New TV shows have it rough these days—especially if they don’t take place in Westeros, Middle Earth, or other well-trodden storytelling locales. Since 2020, original programming has had to contend with pandemic-scrambled production schedules, competition from cinematic universes, the boom in streaming platforms, and, most recently, the threat of disappearing from libraries altogether. Sure, some series have unexpectedly popped with viewers, but more often than not, new entries struggle to be seen—so much so that even titles featuring movie stars and heavyweight producers can easily get lost in the shuffle.
I’ll admit I’m part of the problem. As someone covering television, I watch as much as I can, but I still prioritize projects I’ve heard of before making time for those without much marketing muscle. And though I try to champion underseen shows as often as possible, many slip through the cracks. Below are 15 such series that have aired new episodes in the past two years that I’ve attempted to keep up with, but haven’t written extensively about. Some are heady dramas; others, lighthearted comedies. One is called Warrior Nun. All are worthy of a brighter spotlight.
Roar (Apple TV+) | 1 season
This darkly comic (and often unsettling) anthology series from the creators of GLOW is the perfect example of how hard it can be for any show to break out these days: The cast is stacked with stars—including Nicole Kidman, Issa Rae, and Betty Gilpin—and every episode examines a female character whose anxiety gets translated into a plot point. Take Kidman’s chapter: In it, she plays a woman whose obsession with her younger years manifests into a habit of eating old photographs. Think Black Mirror, if Black Mirror were about gender dynamics.
Woke (Hulu) | 2 seasons
New Girl’s Lamorne Morris plays a politics-averse artist who, after having a harrowing encounter with the police, begins to perceive inanimate objects as, well, animate. The series incorporates two-dimensional cartoons and stop-motion puppetry into its live-action filmmaking, and the result is a surreal and provocative comedy—a mix that can be a hard sell—about realizing your place in society.
Love Death + Robots (Netflix) | 3 seasons; renewed for Season 4
Every episode of this Emmy-winning animated anthology series incorporates at least one of the three elements in its title. But Love Death + Robots is more than a collection of (often NSFW!) sci-fi tales; watching it feels like having a fever dream, each episode offering something delirious or profound or just plain strange. One installment is about a super-intelligent yogurt, for example; another, about an invasion of rats. It’s stunning and disquieting in equal measure.
Borgen: Power & Glory (Netflix) | 4 seasons
The prescient Danish political drama about Denmark’s first female prime minister, Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen), initially aired in the early 2010s, contending with more attention-grabbing titles such as House of Cards, but the show’s unexpected fourth season feels as fresh as ever. Indeed, Power & Glory seems more like a stand-alone series than a continuation; it’s more cynical in tone, questioning Birgitte’s legacy as a politician, rather than focusing on what she faced as she shattered the glass ceiling. If you ever wanted The West Wing to go several shades darker, try this offering from the other side of the Atlantic.
Flatbush Misdemeanors (Showtime) | 2 seasons
The low-budget web series about two friends struggling to make ends meet sharpened into an astute portrait of daily life in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood after moving onto Showtime. Amid a crowded landscape of TV shows about New York–set friendships, the comedians Dan Perlman and Kevin Iso’s knack for melancholic, off-kilter humor allows theirs to observe dark subjects—including drug-dealing and depression—with singular wit and heart.
The Essex Serpent (Apple TV+) | 1 season
Ominous in tone and hypnotic to watch, this limited series adapting Sarah Perry’s popular novel stars Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston, whose performances deepen the Victorian-era-set story beyond its surface-level mystery. This one’s a fit for fans of Midnight Mass who want a dose of gothic romance with their supernatural horror: Come for all the talk of a supposedly fanged beast attacking a small village; stay for the incisive study of how paranoia fuels—and hinders—the forces of faith and reason.
Miracle Workers (HBO Max) | 3 seasons; renewed for Season 4
Consider the continued existence of Miracle Workers a bit of a miracle itself: The show started as a straightforward sitcom imagining heaven as a dysfunctional workplace, but has since transformed into a screwball sandbox for its starry cast led by Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, and Geraldine Viswanathan. Every season, the ensemble gets plopped into a new setting, playing characters trying to stay positive in the most challenging of circumstances. Season 2 took place in the Dark Ages, while Season 3 headed onto the Oregon Trail. Maybe Season 4 should take place in the present?
