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.

15. Outer Range

7.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Imogen Poots, Isabel Arraiza, Josh Brolin, Lewis Pullman

Moods

A-list actors, Challenging, Mind-blowing

If you’re a fan of slow-burn mysteries and genre blends, you might enjoy Outer Range, a carefully paced mix of Western, sci-fi, and family drama. 

Josh Brolin stars as the patriarch Royal Abbott, who, while defending his ranch from a neighboring family, also discovers a strange void in his pasture. The void leads to even stranger depths as the show takes a turn for the supernatural. A ranch drama with a paranormal twist, Outer Range has been compared to family epics like Yellowstone and eerie mysteries like Twin Peaks—vastly different shows whose only throughline is that they are absurdly but impressively extensive in scale.

14. Upload

7.4

Country

United States of America

Actors

Allegra Edwards, Andy Allo, Josh Banday, Kevin Bigley

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Character-driven

This satire takes place in the year 2033 when it’s possible to “upload” oneself to a specific software-powered afterlife. In the variety of afterlives possible, there is no heaven or hell. Instead, class struggles persist: ads are everywhere, you have to pay for data, and there are many levels of luxury available.

Created by Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation), Upload is an easy and funny show with an interesting and relevant premise. If you liked The Good Place, Silicon Valley, or Black Mirror, you will surely love this.

 

13. Station Eleven

7.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Daniel Zovatto, David Wilmot, Himesh Patel, Lori Petty

Moods

Challenging, Discussion-sparking, Dramatic

These days, pandemic stories can go either of two ways: horribly or profoundly. The realism may be too much to bear, causing so-called pandemic fatigue, or it can compel you to move in the world in kinder, more self-aware ways.

Thankfully, HBO’s overlooked Station Eleven falls under the latter category. Epic, poignant, and lighthearted, the ten-episode miniseries (adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name) is one of the few pandemic-set, post-apocalyptic shows that takes a closer look at the kind and creative ways humans approach survival.

12. Better Off Ted

7.6

Country

United States of America

Actors

Andrea Anders, Isabella Acres, Jay Harrington, Jonathan Slavin

Moods

Dark, Discussion-sparking, Funny

Every episode of Better Off Ted starts with a satirical commercial from Veridian Dynamics, a multinational that does just about anything: biotech, weaponry, food, clothes, furniture. A soothing, soulless voice narrates the ad as happy, empty stock footage fills the screen: they can get you anything you please as long as it pleases them more. Money before people, goes the company motto, and there seems to be nothing that can stop them from achieving this goal.

Except perhaps for Ted and his small research and development team. As the conscience of Veridian Dynamics, he mediates between his amoral supervisors and hardworking colleagues and sticks up for the little guy as best as he can. He looks for the slim silver lining in every project he’s assigned, but the hijinks that ensue are both silly and sinister, highlighting the inherent contradiction of ideas like “family company” or “work-life balance.” 

Released in 2009 and cut short by ABC after its second-season run, Better Off Ted is an impressively prescient show that holds its own in a TV age obsessed with satirizing corporate culture. It tackles topics like racially-biased tech and meatless meat before they’ve even entered mainstream knowledge. It lacks some of the warmth and character depth you may be used to in typical half-hour sitcoms, but if you’re looking for something wickedly sharp, Better Off Ted is the way to go.

11. Los Espookys

7.6

Country

Chile, United States of America

Actors

Ana Fabrega, Bernardo Velasco

Moods

Character-driven, Easy, Funny

Los Espookys is the name of a horror-loving group of friends, who, following their passion, provide gory services to those who seek them. Their clients range from fearmongering priests to greedy insurance claimants, all of whom demand the most bizarre out of the Los Espookys team. They’re a bit like the Scooby-Doo team in that sense, except instead of solving spooky crimes, they’re called in to initiate them. 

It’s an absurd yet surprisingly sweet show that asks you to leave any self-serious viewing lens you might have at the door. Anything goes in this hazy, unnamed part of South America, and you would do well to let its boundless imagination carry you wherever it may lead, and its dry humor ground you on your feet. 

10. The Resort

7.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Cristin Milioti, Gabriela Cartol, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Nick Offerman

Moods

Action-packed, Binge-Worthy, Challenging

The Resort may start off as a familiar murder mystery, but it quickly unfolds into a multi-genre feat re-filled with new characters and questions each episode. Set in the Yucatan forest and embarking on some mind-bending, time-hopping journeys, The Resort is lush and trippy at the onset, unafraid to take its viewers deep into its version of a rabbit hole. 

You wouldn’t expect less from the creators of Mr. Robot and Palm Springs, the latter of which also stars Cristin Milioti in a twisty vacation adventure. Milioti of course steals the show as a woman who would rather drown herself in a police-level investigation than deal with her own existential problems, but the show’s strong cast, which includes The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper and Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman solidifies The Resort as one of the most intriguing and exciting shows today. 

9. Wellington Paranormal

7.8

Country

New-Zealand

Actors

Karen O'Leary, Maaka Pohatu, Mike Minogue

Moods

Easy, Funny, Grown-up Comedy

Wellington Paranormal is a wry and highly entertaining mockumentary series that follows a special force unit and their adventures in quelling paranormal activity. Taika Waititi executive produces this cross-genre sitcom, which serves as a spin-off to Waititi’s cult classic What We Do in the Shadows. 

While the film focuses on the creatures, Wellington Paranormal is decidedly about Officers Minogue and O’Leary and the hijinks that ensue as they encounter all sorts of supernatural beings, from vampires and werewolves to sea monsters and demons. The show is simple but deadpan funny: a chillingly breezy way to spend your binge time. 

8. In the Flesh

7.9

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Emmett Scanlan, Harriet Cains, Luke Newberry, Wunmi Mosaku

Moods

Character-driven, Original, Thought-provoking

This short-lived BBC series is premised on a simple but ingenious idea: what if zombies could be treated and welcomed back into society? In the Flesh posits that the battle between humans and the undead would be more political and social, rather than just fatal. It sees a return to the use of zombies as a more direct representation of alienation and societal divide, instead of having them just be soulless creatures to be feared and killed. So if you ever wished you could view a less gory Walking Dead, then the haunting and profound In the Flesh is your best bet.

7. For All Mankind

best

8.0

Country

United States, United States of America

Actors

Casey Johnson, Casey W. Johnson, Coral Peña, Cynthy Wu

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Dramatic, Inspiring

What if the 1960s space race never ended? For All Mankind imagines such a world; here, Russia’s cosmonauts arrive on the moon first, the galaxy holds resources beyond belief, and global wars have expanded in stakes and scale. More than just the final frontier, outer space is now the focal point of warring nations hungry to capitalize and claim new assets. 

For All Mankind’s out-of-this-world premise alone make it a thrilling watch, but you’ll be glad to know that the show also feels intimate and affecting thanks to its fully fleshed-out characters. If you’re looking for an epic but grounded story to lose yourself in, this is it. 

6. Undone

best

8.0

Country

Netherlands, United States, United States of America

Actors

Angelique Cabral, Bob Odenkirk, Constance Marie, Daveed Diggs

Moods

Original, Weird

Undone is a rotoscoped, genre-bending fever dream of a show. It’s a mystery in that the lead Alma is tasked to discover the truth about her father’s death, but also a fantasy in that she bends the limitless possibilities of time and space to achieve her goal. It’s a surreal adventure bolstered by daring animation, but it remains grounded largely because of its impeccably flawed characters. At the heart of this trippy show is a woman trying and failing (and trying again) to come to terms with herself, and that’s something any one of us can get behind. 

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