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Opinion: Great TV shows often go unnoticed

Great shows can go overlooked in the saturated TV market. Credit: Lantern file photo

Great shows can go overlooked in the saturated TV market. Credit: Lantern file photo

In this holy era of peak TV, it’s impossible even for the most devout binge watcher to catch every show out there. In that vast landscape, there are a number of quality shows that go without their due recognition. Thankfully, conventional viewer ratings mean less and less, so daring networks — and in some cases, online streaming services — air struggling shows longer than before. Below are five shows that probably got lost in the fray.

“You’re the Worst” on FXX

The premise of “You’re the Worst” isn’t appealing on paper. Two selfish narcissists who don’t believe in love give their best shot at a relationship. True to its name, all sorts of awfulness occurs and the show plays with the idea of how likeable a show’s characters need to be for an audience to stick around. But along the way, the narrative breaks through their troubled psyches and makes an argument for the humanity in everyone. Tackling subjects from depression to PTSD, “You’re the Worst” has managed to stave off cancellation despite its dismal ratings (often below 250,000 viewers according to Nielsen ratings) and will return for a fourth season next year.

“Casual” on Hulu

Hulu, with its ads and clunky interface, is mostly tolerated because of its access to new episodes of shows that are still airing, but its attempts at original content have been garnering more and more attention. Arguably the best of those shows is “Casual,” a low-key character drama surrounding a divorcee and her daughter moving into her brother’s home. Light on drama, “Casual” favors smart writing and realistic, relatable characters. Despite excellent critical reception and a third season on the way, the show remains seldom discussed and mostly ignored by the casual internet viewer.

“BoJack Horseman” on Netflix

“BoJack Horseman” has never struggled to earn itself another season or critical acclaim, but it seems everyone I talk to either hasn’t seen it or can’t get past the first few episodes. Initially, it sticks to cliches of the animated comedy, relying on cutaway jokes and pop culture references. But as the show progresses, it blossoms into a touching, nuanced character study and exploration of existentialism and mental health. It tackles heavy topics for a cartoon, but the sheer absurdity of it all keeps it one of television’s funniest shows. Season 3 premiered in July, and with season 4 already in the works, there’s plenty of time to catch up with BoJack.

“Man Seeking Woman” on FXX

Another FXX show, “Man Seeking Woman” is worth watching solely for Jay Baruchel, one of the most underrated young comedic actors. In the show, he stars as Josh, a 27-year-old who tries to navigate life and romance in a world that has more in common with “The Twilight Zone” than it does real life. He goes on a blind date with a troll, hangs out with a Japanese penis monster and wins the MacArthur Grant for getting a girl’s number. “Man Seeking Woman” takes universal experiences to their absurd limit and displays hilarious, real-life truths despite the show’s far-out nature. Like “You’re the Worst,” “Man Seeking Woman” has viewer ratings of 250,000 and lower, but will be returning for a third season in January.

“Over the Garden Wall”on Cartoon Network

This Cartoon Network miniseries from Patrick McHale, a writer and storyboard artist for “Adventure Time” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack,” continues to fly criminally under the radar two years after its initial release. With a visuals and themes perfect for fall, “Over the Garden Wall” combines elements of folklore, classical art and musicals into an unforgettable show that’s equally creepy and hilarious. Its host network and the storyline of two young boys lost in the fantastical woods of the Unknown may not draw in casual viewers, but those who stick through the initial setup will be richly rewarded.

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