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?