With 2017 coming to a close, year-end best of lists are everywhere. And there’s no denying that they’re an excellent indicator of the shows that captured the imaginations of fans and critics over the past 12 months. In this time of seemingly boundless television choices simply heralding the best or most popular programs doesn’t cut it anymore. What about the weird shows? The riotously funny ones? Those gems hidden deep in the depths of Netflix that you secretly suspect you were the only one who watched? These deep cut series of 2017 deserve some love too.
As with our Best of 2017 list, a few caveats: this list is subjective and I’ve taken care not to list shows that may be small, but have plenty of critical buzz. For instance, if you peruse the big year-end lists, you’ll see that shows like American Vandal, Dear White People, and The Leftovers aren’t exactly flying under the radar. Likewise, if the show made it onto Reelgood’s best of list, it won’t appear here. These are 20 fresh-faced underrated shows looking for love, people.
The zombie genre was given a jolt of life with this suburban yarn about an undead realtor and her family. Bloody, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Santa Clarita Diet proved to be one of Netflix’s coolest offerings of the year.
2. Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King had a terrific 2017, but somehow Mr. Mercedes, a dark game of cat and mouse between a retired detective and a serial killer, fell through the cracks despite an astounding performance from a grizzled Brendan Gleeson.
3. Game Face
Roisin Conaty is the latest hysterical British comic to create a self-deprecating comedy that will make you laugh and cringe. Game Face is a marvelous, all too real take on the story of a woman who has no idea what she’s doing with her life.
Hey, remember that time that Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon Levitt dubbed an ’80s Russian buddy comedy and it was brilliant? No? Then you need to go watch Comrade Detective immediately.
Told from the perspective of sex workers in 1763 London, Harlots is a female-centric tale of entrepreneurship and sexuality. The series likely suffered from premiering in the shadow of The Handmaid’s Tale, but that’s no reason not to appreciate its boldness.
An absurd send-up to the true crime genre, Trial & Error is pure silliness. But what it lacks in depth, it more than makes up for with laughs.
A nail salon serves as the front for a money laundering scheme in this ode to female friendship and Florida’s dark side. Buoyed by a terrific cast, this series surpassed expectations despite garnering little buzz over the summer.
A late year entry, Dark isn’t the German Stranger Things. It’s far weirder than that. This is a series about time travel and the effect the phenomenon has on the lives of four families in a small town. Fans of Fringe and Lost will love this one.
Sean Bean is utterly heartbreaking in Broken. This portrait of a flawed priest trying to do right by the people in his community is one of the year’s best character studies.
10. Anne With an E
The world didn’t necessarily need an edgy version of Anne of Green Gables, but taken as its own story, this Netflix show is a remarkable period piece with a winning lead. More importantly, it’s one of the rare shows that easily spans the generation gap to appeal to people of all ages.
Adam Scott and Craig Robinson make the perfect team in this supernatural comedy. Between the ’80s throwback feel and the sci-fi homages, this sitcom has proven to be the rare new network show that actually stands out this season.
Frankie Shaw just snagged a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination that will hopefully score her subtle, but addictive comedy about single parenthood the attention it deserves.
13. Dimension 404
Like a lighthearted Black Mirror, Dimension 404 is an anthology series for people who love their sci-fi to come with a healthy dose of cheese.
14. Tin Star
A small-town cop faces off with a Canadian oil company in an engaging thriller that definitely got lost in the shuffle this season.
David Mitchell and Robert Webb of Peep Show fame reunited for this bleak comedy about two sort-of brothers dealing with the aftermath of their father’s death. And the result was another round of awkward, yet brilliant British humor.
Liar didn’t always stick the landing when it came to subtlety, but Joanne Froggatt was absolutely searing as a rape victim whose quest to be believed couldn’t possibly have been more prescient.