50 Most Underrated TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

50 Most Underrated TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

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If you feel like you’ve maxed out all the good shows on Netflix, think again. Besides the big-name shows that have caught media attention, buried under the platform’s marketing algorithm is a treasure trove of shows you’ve probably never heard of.

And among them are plenty of spectacular gems that are certainly worth your time. We’ve curated the top 50 TV shows you might have overlooked, all currently streaming on Netflix.

40. 3%

8.0

Country

Brazil

Actors

Bianca Comparato, Celso Frateschi, Cynthia Senek, João Miguel

From the Oscar-nominated cinematographer of City of God, this is a Brazilian Netflix TV show that I can only describe as a smarter Hunger Games. In a dystopian society, the majority of the planet’s population lives in extreme poverty while a select 3% (hence the title) live in a heaven-like world called “The Offshore”. Every year, the 20-year-olds of the planet get a chance to join the 3% in a selection process that for the first time might harbor moles. With an intriguing first episode that shares just enough to keep you informed but engaged, it’s easy to want to binge-watch the whole first season of 3% in one sitting.

39. On My Block

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Brett Gray, Danny Ramirez, Diego Tinoco, Jason Genao

Moods

Character-driven, Emotional, Funny

TV has never been as diverse as it’s been today, but despite the multitude of perspectives, nailing an authentic and enjoyable story that’s outside the realm of the classic white experience continues to be tricky. How do you relay very real dangers like gang violence and poverty without undermining universal teenage concerns like heartbreak and rejection? 

Enter On My Block, a series that manages to stuff many things on its small plate without compromise. It’s funny and charming, but also smart and serious when it needs to be. Unlike a number of teen sitcoms before it, On My Block is in touch with the real world, and it’s unafraid to shove its characters into difficult situations at every and any moment—not just during special episodes. This authentic setup coupled with its very likable and well-drawn leads is sure to draw in viewers of all leanings.

38. Immigration Nation

8.0

Moods

Docu-series

For three years, the makers of this docuseries gained in-depth access to ICE and other government agencies to document the current state of the U.S. immigration system.

Immigration Nation looks at how ICE functions from within, but it also focuses on the human toll of its methods. When a migrant freezes to death, an officer calls his distraught father to notify him. It quickly becomes apparent that the officer is using the same call to try to establish if the father is in the U.S. legally or if he should be deported.

The show also makes an important point of noting that the harshness of the U.S. immigration system didn’t start with the current administration. “Prevention through deterrence” Clinton-era policies, for example, forced migrants towards desert routes, killing around 10,000 people from dehydration.

37. Street Food

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Daniel Lee Gray, Philip Hersh

Moods

Docu-series, Instructive

When I learned about Street Food the first time, I was reluctant to sit through yet another Netflix cooking show. They’ve made so many that when I want to bring up an episode with a friend I forget if I saw it in Ugly Delicious, Chef’s Table, Salt Fat Acid Heat or others. I can’t say that Street Food is a different format. It uses the same slow-motion takes of food, the same close-ups on chefs and the same style of interviews. Here is the thing though. Street Food might be similar to other Netflix cooking shows, but it’s also better than them in almost every way. Much better. It’s only 30 minutes long per episode, so it doesn’t indulge in egos or stray into unrelated stories. It doesn’t showcase kitchens where only the rich eat, like Chef’s Table often does, but stalls that are accessible to everyone. And in the best way, it connects the story of the food makers to the food. The show is mostly about middle-aged to senior women, and people who do not make that much money. It’s not about glamorous young chefs. It’s about food stripped away from any marketing or showbiz. Real cooking, real chefs, real diners. In its unpretentious nature, Street Food feels euphoric.

