12 Most Underrated TV Shows of 2012

Published 2 years ago by , Updated January 3rd, 2013 at 1:20 pm, This is a list post.

12 Most Underrated TV Shows of 2012

Moster Underrated 2012 Now that the year is coming to an end (and the Earth didn't end), it's time to highlight television's most deserving series: the underrated ones. With so many channels and programs to watch, many great television shows get lost next to the series' always nominated for awards. The thing is: just because it's nominated doesn't always mean it's the best. Check out our list of television's 12 most underrated shows in 2012.

Catfish: The TV Show (MTV)

As a follow-up to the hit documentary of the same name, Catfish: The TV Show follows Nev Shulman and (now) Max Joseph through the lie-filled world of Internet relationships, by connecting people who have had longtime relationships through the computer. Is anyone really who they say they are? If you thought what happened to Nev was impossible, you'll never believe what happens to the folks on this show. Some lies, some truths, some surprises - all completely captivating. What You Need to Know: If you haven't seen the movie Catfish, skip the opening credits, where everything that happened in the film is revealed in detail.

Derek (Channel 4 & Netflix)

In 2012, Ricky Gervais stepped away from his longtime writing partner, Stephen Merchant, for his new comedy-drama pilot, Derek. Only airing in the UK, Gervais plays the title character, Derek, a mentally disabled 50-year old who works in a senior citizen's home. Although the pilot caused some controversy from people believing Gervais was simply mocking the disabled, the truth is that Derek is one of Gervais' strongest series since The Office and is equally as funny as it is touching. What You Need to Know: Netflix picked up the series and will air it in 2013. (The pilot is available to those who Google its name.)

Face Off (Syfy)

Face Off, now entering its fourth season (January 15th), has become one of the hidden competition gems on cable television, where audiences get an in-depth look at what it takes to make the special effects make-up needed to create the greatest characters in film and television. And after each of the contestants spend hours perfecting their characters, they have to present them to a judging panel of award-winning special effect artists who will be completely honest with their praises (and critiques). What You Need to Know: Face Off is like a weekly installment of DVD or Blu-ray bonus features about creature making. If that sounds good to you...

Happy Endings (ABC)

From its start, Happy Endings has always been seen as a second-tier series to ABC's Modern Family and TGIF revival - yet it is still one of the strongest comedies on the network. Sure, it doesn't have the sassy family appeal of some of the network's other shows, but Happy Endings brings a more mature telling of friends living (and growing) together, like How I Met Your Mother. Thanks to the series not needing a 9-year reveal of the "mother," viewers get to explore a more realistic version of the "current" generation. What You Need to Know: If you liked Damon Wayans Jr. in Fox's New Girl pilot, Happy Endings has all that and more. And it's reason why he was written out in the second episode (when Happy Endings got renewed).

Impractical Jokers (TruTV)

Ever since the celebrity-filled pranks of MTV's Punk'd, television's hidden camera show genre has largely become a place where famous people can "hilariously" prank each other. And then… TruTV's Impractical Jokers came along. In what's been the most creative evolution of the hidden camera show since Candid Camera in 1948, Impractical Jokers takes four friends and puts them front and center for each and every hidden camera setup. Instead of making fun of the unsuspecting public, the purpose of Impractical Jokers is for the friends to make fun of each other – which it does, brilliantly. What You Need to Know: Impractical Jokers is the best and "Tru-est" show TruTV has (as in it's completely real).

Ink Master (Spike)

If you've ever wanted to see a "real" reality competition, there isn't anything better than Spike's Ink Master, where the nation's top tattoo artists battle for the title of "Ink Master." Each season, over 100 tattoos are applied to unassuming human canvases who may or may not receive a "jacked" tattoo from any or all of the shows contestants. But when the tattoo's are done right - which they often are - the results are astounding. What's most compelling about the show, however, is that judges and constants constantly argue back and forth about the quality of their tattoo, often leading to a constant or judge to lose control in a hilarious and completely real way. What You Need to Know: You'll be surprised how many "jacked" tattoos good tattoo artists can do.

The League (FX)

Out of all the underrated shows on this list, The League may very well be the most underrated of them all, and here's why: The League, from Curb Your Enthusiasm executive producer Jeff Schaffer (and Jackie Marcus Schaffer), follows 5 friends as they battle it out in their fantasy football league for the top trophy, The Shiva. If you're not a fan of fantasy football – or football in general – you might easily pass the show over as some kind of sports-themed program not worth watching. Here's what you need to know: football is to The League what meth is to Breaking Bad – everything you need to know is explained to you (which isn't much). Football is only one element of the series, often taking  a backseat to other hilarious storylines and adventures that the cast finds themselves in. What You Need to Know: If you're still not sold on giving The League a chance, check out some of the best of their secret comedic weapon, Raffi, HERE. (You're welcome.)

