10 Underrated Miniseries, According To Reddit

The recent success of such miniseries as The Staircase and The Dropout demonstrates that this form has much to offer contemporary audiences. While it might lack the sprawling storylines of more long-form storytelling, it does allow viewers to inhabit a given world for a lengthy period of time, in the process coming to understand the various characters who appear.

However, while some miniseries - particularly those produced and aired on HBO and HBO Max - manage to accrue a great deal of critical attention and audience viewership, there are a number of underrated miniseries that, as the users of Reddit point out, deserve more attention.

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Years And Years (2019)

Stream On HBO

Full cast of Years and Years

Russell T. Davies is one of the most talented creators in television, with many exemplary series to his name. Years and Years is one of his best offerings, exploring as it does the fortunes of one family as they contend with the rapid pace of rapid social and political change and the rise of a dangerous politician in the UK.

sergiocamposnt describes it as “one of the greatest miniseries of all time.” With its thoughtful examination of some very difficult themes, it definitely deserves more credit and attention than it has so far received.

The Night Of (2016)

Stream On HBO

HBO is often the place to go for strong programming, but not all of its miniseries attract as much attention as they should. This is true of The Night Of, which focuses on a Pakistani-American youth who is arrested for a murder he may or may not have committed.

It is a crime drama that keeps the tense on a slow simmer throughout the series, immersing the viewer, and the character, in the sinister world of the criminal justice system. It’s no wonder, then, that earhere describes it as “a pretty terrifying TV show.”

Under  The Banner Of Heaven (2022)

Stream On Hulu

UTBOH Detectives Taba & Pyre

Under the Banner of Heaven has quickly established itself as one of the best series to come from Hulu. Like the best miniseries, it raises thorny ethical and moral questions, particularly as it focuses on the murder of a Mormon woman by her own in-laws, who have subscribed to a fundamentalist sect of their faith.

It is Jeb Pyre, however, who bears the brunt of all of this, and the series evocatively examines his crisis of faith, as well as the impact of the Mormon faith’s history on its present. Unsurprisingly, several Reddit users, including ezioauditore_, were “blown away” by the miniseries and its examination of these issues.

It’s A Sin (2021)

Stream On HBO Max

There have been many notable representations of the LGBTQ+ community on television, but It’s A Sin deserves to be seen as one of the best. It is a haunting, moving, and deeply resonant look at the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the UK and its queer residents in the 1980s. DeedtheInky writes: “you can't go far wrong watching anything by Russell T. Davies.”

Given the extent to which the series allows the viewer to become invested in these characters and their lives - and deaths - it’s all the more surprising that the series hasn’t gotten the attention it so clearly deserves.

Escape At Dannemora (2018)

Stream On Hulu

There have been many notable pop culture representations of prison escapes, but few have achieved quite the level of human drama as Escape at Dannemora. Focusing on two inmates who escape from a prison with the help of an employee, like all good dramas it focuses on the human aspect of its story. Thus, it’s especially important that it features such powerful and inspiring performances from its main cast.

As Mr_Ree416 puts it: “Great performances from Rosanna Arquette, Benicio del Toro, and Paul Dano.” Thus, though the characters aren’t sympathetic, per se, they are still people the audience feels that they can understand.

Top Of The Lake (2013-2017)

Stream On Hulu

Nicole Kidman in Top of The Lake

Jane Campion is one of the most celebrated directors working in Hollywood, capable of crafting evocative stories that are beautifully told. This is certainly true of Top of the Lake which, under its crime drama appearance - it focuses on a detective who investigates the disappearance of a number of young women - is also a scathing indictment of the restrictions of patriarchy. TGGNathan puts it simply: “Top of the Lake is really tremendous.”

It is, indeed, the type of miniseries that is notable as much for how it tells its story as it is for the story itself.

Midnight Mass (2021)

Stream On Netflix

Annie Flynn tearfully smiles and touches her son's face in Midnight Mass

Netflix has slowly but surely established itself as a purveyor of strong horror dramas, one of the most notable of which is Midnight Mass. Though it has a seemingly simple story - about a young recovering alcoholic who moves back to his isolated island home to seek peace with his family and his past - it soon becomes something more.

In fact, it becomes a metaphor for the danger of religious zealotry, all dressed up as a horror story about a vampire. UpperHesse has particular praise for the series, writing: “This might have been one of the best I seen [sic] this year.”

Generation Kill (2008)

Stream On HBO Max

Alexander Skarsgård in Generation Kill

Though there have been many series about the horrors of war and its impact on those who fight, Generation Kill is still an extraordinary achievement. One of the best miniseries created by HBO, it has a visceral aspect to its storytelling that allows the viewer to truly feel what it is like to be on the ground during such military conflicts as the invasion of Iraq.

It is the type of series designed to make the viewer rethink many of their basic assumptions. Indeed, this is precisely the point raised by edub1783, who writes: “I watched that show more than a decade after I'd seen Band of Brothers and it made me rethink some things.”

Banished (2015)

Stream On The Roku Channel

Three characters from Banished stand together in the woods

As with so many other notable period dramas, Banished takes place in the somewhat distant past, in this case during the eighteenth century, when Britain established a penal colony in Australia. It is a grim series, focusing as it does on both the prisoners and the guards as they come to terms with their new lives.

U2sunnyday has this to say about the series: “All-Star UK cast. Not as historically accurate as you would like, but the story is well written and acted.” Though it has a heavy story, it is still a necessary look at this pivotal event in Australian history.

Swimming With Sharks (2022)

Stream On The Roku Channel

Swimming with Sharks Show Trailer Kiernan Shipka

Hollywood as an institution is very fond of making series and movies about itself, and sometimes these actually manage to be sharply critical. This is the case with Swimming with Sharks, which highlights the toxic politics and constant backstabbing that go on behind the scenes at a studio.

CableCoShow notes: “While it ultimately got a bit extreme, much of it was a pretty accurate representation of working in the office of a Hollywood studio.” It’s the type of series that reminds the viewer just how unpleasant the world of moviemaking can really be.

NEXT: 10 Best Miniseries Based On Books, According To IMDb

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About The Author Thomas West (1195 Articles Published)

Thomas J. West III earned a PhD in film and screen studies from Syracuse University in 2018. His writing on film, TV, and popular culture has appeared in Screenology, FanFare, Primetimer, Cinemania, and in a number of scholarly journals and edited collections. He co-hosts the Queens of the B's podcast with Mark Muster and writes a regular newsletter, Omnivorous, on Substack.

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2022-07-10T21:49:42.000Z

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