I wouldn’t say that these shows are unknown, but they certainly seem to be underrated in terms of popularity. The Golden Age of Television is in full steam and there are just so many good shows on air and hopefully this can help people narrow down what they should watch. I don’t even have cable so all of these shows are able to be watched online in some way. In no particular order here are a couple of shows that I watched and absolutely adored and enjoyed.
Man Seeking Woman
Of all the shows on the list this one may be my favorite because of how they twisted one of the most ubiquitous premises, a single person in NYC looking for love, and made it unique by taking normal dating/relationship clichés and taking them to extreme literal metaphorical situations. For example the pilot episode has main character Josh going to a party hosted by his ex-girlfriend and she’s now dating literally Hitler. After breakups people can sometimes feel that the next person their ex dates is the worst person in the world, and here they poke fun at that by making him literally Hitler. Another example is when Josh gets a new girlfriend and his mom literally tortures him for more information about her. Hyperboles are taken seriously and the characters acting like the scenario is normal makes the humor of the absurdity better. I didn’t like leading man and Michael Cera knockoff Jay Baruchel or best friend and total weirdo Eric Andre before the show, but they’re both great because of the unique situations. The first season probably felt the funniest and most relatable for me as a single male while the 2nd season felt weaker by comparison, almost as if they were running out of ideas a little bit. The 3rd and final season was the strongest and I thank whoever gave this show a third season because it may have been the funniest and most relatable handling of a new relationship. Kate Findlay only comes in for the final season, but she stole the show from her introduction onward. The first two seasons stream on Hulu and I’m sure the third will follow eventually.
Highlights: From the Woof Woof Cowabunga painting scene in Season 3 to the scene with Josh’s sister Liz (she becomes the central protagonist on every episode 9 and they’re all great) is at the tea party with little kids, honestly, there are numerous examples I could list here; but the scene that got me first interested in the show was the war room scene where they help Josh come up with the perfect text to send a girl he met on the train.
Stemming from an awkward concept where main character Dylan contracts chlamydia and goes on to notify his past sexual partners to get checked as well. The format of the show starts with present day and utilizes flashbacks focused on the girl that he notifies, which sounds…a little vulgar and weird, but it works in a pretty adorable way. We learn more about the three main characters throughout the flashbacks and their relationships and it sort of reminded me of a British version of How I Met Your Mother, with Luke reminiscent of Barney Stinson. The show was formally known as Scrotal Recall before being picked up by Netflix and being rebranded as Lovesick, I’m sure the former name may have turned some people off from what’s generally a pretty goofy humored show, but it honestly conveys the concept pretty perfectly. The show starts off with a strong pilot, and I swear most foreign television shows start off strong because they’re much shorter seasons, and the humor flows easily and stays strong throughout. It’s easy to fall in love with the cast and there’s a love tension between two leads Dylan and best friend Evie, who’s clearly the best acted in the show, that was reminiscent of Jim and Pam from the Office. The story doesn’t really care about who gave whom chlamydia as the story is all about being in love and trying to find love. It’s one of the easiest shows to binge-watch and while there are only 2 seasons there is a 3rd scheduled to come out sometime in 2018.
Highlight: Luke aka Mom-cut competing with fellow party goer to sleep with long sought after high school crush had me in stitches the entire time during episode three.
The show is a semi-realistic portrayal at breaking into the world of stand-up comedy. For anyone that has ever thought of how a comedian was like before they got famous, or just enjoy stand-up comedy in general, this show is for you. Streaming on HBO, everything that could go wrong in naïve protagonist Pete’s life does, but it’s still a surprisingly upbeat and optimistic show. All he has in his life is comedy and he’s forced to crash, that’s why the show is called Crashing!, on other people’s couches while he pursues his dream in NYC. He’s still in the beginning stages of comedy, but the standup portions littered throughout are always a treat and are still pretty funny despite being in his early stages. Pete Holmes had his own late show on TBS that didn’t really take off and was canceled and his HBO standup special was just okay, but he was clearly always a funny person and I’m happy that he was able to get the opportunity to get to create a show like this. I haven’t met one person that’s watched this show sadly, but it’s entertaining, funny, and inspires me to see the world in a rosier light.
Highlight: There are numerous cameos from other famous comedians that include Sarah Silverman, TJ Miller, and Hannibal Buress. Everyone helping Pete out seems like the most unrealistic part of the show, but he’s so lovable it’s hard to say no to that face.
