The 15 Most Original Shows to Watch Right Now

The 15 Most Original Shows to Watch Right Now

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It’s arguably even more of a challenge to make something original on TV than it is to do it on film. Since television production is overseen by networks and more often than not dictated by ratings, it’s even more crucial that shows become successful. But impressively, many, many TV creators have found a way to make it work. Here, we’ve listed a number of under-seen series that have proven their creativity with the medium, using episodic long-form storytelling to break our expectations of TV and create experiences that you won’t be able to find on a cinema screen either.

5. The Choe Show

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Actors

David Choe

Moods

Docu-series, Emotional, Grown-up Comedy

In the hands of a lesser artist, something like The Choe Show might have come off as a vanity project or an excuse to show off one’s art and one’s thoughts about art. But David Choe seems to want the opposite: together with an eclectic mix of guests, he lays bare his most shameful feelings and hardest struggles without ever asking the audience for sympathy and forgiveness—all the while using paint and performance to carve a path toward healing and mutual understanding.

The interviews are already impressive on their own, pitched somewhere between a casual chat and an exorcism of personal demons. But it’s around these conversations about addiction, abandonment, and family trauma where the show truly comes to life. With a whole team of animators and illustrators, Choe lets every pointed statement and loaded anecdote leap off the screen. Noise, color, photographs, home video tapes, and performance art footage constantly invade what we’re watching, as if the show is being created and reinvented right before our eyes. Fun, chaotic, boundlessly imaginative, and always open to change—if that’s how it is with art, that’s how it should be with people, too.

4. The Serpent Queen

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Amrita Acharia, Barry Atsma, Beth Goddard, Enzo Cilenti

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Dark

Despite being released amid a deluge of period dramas and biopics, Starz’s  The Serpent Queen, which follows Catherine de’ Medici’s rise from Italian servant to Queen of France, is a strong standout in today’s streaming fare. 

By balancing modern storytelling (expect poppy needle drops and fourth-wall breaks a la Fleabag) and historical realism (the costume and production design are as accurate and detailed as any thoughtful production), The Serpent Queen manages to have a genuinely fresh take on the historical drama. It’s also refreshing in its refusal to sugarcoat history’s crude ways, so despite its modern feel, don’t be too surprised to see 13-year-olds bedded and bodies graphically pulled apart by horses.

3. Pantheon

best

8.7

Country

United States of America

Actors

Aaron Eckhart, Chris Diamantopoulos, Daniel Dae Kim, Katie Chang

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Character-driven

Sci-fi is already a pretty wild genre. Anything can happen in this fantasy world, so it takes a special kind of skill to make a new entry seem original once more. But Pantheon throughout its eight-episode run manages to be just that thanks to its resonant storytelling, inventive editing, and brilliant, heartfelt premise. 

The scope of the story is as wide as it is wild: it’s about the unregulated rise of “uploaded intelligence,” after all, where human minds are fully uploaded and digitized for corporate use. Global tech companies are in an arms race to transform this discovery into weaponry, as they are wont to do, without giving mind to the human and environmental costs. Challenging them is the unlikely duo of Maddy and Caspian (Katie Chang and Paul Dano, respectively) who, as direct victims of this greed, have more than a few grievances to express. 

It’s exciting to see how far the dystopia of Pantheon goes, but anytime it flies too high, it’s always grounded by the fleshed-out humanity of Maddy and Caspian. The series runs on their self-discovery and existential crises as much as it does on extraordinary circumstances. Expect to shed a tear or two while watching this series. 

2. The Rehearsal

best

8.8

Actors

Nathan Fielder

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Discussion-sparking

The best thing about The Rehearsal—Nathan Fielder’s elaborate Russian doll of social experiments and self-examination—is how seamlessly it goes from prank comedy to surrealist horror. The show’s concept of staging situations where real people can practice making an important decision (complete with actors playing all the background characters) pays off in spades. Fielder’s insistence on over-preparation collides beautifully with the unpredictability of human behavior, leading to some of the funniest and weirdest interactions to grace TV.

But the greatest trick that The Rehearsal has up its sleeve is Fielder, playing a version of himself using this show to understand how to live a meaningful life. As he stretches these rehearsals beyond their limit (at certain points, recreating his own rehearsals with someone playing himself), his character’s persona also begins to crack. Suddenly the series isn’t just a comedy, but a poignant reflection on empathy and forgiveness, and a psychological mind-bender about an egomaniac who refuses to give up control of reality itself. There’s nothing else like it on television.

1. Severance

best

9.0

Country

United States, United States of America

Actors

Adam Scott, Britt Lower, Christopher Walken, Dichen Lachman

Moods

Challenging, Discussion-sparking, Original

In Lumon, a company that resembles the increasingly intrusive oligarchs of Big Tech, Mark (Adam Scott) and his colleagues undergo a procedure that allows them to separate their work memories from their non-work memories. It sounds like a dream: the perfect work-life balance. But things get complicated when one colleague mysteriously leaves and is replaced by confused new hire, Helly (Britt Lower). Mark and Helly dig into shocking truths about what they really do, and for whom.

Just like the endless halls of Lumon, Severance is filled with twists and turns, many of which are impossible to see coming. Slow, smart, and sneaked with a dystopian eerieness that doesn’t feel all that far off, Severance is sure to leave you wary of corporate slavishness, if you aren’t already. 

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