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Top 10 Smart Shows that No One is Watching

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Trevor J Fonvergne
There are so many great TV shows to watch, some of the smartest ones fall under the radar. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Smartest Shows No One Is Watching. For this list, we’re looking at shows that, in addition to being high quality, have been acclaimed for their intelligent themes, writing, and stories, but haven’t quite received the attention they deserve.
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Top 10 Smart Shows No One Is Watching



There are so many great TV shows to watch, some of the smartest ones fall under the radar. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Smartest Shows No One Is Watching.



For this list, we’re looking at shows that, in addition to being high quality, have been acclaimed for their intelligent themes, writing, and stories, but haven’t quite received the attention they deserve.



#10: “Peaky Blinders” (2013-)



Inspired by a real-life gang, “Peaky Blinders” follows the titular criminal group in Birmingham, England after the end of the first World War. While the crime drama genre has been dominated by “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire” in this hemisphere, it’s worth taking a look at what they have on the other side of the pond. Each season follows the crime family through different historical events in early twentieth century England, seamlessly blending historical fact with fiction. The series’ vision of historical England boasts some of the most gorgeous and stylish cinematography in years, while Cillian Murphy gives the performance of his career as the notorious criminal Tommy Shelby.





#9: “Happy Valley” (2014-)



Yet another relatively unknown British series, “Happy Valley” is nothing if not a misnomer. Catherine is a tough police officer whose career and personal life collide after finding out that her deceased daughter’s rapist has been released from prison. She becomes embroiled in a dangerous kidnapping scheme while on her hunt from revenge as the two plots become intertwined. With only six episodes per season, the thriller unfolds at a rapid and taut pace, anchored by superb writing and a sensational lead performance by Sarah Lancashire. It’s a wonder more people don’t know about this incredibly suspenseful drama.





#8: “You’re the Worst” (2014-)



The antihero is an increasingly common trope in television, but few dare to make their protagonists quite as unlikeable as this dark comedy. Jimmy is a misanthropic, struggling writer who meets Gretchen, an equally cynical PR executive. Throughout the series, their unconventional romance unfolds in hilarious fashion, while never losing track of its more poignant dramatic moments. The eccentric Lindsay and awkward Edgar round out one of the best TV ensembles on a current series, each with enough character quirks to fill out their own show. Unafraid to tackle darker themes like mental illness and career failure, it tells its stories with a wholly unique perspective, finding strength in its strong writing and performances.





#7: “Mary Kills People” (2017-)



If the title isn’t enough to make you curious, let us convince you. Mary Harris is an emergency doctor who provides assisted suicide to terminally ill patients-illegally, of course. The grim subject matter is juxtaposed with a darkly comic tone, but that’s not to say it doesn’t treat the topic with care. Though the premise is a heavy one, it deals with this moral quandary with mature and reassured deftness that raises it high above the pitfalls it could have fallen into. Caroline Dhavernas gives an equally nuanced performance, crafting a fascinating character who isn’t in it for the money, but for more complicated reasons.





#6: “Trial & Error” (2017-)



It takes a deft comedic hand to make stupid humor feel fresh and, ironically, smart. “Trial & Error” blends mockumentary, murder mystery, slapstick, and surreal humor in a concoction that works surprisingly well. Each season follows a murder case in the ridiculous town of East Peck, South Carolina as lawyer Josh Segal defends an inept client. The first season recounts the case of Larry Henderson, played by the legendary John Lithgow, while Lavina Peck-Foster, played by the always-charming Kristin Chenoweth, is accused in the second season. The show’s cast of eccentric characters, each of whom delivers a laugh a minute, help round out this silly true crime satire.





#5: “Search Party” (2016-)



The criminally underrated Alia Shawkat finally gets a starring role in an equally underrated comic thriller. These genres seem like a strange combination, but the TBS original toes the line between them with a precise dexterity. Dory is a young woman who becomes embroiled in the disappearance of a college acquaintance, a mystery which balances twists and turns with genuine laughs. Her self-obsessed friends make it difficult to find fulfilment in her life, and we can all relate to her search for meaning as she looks for Chantal. It’s truly exceptional in its tonal uniqueness, forging an identity unlike anything that’s come before it.





#4: “Channel Zero” (2016-)



We all know about creepypastas: creepy internet urban legends that can really get in your head if you think about them too much. “Channel Zero” took the opportunity to adapt them into terrifying miniseries in this horror anthology. Season one takes on the “Candle Cove” story of a mysterious TV channel, and season two adapts “The No-End House,” about a bizarre and sinister house. The show really hit its stride, though, with its third season, “Butcher’s Block,” about two sisters who move to a town plagued by strange rumors and disappearances. Each installment is better than the last, always finding new and horrific ways to tell stories while keeping them grounded in its characters.





#3: “Killing Eve” (2018-)



Eve is an eccentric MI5 agent who, after being tasked with tracking sociopathic international assassin Villanelle, begins a game of cat and mouse as the two women become obsessed with one another. Bolstered by fantastic performances all around, particularly by Sandra Oh, the series places a female perspective on a male-dominated genre. It also achieves the not so small feat of flirting with a handful of different genres, as well as subverting them at every turn. With only one season under its belt, it’s quickly become one of television’s most compelling shows, and we can’t wait to see what else it has to offer.





#2: “Counterpart” (2017-)



J.K. Simmons can slip into any role he puts his mind to, and in “Counterpart,” he’s up to the challenge of slipping into two roles at once. He plays Howard, who works for a mysterious agency which he comes to understand is responsible for the creation of a parallel timeline that has diverged from ours dramatically over the past thirty years. While Howard is a kind, meek man, his Other is a cold-hearted spy, and Simmons is award-worthy in both roles. A conflict between the two realities sets the series down a complex and rewarding rabbit hole of a plot that mines its unique premise for everything it’s worth.





#1: “Taboo” (2017-)



“Taboo” had long been a passion project of Tom Hardy before it finally saw the light of day, and the passion is plain to see. Hardy plays James Delaney, who, though he was thought to be dead, returns from Africa after his father dies under mysterious circumstances. He is set to inherit his father’s possessions, but many, including his half-sister and the East India Company, have other plans. A stylish and captivating tale, the more we come to learn about James, the more we learn he’s truly a character for the ages, one which Hardy both created and magnificently embodies.
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