36. Special

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Augustus Prew, Jessica Hecht, Julie Cude-Eaton, Kat Rogers

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Funny

Clocking just 15 minutes per episode, Special is like a candy bar. It’s quick to consume but sweet as sugar. This new Netflix Original is set around a gay man with cerebral palsy, a disability that affects his body coordination but not his brain. As Ryan puts it in the first episode, it’s a disability that doesn’t make him normal but also is not severe enough for him to be part of the “cool disabled crew”. Ryan decides to turn his life around by pretending his disability is due to a car accident. People around him, especially at the exploitative millennial magazine “eggwoke” where he is an intern, start treating him differently. The car accident story provides a more accessible framework for them to understand his condition. It’s hard to believe a TV show can come out today and still manage to be so different from the rest, but Special does it. In other words, and I’m sorry to be this cheeky; Special is special.

35. Russian Doll

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Brendan Sexton III, Brooke Timber, Charlie Barnett, Chloe Sevigny

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Funny

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.

34. Ugly Delicious

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

David Chang, Peter Meehan

Moods

Docu-series, Instructive

Man, don’t watch this show hungry. Each episode traces the traditions, the history, and the lore surrounding much-loved types of food. It’s a food show, to be sure, and it will surely whet your appetite, but award-winning rebel chef and creator of the New-York-based restaurant Momofuku, David Chang, also has a mission: to challenge notions of authenticity, to call out snobbism, and to break down cultural barriers. While exploring pizza, for example, he travels to Japan to check out a new pizza in a Michelin-star restaurant, but also hits up a Domino’s. He talks about why microwaves are good for you and why MSG isn’t bad for you—and why demonizing MSG has a racist history. Despite being an important proponent of the food industry, Chang has a fuck-it attitude towards it. There is a reason the name of his high-brow brand sounds like “m*therf*cker”. Part mouth-watering food TV, part op-ed on foodie culture, this is one of the best cooking shows you can watch today.

33. Top Boy

8.0

Country

UK

Actors

Ashley Walters, Geoff Bell, Giacomo Mancini, Kane Robinson

Moods

Thrilling

The first season of this abrasive crime drama has four episodes, expect to watch them all in one take. The second season became even bigger than the first after being endorsed by none other than Drake, who pushed for it to go on after it was cancelled. Set amidst the drug-dealing, cut-throat gangs of Hackney, East London, and Jamaica, Top Boy revolves around the two drug lords Sully and Dushane, played by Kane Robinson aka grime rapper Kano and Ashley Walters. This is not a cliched, poorly acted gangster flick though, but a vividly shot, intricately written, and authentic drama with amazing characters. Striving for a certain realism and authenticity, it is also unsettingly violent. But in its realism, it trusts mature viewers to see things like they are and to live through the tough decisions people in underserved communities have to make every day. Think The Wire with a gritty UK vibe. If that appeals to you, Top Boy is for you!

32. GLOW

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Alex Rich, Alison Brie, Annabella Sciorra, Bashir Salahuddin

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Funny

In an age where every show gets called “original” the minute after it comes out, this amazing series from the creators of Orange is the New Black will actually make you go “no, that show is different!”. Starring an almost all-women cast (except for the coach, played masterfully by podcast icon Marc Maron), it’s the story of how a crazy wrestling show was put together in the 1980s called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Alison Brie (Community) plays the girl at the center of the effort to make this show happen, having had a terribly failed career thus far. Perfectly acted and featuring funny as well as absurd moments, GLOW is a great show that you can binge on Netflix without noticing the episodes fly by.

31. Rita

8.1

Country

Denmark

Actors

Alexandre Willaume, Carsten Bjørnlund, Carsten Bjornlund, Carsten Norgaard

You might not have heard of it, but this show was huge in Denmark. I mean, one million people watching in a 5-million-people country huge. Far from being the tasteful Nordic Noir international audiences are used to, Rita revolves around a mid-40s, single mum of three older kids, leather jacket-clad private high school teacher with a big mouth and a heart to go with it. Mille Dinesen plays the titular female lead, who smokes in the school bathrooms and, well, bangs the school principal. But in addition to the rule-bending rebel facing off overprotective parents, know-it-all students, and her growing kids, Rita also deals with serious topics like balancing work and family, being a role model, and abortion, albeit in a hilarious and, well, delightfully Danish way.

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