Hidden Gems: The 10 best original programs on niche streaming services
Netflix led the way in original content for the streaming world, and it did not take long before every other service followed. Some may argue that it was not a good thing, since there are now more original TV series than any human can be expected to watch. But if you wander out of the mainstream and into the wilderness of lesser known power services, some real gems await you. Fire up these subscriptions and check out these 10 great shows from niche streamers.
Dan Harmon is an absolute treasure – the co-creator of Society and Rick and Morty follows its own happiness wherever it goes, and that includes this bizarre and fun role-playing show where games run by dungeon master Spencer Crittenden are played in front of a live audience and then animated. Harmony’s half-power ranger Fondue Zoobag fights demons, evil magicians and more along with a wide variety of special guests. The show originally debuted on the doomed Seeso streaming service before being moved to Sony-owned VRV.
Watch it on VRV(Opens in a new window)
2. Little lion cave
It is not a streaming service like MeansTV, a worker-owned cooperative that brings collectivism to the industry along with a very defined aesthetic. There are tons of great things on the platform, but one of the most unique shows is Little lion’s den, a bizarre hybrid of doomsday paranoia, psychedelic drugs and dolls. It’s a solid choice for fans of Eric Andre, I think you should go, or other discomfort-creating anti-comedy.
Watch it on Means.tv(Opens in a new window)
The beast must die
Fans of TV from across the pond know that BritBox is a solid streaming destination, offering tons of programming that you will not see anywhere else. The service has also produced some very solid originals, mostly in the crime drama genre. One of the prominent is The beast must die, a sharp little revenge thriller about a woman who loses her son in a boom accident and immerses herself in the life of the man who killed him. Great performances from Cush Jumbo and Jared Harris make this a must-see.
Watch it on BritBox(Opens in a new window)
As a horror freak, Shudder is one of my favorite streaming services. The library is massive and perfectly curated, and it also has some of the best original programming anywhere, both fiction and non-fiction. One of the best series they offer is Cursed movies, a deep dive into some of the most troubled productions in Hollywood history. Creator Jay Cheel gets depressed and dirty with infamous events like Twilight Zone: The Movie‘s helicopter decapitation and Cannibal Holocaustits blur of cannibalistic bloodbath with documentary footage.
Watch it on Shudder(Opens in a new window)
5. Swimming with sharks
Roku is better known as a service provider with its once ubiquitous set-top boxes and built-in smart TV software. But, like many others in the room, it has ventured into original content with uneven results. Most of the exclusive programming comes from buying the library of the short-lived Quibi, but it has also done some things on its own. Probably the best of the party is Swimming with sharksa Hollywood drama starring Kiernan Shipka as a young assistant with dreams and plans to an equal degree.
Watch it on Roku(Opens in a new window)
6. The dirty black bag
AMC is known for its advanced (and violent) dramas such as The wanderers died, but you may not know that the AMC + streaming service has original applications that are of the same quality level. Spaghetti western The dirty black bag (named after the bag of severed heads that the bounty hunter Red Bill carries with him as proof of his work) is the top of the line, a cruel, atmospheric period work filled with stylish misery and memorable weird characters. Two more seasons are planned.
Watch it on AMC +(Opens in a new window)
7. The Freak Brothers
Tubi is a service that is often overlooked, but there is a wealth of really great content there if you can handle the occasional advertisement. The service has just started to dip its toe in original content, but if The Freak Brothers is something to go on, Tubu is pretty good at it. Based on the legendary underground cartoon by Gilbert Shelton, the three freaks – Phineas, Franklin and Fat Freddy – flare up and end up in a series of mishaps while their hippie mindset hits the modern world.
Watch it on Tubi(Opens in a new window)
Recommended by our editors
8. Stephen Hawking’s favorite places
Curiosity Stream is a niche service aimed at science fans and people who like to expand their minds, so who better to collaborate with for an original series than the groundbreaking theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking? Released in 2016, the three-episode series features Hawking that gives viewers a tour of the entire universe, zooming in on places and events of cosmological or personal significance. It is an incredible gift to have this great brain guide you around the universe, and when you are done, your mind will spin around from all the concepts introduced here.
Watch it on Curiosity Stream(Opens in a new window)
Another great offer from Shudder, Horror show brings the film anthology series into the streaming era with panache. With adaptations of short, scary stories from famous writers such as Stephen King and Joe R. Lansdale, as well as original stories, it’s a quick and entertaining way to get scared. In keeping with the mood of the original film, many of the best episodes are also darkly funny – do not miss the irresistible “Shapeshifters Anonymous” special. With three seasons in the box and a fourth in production, Horror show is one of the stars in the service’s selection of originals.
Watch it on Shudder(Opens in a new window)
10. The tower of God
Anime fans already know that Crunchyroll is one of the best streaming destinations for a wide range of movies and series. But the service has conveyed its close relationship with Japanese studios to a number of originals as well. One of the best received is God’s tower, which takes a fairly basic premise – a young man must climb the top of a mysterious tower to be reunited with the love of his childhood – and performs it with an enormous amount of care and quality. Solid characters, well-choreographed action and a lot of intrigue make me wait for season 2 to release.
Watch it on Crunchyroll(Opens in a new window)
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