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The Best Shows That Critics Haven’t Gotten Around to Watching — IndieWire Survey

Sometimes even the critics miss watching great shows, and it's not always because of Peak TV.

"The Wire"

“The Wire”

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

IWCriticsPick

Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)

This week’s question: What’s a show you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to yet? Why?

April Neale (@aprilmac), Monsters & Critics

I hang my head in shame, I never got to “The Wire.” Whenever people go on about it, I engage, smile and nod my head like, “Yeah, Stringer Bell, man.” It also starred Dominic West who comes from that strain of dark-haired British men like Ian McShane who are catnip to me. I’ve seen extended clips and snips but never had the perfect storm of time to go back and review this landmark series. It’s up there with putting a scrapbook together in my old age, I will revisit it then and likely say,”Baltimore wasn’t that bad, was it?” Actually, I adore Bawlmers (Baltimore) and admire David Simon’s journalism career and I like his creative sensibilities. Can I wedge in there is a LOT of TV to watch and cover? Bad on me.

READ MORE: The Best and Worst Prequel TV Series — IndieWire Critics Survey

Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall), Uproxx

How much time have you got? Because I don’t have any — or, at least, not enough to sample all of the shows I keep hearing raves about but can’t get to due to the many other Peak TV options. We live at a time where we have access to not only all the great current American content, access to not only most of the greatest American shows of decades past, but now to the best output the world has to offer, which keep washing up on the shores of various cable channels or streaming services. It’s the foreign imports that tend to be just out of reach for me. “You should watch ‘Borgen,’ Alan!” “I know, I know…” “How have you not gotten to ‘Peaky Blinders’ yet, Alan?” “Well, there’s this thing called Peak TV, and…” “Alan, I have to know your thoughts on ‘Fauda’ this instant!” “… (Pauses to Google ‘Fauda’)” I used to be able to devote the summer to catching up on shows I hadn’t seen before (though I still have yet to make a dent in my ‘The Prisoner’ box set), but with the constant deluge of stuff, I’ll consider myself lucky if I make headway with just a single international show. Maybe ‘Fauda,’ if only so my accountant will start taking my calls again?

Cillian Murphy, “Peaky Blinders”

Robert Viglasky/Netflix

Liz Shannon Miller (@lizlet), IndieWire

You know how sometimes you’ll be reading a great work of classic fiction, something truly mind-blowing, but you’ll put it down for some reason and then reengaging with it becomes a massive mental block for you, one that causes you no shortage of shame?

I still need to finish watching “The Wire,” is my point. For some reason, I stopped watching midway through Season 4, and never picked it back up, despite it clearly being stellar — in part because I can’t remember which episode was the last episode I watched, and also because… Well. Has anyone mentioned that there’s a lot of TV these days? Because there’s a lot of TV these days.

Allison Keene (@KeeneTV), Collider

Why haven’t I gotten around to watching another TV show? :cackles, puts self into cannon, launches into the sun:

As a completionist, Peak TV drives me crazy. I know that I can’t watch everything, but one of my jobs as an editor is to also make sure that we’re writing and commenting about the right things at the right time. That’s nigh impossible with almost 500 shows in play, but we all have to give it the old college try. I also have FOMO on great TV as a critic, because some of my favorite shows have been cable or streaming blips that I almost found by accident.

Regarding those I can’t get to, there’s TV I want to watch but haven’t had time for, TV I should watch but haven’t have time for, and TV I willfully refuse to watch. Since this week’s question deals with the first, the series that comes to mind is “Broad City.” Everything about the show appeals to me, and I got to sneak in a few episodes about a year ago. I have not found any time to get back into it, even though I loved what I saw. “Insecure” is another one I know I’ll love, but a colleague reviewed it for us and so it passed me by and I haven’t been able to catch up. I think there are also roughly 45 Netflix shows, including “BoJack Horseman,” that I haven’t gotten into yet, and then …

Though this is galvanizing me to fire them up and dive in, I then see that stack of screeners or screening links and a full DVR, and I think, “Well, after I finish those…”

"BoJack Horseman"

“BoJack Horseman”

Netflix

Joyce Eng (@joyceeng61), TVGuide.com

“BoJack Horseman” has all the trappings of a show right up my alley: a surreal, satirical sadcom with a penchant for puns and an Oscar storyline. Swoon. And yet I haven’t pressed play on it, mostly because of time, or lack thereof, and also I think because, knowing that it’ll always be there on Netflix, there’s no urgency to consume it. Maybe that’s the thing. I need to tell myself there’s an expiration date so I’ll stop foaling around. (Sorry, not sorry.)

Tim Surette (@timsurette), TV.com

I’ve never seen even a second of “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and I probably never will. I was too young to catch it when it was on the air, and too bombarded with new shows by the time TV on DVD was a thing. Now the idea of going back to watch an old show seems ridiculous with a new show coming out every 4.5 minutes, but if I somehow find myself hiding out in a remote cabin with nothing but a DVD player and time on my hands, I’ll get on it!

