We spend a lot of time mourning the television shows that left us too soon. There are at least five articles on this site alone lamenting one-season wonders, tragic cancellations, and critical darlings that were never adored en-masse and instead of using these examples as cautionary tales, we just keep whining and hoping things will magically change. Well, The Big Bang Theory just ended after a dozen years on air but The Good Place is only getting four, so it looks like our thoughts and prayers aren't doing a lot of good. These underrated TV shows might still have a fighting chance if we all just start watching them. Be the change you wish to see in your fall line-ups.
There are two types of TV fans: the ones that loved The Fosters, and the ones that had no idea The Fosters ever existed. Despite pulling in great-for-Freeform ratings during its hundred-episode run, The Fosters largely flew under the radar, and it looks like the show’s delightful Gen-Z spin-off Good Trouble is about to follow suit. On the show, Fosters characters Callie and Mariana are now beginning their careers as young adults in Los Angeles. It isn’t a high-concept series, but it balances heart and realism while accurately showing what it's like to be young, dumb, and trying your best. Noah Centineo may also make an occasional appearance if you somehow still need convincing. You can catch up with Good Trouble on Hulu before following along on Freeform.
Go to Comedy Central and watch The Other Two right now. Literally, close this article and spend the rest of your day binge-watching the first ten-episode season of this freshman comedy before it returns for round two in Winter 2020. The single-cam sitcom follows an aspiring actor and a washed-up professional dancer whose tween brother follows in the footsteps of Justin Bieber, rapidly rising to fame after being discovered on the interwebs. The Other Two was 2019’s best Freshman comedy and benefits from former SNL head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider at the helm to balance the absurdity of instant stardom, 30 Rock-esque entertainment drama, and actual moments of human sadness.
How has a show starring established teen heartthrobs Avan Jogia, Tyler Posey, and Awkward’s Beau Mirchoff not made a bigger impact online? Written by Vogue columnist and Slutever founder Karley Sciortino alongside queer cinema pioneer Gregg Araki, Now Apocalypse shows Avan’s character Ulysses having strange premonitory dreams about the end of the world that he brushes off as drug-fueled delusions as he navigates sex and fame in Los Angeles. The show’s over-the-top sexuality is what Slutever fans have grown to expect from Karley, but the uninitiated may be surprised by how far this Starz series goes. Its ratings are fairly abysmal, despite it being the edgy 21st century Twin Peaks we’ve all been waiting for and didn’t know we needed.
Netflix doesn’t release its viewer statistics to the public, so the only way to really know if one of the streaming giant’s new series is performing is by gauging how many of your friends won’t shut up about it. We don’t know *anyone* whose tuned in for The Society, a dystopian teen drama about a group of privileged teens who get Pied Piper-ed into a replica of their New England town with no adults to be found. The cast of up-and-comers expertly created a sense of unease throughout the series where any moments of calm civility are so fragile, they could fracture back into chaos at any minute. Conspiracy theories are flying in anticipation of its yet-to-be-announced second season as we wait to see how long it takes for these suburban teens to go full Lord of the Flies.
Starz is creating great content with even better teams, but because literally no one has a Starz subscription, their shows have gone unnoticed by the television glitterati. You can buy the first season on Amazon, but no one wants to pay an extra ten bucks for a series when they’re already paying for Netflix, Hulu, and Prime every month. It’s a shame because Vida features the first-ever fully Latinx writers’ room, which also happens to have more than its fair share of female and queer voices, as they tell the story of two Mexican-American sisters who inherit an East L.A. apartment building and bar after their estranged mother’s death. The series deals with encroaching gentrification while balancing humor and somber realities amongst sex scenes filmed from the female gaze.
Younger has managed to run for six seasons without becoming a household name despite strong leads in Broadway star Sutton Foster and beloved former tween queen Hilary Duff. Created by Beverly Hills, 90210 auteur Darren Star, Younger follows Sutton’s character Liza as she tries to re-enter the workforce as a middle-aged divorcée. After realizing she’ll never get hired after two decades out of the game, Liza decides to use her frustratingly youthful looks (seriously, Sutton, what moisturizer do you use?) to start over by posing as a 26-year-old publishing assistant. The series airs on Paramount after its first few seasons on TVLand, but you can follow along on Hulu, too.
This Canadian sitcom was a smash hit when it first arrived in 2015, but as it prepares for its sixth and final season in 2020 on Pop TV, its formerly devout audience has moved to greener pastures. Even as the Schitt’s Creek buzz has died down, the series has only gotten stronger as the titular family adapts to life without their riches in a small town that seems to be 99% rough edges. The series streams on Netflix, so you really have no excuse to not catch up with our favorite TV family before they take their final bows next year.
