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The most unexpectedly popular Netflix Originals series, ranked

From 'Making a Murderer' to '13 Reasons Why', here’s our ranking of the ten most surprisingly popular Netflix Originals shows ever made.

The most unexpectedly popular Netflix Originals series, ranked

Are you obsessed with The End of the F***ing World? Desperate for more? The bad news is that Netflix still haven’t confirmed whether they’ll be making a second season of the show yet – though we’re hedging our bets they likely will, it’s just a matter of when – however the good news is that the streaming giant has brought series creator Charlie Covell in to work on a new series for them.

According to Variety, Netflix has announced it’s picking up ten episodes of Covell’s KAOS, an original new scripted series involving a “contemporary reimagining of Greek mythology” that will “explore themes of gender politics, power, and life in the underworld,” which sounds intriguing as hell but will it be another big hit for Covell and for Netflix?

The End of the F***king World wasn’t exactly the sort of show anyone anticipated would be a huge hit when it was first announced. It had cult appeal, sure. But mainstream appeal? No way. However, this seems to happen time and again with Netflix Originals shows.

Hit series like GLOW, Marvel’s Daredevil, Mindhunter, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt all seemed like safe bets in pulling in a big audience prior to their release. But there’s been a fair few in recent years that felt a little too fringe to pull in a big audience or that appeared on the streaming service with such muted fanfare and promotion that they just seemed to appear and blow up out of nowhere.

Here’s our ranking of the ten most surprisingly popular Netflix Originals shows ever made.

 

10. American Vandal

Riding those sweet coattails of Making a Murderer’s surprising success – and easy to spoof formulaic structure – this mockumentary satire drew so much acclaim it even bagged a Peabody Award. Not bad for a show revolving around the mystery of a dick related act of vandalism.

 

9. Big Mouth

At this point we don’t even care that Big Mouth just seemed to appear out of nowhere, without warning or ceremony. We’re just happy it’s here. Nick Kroll’s (Sing) bawdy coming of age comedy is one of the crudest yet heartfelt shows we’ve seen in a long time and we’re not the only ones obsessed with it. S2 is speculated to be arriving at some point in the coming months and Big Mouth fans are practically storming the Netflix offices in an effort to hurry them the fuck up.

 

8. 13 Reasons Why

Most people knew that 13 Reasons Why was going to be a hit with teenagers – it boasts Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers) as a producer after all – but nobody anticipated it’d become the controversial sensation that it has done. Originally devised as a standalone limited series, the success of the Dylan Minnette (Prisoners) and Katherine Langford (Love, Simon) starring YA show meant a second season was given the go ahead almost immediately.

 

7. Master of None

We all had inklings that Aziz Ansari has some extra level of genius within him that extended far beyond saying “swag” on Parks and Recreation or making weirdly funny feminist statements in his stand up sets. We hoped Master of None would be good, but did we honestly think it would be anywhere near as smart and well written as what it is? Nope! Master of None exceeded everyone’s expectations.

 

6. Love

Be honest here – when you first saw that there was a Judd Apatow (Trainwreck) produced romantic comedy series that looked vaguely hipster coming to Netflix you thought “Oh great. That guy again. No thanks.”

But within one episode of meeting Mickey Dobbs (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus Cruikshank (Paul Rust) you were probably hooked. The show caught people off guard and while the show was cancelled after S3 – a smart decision considering the waning quality of the thing – the first season remains a flawless masterpiece that was an undoubted hit upon release.

 

5. BoJack Horseman

An animated show for adults about a depressed former TV star who’s also a horse? Yeah, okay. BoJack Horseman sounded just alright on paper but it turned out to be one of the best, most original, and seriously profound shows to have been on TV in recent years.

 

4. The End of the F***ing World

With its dark subject matter and wry sense of humor nobody really expected this show – where Alex Lawther (Black Mirror) and Jessica Barden (Hanna) play to teenage lovers on a psycho spree across Britain – to be a mainstream hit. Apparently even Netflix were surprised, with CCO Ted Sarandos telling Vulture, “It was astounding how popular it was for us.” People just really like the word “fuck”, Ted!

 

3. Grace and Frankie

Jane Fonda recently suggested to The Guardian that she’s as surprised as anyone that Grace and Frankie is as popular and as loved as it is, “We’re stunned. We did not expect that. We’re trying to figure it out!” The show is a Netflix Originals comedic gem that proves audiences legitimately want to see great stories about older people on screen. But did anybody truly anticipate that would be the case before it came out? Not exactly.

 

2. Making a Murderer

Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s docu-series is certainly one of the reasons why there’s been an explosion of true crime podcasts and TV shows since Making a Murderer premiered at the end of 2015 – and why “Murderinos” are a legit fandom currently taking over America.

In true Netflix style, the series arrived with barely any fanfare but became an immediate craze once viewers found themselves bingeing the whole damn thing in one sitting and becoming self-proclaimed experts on the American justice system from the comforts of their couch.

 

1. Stranger Things

It’s difficult to believe there was ever a time when we weren’t completely sold on the premise of the Duffer Brothers’ TV horror tribute to 80’s culture. However, people were hardly hyped for the series in the lead up to its release – despite starring the almighty Winona Ryder (Heathers) – making its subsequent success all the sweeter. Within a fortnight of its release Stranger Things was all anyone could talk about.

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co