7 most overrated Netflix shows of all time, ranked

Peter in a white sweater holding a gun in a scene from The Night Agent.
Dan Power / Netflix

Netflix is home to great television. The best shows on Netflix usually dominate the pop culture discourse, earning positive praise from critics and fans alike. Some even make it all the way to the Emmys, with projects like The Crown even claiming the top prize.

However, not every show from the streamer is a home run. Even those that are widely acclaimed can easily be blown out of proportion. The quality of these shows has been severely exaggerated by both critics and audiences, and while they remain worthy and entertaining additions to the streamer’s ever-increasing library, they might not be the masterpieces some consider them to be.

7. Stranger Things (2016-present)

Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson in Stranger Things.
Netflix

Stranger Things is arguably the show that made Netflix. The science fiction coming-of-age series centers on multiple characters living in the small, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, where they become the target of supernatural forces coming from an alternate universe known as the Upside Down.

Drenched in 1980s nostalgia and featuring a great cast of young talent, Stranger Things started as a fun and refreshing original effort. However, eight years after its release, it’s never been more clear that this show isn’t worth the hype. Stranger Things is still a phenomenon, but its most recent seasons have been needlessly convoluted and largely lifeless, lacking the kinetic charm that first made it popular. This show is the perfect example of something becoming too big for its own good, losing its unique essence along the way, and becoming just another entry in Netflix’s never-ending conveyer belt of content.

Stranger Things is available to stream on Netflix.

6. The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

Anya Taylor-Joy ponders a chessboard in a scene from The Queen's Gambit.
Netflix

Furiosa‘s Anya Taylor-Joy became a star during the pandemic thanks to her portrayal of chess prodigy Beth Harmon in Netflix’s stylish period drama The Queen’s Gambit. The show chronicles Beth’s rising career while simultaneously depicting her struggle with substance abuse.

The Queen’s Gambit is largely a showcase for Taylor-Joy. The actress is stellar in the leading role, more than earning the many awards and nominations she received. However, the show’s overwhelming success is due, in no small part, to an overblown reaction from critics and fans, who largely exaggerated its achievements. It has nice production values, but its story needlessly drags out across seven episodes. Although not bad at all, The Queen’s Gambit is quite overrated and far from one of Netflix’s best original shows.

The Queen’s Gambit is available to stream on Netflix.

5. Squid Game (2021-present)

The guards in Squid Game: The Challenge.
Netflix

The staggering success of Squid Game remains puzzling. The South Korean show follows a group of desperate individuals who agree to compete in a series of children’s games with a deadly twist for the chance to win a prize equivalent to $38 million.

With an intriguing premise and a ruthless approach, Squid Game was flashy enough to become Netflix’s hit of the week. However, its spectacular triumph over every other show on the streamer is impressive and more than a bit confusing. Squid Game remains the most-watched original in Netflix’s history — it even spawned a misguided reality show that further tarnished its increasingly dubious reputation. Squid Game is a perfect example of an unexpected hit that Netflix didn’t know how to exploit; by attempting to turn it into a franchise, the streamer just stained its legacy.

Squid Game is available to stream on Netflix.

4. Money Heist (2017-2021)

The cast of Money Heist in a line.
Netflix

The Spanish sensation Money Heist is among the first international shows that Netflix made work. The show follows two ambitious robberies planned by an individual who goes by The Professor from the perspective of young robber Tokyo. The show employs several tropes of the crime genre to up the ante and produce an effectively thrilling ride.

Had Money Heist ended after its near-perfect first season, the present conversation around it would be much different. However, the show chose to keep going, becoming less exciting with each new season. The issue comes from trying to sustain such an elaborate and ambitious plot throughout multiple seasons, leading to an increasingly convoluted journey that ended on quite a disappointing note. Like many other Netflix shows, Money Heist is quite good; however, its qualities are also vastly overestimated, as is its legacy a mere two-and-a-half years after wrapping up.

Money Heist is available to stream on Netflix.

3. The Night Agent (2023-present)

Peter shows his badge in The Night Agent.
Netflix

If there’s one thing Netflix is great at, it’s turning unassuming shows into unprecedented successes. Take The Night Agent, a well-made thriller starring Hillbilly Elegy‘s Gabriel Basso. The plot centers on Peter Sutherland, an FBI agent thrown into a dangerous conspiracy involving a mole in the White House.

As mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with The Night Agent; it’s a tense and well-crafted action thriller that doesn’t reinvent the genre, but offers just enough excitement to justify its existence. However, it’s just that: decent. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, especially compared to the countless other thrillers available on Netflix. Its overwhelming success is confusing at best, especially because The Night Agent truly offers nothing audiences haven’t seen before in bigger and better movies. It’s great that a show comes out of left field and makes it big, but it remains bizarre how this particular one did it when it is so unremarkable in pretty much every way that counts.

The Night Agent is available to stream on Netflix.

2. Wednesday (2022-present)

Wednesday Addams with Thing on her shoulder from Wednesday.
Netflix

Jenna Ortega stars as the iconic Wednesday Addams in the 2022 dark fantasy comedy Wednesday. The plot sees her in a boarding school for supernatural teenagers, where she becomes involved in a series of mysterious and gruesome deaths — or, at least, as gruesome as the PG-13 rating allows.

For some truly bizarre reason, Wednesday is Netflix’s second-most popular English-language series of all time. The series is fun, Ortega delivers a wonderfully offbeat performance, and the supporting cast is equally game, especially a scene-stealing Christina Ricci. However, that’s about it, There’s nothing out of the ordinary or even noteworthy about Wednesday  certainly nothing to justify such unprecedented popularity. It’s entertaining, but not necessarily memorable or even rewatchable. “Overrated” is the perfect word to describe it, especially with the benefit of hindsight.

Wednesday is available to stream on Netflix.

1. Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022)

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer in a mug shot in a scene from Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
Netflix

Let’s make something very clear: Evan Peters is very good in Ryan Murphy’s ridiculously named Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. He accurately captures the spirit of the infamous serial killer with eerie precision, delivering a career-best turn that’s perfectly supported by Niecy Nash-Betts and Richard Jenkins.

That’s about all the positive that comes out of this exploitative effort. The show goes out of its way to humanize Dahmer, which it largely achieves thanks to Peters’ compelling performance. However, it lacks the nuance to actually do it, instead relying on cheap thrills and been-there-done-that tropes that do little to enhance its quality. And yet, Dahmer was an enormous success because people love true crime and serial killer content, no matter how reprehensible it may be. The truth is, Dahmer deserves nothing from audiences, not only because it’s exploitative, but also because it’s mediocre.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is available to stream on Netflix.

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