Peaky Blinders doesn’t *sound* like it would be a hardcore tale about Birmingham gangs and what a family is willing to do to stay alive and in control, but that’s the beauty of British television. To us, Peaky Blinders sounds like it would be a home repair show or a series about cat women living in suburbia, but to the delightfully polite Brits, it’s a natural title for a World War I crime drama. Out here, we have the Bloods and the Crips, but the Peaky Blinders were an actual British gang in the 19th century. What, did they fight the Slightly Ineffective Saddles? Anyway, the show is huge overseas but only has a modest following on Netflix (we think), meaning its about time American audiences discovered why Peaky Blinders is so damn bingeable.
Lovesick has neither been canceled nor renewed by the UK’s Channel 4 or as a Netflix Original, leaving the delightful sitcom’s fate up-in-the-air, seemingly indefinitely. The series revolves around a group of friends who live together in Glasgow, but its initial focus was on Dylan Witter, who has to contact all of his previous sexual partners after discovering he has chlamydia. The cast is diverse, the existential dread is somehow still funny, and the series was able to come back from originally being titled Scrotal Recall, proving that anything is possible when you have a quality product.
Alia Shawkat was a scene-stealing standout among veterans Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi and Jessica Walter on Arrested Development, but none of her subsequent roles have reached the same cult fame as her first and best-known role. TBS’s black comedy Search Party should become Alia’s new defining moment in her adult career as she plays a life-long doormat who decides to launch her own investigation into a college acquaintance’s disappearance. Her character doesn’t really care all that much and neither do the friends she drags along, they just have nothing else going on in their lives. It pokes fun at the same privilege Arrested Development once understood within a mystery that takes its characters to some dark places.
Greg Lewis / Hulu
The MCU rarely falters, and Hulu’s original series Runaways based on the comics of the same name is no exception. Helmed by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage — who brought to life Gossip Girl and The O.C. — are no strangers to complicated family dynamics and children trying to atone for the sins of their parents, but that all becomes a little more on-the-nose on Runaways, a series about teenagers who unite against their super-villain parents. The series has flown under the radar despite being part of the Marvel Universe, but hopefully, its viewership will expand now that we all have a big Infinity Saga-shaped hole in our hearts.
Maya Rudolph is a star in certain circles, but audiences who didn’t spend their formative years Googling Dan Aykroyd have yet to realize that Maya is an A-List comedian alongside peers Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and the similarly niche Rachel Dratch. Hopefully her new series with Fred Armisen can help her become a household name, but it was hard to market a series whose entire premise was on its Do Not Disclose list. Now that we’ve all figured out that Forever is about a couple with drastically different hopes for their afterlife, maybe Prime can give the series the fighting chance it deserves. After all, Parks and Recreation took two seasons to find its audience, and look where we are now.
The Good Fight would have been fine if it wasn’t only available on CBS All Access. Hell, it would have been fine if CBS All Access wasn’t $9.99 per month for eleven exclusive shows and few series you can also find on Netflix. Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot had enough clout that people signed up for their week-long free trial to binge the buzzy series, but that didn’t leave enough time for audiences to also discover this excellent Christine Baranski-led spin-off of The Good Wife. If you’re a sucker for legal dramas, make a second email address and scam the system for a second CBS All Access free trial to catch up on The Good Fight before its third season airs.
A classic tale of series that are critically adored being commercially ignored, Random Acts of Flyness is a buzzy HBO series that has been criminally underperforming. Random Acts seems like more of a social experiment than a television show with its absurdist, cerebral sketches about blackness in America somehow ringing equally true in faux commercials where Jon Hamm sells products to rid you of White Thoughts as its does in scenes of police brutality. Thrillist described the series as “boundary-pushing” and completely unlike anything else on TV.
It’s been too long since there was a high-quality vampire love story for adults. It seems like teens get a new PG-13 vampire fantasy every other year, but grown-ups haven’t gotten to see kinky vampire sex on television since True Blood left us in 2014. AMC’s recent acquisition of the British series A Discovery of Witches, based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, could be the next supernatural hit if anyone actually watches it. Back in the UK, this series about a reluctant witch who’s thrown back into the magical world against her will is the best-rated show on Sky One, so it’s only a matter of time before American audiences catch on. The witch is helped by a mysterious vampire geneticist as they form an alliance despite a long-held feud between their kinds.