"Vikings"

“Vikings”

Bernard Walsh/History

Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter

So this is all protected by the seal of the confessional or doctor/patient or spousal privilege or something, right? Because the list is huge and it’s mostly things I need to finish, like the second season of “Twin Peaks” so I’m ready for the Showtime season or the third season of “Avatar,” so that I can watch “Korra” someday. I’m two seasons behind on “Shameless” for absolutely no good reason. My DVR has huge backlogs of “Vikings” and “Ash vs Evil Dead,” plus around 30 episodes of “House Hunters International” set in countries I don’t care about moving to. I haven’t touched the new season of “Love,” I’ve got a half-season of “Sneaky Pete” to watch still. I’m going to watch those last three episodes of “Iron Fist” if IT KILLS ME because maybe those psychotic Marvel fanboys are right and Finn Jones becomes a gushing font of charisma. I need to commit to deleting a half-dozen episodes of “Fear the Walking Dead” from my DVR, because screw that trash. I’m wagering there are at least 50 episodes of “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” that I haven’t seen and there are at least 1,220 episodes of the original “Dark Shadows” that I haven’t gotten anywhere near. But when it comes to shows that I haven’t started that I need to at least sample, it’s probably all foreign stuff. I need to watch some “Peaky Blinders” and find a way to watch “Utopia” and I hear that “Borgen” thing is pretty good and OH DEAR GOD, I’M AWFUL AT MY JOB. Good thing this isn’t for public consumption.

Inkoo Kang (@inkookang), MTV News

“13 Reasons Why” is the show I’ve most been looking forward to devouring, but haven’t gotten around to because I’ve been busy catching up on another meditation on suicide: “The Leftovers.” I’ve heard mixed things about “13 Reasons,” but it can’t possibly make me roll my eyes any more than three seasons of “The Leftovers” did.

Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti), Vox

I have sort of the opposite problem of most TV critics I know. Because stuff about Netflix, Hulu, etc., does well for Vox, I am really, really well caught up on all of the streaming stuff I want to be caught up on and some stuff I couldn’t care less about. (“Bloodline” Season 3! This May!) It’s everything else that I often struggle with, by which I mean “traditional television.” I have my favorites, and then I struggle to get caught up on something. (Especially if it’s on broadcast — I love broadcast, but fall a couple of weeks behind, and hoo boy.) Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve been catching up on “Billions” for like a year now, and I watch an episode every couple of months, realize that it’s better than I remembered, then never have the time to watch more.

As for a show I never, ever watched but know I probably should (or at least want to check out), I feel like a lot of people love “The Goldbergs,” but I tapped out after the pilot. Maybe I would like it more now!

Ben Travers (@BenTTravers), IndieWire

In case you’ve never read the byline under any of my stories, I am a respectably enthusiastic supporter of “The Leftovers.” Most of my colleagues, friends, family, and random people on the street I accost with flyers, they all know this and are thus regularly indulge my lunacy by asking about the show and how much I’ve seen. “I’ve seen seven of the last eight episodes,” I’ll say, which is almost always followed by, “Kevin Christ! The wait has to be killing you!” (OK, maybe they don’t make such a topical “Leftovers” reference.)

But I don’t mind waiting. I actually have a tendency to wait when given the option, which would lead me to miss out on quite a few more shows if my job wasn’t so adamant about deadlines. I would’ve followed Damon Lindelof’s suggestion not to binge “The Leftovers” Season 3 if I didn’t have to watch it all within a week of receiving it (and even then I spaced out the episodes). So I’m happy to have some time to absorb what I’ve seen before coming to terms with its end (and putting that into words).

All this is to say I have not watched the final season of “Review,” for I do not want it to end. My wonderful colleague, Steve Greene, handled the review of “Review,” meaning I was off the hook professionally and free to procrastinate viewing, longer and longer, until the season and series was over. Who knows when it’s time will come, but that time will be very, very sad for me.

Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*

A:  “The Leftovers” (four votes)

Other contenders: “Better Call Saul” (three votes) “The Americans,” “Harlots,” “Veep” (one vote each)

*In the case of streaming, the show must have premiered in the past month.

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Comments

woyzeck

I never read reviewers. It’s embarrassing. They do not know what they’re talking about.
What are the credentials for being a reviewer?
Do they know anything about the actor’s process?
Anything about what a director does.
Can they decipher if it’s the actors, directors, editors, writers, producers fault when a show or movie doesn’t work? No. It’s all very surface, thumbs ups/thumbs down, no depth whatsoever.
It’s the most worthless job I’ve ever come across.
That’s for any kind of reviewer i.e movie ,theater, music, restaurant,etc.

    Jon

    If you want credentials, it usually isn’t that hard to find reviewers with them using Google, so I wouldn’t generalise all reviewers like that. But you could also sidestep reviewers altogether and read what scholars have to say, well for film anyway. David Bordwell has a pretty good blog. If you think you’ve got in-depth opinions to share, consider starting your own blog and write some essays. The internet is a rather open space these days. Have a go at solving the problem you have seemingly identified

Pip Nosher

Homicide: Life on the Streets is brilliant, and I’m surprised it even got a mention. Come on, @timsurette, get on it!
Hey, Woyzeck, are you 12 years old?

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