In the age of peak TV, it’s inevitable that everyone has way too many shows to watch and not enough time to watch them in. Over the course of 2016 alone, a whopping total of 455 scripted series aired. It goes without saying that nobody can possibly watch that much television.
With that said, though, let’s be real here: we’re always looking for new shows to watch. Whether you’re a fan of crime procedural dramas like Criminal Minds or Law & Order: SVU, family series like This Is Us and Modern Family, soapy shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Empire, or the latest hits in the superhero genre like Supergirl and The Flash, you can rest assured every new TV season knowing that there will inevitably be something meant just for you.
Yet, since there are nearly 500 scripted shows on air at the moment, it’s also safe to assume that you’re missing out on something that could wind up being your next favorite show.
From low-rated but critically acclaimed sitcoms, to edgy streaming dramas, this list of 15 Underrated Shows You Didn’t Know You Need To Be Watching has it all. Take a look, and who knows? Maybe your next binge is waiting for you down below.
15. Lethal Weapon (FOX)
In recent years, the reboots and revivals trend has really gotten out of control. For the most part, they’re hardly ever successful, and usually unrecognizable when compared to the original.
However, in the case of FOX’s Lethal Weapon, you might actually have the rare case of a reboot that not only honors the spirit of the original film series, but also builds upon it in a way that makes it its own unique show.
Starring Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans as the iconic pair of Riggs and Murtaugh, the series takes the action-fueled drama and buddy cop comedy genre familiar to viewers of the film franchise and blends it with compelling and emotional romantic, familial, and psychological narratives.
Crawford and Wayans’ bromantic vibe is irresistibly charming, and their masterful comedic timing alone makes this show worth getting hooked on.
14. Wynonna Earp (SyFy)
It’s not every day that a genre show with genuinely strong and inspiring female characters comes along. Thankfully, that’s where SyFy’s/Space’s Wynonna Earp comes in.
An adaptation of Beau Smith’s comics, the show follows the gun-slinging, hard-drinking, demon-killing Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano), the heir of the famed wild west icon Wyatt Earp.
Based in Purgatory, a small town in Canada, the series follows Wynonna’s adventures as she struggles to defeat the revenant demons in her town, all while coming to grips with the legacy she didn’t ask for.
Season 2 of the series finds the wild child Wynonna faced with an even more unthinkable reality: impending motherhood.
Aided by standout characters including her beloved sister Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), local deputy and Waverly’s girlfriend, Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell), and a career-defining turn by Tim Rozon as none other than Doc Holliday himself, Wynonna proves time and again that she’s the hero we both deserve and need right now.
13. Ozark (Netflix)
A middle-aged family man’s life is suddenly turned upside down when he’s forced to enter a life of hard crime that causes things to go horribly awry. It’s a familiar plot, one most successfully executed by Breaking Bad, but don’t let the surface level similarities prevent you from getting lost in Netflix’s gritty Ozark.
Starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as Marty and Wendy Byrde, Ozark follows the Byrde family’s attempts to start over again in the scenic Missouri Ozarks after Marty’s years of money laundering for a dangerous cartel blew up in his face due to a betrayal by his partner.
In particular, the series is worth checking out if only to see the strength of Bateman’s dramatic work. For anyone who knows him only as the bumbling Michael Bluth of Arrested Development, this role will truly be an eye-opener, all but guaranteeing it’ll be impossible to pigeonhole him as the put-upon comic relief character ever again.
12. Murdoch Mysteries/The Artful Detective (CBC/Ovation)
In a world brimming with gritty crime procedurals, sometimes, you really just need something a little more fun.
Look no further than the Canadian series Murdoch Mysteries (aired in the United States as The Artful Detective). This 19th century set detective series follows the cases solved by Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), who is himself a fledgling inventor of technology and creations that won’t exist for at least another century, including GPS, bulletproof vests, and lie detector tests.
This steampunk-lite series also features turns by notable historical figures such as Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, and Annie Oakley.
Perhaps the series’ biggest scene stealer by far is Jonny Harris’s Constable George Crabtree, the geeky do-gooder who stumbles upon bizarre new creations just as often as his superior, including pizza delivery.
11. Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Boasting an impressive cast of Hollywood legends including Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston, Netflix’s Grace and Frankie follows the lives of seventy-somethings Grace Hanson (Fonda) and Frankie Bergstein (Tomlin).