Rutherford Falls (Peacock) | 2 seasons
I’ve highlighted this buoyant comedy about a small town struggling to honor Native rights and traditions before, but if the first season built a solid foundation in examining social issues through familiar sitcom beats, the second is even better. Anchored by fine-tuned performances from Jana Schmieding as the curator of a cultural center and Michael Greyeyes as the local casino owner, Season 2 expands the story’s scope by exploring the difficulties in sustaining success when it comes to Native representation.
Raising Dion (Netflix) | 2 seasons
This sweet comic-book adaptation about a young boy who discovers special abilities sets itself apart from the deluge of superhero fare by focusing on a mother-son relationship. Produced by Michael B. Jordan, the series is a marvelous binge for younger kids and parents alike. Though the plot may be predictable—then again, what origin story isn’t?—the show captures the way childhood comes with a unique sense of discovery, a kind of superpower all on its own.
Breeders (FX) | 3 seasons; renewed for Season 4
For a more acerbic (and thoroughly kid-unfriendly) take on raising children, try this dark comedy starring Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard as a couple who are not so much parenting as they are coping with their role as household heads. The show, which perhaps got overshadowed by the network’s Better Things given their similar themes, can be a so-realistic-it’s-brutal watch, but it deftly highlights the inherent absurdity of family dynamics through candid dialogue and cutting, sometimes painfully honest, scenes.
Paper Girls (Amazon Prime) | 1 season
Yes, this show involves children who ride bikes in the 1980s getting entangled in a sci-fi adventure, but the Stranger Things comparisons can (and should) end there. Based on the Brian K. Vaughan comics, this series about four 12-year-old newspaper-delivery girls who get caught up in a war among time travelers is more interested in their coming-of-age journeys than in the world-threatening conflict. The choice makes the series an engaging romp—and a riveting character study.
Starstruck (HBO Max) | 2 seasons; renewed for Season 3
Modern romantic comedies struggle to survive on TV—RIP, Hulu’s High Fidelity—but Rose Matafeo, the creator and star of this one, about an ordinary woman who has a one-night stand with a stranger who turns out to be a movie star, helps the story beat the odds by imbuing it with an infectious warmth and specificity. Her character, Jessie, is a New Zealander trying to get by in London, and her courtship with the A-lister (played by a winning Nikesh Patel) is more awkward than swoon-worthy at first. (Don’t worry: Plenty of swoons eventually abound.)
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+) | 1 season
Don’t let the elegiac tone of this limited series adapting Walter Mosley’s acclaimed novel keep you away: Samuel L. Jackson delivers a moving performance as a 91-year-old who undergoes a procedure to temporarily remedy his failing memory—and as a result, finally confronts his past. It’s an excellent showcase for the actor, as well as for Judas and the Black Messiah’s Dominique Fishback, who plays an orphan caring for Ptolemy.
Warrior (HBO Max) | 2 seasons; renewed for Season 3
The martial-arts drama, based on a story by Bruce Lee, found a cult following during its initial run on Cinemax, enough for HBO Max to save it after the previous network stopped producing original programming. Set during the Tong Wars in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1800s, the show features stylish hand-to-hand-combat choreography that is impressive enough, but the series also tells a poignant story about the trials of carving out a life in a place that expects an entire community to assimilate—or flatten its cultural identity entirely.
Warrior Nun (Netflix) | 1 season; renewed for Season 2
If Warrior embellishes history, Warrior Nun distorts it completely. The premise, if you couldn’t tell from the title, requires much suspension—or maybe total exorcism—of disbelief: Ava (played by Alba Baptista), a 19-year-old quadriplegic orphan, gains powers via a holy relic kept by a secret order of Catholic nuns that has long defended humanity against demons. The series perhaps involves a tad too much exposition to explain its loose-in-logic plot, but by the time Ava and the sisters storm the Vatican, you’ll be too engrossed in the action to care about the details.