It's not all about House of Cards. It can't be. After you've gorged on all 13 episodes and figured out that Frank Underwood is, definitely, unspeakably evil, you're possibly wondering what else to watch on Netflix. Well, there's a lot. Some new, some classics, some gems cancelled too quickly, some series that aired on channels you weren't watching or paying for, back in the day.
Herewith, seven shows you should be watching on Netflix:
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Created by Tina Fey and long-time 30 Rock writer Robert Carlock, this new comedy (which started streaming on March 6) is dopey, daft and, eventually, very charming. Our heroine, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), spent years in a doomsday cult and, freed, decides to try to make it as something-or-other in New York. Her clueless state regarding contemporary urban life provides loads of room for satire about everything in our digital age. At first, it's broad comedy and a bit arch, but it soon settles into gentle and smart humour. Kemper is a delight and Jane Krakowski is superb as the rich, narcissistic mother who employs Kimmy as a nanny.
Made for Showtime in 2004, this laconic – but sometimes intense in an off-kilter way – drama is about psychiatrist Craig (Huff) Huffstodt (played by Hank Azaria) and his troubled personal life. It's very troubled. The physician-heal-thyself cautionary tale goes into intense areas of dysfunction. Huff himself is an utter mess who starts to see imaginary figures at the opening of the drama. The standout characters are Huff's hard-drinking, sarcastic mother, Izzy (Blythe Danner), and his addled, coarse, lawyer buddy, Russell (Oliver Platt, who is vulgar with gusto). How does a shrink deal with a best friend who is going off the rails – with compassion or with professional distance? It's that kind of show.
The good, gruesome Brit drama is set in 1889 and yet feels both contemporary and very familiar. For the umpteenth time in movies and TV, we're taken back to the era of Jack the Ripper – the filthy, teeming streets of London, brothels, bodices and earnest police officers trying to use new technology and forensic evidence to solve crimes. The sense of the contemporary is emphatic at the start. Jack the Ripper seemed to have stopped his killing spree, and viewers see a ghoulish bit of tourism unfold – people being led around East London to see the exact spots where the Ripper's victims were found. At the same time, there was an avid tabloid press competing for new information about the serial killer. A body is found. It looked like the Ripper's work, but was it? It's the task of Police Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), his Detective Sergeant Drake (Jerome Flynn from Game of Thrones) and Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), a former Pinkerton detective and U.S. Army surgeon, to determine what's going on. There's great energy in the show, and it's rather like Murdoch Mysteries on acid.
The great thing about the horror genre is that it can be used for such multiple storytelling purposes. In this, the original British version (it was remade for the U.S. market), Being Human presents a vampire, werewolf and ghost as people trying to cope and fit into contemporary life. They are also roommates. Ghost Annie (Lenora Crichlow) haunts the apartment where she died and where her cursed friends now live. Their landlord, Owen (Greg Chillin), was Annie's fiancé and she pines for him whenever he comes by. Annie describes the characters as "refugees, the flotsam and jetsam of death" and they represent the lost of real-life too. Being Human is about just that, being human even when you are very different from others.
Made for the Fox cable channel FX in 2007, before FX was flush with great TV, The Riches is astonishingly ambitious, serious, entertaining, funny and moving. It's one of those exercises in TV drama that demolishes expectations. It's about the Malloys, who are "Travellers," a large, connected clan of grifters and con artists who exist outside normal society, travel the United States in their RVs and sometimes gather together in some remote place to celebrate their own, unique community. Dad Wayne (Eddie Izzard) is always engaged in a con, but after his wife Dahlia (Minnie Driver) is released from prison, a life-changing incident affords them an opportunity to attempt the con of their lives – they will try to live as the Riche family, in a wealthy, gated community. The kids are suspicious of the idea. One asks Dad what might be the point, what's the scam, what are they stealing exactly? And Wayne Malloy answers, "the American dream."
Wrongly promoted as "the British Mad Men" when it launched, this two-season 2011 BBC drama about a 1950s BBC TV news team starts as a conspiracy drama and evolves into something else. It idealizes TV journalism but emphasizes how rare it was to have hard-hitting reporting in the 1950s. All gloom and style, it is really about producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) pushing for subversive reporting while anchor Hector Madden (Dominic West) wants things to be soft and easy. There are reverberations from the Prime Minister's advisers, and young reporter Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) is seething with resentment. Eventually, it gets preachy, but The Hour is beautifully done.
It lasted only one season on Fox in 2001-02 but is well remembered for its offbeat humour and occasional, powerful poignancy. Also for its young stars. Set at a fictional California college, it's about freshman Steven Karp (Jay Baruchel), who has decided to reinvent himself as a cool college guy after being the lonely nerd in high school. His sidekicks include Lloyd (Charlie Hunnam), who is truly cool, and Ron (Seth Rogen), a dry wit whose drollness is enchanting. Their interaction with young women, who mostly terrify them, is gorgeously, sweetly funny.
Editor's note: The original version of this column included shows that are not available on Netflix in Canada. This version has been updated to only include shows available in Canada.