Although 2018 may have been a bust for memes, at least it was a pretty good year for television. You can take a look at the 2019 Golden Globe nominations if you have any doubts about that, but for every episode of fan favorites like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Good Place, or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that receives rave reviews, there is still the occasional underrated gem of a show that somehow just doesn’t seem to get enough love. In this case, there are five solid shows that flew under the radar and deserved more attention than they received (and some of that lack of attention may be due to the fact that some of the best streamable series were released towards the end of the year). As an added bonus, these are all shows with eight or fewer episodes, which means you can devour them all in just a weekend before the end of the year comes around and everyone asks you what your favorites were in 2018.
Leila, a lesbian from New York living and working in London, ends her ten-year relationship with her girlfriend and business partner Sadie, and begins to explore her recently discovered bisexuality while living with her new (straight, male) roommate. The Bisexual, which is a British Channel 4 series that streams on Hulu in the United States, is written and created by its star, Desiree Akhavan (known for directing and starring in Appropriate Behavior, for directing the 2018 Sundance favorite The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and for her role as a curmudgeonly MFA student in those season four episodes of Girls that take place at the Iowa Writers Workshop). If you’re looking for a six-episode slice-of-life comedy that you can binge in one afternoon, this is the one (and available on Hulu).
Elite is kind of like Generation Z’s answer to Gossip Girl, but so much more explicit in a way that only a Netflix series could get away with. At a Spanish private school called Las Encinas, a tiff erupts between a few working-class students and their wealthy classmates. Don’t let the subtitles deter you.
The Hookup Plan
The Hookup Plan, also available on Netflix, follows Elsa, an almost-30-year-old recently single Parisian woman who hates her job, lives with her dad, and can’t seem to get it together. After she loses her phone one night while out with friends, she meets the mysterious man who finds her device. The English translation of the French title isn’t perfect (Plan Cœur, which is a riff on the phrase plan cul, meaning something a little bit closer to the concept of a one-night stand) but The Hookup Plan is very delightful, so French, and a decent dossier of modern dating and relationships. Plus, once you make it to that final episode you will absolutely be on the edge of your seat clamoring for another season.
In Baby, two Italian teens become fast friends in Rome, but even faster do they become sucked into a dark world and living double lives. Some controversy erupted when Netflix released the show in November, due to the fact that the series was based on a real-life scandal that occurred in Rome a few years ago, involving two teens who began to sell sex in exchange for designer goods.
Random Acts of Flyness
If you’re in the mood for something so avant-garde and cutting edge that you have no choice but to watch each episode over and over again, then HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness is the series for you. Series creator Terence Nance brings his vision of the black American experience to the forefront of the cultural consciousness with this six-episode collection of visual poetry, and includes some recognizable faces in the mix (Dominique Fishback, Jon Hamm, Junglepussy, and more). To say Random Acts of Flyness is refreshing would be an understatement, but if you want your attention to be grabbed and held, and your mind to be changed, this is the series to watch before the end of the year.