With television content being produced at a higher rate than ever before, Megan McGrath suggests some gems you may have missed.
There are TV shows that become huge hits, that are referenced regularly in pop culture, and that span seasons of drama. Then there are those which more quietly become cult classics, with loyal fanbases, which are just as good, if not better, than their more popular counterparts.
Firefly is a Wild West-style science-fiction series. Set five hundred years in the future, it follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity, each of whom is wanted for one crime or another. The show follows their story as they travel through unknown parts of the galaxy trying to outrun the authorities who are out to get them.
Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after only eleven of its fourteen filmed episodes had been aired. The show’s short lifespan may have been in no small part due to the episodes originally being aired in the wrong order. A movie sequel, Serenity, was released three years after the show. The show and movie have become cult classics in recent years and there were even talks of the shows being brought back for a second season on Netflix, though those plans have since fallen through. The cast of Firefly has also become increasingly popular over the years since the show’s release. This stellar cast included Nathan Fillion (Castle and Guardians of the Galaxy), Gina Torres (Suits and Westworld) and Morena Baccarin (Gotham and Deadpool).
These unsung series are just as good if not better than their popular counterparts.
Another underrated TV series, and one that is very close to my heart, is Fringe. This show follows FBI agent Olivia Dunham as she navigates the world of fringe science with the help of the mad (and more often than not, high) genius Dr Walter Bishop, and his equally intelligent con artist son Peter Bishop. The show delves into parallel worlds, alternate timelines, and the untapped potential of the human brain, often with the help of LSD.
This show makes the viewer think and requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate the sheer number of Easter eggs and the intricacy of the storyline. I have rewatched it multiple times and am still surprised by the aspects I had not previously noticed. It’s amazing to see things that I knew would play vital roles in the seasons to come. Interestingly, fans also tracked all of the show’s hidden glyph-code, which is present in each episode.
Fringe lasted five seasons and aired one hundred episodes, the magic number on TV. Leonard Nimoy appeared once in each season, playing Dr William Bell, the former friend and lab partner of Walter. Each episode of this science fiction series is odd, but there was a tradition of making the nineteenth episode of each season be even stranger, for example, episode 19 of season three, “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,” was almost entirely animated.
I love this show not only for its amazing storyline but also for its leading lady.
Though my heart will always lay with Fringe, my all-time favourite show with a cult following has to be Orphan Black. This series follows streetwise Sarah Manning who, upon seeing a girl who looks exactly like her jump in front of a train, is thrust into the world of human cloning. She even meets several of her “sisters” (clones), like soccer mom Alison Hendrix, dreadlocked scientist Cosima Niehaus, and serial killer Helena. The show raises many questions about the ethics of human cloning, personal identity, and nature versus science.
I love this show not only for its amazing storyline but also for its leading lady. Tatiana Maslany plays not one but four main characters at any one time and over eleven clones in the show’s history. Memorably, Maslany played a transgender character named Tony. It took three days of binge watching this series before I finally comprehended that each of these amazing and unique individuals was being played by one person. I can now even tell when one clone is trying to impersonate another.
There are five seasons and fifty episodes of this show and despite having to refilm scenes multiple times to accommodate the different clones, each season was released one year after the other. However, this meant that there could only be ten episodes per season. Sadly, the final episode of this series was aired in August and I’m not ready to say goodbye to it yet!
These are just three of the amazing shows that are already, or are set to become, cult classics. Given enough time I could probably write about hundreds of these hidden gems, but these are the ones that I have watched and loved the most.