We’re officially two full months into 2021, and, as we predicted, Netflix has already released a ton of new content. And while we’re happy to see some of our favorite TV shows (we’re looking at you, L.A.’s Finest) and movies added to the queue, it’s the streaming platform’s original programming that has us the most impressed.
From a documentary exploring life after death to a fantasy series about fairies at a magical boarding school, keep reading for the 12 best Netflix original movies and shows of 2021 (so far).
1. ‘Dream Home Makeover—Season 2’
If you haven’t heard of Studio McGee, consider the design company officially on your radar. The series, which is currently streaming both seasons, follows Shea McGee, an interior designer based out of Salt Lake City, and her husband, Syd, as they travel the country providing families with their (you guessed it) dream home makeover. While the first season focused a ton on the McGee family’s own home renovations, the new installment centers solely on other projects. Not to mention, it also takes place during the start of the pandemic, and it’s pretty interesting to see how the team adapts.
2. ‘Lupin—Season 1’
After only four days on the streaming platform, the original series landed the number three spot on Netflix's list of most-watched TV shows. The French action comedy, which stars Omar Sy, follows Assane Diop, a pro thief on a mission to avenge his father for a crime he didn't commit. Oh, and Diop does so with the guidance of a special book.
3. ‘The Minimalists: Less Is Now’
If you’re looking to declutter your life, then this documentary is a must-watch. The premise is simple—what stuff is actually essential? Friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus explore the concept “Less Is More” in this film centered around minimalism. Not to mention, it’s only 53 minutes long.
4. ‘Headspace Guide to Meditation’
In Headspace Guide to Meditation, an animated character named Andy takes viewers on a ride to discover the benefits of meditation and how it can positively influence your everyday life. Per Netflix, each of the eight episodes in the docuseries teaches the basic techniques of meditation and concludes with a guided session. TV that’s created to destress? Count us in.
5. ‘The White Tiger’
Priyanka Chopra Jonas has been hyping up her new film for quite some time. So we were excited when the film, which is based on the New York Times bestseller and 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name, dropped on January 22. Aside from the interesting plot, the drama has gained rave reviews for the acting performance of Adarsh Gourav, who Chopra Jonas referred to as one of the “most talented newcomers I’ve ever worked with, and one of the most remarkable performances I’ve seen in a long time.”
6. ‘Fate: The Winx Saga—Season 1’
Romance! Drama! Teen angst! Magic! What more could you ask for? Based on the Italian-American animated series, Winx Club, the supernatural teen drama centers around a group of young fairies who attend a magic boarding school in the Otherworld. The fantasy reached the number one spot on Netflix's top ten list after only being available for three days.
7. ‘History of Swear Words—Season 1’
Probably the most random (and if we’re being honest, the most odd) program on this list is this series featuring Nicolas Cage explaining the “history, evolution and cultural impact” of some of the most infamous English swear words. While it’s technically educational, it’s also funny and wildly entertaining. Plus, it’s easy to watch and you’ll learn some useless information that you’ll probably never have to use in your life.
8. ‘Surviving Death—Season 1’
Ever wonder what happens after we die? (Sorry, that got dark quick). Enter: Surviving Death, a documentary miniseries that explores—through real-life stories and scientific research—the most asked questions about life after death. Leave everything you think you know about human existence at the door, because this show is ready to blow your mind.
9. ‘Pieces of a Woman’
*Trigger warning: This film deals with potentially distressing subject matter*
Just when we thought Vanessa Kirby couldn’t top her performance as Princess Margaret on The Crown, she took on a lead role in this powerful drama that centers around a Boston woman who is grieving the loss of her first child during a home birth gone wrong. If you don’t want to just take our word for it, Rotten Tomatoes gave it an impressive 78 percent.
10. ‘Bling Empire’
Of course, we’re adding some reality TV to this list. Bling Empire follows the lives of a group of Asian and Asian-American socialites in L.A. And did we mention they are all incredibly wealthy? The cast includes a famous DJ, a plastic surgeon who happens to be heir to a Chinese dynasty, a model, an investor and more. Think of this series like Crazy Rich Asians meets Laguna Beach with a dash of Gossip Girl.
11. ‘Firefly Lane’
This “premium soap” (as Netflix dubbed it) kind of reminds us of Sweet Magnolias and Virgin River. The all-new Netflix series, Firefly Lane, follows two lifelong best friends, Kate Mularky (played by Sarah Chalke) and Tallulah “Tully” Hart (played by Katherine Heigl), throughout multiple stages of their life. We’re not saying that Firefly Lane isn’t cheesy—because it definitely is. But hey, we like cheesy.
12. ‘Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell’
This documentary film centers all around (you guessed it) Biggie Smalls and celebrates the life of The Notorious B.I.G. on his journey from hustler to rap king. Released on March 1, the new doc features rare footage and never-before-seen interviews. Even if you’re not a fan of the big man’s music, the film is definitely worth the watch.
Stay up-to-date on the latest Netflix news by subscribing here.