2016 was another year added to the new “Golden Age” of television. With new hit shows like Westworld, The People vs. OJ, Stranger Things, and Atlanta, along with the return of many hit shows, it’s easy to let a couple newbies slip from your radar. Here is a list of the four most underrated shows of the year and how you can watch them:
Search Party may very well be the best new series that you’ve never heard of. The series premiered on TBS in November, with the remaining episodes airing over the course of one week. Search Party follows Dory Stewart (played effortlessly by Alia Shawkat), a lost 20-something who can’t figure out how to make herself work in the world. After a college acquaintance (Chantal Witherbottom) goes missing; Dory takes it upon herself to find out what happened to her. Dory recruits the help of her boyfriend (played by John Reynolds), and her borderline narcissistic pals (played hilariously by John Early and Meredith Hagner) to find Chantal. Early in the series our protagonist is plagued by the question: “Would anyone even care if something bad happened to me?” While at first the show may seem like a satire of Brooklyn millennials, it turns into something much more meaningful. At its core, Search Party is about young people finding their purpose in this crazy world. It’s a hilarious and meaningful portrayal of a generation that just wants to be remembered one Tweet or Instagram post at a time. Think of it as a cross between HBO’s Girls and the 2015 hit film, Gone Girl.
The entirety of Season One can be streamed On Demand. A second season of Search Party will premiere in 2017.
Are you a fan of the popular YouTube web series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl? If so, continue your love of Issa Rae by watching her new HBO comedy, Insecure. Even if you’ve never heard of Issa Rae or Insecure, now would be a good time to join the bandwagon, because she is about to become a household name.
Insecure follows two best friends, Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) as they deal with real-life insecurities in often funny and sometimes unfunny ways during their everyday lives. The show features an awesome indie/pop soundtrack and a gorgeous Los Angeles backdrop. The writing is whip-smart, and very important in the way it touches on a variety of social issues that relate to the modern day black experience. At its core, Insecure is about a black female friendship. With their love lives aside, Issa and Molly’s own experiences and struggles is the real story of Insecure.
Insecure premiered in October 2016 on HBO. All episodes can be streamed on HBO Go or HBO Now. This series has been renewed for a second season.
The Judd Apatow comedy Love, which ironically premiered on Netflix around Valentine’s Day, could easily have slipped your radar. Love stars Paul Rust (I Love You Beth Cooper, Comedy Bang! Bang!) and Gillian Jacobs (Community, Girls, Don’t Think Twice) as Gus Cruikshank and Mickey Dobbs. This unromantic comedy follows the two unlikely Los Angeles hopefuls through the early stages of their inevitable relationship. The writing is sharp and the characterization is a little too good for its own sake. These two characters, Mickey and Gus, are catastrophically self-destructive and hard to watch, which could be a turnoff to some viewers.
Mickey avoids her problems by turning to alcohol and pot, while Gus avoids his by being overly needy and painfully self involved. Love isn’t so much about a portraying a fantasy romance, but instead it shows us a realistic portrayal of modern dating. Mickey and Gus’ problems and differences are what will eventually help them figure out what love is. The show is quite funny and there are many “Ahhh” moments sprinkled throughout, which helps gives these two lovebirds some redeeming qualities. If you’re a fan of Gillian Jacobs (who isn’t?) or Judd Apatow, this is definitely a show that you shouldn’t miss.
All episodes of Love can be streamed on Netflix. A second season will debut in 2017.
Better Things, created by Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K., could quite easily be the most underrated comedy of 2016. The series follows single mother and struggling actress Sam Fox (played by Pamela Adlon herself) who is left to raise her three girls all on her own. While the show is laugh-out-loud hilarious, it is also bittersweet in the way it pays ode to the unsung heroines of single motherhood. Pamela Adlon is perfect in her portrayal of Sam. She gives an endearing and nuanced performance despite a storyline that’s not particularly groundbreaking. The children on the show are real and fresh, not like most TV kids – these are real kids. Real life has always been the source for the best comedy, and this proves effective in Better Things. Definitely don’t let this one slip off your radar.
Better Things premiered in October 2016 on FX. It has been renewed for a second season. All episodes of season one can be streamed on FXNow.
Fleabag is a 6-part British comedy adapted from a one-woman play written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also plays the shows protagonist. The series is about Fleabag, “a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist.” Despite being absolutely hilarious, the show is also unlike anything on TV at the moment. Fleabag constantly breaks the fourth wall to communicate with the audience. It’s almost as if this eclectic, messy human is trying to connect with audience members in a very personal way – and surprisingly, it works.
Every episode of Fleabag can be streamed on Amazon Prime.