10 hidden TV gems you might have missed

Now’s the time to finally catch up on ‘P-Valley,’ ‘We Own This City’ and eight other shows well worth your weekends

Clockwise from top left: “Dark Winds,” "The Deep End,” “Angelyne” and “Undone” are some of the shows you may have missed. (Michael Moriatis/Stalwart Productions/AMC; Freeform; Isabella Vosmikova/Peacock; Amazon Prime Video)
Placeholder while article actions load

It may not feel like it anymore, but summer is still the season when TV programming takes a bit of a breather and viewers can catch up on the shows they didn’t have time for, or are only hearing about now.

My list of the best shows of 2022 (so far) is coming soon, but first, here are 10 hidden gems — smaller shows without the star power or marketing muscle of flashier competitors — that struggled to get noticed amid the never-ending content deluge. I’ve already reviewed and recommended about half of this list but thought some shows deserved an extra push; the rest are series I wish I’d had time to praise when they premiered.

‘Angelyne’

“I am not a woman,” intones the titular buxom blonde who plastered herself, along with her signature Barbie-pink Corvette, on Los Angeles billboards in the ‘80s and ‘90s. “I am an icon,” she asserts, rather correctly. For decades, Angelyne was a local legend — and a total mystery. Her billboards sometimes featured a phone number, but often just her name in unmissably huge letters. The five-part Peacock drama, about the search for the “real” Angelyne, is a deep show about surfaces, with an unrecognizable Emmy Rossum in an outstanding lead turn. And if you’re feeling hesitant about signing up for yet another streaming service, just know that Peacock’s comedy lineup has seriously bulked up in the past few months, with the second seasons of “Girls5eva” and “Rutherford Falls” joining “We Are Lady Parts,” “Killing It” and the “Saved by the Bell” reboot. (Streams on Peacock)

‘Dark Winds’

Based on Tony Hillerman’s mega-popular Leaphorn & Chee mystery novels, the recently debuted “Dark Winds” stars the incredibly versatile Zahn McClarnon (“Fargo,” “Reservation Dogs”) in his first lead role on a regular TV series. The milestone feels long overdue, given the clench-jawed intensity and wounded humanity the 30-year screen veteran brings to his role as Leaphorn, a detective in the Navajo Tribal Police trying to find the common link between several disparate crimes. (Kiowa Gordon plays his uneasy protege Chee.) Set in ‘70s New Mexico and boasting an all-Native American writers room (as well as a nearly all-Indigenous cast), the show’s lovingly crafted portrait of a Navajo community, with all its hardships and beauty, more than makes up for the occasional snags in the procedural. (Airs on AMC; streams on AMC Plus)

‘The Deep End’

TV has no shortage of cult content, but “The Deep End” offers a unique and irresistible hook: A spiritual influencer’s team hires a private investigator to determine if their leader is, in fact, running a cult. The four-part docuseries and word-of-mouth hit is wildly uneven, and yet utterly mesmerizing in its later episodes, as it captures the possible disintegration of self-help guru (and self-professed clairvoyant) Teal Swan’s inner circle, with members forced to confront the parallels between their group dynamics and those of more traditional cults. In contrast with most other entrants of its genre, “The Deep End” filmed its subject close to her full power, producing a rare glimpse of a savvy narcissist in the act of justifying to her underlings her ludicrous expectations of their self-sacrifice. The result is raw and uncomfortable and should be studied for years to come. (Aired on Freeform; streams on Hulu)

‘My Brilliant Friend’

Easily one of the best dramas currently on television, the Italian-language adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s celebrated novels ran headlong into the ’70s and the women’s movement in its extraordinarily moving, decade-spanning third season. Centered on two childhood friends who can’t help comparing their lives and achievements to each other’s over the years, the series suddenly finds Lila (Gaia Girace) and Elena (Margherita Mazzucco), who both grew up on the outskirts of a war-torn Naples, on the opposing sides of a class divide against a political backdrop of newly energized populist violence. The women only ever dreamed of escaping the deprivation and indignity of their humble origins. The epic scope of the series helps illustrate that, no matter their accomplishments or circumstances, true freedom for Lila and Elena remains elusive. (Aired on HBO; streams on HBO Max)

