The Netflix logo with images from various films an t.v. shows.

The Best Netflix Television Show and Film Exclusives of All Time

The current logo for Netlfix.

Throughout Netflix’s history, the streaming platform has created several popular shows and films. The latest example is Squid Game. The show’s plot involves financially in debt Sout Koreans playing a series of children games. The grand prize is 4.6 billion Won. However, the games have deadly consequences. The South Korean-produced show has become a smash success with viewers. Besides receiving widespread critical acclaim, Squid Game ranked among Netflix’s top 10 most-watched television programs. Netflix also estimates that the show drew 111 million viewers after 17 days of availability. The total viewership is estimated at around 142 million people.

This is not the first time Netflix has struck gold with one of their television shows or movies. The platform has created several hit films and shows that have become cultural phenomena. This article will take a look at some of the notable examples. But first, let’s take a look at the history and format of Netflix.

What is Netflix?

Netflix is a pay-to-use streaming service offering films and television shows to its subscribers. The site has an extensive library of already produced content. In addition, 40% of Netflix’s content is produced in house. Netflix is accessed via the internet. Users can stream the site from many different devices, like smart T.V.’s computers/laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Users can also download content to watch offline. In the U.S., Netflix offers DVD and Blu-ray rentals, which are shipped from a central warehouse.


A package for a DVD rental offered by Netflix.

Netlfix was formed in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. In the beginning, the company rented and sold DVDs by mail. However, Hastings and Randolph soon removed the selling of DVDs and solely focused on rentals. Their rental system differed from video stores like Blockbuster. Instead of due dates and late fees, Netflix used a model that allowed unlimited rentals without due dates and late fees. This model evolved into a subscription-based DVD rental service.

The company continued with its DVD rental strategy in the early 2000s as DVD players became popular items. The demand for a DVD rental service increased, and Netflix capitalized on this demand. Throughout the early 2000’s Netlifx competed against other DVD rental companies. Although the competition was initially close, Netflix slowly gained the edge over its rivals. By the mid 2000’s, companies like Blockbuster were struggling, while Netflix’s success soared.

Transition to Streaming

A phone with an old logo for Netflix on its screen. In the background is a list of shows people can watch on Netflix.

In January 2007, Netlifx launched their video streaming service. The company intended to switch to streaming much earlier, but this was complicated by limited technology and the high cost of running the system. Additionally, Netflix had a limited amount of content available to stream (only 1,000 films). However, by the mid 2000s, streaming technology greatly increased. Netflix now had the capability to offer subscribers the streaming of films.

DVD rentals were eventually phased out as Netflix focused solely on streaming. As the 2010’s approached, Netflix signed deals with several production companies. These deals gave Netflix the rights to stream the particular film. In the 2010s, the company entered the international market. Netflix became available in countries like Canada, Denmark, and Norway.

Original Content

In 2013, the company looked to produce their own exclusive content. Arguably, the first hit Netflix show was Orange Is The New Black, a comedy-drama series set in a minimum security prison. The success of the show prompted the company to produce more original programming.

Since it’s inception, Netflix has championed independent films. On a number of occasions, Netflix distributed low-budget independent movies. The company continued releasing independent films throughout the 2018s. Notable examples include the films of production company A24. These films have found a strong, supportive fanbase through Netflix. And just like its television content, Netflix entered the world of film production. The company partnered with various film studios to produce original movies. While some of the films are low-budget productions, other Netflix films come from noted directors like Martin Scorsese.

Netflix Today

Currently, Netflix continues to produce original content. Their subscriber base is strong and continues to grow larger. In March 2021, Netflix made an important announcement. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, film and television production ceased. As a result, the company’s emissions rate dropped by 14%. Therefore, the company pledged to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2022.

In August of 2021, Netflix announced its intention to enter the video game industry. The company plans to offer subscribers video games based on Netflix-produced content. The concept was tested in Poland, and the service launched for mobile devices in the U.S. on November 2, 2021. With this new move, Netflix will likely to branch out into other industries like music and literature.

Netflix Content


Now let’s look at the best Netflix-produced content. Each of the entries on this list made their mark with audiences.

Orange Is The New Black

The poster for Orange Is The New Black. Various characters are featured on the poster.

As mentioned earlier, Orange Is The New Black was the first Netflix produced show to achieve world-wide success. The series is set in a minimum-security women’s federal prison in upstate New York. The main plot revolves around Piper Champman and her experiences in prison after being sentenced to 15 months for aiding her drug dealer girlfriend. Throughout the show, Chapman and her fellow inmates deal with the struggles of prison life. Episodes frequently use flashbacks to explore the past lives of inmates and guards. These flashbacks often show how the particular character ended up at the prison. The series also explores themes of corruption within the prison system. Topics like racial discrimination, overcrowding, and privatization of prisons are all running themes of the show.

Orange Is The New Black received widespread acclaim during its run. In particular, the show’s humanizing of prisoners and the depiction of gender, sexuality, body types, and race was celebrated by critics and audiences. In terms of awards, the show received 16 Emmy nominations with four wins. Several actresses also received Golden Globe awards for their performances.

With the numerous awards and universal praise, Orange Is The New Black put Netflix on the map in terms of its original content.

Tiger King

The poster for Tiger King. A drawing of Joe Exotic is on the poster.

Tiger King is a documentary mini-series that examines the life of former zookeeper and convicted felon Joe Exocitic. The eccentric Exoctic ran a private animal park called G.W. Zoo. The park mainly featured tigers captured from the wild. The series also examines other private tiger parks, revealing the connection each tiger conservationist has with each other. A running narrative in the series is Exotic’s fused with Carole Baskin, who runs a tiger rescue organization. Baskin’s goal is to save big game cats from the private animal parks operated by Exotic and others. As the series progresses, the events leading up to Exotic’s conviction and arrest are covered. Exoctic was charged with hiring a hitman to kill Baskin.

