Queue: Netflix Original Thriller Series
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Netflix has made quite the name for itself, producing a varied selection of original shows. Critically-acclaimed series like “Orange Is the New Black” and “Stranger Things” have brought in a loyal fanbase. This medium also allows for more thematic freedom and, to be frank, fairly realistic violence. Dark and dramatic thrillers have tended to fare better via internet streaming, with fewer content restrictions than with traditional television channels. The shows on this list all became available for online streaming in 2016 and demonstrate Netflix’s continued penchant for well-produced action TV.
If you’ve played the 2012 action-adventure game “Assassin’s Creed 3,” then you’ve basically seen “Frontier.” Cut down to the basics, both stories feature a half-Native American, half-European action hero, with the ultimate goal of righteous revenge. “Frontier” features the well-loved Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa, most famously known as Khal Drogo from “Game of Thrones.” Momoa’s performance as main character Declan Harp is both aggressive and engaging. Harp is a fur trapper in 1700s Canada, competing with the large, powerful English Hudson’s Bay Company. There are cutthroat politics at the edge of the civilized world, as well as a host of unremarkable and predictable characters. Still, it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. If you like historical fiction, action thrillers that don’t rely much on plot or just want to see Jason Momoa shirtless, then this is the show for you.
The OA: 5/5
The most recently released of this list, “The OA” is mysterious, confusing and one of the best shows to come out in a while. It opens with a young woman, Brit Marling as Prairie Johnson, dying. Shortly after, she is not dead. Following her accident, she is brought to her parents and it is revealed that she had been missing for seven years. From there, the interwoven story of a small-town community begins. Each episode is packed with intricate plot and character development. Through parallel narratives told in the recent past and present, “The OA” shares the stories of an eclectic cast of characters. Some are tragic, but the majority are just normal people dealing with extraordinary circumstances (i.e. the whole dying and then not being dead thing). There are dark elements and moments that can absolutely be described as scary. On the other hand, “The OA” also uses phenomenal cinematography, letting still nature shots break up the story. Every episode flows neatly into the next, working together as a cohesive whole to tell a compelling and emotionally-wrought story. If you like good TV, watch this show.
Ajin: Demi-Human: 4/5
For the past couple of years, Netflix has been attempting to break into the Western anime market. “Ajin: Demi-Human” is its best attempt and a really decent piece of animation, as well as the most violent on this list. It takes place in an alternate universe, present-day Japan. In this world, some humans are born classified as Ajin, who are incapable of dying. These individuals are captured by world governments and subjected to inhumane treatment. This series, which takes place over 26 episodes, tells the story of one young Ajin who struggles between aiding a pro-Ajin rights movement that borders on terrorism in nature and defending the public that allowed for the cruel treatment of people like him. The broader themes are chilling to look at in the context of current world events. It also uses an interesting animation style that walks the line between computer-generated and hand-drawn animation (similar to Netflix’s “Knights of Sidonia,” which aired in 2014). If you like dark morality tales and don’t mind excessive violence, this is definitely something to check out.