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6 little-known series you won’t regret making time for

Already all caught up on the Emmy-contending series for this year? Congratulations! Way to stay on top of the season. But what now? How about some series that aren’t getting that kind of attention? We here at The Envelope conducted a very selective survey — asking only one another — to find out what shows we love that no one else seems to be talking about. There’s a little something for everyone in these under-the-radar gems — a mix of new and returning series — suggested by Envelope writers Gary Goldstein, Hugh Hart, Elena Nelson Howe, Diedre Johnson and Bob Strauss.

Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina star in Peacock’s “Based on a True Story.”

(Peacock)

‘BASED ON A TRUE STORY’
Peacock
More than just an L.A. knockoff of “Only Murders in the Building,” “Based on a True Story” is a true-crime satire that brings danger close to home. Chris Messina, fresh off his scene-stealing agent gig in “Air,” and a pregnant-at-the-time Kaley Cuoco have convincing chemistry as a cash-strapped, expecting couple who go into the podcast business with an actual serial killer. Hilarious and incisive, the series dissects a challenged marriage — along with media, murder, Westside real estate and other unhealthy obsessions — in wacky ways that often ring true. — B.S.

A smiling man leans back in an office chair in "Blue Lights."

Richard Dormer plays a likable Belfast cop in “Blue Lights.”

(BritBox)

‘BLUE LIGHTS’
Britbox
Richard Dormer (“Game of Thrones”) plays Belfast’s most likable cop in this impeccably cast crime procedural. While his Gerry dispenses gruff advice to anyone who will listen, three rookie officers bungle their way toward proficiency in the face of a fearsome drug kingpin (James McIntyre), vicious interlopers from Dublin and a lonely drunk traumatized by “the Troubles.” Flecked with black humor and finely detailed pathos, the show culminates in a heart-wrenching gunfight followed by a well-earned twist ending. —H.H.

A man and woman stand outside facing each other in "Criminal Record."

Peter Capaldi and Cush Jumbo star in “Criminal Record” on Apple TV+.

(Apple TV+)

‘CRIMINAL RECORD’
Apple TV+
Racist police practices from the past haunt London crimefighters in this thriller featuring BAFTA winner Peter Capaldi (“Dr. Who,” “The Thick of It”) as haggard Det. Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty. Hellbent on concealing details about a suspicious murder confession he’d extracted years earlier, Hegarty meets his match in grimly impassioned Det. Sgt. June Lenker, played by Cush Jumbo (“The Good Fight”). Spurred by an emergency call from an abused woman, Lenker claws her way to the truth. — H.H.

Two teen boys lie on sleeping bags near each other looking at their phones in "Heartstopper."

Joe Locke, left, and Kit Connor star in Netflix’s “Heartstopper.”

(Samuel Dore / Netflix)

‘HEARTSTOPPER’
Netflix
This sweet and captivating coming-of-age dramedy involves a crisscross of mostly queer secondary school students living in a fictional British town. Based on the graphic novels by the show’s writer-creator, Alice Oseman, the series features a laudably eclectic and diverse cast of characters stumbling their way through first love, sexual orientation, gender identity and other emotional roller coasters. It’s a joyful, inspiring look at being one’s authentic self, and if there’s any time that’s needed it’s now. — G.G.

Two men in red reflective vests talk seriously in "The Outlaws."

Stephen Merchant, left, and Christopher Walken in Prime Video’s “The Outlaws.”

(Sam Taylor / BBC Studios)

‘THE OUTLAWS’
Prime Video
Gangly, gawky Stephen Merchant puts his physicality and hangdog persona to fine use in this British crime comedy. A finely calibrated cast, including Christopher Walken, finds depth in initially shallow stereotypes — rich influencer, uptight white guy, brainy Indian girl — as a crew sentenced to community service for their petty infractions. Comic standout Jessica Gunning (“Baby Reindeer”), as the desperate-to-be-a-real-cop Diane, oversees the lot, who stumble across a duffel bag full of money while cleaning out an abandoned building, pulling them into a chaotic world of drug dealers and violence. — E.N.H.

A well-dressed woman in gloves and hat walks outside ahead of a man and woman.

Yazmin Belo stars in “Three Little Birds.”

(BritBox)

‘THREE LITTLE BIRDS’
Britbox
Imagine leaving your home country never to return, all for the chance of a better life. That’s what happens in “Three Little Birds” when two optimistic sisters and their sweet-natured best friend leave Jamaica for Great Britain in the 1950s. Based on true stories from British actor-comedian Lenny Henry’s mom’s life, the women experience joy, pain and romance as they navigate their new surroundings in this vibrant, life-affirming series. —D.J.

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