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Top 10 Most Underrated TV Shows Of The 21st Century

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake With so many great shows so to watch nowadays, it isn't surprising that some have fallen through the cracks. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 underrated TV shows of the 21st century. For this list, we're taking a look at live-action shows from the past decade and half that deserve far more recognition. We've excluded shows like Community, which have been under-appreciated in the past, but have found a passionate cult following over time. Head over to WatchMojo.comsuggest to submit your idea for our next video!
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Top 10 Most Underrated TV Shows Of The 21st Century



With so many great shows so to watch nowadays, it isn’t surprising that some have fallen through the cracks. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 underrated TV shows of the 21st century.

For this list, we’re taking a look at live-action shows from the past decade and half that deserve far more recognition. We’ve excluded shows like “Community,” which have been underappreciated in the past, but have found a passionate cult following over time.

#10: “The River” (2012)


This ABC thriller was a bit like “Lost” with a found-footage twist. Unsurprisingly, it was co-created by Oren Peli of “Paranormal Activity.” Since “The River” came out around the same time we were getting a ton of “Lost” and “Paranormal Activity” wannabes, though, many simply wrote the show off as another rip-off. Had they stuck with “The River,” however, audiences would have found it had terrific atmosphere, a creepy setting, and a strong overarching mystery concerning the disappearance of Emmet Cole. Sadly, fans only got eight episodes before its cancelation.

#9: “Review” (2014-)


“Review” is easily among the funniest and most original comedies not nearly enough people are talking about. The show is carried by an uproarious performance from Andrew Daly as Forrest MacNeil, a critic who sets out to review life itself. Forrest will take on any request, from engaging in orgies, to venturing into outer space, to divorcing his beloved wife. Forrest’s journey demonstrates that life is full of highs and lows. No matter what, though, every facet of life has potential for a laugh.

#8: “Pushing Daisies” (2007-09)


Poor Bryan Fuller. He’s one of television’s most innovative storytellers, but all of his shows get prematurely cancelled. The loss we’re still most distraught over is “Pushing Daisies.” With the whimsy of Dr. Seuss and dark humor of Roald Dahl, this series follows a pie-maker named Ned who has the peculiar ability to bring dead things back to life. Playing god always comes with a price, however. Full of colorful production values, sharp writing, and lively performances, “Pushing Daisies” is one show that desperately needs to be resurrected.

#7: “Episodes” (2011-)


Any writer trying to make it in Hollywood can identify with “Episodes.” This comedy follows a couple of British writers who are asked to adapt their acclaimed British sitcom for American audiences. Upon arriving in LA, however, they discover that nobody is really interested in their original creation. To make matters more complicated, they have to deal with an egotistical Matt LeBlanc, who gives an exaggerated portrayal of himself. While not a runaway hit, “Episodes” is a smart parody of writers, actors, and the hellish process of making a TV series work.

#6: “The Tick” (2001-02)


Just as the animated version of “The Tick” stood out as one of our most criminally underrated cartoon series, this short-lived live action adaptation never received the widespread audience it deserved. “The Tick” maintained the same clever superhero satire fans had come to expect from this franchise, but the showrunners also managed to inject a slightly more adult, sitcom-oriented tone reminiscent of “Seinfeld.” A lack of support from the FOX network amounted to the show’s untimely cancelation, but Patrick Warburton just might return in a proposed revival.

#5: “Happy Endings” (2011-13)


Based on its promos, most audiences assumed that “Happy Endings” was just another uninspired “Friends” retread. What many pegged as a lousy mid-season replacement, though, turned out to be one of television’s most overlooked gems. Complete with a diverse cast of endearing characters and fast-paced dialogue, “Happy Endings” would have been a runaway success if the network had marketed it properly. Alas, the series was cancelled after three seasons due to poor scheduling and it failed to find a new home elsewhere. A sad ending to a truly wonderful show.

#4: “Banshee” (2013-)


As far as original programs go, Cinemax hasn’t quite reached the same level of recognition as other premium channels. Nevertheless, if the network continues to produce series like “Banshee,” we’re optimistic that it can compete with the likes of HBO and Showtime. Dripping with style, atmosphere, and dread, “Banshee” tells the story of an ex-convict who steals the identity of a murdered sheriff. Now he walks a fine line between justice and criminal activity, amounting to one of the most complex and enigmatic anti-heroes of this generation.

#3: “Party Down” (2009-10)


Starz is another premium channel that’s struggled to find a breakout hit. If only they had stuck with “Party Down” for more than two seasons, audiences might have discovered this comedy was television’s best hole in the wall surprise. The show centers on a group of struggling artists who work as caterers to pay the bills, crossing paths with various celebrities. Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Martin Starr, Lizzy Caplan, and the rest of the cast have fortunately found work elsewhere, but we’d love to see them all reunite for a feature film.

#2: “Shameless” (2011-)


The Gallaghers are a dysfunctional, trashy, and of course shameless clan, but they’re ultimately a dedicated family that always has each other’s backs. Although William H. Macy has picked up a few accolades for his performance as Frank Gallagher, the rest of the cast, particularly Emmy Rossum, rarely get enough credit. The show itself finds just the right balance between incredibly dark, incredibly hilarious, and incredibly heartfelt, becoming one of the rare American remakes that’s just as good as its British predecessor, if not better.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “The 100” (2014-)
- “Undeclared” (2001-02)
- “Penny Dreadful” (2014-)
- “The League” (2009-)

#1: “Orphan Black” (2013-)


Any performer can play multiple parts, but it takes a true acting marvel like Tatiana Maslany to convince us that each character is a separate being. In “Orphan Black,” Maslany masters several roles as a group of women who discover they’re clones. The show owes much of its success to Maslany, who finally received an Emmy nomination for her incredible acting feat in 2015. Maslany aside, “Orphan Black” further stands out as TV’s most underrated show for its well-written main characters, fun side characters, and an involving story that keeps us guessing.

Do you agree with our list? What other underrated 21st century shows deserve a wider audience? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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