The sci-fi series was a stealth player for BBC America with an intriguing concept: Sarah, a grifter with serious parenting problems, discovers that she's a clone. All credit goes to leading lady Tatiana Maslany, who imbues each clone with such individual spirit, it's difficult to remember that she's the only person portraying them all. The show celebrates its sci-fi tendencies without getting bogged down in them, and once you add in a healthy helping of conspiracy, feisty humor and a dash of the futuristically bizarre, you get indisputable reasons to join the Clone Club.
Photo by: BBC America
The series stars Saturday Night Live vet Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney musician Carrie Brownstein in various roles and sketches that satirically yet charmingly poke fun at Portland's liberal, artistic, quirky and locavore-obsessed culture. The most well-known are Lisa and Bryce, whimsical souls who know immediately how to spruce anything up: Put a bird on it! The parade of guest stars — ranging from SNL cronies Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis to musicians like Aimee Mann or Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder — reflect the amount of love and care that is put into this heartwarming series.
Add to Watchlist: Portlandia
Photo by: Augusta Quirk/IFC
The Returned (Sundance)
You've probably heard about ABC's Resurrection, about people who return from the dead. That concept was already done by the (much higher quality) French series The Returned, which aired Stateside on the Sundance Channel and is now available to stream on Netflix. Everything from the music to the cinematography in the show is gorgeous, and with only eight episodes, it's as easily digestible as a fine French wine. A second season is due later this year.
Add to Watchlist: The Returned
Photo by: Jean Claude Lother/Sundance
The Fall (Netflix)
Gillian Anderson may be returning to network TV in NBC's Crisis, but if you want to see her in a far superior project, check out the BBC series The Fall, now available to stream on Netflix. The X-Files alum plays Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, who's brought in by the Belfast police to help with the investigation into a series of mysterious murders in Northern Ireland. Fifty Shades of Grey's Jamie Dornan and The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi also star.
Photo by: BBC/Netflix
Top of the Lake (Sundance)
Shortly before "event series" became all the rage in Hollywood pitch meetings, Sundance's seven-part crime series Top of the Lake attempted to help bring back the miniseries. Shot and set entirely in New Zealand, the series marked The Piano's Jane Campion's first TV project since 1990, and she brought A-list talent (Oscar winner Holly Hunter as a haunting oracle) to tell the tale of a pregnant teenager who attempts to drown herself in a lake and the entangling mystery that follows. Not only did the series close the case and end the story line on a satisfying note, but it also led to a long-deserved award win for Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, who took home a Golden Globe for role as the detective on the case.
Add to Watchlist: Top of the Lake
Photo by: Parisa Taghizadeh/Sundance
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Set in the high-tech world of modern Silicon Valley, the comedy tells the story of a developer who creates an app that could change his life and revolutionize the industry — if he makes the right decisions. With King of the Hill's Mike Judge in charge, the comedy comes fast and furious, but there's an underlying intelligence that will make it appealing to the nerds the show is about as well as the general audience who loves an underdog story.
Photo by: HBO
Reaper's Tyler Labine and So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley star in this supernatural comedy about hapless New York medium Kevin (Labine), who helps ghosts resolve unfinished business so they can continue to the other side. Deeley, in her first staring role, plays a celebrity psychic who Kevin soon discovers is a big fraud. The genre-bending series is a refreshingly lighter take on the supernatural, but still maintains a delightfully morbid sense of humor. This comes as no surprise since Wilfred alums Cody Heller and Brett Konner created the comedy.
Add to Watchlist: Deadbeat
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TV is overrun with procedurals that focus on solving crimes and putting alleged bad guys behind bars. But what happens after they get out? This compelling drama is one of the few TV series that attempts to answer that question. Rectify is the story of Daniel Holden, a man who, after serving 19 years on death row for allegedly raping and killing his 16-year-old girlfriend, struggles to rejoin the outside world after he is freed because of new DNA evidence. Although the show has a deliberate, measured pace, its unique tone and fresh perspective make it worth the six-episode commitment. (Season 2 premieres this summer.)
Add to Watchlist: Rectify
Photo by: Blake Tyers/Sundance
RuPaul's Drag Race (Logo)
You don't need to know anything about drag culture to get sucked into the wacky and dramatic competition hosted by the queen of drag herself, RuPaul. On the surface, Drag Race is like any other reality competition show — over-the-top personalities compete in interesting episodic challenges presided over by a sharp-witted panel of judges — but what sets Drag Race apart is that the contestants aren't just simply competing for the title of America's Best Drag Superstar. They're performing. Everything these queens do, from their makeup, costuming and reading, is exaggerated to create a hyper-persona, which is so much more entertaining than watching a bunch of regular people with regular personalities doing regular things. But underneath all the camp, the show has a real heart and it's clear just how much Ru really cares about her girls.
Add to Watchlist: RuPaul's Drag Race
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Lost Girl (Syfy)
This is a case where you can't judge a show by its premise. The Canadian series, which has just been renewed for a fifth season, follows Bo (Anna Silk), a bisexual succubus who feeds off sexual energy while navigating the supernatural Fae world. Unlike many supernatural shows that take themselves way too seriously, Lost Girl has a whole lot of cheeky fun with its out-there set-up, all while presenting Bo as confident, powerful, sexual woman without judgment or misogyny.
