BySean Gallagher, writer at
Sean is passionate about all things film, gaming and concerning a galaxy far far away. Twitter: @seangallagher07
Sean Gallagher

For the past couple of of years audiences have been living in a Golden Age of television. The quality of today is unparalleled, with some programs surpassing the quality in the film. Yet, with all the hype surrounding the insanely popular, some shows fall through the cracks and have been missed by many people. This is a shame, because the shows on this list are honestly fantastic and don't get the proper recognition they deserve. So give one or two a try, whether it's fantastical or historical, there may be something just for you waiting to be discovered.

5. 'The Expanse'

With Season 2 returning February 1st, you should do your best to catch up on as soon as because it is awesome — a pulpy, hard-boiled detective thriller set 200 years in the future in space.

The plot follows Thomas Jane's Miller, a detective in the Asteroid Belt colony (known as "Belters") who is working a missing persons case, notably a wealthy girl from Earth (where all powerful men and women reside). Simultaneously, we are told a parallel story from the point of view of the crew of the Canterbury, an ice mining ship captained by Steven Strait's Holden that gets tangled up in a conspiracy that could set Earth in a war against Mars. Despite appearing to be separate events, everything is still somehow tied to the missing person Miller is searching for.

'The Expanse' [Credit: NBC Universal TV]
'The Expanse' [Credit: NBC Universal TV]

By the season's end, the puzzle pieces fall into place and we finally understand, but it's fun to try and connect the dots yourself. The show is oozing with political intrigue and we have insight into the motivations behind all the characters and factions — save one (and that's done intentionally). If I had to compare the show to any existing properties, I'd say Firefly had a lovechild with the Mass Effect games. Full of great effects and great multi cultural cast of characters, I had a blast with this one and I was completely immersed with the rich lore, history and story Even if sci-fi isn't your thing, give it a try. If you do end up loving it, you should pick up the books by author James. S. A. Corey.

4. 'The Magicians'

Based on the novels by Lev Grossman, is basically what would happen if Harry Potter and Narnia got warped together but moved their target audience towards adults. Full of sex, drugs, violence and plenty of swearing, the show has plenty of edge and wit to separate itself from its contemporaries.

'The Magicians' [Credit: NBC Universal TV]
'The Magicians' [Credit: NBC Universal TV]

The show sees a young man named Quentin Coldwater get accepted into a magical university where magic is more than just flicking a wand (it's actual theoretical nonsense like real university), and along with his new friends, is sucked into a world he idolized as a child from a popular book series. Only difference? Magic and happiness are for suckers and the harsh reality of the fantasy is a lot darker than we all previously thought.

The show (and books) are very self aware too, often making pop culture references that keep it in check with the real world and thus, fun to look for while they prepare for finals and the haunting threat of the mysterious yet vicious entity they dubbed "The Beast." Season 2 returned January 25th.

3. 'Black Sails'

I wrote about before on my own blog and you can read my thoughts here on that, but this show is truly fantastic — one of the best shows this decade and supremely underrated. The first season is a bit slow, I will admit that, but don't let it pull you out. Season 2 hits the floor running and hasn't stopped. The show is a hybrid of historical drama set in the early 1700s while also serving as a prequel to the beloved novel, Treasure Island.

'Black Sails' [Credit: Platinum Dunes]
'Black Sails' [Credit: Platinum Dunes]

Our protagonist is Captain Flint, (as in Flint's buried treasure from the book) and he's on a wild yet ambitious mission to retrieve Spanish gold from a warship — enough gold that the pirate nation in Nassau can truly defend themselves from civilization and England forever, becoming an autonomous pirate republic. Whether it's the captivating, complicated and layered rogues, the great costumes and sets or the amazing naval confrontations, Sails is simply amazing.

The show is not afraid to play the long wait, where it may take a season or two to pay off, but it's so worth it. It's not often a show can make you root for the villainous characters, but Sails does an excellent job with them, who are brought to life with fantastic writing. The fourth and final season kicked up on January 29th.

2. 'Outlander'

Time travel and historical fiction? If I've piqued your interest then maybe consider , a show that sees a WWII nurse from England get magically abducted into the 18th century during the Jacobite revolution in Scotland.

Being English in such troubling times is bad enough for our hero Claire, as she is suspected of being a spy, but she has no idea how, or if she can return home to her husband and former life.

'Outlander' [Credit: Sony Pictures TV]
'Outlander' [Credit: Sony Pictures TV]

To make matters worse, one particular Red Coat happens to be her husband's noted ancestor, and he delivers some of the most disturbing scenes I've ever seen on television. Yet, armed with the knowledge of the future, Claire ends up involved in the cause and finds herself working heavily with Jamie Fraser, a solider and laird in waiting. Part love story, part harrowing war epic, Outlander can be uncomfortable and graphic at times, but great characters (including one helluva lead) make Outlander a great watch. Also, the scenery of the Highlands is just fantastic.

1. 'The Last Kingdom'

What was once a BBC America original has now moved and has found a new home on Netflix. Based on The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, tells the fictional story of Uhtred, a born Saxon who is raised by the invading Danes and the tale of the very real King Alfred the Great, who desires to see all the kingdoms merge under one crown and repel the invaders.

'The Last Kingdom' [Credit: Carnival Film and Television]
'The Last Kingdom' [Credit: Carnival Film and Television]

The two men work to negotiate the harsh realities that the Vikings have brought to England, and Uhtred finds himself conflicted as to which side of the conflict he should be aligning with. While no Game of Thrones, Kingdom sucked me in with its bitter realities. Characters can be unpleasant and sometimes hard to root for, even the leads, but that's the life for these characters. Betrayal is common — as is bloodshed — as characters on both sides maneuver political landmines in hopes to rise and conquer. Season 1 is available on Netflix now and Season 2 should be released later this year.

If you have your own recommendations for underrated TV shows that are currently airing, let us know in the comments below.


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