13 Netflix Shows That Flew Under the Radar in 2019
Dead to Me, After Life, and Dating Around are new Netflix series you might have missed.
There are certain Netflix original series that it seems like everyone is watching. For example, we probably don't have to tell you that new seasons of Stranger Things, Glow, and Orange Is the New Black premiered on the service this year. But Netflix produces so much unique content that there are inevitably shows that don't hit it quite as big. From a grown-up cartoon that may help you make sense of your life to an impeccably researched and grand docuseries on Russian history, these 13 Netflix shows flew under the radar in 2019. Fortunately, that means that these hidden gems are just waiting for you to discover them.
If you're a fan of the British version of The Office or Extras, this black comedy should definitely be on your list. Created by Ricky Gervais, who also stars, After Life follows a man who decides to punish the world for his wife's tragic death by behaving in whatever terrible way he wants to. But some people won't take being pushed away, so his character ends up—spoiler alert—becoming a much better person than he ever intended to be.
Dead to Me
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are two suburban women who bond while mourning the loss of their partners in the often surprising dark comedy Dead to Me. They both have secrets that they're hiding from each other, however, and there are likely more to be revealed when the series returns for Season 2. Applegate earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and Dead to Me was the talk of many a book club, so you'll want to catch up before it comes back.
Considering its title, Sex Education is a coming-of-age story that's surprisingly innocent and gentle, while still delivering some raunchy laughs. Set in an English village, the series stars Gillian Anderson, who is in peak form as a sex therapist struggling to help her teenage son (Asa Butterfield) navigate adolescence. She has no idea, meanwhile, that he's using the knowledge he's absorbed from her to serve as an amateur therapist to his classmates. Issues both sexual and romantic are ironed out in an exceedingly empathetic way, and this series will leave you feeling like the kids really are all right.
Comedians of the World
Netflix started off 2019 by dropping 47 brand new stand-up specials on New Year's Day. Comedians of the World showcases exactly that: comics from all over the globe, who prove that humor is a universal language. Nicole Byer, Neil Brennan, Chris D'Elia, and Nick Swardson represent the U.S.; you can filter the rest by country or region. This rich collection may help you find a new comedian you might never have encountered otherwise.
Ryan O'Connell created this semi-autobiographical comedy series about his experiences as a gay man with cerebral palsy. You'll blow through these short episodes and come out the other side inspired to take some risks in your own life. Special Season 2 is up in the air, but the first season is still worth watching. If that doesn't convince you, take a look at the show's near-perfect 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Black Earth Rising
Michaela Coel, who broke out thanks to her cringe-comedy Chewing Gum, stars in this British limited series about a Rwandan refugee and legal investigator who's swept into the process of building a case against an African war criminal. Her character, Kate, has to face her traumatic past to ensure that those who take advantage of the less powerful face the consequences. The massive scope of Black Earth Rising will keep you on your seat until the show's exciting conclusion.
Turn Up Charlie
People's Sexiest Man Alive for 2018, Idris Elba, stars in Turn Up Charlie as an unattached DJ who takes a job as a nanny for a celebrity friend. Charlie gets a lot more than he bargained for with her headstrong 11-year-old daughter, but taking care of her taps into some family values he didn't know he had. The actor himself moonlights as a DJ, so this comedy, which he also co-created, is close to his heart.
Tuca & Bertie
BoJack Horseman fans will also adore Tuca & Bertie, an animated series featuring the voices of acclaimed funny ladies Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong as two 30-something roommates who just happen to be birds. Its cancellation was one of the great TV heartbreaks of 2019, but we still recommend checking out Season 1 for its sharp and sad take on modern life.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
This sketch comedy series is almost impossible to summarize for someone who hasn't seen it, which is what makes it so great. Star and co-creator Tim Robinson is a veteran of Saturday Night Live and brings plenty of famous friends—including Vanessa Bayer, Andy Samberg, and Sam Richardson of Veep—to I Think You Should Leave, which already has a second season on the way. The show revels in uncomfortable situations and will hilariously test your limits.
It was only a matter of time before Netflix launched its own answer to The Bachelor. Dating Around is a reality dating series that sees each single embarking on five blind first dates with individuals from a deep and varied pool. There's no elaborate setup or challenge; no "winner." The show prides itself on being more "real" than that series with the roses, so prepare for some awkward—but pleasantly earnest—conversations.
The Last Czars
History buffs—especially those obsessed with the Romanovs—owe it to themselves to dig into this six-part docudrama about the mysterious and extravagant Russian royals. The Last Czars is steeped in facts but builds like an exciting drama, is stunningly directed, and features a talented ensemble of actors as the family and their allies and enemies. Even documentary-phobic audiences will get swept away. If the mystery of Princess Anastasia is a point of fascination for you, there's plenty of coverage of that specific topic for you, too.
Have you exhausted the entire Law & Order franchise by this point? Take your pick with this Netflix series, or watch them all. There are four different iterations of the procedural drama Criminal, set in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. Each episode in these short seasons takes place predominantly in an interrogation room, as we see cases unfold through tense conversation between investigators and suspects. Major stars David Tennant (Doctor Who, Good Omens) and Hayley Atwell (Captain America) appear in the British version.
In a family-focused take on the superhero genre, a widowed mother has even more on her plate when her young son starts to exhibit superhuman abilities. It's hard enough to raise a child, let alone an extraordinary one. Approaching the genre from this angle gives Raising Dion a humanity that some of those blockbuster comic book movies are lacking. Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan recurs in the show, which is also based on an actual comic, as the boy's late father.