1. “Inventing Anna” (available February 11)
Why Should I Watch? On paper, “Inventing Anna” represents the kind of idea that’s too good to pass up. Take a true crime story about a duplicitous con artist who infiltrated New York’s elite social scene, ask one of modern television’s most skilled twist-tellers to craft a nine-episode limited series, and bam — you’ve got the tale of Anna Delvey, from super-producer Shonda Rhimes. “Inventing Anna” is actually Rhimes’ first series since “Scandal” where she’s serving as creator, and her first time in that roll on a Netflix show since her massive deal was secured in 2017 (and re-upped in 2021). Expect the hype machine to be in full force for this one.
Bonus Reason: Julia Garner, a two-time Emmy winner for “Ozark,” shifts into the lead position for “Inventing Anna,” playing the fake German heiress whose real name is Anna Sorokin. Given her convincing (and popular) portrayal of a Missouri bumpkin in that other Netflix show, portraying a high-society woman of means on this one should make for an exciting challenge — and one fans will be eager to see peeled back over nine episodes. (Oh, and a second bonus reason: “Veep’s” Anna Chlumsky co-stars! Chlumsky rules! Get excited!)
2. “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” (available February 16)
Why Should I Watch? Well, apparently it’s good. The three-part documentary series about “Kanye West’s experience, showcasing both his formative days trying to break through and his life today as a global brand and artist,” (per Netflix’s official synopsis) earned acclaim out of Sundance, where it premiered last month. IndieWire’s Chief Film Critic David Ehrlich described it as, “raw and addictive,” adding that its aspirations to be the “Hoop Dreams” of hip-hop make it “both a little more than the movie that inspired it, and also a lot less.” Directed by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, “jeen-yuhs” manages to bring a cultural force back down to earth, offering a considerable amount of footage before he became too big to be tied down by cameras.
Bonus Reason: Curiosity? Any public figure who feels as distanced from reality as Kanye West inspires an innate interest in what they’re like in the day-to-day. Simmons and Ozah’s documentary offers an intimate look at his early life, providing rare insight into what shaped the man we know now. Even if the filmmakers faced tougher restrictions in recent years vs. his rise, “jeen-yuhs” offers key context even casual fans can appreciate.
3. “Raising Dion” Season 2 (available February 1)
Why Should I Watch? Netflix subscribers seeking fun for the whole family can rest assured in “Raising Dion,” a cute twist on the superhero origin story that actually tracks the powered star during their youth. Dion (Ja’Siah Young) began manifesting several mysterious abilities in Season 1, and his widowed mother Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) helped him defeat his first villain. Season 2 picks up two years later, as Dion perfects his powers with the help of a trainer named Tevin (Rome Flynn). He even makes a super-powered best friend, Brayden (Griffin Robert Faulkner), who could come in handy when their hometown of Atlanta faces its gravest threat yet.
Bonus Reason: “Stranger Things” fans still have a few months to wait before Season 4 hits (presuming the undated new season arrives around summer), and “Raising Dion” makes no bones about its desire to be Netflix’s next four-quadrant supernatural hit. So even if you’re not a huge fan of the genre (or a family desperately seeking something everyone can watch together), watching “Raising Dion” through the critical lens of a TV executive (trying to follow the “Stranger Things” template in a fresh context) can be a rewarding exercise unto itself. And you might even catch yourself having fun in the meantime.
Courtesy of Netflix
4. “Space Force” Season 2 (available February 18)
Why Should I Watch? While faced with rather lackluster reviews, “Space Force” still reached a wide audience, per Netflix’s (never to be fully trusted) self-reported metrics. Perhaps you were one of them. Perhaps you liked the show a bit more than others. Perhaps John Malkovich, in particular, proved charming and made each half-hour more than worth your time. If so, then you’re already more than down for seven more episodes, and maybe even a little cross that they didn’t make a full 10-episode Season 2.
Bonus Reason: No matter your feelings about “Space Force,” the show itself is a story worth tracking. Netflix, knowing it was about to lose streaming rights to the mega-popular sitcom, “The Office,” tried to piece the parts together for a new original series they’d never have to let go. Steve Carell in an office comedy from creator Greg Daniels is technically the same formula that produced the NBC favorite, even if it doesn’t add up the same way. After a rocky start, reaction to Season 2 will tell us if “Space Force” was a very expensive failure or a comedy worth developing for the long haul.
