30 Best Little-Known TV Shows on Netflix

April 19, 2019

After our list for the best movies on Netflix was shared to reach millions of subscribers, we have compiled another list for shows, with just as much care. Like all entries on agoodmovietowatch.com, these are highly-rated and little-known recommendations; they’re shows you have yet to watch, and you’ll love them once you do. You can find all the highly-rated, little-known show suggestions here. agoodmovietowatch is your gateway to on-demand streaming services, but instead of recommending the same movies and shows to you you’ve been hearing about for the past 20 years, we focus on the good ones that were overlooked. To do this, we only recommend titles that have received a high rating from viewers combined with a high score from critics. This means that these entries have been appreciated by both, so you can trust that they’re awesome. We also only suggest titles  that didn’t make a huge splash at the box office or which didn’t get the attention they deserved, so there is little chance you have already seen them.  

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TV SHOW
30

Big-time podcast icon and comedian Marc Maron stars as a fictionalized version of himself in this hilarious and sometimes troubling show. Maron the character is a recovering alcoholic who abuses coffee in the constant state of chase after a buzz, he is divorced, bitter, yet weirdly kind – he is always trying to be a better version of himself and failing. The series is about his attempt at human relationships, both romantic and not, after a bad history that spans from a negligent self-centered mother to bad eating habits and self-shame. Maron is insightful, very funny, and especially in the first season, a joy to watch.

29

A captivating documentary series on the struggling state of the police department in Flint, Michigan; and by extension a large proportion of American cities. The town that had made the news for its water crisis is home to another crisis that dates back further: an exponential rise in crime.  The police department, however, keeps losing funding year over year, so much so that they can only have less than 9 one-officer cars patrolling the (large) city at any one time.  A sobering and impressive account that follows officers facing not only harrowing situations in a failing city, but also the constant fear of being laid-off.

28

Netflix is stopping at nothing to collect the best true crime stories around, a bit like an African dictator looking for aid programs. The latest addition is the incredible thriller mini-series, “The Staircase.” It originally aired in 2004, but Netflix took the same director and allowed him to add new episodes in 2018 to complete the story. 

The plot: A famous American novelist’s wife is found dead, and he is accused of killing her. His life comes under scrutiny as everyone asks whether she died in an accident or was murdered. If you liked their other hit, “Making a Murderer,” you will love this. You should also definitely check out “The Keepers” or Netflix’s binge-worthy crime documentary, “Evil Genius.”

27

Set in Victorian London, it’s about a guy who sets out on a mission to find his missing family. He is helped by a mysterious medium played by the ever-amazing Eva Green.

If you make it to the second season, I genuinely think it’s the better watch. The first season is good, so it won’t be that hard to get there. (Side note: This super cool show pays tribute to some familiar fictional characters like Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula and, Dorian Gray. )

26

There are only 20 seats in Formula 1 each year, which means that drivers are racing not only to win but to keep their spots. Every single driver faces cut-throat competition from the rest, as not everyone will be able to compete in the next season. 

Just like Losers, the other Netflix show that premiered around the same time, Formula 1: Drive to Survive focuses on the back of the grid. Lewis Hamilton, the five-time world champion, is rarely seen for example. Instead, you get an inside look into the drivers who are under the most pressure of losing their seats – trying to get the most out of cars that are usually not up to par. 

This makes for a thrilling show that covers almost all of the 2018 championship. If like me you don’t follow F1, the events that take place will be completely new to you too. Which means even more suspense in this well-made and engaging docuseries.

25

Smart, suspensful, original, and just all-around a perfect show. Money Heist (La casa de papel) is 13 episodes about a gang who embarks on the biggest heist in history – not just in their country of Spain but everywhere. Led by an enigmatic character only known as The Professor, the rest of the gang adopts city names: Tokyo, Rio, Helsinki, Nairobi, etc. Their roles in the heist are as different as their personalities and approach to relationships. The script is insanely suspenseful, super fast when it needs to, and painfully slow when you don’t want it to be (and when it’s perfect for it to be), taking you into the heist that quickly becomes a chess game between The Professor and the police. Be ready to get instantly hooked into a very binge-worthy journey. A truly amazing show, and one of the best if not the best heist TV show ever made.

