With the dizzying number of TV shows, it’s easy to miss good dramas and comedies that aren’t hailed as great. Most of these series don’t have aggressive marketing or top-ranking actors that lead to tremendous exposure.
But all of them are graced with smart writing, wonderful acting and strong moments that make them a pleasure to watch. The following are seven good series that haven’t received enough attention over the past year.
“Ramy” – Hulu
The black comedy-drama created by comedian Ramy Youssef is one of the best series of the past year. The amusing, moving and watchable plot is based on the life of the comedian, who plays a young Muslim who lives with his parents and sister in New Jersey. He tries to be an ethical person who obeys the religious laws and fulfills his parents’ dream that he’ll marry a Muslim girl from a good home.
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But until then, he dates girls who are much more liberated than he, has sex and suffers the accompanying guilt. Despite the obvious comparisons to “Master of None,” the series is more reminiscent of “Atlanta.” Either way, don’t miss the wonderful episode about 9/11 or the one about Ramy’s mother, played by Nazareth-born Hiam Abbass. “Ramy” stands up well on its own, buoyed by the obvious talent of its creator.
“Cobra Kai” – YouTube Premium
Last year we called the first season of “Cobra Kai” the most fun series that went under the radar. The enjoyment from the nostalgic series that wades through the ‘80s so captivatingly hasn’t changed. What has changed is YouTube Premium, which is now available in Israel too.
The plot, which is based on the events of the cult film “Karate Kid,” describes further the emotional residue that the crane kick left in the hearts of the protagonists: Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). The rivalry between them filters down to the next generation, and this time, their children and protégés pay a high price for the baggage they’re carrying from the past.
“On Becoming a God in Central Florida” – Showtime
The excellent television choices of Kirsten Dunst (“Fargo,” “Black Mirror”) continue with the black comedy produced by George Clooney. Dunst plays a wife and mother of a baby girl who works in a water park in Florida. Her husband is played by Alexander Skarsgard, who is outstanding not even considering his great looks.
Stung by a pyramid scheme, Dunst’s character strives to take back everything that was stolen from her. This dark, absurd series stirs a sense of identification and abounds with black humor.
“This Way Up” – Hulu
Sharon Horgan, the creator and star of “Catastrophe,” stars in another melancholy British comedy that touches your heart. She does this in cahoots with Irish comedian Aisling Bea, who co-produced the series (and will be appearing this month with Paul Rudd in the Netflix series “Living With Yourself”).
The story follows a young woman named Aine, who is released from the hospital after a suicide attempt. The only place where she manages to be successful and funny is the school where she teaches English to immigrants; her method of instruction: the goings-on at the Kardashians.
Her older sister (Horgan) tries to take care of her and ease her depression and despair; their relationship is the heart of this delicate and bittersweet series.
“Undercover” – Netflix
If we rank the best foreign series on Netflix, the Dutch-Belgian crime series “Undercover” will easily reach the top. The story, based on actual events, follows a pair of undercover agents (Tom Waes and Anna Drijver) who pretend to be a married couple in order to get close to a violent drug baron who has connections with the police.
To link up with him, they move to a campground where he spends his weekends. This is an edgy and convincing series that creates tensions and glues you to the screen. It’s no surprise that it has been renewed for another season.
“The Other Two” – Comedy Central
The comedy by former head writers of “Saturday Night Live,” Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, follows a brother and sister who fail to find themselves as 30-somethings. While they dream about the moment when everything works out, their younger brother becomes a YouTube star and enjoys tremendous fame.
Unexpectedly, the plot isn’t based on hatred between the two and their famous brother. Actually, they both love their naive younger brother, and despite their envy, they want him to succeed. But his new life puts them in despair over their failures.
The series shows the effect of his success on them and fires witty comic barbs at the entertainment industry. The cast also features Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes and Ken Marino.
“Shrill” – Hulu
Comedian Aidy Bryant stars in a wise and entertaining black comedy. The plot is based on a best-seller by Lindy West and follows the story of an overweight young woman who wants to change her life, but not her body, which doesn’t meet Hollywood criteria.
Although “Shrill” isn’t daring enough to be a revolutionary series and isn’t put together well enough, it has reasoned and interesting characters who try not to repeat destructive patterns, and many high points in lovely scenes that will raise the morale of women of any size, color or build.