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10 Shows Like 'The Peripheral' to Watch Next

If you're already missing the world laid out in 'The Peripheral' — or perhaps longing for a story that is complete to know whether all will end well for humanity — try these science-fiction series.

Danielle Turchiano
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Chloë Grace Moretz in 'The Peripheral'

Amazon Studios

William Gibson's 2014 novel The Peripheral has been adapted into a streaming drama that stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a woman named Flynne who lives, works, and cares for her dying mother in a small town. She also steps in for her brother Burton (Jack Reynor) when he needs a hand with his technology testing business, as well.

Things take an unexpected but not entirely unwelcome turn for them when an assumed VR company calls upon Burton's gaming skills to test new tech. Flynne is the one who puts the headset on, though, and what she finds at the other end of it (at first via an avatar of sorts that is a replica of her brother's body, then her own) is an extremely realistic — though pretty empty — London. Too realistic, in fact, to be anything but.

And by visiting there, even through a "data transfer," rather than physical time travel, Flynne is now in danger (in part because of the toll it still manages to take on her body), but she's far from the only one. She gets an early warning that there are 10 years between her world and this version of London, and in those 10 years life as she knows it will cease to exist, but it takes a minute before she realizes what she is experiencing is not just an extremely realistic game. Once she understands that, though, there is still a lot to wrap her head around, including the search she goes on for a missing woman and how her existence in this futuristic world causes a split with her own world that likely has irreparable consequences.

The show, which was created by Scott Smith, and just wrapped up its first season on Prime Video, has a lot to say about technology and our addiction to it, and what that means for our future (through the one Flynne sees in London and the one that might be in store for her, as well, of course). 

These are increasingly popular themes, given the way our own society is advancing because of, but also becoming infinitely more dependent on, tech. So, if you're already missing the world laid out in The Peripheral — or perhaps longing for a story that is complete to know whether all will end well for humanity — here, Metacritic highlights 10 science-fiction series to watch next, ranked by Metascore. Some deal heavily in technology, like The Peripheral, but others play up the time travel aspect of journeying to other worlds. Either way, they provide ample escape from your own!


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Regina King in 'Watchmen'

HBO

Watchmen

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of vigilante justice and deep looks at racial politics
Where to watch: 

, , , ,
Seasons: 1

Inspired by the graphic novel of the same title but taking a much more modern and political approach to storytelling, this miniseries is set in an alternate version of America where vigilantes have been outlawed and now have to work in secret, under the cover of night to fight the rise of the white supremacists known as the Seventh Kalvary. Regina King stars as Angela Abar, who is a police officer by day and vigilante known as Sister Night by, well, night. She finds herself fighting for justice while also trying to get to the bottom of the murder of the chief of police, learning about her own personal connection to the original vigilante known as Hooded Justice, and keeping Doctor Manhattan safe.

"Watchmen doesn't need millions of dollars of special effects. It soars on great writing and performances." — Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal


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Adam Scott and Britt Lower in 'Severance'

Apple TV+

Severance

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of corporate conspiracies
Where to watch: 


Seasons: 1 (so far)

Severance is set in a futuristic world in which people can elect to have a procedure that literally severs parts of their brain in order to keep their work and home lives separate. Therefore, it doesn't explore two different literal worlds, but rather the different worlds a person inhabits when they only know a percentage of their own lives. The drama primarily follows a Lumon employee named Mark (Adam Scott), who is one of the severed but who starts to dig into the deeper story of the company and the procedure after a former colleague comes to him in the "Outie" world with some information about the "Innie" world. As the first season goes on, it expands to explore Mark's colleagues differing lives, as well as the seemingly unnecessary work they are even doing at work. But a bigger experiment is afoot, as Mark's boss (played by Patricia Arquette) is also keeping tabs on him at home as his neighbor, and both Mark's wife (played by Dichen Lachman) and his newest work friend (played by Britt Lower) have an important connections to the company.

"It's a sci-fi mystery, a quasi-religious thriller and much more besides — but more than anything it really is a portrait of work and how we let it take over our lives." — Huw Fullerton, Radio Times


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'Pantheon'

AMC

Pantheon

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of father-daughter stories and afterlife tales
Where to watch: 

,
Seasons: 1 (so far)

The only animated series on this list focuses not on a parallel world, but of one that extends beyond death. David Kim (voiced by Daniel Dae Kim) reaches out to his teenage daughter Maddie (voiced by Katie Chang) via the internet a couple of years after he dies. How? It turns out his consciousness was uploaded to the cloud, which a conglomerate called Logorhythms figured out how to do but wasn't honest with his family about. And they're far from the only family who is kept in the dark about the means to which the company is trying to reach technological and financial goals. Maddie ends up working with Caspian (voiced by Paul Dano), another teenager with complicated ties to the company, to get to the bottom of what is going on, all while the company continues to wage war.

"It's a portrait of a rapidly changing world that takes care to document the emotional carnage left in its wake, to gripping, troubling and ultimately quite moving effect." — Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter


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J.K. Simmons in 'Counterpart'

Starz

Counterpart

Metascore: 76
Best for: Fans of alternate realities and J.K. Simmons
Where to watch: 

, ,
Seasons: 2

Simmons pulls double duty in this alternate-world drama, though he's not the only one. (He's just the one the show revolves on.) In the Alpha world, he is Howard Silk, a regular, mild-mannered, extremely loyal employee of the Office of Interchange where he exchanges messages that don't seem to make any sense but are really messages between parallel Earths. In the other (Prime) world, Howard is a hard intelligence operative fighting to help his world get revenge on the Alpha because after an event caused a split, his world was ravaged by a pandemic, which his world suspects Alpha released. 

