Which streaming service produces the best original content?


Photo by Darien Funk

As it becomes extremely common for streaming services to produce their own original content, it raises the question: whose are the best?

To clarify, I only intend on talking about original films and series produced solely for the streaming service in question. I don’t care that New Girl is on Netflix. 

Disney+ is an outlier in this regard. Technically, all of their content is ‘original’, streaming only movies and television programs produced by Disney. Since it doesn’t make much sense to contrast and compare Toy Story 2 with Netflix’s Eurovision, I will only take into account series or films that were released after Disney+ launched.

So, let’s start with YouTube. They all look terrible. Next.

Netflix is hit or miss, at best. It’s not that their original content is all terrible, it’s just that most of it is. Stranger Things, Master of None, Sex Education, Atypical, Love and Ozark are all notably above-average series. I always find myself returning to these few, either for a laugh or a shock.

But their original films are very rarely passable as “cinema”. Roma, The Irishman and Marriage Story all received critical acclaim, garnering award-worthy recognition but other than these three anomalies, I can’t think of one other Netflix original that doesn’t make me want to chew glass.

The vast majority of Netflix’s original content is excruciatingly bland, lazy and an utter waste of time. Always Be My Maybe is the saddest attempt at a romantic comedy I’ve seen since Dane Cook stopped making movies.

Santa Clarita Diet, Friends from College and The Ranch are all blatant embarrassments on the careers of historically consistent actors and I still can’t wrap my head around why people enjoy Will Arnett as a horse—no disrespect to Amy Sedaris!

I won’t waste much time on Disney+. The Mandalorian was mundane at best and proof that an adorable, mute alien can’t carry a production—I could have sworn we learned the same lesson with Mac and Me.

Everything else looks either excruciating, cheap or simply ill-advised, and frankly, I’m embarrassed Bill Hader has anything to do with it.

Amazon Prime Video without a doubt owns the strongest and most consistent collection of series and films. I don’t care about your disdain for Jeff Bezos or your refusal to shop conveniently online. Prime Video is the best bang for your buck.

Just about every film or show they produce and release is innovative, original and to the highest quality expected out of high-budget television. Manchester by the Sea, The Big Sick and Beautiful Boy are only a few examples of noteworthy titles.

And their series are better than their feature films. The writers and producers of The Boys have somehow found a way to do superheroes better than Marvel—and that’s coming from someone who saw Avengers Endgame three times in the first forty-eight hours after its release.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is just about the most original television show out there at the moment. Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein’s chemistry feels as genuine as it possibly could and as an added bonus, the forgettable rambles of Maisel’s stand-up routine are not as quivering as you’d expect—actually, they’re often quite funny.

Catastrophe and Patriot are both immediate comedy classics. The amount of entry-level friendships and romantic inquisitions I’ve squandered thanks to my recurrent insistence that someone “shut up and watch this scene” is bordering on abnormal—thanks solely to the writers of these two shows.

Even Utopia—although ultimately pretty disappointing—is a better series than anything you’d find elsewhere. Good Omens is a fair representation of Neil Gaiman’s classic novel and Fleabag won just about every Golden Globe available.

Modern Love, Red Oaks, the first season of Mozart in the Jungle and Upload are all deserving of your inevitable binging. The quality and consistency is there. No other streaming service has the reliability or resume that Prime Video continually provides.

I don’t mean to kiss Bezos’ ass but the content of other platforms is simply not up to par with that of Amazon. Maybe just this once, swallow your pride and go sign up.

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