24

Don’t be surprised if you cry at every single episode of this show. I know that sounds crazy, given that Queer Eye is technically a reality TV show, but the levels of honesty and genuine care at play here are out of this world. Most of the time, it’s a fun show about gay guys making over straight guys in hopeless situations, featuring characters as hilarious and playful as Jonathan Van Ness, and as pleasant and insightful as Tan France. However, a lot of times, addressing those hopeless situations in the delicate way Queer Eye manages to do, it touches on heavy themes like loneliness, body image issues, sacrifice for one’s family, etc. This is a celebration of tolerance, empathy, and amazing craftsmanship by its creators that will not only make you go “why am I crying right now?” but also “why can’t I stop binge watching a reality TV show?”.

23

This may well be Netflix’s first successful attempt at a traditional weekly television show, a brief and well-made set of videos on topics ranging from the wealth gap to monogamy to cryptocurrency.

The idea is decidedly not unique. The only thing YouTube might have more of than make-up advice videos are explanatory monologues by self-declared Illuminati.

But the production value, the research, and the dedication that went into Explained set it apart. Expect sharp and factual 15-minute takes on contemporary topics that deeply benefit from Vox’s experience in making easily digestible informative content.

At best you will end up more knowledgeable on topics. But expect your special uncle to yell at the “fake news-media liberal snowflakes” on television. 

TV SHOW
22

Rectify is an incredible show about the emotional journey one man takes upon his release from death row after 19 years. The acting, direction, and soundtrack of this series is unparalleled. While it does tackle some pretty intense topics like the death penalty, corruption, spirituality, and more, the show’s primary focus is exploring a story of a much more intimate nature. Daniel is the show’s main protagonist – a smart, thoughtful, damaged man who’s both vulnerable, yet mysterious. His release affects everyone in his family very differently – some, like his sister, Agatha, had been fighting for his release since the day he was arrested. Others, like his brother-in-law, suspect he’s guilty of the crime he was accused of. Still others, like the town sheriff, want to find new evidence to lock him away again. That said, this is a story that’s driven primarily by characters – and it’s a slow burn. The plot might be too slow for those who want to find out right away if Daniel is innocent or not of the crime. But if you watch the scene in the very first episode when Daniel meets his mother and sister outside of a prison cell for the first time in nearly twenty years and you don’t feel a torrent of powerful emotion, then this may not be the best series for you. But the rest of you will surely be mesmerised by the thoughtfulness and beauty of this show.

21

Bodyguard scored record viewing numbers for the BBC (the highest in 10 years).

That’s only the tip of the why-you-should-watch it iceberg. Watch the first 20 minutes, just the first 20 minutes, and you will understand. If you don’t feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster that’s about to derail by the end of the second episode, you should email me and I’ll try to get your Netflix subscription refunded.

The ONLY problem with this show, and it’s a big one, is the last episode. But it’s just that one, the last episode. I’m not going to tell you why. You’ll see. But the rest of the ride is hella sweet.

TV SHOW
20

As the name indicates, Losers tells stories of failure in sport – an unconventional way to look at competitive personalities. The first episode is on boxing, the second is on soccer, and so on. But if you stick around, you’ll make it to episode five – my favorite (full disclosure: it is set in Morocco, where I’m from).

Every episode is about a different story, so you can watch one or two not in any particular order, then keep the rest for later. It is the perfect documentary style with enough of a narrative to keep plot-addicted people like me captivated.

A bonus is that this show is created and directed by renown animator Mickey Duzyj – prepare for stunning yet purpose-driven animations.