Nurse Jackie (Showtime)

Nurse Jackie has been receiving nominations since it started in 2009, so while most people are familiar with its name, they still haven't watched it. Nurse Jackie follows emergency room nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) through her pain killer-fueled life of chaos and lies. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea for a comedy series, you should know Nurse Jackie is a great dark comedy that is filled with more endearing characters than most series you currently watch – and Nurse Jackie is probably funnier, honestly. There's a reason why Edie Falco has been nominated for an Emmy every year it's been on the air - and it's not because everyone is still talking about The Sopranos finale. What You Need to Know: If you've ever wanted to know what people who work in a hospital really think, Nurse Jackie will give you hilarious crash-course in the devilish world of health care.

Rules of Engagement (CBS)

CBS is known for its strong staple comedies that garner tens of millions of viewers, yet Rules of Engagement somehow continuously gets treated like the red-headed stepchild of the network, often having to play second-tier to whatever Chuck Lorre comedy the CBS chooses to run with. That being said, Rules of Engagement is one of the most solid comedies CBS has. Fact. Sure, it's not a textbook ratings comedy like The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men, but Rules of Engagement can easily stand next to many heavy-hitters in the same genre, and still come out on top. What You Need to Know: The first 6 seasons are available to watch on Netflix; since you probably won't believe what WE said about the show, check it out for yourself.

Shameless (Showtime)

Shameless is one of Showtime's unfortunate secrets - as in, it shouldn't be a secret. Often having to bat clean-up after Homeland and Dexter, the crazed tales of drunks, drugs, crime, love, children and relationships of the Gallagher family are often overlooked on television. If the fact that William H. Macy is leading this show doesn't have you won over, you should know that everyone in the cast – especially the 6 children of varying ages – are equally as terrific a performer as Macy. And if you're looking for a truly earnest series, nothing beats Shameless' ability to bring every chaotic element of the family's life alive by staying true to characters and the environment in which they live. What You Need to Know: Shameless is like a modern-day version of Roseanne, with much more swearing and nudity.

Shark Tank (ABC)

If you've only used Shark Tank as the punchline to jokes about the quality of non-scripted shows - but never actually watched it - you're missing out on one of the most interesting (and educational) shows on television. Each week, inventors bring their products in front of a group of investors ("Sharks") and are willing to give away a percentage of their product, business or invention for specific amount of money. Of course, Shark Tank is much more than its description implies. When it comes to actually investing in something, the Sharks breakdown every aspect of their business and then begin to negotiate their terms – that is, if they don't berate the inventor out of the room beforehand. You'll see million dollar deals, complete corporate takeovers and (a lot of) fighting between Sharks, which often gets very heated. If being honestly educated by millionaires (and a billionaire – Mark Cuban) isn't interesting to you, Shark Tank is also a great alternative to HSN and QVC - so don't be surprised if you end up buying things you see on the show (in-stores or online). What You Need to Know: The UK and Canada have their own versions of Shark Tank (called Dragon's Den) - both are good  (particularly the UK version).

Spartacus: Vengeance (Starz)

Before "winter" came to HBO with Game of Thrones, Starz had already begun telling its epic tale of the great gladiator, Spartacus - and everyone who watched it knew how great it was. The problem: not that many people watch Spartacus, likely because it's on Starz. Still, Spartacus has been bringing the action since 2010, and it often comes out on top as the show with the highest body count, so it's a shame that it doesn't get as many viewers as it deserves. Still, with Spartacus: War of the Damned, the final season, beginning next month – and all previous seasons available on home video, etc. – you still have a chance to catch up before the battle is over for good. What You Need to Know: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is a prequel series that was created when Andy Whitfield, the series' original Spartacus, was diagnosed with cancer. Andy Whitfield died on September 11, 2011, and was replaced by Liam McIntyre, who has filled the role wonderfully.

Recap & Your Picks

Moster Underrated 2012 Now that you've checked out our list, you shouldn't be saying "there's nothing to watch!" for quite some time. Our Picks again:
  1. Catfish: The TV Show (MTV)
  2. Derek (Channel 4 & Netflix)
  3. Face Off (Syfy)
  4. Happy Endings (ABC)
  5. Impractical Jokers (TruTV)
  6. Ink Master (Spike)
  7. The League (FX)
  8. Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
  9. Rules of Engagement (CBS)
  10. Shameless (Showtime)
  11. Shark Tank (ABC)
  12. Spartacus: Vengeance (Starz)
Of course, if you think there's a series that we missed, please don't hesitate to leave your suggestion in the comments below.
TAGS: catfish, face off, impractical jokers, ink master, nurse jackie, shameless, spartacus, the league


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  1. in my opinon i totally hate ink master with the hatred of hell its self, other than that shameless is quite awesome

    • yeah, they are way too serious on that show and curse too much.

