I have already ranked the year’s best shows on Netflix, but this is a different kind of list. The shows I feature below somehow garnered almost no press coverage and subsequently didn’t make it onto many year-end rankings, if any. Judging from views on their YouTube trailers and other sources such as TV Time, these also didn’t seem to attract a huge audience.
And so these shows have remained unsung heroes ... until now.
They might not be the best of the best of what Netflix had to offer in 2018, but I still think you should give these five shows another chance before the year’s end. I found much to love in all of these and I hope you will too.
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Premise: A cartoon about a mid-20s red panda with a desk job who can’t stand her terrible boss and unfulfilling workload, so she makes a habit of screaming out her emotions through death metal karaoke.
Why you should give it a chance: I found this to be a breezy yet nuanced critique of the contemporary work structure. These funny episodes only last 15 minutes, which makes this attack on capitalist exploitation easy to get through. Society is unfair, but this show makes it fun to talk (or scream) about.
Premise: New Zealand journalist David Farrier travels the world to visit strange and often morally suspect tourist destinations.
Why you should give it a chance: Farrier visited truly weird tourism destinations. His hosting style relies too heavily on just turning to the camera when something bizarre happens and raising his eyebrows, but he nevertheless knows how to capture fascinating footage. Though he does little more than raise his eyebrows in instances where he should be doing more criticism, this show does a fine job of diving into questions about our world’s moral gray areas.
Premise: James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang hosts this docu-series about the unknown history, values and charms of various popular food staples, such as pizza and tacos.
Why you should give it a chance: Netflix has a ton of “food” content now, but “Ugly Delicious” stands alone in its rigorous attempt to rewire how you think about and contextualize famous foods. This also tries hard to be a “cool” food show with wacky animations, hip attire and celebrity guests. All told, “Ugly Delicious” feels like an antidote to the more generic straight-up food porn out there.
Premise: Two young people in Los Angeles finally start to figure out what they want from life, which ultimately includes wanting each other.
Why you should give it a chance: While the first two seasons were seemingly popular, this show’s third and final season seems to have failed to garner any attention. That’s a shame, because these last episodes were by far the best of the entire series. The show finally presented fully realized characters with dreams and relatable problems to overcome, which made it a joy to watch this ensemble work together to figure out their lives throughout these concluding stories.
“Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas”
Premise: A Christmas tale of friendship, family and capitalism run rampant set in Neo Yokio (a futuristic New York City).
Why you should give it a chance: This is only one extended episode from the show “Neo Yokio,” but I loved it too much not to include. Besides the original Bethlehem tale, our most popular Christmas story, “A Christmas Carol,” involves paranormal spirits and a rich man learning about the ills of money. This follows in that tradition, but with more contemporary criticism and a storyline that features higher stakes centering around annihilating wealth altogether over the holidays.