Donald Glover has created one of the most diverse portfolios I can think of in the entertainment industry- from Derek Comedy, to writing for 30 Rock, to having a staring role in Community, to his standup special, to becoming rapper Childish Gambino, and now Atlanta– it’s not easy for every step to be worth viewing, but that’s what happened here. Seriously did he just burst out of the womb talented and funny? Where was the developmental period? It’s clear that Dong Lover combined all of his past experiences to help him come out with Atlanta. It’s tough to describe the show as it’s a comedy but many times comes off more like a drama, it’s main theme seems to be social commentary on race, but it’s also an underdog story of a struggling Ern, Donald Glover, helping his cousin and budding rapper Paper Boi break out in the Atlanta rap scene. It’s too diverse to label under just one genre, but it did win an Emmy in 2017 for outstanding comedy series, so it’s mainly a comedy. The show doesn’t baby the audience and features some of the best subtle surreal world building. The first and only season is up on Hulu.
Highlights: The absurdity in it’s entirety of episode 7. It felt so out of place and almost like an entirely different show, the main character Ern doesn’t show up at all, but it’s probably my favorite episode of the series. The invisible car payoff during episode 8 was one of my favorite things in a TV ever.
An animated dark comedy about a washed-up Bob Saget from Full House like character dealing with depression and also a literal horse. The show blends in animal characters with human ones as the norm, but the animals still have their animal characteristics, but treated as normal humans. It does make for some of the best visual puns on TV though, some more subtle than others, but the main appeal the show has going for it is that it’s one of the most depressing shows I have ever seen. It’s able to get away with some of it’s darker themes because it’s animated. The depressing yet accurate depiction on life evokes emotions that I’ve never felt watching any other show. Honestly I’m not invested in the characters, they’re all broken assholes, but they are relatable. I hate them and they all make terrible decisions throughout the show, so don’t like them. The animation isn’t the most visually impressive and the show’s plot outside of Bojack’s feels aimless and random most of the time, but still, even with all of that, it’s worth it because of the emotions they illicit in the audience. There’s no happy ending either, some of the worst things happen to these people, but time’s arrow marches forward and life continues. There are four seasons out on Netflix and it’s easy to binge-watch, but not easy to re-watch.
Highlight: The payoff in Season 3 with the spaghetti strainers is easily one of the best puns ever. Every time there’s an animal pun on screen or the fact that the albino rhino gynecologist is a character.
A spoof comedy of the hundreds of CSI shows and created by Steve Carrell and his wife Nancy, the show does not lack jokes. More specifically it’s a comedy show with humor akin to the movie Airplane with a CSI backdrop, if Leslie Nielson tickled your fancy then this show will too. It’s a nonstop visual pun session with many scenes featuring straight-faced characters not reacting to absurd conversations/situations or taking lines literally. For example there’s a dog detective that is treated the same as a human detective and lines like, “interesting, when I place this blackmail note under the magnifying glass the print becomes much larger but then when I take it away it’s immediately small again…” I don’t think I can describe it too accurately in writing, it has to be watched to fully understand. Rashida Jones plays the titular character and finally gets to play the lead in a comedy tv show, but the role isn’t exactly demanding other than being able to not laugh during the scene. The first season was the strongest, but the subsequent seasons felt a little lackluster to me, I would say it’s not the best show to binge-watch because the humor can get a little overwhelming at times as it’s constantly put in one’s face. Nevertheless it’s a hilarious show. There are three seasons and there are some episodes up on the TBS website of the recent season, but Hulu has the first two available.
Highlight: There’s an episode with Keegan-Michael Key and an underground ferret ring akin to Casino Royale that’s pretty good all around. There are more examples but I can’t adequately describe them!
While the other shows on this list are all comedies, this show would be better classified as a sci-fi thriller. I honestly didn’t know anything about Legion from the X-Men comics going into it, but that didn’t matter. For me at least, Legion blew away most of the X-Men movies as it was better on a story telling and visual medium in my opinion. The show follows David who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is in a mental institution, but he comes to learn that he isn’t as crazy as he seems when a mutant organization comes to bail him out of government control. The vibrant colors were enhanced by the ‘60s costume attire and while the plot was confusing at times I was hooked immediately. The acting was fantastic, especially Aubrey Plaza, someone who usually plays more of a comedic role takes a more sinister one here. Not to say that she’s devoid of humor or that the show isn’t funny, it is, but the jokes aren’t the main focus. Fair warning the show can get pretty terrifying at times, I still have nightmares about the Shadow King and the World’s Angriest Boy. It’s not easy to stream the show, it was on FX and Hulu at one point, but I believe it has been taken down.
Highlights: The penultimate episode having a homage to the silent era in film by utilizing black and white with text dialogue was one of the most creative things I’ve seen on television.