My Top 5 Currently Airing or Recently Ended Under-watched Shows

In a world with so many different shows to watch, both old and new, shows inevitably get lost in the shuffle and never get talked about (whether it’s with your friends or critics) as much as you wish they would. So for day 2 of the Month of Love, I thought I would give some love to 5 shows that I adore that I wish more people were watching. Many of these get a lot of positive attention from critics, but aren’t necessarily being watched by a large audience. Most are niche shows that may never have a huge appeal but I have connected with them all and hope that through sharing them, one of them can connect with someone new.

Rectify  This show is beautifully melancholic with just enough hope and goodness to keep it from being overwhelmingly sad. In every moment, you feel the weight of Daniel’s previous sentence and the crime he may or may not have committed and the way it affects his life and the lives of those around him. But in so many of those moments, there’s also a sense of wonder, goodness, and the hope of redemption. It can be exhausting to watch because it makes you feel deeply but it’s also incredibly emotionally rewarding. The writing and direction of the show is only enhanced by the talent of the cast. Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, and Adelaide Clemmons in particular have all delivered truly stunning performances in this slow and contemplative drama.

Looking   This is a little gem of an HBO comedy. It feels very grounded and natural so even if it doesn’t necessarily make me laugh, I can still enjoy it. Jonathan Groff is charming as always but the real highlights of the show for me are Raúl Castillo as Richie and Murray Bartlett as Dom. Raúl Castillo and Jonathan Groff have a very easy chemistry with each other which makes episodes like “Looking for the Future” really shine because of it’s intense focus on their characters getting to know one another. Having watched “Queer as Folk” and “Noah’s Arc” in the past 5 years, one of the things that feels most remarkable to me is the fact that none of these characters are made to fit into a stereotypical box. They are all complex and can stand on their own.

The Fosters   This show unfailingly makes me happy even when it makes me cry. This is how you write a show with a diverse cast that addresses topics usually saved for Very Special Episodes (like the loss of virginity, the discovering of one’s sexual orientation, mental health) and deals with them in a way that is closer to that of real life. Things unfold over time and sometimes in messy ways. They aren’t solved in one big dramatic episode. Yes, the episodes are dramatic and a lot can occur in one episode but it doesn’t ever feel forced to me. The things that happen in these characters’ lives aren’t just plot points to be checked off before moving on to something else – they deepen our understanding of each of the characters. It reminds me a lot of Parenthood in the way it really is just about the extended Adams-Foster family. It’s all about the characters and show handles them beautifully, especially Callie and Jude.

The Fall   I have really been enjoying the recent trend toward focusing on one crime for a 5-10 episode season. Though the first season was only 5 episodes long, it allowed us to focus on both the lead detective on the case (played fabulously by Gillian Anderson) and the killer (a very creepy Jamie Dornan). This series had some very important things to say about the perception of female sexuality which is a large draw for me as it was the topic of my master’s thesis. It gave me great things to analyze on an academic level as well as provided me with another show about a crime in which the weight of the crime is a prominent feature. It’s dark but never without purpose.

Enlisted   I know I’m not alone when I say that this show deserved better. Things weren’t looking good for it when it was pushed to midseason and stayed bad airing on Fridays after a show that went on to be canceled. It also didn’t help that, in typical FOX fashion, the episodes aired out of order. This show had the rare pilot that made me feel connected enough to the characters and their setting to make me cry. This show found gold when they cast Geoff Stults, Parker Young, and Chris Lowell as brothers. Their chemistry would have been enough to make the show worth watching but it was far from the only draw of the show. It found humor though the characters in Army life while remaining respectful. It featured a beautifully done storyline on the way PTSD affects returning soldiers through Pete and “Randy Get Your Gun” is still one of my favorite episodes of a sitcom to air this year for the way it celebrated Randy’s ability to care deeply about people and be empathetic to their needs. It was a truly special show, made even better by the people involved. It was obvious that everyone involved in the creation of this show loved what they were making and loved all those who connected with it. It may have been loved by a small group of people for an all-too-brief amount of time, but its presence will be missed next fall.