      • Best Ink has way better artists and doesn’t feel like your watching a joke

  2. Arrow! Not a lot of people I know watch or have even heard of this show. Its a great show and very interesting all around!

    • Kind of hard for a show to be underrated when it is one of the top rated shows on The CW.

      I do agree that it is quite good, though.

  3. I don’t know….Arrow’s ratings are very good. So that’s not true.

    Each of those shows sound terribly uninteresting except for Spartacus, which I watch, and Happy Endings, which I watch. Reality series suck the bag, for the most part. Gervais is sort of a jerk. Don’t need to know about alcoholics, unfortunately, and cute hospital shows….no more.

  4. Community should be on this.Oh well it’s still a good list otherwise.

  5. I was hoping the league would make this list. And it did!

  6. Put the word “JUSTICE” in between The League with a whole different format, & then I’ll be interested in watching.lol

  7. Does anybody like the show The New Normal? I think it’s pretty dope. But shows like modern family or Parent Hood seem to over shadow it. Although I like neither of those shows.

  8. I cannot stand Happy Endings. It is not funny at all. All the actors are so annoying.

    • I can see where you’re coming from with “Happy Endings”. There’s no real normally acting character on the show, so no one to cleave to. I don’t mind it on occasion, but I can see where people’d hate it. There are a couple of characters I hate on the show myself.

  9. I can’t think of any shows I watch that aren’t well known

  10. I assume every reality show (especially on cable) is fake and caters to the lowest demographic of audience. Sorry

    I really gotta get into Shameless and the League

    i also think “2 Broke Girls” and “Archer” are a bit under-rated

    • If anything, 2 Broke Girls is vastly overrated. Terrible show.

    • i love 2 broke girls. kat dennings ftw!

  11. Impractical Jokers! I love that show!

  12. I agree with “Happy Endings”. It’s the anti-HIMYM, meaning, it doesn’t need overly complicated set-pieces and its actually funny “all” the time. My problem with HIMYM is that the stories are a bit too serious sometimes, an example being the episode where Robin is told she can’t have kids. Come on!!!! I wanna laugh, not feel sorry for the characters. That is why, for me at least, Happy Endings and Community are the best comedies on TV.

  13. Nikita is underrated, and should be on this list.

  14. I thought Impractical Jokers S1 was one of the funniest things I have ever seen but S2 has been really weak so far.

  15. What about White Collar, its the best show eva!!!

  16. I know this show is over but The IT Crowd id consider underrated atleast in the states.

    • Did the show actually show all of it’s seasons in North America? Or are you talking about the US remake?

      • Its on netflix, all three seasons. Which is were i watched it. The u.s remake was god awful.

  17. I’ve been watching a lot of Impractical Jokers but I can’t trust Tru TV. Is there anything official saying the show is real? A lot of it seems staged.

  18. You completely left out Awake!

  19. What about Justified?

    • @wendy

      I love Justified! But I think their ratings are actually pretty good…

  20. I would add Blue Bloods to that list…

    • I thought that show had pretty good ratings for 10PM on Friday nights? I think it is a well written and well acted drama. It’s surprising how good it is especially considering how played out cop dramas are.

      • @Andy

        I think it’s because every cop drama has the same cliche about the “gray” side of police officers. Blue Bloods seemed to have taken a different route and focus on a family where they actually are the “good guys” by almost every definition of the term… So in a way, it’s kind of fresh. Plus, Tom Seleck just has that charm about him that makes anything he’s in enjoyable…

        I just saw a commercial on tv for new episodes, so apparently it’s still on… I never have time to catch tv shows as they air. I always wait until the season ends and I get them on DVD and just watch the whole thing in order in a row…

    • Are you smoking the reefer? THe show pulls over eleven million a night and beats everything around it. Every old person who laments Jessica Fletcher leaving the air is watching that show so they can see that “Young Whippersnapper from that Nice boy band” yell at pretty much everybody and act like he’s tougher than John Wayne while Magnum acts all sage…and the women look worried and cook dinner. That show is NOT underrated, my little friend.