5. “Vikings: Valhalla” (available February 25)
Why Should I Watch? Were you a fan of History’s original “Vikings” series? Given its high ratings and lengthy run, there are plenty of them out there, and Netflix is betting they’re ready for more centuries-old adventure tales. “Valhalla” picks up more than 100 years since the end of the original series and captures the rising tensions between the Vikings and English royals, as well as divided allegiances over Christian and pagan beliefs. The series spotlights three famous old Vikings: Leif Eriksson is played by Sam Corlett, Frida Gustavsson co-stars as his sister, Freydis Eriksdotter, while Leo Suter embodies the ambitious Nordic prince, Harold Sigurdsson. If you liked the original, odds are “Valhalla” will scratch that itch, and if you never watched the older “Vikings,” sounds like you won’t be lost with the new ones.
Bonus Reason: Showrunner and executive producer Jeb Stuart co-wrote the screenplays for two classic action films: “Die Hard” and “The Fugitive.” His TV experience is limited to the hybrid-animation limited series “The Liberator” (quickly forgotten after so-so reviews), but let’s face it: We all owe him one for contributing to two of the most rewatchable films ever made.
6. “Murderville” Season 1 (available February 3)
Why Should I Watch? Not for the improv, but perhaps for the mindless entertainment drawn from gamifying unscripted comedy. “Murderville” posits itself as an improvised detective show where series star Will Arnett leads a celebrity sleuth through various set pieces in order to solve a murder. Each episode starts with Arnett, as Senior Detective Terry Seattle, walking into the precinct and being introduced to his new partner. The pair then sets off to solve a homicide case by interviewing three suspects, before the celebrity guest names the killer at episode’s end. The audience can play along, picking up clues as they go, or they can sit back and chuckle at the absurdity of it all. The latter option may work for some people, but I hesitate to call this improv: The guests are given specific questions to ask each suspect, scenes are too short to allow for much character building, and exchanges are often so cluttered with requisite, predetermined material that there’s no time for brilliant comedians to create any comedy on their own. “Murderville” is much more like a game show, and if you go in expecting that more than continuous comedy, perhaps it’ll work for ya.
Bonus Reason: Kumail Nanjiani makes out the best of all the guests, mainly because he refuses to be bullied into anything by Terry. Conan O’Brien is too overwhelmed by the bombardment of information, Sharon Stone is saddled with “my partner won’t stop coming on to me” banter, and Annie Murphy is so annoyed you can’t tell if it’s a character choice or reality seeping in — none of which are their fault, mind you. The set-up needs a ton of refinement, and these canaries in the coal mine barely make it out alive. (Marshawn Lynch finishes a close second, perhaps because he’s so distanced from improv and acting that he lets the insanity wash over him, rather than trying to play off it or add anything all his own.)
7. “RACE: Bubba Wallace” (available February 22)
Why Should I Watch? The most successful African American driver in NASCAR history was bound to stir change in a sport overwhelmingly embraced by white fans, and this six-part docuseries digs into what Bubba Wallace has accomplished on and off the track. Director and executive producer Erik Parker (“L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later”) was given exclusive access to Wallace during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series, when he became the first Black driver to win a Cup race since Wendell Scott in 1963. Whether you’re invested in the man, the sport, or how they both impact systemic issues of racism in America, “Race” is ready to elevate each aspect among Netflix’s massive audience.
Bonus Reason: February is typically a tough month for sports. College football is long gone. The NFL wraps up early. The NBA hasn’t reached the playoffs, and NCAA basketball is still weeks away from Madness. This year, the Olympic Games will help with live competitive entertainment, but they’re also one more reminder to expand your mind when it comes to sports you may not typically follow. If that gets your motor running, “Race” could offer another avenue to explore.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Business Proposal” (available in February)
“Juvenile Justice” (available in February)
“Love, Life, and Everything in Between” (available in February)
“Gabby’s Dollhouse” Season 4 (available February 1)
“Dark Desire” Season 2 (available February 2)
“MeatEater” Season 10, Part 2 (available February 2)
“Finding Ola” (available February 3)
“Kid Cosmic” Season 3 (available February 3)
“Sweet Magnolias” Season 2 (available February 4)
“Love Is Blind: Japan” (available February 4)
“Catching Killers” Season 2 (available February 9)
“Disenchantment” Season 4 (available February 9)
“Idelas a Venda” (available February 9)
“Until Life Do Us Part” (available February 10)
“Love Is Blind” Season 2 (available February 11)
“Toy Boy” Season 2 (available February 11)
“Forecasting Love and Weather” (available February 12)
“Twenty Five Twenty One” (available February 12)
“Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire” (available February 14)
“Fishbowl Wives” (available February 14)
“Ridley Jones” Season 3 (available February 15)
“Swap Shop” Season 2 (available February 15)
“Young Wallander: Killer’s Shadow” (available February 17)
“Back to 15” (available February 25)
“Merli. Sapere Aude” (available February 25)
“Two Sentence Horror Stories” Season 3 (available February 28)