Netflix. A magical place with nearly endless amounts of video streaming content. It’s honestly pretty overwhelming trying to decide what to watch next, especially if you intend to binge watch a TV series with 9+ seasons – that’s a hefty commitment! There are the big shows that most everyone seems to watch at some point that receive great press and word of mouth: Daredevil, House of Cards, How I Met Your Mother, Breaking Bad, Orange Is the New Black, etc. But in their vast ever-changing catalogue of entertainment, Netflix has many underrated gems that really deserve more attention than they seem to get in the modern day. So, for your consideration, below are my top 10 underrated Netflix picks.
- Quantum Leap
While certainly not immune to some clunky writing/acting and boasting a good deal of archaic old-school morality and values, Quantum Leap remains one of the most curiously charming television shows I have ever watched. Chronicling the misadventures of physicist Sam Beckett as he leaps through time and space, the show tends to feel fairly aware that it’s a little silly and plays with that fact. I won’t say how Dr. Beckett travels through time here – because that’s part of the charm and surprise of the show – but if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted mild-sci-fi romp check out Quantum Leap.
- Star Trek……All of it!
Ok, maybe this is cheating a little, but with Star Trek Beyond coming to theaters later this year and a new Trek TV series in 2017 it means more bandwagoner fans of the “Oh, I love Star Trek…I mean, I’ve only seen the new ones” persuasion are on the way. Seriously, if you’ve never seen any old Trek material and love yourself some imaginative, intellectual, philosophical science-fiction with memorable, lovable characters you’re doing yourself a disservice by not watching. My recommended viewing order:
- The Next Generation
- Deep Space Nine
- The Original Series
- The Movies (Yes, #1 and #5 suck…just push through them)
- (Optional) The Animated Series
Also, please note that while all the TV series are currently available on Netflix in their entirety, they do not offer all of the films – but that’s ok because the shows are better anyway.
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Imaginative, funny, and clearly made with a lot of love, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a surprisingly clever modern take on the classic cartoons. I found this film to appeal to both fans and non-fans of the original show as it toes the line of feeling familiar-yet-fresh. It’s rather unfortunate that this underperformed at the box office, as I think it’s one of the better animated adventure films I’ve seen in awhile.
- The Incredible Hulk
In the modern era of superhero films and TV programs, it’s difficult to convince people to look at older shows or movies. However, if you only look at a single old piece of superhero content, make it The Incredible Hulk. Bear in mind that as a comic book fan, I hated this idea when I first heard of the show since so much of it is different from the comics. However, much like Quantum Leap, the show takes on such a charming life of its own that I found I couldn’t help but love it. Yes it can be corny visually, but the strength of The Incredible Hulk lies in its writing and acting. Some of the finesse with which the show takes on heavy topics are surprising for a series from the 1970s, and Bill Bixby is perfectly cast as David (*sigh* not Bruce) Banner. This show’s legacy is what Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wishes it could be.
- Liberal Arts
Actor Josh Radnor (Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother) makes his directorial debut in this indie romantic comedy-drama about a college admissions officer in New York City who becomes dissatisfied with the direction of his life. Seeking focus, he travels to his alma mater – where he believes his best years were spent – and falls for a charming young woman who, despite their difference in age, shares more in common with him than anyone he has ever met. Well-acted, well-directed, and more than a little emotional, this is a great film when you’re looking for something a little different and a bit quirky. Just a very pleasant, touching watch.
- Seeking a Friend For the End of the World
Basically, Liberal Arts if that movie dropped a couple tabs of some special substance, decided that wasn’t enough, and proceeded to do a couple lines of something else. This crazy mess of a film (in the best of ways, I assure you) asks the question “Can we still find love in the wake of the apocalypse?” For fans of the macabre, the madcap, and romance – a combination that really shouldn’t work, and yet…just watch the film, it’s difficult to describe the tone but 100% worth a viewing.
- F Is For Family
This may very well be my favorite Netflix Original Series. That’s right, better than House of Cards, better than Daredevil, better than Orange Is the New Black. It is just so disgustingly relatable that I couldn’t help but love it. Great music, writing, and acting make up for somewhat lackluster animation in this hilariously pessimistic, mean-spirited sitcom from creator Bill Burr that is oddly true to life. The worst part about it is that there are only 6 episodes – fingers crossed for season 2! *Please be advised that, if rated, this would be a hard R. Definitely not for children or those who are offended easily.*
- In Your Eyes
If you’re looking for some sweet after the cynical that is F Is For Family, then In Your Eyes is the movie for you. Written by Grand Emperor of the Nerds, Joss Whedon, this film is a fascinating change of pace for him. It is a paranormal romance story that follows two people on opposite sides of the United States who inexplicably find themselves with a telepathic/empathic connection, able to communicate with each other and feel what the other experiences. Plain and simple, it’s a quest for true love against all odds with an interesting little fantasy twist. If you’re not a fan of fantasy or science-fiction, I would still highly recommend this film as the paranormal element is basically just used as a plot device to push the romance forward rather than the main focus being on the how and why of the telepathy. It is definitely a romance, not a fantasy adventure.
Aptly described to me as “the British show about all those teenage hooligans,” Skins is perhaps the least family-friendly recommendation on this list. Bear in mind that when MTV tried to produce an American version, sponsors pulled out their advertisements and the show was cancelled before the conclusion of the first season. What could possibly be so controversial? Well, stories about some very harsh realities of teenage life – the kind that involve drugs, death, teenage pregnancy, abuse, divorce, terminal illness, eating disorders, suicide, and basically any other overwhelming negative experience that teaches teenagers about the real world. The show very much makes the point that the real world is not all butterflies and rainbows as our parents would have us believe and documents the experiences of a wide variety of teens from all kinds of backgrounds and personalities as they receive their rude awakenings into the real world. *This is probably the most explicit show I have watched on Netflix. Be warned that it is not for children or the faint of heart, but very much worth the watch.*
And the number one most underrated selection currently on Netflix:
Stop. I don’t care if you don’t finish this article. Stop what you’re doing right now, login to Netflix, and watch Chuck. This show is an action-comedy/spy-drama adventure about an underachieving dork who works at the fictional equivalent of Best Buy and accidentally absorbs a CIA/NSA database subconsciously. The database was destroyed after this occurs, so the CIA and NSA have no choice but to recruit this bumbling kind-hearted klutz as a spy. Not only that, but it is one of those rare shows where every single character has his/her moment to shine and be utterly hilarious and/or badass. Is it silly? Marvellously so! Is it touching? Oh my God, yes! A pitch-perfect cast, fantastic music, beautiful sense of wit, and all-around infectious charm quickly made Chuck one of my all-time favorite television shows. It’s not perfect and some of the writing can be very clichéd or predictable, but it is just so much fun that it made me – one of the pickiest moviegoers/binge-watchers I know – say “you know what…who cares!?” I cannot stress enough how fun this show is. That is why it gets my highest recommendation.
Well, there they are – my Top 10 Underrated Picks on Netflix right now. What do you think are some underrated selections? Let us know in the comments below! Now if you excuse me, I have some Better Call Saul to binge…
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