In this day and age, thanks to the power of the internet, it’s very easy to watch anything online. But that doesn’t mean to say that there isn’t a market for watching television shows on an actual telly! These are some shows that have been really successful online and on Netflix, but weren’t given the proper treatment they deserved on UK broadcasters:
1 Once Upon a Time
OK, so I only really became interested when my husband told me that Elsa was going to be in ‘Once Upon a Time’ in its fourth season. (We went through a Frozen phase, just like all 5 year old girls!) Up until then I had heard a little bit about it, but never gave it a second thought. But my curiosity grew and we decided to give it a go, and within a few hours, an instant obsession was born!
It’s campy, retelling of Disney classics is surprisingly captivating, and it’s twists on old stories make it far more entertaining than it receives credit for. Roni loves Emma, the reluctant saviour of the fictional town Storybrooke, while my heart belongs to the evil queen (I’m always drawn to the villains!).
I later found out that it had been airing on Channel 5 for its first 2 seasons, but was ultimately dropped and left in television limbo. Luckily, earlier this year it was picked up by Netflix, and new episodes air just a couple of days after the US! Season 5 starts in September so make sure to catch up on all the spell-binding action before then!
This one has been played around so much, I don’t even know where to start. In the beginning of it’s run, the first few seasons were on ITV2, then it moved to LivingTV, which was later rebranded as Sky Living, and then it finally made it’s way to E4 in January of this year. Due to all of it’s movements and indecipherable premiere date pattern, This show definitely lost momentum somewhere along the way. Which is a complete shame, because I actually started watching this in 2012 when I bought seasons 1-6 on DVD (just before it started it’s 7th season). As much as I loved the show, I found it really hard to catch up on all the seasons, and at this point, it’s about to start it’s 11th and I am a couple of years behind!
Dean and Sam are demon-hunting brothers, who travel the US solving supernatural cases. The premise is simple, but the brotherly chemistry between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki is really heartwarming. The soppy melodrama mixed in with action, suspense, horror and comedy make this a great show to watch! At this point, I have no idea where you can watch it in the UK, but definitely try to catch up online. (I know I will!)
3 Breaking Bad
Say his name. Heisenberg. How the hell did Walter White get such a raw deal in the UK? This is a show that I actually discovered shortly after it finished in 2013, so we were able to binge watch it in all its glory! Breaking Bad, the story of a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with stage four cancer and turns to cooking meth to pay his medical bills, has been voted best TV show ever God knows how many times! It’s critical acclaim is phenomenal, and it’s become a worldwide sensation.
But it definitely suffered from a slow start here in the UK. It’s first two seasons were broadcast on Five USA and FX, but it was dropped from both channels because of low ratings (how is that possible?). But not to fear, because through it’s impressive DVD sales and Netflix streams it gained popularity and has even found a new home on Spike, where ALL it’s seasons are being broadcast for the first time!
4 Pretty Little Liars
It’s Desperate Housewives meets I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Gossip Girl, but it’s addictive teen drama at it’s best. I got into this as soon as it started airing in the US by watching it online. The show follows the lives of the four ‘liars’, a group of teenage girls who each has a life full of secrets and lies, whilst being harassed by the mysterious cyberbully ‘A’.
With the success of Gossip Girl and 90210 here in the UK, it’s a wonder why this wasn’t immediately picked up by big channels like E4 or ITV2, especially because it was an instant hit on ABC Family in the US. It aired in the UK on MTV for its first two seasons in 2011, but was soon dropped and never returned to UK TV. Once again, Netflix came to the rescue and all 6 seasons can now be watched, and each new episode is available the day after the US.
5 RuPaul’s Drag Race
Drag, sweat and tears are the key ingredients for this reality show competition, presented by the most famous drag queen of all, RuPaul. It’s a mash up of America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway, with a lip-sync battle thrown in for good measure. Great challenges, celebrity judges and bitchy drag queens make Drag Race truly must watch television. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a guilty pleasure for anyone who enjoys campy fun.
To be fair, this is a show that I don’t think fits on any channel in the UK, but E4 did air the first two seasons (even though I never saw any kind of promotion for it). It did become a surprise hit on Netflix (which is where I randomly came across it) and this year, TruTV acquired the rights to air seasons 4 onwards, as well as airing Untucked, its behind the scenes companion show. TruTV actually put some money into promoting the show, as I remember seeing RuPaul on the side of a few double-decker buses on a regular basis. And they even launched a nationwide campaign to find RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Ambassador, a British drag queen who will represent the show in the UK. Finally, some justice for Mama Ru!
These are just a few of the great US shows that unfortunately didn’t quite take off here in the UK. Maybe the timing was wrong, or maybe there just wasn’t enough promotion to let people know about these shows, or maybe the public just weren’t that into it. Whatever the case, I’m just glad that the majority of these shows have been given a second chance at life, and have actually gone on to be quite successful.