There is nothing better than sitting down, taking a breather and watching a really great show, especially after a long semester. Winter break is the perfect time to delve into a new series, and Netflix has an abundance of shows. From classics like “The Twilight Zone” and “The X-Files” to witty animated series like “Bob’s Burgers” to cooking competitions like Cupcake Wars, what ever your taste (pun intended), Netflix has something for everyone. The only hard part is choosing!
Of course, Netflix has the ever so popular and talked about shows, like “Breaking Bad” and “Parks and Recreation”. And while everyone wants to watch those shows, they are popular for a reason. Sometimes you’re looking for something new, something a little under the radar, sort of hidden gems, if you will.
Now, in today’s world of constant connection and communication, if you’re tuned in, you may have heard a thing or two about some of these shows, but not nearly as much as you’ve heard about others. I did my best to compile a list that would spotlight great shows that may be overlooked. I have piled together 18 shows over six genres that I would consider to be hidden gems. Here we go…
Sitcoms & Comedies
“Raising Hope” (2010-2014)
A family comedy about a high school drop-out, Jimmy Chance, and his eccentric family, “Raising Hope” is silly in an the right ways. From helping his lower-class parents take care of his crazy great grandmother to his crappy pool cleaning job, Jimmy’s life is going nowhere. After a one night stand with a seemingly nice girl, Jimmy believes his luck has changed, but it just so happens she is a serial killer. Nine months and an electric chair later, Jimmy is given custody of his new-born baby. Now the quirky Chance family will have to figure out how to care for their little Hope and it just might give Jimmy the purpose hes been searching for.
“Everybody Loves Raymond” (1996-2005)
Another family comedy about funny guy, Ray Barone and his loving, but suffocating family. Ray being the exaggeration of a typical guy and his wife, Debra, being the exaggeration of a housewife leads to some sticky situations. Add in Marie, Rays overbearing and criticizing mother, his jerk of a father Frank, and his older brother, Robert, who still lives at home (and in Ray’s shadow), and its quite an interesting mix. Of course every family has its difficult members, just like the Barone’s, and as long as they are taken in doses everything is normally fine. Unfortunately for Debra and Ray, Marie, Frank and Robert live just across the street.
“New Girl” (2011-present)
“New Girl” stars Zooey Deschanel as the awkward and quirky Jessica Day. Even with the wacky nature of this show, its relatable and real, just like the characters are. After a breakup, Jess moves into a loft with three single guys she found on Craigslist – don’t worry, they’re the best kind of weirdos out there. The amateurish nature of Jess’s actions solidify that Jess is the new girl in more ways than one (as we all have been). The guys take Jess under their wing when she needs help getting back on her feet, but she might end up helping them in ways they didn’t know they needed.
“The Office” (2005-2013)
“The Office” is a popular show, I know, but it’s one of my favorites. Before watching it, I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s nothing like I imagined. It’s funny, silly, heartwarming, and the characters are nothing like I’ve seen before. This mock-umentary, with an all-star cast, is set in the small and boring town of Scranton, Pennsylvania in a Dunder Mifflin Paper company office. The regional manager, Michael Scott, means well, but the more than questionable behavior he often exhibits makes it hard to see that. As for the rest of the characters, they are exactly that, characters. This show will have you wishing you could get a job at the Scranton Branch, a day in the office is nothing if not interesting. An unusual bunch is brought together to sell paper. Through their days and years in the office, they become much more than coworkers.
Honorable Mentions: There are so many other great comedies on Netflix, I want to name-drop a few. There is the infamous gang we all wish we could be apart of, “Friends”; the comedic mystery of “How I Met Your Mother”; the young troubles of an up-and-coming chef, starring Emily Osment, on “Young & Hungry”, and great reviews have been pouring in about Netflix Original, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (starring Ellie Kemper, who plays Erin in “The Office”.
