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12 Under-The-Radar TV Shows To Watch This Summer

Bored with all of this summer's blockbuster shows and films? Here are the TV series to try instead.

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Combined, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have aired 30 SEASONS of their titular stars wading through a pool of would-be suitors in the search for love. For a look behind the fairytale that these shows claim to deliver, you should watch Lifetime's new show UnREAL. It follows the producers and contestants on a Bachelor copycat called Everlasting and shows the amount of work that goes in to creating the "reality" TV that we watch. But rather than simply fictionalizing what we already know goes on behind-the-scenes on this type of series, UnREAL delves into the complicated ethics of manipulation and the personal toll that it takes on those who both perpetrate these falsehoods and are victims of them.

2. Rectify

Sundance TV

Rectify is, without a doubt, one of the most unique shows on television today. It's a slow-burning tale of a man released from death row after almost 20 years and the effects that his newfound freedom has on his family, the small town in which he lives, and especially himself. It has a philosophical and psychological depth that few other shows possess, a work of art taking place week-by-week on your television screen. Season 3 premieres on Sundance TV in early July and is well worth your time.

3. Catastrophe

Channel 4

If you're looking for an adult take on the romance genre, the new comedy Catastrophe (available on Amazon Prime) is for you. Starring Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan as two people engaging in a weeklong tryst that turns into something more when she ends up pregnant, Catastrophe is raunchy, hilarious, and oh-so-bingeable. And unlike the many romantic comedies that become bogged down by cliches and their own cloying sweetness, Catastrophe isn't afraid to use snark and raw emotion to carve out its own path.

4. Penny Dreadful

If you're hoping for a fun take on the horror genre, look no further. Penny Dreadful draws from famous horror characters from the Victorian past, including Dorian Gray and the monster from Frankenstein, as characters must deal with attacks and betrayals from the varied creatures that exist in their universe. The second season (which many people believe is stronger than the first) is airing now, and ends in early July, but you can catch up using Showtime's online streaming service.


5. Halt and Catch Fire

Halt and Catch Fire is a striking drama about the creation of the personal computer and the trials and tribulations of the people behind it. It's got an old-school tech meets 1980s punk vibe, with visuals and a soundtrack to match. While the first season was slow to get going, critics have praised the recently premiered second season for its improvements with character and focus. You can check the series out on AMC.

6. Wentworth

Orange is the New Black might be the big name in women's prison TV this summer, but if you're looking for a women's prison drama that is just as good without nearly as much fanfare (at least in the United States), check out Wentworth. It's an Australian series that follows a relatively similar premise as OITNB — exploring the trials and tribulations of prison life for a group of incarcerated women, including occasional flashbacks — but with an even darker tone. If OITNB is a prison dramedy, Wentworth is a much more brutal take on the genre. The third season just finished up in Australia, and the first two are available for U.S. audiences on Netflix.

7. BoJack Horseman

If you're looking for anthropomorphized animals, check out Netflix's BoJack Horseman. The series is about a former sitcom star attempting to return to the public eye via a tell-all memoir, and it doesn't pull any punches. The tone is occasionally crude, the numerous animals drink alcohol and party often, and despite being a cartoon, the show doesn't stray away from occasional darkness. It might not be for everyone, but if you're looking for a more adult-oriented cartoon, it's well worth viewing.

8. The Bridge

I you're tired of the True Detective phenomenon and want a different detective story, perhaps give The Bridge a try. Based on a Scandinavian series, the American remake aired two seasons on FX before the plug was pulled. More than a simple cop show, though, it attempts to grapple with questions of identity and connection, both between the characters themselves and the two countries — the U.S. and Mexico — in which the show is set.


9. Review

Comedy Central

In the reality TV landscape, passing judgment — on singing voices, modeling skills, etc. — has practically become an American pastime in the past decade or so. And Review offers a striking, often cynical, often hilarious take on the desire to understand and judge all kinds of experiences. This mockumentary series centers on "professional critic" Forrest MacNeil (Andy Daly, who produces the show) as he takes on the task of reviewing any and all experiences that his loyal followers ask of him. Some are innocuous enough – reviewing what it's like to go to prom — while others threaten to cause his life to crumble around him — such as when he's asked to review getting divorced. The second season premieres at the end of July on Comedy Central.

10. Mr. Robot

If you're looking for a cyber-anarcho-punk conspiracy, give USA's new series Mr. Robot a try. No, there aren't any actual robots, just a team of computer hackers seemingly trying to bring down the world economy and erase everyone's debt. But if you're intrigued by the ramifications of technology on the modern world and the ethics guiding both large corporations and individuals alike, this show has all of that and more. And with a great performance by Rami Malek in the lead role, you'll be mesmerized.

11. Chef's Table

With Chef's Table, you get an inside look into what life is like for members of the current generation of top culinary professionals, with an intimate and stunningly beautiful look at the daily lives and kitchens of the six featured chefs. From food preparation techniques to familial and regional influences, the topics discussed provide a striking insight into what it takes to become a master of the culinary world. The entire series is available to stream on Netflix, and it's well worth it.

12. Deutschland 83

Deutschland 83, a new series on Sundance TV, is a spy thriller you won't be able to turn away from. Deutschland is about a young soldier in the East German army in (of course) 1983, when the Cold War seemed to be at its hottest. He is tasked with impersonating a West German soldier and infiltrating their army to steal secrets, but struggles to handle the pressure of the situation as well as the difficulty of being away from his family. It's politically provocative without losing the fun and thrill that comes with the spy genre, and worth checking out.