The pair become unlikely roommates after the world-shattering revelation that their husbands Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterston) have been in love for years and now intend to wed themselves.
The quintessential odd couple comedy pairs the high strung Grace with the laid back, bohemian Frankie and insightfully explores the truths of love, sexuality, and change in the later years of life.
Although the series was received with divided reviews upon its premiere in 2015, it has since gone on to make a much stronger name for itself, earning four Emmy nominations over the course of its three seasons.
10. Black-ish (ABC)
One of television’s most topically relevant sitcoms, ABC’s Black-ish has been quietly flying under the radar for three seasons and counting.
Starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as Dre and Bow Johnson, the series follows the life of the multi-generational, ever-growing Johnson family as they try to modernize and redefine what it means to grow up affluent and African American in America.
Tackling issues as hot topic as perceptions of people of mixed race, LGBTQ rights, and the use of racial epithets in popular culture and music, Black-ish is unafraid and unashamed in its social commentary, skewering people of all races and classes equally.
Grounded by Anderson’s hilarious comedic performance, Ross’s frazzled yet down to earth maternal wisdom, and the scathing commentary of Laurence Fishburne’s Pops and Jenifer Lewis’s Ruby, Black-ish is more than good-ish. It’s great.
9. Superior Donuts (CBS)
The pairing of polar opposites is a guaranteed, tried and true formula for sitcoms, and CBS’s Superior Donuts is no exception to the rule.
The series follows the partnership of septuagenarian Arthur Przybyszewski (sitcom veteran Judd Hirsch) and twentysomething Franco Wicks (spitfire comedian Jermaine Fowler) as they try to salvage the long-standing donut shop Superior Donuts that Arthur has owned and run in Chicago for most of his life.
Also populating the show are its broad cast of regular patrons: privileged millennial Maya, businessman Fawz, neighborhood cops Randy and James, and salt of the earth freelancer Tush. Over coffee and donuts, the unlikely group of friends debate topical issues, ranging from gentrification to graffiti to health care.
8. Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
Horror and comedy are genres that are frequently blended in film, but rarely done successfully on television. At least, that was true until Santa Clarita Diet came along.
The Drew Barrymore-starring Netflix series follows the Hammond family, whose peaceful and idyllic life in California is uprooted by a sudden event: namely, matriarch Sheila’s turning into a zombie and the insatiable hunger for human flesh.
What follows is a comedy of errors unlike anything you’ve ever seen, with Barrymore and leading man Timothy Olyphant turning in some of the most hysterically outlandish comedic performances in recent history.
As a show about zombies, things can get pretty gory on a frequent basis, so this show is definitely not for the squeamish. However, if you can handle it, you’re in for one heck of a ride.
7. Atypical (Netflix)
Coming of age stories about teenage boys are pretty commonplace, but Netflix’s Atypical sheds light on a different kind of teenage boy: those who are on the Autism spectrum.
Atypical tells the story of Sam Gardner (a wonderfully thoughtful Keir Gilchrist), a high school senior with Autism who decides, thanks to his time in therapy, that he is ready to start dating.
His family’s reactions range from horrified (his overprotective mother Elsa, who suffers the series’ worst characterization) to confused (his sister Casey, portrayed by the series’ other standout, Brigette Lundy-Paine) to proud (his father Doug).
Although the series has been criticized by some people on the spectrum for occasionally stereotyping Autism or for sympathizing more with the perspective of relatives of those with Autism than the people themselves, Atypical is still a thought-provoking, emotional series that allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a perspective all too often ignored by TV.
6. We Bare Bears (Cartoon Network)
However, one show that has been overlooked in recent years, despite being one of the most engaging animated series in quite some time, is the whimsy-filled We Bare Bears.
Following the lives of three bear brothers (Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear) who live in San Francisco and interact with the world in human-like ways, the series offers a constantly hilarious exploration of the everyday life of three vastly different characters, all while also offering a thoughtful commentary on what it means to be an outlier in society.
Featuring the voice work of comedians such as Demetri Martin, Bobby Moynihan, Patton Oswalt, Ellie Kemper, and Jason Mantzoukas, the series’ storytelling power is clearly matched in the depth and breadth of its voice team.