Dramas (and the vast world of it)
Based on the novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, animals around the globe begin attacking humans. An American zoologist, a safari guide, as well as veterinary pathologist, a reporter, and a French intelligence agent are pulled together to figure out what is happening to the animals, and to put an end to the threat to mankind. While investigating, behaviors the animals exhibit are out of character and scarier than that the attacks seem to be planned. Mankind isn’t the dominant species anymore and the war between nature and man that has been brewing since the dawn of time is about to boil over.
Through careers, relationships, and yes, parenthood, the four Braverman siblings navigate the roller coaster of life together. Celebrating the highs and banning together during the lows, Adam, Sarah, Crosby and Julia learn that life happens and it isn’t ever easy, but what matters is who is holding your hand for the ride. This show is one of the best and most moving shows about life and the true meaning of family.
“Jane the Virgin” (2014-present)
Jane, 23, has a good head on her shoulders. She is smart and driven and her life plan is on track. She is studying to be a teacher and happily engaged to a detective. She’s a good girl with the desire to always do the right thing. In support of her Abuela’s and her own religious beliefs, Jane is saving herself for marriage. During a routine doctors appointment, she is accidentally artificially inseminated with a rich hotel owners sperm. Jane finds herself a pregnant virgin. Her life plan is thrown to a screeching halt and Jane is forced to let go and let life happen. Her life begins to resemble a telenovela filled with complicated situations and complicated decisions. No matter what is thrown at her, Jane will be alright thanks to her loving and supportive Abuela and mother, who are the only constants in her life. Jane’s unexpected situation may turn out to lead her done the right path filled with true love, dreams, and fulfillment.
Honorable Mentions: Dramas dominate television and “Grey’s Anatomy” dominates the field of medical dramas. There’s “Lost”, something you have to watch to understand, and curiously, in “The Blacklist”, a wanted fugitive turns himself in to help the FBI. Netflix Original “Orange is the New Black” doesn’t need explaining: no one can stop talking about or watching it.
Action & Adventure Dramas:
Created by J.J. Abrams, “Alias” is a spy drama starring, now movie-star, Jennifer Garner. Recruited in college, Sydney Bristow was led to believe she was a black ops CIA operative apart of SD-6, trying to stop an enemy organization of the U.S. called the Alliance of Twelve. Sydney learns that she has been mislead and the people she works for are not the CIA but work for the Alliance of Twelve. Her trust broken, Sydney decides to go to work for the real CIA and act as a double agent to destroy the SD-6 and help bring down the entire Alliance of Twelve organization.
“The 100” (2014-present)
A post-apocalyptic drama, “The 100” takes place 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed the Earth. The survivors of the war have been living in space on what they call the Arc. On the Arc, society has gotten harsher, one wrong doing and citizens over 18 are executed by being sent out into space without a suit. Under 18 offenders are locked up until they reach 18, and then their fates are decided. Although there is little hope of the new adults being let off for their petty crimes. The panel governing the Arc would like to return to Earth as soon as possible, so they send 100 under 18 offenders to the ground to see if the Earth is inhabitable again. But believe me, there is SO much more going on than what any of them, or the viewers, know.
A series inspired by the history, this series is based on the Thracian gladiator of Spartacus, who led a major slave uprising against the abusive Roman Republic. After being captured for a rebellious act against the Romans, a Thracian mans fate is set for him: death by arena. Ripped away from his life and family, the man is sentenced to arena training where he has to wait for his turn in the ring. Through his brutal and trying journey, the fury that builds inside of him may be enough to birth a leader, the gladiator Spartacus, to stand for the enslaved and against their oppressors.
Honorable Mentions: Other great action dramas include “The Walking Dead” (who doesn’t like zombies?), and Netflix Original “Daredevil” is supposed to be just as thrilling as the rest of Marvels creations, but intrigues viewers in a much darker way than usual.
“Criminal Minds” (2005-present)
The biggest question to come up when thinking about people who commit heinous crimes is…why? The team of FBI profilers on this show spend their time searching for the answer of that question by stepping into the minds of psychopathic criminals in order to catch them. “Criminal Minds” is intense and disturbing at times, but the profilers themselves are amazing at what they do and are the kind of people you’d want on the case.