      • @Derek

        Ah, well, apparently I just know too many people like you who wouldn’t like something unless it’s “hip” and “cool” and has characters who are too young to be in their positions, but they are cool because they are young and hip, have stylish hair, and wear sunglasses indoors, so who cares about the believability. So to me, I hear very little about this show, and more about the other crap… er… I mean, “cool” shows out there, so I get the idea that they are doing better. But I could be wrong as I have not looked at the actual ratings. And I hate making assumptions, but I’m just going to do it because I feel safe enough to do it this time, but it’s mighty weird for you to be calling someone who might be twice your age as your “little friend.” Keep that between you and your… nevermind… :-P

  21. @Ken J. No I was confident that you were older than me (but not double. I am no youngster). I just know the demographic that is watching that show. and it skews much older. I merely mention that it’s highly rated.

    I tried to get into the show. But Wahlberg bugs me. He huffs and snorts no matter who he’s talking to, as if everybody owes him the time of day. I can’t stand watching him push even regular witnesses around…ANd the wife who just shows up to make dinner and sit at the table…That kills me. She must hate that role.
    I don’t mind that every one of the family is as pure as the driven snow, though it could be cloying. It’s perfect for older folks because there’s no grey area with the core group. The family all are well to do and sit together at a table for dinner just like “back in the day” and there’s a clear respect for age and experience.

    • @Derek

      Actually, most of the time the grandpa cooks Sunday dinner… I think I’ve seen Linda (Danny’s wife) cook for the family like once or twice only. The rest of the time grandpa does…

      And actually, she doesn’t just show up to sit at the table. They might have did that in the first few episodes, but actually her dynamic with Danny has a big impact on the story. In one episode she even gets kidnapped…

      And about Danny yelling at everyone, I don’t really see that. He’s definitely a hot-head, but he’s generally polite with non-suspects. But if he’s suspicious of someone or somebody is the prime suspect, yah, he doesn’t exactly hold anything back… And characters in the show have actually made mention of that about him so it’s completely intentional.

  22. I think “JUSTIFIED” should be in this list. Impractical Jokers is hilarious

    • Also “Workaholics” to me is underrated

    • How is Justified underrated (or workaholics for that matter)? I think many people posting here don’t understand that word.

  23. I loved Catfish. It took me by surprise and was fascinating where it ended up. I was not even aware there was a TV series. I bought the first episode on Amazon based on the above. What a waste of time and money.

    My gut instinct is that it is fake. The confrontation at the end of the first ep was basically a front porch episode of Jerry Springer. Terrible, stay away.

  24. Impractical Jokers? Are you kidding. That show is really dumb, ridiculous, and unnecessary. It answers the question as to whatever happened to American television.

  25. Seems like many people here need this:

    verb (used with object), un·der·rat·ed, un·der·rat·ing.
    to rate or evaluate too low; underestimate.”

    Justified, Community, Arrow, Nikita, Blue Bloods, etc do not belong in this article.

    I think SR should just create a permanent front page entry titled “Tell us the things that you like!” to keep certain people occupied there. Then maybe, just maybe, an actual ON TOPIC discussion could be accomplished in the comments.

    Neh, might as well join them.


  26. I watch Rule of Engagement, Spartacus and Shameless, the rest doesn’t impress me much. Did not like Happy Endings, the stories are unrealistic and too wacky to be funny: they try too much and that makes it annoyingly boring.

  27. Totally agree with Derek.

    I remember the furore over it before it had even aired and honestly, it was both funny and extremely moving. Plus Karl Pilkington’s in it and he’s always hilarious. His character was basically him in a wig and glasses.

    I think they’re airing a full season of it here sometime in early 2013. Can’t wait.

    The rest of the list…..I recognise one or two and honestly, I hated the UK version of Shameless so I was never interested in the US remake. Never found Happy Endings or Rules Of Engagement funny either (and I tried watching Rules a few years ago purely for Patrick Warburton and David Spade).

  28. Doing research for an article isn’t very hard with access to the internet, not sure how anyone could think that Shark Tank is the originator. The show started in Japan and was titled “マネーの虎 Manê no Tora” (Money Tigers), this is the original version. It was created by and broadcast on Nippon Television from 2001 to 2004. It was the first entertainment program in the history of Japanese television that dealt with the concept of business investment. During its three year run, as many as 16 business executives appeared in the program as Tigers.

    It is now a worldwide franchise of shows showing everywhere from Afghanistan, Croatia, to Nigeria.


    • Yep and strangely, I think that it started in Japan is well known here in the UK and is credited as such at the end of the show when it lists the production crew involved in making it by adding a “based on an original format by…”.

  29. Shark Tank is awesome.