I’m pretty sure I’ve done a Top Ten Shows list, but if I did it must’ve been so long ago that I have lost all recollection of it. Plus, my list has probably changed since then, so here we are.
10) Phineas and Ferb
Oh, Phineas and Ferb. Quite possibly the greatest animated show of this decade. Of course, it’s the only animated show I’ve watched in the last year, so perhaps I’m not the best judge of these things.
Anywho, this show is technically a kid’s show, but it’s so smartly-written that people of all ages can enjoy it. Not to mention how rewarding it is to long-term viewers, with the inside jokes it sprinkled into every episode. The show’s basically like a children’s version of Family Guy, except, y’know, funny.
Favorite Character: Heinz Doofenshmirtz, due to his ridiculously tragic backstory.
9) The Leftovers
People like to hate on this show, because it’s written by the guy who wrote Lost. I’m not sure I fully understand why people didn’t like Lost, but I for one loved every moment of it, so when I found out the creator of that show was making a new one I had to check it out. Plus, the trailer piqued my interest.
I mean, look at the trailer. You see people crying, sexual content, more people crying, violence, more violence, more sexual content, all while this dark-yet-groovy song plays in the background. You can tell from the trailer that this is an angry, angsty show.
A lot of people criticize it because it’s too angsty, and depressing, and they do have a point. The show can be accurately summed up as “Sad people being sad.” But I liked it anyway, because of how it portrays grief and the ways characters handle it. (Hint: they handle it badly). Plus, the acting is amazing, from every member of the cast, and not to mention, the soundtrack is glorious.
Favorite character: Nora.
Sure, the show got way too wacky near the end, but the first four or five seasons were a near-perfect blend of comedy and drama, as far as I recall.
A lot of people think of the show as a simple, light-hearted sitcom, but it managed to get pretty damn dark at times. In one episode a main character’s best friend dies and he hallucinates about him for the entire second half. One episode was basically just two main characters sitting in a room with a terminally ill patient, giving him comfort before he died. One episode started off with a voiceover saying “Out of every three patients admitted in the ICU, one of them will die,” as the three interns are introduced to three separate loveable patients. This has the audience wondering, “hmm, I wonder which one of them will die,” up until last few minutes when all three of them die, because fuck you, viewers, statistics don’t always match perfectly with the situations given.
And yet, the show still had times for scenes like this:
Favorite character: Elliot for the first three/four seasons. Then it’s Dr. Cox.
7) Game of Thrones
This would have been in top three a month ago, but after season 5 it’s slid down a bit. Mostly due to the fact that last season was sort of terrible, in most parts. That whole Dorne storyline was a complete disaster, and Sansa in Winterfell was a huge disappointment. (I had such high hopes for that storyline, too.) Also, it’s getting too depressing, and it’s pissing me off how Ramsay is apparently some sort of unstoppable supervillain incapable of making mistakes. Not to mention the unexplained disappearance of Ser Pounce.
But hey, the first season of show was perfect, in my eyes, and the second, third and fourth seasons weren’t too shabby either. So for that it makes the list.
Favorite character: Arya Stark
6) Doctor Who
A ridiculously inconsistent show, in which you’ll have a bad episode followed by an amazing episode followed by a terrible episode followed by an okay episode. When Doctor Who is bad, it’s very, very bad. But when it’s at its best, it’s truly one of the best shows on television.
Also, it’s been around for over fifty years, so I feel like I should give it points for that.
Favorite character: The Doctor, obviously.
5) The Walking Dead
The first episode of this show was brilliant, but I feel like it was all downhill from there. Season 2 was pretty terrible, and season 3 was fun, but it wasn’t particularly well-written and ended with the most anti-climactic finale ever. But then a new showrunner took over, and while season 4 was hardly perfect and the first half of season 5 was a bit of a mess. (Why did that character die again? What was the point of that whole storyline?), by the time we got to Alexandria the show was firing on all cylinders. The story suddenly went into a completely different direction, and the results were brilliant. I love Dark Rick, and Evil Carol, and Badass Glenn, and barely-in-the-show-anymore Tara. The Walking Dead has grown a beard, I’d say. (Don’t click that.)
