December is almost upon us, giving everyone a chance to look back on what has been a truly unprecedented year. The obligatory "Best Of" lists are going to look wildly different than in years past, especially as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused many projects to have delayed or smaller-scale releases. That being said, there was still a surprising amount of new content for audiences to get lost in this year, particularly with regards to television, as a slew of buzz-worthy shows captured people's attention. But for every Tiger King and The Haunting of Bly Manor, there were a number of other shows that delivered on quality, even if they fell a little under-the-radar.
If you're looking for new content to stream on the tail end of 2020 (or sorting our your watchlist for 2021), we're here to help. Here are ten underrated shows that debuted this year that absolutely deserve your attention.
This year has had no shortage of television reboots and revivals, with new iterations of Perry Mason, Saved by the Bell, and Animaniacs hitting streaming services over the past few months. Arriving at the very start of the year, Hulu's High Fidelity reboot set the bar unbelievably high, delivering a fresh take on the Nick Hornby novel and John Cusack-starring movie of the same name. The series follows Rob (Zoe Kravitz), the snarky and pop-culture-obsessed owner of a record store, who gets taken on an unconventional journey of self-discovery after revisiting her most heartbreaking relationships.
High Fidelity ended up being effortlessly cool and superbly executed, with earnest conversations about fandom, queerness, and self-expression that still feel rare on TV. This - combined with stellar performances from Kravitz, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, and David H. Holmes - made the series' cancellation in August all the more tragic.prevnext
Another sleeper hit from earlier this year, Devs debuted on the newly-minted FX on Hulu banner in March, and quickly took viewers on a wild ride. The eight-episode miniseries served as the biggest foray into television yet for Alex Garland, the visionary director known for films like Annihilation and Ex Machina. With Devs, Garland tells the story of Lily (Sonoya Mizuno), an employee at a Silicon Valley tech company who gets sucked into a conspiracy following the death of her boyfriend.
Devs is the kind of TV show that almost borders on indescribable, bringing a genre-bending, incredibly profound, and refreshingly finite story in such a short span of time. Its ensemble cast and aesthetics is something you have to see to believe, and its approach to the intersection between science fiction and humanity feels like both a companion and a total subversion of bigger-scale shows like Westworld.prevnext
Raised by Wolves
Also in the vein of "indescribable sci-fi shows" is Raised by Wolves, one of the biggest live-action series to hit HBO Max yet. The series, which is executive produced and partially directed by Ridley Scott, carries over the energy of his big-screen science fiction work, albeit in an even more cerebral way. The series follows Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), two androids who are tasked with protecting human children on a desolate planet.
To say any more than that would spoil the wealth of surprises that Raised by Wolves has in store, which unfold in an array of bizarre and beautiful ways. With the series already being renewed for a second season, now is as good of a time as ever to join the show's fandom.prevnext
For a lot of fans, nothing can even remotely hold a candle to Bong Joon-Ho's film version of Snowpiercer, which adapted the French graphic novel with chilling ease. TNT's Snowpiercer series, which debuted in the summer after years in the works, doesn't try to be a carbon copy of the previous adaptation -- and it's honestly so much better for it. The series follows Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) and Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), two wildly different passengers on the titular Snowpiercer, a train holding the last of humanity amid a frozen wasteland. After a murder mystery shakes up the caste system on the train, Andre and Layton both find themselves on the cusp of an unpredictable civil war.
Snowpiercer is equal parts a crime procedural, an ensemble drama, and a dystopian rumination on human connection, all with an impressive unique aesthetic and technical detail. With the series returning for a second season on January 25th, it's not too late to join the series' unconventional adventure.prevnext
Sure, Netflix's Space Force dominated a lot of the TV comedy conversation this summer -- but another Greg Daniels-created show deserved attention as well. Upload, which debuted on Amazon Prime in May, followed Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell), a young man who is given the opportunity to upload himself into a digital afterlife following his sudden death. Once in the digital world of Lake View, Nathan is forced to grapple with his own free will - as well as his connections to several people still in the living world.
Many praised Upload for how unintentionally-relevant it has grown to be amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- but don't let that stop you from getting in on the fun. The series is a delightful and surprisingly profound adventure, one that showcases Amell's action chops in an array of charming ways.prevnext
Brave New World
If you like your sleek, somewhat-malicious utopia to have a bit more of a dramatic flair, then Peacock's Brave New World might be up your alley. The series, which adapts Aldous Huxley's iconic novel of the same name, chronicles the journey of Lenina Crowne (Jessica Brown-Findlay) and Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd), two citizens of the utopia of New London, where things like privacy, monogamy, and family have been outlawed. After the arrival of John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich), an average man from the outside world, the world of New London - and the trio's dynamic - are shaken up forever.
Brave New World won't be for everyone -- it makes some changes from the original novel, its technical elements and costume design are both lush and subdued, and there are a surprising number of sex scenes. But when the series works, it does so incredibly well, adapting its dense source material in a heartfelt, sexy, and entertaining way.prevnext
The Baby-Sitters Club
Unless you are a fan of Ann M. Martin's book series - or have children in your life who keep up with the latest all-ages Netflix titles - you might have missed Netflix's surprisingly-stellar reboot of The Baby-Sitters Club. The series follows a ragtag ensemble of middle school girls who start a babysitting service in their small town, and learn lessons about life and friendship along the way.
Netflix's reboot honors the decades-enduring energy of the franchise to an impressive detail, while also covering modern issues with heartfelt ease. On top of that and the delightful ensemble cast - which includes soon-to-be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness star Xochitl Gomez - it's honestly one of the best binge-watches you can have this year.prevnext
Teenage Bounty Hunters0comments
Another binge-watch filled with a surprising amount of heart (and genuinely great jokes) is Netflix's Teenage Bounty Hunters, which hit the streaming service in August. The hour-long dramedy, which is executive produced by Orange Is the New Black and GLOW's Jenji Kohan, follows Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini), two fraternal twin sisters living in a conservative Christian suburb in Georgia. Through an absurd chain of events, Sterling and Blair get mistaken for bounty hunters, and the pair decide to go along with it -- and maybe learn more about themselves along the way.
Teenage Bounty Hunters shouldn't work as well as it does, which makes its action-packed, tightly-written, and brilliantly-acted season all the more delightful. It also makes Netflix's cancellation of the series genuinely heartbreaking, but fans have continued to hold out hope that the series could still live to see another day.prev