What underappreciated or underwatched shows (past or present) do you love?

 

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11 thoughts on “My Top 5 Currently Airing or Recently Ended Under-watched Shows

  1. I loved seeing The Fosters on this list. My sister introduced me to it last summer, and I fell in love with it immediately. I love that it doesn’t make a big deal about the topics it brings up; it just deals with life as it really would be for a family like this one. And it’s filled with such warmth.

    I will forever hold to the fact that—even though it was on for five seasons—Alias was criminally under-appreciated. Yes, it got a little lost in its own mysteries around Season Four, but the quality of acting on that show was incredible and went depressingly unrecognized besides Jennifer Garner’s Golden Globe win in the show’s first season. I think if the show would be on TV today it would be something everyone talked about instead of just the niche audience it had. It was a show made for social media, weekly online recaps, and Internet analysis, but it aired in the years when online TV fandom was just really starting to emerge. It paved the way for a lot of TV shows that came after it, but it doesn’t seem to get a lot of credit for being as great as it was—especially the first two seasons.

    1. VICTOR GARBER DESERVED AN EMMY AND I’LL NEVER STOP SHOUTING THAT FROM THE ROOFTOPS.
      I feel like J. Garns’s movie career has NEVER demonstrated her range to the extent that Alias did.
      Seasons one and two were flawless.
      Twitter would have been all over that show.
      ALIAS, YOU GUYS.

      1. I’m still crying about Spy!Daddy’s lack of an Emmy to this day. And all I want is for Jennifer Garner to get a movie role that allows her to show exactly what she can do as an actress, because I feel like people who only know her from her movie roles are MISSING OUT.

      2. I haven’t even seen all of Alias and I would totally agree with you & Katie that people who’ve only seen Jennifer Garner in movies are missing out – she’s actually one of the actresses who I think about when I think of celebs who are both super talented and seem really grounded. I would totally watch a movie starring her where she plays a hugely complex character! (Hollywood, get on that asap please.)

    2. You’re right, other than you and Kelly, I never see people talking about Alias. I would have loved to experience it with a huge fandom and recaps! The first two seasons were really amazing, even watching years after they aired.

  2. I already have The Fosters on my to-watch list, but I had seen The Fall pop up on Netflix earlier and you’re definitely pushing me in the direction of checking it out at some point! Especially since it’s such a short season that I could watch it all in a day if I really wanted. I am also curious about trying out The Killing at some point, and Broadchurch, both of which seem to have that same theme of focusing on one crime for a whole season (as far as I know). I don’t think I’ve watched a show that has done that before, so I’m quite intrigued by how writers would craft the plot to stretch out over a whole season and how that would affect how much more deeply you feel for the victim and their families, etc, than the usual one episode per crime in most procedurals.

    To be honest I don’t think I’ve quite watched enough TV to really have a true under-appreciated show in my past, especially since most of the shows that I watched years ago seem to truly have been loved by a fair amount of people – Gilmore Girls, for example.

    If I’m thinking of shows I’m watching in the present, however, I would probably say that from my limited sense of shows Elementary is under-appreciated, at least by the general public. I think that sadly a lot of people don’t like Lucy Liu’s acting, and since the show doesn’t seem to be following the typical male-female “partnership to romance” setup that so many procedurals have, it gets sort of overlooked.

    In my opinion though Elementary is one of the most progressive shows on the main networks right now. Joan Watson is a wonderful character and I appreciate the little feminist moments the show slips in with her where she just doesn’t put up with anyone treating her badly, even Sherlock. She’s a complex character and is so much more than Sherlock’s tagalong, and while they still have that incredible connection that Sherlocks and Watsons have always had, they are also more of equals (not necessarily in skill but in the way they treat each other) than in most adaptations I have seen. I also appreciate that they’ve made the show fairly realistic – Joan and Sherlock can’t just do whatever they want and completely get away with it, there are consequences from their actions.