5. The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
No two science fiction series are created equal, but Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle is so much more than just sci-fi. The unsettling series, adapted from the Philip K. Dick novel, follows an alternate history in which World War II was won by the Axis instead of the Allies.
Much of the action surrounds four core characters– Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) is an ordinary girl who gets swept up in the large scale Resistance effort to restore the world to what it should be. John Smith (Rufus Sewell) is a former American soldier who has become a high-ranking official within the Reich and finds himself at odds with some of their ideology.
Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) is a Nazi spy sent to infiltrate the Resistance and intercept their communications. Finally, Nobusuke Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) is the trade minister of the Pacific States with hidden powers unlike anything any world has ever seen.
Gripping and chilling from beginning to end, High Castle is the definition of essential dystopian viewing.
4. Andi Mack (Disney Channel)
A tweenage girl finds her life thrown for a loop when she learns the shocking truth about her birth. It’s not exactly the territory you would expect a Disney Channel series to address— and handle well— but thankfully, Andi Mack puts to rest any doubt potential viewers could have, and it does so quickly.
From the mind of Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire), Andi Mack is successful thanks to both earnest writing and stellar performances from cast members of all ages. As title girl Andi, Peyton Elizabeth Lee is a tiny revelation, easily segueing from hilarious cluelessness about boys to heartbreaking vulnerability due to being lied to by her family for her entire life.
Equally as strong are Joshua Rush as Andi’s classmate Cyrus, who appears to be questioning his sexuality and Lauren Tom and Stoney Westmoreland as the stressed but reliable Celia and Ham Mack. As well as Lilan Bowden as damaged wild child Bex Mack and Trent Garrett as adorably hapless but well-intentioned rocker Bowie.
3. Speechless (ABC)
In a TV landscape overpopulated by family sitcoms, Speechless is in a class all of its own. The series follows the harried DiMeos, a family with one very special feature unlike any other similar sitcom family: eldest child JJ (Micah Fowler) has cerebral palsy.
Requiring a wheelchair and a laser pointer and keyboard which he uses to communicate, JJ is the pride and joy of the family, but especially his mother, Maya (Minnie Driver), who is passionately committed to ensuring her son lives a life just like anyone else.
In addition to the heartwarming mother-son bond, a real standout is the relationship between JJ and his unlikely aide, Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough).
The odd couple duo grow and learn from one another, and by the end of the first season, Kenneth is as good a member of the family himself, even if no one will admit it. The series has further been praised for its sensitivity in representing real life experiences of those with disabilities.
2. Good Behavior (TNT)
It’s a love story just like every other: struggling drug addict/con artist/single mother Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery) overhears hired gun Javier Pereira (Juan Diego Botto) discussing a plan to kill someone, then quickly inserts herself into his life to prevent that from happening, only to wind up going along for the ride.
Oh. Well. Perhaps it’s not like every other love story out there, but that’s precisely what makes Good Behavior so terribly good.
Sumptuously dark and thrillingly romantic, the TNT series follows the self-destructive Bonnie and Clyde duo after a case of bad timing leaves their lives and jobs forever intertwined. Pursued by federal agencies and Letty’s parole officer at every turn, the unlikely lovers’ every interaction is fraught with undeniable tension, brought to impossibly sizzling reality by Dockery and Botto.
As TNT themselves puts it, “despite all their flaws, they’re better off bad together”– and boy, do they make bad look good.
1. Trial & Error (NBC)
The mockumentary is a standard sitcom format by now, having been used for shows like The Office and Modern Family with great success. So it’s safe to say that it would take something truly different to revolutionize the genre. Enter NBC’s Trial & Error.
The series follows the murder trial of absent-minded literature professor Larry Henderson (the always delightful John Lithgow), who finds himself charged with the violent murder of his wife.
Tasked with defending him are rookie New York lawyer Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto), former police officer Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer), and the hilariously afflicted researcher/secretary Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd).
In addition to satirizing the documentary style, the show works wonders with parodying crime TV shows, even drawing inspiration from real life outlandish criminal investigations.
With an immersive joke-per-millisecond pace that requires multiple viewings to catch everything, Trial & Error just might be one of TV’s best sitcoms on air. Long live the murder board.
Season 2 is expected to air in early 2018. Recent episodes of season 1 can be found on Hulu.
What other hidden TV gems do you think more people need to start watching right now? Let us know in the comments!
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!