11 Under-the-Radar Shows You Need to Catch Up On

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Photo: Comedy Central

There's a surprising amount of terrific summer TV on right now, even if it feels like the schedule is a little wan compared to the full-on tidal wave of programming one grows accustomed to in the fall. Fear not: Plenty of current television is out there just waiting to be discovered — savored, even. Here's what you've been missing, and why to catch up. You have all weekend!

UnREAL, Mondays, 10 p.m., Lifetime
It's one of the best shows of the summer, and one of the better shows, period, in a long time. Shiri Appleby stars as a misanthropic producer on a Bachelor-esque reality show, where she sometimes cruelly — and fascinatingly — manipulates the contestants to manufacture drama. Dark and cynical, and very perceptive about both genuine human emotions and the performance of genuine emotions that we get from "reality" TV.
How many episodes have aired so far? 5
Do I need to start at the beginning? Yes, but the show's incredibly addictive. This will not feel like a chore.

Another Period, Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central
Think Downton Abbey, if it were told in the reality style of a Real Housewives show. It's very funny and very odd, with production values reminiscent of Drunk History, and the same feeling of "Oh boy, they seem like they're having a really good time" that that series engenders. Starring Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome, Christina Hendricks, Brian Huskey, Jason Ritter, Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Paget Brewster, and Brett Gelman, among others.
How many episodes have aired so far? 2
Do I need to start at the beginning? Not really; the story is easy enough to follow, and the episodes rely much more on minute-to-minute jokes. But it certainly won't hurt.

Scream, Tuesdays, 10 p.m., MTV
It's Scream, but for the kids. Scary, but not as funny and ironic as the movies. Scream is not good yet, but if you want to watch a teenager's decapitated head splashing into a hot tub, this is your only real option right now.
How many episodes have aired so far? 1
Do I need to start at the beginning? Yeah, if you want to follow the mythology.

Mr. Robot, Wednesdays, 10 p.m., USA
The one about robots is called Humans (see below), and the one about humans is called Mr. Robot. Behold Elliot, a hacker and vigilante who seems to be the only person who can rail against major conspiracies. The show is surprisingly interesting where it could feel preachy or flabby.
How many episodes have aired so far?
Do I need to start at the beginning? It'd be better to do so, but you could get away with just jumping in and then looping back if you feel a huge need.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Saturdays, 10 p.m., BBC America
It's the early 1800s, and England is in dire need of some magic. Too bad no magic exists anymore … or does it? (It does!) The show is based on the series of popular books, and it's cheeky and fun in all the ways you'd want.
How many episodes have aired so far? 3 
Do I need to start at the beginning? Probably.

The Last Alaskans, Sundays, 8 p.m., Animal Planet
Only four families remain living in what's now the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. It's as remote as remote gets, and this doc series follows both the strange agonies and the mediative beauty of living largely in isolation. Bonus points for truly incredibly nature cinematography.
How many episodes have aired so far?
Do I need to start at the beginning? Plotwise, not at all, but after you watch one episode, you'll want to go back and watch the rest.

Poldark, Sundays, 9 p.m., PBS
Gaze upon Ross Poldark, a British dude back in the U.K. after fighting as a redcoat in the American Revolution. He's bummed out because his dad died, his true love married someone else, and now he's stuck running this crappy farm. Luckily, he is very hunky. And he has a scar, so you know he's both serious and wounded. Someone, rescue him with gentle kisses!
How many episodes have aired so far? 2
Do I need to start at the beginning? Ehh, not really. People tend to repeat their deals a lot on this show, and it's easy enough to understand what's going on.

Humans, Sundays, 9 p.m., AMC
It's a British import about contemporary society if we had humanoid helper robots called "synths." What happens when some synths develop sentience or fall in love? What, indeed.
How many episodes have aired so far? 1
Do I need to start at the beginning? Nah. Things pick up a lot in episode three, so don't skip too many, but the premise is easy to grasp. Robots: Are they people? Sort of.

Food Network Star, Sundays, 9 p.m., Food Network
Welcome to season 11 of this grotesquely fascinating reality contest show. Why doesn't anyone on this show practice at home before coming on? There have been 11 seasons! The judging criteria hasn't changed at all! Learn to do the stir-and-speak, you fools.
How many episodes have aired so far? 4
Do I need to start at the beginning? Of course not, though a true monster troll was kicked off in episode two, and he was interesting in that can't-look-away sense for a hot second.

The Crimson Field, Sundays, 10 p.m., PBS
It's the front lines of World War I, as seen through the eyes of British female nurses. TCF isn't the greatest PBS period drama ever, but it gets the job done.
How many episodes have aired so far?
Do I need to start at the beginning? Nah, you'll understand everything.

Halt and Catch Fire, Sundays, 10 p.m., AMC
Texas, the '80s, and early computers: Sounds good! Actually, the first season was not so good, but the second season has really picked up.
How many episodes have aired so far? Five this season, 13 last season.
Do I need to start at the beginning? Nope. The show is not tricky: The person who seems like the kickass computer visionary who's occasionally dragged down by her less-visionary husband? That's exactly who she is. She is Donna, and she is rad. Everyone else's character is fully communicated through costumes. Just jump in.