Add to Watchlist: Lost Girl
Photo by: Christine Kalohoridis/Syfy
Alpha House (Amazon)
The most outrageous part about Alpha House, which focuses on four Republican senators sharing a house in D.C., is that it's based on a true story. Beyond that, Alpha House rarely shocks, but it doesn't need to. John Goodman, Mark Consuelos, Matt Malloy and Clark Johnson deliver a solidly polished comedy that manages to find fresh take on political TV. As opposed to House of Cards, Scandal or Veep, the performances and plots on Alpha House are fairly low-key, reflecting the more realistic sensibilities creator Garry Trudeau became known for with his Doonesbury comic strip with an added touch of absurdist satire. The all-star cameos don't hurt either. In only the first three episodes, Bill Murray, Cynthia Nixon, Wanda Sykes and Stephen Colbert all appear.
Add to Watchlist: Alpha House
Photo by: Amazon
Getting On (HBO)
Whether it's Carrie Bradshaw's impressive wardrobe, Vinnie Chase's expensive cars or Vice President Selina Meyers' fancy digs, HBO comedies have always been known to focus on the glamorous. So, it's safe to say that the pay cable network's geriatric laugher Getting On, about a group of three overworked and underappreciated nurses caring for the elderly at a hospital, has never had any problem setting itself apart. Although it may not seem like the most ripe setting for comedy, the series earned strong reviews and, eventually, a second season renewal by HBO despite tepid ratings.
Photo by: Lacey Terrell/HBO
Quick Draw (Hulu)
The Old West was a lawless time, and Hulu's third original scripted series similarly makes and breaks the rules with its unique spin on the Western comedy genre. The series gives a refreshing, unscripted feel to the humor, which mixes Old West tropes with modern anachronisms. Comedian John Lehr stars as the well-intentioned blowhard John Henry Hoyle, who uses his Harvard education to not just solve crimes, but to drag the denizens of Great Bend, Kansas kicking and screaming into the world of modern criminal science.
Add to Watchlist: Quick Draw
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Of all the original pilots Amazon debuted this season, the half-hour comedy Transparent is a standout. Based on a memoir, the show stars Jeffrey Tambor as the patriarch of a quirky family who struggles to be honest with his children. Sounds familiar? Think again. The show is much darker in tone than Arrested Development, and some of Tambor's interactions with his offspring (Gaby Hoffman among them) are simply heartbreaking. Now that Amazon has ordered a full season, we can't wait to see what's next.
Add to Watchlist: Transparent
Photo by: Amazon
Burning Love (Yahoo)
Self-proclaimed Bachelor fan Ken Marino spoofs the reality dating series and its spin-offs in this scripted online comedy series. Expect send-ups of those silly limo introductions, the TMI confessions, the liquor-fueled bad decisions and of course the most dramatic selection ceremonies ever. Whether or not you're a fan of the ABC show, you can't help but laugh while watching celebs including Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, and Ben Stiller play ridiculous, over-the-top characters who are searching for love... or at least a fast hookup.
Photo by: Yahoo
The Awesomes (Hulu)
Who needs The Avengers? Seth Meyers leads a voice cast of Saturday Night Live pals, including Kenan Thompson, Taran Killam and Bill Hader, who play a ragtag group of superheroes who come together after Mr. Awesome, the father of Jeremy Awesome (Meyers), retires. While the group and the show's name gives them a lot to live up to, the series is an amusing extended SNL skit and is a nice departure from the post-Dark Knight era of gritty, dark superheroes.
Add to Watchlist: The Awesomes
Photo by: Hulu
The Wrong Mans (Hulu)
If The Office met an Alfred Hitchcock film, you'd get the innovative, absurdist action thriller that is The Wrong Mans. Sam (Mathew Baynton) and Phil (James Corden) are unpopular, incompetent, lowly office workers who unwittingly get sucked into a crime caper involving Russian gangsters and MI5 after answering a stranger's cell phone found on the road. Somehow, the silly premise works, in no small part thanks to the tonally on-point performances and the all-too realistic (read: mundane) details that provide a hilarious yet grounded counterpoint to the high-stakes action.
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Broad City (Comedy Central)
Twentysomething women living in New York City and juggling with life and love? Broad City sounds like Girls, but it's not. The series from Upright Citizens Brigade's Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen, who play the leads Ilana and Abbi, offers a surreal, refreshing take on the tired-and-true premise with goofy yet crass humor, and celebrates — and never shames — the ladies for their aimless life paths. Plus, it's from Amy Poehler, so you know it's good.
Add to Watchlist: Broad City
Photo by: Linda Kallerus/Comedy Central
Cosmos (Fox, National Geographic Channel, FX and seven other Fox networks)
Science can be fun! That's what this new 13-hour series aims to prove. A follow-up to PBS' classic Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, this special, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive-produced by Seth MacFarlane, investigates the mysteries of our universe and celebrates the advances scientists have made since the original series ended 34 years ago.
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Halt & Catch Fire (AMC)
It's hardly the Wild West, but AMC's new series about a group of programmers attempting to clone the IBM PC in Texas during the early 1980s still has a raw frontier tone. There are echoes of Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the working relationships between glib sales guy Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies) and a troubled engineer (Scoot McNairy) in this Silicon Prairie origin story about personal computing. The show debuts on AMC in June.
Photo by: Tina Rowden/AMC
Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
With American Horror Story and Hannibal, television has been embracing more psychologically disturbing stories, and Showtime's new series takes it a step further... by traveling back in time to the heyday of gothic horror: The Victorian Era . Penny Dreadful's highbrow approach to horror combines the characters from Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula and other horror classics into one show, and does them justice with visually arresting production and talent the likes of Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton and Doctor Who alum Billie Piper. The show premieres on Showtime in May.
Photo by: Jonathan Hession/Showtime