Tube Talk: Four underrated television shows

By Jessica Zischke | 4/11/13 10:00am

There are the shows that everyone seems to be tuning into each week, think “Girls” and “Modern Family,” and then there are those that, for some reason, hardly anyone is watching. Although these shows may not attract the big ratings and viewers of others, many are just as good, if not better. Maybe you’re looking for something new to spice up your television-time, or perhaps more mainstream options have left you unfulfilled. Have no fear! Tube Talk is here with four of the most underrated TV shows you need to start watching now.

"Up All Night" — NBC, 2011-present, 35 episodes

Reagan Brinkley (Christina Applegate) is one of the best talk show producers in the business, working for and alongside her best friend Ava Alexander (Maya Rudolph). Meanwhile, Reagan’s husband Chris (Will Arnett) stays at home with their newborn baby Amy, having given up his mediocre job as a lawyer so Reagan could further her career.

Somehow the Applegate, Arnett and Rudolph lineup wasn’t able to draw enough views during this sitcom’s two seasons, and it seems that the show may not be returning for a third season. However, that doesn’t cross “Up All Night” off the list. Although it may seem hard to relate to a young couple adjusting to life with a new baby, the humor and lessons of each episode are applicable to people from all walks of life. Whether the Brinkleys are trying desperately to impress their trendy, 20-something neighbors or driving to the mountains so Amy can experience her first snow (and ending up in the desert), the couple’s endearingly awkward humor will keep you coming back for more.

"The Mindy Project" — Fox, 2012-present, 20 episodes

Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling ’01) is a successful obstetrician/gynecologist with a not-so-successful personal life. Mindy has a short list of goals: be more punctual, spend less, get in shape, read more books and (of course) find the perfect man. Yes, this plot is old and overdone, but the biting humor and convoluted interoffice relations make it feel less trite.

Nearing the end of its first season, “The Mindy Project” has received some notice as a new series, but not enough. This show brings fresh jokes and ideas to the screen that make us laugh and simultaneously reflect on how ridiculous each of us act at times.

"Face Off" — SyFy, 2011-present, 41 episodes

Amidst an endless sea of cooking and runway contests, “Face Off” is a new take on the recently popular reality competition show. A group of prosthetic makeup artists compete in each series to create the best looks reminiscent of science fiction and horror films. Weekly themes range from insects to mummies, all serving to test the contestants’ skills.

It is easy to brush this TV show off as just another competition, but one episode will disprove this immediately. “Face Off” retains the drama and deadlines of the genre that viewers love, while giving the audience a chance to see what goes into the process of cinematic makeup. The spellbinding transformations are sure to impress week after week, and with a fifth season airing in the summer there is plenty of material to keep you satisfied until the premiere.

"Workaholics" — Comedy Central, 2011-present, 40 episodes

Kevin McFarland of entertainment publication The A.V. Club was spot-on when he called “Workaholics” an adult version of “Ed, Edd ’n Eddy.” Blake Henderson (Blake Anderson), Adam DeMamp (Adam DeVine) and Anders “Ders” Holmvik (Anders Holm) have trouble in the adult world after dropping out of college. Although the three now work at a telemarketing company together, they are constantly reverting to their college behavior of pranks and parties.

In some sense, “Workaholics” is simply an immature comedy series, but it is also a semi-relatable exploration of the transition from the antics of college to the responsibilities of adulthood. Although the humor can sometimes reach an infuriating level of stupidity, the show deals with more complex themes like how friendships can change over the years. Season three just wrapped up, and with two more seasons guaranteed for the show, there is no better time to start watching than now.

Jessica Zischke