Some TV shows just get all the credit, don’t they? They sweep the award shows, get high ratings, and critics and viewers alike gush about how top-notch they are (cough, Breaking Bad, cough). What do you say we take a few moments to recognize the underrated shows that don’t get the attention they deserve? This list is clearly based on my own personal taste, but when I’m done praising these typically under-watched and under-talked-about shows, I’ll extend the conversation to you. What show do you absolutely love but have nobody to talk to about? What brilliant series are you terrified will get canceled? Every show deserves some love. Except Two and a Half Men. Don’t give that anything.
1. Grimm (NBC)
Grimm and Once Upon a Time premiered during the same fall season in 2011, and unfortunately Once seems to have gotten most of the attention. I started out watching both series, but Once really jumped the shark for me in season two, whereas Grimm seemed to get better and better. It takes the classic cop drama format and turns it on its head by making the criminals fantasy creatures in disguise as humans. The show went from a monster-of-the-week format at first to having more overarching storylines, which has been a huge improvement.
2. Wilfred (FX)
Yeah, I’ve talked about this show a couple of times before. I started watching because I’ve crushed on Elijah Wood since his Frodo days, but I kept at it because it’s such a fresh and funny concept. Jason Gann is Emmy-worthy as the dog Wilfred, and Elijah’s a great straight man. Plus, the cinematography is some of the best I’ve seen for a comedy, and the show adds in a mystery element that keeps the silly premise interesting.
3. Hell On Wheels (AMC)
Attention people of the world! There are shows on AMC other than Breaking Bad. One of them is this gritty, cinematic Western series about the building of the transcontinental railroad. I’m typically not interested in Westerns, but this one is so damn good that I can’t stop watching. The acting, the production value, the storytelling — everything’s so fantastic.
4. Bob’s Burgers (FOX)
This cartoon has a quieter, quirkier humor that’s a nice change of pace from something like Family Guy, which I still love nonetheless. Its characters have become iconic among the show’s fans, especially Bob’s daughter Tina and her tendency to moan about how hard her life is.
5. Perception (TNT)
Here’s another detective drama with a twist. Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) is a neuroscientist suffering from schizophrenia. His condition actually helps him solve mysteries along with his former student, played by Rachael Leigh Cook. I think the show is made by Eric McCormack’s performance, as well as the psychological approach the series takes to crime.
6. The Middle (ABC)
I have a real soft spot for this show. I discovered it during the second season and haven’t missed an episode since. It’s not laugh out loud funny all the time, but because its humor is based in reality, it’s incredibly enjoyable. It has some of the best production design I’ve seen on a sitcom (the set looks cluttered and dated like a real suburban home), and Patricia Heaton deserves all the Emmys for making me forget how much I dislike her as a real person.
7. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS)
It’s probably good that Craig Ferguson’s show flies a bit under the radar, since he jokes from night to night that CBS doesn’t even know he’s on the air. Craig’s show is a weird one, but what I love about it is that everything seems so natural and improvised, even when it’s planned. Once they had a blackout in the studio and just kept doing the show with flashlights. Craig even rips up his interview questions before every interview. His conversations with celebs feel like real chats, and he and his sidekick Geoff Peterson (a gay robot skeleton, duh) have some of the best chemistry on TV. This is the only show I watch on CBS, no lie.
8. The Real Housewives of New York City (Bravo)
The other Real Housewives series get so much attention. The New York ladies are the only ones I watch on a regular basis, and I feel like they aren’t talked about enough. But this series has had some pretty memorable moments. Scary Island, anyone? Damn, why do I miss Kelly Killoren Bensimon so much? The other thing I like about this show is they all have different hair colors so I can tell them apart.
9. The Neighbors (ABC)
Hear me out! This show got a bad rap from the beginning, but I think it’s unfairly mocked. Yes, it’s a show about alien neighbors, but the writers actually come up with some clever storylines highlighting the differences between the two families, and I think the show is really carried by the women’s performances. Jami Gertz and Toks Olagundoye are funny, funny ladies.
10. Billy on the Street (Fuse)
You guys, watch this show. It’s on Fuse, which you might not get or even know exists, but you can watch clips of it online and get it on iTunes. It comes back in early 2014, so get on it. And then follow Billy Eichner on Twitter because he is one of my favorite people. I discovered his show on demand earlier this year and couldn’t stop watching. Basically, it’s a trivia show on the streets of New York. Some questions are as basic as “For a dollar, name a woman!” What makes it hilarious is when Billy yells at people. And he yells a lot. Plus, sometimes he has celebrities like Rachel Dratch (above) on the show to do really silly things. Seriously, everybody get on the Billy Eichner train, because I am obsessed.
You can catch up on a lot of these shows on Netflix streaming, so get on it, people!