Netflix’s “Stranger Things” was basically designed to be a cult hit – from the sci-fi premise to its virtually unknown creators and cast (Winona Ryder, notwithstanding). Now that it’s getting summer blockbuster-level buzz from viewers and critics alike, it might be more of a genuine hit than a cult one.
But there’s something oddly satisfying about discovering a show before everyone else catches on to how good it is. To help with that effort, we’ve compiled a list of shows that have managed to fly somewhat under-the-radar despite being really good.
– “BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)
What it’s about: An anthropomorphic horse (voiced by Will Arnett) tries to make a Hollywood comeback years after his glory days as a sitcom star.
Who it appeals to: People who appreciate subtle jokes and (animated) comedy with an air of sadness.
Why it deserves more buzz than it gets: Animated comedies (at least, of the adult variety) are always kind of a tough sell, and, despite its cartoon format, “BoJack Horseman” can get pretty dark. But the show – currently in its third season, with a fourth on the horizon – has earned a fair share of critical acclaim, particularly for its depiction of mental illness. That praise has not yet translated to Emmy nominations.
How to watch it: You can stream all three seasons on Netflix, but you don’t necessarily need to start from the beginning. “Fish Out Of Water,” the third season’s fourth episode, might be a good place to start. The episode, which takes place entirely underwater, was the subject of a very passionate Reddit thread and rave reviews from Vulture, Vox and the A.V. Club.
– “Younger” (TV Land)
What it’s about: A 40-something divorcee pretends to be 26 to land an entry-level job in the publishing industry.
Who it appeals to: Fans of Sutton Foster or her co-star Hilary Duff; fans of creator Darren Star (of “Sex and the City” fame); anyone who knows what it’s like to be an assistant in the media industry; or a woman (especially of a certain age) in basically any industry.
Why it deserves more buzz than it gets: Poised to start its third season next month, “Younger” has already outlived Foster’s other cult hit, “Bunheads.” And while TV Land probably isn’t the first network you would turn to for a hip, surprisingly thoughtful comedy, that’s exactly what “Younger” is. Foster is so charming you’ll forget that her character, Liza, is lying to basically everyone in her life. Duff brings her own comedic chops to the table as an ambitious, but fun-loving millennial, who bonds with Liza’s 26-year-old alter-ego.
Add in Liza’s hot romance with a sweet, 20-something tattoo artist and the show’s honest approach to sexuality, ageism and the ever-present can-we-have-it-all question and you have a TV show you should really be watching already.
How to watch it: Full episodes from the first season are available to watch on TV Land’s website. More recent episodes may be available on demand through your cable provider.
– “Devious Maids” (Lifetime)
What it’s about: A tight-knit group of Latinas working as maids (at least, initially) in Beverly Hills.
Who it appeals to: People who miss creator Marc Cherry’s popular ABC drama “Desperate Housewives”; fans of Eva Longoria, who starred in “Desperate Housewives” and is an executive producer of the series.
Why it deserves more buzz than it gets: Even before it premiered in 2013, “Devious Maids,” adapted from the Mexican series “Ellas son … la alegría del hogar” (translation: they are the joy of the home) attracted some skepticism for casting four prominent Latina actresses as sexy housekeepers, which seemed to play on multiple stereotypes. But the show is actually pretty delightful. A quirky supporting cast helps it maintain a consistent, if campy, sense of humor, while having characters confront personal tragedies. The heart of the show is the women who support one another through all of it and act, as Longoria told the L.A. Times, as its “moral compass.”
“Devious Maids” has never achieved the fanfare surrounding Lifetime’s other scripted drama, “UnREAL,” even though “Devious Maids” tends to do better in the ratings. (One caveat: The ratings have been on a steady season-to-season decline, and a fifth season is uncertain.)
How to watch it: The first three seasons are available to stream on Hulu. The most recent season may be available on demand through your cable provider, or you can purchase episodes through iTunes or Amazon Prime. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)
– “Power” (Starz)
What it’s about: New York City drug kingpin James “Ghost” St. Patrick tries to leave the game behind to focus on his legitimate business as a New York City nightclub owner but struggles to untangle himself from his criminal past.
Who it appeals to: Twitter-savvy fans of fast-paced crime dramas; Fans of executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who appears in a recurring role.
Why it deserves more buzz than it gets: Starz chief executive Chris Albrecht recently lamented that “Power” and other Starz series had not gotten recognition during the Emmy nominations, but it’s a popular topic of discussion on Twitter every Sunday night. The Season 3 opener brought in 2.26 million viewers (and that’s not accounting for DVR viewing), an all-time high for the network that topped the show’s record-setting Season 2 premiere by 58 percent.
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to “Power:” In addition to balancing his aboveboard ambitions with his shadier ones, Ghost is also caught between his marriage and unresolved feelings for his high school sweetheart. All of this happens under the looming threat of him being brought to justice for his crimes – or killed by someone on his ever-expanding list of enemies – a suspenseful tightrope that keeps fans hooked.
How to watch it: You’ll need a Starz subscription to watch episodes on-demand. You can also subscribe through Amazon Prime.
– “The Eric Andre Show” (Adult Swim)
What it’s about: Comedian Eric Andre “interviews” celebrities on a hideously low-budget set, while acting completely (and we mean, completely) insane.
Who it appeals to: Fans of Hannibal Buress, who appears as Andre’s sidekick; people who aren’t afraid of gross-out humor; the Adult Swim crowd (description open to interpretation).
Why it deserves more buzz than it gets: It’s hard not to laugh at Andre’s outrageous antics – which include his frequent destruction of cheap set pieces and the ridiculous non sequiturs he lobs at guests (to actor Lance Reddick: “So you’re on TV … Here’s the thing – I don’t give a sh– about baseball!”). He frequently hosts celebrities that aren’t regularly featured on the late-night circuit including, recently, actress and Fox News contributor Stacey Dash. Guests often appear visibly confused by Andre’s inappropriate behavior, and the host told NPR that not everyone is in on the joke. (Poor Demi Lovato.)
While hosting the comedian on “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert called the show “funny, strange and wonderful,” telling Andre, “What I like about your talk show is that you do not seem to care, like, professionally.”
How to watch it: You can watch episodes through select cable providers on the Adult Swim website. Or peruse an assortment of generally NSFW clips on YouTube.