12 of the most underrated TV series to enjoy now

Naomi Gordon
Photo credit: BBC

From Good Housekeeping

While we've been enjoying a trickle of TV dramas made just before lockdown, including Michaela Coel's shattering I May Destroy You and BBC's plush adaptation of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries - a stream of new productions and some of our ongoing favourites are still on hold due to the pandemic.

So this could be the perfect time to unearth an array of underrated TV dramas, comedies and thrillers which may have slipped under your radar - all of which are ready to be enjoyed on Netflix, iPlayer, NOW TV and Amazon now. Here are a few of our favourites below...

Babylon Berlin

Photo credit: Sky Atlantic/Now TV

This exhilarating, fast-paced and big budget German period drama from Sky Atlantic transports viewers to a vibrant Berlin during the wild and turbulent times of the Golden Twenties.

The drama follows charismatic police commissioner Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) - battling with trauma following his service in World War 1 - who is assigned from Cologne to Berlin on an undercover mission to dismantle a pornography ring. When Soviet rebels hijack a train, Rath and his collaborator - ambitious police clerk Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries) - begin to unravel an even bigger and more dangerous political conspiracy consuming the capital.

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State of Happiness

Photo credit: BBC

Described by critics as Norway's answer to Mad Men, this suitably stylish, slow-burn and sophisticated drama focuses on four families whose fortunes are transformed when their sleepy coastal Norwegian town strikes oil.

Set in the summer of 1969, the eight-part drama follows three teenage Norwegians, Anna Hellevik (Anne Regine Ellingsæte) Christian Nyman (Amund Harboe) and Toril Torstensen (Malene Wadel), and young American lawyer Jonathan Kay (Bart Edwards) as their lives are impacted by the oil industry and all the changes the oil brought with it; the development of the welfare state, equal rights for men and women, immigration and prosperity.

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Enlightened

Photo credit: NOW TV - Sky

Imagine Laura Dern's Big Little Lies control-freak Renata - but on a really, really bad day - and you're halfway to experiencing the chaos of her character Amy Jellicoe in HBO's wickedly funny Enlightened.

Dern won a Golden Globe for her performance as a burned-out woman on the edge in the comedy drama, which she co-created with Mike White. Running for two seasons between 2011 and 2013, Dern's Amy seeks spiritual enlightenment after a breakdown in the workplace, and attempts to convert family and friends to her seemingly calming new way of life. The cast also includes Luke Wilson as her troubled ex-husband Levi, and Dern's own actress mother Diane Ladd as her on-screen mum.

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Olive Kitteridge

Photo credit: Sky/NOW TV

This understated yet heart-wrenching HBO drama adapted from Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title follows the ups and downs of the indomitable Olive - a multi-award-winning performance from Frances McDormand - and her fraught yet loving family.

Set in an idyllic fictional seaside town in Maine, Olive's life unfurls over 25 years as she succumbs to jealousy and scandal, and battles bereavement, depression, and friction with her well-meaning pharmacist husband Henry (Emmy award-winning Richard Jenkins) and her troubled son Christopher.

The award-winning ensemble cast also includes Bill Murray, Zoe Kazan and Peter Mullan.

Author Stout recently released the sequel to Olive Kitteridge with 2019 novel Olive, Again, so here's to another adaptation in the future.

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Black Earth Rising

Photo credit: Netflix

Michaela Coel gives a stunning performance as Kate Ashby, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who was brought to the UK as a child. Now a legal investigator in the London law chambers of Michael Ennis, Kate and her adoptive mother Eve (Harriet Walker) - an international prosecution barrister - take on a case prosecuting an African militia leader which changes the course of their lives irreparably. The impressive cast also includes John Goodman, Tamara Tunie, and Noma Dumezweni.

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Broken

Photo credit: Netflix

Jimmy McGovern's gut-wrenching and affecting drama follows a compassionate Catholic priest (Sean Bean) presiding over a large parish on the outskirts of a city in northern England.

Bean won a BAFTA for his devastating performance as Father Michael Kerrigan, struggling beneath the weight of a childhood trauma, as he attempts to help a troubled community battling with addiction, poverty, and social injustice. The stunning ensemble cast includes Anna Friel, Adrian Dunbar, Mark Stanley, Muna Otaru and Rochenda Sandall.

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Undercover

Photo credit: Netflix

Peter Moffat's compelling thriller follows Sophie Okonedo's powerful lawyer Maya as she is set to become the first Black Director of Public Prosecutions. Maya is happily married with three children to Adrian Lester's Nick, a former undercover officer. But when truth about his past slowly seeps to the surface, Maya begins to suspect the circumstances under which they met some 20 years earlier, shattering their seemingly blissful domesticity.

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Good Girls

Photo credit: Netflix

Like an all-female Breaking Bad meets Weeds - and Mad Men, what with Christina Hendricks' steely yet stifled character constantly nursing tumblers of neat bourbon whisky - Good Girls follows the whirlwind lives of three down-trodden suburban mums as they're caught up in a criminal underworld. Retta stars as Ruby and Mae Whitman as Annie - hilarious friends to Hendrick's Beth in this unexpectedly relatable comedy drama brimming with dark humour from screenwriter Jenna Bans.

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Ben and Kate

Photo credit: Amazon

This charming, feel-good single-camera comedy follows Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon as mismatched siblings who find themselves under the same roof as young adults. Dakota's Kate is a pragmatic single mother working as a bartender to support her six-year-old daughter Maddie, while Nat's Ben is a dreamer and underachiever who wants to help look after his niece. Both are bolstered by their charismatic and supportive best friends BJ (Lucy Punch) and Tommy (Echo Kellum).

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DEVS

Photo credit: BBC Two

Alex Garland's beautifully shot science-fiction thriller exposes the dark and murky world of a sprawling tech company in Silicon Valley. When software engineer Lily Chan's (Ex-Machina's Sonoya Mizuno) boyfriend Sergei (Karl Glusman) suddenly goes missing, she begins to suspect the company's enigmatic CEO Forrest and unravels a tech-based conspiracy which could alter the world.

Zach Grenier is deeply chilling as Forrest's unpredictable right-hand man Kenton.

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Barry

Photo credit: Sky/NOW TV

Bill Hader's Barry is fed up with his unrewarding life as a hit man and on his latest assassination mission, he joins a LA workshop led by Henry Winkler's Gene Cousineau to discover a passion for acting. But leaving his life of crime behind him is going to prove more of a challenge than improving his acting abilities.

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Top of the Lake

Photo credit: Netflix

Jane Campion's eerie New Zealand crime drama follows Elisabeth Moss's Detective Robin Griffin as she investigates the disappearance of Tui Mitcham, a twelve-year-old pregnant girl from the unsettling small town of Laketop. She soon finds herself up against a small community harbouring impenetrable secrets, while her own private grief bubbles to the surface.

Moss won a Golden Globe for her role, while co-stars Holly Hunter and Peter Mullan also give memorable and award-worthy performances.

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