Finding something to watch when it comes to television has never been easier in the age streaming, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and Apple TV Plus premiering new original series on what feels like weekly/daily/hourly-basis. That’s on top of all the new competitors like Peacock, Paramount Plus, Discovery Plus, and AMC Plus. We all have options.
The options means it’s also never been harder to decide what to watch, as there’s only so many hours in the day and only so many of those hours that can be reasonably spent watching one’s entertainment of choice. What are those under-seen hidden gems that fall in-between the blind spots in our media diet, and what are those niche classics you always meant to watch but never quite did that deserve either a reappraisal or a belated introduction?
To answer that question, we’ve polled our staff to pull together a list of some of the shows that we’re watching and loving right now that aren’t getting as much love and attention as they deserve. Here are six shows that you’re probably not watching right now … but totally should.
Gangs of London
I’m a big fan of the sort of raw, cringe-inducing, go-for-broke brutality of Gareth Evans’ The Raid series and to a somewhat lesser extent is 2018 period horror film Apostle. So imagine my surprise when I first learned about his 2020 crime-drama television series Gangs of London from a stray tweet I came across while scrolling through my timeline a few weeks ago. Like, where the heck did this come from and why hadn’t I seen anything about it before? Part of the reason for that is the series currently only accessible through AMC Plus (which I did not have) or an AMC channel subscription via Amazon Prime (which I purchased for the sole purpose of watching this).
The series, which follows the struggles of a several rival gangs amid the power vacuum left in the wake of the sudden murder of the head of London’s most prominent crime family, is a visceral and engrossing drama punctuated by pulse-pounding bursts of dizzying violence. Sope Dirisu of His House fame is nigh-unrecognizable here as Elliot Finch, the deftly skilled low-level street enforcer of Sean Wallace (Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole), the wrathful scion of London’s most powerful crime boss who embarks on a scorched earth warpath to avenge his father’s death. The action is jaw-dropping, the cinematography is electric, and the performances are captivating, especially in the case of Lucian Msamati’s (The International) turn as Ed Dumani, the right-hand advisor of the late Finn Wallace. If you have the stomach to binge-watch 10 hour-long episodes worth of bone-crushing action and seething tension, Gangs of London is absolutely worth the effort of seeking out. —Toussaint Egan
What if the Infinity Stones fell into the hands of a nine-year-old with an overactive imagination? That’s basically the elevator pitch for Kid Cosmic, the latest series from Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends creator Craig McCracken. The superhero action-comedy chronicles the far-flung misadventures and hard-won life lessons of a precocious orphan living in a small town on the desert outskirts of the American Southwest who happens upon five cosmic gemstones of great power strewn about an alien shipwreck.
Assembling a team made up of his eccentric grandpa, a literal toddler, a kindly teenage diner waitress, and a stray telepathic cat nicknamed Tuna Sandwich, Kid must fend off a slew of extraterrestrial nemeses heck-bent on recovering the stones for their own nefarious universe-conquering schemes. McCracken’s distinctive designs and expressive animation style are a joy to watch from scene to scene, as is the show’s sepia-saturated, ben-day dot comic aesthetic similar to the very pulp serial sci-fi stories from which the Kid derives so much of his idealistic conceptions of heroism. I’m about four episodes into the series so far and absolutely in love with it. If you’re looking for a casual animated palette cleanser in between huge pop culture tentpole events like WandaVision or Falcon and the Winter Soldier, pop this on your queue and give a shot. —TE
Kid Cosmic is streaming on Netflix.
Joe Pera Talks With You
There are plenty of reasons to think that Joe Pera Talks With You is some kind of prank. For one, it’s an Adult Swim show, a label that’s often accompanied by a layer of irony so thick its presence almost guarantees a constellation of “weird” podcasts will follow. It stars a guy named Joe Pera who, despite being a millennial in his early 30s, conducts himself with the mannerisms and wardrobe of a man twice his age. And the show has a lethargic, sleepy pace that, at first glance, might also lead you to suspect that I am the one pranking you, telling you to watch some boring-ass show because that’s how I get my rocks off.
The thing is: No one’s pranking you. Joe Pera Talks With You is an Adult Swim show, but it’s also completely sincere. Its star isn’t playing his character as a joke, and by most accounts the real-life Joe Pera may very well share a lot of similarities with his TV counterpart. And I, of course, only want you to watch TV that I think you’d enjoy.
And boy do I think you’d enjoy Joe Pera Talks With You. Joe Pera stars as a version of himself that works as a middle school music teacher in northern Michigan and likes making a pseudo-documentary series about the incredibly mundane things he loves: rocks, breakfast, the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada, that sort of thing. The show plays fast and loose with this conceit, though — while Joe frequently addresses the camera in a way that feels like he’s making Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, the scope eventually widens, spilling over into his life beyond the time he spends telling viewers about his favorite rocks.
