If it seems like there are a lot of shows on television, well, that’s because there are. Unfortunately, lesser known quality shows tend to get looked over for the buzz worthy AMC and HBO offerings. To steer you in the right direction, we’ve compiled 5 TV gems you should be watching, and for whatever reason, might not be.
1. Orphan Black
Clones not your thing? They will be. After young con artist Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) witnesses a woman who looks just like her jump in front a train, Sarah assumes her identity with the intention of stealing her money and skipping town. Sarah soon discovers that she and the dead woman are clones, and they aren’t the only ones. Oh, and all of the clones are portrayed by the same actress. The premise itself could have been a gimmicky disaster, but in Tatiana Maslany’s capable hands it is nothing short of brilliant. The series is not only a compelling slice of science-fiction, but a story about real people navigating through unprecedented circumstances. The second season of Orphan Black is slated to premiere April 19 on BBC America.
It’s not that this series is lacking viewership and/or a severely dedicated fan base (because it’s so not), it’s simply that everyone (and I mean everyone) should be watching this show. The critically acclaimed crime-drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson, presents a modern day retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock detective stories. This version might not have Lucy Liu, but it does offer exceptional story lines that sure keeps you on your toes. The game is afoot and the show’s rapid-fire pacing challenges you to play along. The real draw here, though, is the dynamic between the morally ambiguous, eccentric genius, Sherlock, and his moral compass, Watson. The tangible chemistry between the show’s stars is undeniable and provides a strong foundation for an overall terrifically crafted series. Sherlock returns to PBS Masterpiece on Jan. 19, but you can catch up on seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix.
In recent years The CW has developed a reputation for packing their shows with a lot of pretty and not very much substance. But don’t write off this show as another platform for displaying chiseled jaws and perfect abs just yet. Arrow, which is based on the DC Comics character, Green Arrow, centers on billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who, after being stranded on a mysterious island for 5 years, returns with deadly archery skills and embarks on a Robin Hood style campaign to restore his city. While Amell does look good shirtless, The CW series proves to be much darker than it’s source material, and manages to tackle engaging issues such as social inequality and the morality of violence. Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix and the second season of Arrow is currently airing Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.
4. Sleepy Hollow
In this re-imagining of Washington Irving’s classic story, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is a time-traveling revolutionary war soldier sent to modern-day Sleepy Hollow to defeat the Headless Horseman. A series of events allows Ichabod to team up with local police lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), where they discover that there is an abundance of nasty creatures lurking around in television’s most interesting town since Sunnydale. The premise might sound ridiculous (well because it is) but it works. Hailed as one of the genuine hits of the 2013–14 broadcast TV season, Sleepy Hollow embraces its craziness. Now renewed for a second 13 episode season, it seems that the networks are learning that quality is more important than quantity. But, what really sets this show apart is its dedication to keeping a diverse cast, and in turn, offering something truly unique to viewers. You can catch Sleepy Hollow on Monday nights at 9 on Fox.
5. Top of the Lake
Top of The Lake is everything The Killing should have been, but wasn’t. This slow-burning miniseries focuses on Detective Robin Griffin’s (Elisabeth Moss) search for a 12-year-old pregnant girl from secluded Laketop, New Zealand. The Sundance Channel series is admittedly thematically dark and borderline depressing, but it’s also well-written, beautifully shot, and even has moments of humor. Moss gives a heart-wrenching (and award worthy) performance as the inexperienced, yet tireless detective whose own world begins to unravel as she come closer to uncovering the truth. The 7 episode miniseries is available to stream on Netflix.