Television today is rife with shows to watch. Programs like Game of Thrones and Orange Is the New Black dominate the headlines, acting as figureheads for what many dub the Golden Age of Television. In the midst of all this, it’s easy for many shows to get lost in the shuffle. Some are patently terrible, and thus shouldn’t be bothered with. But others are more than worth your time, despite the fact that every internet news site doesn’t provide detailed recaps of every episode.
There’s a simple beauty in discovery, and this applies well to television. There are tons of shows out there less publicized, but just as high in quality as their contemporaries. They span a whole range of genres, from revisionist fiction history to fantasy and science-fiction. There’s no better time than now to go out in the wide world of TV to find something new and exciting.
1. Da Vinci’s Demons, Starz
There’s a very good chance you’ve never even heard of this one, but trust us when we say Da Vinci’s Demons is well-worth your time. The show follows a young Leonardo da Vinci, navigating the treacherous terrain of the Medici family, the papacy, and a number of strange apocalypse cults that vary in their support and/or opposition of his destiny.
It’s very much in the revisionist history category, but that doesn’t make its story any less exciting, starring the charismatic Tom Riley in his first leading TV role. The third (and apparently final) season ended in December 2015, but you can still catch it on the Starz website or on DVD or Blu-ray.
2. Sense8, Netflix
The latest from the Wachowskis comes in the wake of their disastrous sci-fi space-romp, Jupiter Ascending. Many have opined, though, that the two filmmakers may have found a friendlier format in television, and so Sense8 was born on Netflix.
The series follows eight individuals who find themselves linked together as one, sensing each others emotions, fears, and location at all times. While not as talked about as other Netflix shows like Daredevil and House of Cards, it’s a return to more unique and groundbreaking sci-fi storytelling for the Wachowskis, something they haven’t been able to accomplish since the first Matrix movie.
3. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, BBC America
It seems odd that in a pop culture climate that lauds both Harry Potter and revisionist history, that Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell wouldn’t be getting more hype. Its name may not be all that descriptive, but delve into the world of the show and you’d be surprised by just how intriguing things can get.
The premise is based on the idea that in Napoleonic Europe, real magic exists but is seldom practiced, except by a few individuals. It’s a peculiar tale following the two titular characters through both Britain and France, making for a fantasy period piece more than worth tuning into on BBC America. While the show concluded in June 2015, it is available for download via the BBC website, as well as other video on-demand services.
4. The 100, The CW
The 100 kicked off its fourth season on The CW in 2017, quietly becoming the network’s boldest show for a number of reasons. On the surface, it seems like your run-of-the-mill post-apocalypse survivalist tale, featuring a group of teens and 20-somethings as they attempt to survive on Earth long after nuclear war almost completely wiped out humanity. But beneath this, it delves into complex human relationships, questioning the very nature of how we treat each other.
Admittedly, the first couple episodes are a bit of a teen drama snore fest, but The 100 really didn’t take long to find its feet as a real adult sci-fi series.
5. Penny Dreadful, Showtime
While HBO currently boasts a selection of shows that number among the company’s best offerings ever, networks like Showtime are quietly trying to accomplish the same. Penny Dreadful represents a foray into fantasy elements that the network has never before invested in.
The basic plot is simple: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, and Eva Green fight supernatural monsters in Victorian London. In its execution though, it manages to be even weirder than its premise lets on, giving Showtime a truly strange yet entertaining journey into the world of classic monsters. Penny Dreadful wrapped up its third and final season in June 2016.
6. You’re the Worst, FX
It’s getting harder and harder for romantic comedies to distinguish themselves nowadays. That’s where FXX’s You’re the Worst comes in, as a rom-com that completely flips the genre on its head.
Its basic story revolves around Jimmy and Gretchen, two horrible people who just so happen to be good for each other, despite the fact that they’re complete disasters. It goes far deeper than that though, skillfully diving headfirst into topics like clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
7. Better Call Saul, AMC
Breaking Bad numbers itself among some of the best TV shows of all time, so it should come as no surprise that Vince Gilligan’s Better Call Saul spinoff is almost as good. Getting a spinoff show to land with fans is a tall order for any showrunner, but Gilligan delivers an incredible standalone product with the Saul Goodman-centric series. Now in its third season, it continues to surprise us at every turn, making for yet another great product from the world of Walter White.
8. Galavant, ABC
Galavant may have found itself canceled after just two seasons on ABC, but the musical fairytale series garnered a devoted cult following while on the air. Over its all too brief run, it featured a collection of high-powered guest stars, including Weird Al Yankovic, Ricky Gervais, Nick Frost, and plenty more, making for an exciting and hilarious new take on musical television. Both seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix.
9. The Magicians, SyFy
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then The Magicians is the TV show you’ve been waiting for. Its own take on the world of mysticism and magic is decidedly more mature though, and oftentimes the show will experiment with some pretty off the rails stuff (including a bizarrely awesome Les Miserables musical interlude in Season 2).
Among the SyFy network’s growing library of amazing television, The Magicians stands tall as one of their most overlooked masterpieces.
10. Angie Tribeca, TBS
Just about everything about Angie Tribeca defies convention, from the way TBS unveiled its first season in its entirety during a 25-hour event, to the off-beat (and often eye-rollingly hilarious) humor. If someone were to take Leslie Nielsen’s Naked Gun franchise, cast Rashida Jones in the starring role, and update it to viciously skewer every rote police procedural on TV, that’s what you get with Angie Tribeca.
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