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Look To Television, Not Movies, When Searching Netflix Options

Heights Staff

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

As many people who had their classes cancelled last Monday can attest, there are many choices to be made on Netflix Instant. When I say choices, I don’t mean deciding whether to watch The Big Lebowski for the fifth time or Matilda for the first time since you were eight—Netflix certainly has a limited selection of movies. I’m talking about the vast expanse that is the company’s television catalogue.

Within Netflix’s sea of television series, there are a handful of shows that virtually everyone has seen. But how many nights can be devoted to South Park or Lost or The Office before you crave something different, something that fewer people have seen? When searching for a new series to watch, Netflix becomes more intimidating because of how many choices are out there. But don’t worry! Below are my five favorite under-the-radar shows on Netflix. Note that I haven’t included Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or Arrested Development, not because I don’t love these shows, but because I’m sure people close to you have already raved about them to an obnoxious degree.

5. Terriers
The only complaint I have over this one-season-and-done series is its title, since this series has nothing to do with dogs. In actuality, this show tells the story of ex-cop Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and his buddy, ex-criminal Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), as they solve murders and take on odd jobs as unlicensed private investigators in San Diego. The show deftly mixes drama with offbeat comedy as the scruffy, flawed duo tries to bring in big-name criminals while avoiding the local police force, frequently landing themselves in more trouble than they can handle. With excellent acting, witty writing, and a cool Cali vibe, Terriers is 13 episodes of television that are worth the investment.

4. Parks and Recreation
When this show premiered, it was seen as the lesser sister show of NBC’s The Office, merely a vehicle for comedian Amy Poehler. In its second season and beyond, however, Parks and Recreation became a great show in its own right, functioning as both a satire of small government and a situational comedy featuring one of the best ensembles on television. Now in its fifth season, Parks has experimented with its longer narrative in ways The Office never tried, and even its weakest episodes are still watchable thanks to its consistently hilarious characters, not the least of which is the Parks and Rec boss, the ultra-masculine Ron Swanson.

3. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Including Dr. Horrible on the list is technically cheating, since it originally premiered online as a three-act miniseries, but it has since been on television, so what the hell? Made during the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike by Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, the 40-minute musical tragicomedy tells the story of the evil Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), who tries to win over his crush, Penny (Felicia Day), but is thwarted at every turn by the pompous “superhero,” Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). The jokes come quick. The songs are memorable. The story is emotionally engaging. All in all, Dr. Horrible is perfect for anyone thinking of committing to one of Whedon’s spectacular shows.  

2. Archer
Archer is the best animated comedy on television right now, if not the medium’s best current comedy, period. The writing is clever and lightning-fast, and the jokes almost never miss their target. The show follows bumbling, self-obsessed super-spy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and his unfortunate colleagues at the fictional government agency, ISIS. Besides having finely drawn, delightfully amoral characters, the show is known for its blend of action sequences and situational workplace comedy. While too raunchy for some, the series is the closest thing to an Arrested Development successor on television, with its quick scene jumps, its joke callbacks, its casting of AD alums Judy Greer and Jessica Walter, and its endless ability to generate great quotes.

1. Freaks and Geeks
While this Judd Apatow-produced show has been on Netflix for less than a month, no series is more deserving of your time. When Freaks and Geeks premiered on NBC in 1999, it lasted a short 18 episodes before being cancelled due to low ratings. Within this short time, the comedy-drama about social outcasts portrayed the emotional chaos of high school more realistically than any other movie or show before or since. And it had one of the best television series soundtracks. And it had a rockin’ theme song. And it started the careers of many current celebrities, most notably James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel. On or off Netflix, Freaks and Geeks is the best of the best.

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