"There's a lot to track, which can sometimes overwhelm why, in fact, viewers would bother keeping up. But more often than not, [creator Justin] Marks finds empathy and momentum at exactly the moments you might feel lost, and, aided by crisp direction from Charles Martin and Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Counterpart lends enough emotional oomph to its expanding story to justify further investment in a smart, promising series." — Ben Travers, IndieWire


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From left to right: Julia Garner and Emma Stone in 'Maniac'

Netflix

Maniac

Metascore: 76
Best for: Fans of extreme connections aided by experimental drugs, and genre-bending quests
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 1

Emma Stone and Jonah Hill star in this 10-episode miniseries that sees their characters meeting and connecting during an experimental drug trial. Stone's character Annie has BPD while Hill's Owen has schizophrenia (but has been hiding it). As they embark upon the experiment, they end up taking on different personalities, depending on what part of the trial they are undergoing. The show is less interested in alternate worlds than The Peripheral (or others on this list), but instead focuses on alternate ways a person can be, if a mental illness can be cured. Although, that is not to say that the show does not explore other worlds, but they are all highly stylized fictional ones created by the experiment.

"Inventive and well-paced enough ... Maniac puts emotion first, even at the risk of sentimentality. It's a heart-shaped Rubik's Cube, a funny, consistently surprising fable of broken machines trying to reassemble themselves." — James Poniewozik, The New York Times


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The cast of 'Dark'

Netflix

Dark

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of fate and those who don't mind reading subtitles
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 3

This German thriller begins seemingly simply, with children vanishing from a small town. But when they disappear, they bring to light a decades-long mystery that allows the show to jump around in time from 2019 (when it starts) all the way back to the 1920s. It's not just a case of flashbacks, either, but of time travel as characters find a wormhole in town that moves them through time, trying to find answers, but ending up being the cause of a feared impending apocalypse. If you know the rules of time travel, you know you're not supposed to interact or touch anything, or you can create ripple effects that change the future. Without spoiling all of the details of the hows and the whos, let's just say, that is the crux of what is going on in this series.  

"Even when Dark is clinical in its set-up of these interweaving story threads, there's still an incredible amount of energy coursing through the show." — Steve Greene, IndieWire


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The cast of 'Fringe'

Fox

Fringe

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of cases of the week that have bigger world consequences because of character connections to an alternate world
Where to watch: 

, , , ,
Seasons: 5

Originally airing on Fox, this drama starts as a "case of the week" crime series following the federal task force known as the Fringe Division as its members investigate oddities and concerns of the fringe science variety. But that is just a way for the show's writers and producers to ease the audience into a much more complex tale about two parallel universes that end up at war with each other. That means that most actors have a chance to play alternate versions of themselves in the Prime world and the Alternate one, but it also means that not everyone belongs where they appear, which is what is causing changes (ala the butterfly effect) in the first place.

"Though the pilot has some flaws in it — mostly from a clash of tones — it still overdelivers on creativity, creepiness, fine acting and burgeoning character development." — Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle


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Ed Harris in 'Westworld'

HBO

Westworld

Metascore: 71
Best for: Fans of technology inheriting the Earth
Where to watch:

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Seasons: 4

Created by executive producers of The Peripheral (Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy), this drama is inspired by the 1973 film of the same title and explores a futuristic world in which people have created highly technological theme parks at which they can carry out their darkest and most depraved desires. Only, the android "hosts" at these theme parks begin to become aware of what is going on and fight back, creating a "humans vs. robots" storyline that plays out in increasingly complex and world-ending ways throughout its four-season run. The action is eventually moved out of the theme parks, with these hosts living in regular society and (for at least some of them) hoping to wipe out humanity, while the lone human survivors do what they can to fight back. Oh how the tables turn!

"When it works, there's nothing like it on TV. When it doesn't, it's hard not to watch in fascination as the train flies off the tracks, wondering if it might land back on them or this time finally plummet into the gorge below." — Emily St. James, Vox


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Aaron Stanford in '12 Monkeys'

Syfy

12 Monkeys

Metascore: 57
Best for: Those who don't think a pandemic story hits too close to home, but also those who want to see an everyman try to stop one
Where to watch: 

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Seasons: 4

Inspired by the 1995 film of the same title, this four-season drama sees Project Splinter recruit James Cole (Aaron Stanford) in 2043, sending him back in time to 2015 in order to stop the Army of the 12 Monkeys from releasing a deadly virus, which will decimate the world's population. The show focuses on the hope that the project will be successful and therefore cause a new timeline because in James', the end of the human race is imminent. James isn't alone in his mission, of course, as when he arrives in 2015 he finds a virologist (played by Amanda Schull) to work with him, among others, but they are usually thwarted by the leader of the Army, and James is also distracted by having to deal with scavengers and an order to kill.

"The TV version of 12 Monkeys pulls apart the movie, and finds the ingredients for just another dark, violent genre show." — Noel Murray, The A.V. Club


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The cast of 'Travelers'

Netflix

Travelers

Metascore: N/A
Best for: Those who want to watch people from the future try to save the world
Where to watch: 

, , , Netflix
Seasons: 3

This Canadian science-fiction drama follows five titular travelers, aka people who have been tasked with stopping society from collapsing, after their consciousnesses were sent back in time from a post-apocalyptic time period. It is only their consciousness that travels, though, which means they have to take over the bodies and lives of five individuals from very different walks of life, who then work together on missions designed to stop a series of world-ending events. But naturally, they develop complicated relationships with each other and others in their orbits along the way.

"It's hard to find a fresh take on the time-travel conceit, since it's been around so long and has been so heavily mined lately, but Travelers has some attention-grabbing flourishes and fine acting." — Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times