While many actors are known for certain roles that made them famous, that’s certainly not all the work they’ve done. Many A-list actors appeared on TV shows that you might not have heard of, shows that passed many by. Some of them missed out on proper promotion and others received some lukewarm reviews from critics–but based on audience reviews, viewers don’t agree.
Most of these television shows didn’t get high ratings when they aired. Instead, they became popular organically, as viewers discovered the shows for themselves. See which A-list actors appeared on these underrated TV shows that all have high audience scores from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes!
State Of Grace Was Just The Beginning For These Young Actresses
Audiences would most likely know Alia Shawkat and Mae Whitman from their roles on Arrested Development, but the two of them had their own show before then. From 2001 to 2004, they were the leads on an ABC Family show called State of Grace.
It was set in the mid-1960s and followed friends growing up with totally different backgrounds. There were only two seasons, but the show received favorable reviews, including an 8.2 out of 10 on IMDb. Shawkat and Whitman are now starring as the leads of their own TV shows with the former on Search Party and the latter on Good Girls.
The Get Down Was Gone Too Soon
Receiving a 90 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, The Get Down was one of Netflix’s best-received original series. This was a musical drama set in the South Bronx about a group of kids trying to become famous in the hip-hop, punk, and disco scenes of the ’70s.
Released in August of 2016, the series only lasted for one season but had an all-star cast. For example, Justice Smith played the lead and went on to star in the Jurassic World franchise and Pokémon Detective Pikachu. If you see this one pop up on Netflix, the 11 episodes are worth watching!
This My Mad Fat Diary Star Went On To Win An Emmy
My Mad Fat Diary scored a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and got favorable reviews across the board. The British series aired from 2013 to 2015 and followed the life of a girl who tried to fit in with her peers in high school while battling her personal issues.
One cast member who became a well-known actress is Jodie Comer. Her most famous role to date is Villanelle on Killing Eve opposite Sandra Oh. Her acting was so well-received that she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Shrill Shows Another Side Of SNL’s Aidy Bryant
Several Saturday Night Live stars have broken out into other roles that are spread across multiple genres. SNL’s Aidy Bryant has an underrated show on Hulu called Shrill. It received an 87 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Shrill is about a young woman who acts in a way that is unexpected from societal norms. She has to deal with problems with her friends, romantic relationships, family, and job. Other famous actors who are part of the cast include Daniel Stern, John Cameron Mitchell, and SNL’s Julia Sweeney.
Party Down Was An Underappreciated Comedy
Party Down was extremely underrated when it originally aired. The series has a 99 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, but only lasted 20 episodes. Those who aren’t familiar with the show should know that it’s about a group of aspiring Hollywood actors who work for a catering company as they await their big break.
There are tons of celebrities in the cast. Some were already famous, while others got their claim to fame from other projects. Fans of the show will likely recognize Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Megan Mullally, Jane Lynch, Martin Starr, and more.
Everwood’s Cast Had Some Movie Stars In The Making
Running from 2002 to 2006, Everwood was about a neurosurgeon raising his children alone. It has a 95 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and many avid fans who still love watching the show today. There were quite a few celebrities who had some of their earliest roles on Everwood.
Here, Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is pictured with Kristen Bell of the Frozen franchise and The Good Place. Other cast members that would be recognizable today include Revenge’s Emily VanCamp and Grey’s Anatomy’s Sarah Drew.
Strangers With Candy Had A Lot Of Well-Known Guest Stars
Out of over five thousand reviews on IMDb, Strangers with Candy has a rating of 80 percent. This Comedy Central series aired from 1999 to 2000 and focused on a middle-aged woman having to return to her freshman year in high school.
Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert were two of the leads and there were many famous guest stars. Colbert went to The Daily Show shortly after his time on Strangers with Candy. Audiences may also recognize cast members Winona Ryder, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Cross, Ellen Pompeo, Will Ferrell, and Andy Richter.
Before He Was A Teenage Heartthrob, He Was On The Fosters
The Fosters was about a teen girl and her brother who go to live with a new foster family. It tackled topical issues in a respectful way and earned a 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The show aired from 2013 to 2018 and currently has a spin-off series called Good Trouble.
Most of the cast was practically unknown, but one of them has gone on to become an international superstar. Noah Centineo played Jesus Adams Foster and has been recognized for his slew of teenage romantic comedies including the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before franchise.
Some Of Hollywood’s Top Actors Starred On Alias
One of the most underrated shows of the early 2000s was Alias. The action and mystery series aired for a total of 105 episodes and has an 88 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Anyone who loves spy thrillers will likely get sucked into the story of a female operative who goes up against shady intelligence agencies while dealing with her problematic family.
Alias’ lead, Jennifer Garner, went on to have a successful film career in projects such as 13 Going on 30, Juno, and Dallas Buyers Club. Also, Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper played her best friend on the show.
Find The Famous Faces In The Cast Of Freaks And Geeks
Not many shows have the honor of receiving a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, but Freaks and Geeks is one of them. After airing only 16 episodes in 1999 and 2000, the show has become a cult classic with younger audiences who are still being introduced to it for the first time.
There are tons of famous faces in the cast. Actors such as Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr had some of their earliest roles on the show. Also, there were many actors who guest-starred before they were famous, such as Shia LaBeouf and Rashida Jones.