19

There is footage and coverage to prove that the pizza bomber story actually happened but watching Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist everything is so intriguing it is almost impossible to believe. A pizza-delivery guy shows up to rob a bank with what he says is a bomb secured around his neck, something that he claims is part of a treasure hunt. By robing the bank, he will unlock the next set of clues that will allow him to defuse the bomb. Bank tellers comply but on the way out he is suddenly arrested by the police, who doubt his claims, handcuff him and keep him at a distance. The device he has around his neck then starts beeping. What follows is one of the most unusual investigations ever led by security forces, brilliantly framed by executive producers Duplass brothers. A perfect follow-up to their other amazing True-crime Netflix collaboration, Wild Wild Country, it’s a tight 4-episodes that is equally terrifying and intriguing.

TV SHOW
18

Maniac is really original. Original as in aesthetically weird, in a good way.

Jonah Hill and Emma Stone star in this tale set in an alternative world that is a blend of 1990s technology and fictional words and concepts. Their characters, suffering respectively from schizophrenia and heartbreak, participate in a drug test that was supposed to cure their problems.

Things don’t go as planned. This show is like if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had a child with Inception, and then that child grew up to marry Get Out. The child of that marriage is Maniac. A refreshing, original and beautifully creative miniseries well worth your time.

TV SHOW
17

This is the type of show where you will laugh your ass off in one scene, and then find yourself moved to tears in the next. It’s so heartfelt, so smart, and so, so well-written. The premise of the show is the revelation of a Nobel laureate that he used his own semen in his trailblazing research on fertilization. This prompts his daughter to search for her unknown siblings. She is stuck with two particularly interesting sisters, one of whom is a lawyer who tries to sue their father. One additional plus for me personally is the Australian accent. I love it in a comedy/drama, ever since I watched The Let Down on Netflix.

16

This is a fantastic BBC thriller series. Perfect writing, exceptionally well-developed characters and great actors across the board make this production a classic crime show. A middle-aged Yorkshire Police sergeant is coming to terms with the release from prison of a man who had caused her great harm. His comeback coincides with a kidnapping attempt by a local drug kingpin. A seemingly quaint small town reveals its crime underbelly in a plot that mixes personal vendettas with life-threatening crime. Happy Valley has a great sense of suspense, it’ll keep you on edge at all times. It might not seem like much at the start of the first episode but grows on you. It also follows the BBC tradition (think Luther, Line of Duty, Broadchurch) of addressing the darker side of police work.

TV SHOW
15

Ozark is a show about how a seemingly average family that gets tangled up in very unusual circumstances.  Jason Bateman plays an accountant who launders money for a big Mexican drug cartel from Chicago. When things go wrong with the Cartel leader, he is forced to set up shop in the Ozark valley and change practically every aspect of his wife and two kids’ lives. The show is not only an exciting crime drama but an interesting manifestation of very common American family discussions and concerns.

TV SHOW
14

An 11-time Primetime Emmy nominated BBC series. Two words: Idris Elba. This is his show. He stars as DCI John Luther (watch this show and you’ll never be able to pronounce that without a British accent), an extremely smart, committed yet unpredictable and sometimes violent detective. The creator and writer, Neil Cross (Doctor Who), has said to be inspired by a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo. The show really succeeds at hitting that right balance. The only difference is that both the crimes portrayed and the context of the show are very modern. Luther will sometimes play with your mind, entertain you at others, but mostly it will keep you captivated. And without realizing it, it will make you develop an interesting closeness with Elba’s character. The supporting cast, from other police officers to villains, are all terrifically acted. This is British mystery at its very best.

TV SHOW
13

If you liked Stranger Things but are sick of the hype, sit tight because there is a lot more of where that came from in Dark. Here is what they have in common: the aesthetic, great music, and they’re both about the disappearance of a child. Other than that, it is very difficult to compare Dark to anything else we’ve seen before. The show is compelling and complex which makes it incredibly tension ridden. Each episode will draw you deeper into the plot until you become completely obsessed with finding out what is going to happen. This German town has a long and heavy history, which is brought to the forefront of the collective conscious when a child goes missing. The plot twists and turns through decades of history – and that’s as much as we will share without ruining it for you. This is without a doubt Netflix’s most twisted show to date! It is also Netflix’s first German show – we recommend watching the subtitled version so you don’t miss getting the full range of emotions from the actors.