Tiger King was immensely successful when it debuted in March 2020. Part of this success was due to the fact that it was released during the early months of the global COVID-19 pandemic. People forced to stay at home passed the time by watching Tiger King. And the bizarre and unique story of the series quickly captivated audiences. Joe Exotic became a cultural phenomenon, spawning countless online memes. However, animal rights groups criticized the series. They argued that Tiger King framed big cat breeding as a legitimate form of animal conservation, when in fact it can severely harm the animals, both physically and mentally.

Despite the criticism, Tiger King was a massive success. In September 2021, Netflix announced a second season of the show, which will debut in November 2021.

Squid Game

 promotional poster for Squid Game. Several of the characters are featured.

Even though it just recently debuted, Squid Game is quickly becoming another successful show for Netlifx. The series features 456 Koreans, all of whom are in financial debt, competing in a contest for the chance to win an enormous cash prize. The contest consists of various children’s games. Those who win the game move on to the next round. However, those who lose face deadly consequences. As the series progresses, alliances are formed between the contestants to increase their chances of winning the cash prize. The inner workings of the contest’s organizers are also revealed. All of these elements create a captivating, tension-filled show.

Squid Game has become a global sensation. Many cite the show as part of the growing trend of South Korean media popularity, like K-Pop, gaining international popularity. Fans of the show dress up as various characters. Other fans recreate dalgona, a honey combed candy, featured in the show. Lastly, millions of online memes relating to Squid Game have emerged over the past few months.

Currently, Squid Game only consists of one season. The show’s creator, Hwang Dong-Hyuk, initially had no intentions of a sequel/second season. However, Hwang recently stated the possibility of a sequel. Viewers around the world can only hope that this is true.

The Irishman

The poster for The Irishman. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci are on the poster.

This epic, over three-hour film was the latest offering from celebrated director Martin Scorsese. The film follows the life of Frank Sheeran, a hitman for the mafia. It also explores Sheeran’s relationship with legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa. The film spans Sheeran’s entire life: from his humble beginnings as a truck driver, to a mob hitman, and finally as an old man dealing with the regrets of his life.

The Irishman stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, and Joe Pesci as Russel Buffalino, the head of the crime family Sheeran works for. De Niro and Scorsese have previously collaborated on several films; The Irishman marks their ninth film together. For the first time, Pacino and Scorsese collaborated on a film together. And finally, Pesci, who has worked with Scorsese in the past, emerged from retirement to take the Buffalino role.

The film is another entry into the mobster and gangster film genre by Scorsese. Like his previous films, Scrosese uses similar techniques and explores similar themes. First, the portagnist, in this case Sheeran, tells us the story through narration. Scorsese also heavily uses contemporary music in various scenes. Lastly, the protagonist is a strong man who is also flawed in many ways. Sheeran is a remorseless killer, but he also tries to be a loving father and husband.

Release and Reception

The Irishman saw a limited theatrical release, followed by a widespread digital release. Initially, viewership fell below expectations. However, audience levels gradually increased a few weeks after the film’s release. The Irishman was a modest box office success, but it gained widespread praise. People praised the film’s sprawling narrative and the performances of the actors.

The Irishman is another entry into Scorsese’s filmography. And arguably, it is one of the best Netflix-produced films.

Dolemite Is My Name

The poster for Dolemite Is My Name. The poster has the style of a 1970s film poster.

Dolemite Is My Name covers the life of comedian and actor Rudy Ray Moore. Moore was a stand-up comedian in the early 1970s who specialized in telling profanity-filled stories. In 1975, Moore used his stand-up comedy earnings and made an exploitation film based on his on-stage character called Dolemite. The film was called Dolemite. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Moore made several more exploitation films, one of which featured the Dolemite character. However, Moore’s came from humble beginnings. For most of his life, Moore struggled to enter the entertainment business. He finally found a niche audience with his dirty stand-up routine and his entertaining low-budget films.

Dolemite Is My Name stars Eddie Murphy as Moore. The film details Moore’s early struggles in the entertainment business. It also depicts the making of Dolemite and its subsequent release and success. Murphy gives an exceptional performance as Rudy Ray Moore. While he may not sound like or look like Moore, Murphy perfectly embodies the legendary comedian’s personality. The film also expertly recreates scenes from 1975’s Dolemite. Viewers experience the passion that went into making that movie.

The running themes of Dolemite Is My Name is perseverance, believing in yourself, and making the best with what you have. Rudy Ray may not have been the best comedian or the most skilled filmmaker, but he believed in himself and used his skills to the fullest potential. In doing so, he created a dedicated cult following that continues to celebrate him and his work. Dolemite Is My Name perfectly captures this theme.


Critics praised Dolemite Is My Name, especially Murphy’s performance. For several years, Eddie Murphy starred in several bad movies. Many regarded this film as his comeback. People also hailed the touching tribute to Rudy Ray Moore and his work. This is a feel-good movie about a plucky underdog who found success in his own unique way.


A list of Netflix original content on a tablet screen.

Arguably, Netflix is the champion of streaming media. At first, Netflix was a small company renting out DVD’s to a small subscriber base. The company has now grown into an international streaming service that offers thousands of television shows and films. With its success, Netflix branched into film and television production. Many Netflix films or shows have become hugely popular, like The Irishman and Orange Is The New Black. Most recently, the company scored a hit with the Korean miniseries Squid Game. As Netflix continues to grow in popularity, we can expect much more exceptional Netflix original content .

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