If you feel like you’ve seen everything on Netflix, know that we're nodding our head, thinking "same!" Especially this year, when we were stuck at home social distancing, we watched a lot — often times an an embarrassing amount — of Netflix shows and movies. But Netflix’s library is so vast, and the service is constantly adding dozens of new titles every month, that even those of us who stream for a living can’t get to it all.
Of course, not all of those titles are good (or even bad-good). And it takes time and energy to scroll through and find the hidden gems, worthwhile shows and movies that didn’t make much of a splash on social media. So, if you’re too exhausted by 2020 to unearth them, it’s OK because we did it for you.
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Here’s our list of the seven best Netflix shows and movies you (probably) didn’t watch in 2020.
It’s strange to call a limited series that earned eight Emmy nominations (and one win, for directing) a “hidden gem,” but Unorthodox still flew under the radar for this year. This powerful tale of rebirth follows a young Hasidic Jewish woman named Esty (the luminous Shira Haas) who yearns for more than her confined, controlled life in a claustrophobic Brooklyn community. She flees to Europe to reunite with her rebellious, estranged mother and embarks on a journey of self-discovery that moved me to tears. — Kelly Woo
Watch Unorthodox on Netflix
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Vampires vs The Bronx
Gentrification is one of the scariest horrors that can hit your block, so it makes sense that someone decided to make a movie where the gentrifiers are actually vampires. It seems that these fanged monsters picked the wrong neighborhood, though, as young Miguel Martinez feels a strong sense of ownership of his community, already raising funds to save the local bodega as the film begins. But when Miguel and his friends realize the true extent of the threats facing their community, they have to fight them off with local weaponry: a baseball bat from the bodega. Need more reason to watch? Method Man and The Kid Mero appear in minor roles. — Henry T. Casey
Love on the Spectrum
Netflix’s foray into dating shows has yielded huge hits like Love Is Blind and Too Hot to Handle, which aren’t exactly nuanced portrayals of romance. Love on the Spectrum, which debuted more quietly, is. The doc-series follows about a dozen autistic singles navigating the world of dating, including some wonderful, charming characters, like 25-year-old hopeless romantic Michael. They go on dates that are like anybody else’s — awkward, funny and lovely. The show is refreshing in its empathy and authenticity as it gives often-marginalized people a chance to shine. There’s so much love all around, and not just the romantic kind, but from the subjects’ families and friends. — Kelly Woo
Middleditch and Schwartz
Improv can be an acquired taste, but those who love the live, on-the-spot comedy will really love Middleditch & Schwartz, a trio of specials released on Netflix back in April starring Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation). The specials — filmed versions of their stage show — reveal the pair as a finely-tuned act that can go in all directions with just a simple prompt. In a year without live shows — Zoom-based comedy comes close, but does not hit the same way — Middleditch & Schwartz proves the next best thing. — Henry T. Casey
Teenage Bounty Hunters
Yes, the title is pretty silly, as is the premise of this teen dramedy. But it also has snappy dialogue and a satirical eye for the hypocrisies of affluent, religious suburbanites. Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini play twin sisters who attend a Christian high school, and their normal, humdrum lives are turned upside-down after a car accident leads them into working for a veteran bounty hunter (Kadeem Harrison). The show’s biggest asset is the chemistry among the cast members as they dish out snappy one-liners. Sadly, Teenage Bounty Hunters wasn’t renewed for season 2, so don't watch these 10 episodes too fast. — Kelly Woo
The Girl on the Third Floor
Who doesn't love a good haunted house movie? Aside from, well, the people being traumatized by the spectres in between the floorboards. Arriving on Netflix in February after a short theatrical run, The Girl on the Third Floor works because of its very icky and gross traditional special effects, as ex-con Don Koch (played by former WWE Champion CM Punk) is dealing with a fixer-upper that is literally oozing out of all crevices. Soon, Don learns about the horrors that cursed his home, as he's preyed upon by a spirit who's trying to seduce him into an early grave. — Henry T. Casey
For his feature film directorial debut, Master of None co-creator Alan Yang draws upon his own family’s immigration experience to tell the story of Pin-Jui (Hong Chi-Lee), a poor Taiwanese boy who grows to be a poor factory worker. He leaves behind his homeland, and the woman he loves, to pursue better opportunities in America. Decades later, the older Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma) struggles to connect with his estranged daughter (Christine). The film is a thoughtful, poignant meditation on roads not taken and the way our choices shape not only our futures but those of the next generation. — Kelly Woo
Watch Tigertail on Netflix