Oh, the winter TV doldrums. School is out, work is slow, and you’ve had about enough family time for one year, thank you very much. So you turn to your old friend, the television.
But what’s a TV-loving introvert to do when all of broadcast television is seemingly on hiatus and you’ve binged all the major offerings the streaming giants have to offer? Luckily, just because you think there’s nothing new under the sun to watch at the moment, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some hidden gems out there, just waiting to be discovered. We’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite under-the-radar shows that we’ve got a feeling just might scratch the itch you’re feeling this winter. So stay out of the cold, tell your family you’ll see them in the spring, and ride out the rest of this winter on your couch. You can thank us later.
Like Insecure? Watch She’s Gotta Have It
Missing Issa Rae and her authentic representation of dating and friendships in Los Angeles while she’s hard at work on season three of her hit HBO comedy? Well, take a trip over to Brooklyn allow us to introduce you Nola Darling. As played by the luminous DeWanda Wise, Nola is the enlightened artist at the center of Netflix’s new Spike Lee joint based on his 1986 film of the same name, She’s Gotta Have It. Telling the story of Nola’s insatiable appetite for life (including the three men she’s juggling), the series is, in typical Lee fashion, in-your-face, so if you’ve ever watched Insecure and thought, “This is too subtle,” this is the show for you.
Season one of She’s Gotta Have It is available to stream now on Netflix.
Showtime; Comedy Central
Like Broad City? Watch SMILF
Ever wondered what might happen if Broad City‘s Ilana Wexler was a single mother? Well, swap in the South Boston location of Showtime’s SMILF and you might have your answer. In Frankie Shaw‘s comedy, based on her short film of the same name, the Golden Globe-nominated actress stars as Bridgette, a single mom doing the best she can, trying not to let the world beat her down. Her interactions with BFF Eliza (a fantastic Raven Goodwin) are just as must #friendshipgoals as Broad City‘s Ilana and Abbi, while her storyline with manic-depressive mom Tutu (a revelatory Rosie O’Donnell) delivers a tender pathos that the Comedy Central hit tends to avoid.
Already renewed for season two, SMILF wraps up season one on Sunday, Dec. 31. You can catch up on the first season on Showtime Anytime or on Hulu Plus.
Like The Real World? Watch Summer House
It’s been nearly a year since the last time MTV picked seven strangers to live in a house and have their lives taped to find out what happens when (say it with us now) people stop being polite and start getting real. Picking up their slack is Bravo, with the ludicrously entertaining Summer House. Following a group of sorta-friends as they share a house in the Hamptons on the weekends for the whole summer (one that comes equipped with cameras in every room, natch), it’s as if the best parts of The Real World and Vanderpump Rules were combined (with a dash of Jersey Shore in the mix for good measure) to craft the near-perfect reality show. Come for the silly drama, stay for Stephen McGee‘s hilarious one-liner observations about the insanity unfolding around him at all times.
Catch up on season one on demand before season two debuts on Monday, Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. on Bravo.
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Like Stranger Things? Watch Dark
If you’ve ever watched Stranger Things and thought to yourself, “Gee, this is fun, but I sure wish everything was a whole lot darker, much more adult in nature, and 100 percent more German,” have we got the show for you. As Netflix’s first German production, Dark (yes, it’s really called that) is a family saga set in a German town with a nuclear power plant on its outskirts where the disappearances of two young children expose the double lives and fractured relationships among four families as a supernatural twist ties back to events in 1986. Effectively creepy and nail-bitingly binge-able, this just might be your next obsession.
Season one of Dark is available to stream now on Netflix, while season two has officially been ordered.
Like The Handmaid’s Tale? Watch Alias Grace
We’ve still got a bit of a wait ahead of us before we can finally return to the dreaded Gilead and find out what’s in store for Offred (Elizabeth Moss in a tour-de-force, Emmy-winning performance) in season two of The Handmaid’s Tale. Until then, whet your appetite for all things Margaret Atwood with another adaptation of one of her books, again exploring all the horrible ways the world treats its women. Alias Grace, Netflix’s co-production with the CBC, tells the somewhat true story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a young Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada, convicted of brutally murdering her employer and his housekeeper. As the truth unfolds in twisty, knotty ways, you won’t be able to look away.
Alias Grace is available to stream now on Netflix.
Like The O.C.? Watch Marvel’s Runaways
If you’re missing The O.C.‘s patented brand of family drama and teen angst, then co-creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have just the thing for you. Bonus points if you always wanted to see what might happen if Seth Cohen’s real life became a comic book. With Marvel’s Runaways, Hulu’s adaptation of the beloved comic book series, Schwartz and Savage tell the story of six diverse teenagers who can barely stand each other, but must come together to defeat a common enemy—their murderous, evil parents. Believe us when we say Julie Cooper has nothing on these adults.
New episodes launch every Tuesday at Hulu.
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Like Girls? Watch Search Party
Where to get your fill of millennial ennui since the conclusion of Girls earlier this year on HBO? Look no further than the savagely spot-on TBS comedy Search Party. What was a masterful mystery in its first season as Dory (a sublime Alia Shawkat) and her friends set out to find their missing acquaintance Chantal turned into an even-more inspired, Hitchcock-influenced second season as the oblivious group of friends tried to keep the shocking violence at the end of season one under wraps. What would it look like if Hannah Horvath tried to cover up a murder? Probably a lot like this. Don’t let this one pass you by.
Binge seasons one and two on demand or on the TBS app.
Are you planning to check out any of our recommendations? Sound off in the comments below!
(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)