12

Sex Education is an original mix of what its title would indicate, but also of heartfelt and funny stories. Otis, a British teenager whose mom is a sex and relationship therapist, starts harnessing her knowledge to help the sex woes of the kids in his high-school. Hilarity regularly ensues as you’d expect from anything involving sex and uninitiated teenagers. But for all its worth, Sex Education is never cringe-worthy. Its realistic writing of teenage misadventures can teach any adult a thing or two. If you liked Lovesick, another Netflix British comedy about sex trouble, you will like Sex Education.

11

Nadia is a game developer and proud aging hipster living in New York. Her story starts at her thirty-sixth birthday party looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. On her way out, she finds a friend who hands her a joint laced with cocaine, “that’s how the Israelis do it” her friend says.

Nadia hooks up with a guy and they stop at a bodega on the way back to her place. So far everything seems normal (in a New York-hipster kind of way). But on her way out of the bodega, she is hit by a car and dies. The story restarts, at the same birthday party, staring at herself in the mirror.

Russian Doll can be summarized in what Nadia screams later that night: “the universe is trying to f*ck with me, and I refuse to engage”. Her strong personality and the events that happen to her allow the show to explore themes of vulnerability, trauma, and even life and death. Russian Doll repeats almost every episode, but its originality and plot twists make it more refreshing with every repeat.

This rhythm takes some quick getting used to, but the moment you do you will not be able to look away. Natasha Lyonne from Orange is the New Black is masterful at playing Nadia. She co-created the show with Amy Poehler and Sleeping With Other People director, Leslye Headland. She packs a lot of the originality and character that possibly makes Russian Doll the most fun and original show you will watch in 2019.

10

I can’t think of a good reason why this review shouldn’t just be two words: David Attenborough.

With a voice that makes you wish every other voice in your life was the same, the star of Planet Earth teamed up with Netflix to make this new nature show. It took four years to film, and it bounces countless times between continents in every episode. It’s rich, vivid, and oh so beautiful.

So they just made another Planet Earth? Not exactly. Our Planet has a much stronger environmental message. It’s not a line here and there about the negative impact we’ve had on the planet – it’s the theme behind the whole show.

It’s frank, sad, but always, always, stunning.

9

If you’re looking for a funny yet original sitcom, look no further than Derry Girls. 

It takes place in 1990s Northern Ireland where civil unrest reigns. News of bombings is regular. This is a cause for concern for a lot of people, but for one group of teenage girls life continues as usual. Making fun of the first boy at their all girls school and being embarrassed by crushes are unshakable priorities. 

Derry Girls might have been a good show with just the 90s nostalgia and the political undertone, but the sharp and hilarious writing elevate it to greatness. It is truly one of the best sitcoms ever made. If you liked The End of the F***ing World, you will enjoy Derry Girls. They differ in plot but they both carry similar elements of dark and dry humour. 

Watch out for Sister Michael, she is hilarious. 

TV SHOW
8

A British comedy series that was originally called Scrotal Recall before it was bought by Netflix and rebranded. It’s about Dylan and his friends, he is a desperate romantic in his 20s who suddenly discovers he has chlamydia, and therefore must contact all his (numerous) past sexual adventures and relationships. Every episode has the name of one of the girls he has to contact, and the story that goes with it. Dylan’s best friends are Luke, a hilarious seemingly confident but actually insecure, shallow business-school-type; and Eve, Dylan’s best friend who may have undisclosed feelings for him, she is a sarcastic, smart girl who is very well portrayed by Misfits star Antonia Thomas. Lovesick is a charming little series, that portrays failed relationships but ends up being beautifully romantic. Something you can easily find yourself watching many episodes in one take.