What makes the show sing is simple: it’s a series about how incredible it is to love people and things in unremarkable ways. Through the slightly offbeat, dry comedy of Joe Pera talking about fall foliage and fish fries and talking to others in his community (who absolutely find him odd and mostly don’t mind) the show begins to accumulate this plain and commonplace form of affection like snowfall that doesn’t seem like it’s sticking until you step outside hours later and there you are, knee deep in its love. And before you know it, you’re crying as this odd, lanky man tells you about how much he loves his weekly trip to the grocery store. Because that’s how we keep going in a harsh world: with the soft and beautiful accumulation of things and people we love in small ways we can’t help but share. —Joshua Rivera
Joe Pera Talks With You is streaming on HBO Max.
The Good Fight
CBS’ The Good Wife spinoff arrived in 2017, just as America was buckling up for the Trump era. Four years later, it remains cathartic for anyone dulled down by nonstop political drama — though its focus, rightfully, is on hardships of women and people of color who don’t want to be entirely defined by identity. Oh, it’s also no longer trapped on CBS All Access where you would have missed it, having jumped to the broader Paramount Plus service.
Built with the legal framework of The Good Wife, The Good Fight is less case-of-the-week procedural than baroque theatre ripped from the Brechtian playbook — complete with orchestral walk-and-talks, musical asides (courtesy of Jonathan Coulton), and fourth-wall-breaking monologues. Episodes find Diane (Christine Baranski) taking radical steps to combat an ethics-less administration, Maia (Rose Leslie) stuck in a legal limbo exacerbated by privilege, Lucca (Cush Jumbo) juggling child-rearing with career advancement in a working world that questions her abilities, and Adrian (Delroy Lindo) and Liz (Audra McDonald) dealing with a #MeToo eruption that could jeopardize the firm.
The recent season 4 narrowed the focus even more, with Diane embarking on an operation to finally solve the Republican Problem. The world is spiraling out of control, and “fighting the good fight” becomes more and more ambiguous as the show’s characters struggle to put out fires. Adding to the blaze are recurring cast members like Michael Sheen, playing a Roy Cohn-esque lawyer with anarchistic tendencies. Truly, there is no show embodying the here and now more than The Good Fight. — Matt Patches
The Good Fight is streaming on Paramount Plus.
Search Party is a chameleon, a television show that pulls off the difficult trick of transforming right in front of your eyes more than once. This also makes it easy to miss — there’s just too much TV now; knowing how to size up a show and move on is a survival skill. Size Search Party up, however, and whatever it appears to be at first will rapidly start to shift over the course of its brief first season. And then, at the end of that first batch of episodes, there’ll be three more seasons waiting, each with their own transformation in store.
But it’s not like Search Party makes you wait for the good parts — it’s sharp as hell from the start. The story starts when Dory Sief, a recent NYU grad who’s feeling a little disillusioned by her post-college life, and decides to channel her ennui by dragging her friends into a mystery: Chantal Witherbottom, a barely-remembered acquaintance from college, has gone missing, and Dory is going to find her. Astonishingly nimble, Search Party takes this premise and becomes a thriller, a legal drama, a black comedy, and one of the most scathing millennial satires on TV. It’s a hell of a ride, and with a fifth season on the way, there’s no telling where it’s going to go next. —JR
Search Party is streaming on HBO Max.
Old Price Is Right episodes from the ’70s and ’80s
Everything old is new again in as the notion of reruns are put out to pasture by Netflix and the like. But for cord-cutters who miss the old days of scrolling through endless channels of non-prestige programming, there is Pluto TV. I’ve become a massive fan of the free service, where I’m guaranteed to stumble into a bad sci-fi movie, random Yu-Gi-Oh reruns, nonstop RuPaul’s Drag Race marathons, and repeats of random American Gladiators episodes. After years of scrolling through streaming services, I enjoy the chaos.
My new favorite Pluto destination is The Price is Right: The Barker Era, a channel running dusty episodes of the price-guessing game show 24/7. There’s so much to love in every minute of the show: the contests’ retro wardrobes, the antiquated technologies on display, the excitement that overwhelms a winner who undermined panelists with a $1 guess, and Bob Barker’s natural swagger — which, thankfully, isn’t too handsy in the year 2021! The gambling fiend in me loves the giant wheel, and contests who bet big on the chance to hit that 100. Plus the Showcase Showdown maintains that sweating tension of everything being on the line, even if the “everything” is a couch set you would never dare allow in your home today. I have zero nostalgia for the 1980s, but I find comfort in the formula of The Price Is Right, and knowing it’s always on — and I don’t need to choose an episode – makes it perfect I-can’t-decide-right-now viewing. — MP
The Price Is Right is streaming on Pluto TV.