Top Five Underrated TV Shows With Great Representation
We all love to binge a great series but the downside is that as soon as it’s over we’re left desperately wanting a new series to fill the void. As we cruise through all the big names in television you might have let something underrate but ultimately excellent slip by. If you love diverse casts, fresh plots, solid acting, and quality representations of masculinity and/or minorities then check out these 5 Underrated TV Shows!
1. Please Like Me
Points For: varying concepts of masculinity; discussion of topics like mental illness, depression, suicide
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If you just read that representations list and are thinking that this should best be reserved for when you need a good cry you might be surprised to learn that it’s actually a comedy; albeit a dark and sometimes distressing comedy. Please Like Me is based out of Australia and focuses on the daily life and struggles of a man who just broke up with his girl friend, came out as gay, and is still trying to conceal the fact that his father has just remarried from his manic depressive mother. Josh Thomas is the writer, director, and main actor of the series and has won numerous awards in all areas.
Points for: family dynamics, sex positivity, female driven plot, grief
On its surface the British drama seems like the best kind of comedy: full of awkward sibling tension, the worst kind of sex, and a character who breaks the fourth-wall constantly to deliver satirical asides. But running throughout this series are deep and charged emotions. The main anti-heroine is a woman who just can’t seem to get a break: in work, love, or with her tense family. Fleabag refines comedy and then serves it back to you on a platter of tears: both of sadness and delight. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest streaming device.
Points For: varying representation of gay men, relationships, self-shame, positive/negative masculinity
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Looking wrapped up its final episode (and debuted a movie) a few years back and the TV show seems to have become an underground favorite in the LGBTQ community. Viewed through the lens of the lives of a group of gay friends and the antics of their everyday life, Looking was hailed as a highly realistic and relatable example of the lives of many gay men today. In that way Looking excels at diving into the gritty details of modern relationships and the—oftentimes—uncertain nature of developing and maintaining these relationships.
4. Big Mouth
Points For : coming of age story, basic sex education in humorous form
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Hail to the almighty Netflix and the writers who can pull together an all-star cast of comedians to deliver the first animated coming of age series that feels wholly relatable. Big Mouth boasts big names such as Kristen Wiig, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, and Jordan Peele and centers around a group of children entering the confusing (and highly comedic) years of adolescent puberty. Whether it’s the disaster of your first period, a masturbatory love affair with a pillow, or navigating the hazards of a first kiss Big Mouth wields nostalgia with deadly precision. Big Mouth has received acclaim and awards for its representation of homosexuality and sexual fluidity.
5. The Magicians
Points for: sex positivity, bisexuality, sexual fluidity, mental health/illness, addiction, varying expressions of masculinity, female driven plots
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The Magicians started out as a bestselling series by Lev Grossman and quickly gained popularity among science fiction and fantasy acolytes. Often referred to as American university version of Harry Potter this series has some of the most progressive depictions of sexuality on television. Many characters exhibit sexually fluid experiences—whether it be a drunken threesome or a gay man marrying a woman and assuming the throne of a mystical land—which are nearly always normalized in the greater plot. The Magicians isn’t perfect but continually strives to provide an entertaining and inclusive narrative.
Written by Necko L. Fanning
Necko is a veteran, LGBT activist, and writer. In addition to his work as a freelancer Necko writes fiction with the purposes of providing strong LGBT and female protagonists to the world. More of his work can be found at neckofanning.com.