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You don’t know what you’re missing.
Netflix original series are released with such regularity now it can be difficult to keep up—and there are even more coming soon, judging by the Netflix release dates for 2019. Finding the right series to invest in can often feel like an uphill battle. But there are plenty of good Netflix shows that fly under the radar after release, or are canceled too early, or don’t get as much buzz as other, high-profile titles. Here’s a guide to some of the underrated Netflix series you might have missed.
13 underrated Netflix series to start watching now
1) Derry Girls
Lisa McGee’s series about teenagers in Northern Ireland in the ’90s quietly debuted on Netflix late last year, after airing on Channel 4. It’s set against the tail-end of the Troubles, a 30-year period of violent sectarian conflict in Ireland, but political strife isn’t the main focus. That would be the friendship between four Catholic high schoolers, who trade barbs and one-liners with ease as they endure the indignities of being a teenager. —Audra Schroeder
This Netflix original series presents us with a boy named James, who is pretty sure he’s a psychopath. He’s already murdered animals, and now he’s ready to pivot to humans. But when he meets classmate Alyssa and decides she’ll be his first victim, he gets more than he bargained for. The two embark on a road trip, which inadvertently becomes a death trip, and the series deftly balances dark comedy with genuine emotion. —A.S.
3) Chewing Gum
Michaela Coel stars as Tracey in this delightful British comedy about religion, identity, and sexuality. Coel created and wrote the series, infusing it with her own experiences. When she addresses the audience, Tracey hits with humor and truth. —A.S.
Can Grace and Frankie truly live apart? That’s the question the Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda-led series is building to in season 5, which also takes “the alternative” into consideration: an alternate reality where Grace and Frankie were never friends. This season also plays with “senior moments,” a failed business idea, and looks at how women of a certain age assert themselves. —Audra Schroeder
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From filmmaker Baran bo Odar and writer Jantje Friese, Dark is a show about several intertwining families in the German city of Winden, and the disappearance of several local children. It’s half gritty crime drama, half supernatural thriller, all modern prestige television. In the tradition of a depressing amount of series about small towns with missing children, Dark is a cross between Stranger Things, Twin Peaks, and True Detective. It manages to squeeze in everything from ’80s nostalgia to warnings about the dangers of nuclear power to philosophical riffs on the nature of time. —Chris Osterndorf
Like any heavily followed television show in this new era of “woke” witticisms about the ills of society, Dear White People season 2 had a lot to live up to following its heralded first season, which secured a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Fake news, a rising alt-right presence, and some self-realizations took the series in a more nuanced direction. We even got a Candace Owens incarnate. —Danielle Ransom
This German-made pre-World War II drama takes viewers back in time to the Weimar Republic in the Golden Twenties. Creators Tom Tykwer, Hendrik Handloegten, and Achim von Borries recreate the atmosphere with stunning detail. With production costs exceeding $40 million, the show is the most expensive German TV series and non-English-language drama series ever. The end result is Cabaret meets crime television. It also offers Americans a dire warning: As the plot progresses, heroes must choose between their morals and nationalism. Babylon Berlin shows us how a progressive nation can crumble when it allows bigotry and intolerance to fester. —Tess Cagle
One Day at a Time is an original series that feels rare in two ways: Rare for Netflix because it’s a pure, top-to-bottom sitcom, and rare for a sitcom because it’s actually good. The series reboots Norman Lear’s popular ’70s series of the same name, which was edgy at the time for portraying a divorced single mother raising two teenage daughters on her own in Indianapolis. In the Netflix version (which premiered in 2017), Penelope Alvarez is a single mom raising two teenage kids, too, but don’t let the soft lighting and gem-toned clothes fool you—the details of her life are closer to the pulse of the modern American family than you’d think. —Christine Friar
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Netflix’s first Polish original series tries out the alternate history formula, à la The Man in the High Castle. While the series is actually set in 2003, the country was shaped by a series of 1983 attacks that united Poland under the Iron Curtain. Across eight episodes, it explores the conspiracies around the bombings and how they tie into the current regime. It’s a dense watch that builds slowly, with plenty of “could it happen here?” moments and stunning production design. —A.S.
10) Lady Dynamite
Lady Dynamite is a layered representation of Maria Bamford’s Hollywood. Fred Melamed plays her soft-spoken manager/therapist Bruce Ben-Bacharach, who tries everything in his power to get her roles. Ana Gasteyer plays her agent, and her comically oversized glasses and manic obscenity are the perfect compliment to Bruce’s people-pleasing. Bamford blunders her way through discussions of race and is talked into hosting a show called Lock Up a Broad. The show mirrors Arrested Development in the way it breaks fourth walls, but when it happens, Bamford addresses us more like a friend asking for advice. —A.S.
11) The Innocents
The Innocents is a unique combination of Scandinavian mystery thriller and teen paranormal romance, starring a 16-year-old girl who discovers she has dangerous shapeshifting powers. Stylishly shot and cleverly written, it’s great for teens and adults alike. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
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12) The OA
On the surface, you could reasonably view The OA as a Stranger Things copycat: Mysterious girl enlists the help of small-town locals to take down the mad scientist who once held her captive. But the series, written and directed by indie starling Zal Batmanglij, is not only a more mature and dramatic offering than Stranger Things, but arrives with a far broader message and philosophy, one that’s beautifully and mysteriously told through layers of sentiment and spirituality. —Gillian Branstetter
13) On My Block
From Awkward.’s Lauren Iungerich and co-creators Jeremy Haft and Eddie Gonzalez comes On My Block, a series about coming of age in a “rough neighborhood” and all the implications that come with that loaded classification. The four leads, Cesar (Diego Tinoco), Monse (Sierra Capri), Jamal (Brett Gray), and Ruby (Jason Genao), are a close-knit group of friends who find their bond tested as they enter the uncharted waters of high school. Suddenly, the realities of everything from sexual attraction to gang violence are no longer ignorable, and On My Block mines them for equal parts drama and humor. —C.O.
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, gangster movies, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.