9 Underrated Shows to Marathon during the Holidays
It's the “Golden Age of Television” or so they say and while some shows have left us and others have declined in quality, this past year served up a few new good ones worth checking out. Here are nine you might consider binge-watching during the holidays:
Created by and starring Donald Glover (a.k.a the rapper Childish Gambino and Troy from Community), this satirical drama-comedy follows Earn (Glover), a young father who helps his cousin's rap career get off the ground. Imagine if Twin Peaks and Community had a baby and it grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and it would resemble this show. Atlanta is unafraid to be experimental and, in this sea of of shows trying to be “The Next Big Thing,” makes it worth a try.
This is Us
If you haven't heard of this show yet, don't Google it, don't ask your friends about it. The twist in the pilot is worth it, but what you should know is that it has a wonderful cast ensemble of Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore (nominated for a Golden Globe for her role), Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz (who also got a Globe nod), Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, and Ron Cephas Jones. It can get a bit melodramatic at times, but it's still a great drama—so much so that it's been nominated for Best Drama Series at the Critics' Choice Awards. Vanity Fair has called it "the biggest—and by some accounts, only—success story of the fall TV season,” so grab your tissues and start binging.
The Good Place
What if there was a good place and a bad place in the afterlife? And what if, through some glitch, your terrible self ended up in The Good Place? This comedy from the creator of The Office, Michael Schur, dares to answer these questions when Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) is sent to The Good Place after getting struck and killed by a tractor-trailer carrying a billboard for erectile dysfunction products (yes, really). There are a few hits and misses, but the cast and concept are charming enough if you want something light to indulge in.
Netflix's most expensive show yet (US$130 million) is a peek into the world of the British royal family with a young Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy, nominated for a Golden Globe for her role) and an ageing Winston Churchill as Prime Minister (John Lithgow, also nominated for a Globe). Netflix retains its standard in original series with The Crown, despite stuffy royals and old British politicians as the subject matter. But there are certainly a lot of juicy plots and moments, like Princess Margaret's (Vanessa Kirby) love life, Queen Mary's (Eileen Atkins) lines that could give Downton Abbey’s Countess Violet a run for her money, and Elizabeth and Prince Philip's (Matt Smith) marriage (spoiler: he was an insecure jerk).
This MTV original series (yes, you read that right) follows the adventures of two college students acting as masked vigilantes on their campus. It's like Batman: Sorority Edition! Jules (Eliza Bennett) is a sorority girl who loves the color pink and going after sexual assaulters. After having her identity figured out, she reluctantly accepts the help of hacker/weed dealer/heiress Ophelia (Taylor Dearden) and the two help each other kick ass. Entertaining and comedic, Sweet/Vicious still manages an honest and sincere protrayal of campus sexual assault.
If Issa Rae seems familiar, it's because the new comedy-drama on HBO is an adaptation of her acclaimed web series, Awkward Black Girl. Issa Dee (Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) are two best friends trying to succeed (or sometimes just get by) in life. Issa works at a non-profit organization for middle-school students of color run entirely by white people. Molly is a top career women but has no luck in dating (Issa claims Molly's pussy is broken). Insecure serves as an excellent (possibly better) successor of Girls, which will air its final season next year, as a look at the lives of young women today. The show’s music is also top-notch since Solange Knowles serves as music consultant.
Dark comedy Search Party is something like Broad City meets Twin Peaks when Brooklynite Dory (Alia Shawkat) becomes obsessed with the disappearance of college acquaintance Chantal. Along with her doofus boyfriend Drew (John Reynolds), Dory attempts to distract herself from her mundane life by solving the mystery of Chantal going missing. Fellow self-absorbed New Yorkers Elliott (John Early), gay and hipper-than-thou, and Portia (Meredith Hanger), bubbly wannabe-actress, round up the gang.
Produced by Ava DuVernay (director of Selma) and Oprah Winfrey, the drama follows three siblings as they deal with the loss of their father, who left them with a 800-acre sugar cane farm in Louisiana. This wonderfully acted and well-written series can also boast all of its 13 episodes were directed by women.
The Night Of
This eight-part miniseries from HBO follows Naz (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani-American college student, who wakes up after a night of partying with a stranger to find her stabbed. He ends up charged with murder and sent to prison, but with the help his lawyer, slowly begins to discover what exactly happened that evening. If Ahmed looks or sounds familiar, he raps occasionally as Riz MC and played Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.