So you've recently subscribed to Showtime. Congratulations! There are a lot of great programs you can watch with your newfound access to the premium cable channel's library, from the long-running spy thriller Homeland to the serial killer drama Dexter to the recent revival of The L Word. Heck, you could also dip into the currently running Black Monday, or even Shameless, the latter of which is filming its eleventh and final season now. But Showtime has plenty of other shows that don't get as much fanfare that are worth watching too. Below, we've put together a list of some of the best Showtime shows you might not have watched yet, so take a look and start putting that subscription, whether it's via the Showtime app, Amazon Prime, Roku, Hulu, or your cable provider to good use.
Genre: Testosterone warfare Wall Street drama | Seasons: 5 (and counting)
Stick with this finance drama through its shaky first season. It took some time for the Showtime series to figure out exactly what it was, but once it nailed down that it was a sophisticated soap for grown-ups, it became one of the most energetic shows on TV, with a murderer's row of great actors — Damian Lewis! Paul Giamatti! David Costabile! Maggie Siff! — sinking their teeth into juicily loquacious dialogue about double-crossing and backstabbing. -Liam Mathews
Genre: Intimate reality television | Seasons: 1 (and counting)
The term "reality television" gets a bad wrap thanks to many shows in the genre that loosely define "reality," but in its purest, uncut, unscripted form, reality television is captivating. Couples Therapy, from the documentary team that brought us Weiner, is the most raw, unfiltered reality show I've ever seen. It's exactly what it says it is, which is real couples sitting down for therapy sessions to work out their problems, air out some dirty laundry, and find answers under the wise tutelage of Dr. Orna Guralnik, who has occupational issues of her own that we see her discuss with her mentor. It's beautiful, intense, and, most of all, real.
Genre: Whimsical, melancholic comedy | Seasons: 2
Jim Carrey plays both the sock and the buskin in this tragi-comedy about a childrens' show host named Mr. Pickles (Carrey) whose relentlessly optimistic and innocent outlook on life is slowly chipped away by family tragedy. Kidding is a tug-of-war of emotions wrapped up in dark comedy as its characters process grief and the complicated obstacle course of life, and director Michel Gondry adds his surreal touch via dream sequences, musical numbers, and kids' show segments. Plus, Tara Lipinski and Ariana Grande make shocking cameos.
Genre: Pyramid-scheming dramedy | Seasons: 1 (and counting)
On Becoming a God in Central Florida started as a YouTube production before Showtime swooped in and saved it, which makes a lot of sense as it fits right in with Showtime's sense of mixing dark comedy with compelling drama. Kirsten Dunst, in her best role since Fargo Season 2, plays the wife of a man who got roped into an MLM scheme and finds herself stuck in that world after a gator makes a snack of her husband. (It's Florida, after all.) It's a story of revenge, capitalism, and building yourself up, amplified by the cult-like atmosphere of a predatory company conning its believers.
Genre: Victorian-era monster mash-up horror | Seasons: 3
Showtime's tastefully gory gothic horror is the ideal watch if you're looking to escape into an underworld where everything is creepy, but in a literary way. Penny Dreadful stars Eva Green as a medium, Vanessa Ives, who keeps company with characters like Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), Dracula (Christian Camargo), and Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), not to mention her star-crossed romance with a gun-slinging American werewolf (Josh Hartnett). The drama is tightest in Season 2, as Vanessa and friends face off against a coven of witches led by Helen McCrory, but Green's ferocious performance is unmissable throughout. (A follow-up series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, is also streaming.)
Genre: Undefinable David Lynch head trip | Seasons: 1
We don't recommend watching Twin Peaks: The Return without watching the original Twin Peaks (available on Netflix, Hulu, and CBS All Access) and the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (rent it on Amazon Prime), or you'll be even more lost than you would be otherwise. But if you're ready to watch some crazy sh--, Showtime's 2017 continuation of David Lynch and Mark Frost's groundbreaking drama series will show your fear in a handful of dust. There's never been anything like this on TV and there might not be ever again. -Liam Mathews
Genre: Self-deprecating queer comedy | Seasons: 1 (and counting)
Abby McEnany is a "fat, queer dyke" (her words, not mine) living in Chicago in this entertaining and enlightening Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy set in the LGBTQ communities. Abby has her own set of romantic struggles, some of which are relieved when she begins to date a trans man, and frequently fumbles her way through situations that seem like living nightmares, like when she confronts Julia Sweeney for making her life hell because of the genderless Saturday Night Live character Pat. But it's the series' take on Abby's mental states, which include serious looks at anxiety, OCD, and more, that make Work in Progress a must-watch. Coupled with a pulled-curtain look at queer communities, it's one of the most important new shows of the year. It's also extremely funny. A second season has already been ordered.