Underrated shows are simply a sad fact of life. Not every single well-written, witty show with great acting is going to get the hype it deserves. A lot of shows eventually gain that attention post-mortem like Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life did, but by the time they were finally beloved by audiences, they’d already been canceled.
It’s always fun to find a diamond in the rough TV show that you can binge on a streaming service, but it’s also always a little disappointing when you get through all two seasons of the show and realize that the narrative will never get the conclusion you wanted because it was pulled from the air too soon. So we’ve decided to serve up 20 underrated TV shows that are still on the air so hopefully, you can help the program gain the ratings it needs to thrive and go from underappreciated to cult classic.
1. Timeless on NBC
Timeless is so underrated that it was almost canceled by NBC before fan outreach made them reverse their decision. There’s only one season so far but hopefully if we can get the word out when season two started in 2018, then season three’s pickup will be a no-brainer for the Big Three network.
2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on The CW
The problem with this show is probably its God awful title. Most self-loving women won’t want to watch a show with such a stereotypical name. But if you can get past the title (and, tbh, the premise: which is that a twenty-something-year-old decides to move across the country to reunite with her camp boyfriend from childhood!), the show is actually really good. Following in the footsteps of Glee, it’s a campy musical comedy and fun fact: the show was originally produced for Showtime. When the premium network decided to give it a pass, it was swooped up by The CW and reworked to fit their audience and time slots. The show boasts a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Season 3 premieres on October 13th, so you’ve got a little over a month to watch seasons one and two on CWTV.com or Netflix. Happy watching!
3. The Americans on FX
FX gets props for American Horror Story and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but The Americans is just now becoming a show where the fans are giving it proper recognition. The show takes place during the Cold War (we love a good period drama) and stars Keri Russell. While the sixth season is yet to air (you’ve got plenty of time to catch up!), that will, unfortunately, be the last season of the series.
4. iZombie on The CW
When you think of The CW, you probably think of shows like Riverdale, Arrow or The Flash. TV shows with a-list actors like Cole Sprouse and Grant Gustin taking the leads and getting all the hype. But the CW’s comic book adaptation that never gets the credit it deserves is iZombie — which boasts witty writing and a strong, female character holding the show on her shoulders. Aly Michalka (of Phil of the Future fame) is also featured. You can binge the first three seasons on Netflix before season four came back in 2018.
5. Peaky Blinders on BBC Two
Another period drama, here — we told you that we loved them! Somehow a TV show starring Cillian Murphy has flown under the radar. The fourth season just started filming last March and is yet to air though season five has already been picked up by the network. The series centers around a post-World War I crime gang in Britain.
6. Outlander on Starz
This is kind of a period drama but takes a more time travel-y approach to it. Another British series, this show was based on a book series by Diana Gabaldon with the same name. Unfortunately, there’s no place to stream Outlander for free right now (unless you/a friend have an Xfinity account)… but we’re sure you have your ways. The third season premieres on September 10th. Need another reason to watch? Let’s discuss the 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes or the hunky lead love interest.
7. The Path on Hulu
For all those creepily intrigued by cults and Scientology, The Path will give you your fix. We see Aaron Paul on his first leading TV role since Breaking Bad, Michelle Monaghan from True Detective season 1, as well as hot newcomers like Kyle Allen. Sure, The Handmaid’s Tale might be Hulu’s newest hit, but The Path has been holding it down for two seasons. The 13-episode third season was renewed last April and debuted in 2018.
8. Better Things on FX
If you need proof that this comedy will actually be funny, perhaps Louis C.K. being a creator and executive producer of the show can convince you. Centered around a single mom of two teenagers, Pamela Adlon takes the lead as the hilarious mother. The show has received positive reviews from critics and its second season premieres on September 14.
9. Schitt’s Creek on CBC
I only came across Schitt’s Creek when doing research on LGBTQ representation on current TV shows and originally I thought it was a parody of Dawson’s Creek. But it’s actually so much more and SO much better than that. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara star as the parents of a family that goes from riches-to-rags after a bad business deal, and while the show has definitely got mixed reviews — the loyal fans feel strongly that this show is worth the watch. Schitt’s Creek has been renewed for a fourth season already so you’ve got nothing to lose.
10. Glitch on Netflix
If you binged France’s Les Revenants on Netflix (with subtitles of course!) but were sorely disappointed with the U.S. version of the show, Returned on A&E;, then Glitch just might be your perfect watch. This Australian TV series is not a direct adaptation but has some striking similarities: seven people inexplicably rise from the dead in a small town in Victoria and all are linked — though how is yet to be revealed. Love an Aussie accent? Even better.
11. Lady Dynamite on Netflix
Who doesn’t love a comedy show based on the hilarious real-life experiences of a stand-up comedian? Maria Bamford plays herself in the story of her decision to move back to Los Angeles after spending six months in bipolar recovery. It’s always a happy surprise when a comedy series can take on serious issues without mocking them and Lady Dynamite does so flawlessly. As you can tell from the attached GIF, Maria delivers some cold, hard truths (in — duh — a funny manner) about living in the world as a female, so it’s a show that all young feminists will relate to almost too easily.
