This sexy, pulpy action drama could easily just rely on its pay cable thrills, but it's actually much better than just that. Once you buy into the wacky premise — a former thief gets paroled and, while seeking out his ex-lover in a small town in Pennsylvania's Amish country, actually becomes the town sheriff — you'll find fully drawn characters and layered, complex relationships. Antony Starr is the perfect smartass action hero, but he also has a heart, which you learn as he becomes more and more attached to the town he can't seem to leave behind. Plus: The ensemble is full of colorful characters you won't see anywhere else on TV. (Hoon Lee's Job and Ulrich Thomsen's Kai Proctor are among the highlights.) This show is one of the most fun hours you can find.
2 of 39 Channel 4
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Think Twilight Zone in the dystopian future, in which technology enables us to do remarkable things, but having humanity is frailty. Each standalone episode (alas, only three per season, like Sherlock) is a mini-movie that will provoke you to ask yourself deep moral, ethical questions yet reflect some of your darkest imaginings. Welcome to a world that's more twisted than Wonderland. Plus: The series features some of your favorite British stars, such as Hayley Atwelll (Agent Carter), Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil from Downton Abbey) and Tobias Menzies (Game of Thrones, Outlander).
3 of 39 ABC2
Please Like Me (Pivot)
This award-winning Australian dramedy, created by and starring Josh Thomas, follows twentysomething Josh as he gets dumped by his girlfriend, realizes he's gay, comes out to his family and moves in with his suicidal mother — and that's just in the first episode. With its groundbreaking, frank (and often awkward) depiction of sexuality, Please Like Me invites comparisons to Girls, but its humor is tinged with more pathos. Season 3 is set to premiere in 2015.
4 of 39 SMPSP/IFC
Garfunkel & Oates (IFC)
What started as a comedy-folk duo is now a full-fledged sitcom on IFC that's been self-described as "Glee with dick jokes." (HBO previously released webisodes featuring the pair.) Songwriters/comediennes Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome comprise Garfunkel and Oates, which they formed while working together at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Los Angeles. Though each episode has a narrative premise, the real comic strength comes in Micucci and Lindhome's musical performances, with songs including "Pregnant Women Are Smug" and "This Party Just Took a Turn for the Douche."
5 of 39 MTV
Faking It (MTV)
The one-time music network is stepping up its game with this very open, honest take on the confusing, awkward world of love and sexuality during high school. Among the standout plots is the friendship between Amy and Karma. It's the anchor for the entire show, even after Amy starts falling for Karma, complicating and confusing the relationship, which the show perfectly highlights as everyone tries to figure out who they are and who they want to be.
6 of 39 IFC
Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC)
Not into Jimmy Fallon's effervescent energy? Or David Letterman's dry wit? Try Scott Aukerman's surreal humor for size. A spin-off of his podcast of the same name, the sketch show features Aukerman, bandleader Reggie Watts and guests (usually comedians) awesomely and absurdly riffing talk shows. Nothing is off limits, everyone's game and there are taxidermy animals. What more could you want? Comedy Bang! Bang! isn't so much parodying a talk show as it is reinventing what one should be.
7 of 39 Jaimie Trueblood/USA Network
Playing House (USA)
There has been a serious drought of truly great female friendships on TV in recent years (we miss you, Ann Perkins!), but thankfully Playing House fills that void and then some. Created and executive-produced by stars (and real-life BFFS!) Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, the USA comedy about two female friends raising a baby together puts an original spin on family, friendship and motherhood. But while Playing House has its moments of emotion and heart, the show is also home to some of the best physical comedy on TV from its leading ladies, as well as Keegan-Michael Key, Zach Woods, Lindsay Sloane and Jane Kaczmarek.
8 of 39 Jeff Riedel/Syfy
Part The Thing, part The Walking Dead, Helix is a must-see for sci-fi fans. Helmed by Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore, the drama is about a team of CDC scientists investigating a new disease outbreak in the Arctic caused by genetic engineering. One variant of the virus is fatal, but the other turns victims into violent zombie-like creatures that can occasionally be cured. It's smart, it's gory and it's wonderfully cinematic — even when featuring a field of dead frozen monkeys.
9 of 39 Chris Ragazzo/IFC
The Birthday Boys (IFC)
Featuring the popular LA troupe The Birthday Boys and Mr. Show creator Bob Odenkirk, this sketch comedy series is a perfect companion to Portlandia. Only unlike most sketch series, The Birthday Boys have no interest in relying on recurring characters to get laughs. Instead, the show is continuously updating itself with smart, absurdist sketches that are as unpredictable as they are funny.
10 of 39 Janky Clown Productions
High Maintenance (Vimeo)
Created by husband-and-wife duo Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, High Maintenance stars Sinclair as "The Guy," a marijuana deliveryman working in New York City. But Breaking Bad this isn't: Each hilarious, easily consumable episode, which ranges from five to 12 minutes, chronicles The Guy's trip to a different client (many of whom are connected), usually in Brooklyn. The premise may seem repetitive, but Sinclair and Blichfeld manage to satirize a particular brand of urban living while simultaneously inserting The Guy in more traditionally comic situations (like the episode in which one of The Guy's clients helps him figure out how to entertain his niece for an afternoon).
