By now, the Netflix Bump is more than a rare phenomenon—it’s a given. Riverdale and You became two of the first shows to get a boost after migrating from their original networks to the streamer, as millions more viewers suddenly became aware of them. Now, with streaming TV becoming even more of a national hobby due to ongoing social distancing efforts, the Netflix Bump is happening on a near-weekly basis. Waco got a bump; All-American got a bump; even the movie Den of Thieves got a bump. There isn’t a question of whether another show will get a Netflix Bump—the only question is when it’ll happen next. With that in mind, the Ringer staff submitted picks for shows that most deserve an exponential spike in awareness.
The Ringer couldn’t convince America (or Fox executives) that baseball drama Pitch deserved a second season, but maybe a massive streaming network would succeed where we failed. The 2016 series about the fictional first female player in Major League Baseball, Ginny Baker (played by Kylie Bunbury), mostly got the sports stuff right but also excelled as a heartwarming, witty workplace and relationship show that would have had ample material amid #MeToo and athlete anthem protests. Unfortunately, it fell six seasons and 145 episodes short of becoming “The West Wing in baseball” that its West Wing–veteran showrunner envisioned. A feel-good drama about Major League Baseball would be the perfect programming for a time when we have no North American baseball and few reasons to feel good. Plus, I need to know if Ginny’s elbow is OK. —Ben Lindbergh
The Ringer’s Alison Herman described Claws as a “sort of neon-clad, humidity-soaked Breaking Bad.” I’m not sure what kind of shows the Netflix recommendation algorithm would produce with these keywords, but they wouldn’t be as good as the TNT series starring Niecy Nash as Desna, a nail salon owner who gets involved with an organized crime syndicate. Desna starts off by laundering money for a local drug dealer to help keep her business afloat and support her autistic brother. There are all kinds of entertaining Florida Man–type characters in Claws, but Nash is the driving force: Her instincts for survival and protecting her family and friends make you root for her as she navigates the rungs of Florida’s criminal underworld. —Conor Nevins
Freaks and Geeks isn’t in the only prematurely canceled, teen-centered series in Judd Apatow’s oeuvre. His follow-up to the beloved dramedy is another single-season gem, a half-hour sitcom about a group of college freshmen featuring, among many other then-current and future comedy stars, Jay Baruchel, Charlie Hunnam, Seth Rogen, and Carla Gallo.
The show is a bit lighter than its predecessor, but since it premiered in 2001, there hasn’t been a better depiction of the daily lives of undergrads trying to find themselves. The characters do things like: go to an Adam Sandler concert, pledge a fraternity and then immediately regret it, pay a degenerate played by Will Ferrell to write their papers for them, and attempt to leave behind a clingy high school sweetheart. Undeclared feels like college: blissful monotony regularly broken up by transcendently memorable moments. It’s nothing like the real world that follows those four years, which is what makes it so fun. —Alan Siegel
Into the Badlands
Martial arts enthusiasts have a decent rotation of movies to choose from on Netflix, but the selection of action-oriented TV shows leaves a lot to be desired. (Please, don’t ever find yourself desperate enough to check out Iron Fist.) So when you get tired of rewatching Bloodsport for the umpteenth time—that might be impossible, but just hear me out—then Into the Badlands is just waiting to be discovered.
The criminally underappreciated AMC series, which concluded its three-season run last year, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where practically everyone is a martial arts expert ready to show off their lethal moves. There’s a lot of world-building involving terms like Barons, someone called the River King, and the titular Badlands, but the show is largely an exercise in staging brutal and impressively choreographed action set pieces. Need more convincing? Carve out 27 minutes to watch this fight compilation AMC put together from the first season:
Josh Thomas’s Canon
In just two TV series, Aussie actor-comedian Josh Thomas has established himself as a singular voice. His first series, Please Like Me, which aired on Pivot, followed a character who’d just come out—including to himself—and was adjusting to life as a gay man while also managing his divorced parents, a kooky father and a mother dealing with mental health issues. His second, Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, also stars Thomas as a similarly whimsical man who becomes the guardian of his two half-sisters after their father dies. The best you can say about both series is their ability to be as laugh-out-loud funny as they are deeply moving. You never get just one thing watching either Please Like Me or Everything’s Gonna Be Okay. —Andrew Gruttadaro
Rob Lowe plays Dean Sanderson, a longtime TV lawyer whose time on the show that made him famous—also called The Grinder, naturally—comes to an end. (I know; it was a stretch to ask Lowe to play a longtime TV actor, but somehow he pulls it off.) Dean’s not a real attorney, but he can’t stop playing one, and so he moves home to Boise, Idaho, to work at his family’s law firm, Sanderson & Yao. That doesn’t go over great with his brother, Stewart, a real lawyer played by Fred Savage. Dean is a dolt prone to delightful delusions of grandeur, and Stew is his loving if frequently frustrated sibling who keeps trying, to no avail, to get Dean to realize he’s not an actual legal eagle. Do you like high jinks and shenanigans? Because high jinks and shenanigans abound here. We also get fantastic, funny performances from Natalie Morales (as a lawyer who is immune to Dean’s romantic advances), Jason Alexander (as the creator of the show Dean leaves due to various differences), Timothy Olyphant (who takes over the starring role on The Grinder: New Orleans after Dean decamps), Kumail Nanjiani (as Dean’s legal archrival), and Maya Rudolph (as Dean’s therapist and eventual girlfriend). Sadly, the show lasted only one season. Still, there’s enough evidence in those 22 episodes to render a unanimous verdict: guilty of being hilarious. —John Gonzalez
It sounds like some old ancient curse: “May you live to identify with the parents on Rugrats.” But time comes for us all, and I knew it had me right in its claws when I found myself admiring the friendship between the buttoned-up Didi Pickles and the progressive Betty Giselle-DeVille, two of the moms of the titular rugrats from the ’90s Nickelodeon animated series. Rugrats may not check off every box of this “Netflix Bump” exercise; it did run for nine seasons and was popular enough, in its heyday, to spawn multiple movies, as well. (It’s also on Hulu.) But just as a lot of the folks currently enjoying Waco on Netflix did not live through, or at least do not remember, the events it depicts, they probably have a similarly timed blind spot for Rugrats.
Which is a shame: What other kids’ program has its ability to deftly blend literal diaper humor with searing societal commentary? “A corporation is like a big hungry monster,” Angelica’s cellphone-toting (this was radical at the time!) mother explains to her as she tries to stage a corporate takeover of Famous Ethel’s Cookie Company. “My job is to find plenty of smaller, weaker monsters for it to eat.” Speaking of eating, when Uncut Gems comes to Netflix later this month, viewers will be able to watch one of the great Passover scenes of our time. Hopefully one day they’ll be able to watch an even better one, featuring Tommy Pickles’s grandparents Minka and Boris. (I haven’t quite started identifying with their generation—yet.) —Katie Baker