Favorite character: I have a soft spot in my heart for Tara, who has been my favorite since the moment she was introduced. Though I do wish she’d get more than a few lines every couple episodes. Oh well. Hopefully she isn’t eaten alive next season.
I feel like the reason a lot of people hate on this show was because they were only watching it for the mystery aspect. They took a show with amazing characters, storylines and themes and subtext and they watered it down to a list of questions they wanted answered. And I feel like that’s a terrible way to watch any show, especially this one.
Sure there’s a lot of mysteries, and some of them are never answered and others are answered in unsatisfactory ways, but for me the show was never about the mystery. I just wanted to see what beloved characters like Jack and Sawyer and Desmond and Claire (loved Claire for some reason) were up to, and I just wanted them to have a satisfying ending. And they did.
That’s right, the ending was in fact, a great ending. Flawed, but still great. I said it, and I will stand by that decision for the rest of my life.
Favorite character: Desmond.
3) Breaking Bad
The story of a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin, this is one of the rare TV shows where each season was better than the one before it. In terms of writing and cinematography, this show is pretty much flawless. I have only one complaint about the show, but I can’t get into it right now due to spoilers. (Please ask me below, so I can rant accordingly.)
Favorite character: Mike. I’d like to pet his oddly shaped head.
2) Orange is the New Black
While yes, objectively speaking, this show does not deserve a higher rank that Breaking Bad, but I’m going to give it one anyway, if only because I find the show much more enjoyable to watch, even though it gets very dark and emotional at times. BB was great and all, but it was so tense that I found it painful to watch for the majority of the show’s run. Each episode was like having an hour long minor heart attack. OitNB, meanwhile, is significantly less exhausting, while still maintaining a high quality of writing.
Oh, those glorious characters. From the heartbreaking and hilarious Crazy Eyes to the clinically insane yet still lovable Morello*, every one of the many characters on this show, characters you rarely get to see on television, are wonderful in their own way.
Favorite character: Taystee, due to her love of books.
1) The Wire
It’s amazing how a show with no soundtrack, except for that one tune they play in the final five seconds, can be my favorite show. Usually, the show’s soundtrack is the primary factor in how I pick my shows (see: #9), and yet this show has none. But that’s okay. The Wire doesn’t have a score, because it’s too busy keeping things real.
Every heartbreaking tragedy hits hard, because you know that things like this have actually happened to people and are still happening today. This is a show that can make a marker stain on someone’s couch end up being the saddest thing ever, and make a man walking up a staircase a hugely celebratory moment. The show plays with your emotions without even trying.
Other things this show has going for it:
- Morally ambiguous characters.
- Ridiculously talented child actors.
- Ridiculously talented adult actors.
- Insights on the human condition.
- More diversity.
- Multiple storylines that interweave seamlessly.
- Social commentary.
- Non-gratuitous violence.
- Chris Partlow. (The most terrifying male character on television?)
- Snoop. (The most terrifying female character on television? She shoots people with nail guns, people. Stay away.)
- Cool camera angles.
- Badass moments.
- A critical look at the war on drugs.
- A critical look on politics
- A critical look at the education system.
- A critical look at journalism.
- A critical look at whatever the hell season 2 was about. (I think it was about boats, or something?)
I admit, readers, season 2 of The Wire was a bit weak compared to the rest of it, but it was still better than 90% of everything else on television.
Basically, if you could go through your life having only watched one TV show, let it be this one. Even if you’re not hooked on the first few episodes, keep watching anyway. You won’t regret it, or I’ll give you your money back.
Favorite character: Rhonda Pearlman. She was chill.
*Is there a specific reason why Morello isn’t in a mental hospital instead of a prison? She should really be getting some sort of psychiatric treatment.
So, that’s my list. What do you think of it? What are your top ten favorite shows? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you surprised that Sherlock isn’t there? Because I admit, by this point I’ve forgotten that show’s entire existence. What was it about again? Something about baking, I believe…