10 of the Best Lesser-Known TV Shows on Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime

Anna Torv as Harriet in 'Secret City' on Netflix
Anna Torv in "Secret City," Courtesy Netflix

With the prospect of more bad weather on the way, now is a perfect time to line up some excellent streaming television shows. It’s often hard to find something worth watching, so let this be your guide to finding those excellent, lesser-know tv shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

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Marcella – Season 1–2 (2016–2018) Netflix
This dark series from Britain’s ITV, follows Marcella Backland (Anna Friel), a brilliant former London police detective who returns to the job when her husband Jason (Nicholas Pinnock) decides, quite unexpectedly, to leave her. Marcella goes back to investigating a trio of unsolved murders from 2005 because the serial killer responsible appears to be back on the hunt. Meanwhile, Marcella is experiencing blackouts and waking up in strange places with no memory of what she’s done. Things get particularly tense when the woman her husband has been having an affair with, Grace, turns up murdered—and Marcella worries she may be her killer. Season 1 takes some shocking and exciting turns, which lead to an equally exciting Season 2.

This Is England ’86 – Miniseries (2010) Amazon Prime
Before getting into this stellar and entertaining work of art, viewers should know This Is England ’86 is the second installment of Shane Meadows’ groundbreaking and critically acclaimed series, which began with the film This Is England. This four-episode miniseries is the only part currently available on Amazon Prime, and it’s followed by another pair of four-part series, This Is England ’88 and This Is England ’90, which can be downloaded off iTunes (along with the original film) or seen via YouTube, if you don’t mind poor quality and Spanish subtitles. The story follows a non-racist skinhead gang three years after some members, including impressionable young Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), were influenced to join the racist National Front until a terrible act of violence made them see the error of their ways. A period piece about Britain’s mod revival scene and set against the 1986 FIFA World Cup, these old friends get back together and must deal with the fallout from their past and all the highs and lows of life while coming of age. Most of the genius acting is improvised and the cast includes talents such as Joe Gilgun (Preacher, Misfits), Vicky McClure (Line of Duty) and Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire, The Irishman), among others. Just watch this series. It’s that good.

Flowers – Season 1–2 (2016–2018) Netflix
Some might be turned off when the first scene of a television show features a man attempting to hang himself, but this grim moment sets the stage for a bright, funny and poignant story about an incredibly quirky British family. The series follows the Flowers family, including a deeply depressed children’s author father, Maurice (Julian Barratt), his music teacher wife Deborah (Olivia Colman), and their 25-year-old twin children—inventor son Donald (Daniel Rigby) and musician daughter Amy (Sophia Di Martino). Maurice’s Japanese illustrator, Shun (played by Flowers creator Will Sharpe), also has a pivotal role as a sort of adopted member of the family. Watching these oddballs, and those in their orbit, interact and grow leads to laughs, tears and an endlessly compelling story.

Hillary – Season 1 (2016) Amazon Prime
This six-episode biopic tells the story of Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander who became a household name after he and sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. A bee-keeper, mountaineer, war veteran, philanthropist, husband, father and explorer, Hillary led a fascinating life, which is chronicled here. From his childhood in South Auckland, New Zealand, to his triumphs and the plane crash that killed his wife and daughter, this PBS series offers an education about Hillary in dramatic, not documentary, form. The cast includes Andrew Munro as Hillary, Dean O’Gorman as his friend and climbing partner George Lowe and Amy Usherwood as Hillary’s wife Louise Rose.

Secret City – Season 1 (2016) Netflix
Full of intrigue, Australian series Secret City tells the story of Harriet Dunkley (Anna Torv), a political journalist who follows the body of a murdered young man who washed up on the lakeshore, to a government conspiracy that could shake the foundations of her country. With help from her transgender ex-husband, Kim Gordon (Damon Herriman), Harriet must fight her uncooperative editors, stonewalling government sources, Australian intelligence and worse as she attempts to uncover the truth. The thrilling first season is based on bestselling novels The Marmalade Files and The Mandarin Code by Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis, while Season 2, airing on Netflix March 6, diverts from the source material, with the authors consulting on the story.

Line of Duty – Season 1–4 (2012–2017) Hulu
While Line of Duty is named among the top BBC programs of all time—and BBC Two’s most popular ever—few Americans seem to know anything about this must-see series. The show follows a fictional police anti-corruption team (internal affairs to us Yanks), AC-12, as the detectives and undercover agents work to root out dirty cops. The first season kicks off after counterterrorist police kill an innocent man during a raid of the wrong place. DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) refuses to be part of a cover-up, which earns him a transfer to AC-12, led by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar). Arnott’s first investigation focuses on DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James of The Walking Dead), a top cop who was recently named Officer of the Year. Also starring Vicky McClure of This Is England, Line of Duty is a gripping mix of police procedural and character drama that well have you binging through all four excellent seasons.

Doctor Foster – Season 1–2 (2015–2017) Netflix
Suranne Jones of Scott & Bailey (another great show) stars as the titular character, Dr. Gemma Foster, a 37-year-old, small-town GP who begins to suspect her husband Simon (Bertie Carvel) is having an affair with a much younger woman. As Gemma looks deeper, her life starts unraveling well beyond just her marriage. Soon, the once happy and secure local doctor goes on the warpath, seeking revenge through subterfuge and simmering violence. Unfortunately, she must also worry about how this affects their 11-year-old son Tom (Tom Taylor). Overall, both seasons make for a delicious and satisfying watch.

Fearless – Season 1 (2017) Amazon Prime
Another brilliant thriller, Fearless follows human-rights lawyer Emma Banville (Helen McCrory) who sets out to prove the innocence of Kevin Russell, a man who was convicted for the brutal murder of 15-year-old schoolgirl Linda Simms 14 years earlier. Firmly believing there has been a miscarriage of justice, Emma goes to extreme lengths to discover the truth and free Kevin, who was working as a janitor at the young girl’s school when she was assaulted and buried alive. Of course, along with proving Russell’s innocence, it’s very likely she’ll uncover the real killer. And not everyone wants that to happen.

Black Earth Rising – Season 1 (2019) Netflix
One more thriller with all the conspiracy, acting chops and white knuckle moments from our other entries on this list, Black Earth Rising tells the story of Kate Ashby (Michaela Cole), a woman who was rescued from the Rwandan genocide as a young girl by her adoptive mother Eve (Harriet Walter), a British prosecutor in international criminal law, specifically against African war criminals. Now an adult raised in England, Kate is a legal investigator working for her mother’s partner Michael Ennis (John Goodman). Danger, political machinations and conspiracy abound as Kate attempts to find the truth after an African Militia leader, who helped save her people from genocide, is put on trial for his own war crimes.

The ABC Murders – Season 1 (2019) Amazon Prime
Taken from the work of Agatha Christie, this detective story joins famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (John Malkovitch) in 1933 as he comes out of retirement and reclaims his purpose when a murderer’s taunting letters set him on the path. Poirot must decode the letters in order to discover the murderer’s identity before continues his deadly game, killing people using each letter of the alphabet along the ABC train line. This may appear simple at first, but it takes many twists and turns that will leave you shocked and satiated by the final scene.


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