By Jessica Haley

A new year means new shows to enjoy! 2020 was a year that felt like it lasted 10 years. I know many of us spent a large portion of quarantine curled up on the sofa watching Netflix. Gems like Tiger King, The Queen’s Gambit, and Bridgerton captured the zeitgeist.

2021 is set to bring us even more great content, with Netflix constantly churning out new original shows for us to binge on. The problem is choosing which of the many options to check out first. Here’s a list of 5 great Netflix originals that might help you make that crucial decision. 

Bling Empire

Released on January 15, Bling Empire is essentially the reality show version of Crazy Rich Asians. The bougie reality show follows a group of obscenely wealthy friends as they jet-set and shop their way through life with plenty of romance, drama, and juicy gossip to keep the viewer entertained. The cast is full of eccentric characters whose pedigrees include a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and his wife, a famous DJ, the son of a Singapore real estate magnate, and the daughter of a Chinese tech billionaire, to list just a few. 

While most people focus on the crazy situations and extreme wealth, there is also an interesting East-meets-West dynamic that sets this show apart from other reality shows. Sure it might be classified as “trash tv” and not some significant cultural masterpiece, but there is something to be said for increased Asian representation in mainstream media. 

Cobra Kai Season 3

Possibly one of Netflix’s most anticipated shows of the year, the new season of Cobra Kai finally debuted in early January. The third season picks up right where the last left off, with the characters still reeling from the consequences of the school brawl between the rival dojos. 

Johnny and Daniel remain the heart of the show, with plenty of nostalgic nods to the 1980s films for the old-school fans. Cobra Kai season 3 is jam-packed with kickass action sequences, heartfelt moments, its signature humour, and a killer soundtrack! The only disappointment is the inevitable wait for season 4 once you finish. 

Headspace Guide To Meditation

2020 wasn’t just a year; it was A YEAR if you understand my meaning! In such challenging times, it is no wonder so many people struggled with their mental health. Headspace Guide to Meditation aptly came out on January 1, 2021, aiming to help you start off the year on a positive note and build beneficial habits. Each of the 20-minute episodes is a blend of education, storytelling, and guided meditation. 

Narrated by the soothing voice of Andy Puddicombe, each episode has a different focus and a different animation style. This series promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation you won’t find in any other Netflix show; it is an experience and an introduction to a way of life. 

Lupin

Sometimes described as James Bond or Sherlock Holmes’s French equivalent, Lupin is rapidly gaining new, non-French fans since the new Netflix original’s release. Based on a book written in 1905, Lupin is a debonair gentleman thief and slick master of disguise on a revenge mission to pull off a heist as outrageous as any of the stunts in National Treasure or Ocean’s Eleven

The stakes are high, the action is intense, and the accents are sexy (if you watch the original French version with English subtitles). Each episode is full of twists and clever reveals that showcases Lupin’s art of deception. The cliffhanger ending is sure to leave you begging for more, but don’t worry, Part 2 is coming to Netflix soon. 

The Lost Pirate Kingdom

Any Pirates of the Caribbean fans should check out this new docuseries Netflix released on March 15. The Lost Pirate Kingdom takes place after the Spanish War of Succession in the golden age of piracy. It tells the stories of real-life pirates, the treasures they hunted, and the formation of an egalitarian republic. It’s not a boringly narrated documentary, but a well-told story with dramatic reenactments of key events and excellent production values. 

While pirates are a staple of our modern pop culture, the actual history is less well known, but it is both fascinating and entertaining. This docuseries will sweep you back in time and make you imagine yourself on a ship full of swashbucklers sailing the seven seas. Shiver me timbers! 

New content gets added to Netflix every week, making it almost impossible to keep up! With so many different genres available, hopefully, this list will help you narrow down some of the many options to pick your next weekend binge. Make yourself comfortable, grab some snacks and a soft blanket and enjoy! The legacy of 2020 is that streaming Netflix is a perfectly acceptable pastime.