Dr. Temperance Brennan, nicknamed Bones by her FBI agent partner, Seeley Booth, is one of the best forensic anthropologists in her field (and she knows it). Bones, Booth and her colleagues at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington D.C., investigate crimes with only the bones of the deceased. Bones is a very fascinating character as she is very blunt and believes only in rational thought. Although her thinking supports her brilliant skills in anthropology, it makes her interactions with the living harder. Booth serves as her counterpart. In the beginning the two often disagree, but that conflict helps them both to see things in a new light.
“Person of Interest” (2011-present)
The government has created a software designed to anticipate terrorist attacks based on peoples behaviors. The Machine is watching and can even anticipate violent acts by ordinary people in the U.S. Those people are unimportant to the government, but not to ex-CIA agent John Reese and billionaire Finch. These two use The Machine secretly to stop the violent acts from happening.
Suspense & Horror Dramas:
FBI agent Olivia Dunham is apart of the fringe division investigating unusual and paranormal events. With the help of the once-institutionalized Dr. Walter Bishop and his son, Peter, they use Walters experimental science to solve the unique mysteries and to make new discoveries about our universe. “Fringe” is comparable to the Fox hit, “The X-Files”, which returns January 2016.
“Bates Motel” (2013-present)
Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, this is the tale of how that Norman Bates came to be. The series begins when his mother, Norma, and Norman move to a new town for a fresh start. Their past is to only be kept as secrets and the town they move to holds a few secrets of its own. Their new house comes with a motel, which they two will run to support themselves. He and his mother are very (very) close; it is them against the world. The young Norman is not what anyone would imagine based on what he becomes. Norman is sweet and caring, aside from his psychotic tendencies, of course. Freddie Highmore, really outdoes himself as Norman Bates. Every time he says ‘Mother’, it’ll send shivers down your spine. The previously held opinions of Norman and his mother will be destroyed as one follows this story. Just like in “Psycho”, Norman is not what he seems.
Supernatural & Fantasy Dramas:
“Ghost Whisperer” (2005-2010)
Possessing the ability to speak to the dead, lingering spirits with unfinished business seek out Melinda Gordon. Young Melinda tries to help the dead move on by relaying important information to their living. Some of the messages she receives are intense and spooky. Even though her ability is often doubted, it doesn’t stop her from using her gift to help.
Using her psychic abilities, medium and mother of two, Allison DuBois serves as a consultant with her district attorneys office. Usually through dreams, her ability allows her to see and even feel what a victim felt during a crime committed. She is dedicated to her family and to getting the truth of the cases she consults on.
“Once Upon a Time” (2011-present)
“Once Upon a Time” twists and bends everybody’s favorite fairy tales to create a magical journey for all the characters from children’s bedtimes stories. If anyone created the plot twist, it had to be the writers of this show. The story follows a bail bounds collector, Emma, whose life is thrown upside down when her biological son shows up and drags her to a small town in Maine he believes is occupied by the fairy tale characters in his books. In this series, magic and mischief are a package deal and there is no shortage of either. The fairy tale heroes are something of legends, but so are the villains and none are safe from the pressures of good and evil. This series defines hope and its important to remember there is plenty of it to go around. After all, that’s what magic is- right?
Honorable Mentions: The supernatural genre is hard to keep on television, but one show is particular has been on for years, “Supernatural” must have it all. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a classic, and the spin-off “Angel” probably has just as many dangerous foes.
Low Commitment Shows
And lastly, for those that don’t have time to watch a lot of seasons or lose interest easily, Netflix does have shows that were tragically cancelled early on, so there was only a season or two made. Look up and check out some of these short-lived series, they may just end up being your favorite!
“Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23”; “Life Unexpected”; “About a Boy”; “Freaks and Geeks” (my favorite); “Touch”; “The Finder”; “The Tomorrow People”; and “The Gates”.
Comment below what you’re going to watch from this list and feel free to comment and let me in on your own personal favorites available on Netflix!