10 TV Shows That Are Much Better Than You Probably Think They Are

There are a lot of shows on television. A lot. It’s hard to keep up with them, unless some pop culture website is banging a drum on a weekly basis about how you should be watching this show or that show. Chances are, there are many series that you’ve never even given a shot, that you’ve dismissed out of hand because of the network it’s on, the lame premise, a cast member that you don’t care for, or because you judge a television show based on bad promotional materials. Many of those shows are also not covered regularly on pop-culture blogs like this, so they fly under the radar within a particular demographic that might never have even considered checking out these shows.

Below, I’ve put together a list of 10 of those series, which are currently running (or recently ended their runs). They’re not necessarily the best shows on television (although, the third on the list is definitely one of the top five shows TV right now), but they’re good, solid shows that, for whatever reason, a lot of people dismissed out of hand.

It’s on A&E, so it probably isn’t on the radar of many of our readers, and the fact that it’s a procedural is a strike against it for others. But as someone who typically loathes procedurals, I’m a big fan of Longmire, which I’d describe as a kind of heavier, Western version of a USA Network show. The reason it’s so good, however, is because of Robert Taylor, who manages to be a soft-spoken bad ass, a tough, old leathery Lee Majors for this generation. “Longmire” is basically the show I envision Timothy Olyphant taking when he’s in his 50s or 60s. Katee Sackhoff is pretty great, too, even if she is sorely underused.

The Killing
Wait, wait! Don’t stop reading. I hated the first two seasons, too, and never would’ve bothered with the third season if it had not been for the fact that my job demands that I keep up with such things. But listen: In the third season, at least so far, The Killing actually seems to be making good on the promise of the first season: The mystery is solid (there’s a serial killer), we’ve been promised it will be solved by the end of the first season, and Peter Sarsgaard has been fantastic as a death row inmate likely mistaken for the real killer. Like everyone else, I don’t trust it; I’ve been snakebitten too many times by The Killing, but I am really digging what we’ve seen so far. I think, in part, that the success of the season has to do with the fact that they’re investigating an active serial killer, who is currently piling up bodies, rather than investigating an old case. It’s a legitimately good show now.

The Good Wife
Considered by many to be a CBS show for old women, trust me when I say it’s so much more than that: Look at the image above. Keep looking. You think that’s a show for your grandmother? It is a legal drama, and there is an episodic component to it, as the firm has to deal with weekly cases. But more than that, it’s about the politics of working in a big law firm, the way that everyone in Chicago knows each other, ethical and moral dilemmas, and some of the best acting on television. Also, no show on television gets better guest stars than The Good Wife, including a recurring role from Michael J. Fox that is lights out fantastic. It doesn’t hurt, either, that The Good Wife — thanks to Archie Panjabi — is one of the more sexually provocative shows on network television. Again, see GIF set above.

Suits only qualifies as a show that’s much beter than you probably think only if you are one of those people that immediately dismiss USA Network shows. Like The Good Wife, there’s far more to Suits than you’d think, and plenty of my colleagues who haven’t seen the show heap sh*t on me for watching. Suits is unusual for a legal drama, however, in that there’s rarely any courtroom scenes: It’s about settling, and negotiation settlements allows the characters in Suits to put on weekly dick measuring contests full of bravado and ego. It has the requisitely attractive cast you’d expect from USA Network shows (including Donna (above), who is going for a Christina Hendricks vibe, and on occasion, matches it), but it’s also well acted, especially by scene-stealing Rick Hoffman, who plays Louis Litt. It’s not so much a legal procedural as a kind of lower stakes, USA Network version of Game of Thrones set in a law firm: Everyone wants their name on the door, and there’s a lot of maneuvering and politicking to try and get there.

The NBC drama, which enters its fourth season this fall, is not exactly the kind of show that might immediately appeal to the UPROXX demographic. There are no deaths. No sex scenes. No shocking twists. But if you loved Friday Night Lights, which comes from the same guy (Jason Katims), you’ll love Parenthood, which applies the same humanistic approach and centers on the same kind of good people trying to make good decisions. Also, if you only know Dax Shepard from his past work, you’ll never believe how captivating he can be. Overall, however, it is definitely a show that aims to jerk a tear or two out of your face, and more often than not, it succeeds. It doesn’t hurt that it has one of the best ensembles on television.