We've all experienced the way too familiar cycle of wanting to start a new show or series, but at the same time, not wanting to wait to be fully interested and commit to one. Inevitably, we switch back to one of the more popular choices, like "Friends," "The Office," or "Grey's Anatomy," and start bingeing even though we already know how the story goes. I get it, it's hard to find a new show, and sometimes, it's just easier and safer to just sit back and enjoy something that already has our stamp of approval.
Yet, with so many choices available within our 12-inch screens, it's time to try something new and experience that pleasure of liking a show enough to click the "play next episode" button within seconds. From my own experience, here is a short list of the most underrated shows that I have come to enjoy and watch in between reruns of my old favorites. Personally, in order to keep watching, I need either an element of comedy or suspense.
If you prefer those categories, then I think you'll appreciate some if not all of these choices, and if not, it won't hurt to check one or two of them out to see for yourself.
1. "A Very English Scandal"
During winter break, I had discovered all that there is to love about Hugh Grant romantic comedies. From "Four Weddings and a Funeral" to "Notting Hill" to "Love Actually," his charming personalities were easily recognizable and quickly admired. It was much to my surprise, and many others, when I stumbled upon this very recent work of his on Amazon Prime. Based on the book by the same name and true events which took place in England during the 1960s and 1970s, the three-part miniseries highlights a compelling, suspenseful, and dark yet comical story.
Jeremy Thorpe (Grant) was on his way to becoming Prime Minister when he was accused and tried for conspiring to murder an ex-lover, Norman Scott, played by Ben Winshaw. The series was a hit in Britain, but I found it even more interesting to watch as an American who didn't know the results and aftermath of the trial. Besides the dichotomy of the story for its time and setting along with the characters, one of the best parts of the series for me was the background score. The soundtrack was stuck in my head for a long while after watching and really captured the mystery and subtle humorous tones of it at the perfect moments.
2. "One Day at a Time"
With its third season just released on Netflix, this series follows the day to day life of a Cuban American family. It'll leave you laughing one second and wanting to call your mom the next. Working with very ambitious plot lines, the audience watches as the characters tackle issues and topics such as feminism, minority status, mental health, immigration, and so much more. Though the discussions may seem a little forced at times, the characters do a commendable job of making their conflicts relatable.
Fun fact: its theme is sung by none other than the Cuban American pop icon herself, Gloria Estefan, who also happens to make a guest appearance in one of the later episodes.
3. "Kim's Convenience"
The Kim's are just the average neighborhood family that owns a convenience store down the street. Usually, shows with immigrant family's have children who are still in grade school, but this different because the kids are actually young adults, trying to figure out how to live on their own, while still maintaining family relationships and having the most comedic and all too familiar misunderstandings. I am patiently awaiting its third season to come on Netflix.
Far from the average crime-solving mystery drama, this eight-season series available on Amazon Prime, adds a much needed light-hearted note. Each episode starts with a flashback to main character Shawn Spencer's childhood. His father, a retired police detective, trained him on how to develop acute observational skills with the expectation that Shawn would grow up to become a detective. Though he doesn't end up becoming a detective, in an odd turn of events, he ends up convincing the police department that they could use his assistance on unique cases as an on-call, self-proclaimed psychic. What follows is the inevitable friendly rivalry between Shawn and the head detective, advice from his unsatisfied father, help from a hesitant but loyal best friend, all while keeping the audience hooked, not necessarily on who done it, but how Shawn solves it.
5. Any Maz Jobrani Comedy Special
With not one, but three specials on Netflix, this under-appreciated comedian loves to muse about his Persian background, his mixed family with his Indian wife, immigration, and other daily struggles and incidents. His specials are definitely worth a watch and you'll for sure be crying tears of laughter at some point during them.