12. Are You the One? on MTV
Okay, we had to include just one reality dating TV show for all of the Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise lovers out there. On this MTV show, 20 sexy singles are put in a house on a tropical island and told that professional matchmakers have found that one of the other people in the group is their “perfect match.” By competing in physical competitions, getting voted into the “truth booth” in pairs (which will say if they are or are not a perfect match), and getting out of their minds drunk, they find themselves coming closer to figuring out who their future bae should be. Oh and did I mention that if all ten pairs find their perfect match in ten weeks then they all get to split one million dollars? Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.
13. You’re the Worst on FX
This FX show is so underrated we had to devote an entire article to it. But if you don’t have the time to dive into all 1000+ words on You’re the Worst right NOW, you can take the cliff notes version: 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating on its most recent season, a thoughtful approach to mental illness and the least romantic kind of romantic comedy. If that sounds like something you could get down with (and seriously, it should be because all three are essential TV qualities) then You’re the Worst, which can be streamed on Hulu, is your new favorite show. There are three seasons already and season 4 premieres on FX on September 6th.
14. Imposters on Bravo
Gotta love a good dark comedy, don’t we? Inbar Lavi plays Maddie, a con-artist who basically, seduces men and women into falling in love with her just so she can take advantage of them and steal their money. We, the audience, love a lovable-but-hatable protagonist and Maddie is just that.
On the other side of things, a couple of her former victims have found one another and have decided that they’re going to make the femme fatale pay for her sins. While the Bravo show hasn’t gotten a ton of hype, an article on the Observer was published last March which declared, “Surprise! ‘Imposters’ on Bravo Is the Best TV Show of 2017” and they weren’t joking. So far you’re only 10 episodes behind, though the second season was picked up last April.
15. Humans on AMC
While sadly this show is another one we’re going to have to wait for another season — at least there’s another season at all! Humans is a Sci-Fi TV show on AMC and the plot is something directly out of our nightmares: Artificial intelligence not only exists, but it’s been created so flawlessly that one can hardly tell the difference between human flesh and machine. The catch line is “Made of our image. Out of our control,” and I’m terrified.
16. Difficult People on Hulu
Hulu is seriously giving Netflix a run for its money. (IMO, Hulu now offers way better programming than Netflix but that’s just one girl’s opinion.) Difficult People is another comedy starring Julie Klausner and the world’s new favorite funny man, Billy Eichner. The 10-episode third season just premiered on August 8.
17. Insecure on HBO
When you think HBO, you think of Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies and maybe even The Leftovers (though even that Justin Theroux drama was way underrated, too, and would’ve been included if the final season didn’t JUST wrap up). But we don’t too often talk about the amazingness that is Insecure. The show centers around the black, female experience and weaves together comedy and drama flawlessly. While the show has received acclaim from critics, not many fans are talking about the show as much as they should. The first two seasons are available to stream on HBO Go — so get to it!
18. Younger on TV Land
Wait — a hit show on TV Land?! You heard that right. Not only do we get see Lizzie McGuire Hilary Duff make a comeback in a big way, but we see strong women in professional atmospheres forging powerful friendships. The writing is hilarious, too. The overall premise is a young-looking 40-year old divorcee, Liza, who can’t get a job in the publishing industry after taking 17 years off to raise her daughter. So when she’s mistaken for a 26-year-old at a bar, she decides to embrace the mistake and take on the identity of a twenty-something-year-old to start as an assistant — again — at a publishing house.
At her new job, she finds friendship with the actual 26-year-old, Hilary Duff’s character while living with her free-spirited lesbian BFF who is willing to smack some sense into Liza when she needs it. Comedy, unexpected twists and turns that will leave your jaw on the floor — and some pretty phenomenal eye-candy in Liza’s 26-year-old boyfriend make Younger the perfect three-season binge. The fourth season is about to wrap up mid-September… but no fear — it’s already been picked up for a fifth. (P.S. Liza’s millennial-embracing fashion will give you some serious style inspo.)
19. The Good Place on NBC
Kristen Bell and Adam Scott appear in this TV show that some have drawn similarities with Selfie — another show considered to be an underrated favorite before it was canceled in 2014. The show takes place in heaven but somehow avoids cheesy cliché with Kristen’s brilliant acting and the writers’ fulfilling and thought-provoking plotlines. Some fans have said that it’s possible The Good Place takes place in the same universe as Parks & Recreation — but you’ll have to watch so you can say so for yourself.
20. The 100 on The CW
Are you sensing a trend here? Certain networks get all the praise for certain shows, while other (possibly even better) shows are cast to the land of obscurity/underrated favorite. The 100 has gotten acknowledgment for being the first show on The CW with an LGBTQ+ lead (Clarke is bisexual), but it also received criticism for its treatment of queer characters. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why because that would be a major spoiler, but you’ll know it when you see it.