7

An exquisite crime show made under the supervision of David Fincher. It’s a beautifully retro account of the start of serial murders and law enforcement’s early attempts to understand them. When his role as a negotiator comes to an abrupt end, agent Holden Ford becomes involved with the freshly founded Behavioral Science Unit headed by agent Bill Tench (marvelously played by Holt McCallany). Together they go around the country interviewing serial killers and trying to solve open murder cases. Possibly Netflix’s most binge-worthy show so far, Mindhunter is a very interesting, almost scientifically oriented thriller.

6

Each episode of Abstract is a look into an art discipline through the lens of a selected contemporary pioneer. From illustration to footwear design, the show follows how the artists create and live, how they got started, etc. The documentary itself is really aesthetically pleasing, which kind of taps into your own creativity. The designers in the series are unknowingly well-known. Does that make sense? You will instantly recognise their work even though you’ve never heard of them before. A light, easy-going and inspirational documentary.

5

A look into the interesting lives and magnificent plates made in the kitchens of some of the best chefs in the world (including an episode with the best). Each episode dives deep into their worlds’, providing an intimate and ultimately inspiring look at their life both inside the kitchen and out; with all of them having lived unique lives to say the least. Their perspectives on everything from family life to entrepreneurship will dazzle you almost as much as the colorful and spectacular dishes they produce.

4

An amazing binge-worthy show that is a mix between a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a crime thriller. It tells the story of James, a 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath (for some very convincing reasons). James decides he wants the victim of his first murder to be a new schoolmate, Alyssa.  He befriends her and keeps waiting for the perfect moment to kill Alyssa until he finds himself on a journey with her to escape her home. Somewhere near the middle of the show, and without you fully realizing it, it transforms from an original coming-of-age story or odd-boy-meets-odd-girl story to an intriguing view on adolescent insecurities and the role of parents into shaping them. It transforms from a mysterious, almost charming story to an interesting character study.  This is when the show will blow your mind.  It’s a fresh, smart, funny yet disturbing emotional thrill ride.

 

3

This show has fantastic action sequences, the best I’ve seen in a historical drama.

Based on the best-selling historical novel series The Saxon Stories, this is a story of adventure, war and complex characters that intersect during the Danish invasion of Britain. 

Uhtred of Bebbanburg was a small who boy when he was kidnapped and then raised by violent Danes. He grows up to be a great warrior, but his half-Saxon and Danish roots make him the subject of skepticism on both sides.

Bold statement alert: There has never been a better alternative to Game of Thrones. While it’s not meant to be compared to Game of Thrones, the high production value, the multi-layered writing, and some great newcomer actors inevitably induce the same sense of addiction.

2

A dramatic take on the life and capture of Ted Kaczynski, popularly known as UNABOMBER(UNiversity and Airline BOMber) from the eyes of an FBI profiler. Kaczynski was responsible for 16 bombings, and it took 17 years for the FBI to catch him. To date, he’s the target of the most expensive chase the FBI has ever launched. The show is not a mystery (facts are the matter of public domain) and doesn’t even pretend to be one. Instead, it focuses on the complex motives of the UNABOMBER, as well as the bureaucracy that the FBI ran through trying to catch him. It’s a really well-made, engrossing show that’s hard not to watch in one take. It’s 8 episodes of 40 minutes, so pick the time you start it wisely.

1

A Netflix documentary mini-series that follows the relocation of a cult from India to a small town in Oregon and the ensuing events. It’s a completely true story, but the events it portrays are so bizarre and unexpected that they have to be seen to be believed. The cult, led by a controversial Indian guru, drew worldwide attention to its beginnings in India and then to its conflict with the locals once it relocated to the United States. If you were a contemporary, you must know that the town is Antelope and the guru is Bhagwan or Osho, but if you were not, it is very unlikely you’ve even heard of it. What was a very significant moment in American media and history has been long forgotten, and is retold here in a captivating way. An extremely well-executed and a powerful account of a very unlikely story.

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