50 Most Underrated TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

50 Most Underrated TV Shows on Netflix Right Now

May 29, 2024

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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.

41. 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.

42. 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.

43. 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.

44. 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.

45. 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.

46. Alice in Borderland

best

8.0

Country

d, Japan

Actors

Aya Asahina, Ayaka Miyoshi, Ayame Misaki, Dori Sakurada

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Dark

Alice in Borderland is a fast-paced heart-wrenching puzzle of a show that will have you wracking your brain and wiping your tears, often at the same time. It combines the wit of Hunger Games, the ruthlessness of Battle Royal, the goriness of Saw, and the social commentary of Squid Game, though sadly it has yet to receive the same renown as these titles. 

With each game, the characters must solve a given problem before the timer runs out—when it does, they die, often violently and for others to witness. While playing the games, leads Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) and Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya) also try to solve the bigger picture by figuring out once and for all who the gamemaster is. Like the story it names, Alice in Borderland drives its characters into increasingly dark and mad situations the deeper it gets. It’s also built to last like the novel, a classic in the making bound to be rediscovered and re-enjoyed in the years to come.

47. Love

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Actors

Chris Witaske, Claudia O'Doherty, Claudia O'Doherty, Gillian Jacobs

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Dramatic, Funny

What a great allegory for love this show is. It’s incredibly awkward and vulgar in the right places, best exemplified by dialogue scenes that are uncomfortably long and often uncomfortable to begin with. Our two lead characters are frustrating and manipulative, which might confuse you into thinking the show itself is frustrating because you see them so much, and sometimes it is. At which point, you might start to ask yourself why you keep watching, why you subject yourself to this emotional torture episode after episode, season after season—eventually, you stay for the other characters, they’re funny and don’t deserve to be abandoned.

48. 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.

49. Erased

7.9

Country

d, Japan

Actors

Hidekazu Mashima, Jin Shirasu, Masato Yano, Mio Yuki

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Dark, Intense

Based on a manga (and considered a better adaptation than its anime counterpart), Erased follows a man who can go back in time. Travel, mystery, and human drama blend together well as he tries to prevent a series of tragic events from his childhood. With its well-crafted plot and moments of heart-wrenching tension, the show sustains itself well without knowing the original material. The intricate web of mysteries and the race against time create a sense of urgency even as it manages to stick to the familiar anime time slot (~25 mins per episode). A must for thriller fans looking for a well-plotted, self-contained story.

50. One Day at a Time

7.9

Country

United States of America

Actors

Isabella Gomez, Justina Machado, Marcel Ruiz, Rita Moreno

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Easy, Feel-Good

A Cuban-American revival of the Norman Lear series from the ’70s and ’80s, this relatively short-lived version of One Day at a Time was once the sweetest show on TV, especially in a landscape populated by prestige dramas and gritty genre fare. In its empathetic approach towards a wide range of subject matter—racism, mental illness, gender identity, unconventional family structures—the series places a premium on communication and acceptance. Which isn’t to say that the show doesn’t have its fair share of amusing misunderstandings and conflicts, mostly between independent single mom Penélope (Justina Machado) and the flamboyant abuela Lydia (Rita Moreno). But perhaps most impressive about One Day at a Time is how it breathes new life into the three-wall sitcom format with a live studio audience—enhancing the show’s most emotional moments either through the live viewers’ bated breath or their eruption of applause.

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