Review: ‘My Brilliant Friend’ is brilliant television

‘P-Valley’

The first season of “P-Valley,” the superb strip-club drama created by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall, debuted in summer 2020. Covid-19 takes center stage in Season 2, as the Black women and queer folk who work at — and occasionally find refuge in — the show’s legendary Mississippi club struggle to stay afloat in a pandemic economy. An excellent ensemble, beautifully realized characters and urgent social critique continue the series’ mission to humanize sex workers and celebrate their creativity, independence and hustle while empathetically depicting their fight not to be pigeonholed by their line of work. (Airs on Starz)

‘Single Drunk Female’

Not a scene is, uh, wasted in “Single Drunk Female,” a witty and compact sobriety journey that depicts getting dry as a second adolescence. Based on creator Simone Finch’s own experiences with alcoholism, the YA-crossover comedy features a believably complicated mother-daughter relationship (enlivened by Ally Sheedy and Sofia Black-D’Elia, respectively), freshly drawn characters, intense charisma from its ensemble and pitch-perfect sendups of pop feminism and clickbait journalism. It avoids didacticism by portraying protagonist Sam’s journey as singularly hers — as a cynical writer who isn’t sure what she’s like or who she’s really friends with when she doesn’t have a bottle in her hand. It’s a delight to find out. (Aired on Freeform; streams on Hulu)

‘Somebody Somewhere’

Bridget Everett headlines a winsome cast in this hushed yet carefully detailed half-hour drama about a woman who returns to her hometown of Manhattan, Kan., and discovers in middle age that there might be a place for her there after all. It’s not a particularly original premise, but the show populates the “Little Apple” with such memorable (queer) characters and lived-in production choices that the mustiness instantly dissipates. With Everett and her scene-stealing co-stars Jeff Hiller and drag king Murray Hill as company, Manhattan feels simultaneously like Everytown and a special oasis all its own; small wonder the series was renewed for a second season. (Aired on HBO; streams on HBO Max)

Review: Bridget Everett’s ‘Somebody Somewhere’ is 2022’s first great show

‘This Is Going to Hurt’

This British import starring Ben Whishaw is likely the funniest series ever made about the inevitable tragedies that arise from hospital underfunding and the hideous injustices of a two-tier medical system based on who can afford to opt out. Whishaw, who won an Emmy just three years ago for his jumpy turn as the tortured target of a powerful closeted member of Parliament (played by Hugh Grant) in “A Very English Scandal,” is worthy of another one for his performance as Adam Kay, an overworked OB/GYN whose burnout leads to questionable decisions and professional negligence. Adapted by the real-life Kay from his memoir, the mercifully not-too-gory medical drama fleshes out its protagonist with a compellingly knotty romance with a long-term partner who knows he deserves more and possibly won’t ever get it. (Streams on AMC Plus)

‘Undone’

After a three-year hiatus, “Undone,” the Rotoscoped multiverse series from “BoJack Horseman” alums Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy, returned to little fanfare. That’s unfortunate, since the trippy yet intimate adult cartoon, about a 30-ish woman (Rosa Salazar) who learns to go back in time and prevent her father’s (Bob Odenkirk) death — or who may just be having a schizophrenic break — boasted a deliriously great sophomore outing. An ambitious follow-up that explored family secrets, inherited trauma and strained sisterhood (coincidentally mirroring much of the second season of “Russian Doll”), “Undone” remains one of the most poignant and visually gripping shows on TV. (Streams on Amazon Prime Video. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

‘We Own This City’

It’s strange to think of an HBO series with David Simon’s imprimatur — especially one that drew copious comparisons to “The Wire” — as a neglected underdog. But “We Own This City,” which dramatizes a 2015 Baltimore police scandal and examines how law enforcement practices shifted (largely for the worse) after the death of Freddie Gray, seems to have gotten lost amid the flood of prestige programming in April and May. When it debuted, I called the six-part drama an “uneven companion” to Simon’s earlier series. But its singular ambitions and tragically realistic depiction of civic necrosis have made the series hard to shake. (Aired on HBO; streams on HBO Max)

Loading...
Loading...