Bruce Willis Was Practically Unknown On Moonlighting
The romantic comedy series Moonlighting was about an ex-model and a detective who team up to start their own private investigative agency. The show aired in the latter half of the 1980s and has acquired a 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
While Cybill Shepherd was already a prominent movie star before her role on Moonlighting, her romantic lead got much of his fame afterward. Bruce Willis played David Addison Jr. and went on to become the leading man in a number of roles such as The Sixth Sense and Pulp Fiction.
My So-Called Life Was THE Offbeat ’90s Teen Sitcom
Only a handful of shows have the honor of receiving a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. My So-Called Life earned that score by “effectively avoiding cliché” and creating a “realistic portrayal of the average American girl.” This show is often called the anti-Beverly Hills 90210 for its angst-ridden teen lead and three-dimensional high school characters.
This was before Claire Danes was a Hollywood leading lady, now known for her roles in Romeo + Juliet and Homeland. Another cast member was Jared Leto, who is famous for being the lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars and starring in films such as Dallas Buyers Club and Requiem for a Dream.
Dark Angel Gave Jessica Alba A Jumping-Off Point For Her Career
James Cameron, the mind behind Titanic and Avatar, created an action and mystery series in the early 2000s called Dark Angel. The plot revolved around a genetically-enhanced young woman who escapes from a breeding lab to work as a messenger in a dystopian world. Although it wasn’t favored among critics, general audiences loved it. It has a perfect audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The most familiar face in the cast is Jessica Alba. She played the lead on Dark Angel and went on to become a famous actress, mainly in the action genre. Fans have most likely seen her in Fantastic Four, Sin City, and Machete.
Arrested Development Wasn’t Appreciated At First
Although Arrested Development is now one of the most popular TV comedies, it wasn’t always that way. The show’s original run lasted from 2003 to 2006 where it received mostly lackluster ratings. Arrested Development eventually managed to become a favorite among critics and was given an 8.7 out of 10 on IMDb.
About a decade later, the show was picked up by Netflix and has been given a few additional seasons. A good chunk of the cast didn’t have too much acting experience before appearing on the show, including Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, Will Arnett, and David Cross.
The Dana Carvey Show Only Lasted Eight Episodes
The Dana Carvey Show was very short-lived, only having eight episodes air in 1996. The general consensus among critics was that it had some problematic impressions of celebrities. The Dana Carvey Show earned an 80 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audiences knew Dana Carvey from Saturday Night Live, but they got to meet some up-and-comers in the comedy scene. One particular cast member who stood out was Steve Carell, who is best known for playing Michael Scott on The Office. Other familiar faces included Stephen Colbert, Ellen DeGeneres, and Selma Blair.
She Won An Oscar After United States Of Tara
Only running for a couple of seasons, United States of Tara followed a housewife and her family as she dealt with dissociative identity disorder. The family comedy came from the mind of Juno’s Diablo Cody and had strong performances from all actors, earning it an 85 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The show’s lead, Toni Collette, had already been an established actress, but there were a few cast members who made their claim to fame after the series ended. Brie Larson played Collette’s daughter on the show and is now an Oscar-winning actress known for roles in Room and Captain Marvel.
Crashing Has A Major Plot Twist
The premise of 2016’s Crashing takes an unusual spin on a common narrative. It follows a group of young adults exploring love and friendship as they live together in an abandoned hospital. The series earned an 87 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with one reviewer saying, “Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance and crackling script gives this coming of age comedy some refreshing pep.”
Most would likely know Waller-Bridge as the star and creator of Fleabag, for which she has won numerous awards. She is also the creator of another award-winning show called Killing Eve starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.
Atypical Will Be Ending Soon
A few A-list actors have made their way into the cast of Netflix’s Atypical. Jennifer Jason Leigh, known for The Hateful Eight and Fast Times at Ridgemont High plays the mom. Michael Rapaport, known for Deep Blue Sea and The 6th Day, plays the dad.
Atypical follows the life of a teenage boy on the autism spectrum and his dysfunctional family. It was announced that the series would be ending after four seasons, with the last set to air sometime in 2021. Rotten Tomatoes can assure that it’s a fan-favorite with a 95 percent audience score.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Nothing Like Alexander Hamilton In His Dark Materials
The second season of HBO’s His Dark Materials is set to air soon and the show remains vastly underrated. This fantasy drama is based on the novel series of the same name by Philip Pullman and is set in a multi-verse where humans have animal companions called dæmons.
His Dark Materials received an 81 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes with critics loving the visual effects and exceptional performances. Audiences may recognize a few celebrities in the cast such as Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Fleabag’s Andrew Scott, and Atonement’s James McAvoy.
Baby Boomers Should Recognize This Soap Star
Baby boomers may remember a comedy show from the ’70s and ’80s called Soap. It was essentially a spoof of daytime soap operas and focused on the lives of two families. Close to six thousand people rated Soap on IMDb and settled on an average score of 8.1 out of 10.
Most of the cast hasn’t done much since the show ended in 1981, except for one of them. Billy Crystal played Jodie Dallas on Soap and has become one of Hollywood’s top actors. He has been in a lot of fan-favorite projects such as When Harry Met Sally, Monsters, Inc., and Saturday Night Live.