So, you’ve binged The Pursuit of Love. Sat through Halston. Watched Starstruck, twice. What on Earth are you supposed to watch now? Glad you asked. Streaming services are about more than their high-profile big hitters. If you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves a little, you’ll find a world of smaller, more interesting gems. To help you out on your voyage of discovery, here are six of my favourite overlooked shows of late.
This is going to be the sort of berserk hyperbole that should probably be illegal, but here goes: Dreaming Whilst Back might be the best thing the BBC has made all year. A rich, sharp, authored comedy by Adjani Salmon, playing a would-be filmmaker trapped in a dead-end recruitment job, this show is bold and hilarious and stunningly awkward. It’s another sign, along with Fleabag and Starstruck, that the BBC knows that giving a writer/performer free rein is the key to success. Dreaming Whist Black only exists as a pilot for now. If it gets a full series, it has the potential to be enormous. You saw it here first. STREAM HERE.
Joe Pera Talks with You shouldn’t work as a comedy. It’s a show where a quiet man, who looks about 30 but acts about 70, gently guides you through the idiosyncrasies of his mundane life. In one episode he teaches you how to pack a lunchbox. In another he goes grocery shopping. He discusses breakfast. He encounters the music of The Who. These subjects are all massively inconsequential, but the lightness of Pera’s presence – hushed, deferential, unashamedly earnest – means that you’ll find yourself wanting to protect him. God, this show is a treasure. STREAM HERE.
A show created by Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, alongside longtime Always Sunny writer Megan Ganz, Mythic Quest is a sitcom about a videogame development company. No, wait, come back, it’s good. What makes this show sing is the dynamic between McElhenney’s obnoxious boss and his talented, eager to please second in command, played by Charlotte Nicdao. It’s a Don Draper / Peggy Olson relationship, but played for laughs and about videogames. The second season was just released on Apple TV+, and it’s a treat. STREAM HERE.
French crime thriller Lupin was just the sort of tense, stylish, foreign language drama that people lap up in their droves. Now that it’s over, Snabba Cash should be your next port of call. It’s a Swedish thriller about unvarnished greed, from its depictions of Stockholm cocaine dealers to the desperate would-be entrepreneurs they sell to. Everyone here quivers with the sort of ruthless ambition that made you stop watching The Apprentice. A remake of a film series, which in turn was a remake of a book, Snabba Cash is so cold and unflinching that it’ll almost make you want to not visit Stockholm. STREAM HERE.
Even with the cinemas closed, we have still been deluged by a barrage of superhero content. The genre has become the monoculture to such an extent that it is now supremely ripe for satire. The Boys – in which superheroes are controlled by a shady corporation – is one example. But Amazon’s new animation Invincible is another. Created by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman, Invincible is a gory, violent, hourlong superhero satire that might just have the best cast on TV right now. Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh, JK Simmons, Mark Hamill, Clancy Brown, Zazie Beetz, Jon Hamm, Seth Rogen, Mahershala Ali, Gillian Jacobs and scores of other big names all absolutely knock this one out of the park. STREAM HERE.
The second season of Tim Robinson’s perfect sketch show I Think You Should Leave has been waylaid by Covid. Luckily, Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun is the perfect stopgap. A comedy willing to stretch absurdity to the point of scientific abstraction, Aunty Donna tells the story of three Australians who live in a house in LA. And that’s about it. Within the first couple of minutes, you will witness a dishwasher singing an inspirational ballad, dozens of smashed bottles and three characters named Cowboy, Cowdoy and Cowsoy. At that point you’ll have some idea about whether Aunty Donna is for you or not. But it will be, because you’re cool. STREAM HERE.