11 of 39 David Moir/HBO
Jonathan Groff broke viewers’ hearts as the sneaky, lying, ultra-competitive (yet completely charismatic) Jesse St. James on Glee, but he wins them back with ease in this HBO comedy. Often initially described as the male version, or gay version, of Sex and the City, the series has proven itself to be much more than that in just its first eight episodes. For all the hookups, breakups and otherwise romantic story lines, Looking also offers a thoughtful, progressive insight on male friendships and coming-of-age in the modern day — gay, straight or otherwise.
12 of 39 WGN
Manhattan (WGN America)
As only the second scripted series for the network, the 1943-set series is about a New Mexico town of scientists working on atomic bombs — that the outside world knows nothing about. In addition to being an intriguing look at a historically fascinating time, and adding a new twist on common WWII themes, Manhattan also features an A-list crop of talent, most notably Tony-winner John Benjamin Hickey and Olivia Williams. If Mad Men was the show to put AMC on the map, then this is certainly the series to bring WGN America into the critical fold.
13 of 39 A&E Networks
Married at First Sight (fyi.)
We're not going to downplay the fact that the premise is insane, but after one episode, we were hooked! The reality series, which was deemed "a social experiment," features three couples matched by four experts who only met for the first time at the altar. But what the series does right is featuring the weddings in the first episode and then following the three pairs for the remainder of the season as they got to know each other, moved in together and ultimately decided if they wanted to stay together. While one of couples was pretty clearly not going to last, it was actually heartwarming (not to mention fascinating) to watch the other two fall in love. And with those two couples — Jamie and Doug and Cortney and Jason — getting a spin-off, which follows their first year together, it has made us wonder if the premise of this show might actually work way better than most dating shows.
14 of 39 Sky1/Hulu
Moone Boy (PBS/Hulu)
If you're into nostalgia, this one will give you all the feels. A semi-autobiographical telling of Chris O'Dowd's childhood, the Irish sitcom stars O'Dowd as Seán, the imaginary pal of 12-year-old Martin Moone (David Rawle) who helps him navigate life and charmingly — sometimes devilishly — helps him justify his decisions. Set in the late '80s and early '90s, aka without the impediment of technology yet, the heartwarming, coming-of-age series lets Martin's imagination run wild (sometimes in his drawings) and captures the awkward period where you're no longer a child but not yet a teen.
15 of 39 Comedy Central
Nathan for You (Comedy Central)
Nathan Fielder is no ordinary business rehab-er and uses his sideways look at life to implement outlandish solutions to help struggling businesses. Entrepreneurs game for his brand of controversial strategies and oddball marketing stunts have introduced poo-flavored frozen yogurt, implemented a pro-shoplifting policy and even made the news twice when a fake animal video for a petting zoo went viral and Dumb Starbucks claimed to be an artistic parody. And sure, the goofy ideas are fun, but the real entertainment is seeing real-life people try to react normally when placed in such ridiculous situations.
16 of 39 BBC Two
Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Inspired by a real-life gang in post-WWI Birmingham, England, that slashed their foes' eyes with the razor blades sewn into the peaks of their caps, this British series stars Cillian Murphy in one of his strongest roles to date as Thomas Shelby, the head of a crime family. It plays out like Boardwalk Empire across the pond, and is just as romantic in its fashions and vision of the era but equally as brutal and casual in its violence. Keep an eye out for Helen McCrory as the fierce Aunt Polly and Sam Neil, who must have an adamantium jaw from gnawing at the scenery in the best possible way.
17 of 39 Danny Feld/Comedy Central
Review (Comedy Central)
This comedy may be an adaptation of an Australian series, but by remake-happy American TV standards, Review is one of the most innovative series on TV today. Starring and executive-produced by improv comedian Andy Daly, this “mockumentary” follows a critic (Forrest MacNeil) who hosts a TV show and reviews various life experiences as requested by the “viewers” at home. It may sound a little confusing or pretentious, but the series is a wonderful blend of The Office — particularly Forrest’s Michael Scott-like utter lack of social awareness — and Arrested Development’s dry narration, while also offering something shockingly original.
18 of 39 Byron Cohen/FX
You're the Worst (FX)
You're the Worst might just be the best show you're not watching. The FX comedy stars Chris Geere and Aya Cash as Jimmy and Gretchen, two self-absorbed misanthropes who have a drunken one-night stand and can't seem to stay away from each other. It's a tired premise, but where the anti-rom-com excels is its protagonists. We all try to be the best of ourselves in the beginning of a relationship, but Jimmy and Gretchen are actually totally terrible, and the show is not afraid to let them be terrible while also showing that's not all they are.
19 of 39 Amazon
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.
20 of 39 Hulu
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.
21 of 39 Linda Kallerus/Comedy Central
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.
22 of 39 Yahoo
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.
23 of 39 Fox
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.
24 of 39 Hulu
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.
25 of 39 Lacey Terrell/HBO
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.
26 of 39 Tina Rowden/AMC
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.
27 of 39 Christine Kalohoridis/Syfy
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.
28 of 39 BBC America
Orphan Black (BBC America)
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.
29 of 39 Jonathan Hession/Showtime
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.
30 of 39 Augusta Quirk/IFC
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.
31 of 39 Hulu
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.
32 of 39 Blake Tyers/Sundance
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.)
33 of 39 Jean Claude Lother/Sundance
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.
34 of 39 Logo
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.
35 of 39 HBO
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.
36 of 39 BBC/Netflix
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.
37 of 39 Parisa Taghizadeh/Sundance
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.
38 of 39 Amazon
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.
39 of 39 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.