBC)
Netflix is billing The Staircase as ‘the next Making a Murderer’, so if you were gripped by the hottest true-crime story of 2017, this is for you. It follows the trial, life, and retrial of a Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife back in 2001. The trial itself is packed with twists and surprises, and was originally released as a mini-series back in 2004, by French filmmaker Jean Xavier de Lastrade. With the retrial now in effect, this documentary is coming to Netflix with an extra four episodes dealing with the events between 2004 and now. It’s a case that has fascinated true-crime enthusiasts for years, and is rife with conspiracies. It launched this week on Netflix, so get stuck in.
13 Reasons Why season 2 (May 18)
Ok, so, this one’s a little divisive. Younger viewers lapped up the original - about a girl (Hannah Baker) who leaves a series of tapes to her friend (Clay Jensen) after she kills herself - but many found it tasteless and a little immature. The fact that there’s a second season will probably divide opinion further, especially as it deals with events after the core story of the original. How much more plot is there to wring out of a young girl’s death? I’m guessing 13 episodes, funnily enough. The new run will tackle even more teen issues, and is likely to include many more high school tropes that were maybe neglected in the first season. Brian Yorkey is back on writing duties, though, so fans of the first season - of which there are many - will be hyped.
8. Everything else… which is a little later in 2018
Ok, during the What’s Next event Netflix showed a few more originals that were simply due ‘soon’ or later in 2018. So, don’t expect these to make summer, but do keep an eye on them for later in the year. First up is Disenchantment, the new animation from Matt Groening (The Simpsons, Futurama). It’s essentially Futurama meets Lord of the Rings, early footage looks hilarious, and it’s going to be HUGE. Next up, The English Game, which is a six-part series about the creation of the modern game of football (soccer, if you’re in the US). It’s created by Julian Fellowes (Downtown Abbey), which should automatically put it onto your radar. Finally, a nod to Luna Nera - an Italian produced show about several women falsely accused of witchcraft in the 17 century. Very little is known about this show, but the concept alone makes it worth watching out for.
Want more about Netflix? Here is a feature on how Netflix knows the shows you want to watch, and how it makes sure you watch them (opens in new tab). Seriously, it's super interesting.