    For me, the show does occasionally dip into less interesting and emotionally connecting periods, mostly in Season 2, but Season 1 was amazing in so many ways. I could ramble more about it, but a) I don’t want to spoil anyone and b) I’ve already rambled quite a bit about this show so I’ll leave it at that 😉

    1. YES GO WATCH THE FALL NEXT TIME YOU WANT A DAY OF TV. You will 100% love it. It’s a crime show but it’s also such a good exploration of the harmful and extreme ways that misogyny can present itself and you will love everything Stella has to say about women’s sexuality.

      Elementary really does get overlooked, partly because it’s on CBS who will never be greatly loved for any of their dramas not named The Good Wife and partly because of the existence of BBC’s Sherlock. Season two dipped in quality for me and I was so bored by Mycroft that I didn’t really enjoy the last 4 episodes but I know what this show is capable of and Joan Watson is still my favorite adaptation of that character.

      1. Well you’ve just bumped The Fall up on my to-watch list! I definitely share your love of media that addresses/explores things like misogyny etc. Plus 5 episodes means I can watch it quickly and still feel like I’ve accomplished something 😉

        (FYI: SLIGHT ELEMENTARY SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THE ENDING OF SEASON 2)

        I do agree with you re: Elementary, I don’t care about Mycroft – actually I don’t like him much at all, he just rubs me the wrong way – so the ending arc of the season mostly just annoyed me, including me being surprised from the amount of upset Joan seemed to have over the probability of never being able to see Mycroft again. I felt like she didn’t actually know him all that well, probably because most of their substantial interactions had happened offscreen and thus I wasn’t there to see a whole lot of their relationship actually grow, so I felt a little bit of disconnect at the apparent heartbreak Joan was having over this.

        Overall though I feel like Elementary lost their footing a bit when they realized they had grown Sherlock and Joan’s relationship to the point where they couldn’t really have their whole season be about the evolution of that relationship like they had done with Season One. In Season Two they definitely still had some moments where I felt they reconnected with what made me love the show so much, but overall I feel like most of the episodes in S2 are not ones I’ll rewatch. I have faith that they can get back to a higher quality in Season Three though, especially since we’ll likely have a good amount of focus on the Joan-Sherlock relationship in the premiere with the way things ended in the Season Two finale.

  3. You are literally the 8th person who has sung the praises of The Fosters to me. I may have to reconsider. I am still scarred from The Secret Life of the American Teenager (a show for which I stayed way too long at the fair) lol!

    I would like to co-sign onto Rectify. To me this show delivers on the emotional weight and complexity of a life that is lived in the grey messiness. It isn’t the easiest show to watch and I have to be in the mood to watch it. But I love it for the ambition it has around authentically looking at people who are struggling.

    I will add to this list Justified which has simply the best duo on television in Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. Aside from the fantastic dialogue, wonderful acting. This modern day Cain and Abel story is terrifically sincere and unapologetic. This season wasn’t its strongest, but the final episode did a spectacular job of setting up the series final season coming next year. Breaking Bad has gotten a ton of ink and well deserved praise, but Justified remains my favorite of the two.

    And finally a shout out must be given to my favorite piece of reality TV. So You Think You Can Dance has always been about talent and driven by talent. Yes Nigel Lythgoe is over the top and takes himself far too seriously, but the show is just pure unadulterated joy. You don’t have to be a dance expert (or expert dancer) to enjoy the expression and fun that this show dishes out every summer. I wish more people watched so that it would securely remain in the lineup because it is a summertime favorite for sure.

    1. I have had the opposite problem with ABC Family shows. I find one I love then it gets canceled after one season before it can really reach its full potential. I would definitely recommend that you check out The Fosters at some point. It seems to have occurred in the wave of shows that ABC Family wanted to use to move away from their years of Secret Life but remain more grounded than something like Pretty Little Liars.

      I don’t think I had heard that next season would be Justified’s last. It’s a show you always speak so highly of that I really need to move up my list.

      I’m terrible at watching it for some reason, but I agree with everything you had to say about So You Think You Can Dance. It is a show about the talent and the dances really are incredibly enjoyable to watch.

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