Many people have said to me: ‘Gemma, you might have a problem. You are supposed to be working on your MA, and generally becoming an adult, yet here you are watching all this TV — a lot of it aimed at kids. Don’t you think it’s a waste of time?’ And to those people I say: ‘Mum, I think that life gets in the way of TV sometimes.’ and then I put back in my headphones and press play on my laptop. Getting dressed and going outside on a daily basis is a game for suckers.
So here’s the first ten TV shows of my list, I’ve undoubtedly left out one or two over the course of this, and if you think a programme should have been rated higher/lower let me know in the comments — so we can fight about it.
A space western, this show was Joss Whedon’s offering after Buffy finished but was prematurely brought out to the back garden, shot and buried after only one season. It remains a hugely popular cult classic to this day, and because it was so loved, Joss eventually got to make a movie, Serenity to conclude the tale. Firefly has all the workings of classic Whedon: his trademark wit, an ensemble cast and ass-kicking female protagonists, plus it features faces made familiar from his other works.
Featuring snappy visual gags, cutting social commentary and the odd bit of schmaltz, this cartoon sci-fi is so tightly-written that it clawed its way back from cancellation by escaping to the Cartoon Network after being dropped by Fox. Developed by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, creators of a little show called the Simpsons, Furutama is about Fry, a lovably dopey New York pizza delivery guy who gets cryogenically frozen only to be defrosted 1000 years later to work as… a delivery guy. Fry ends up couriering for his distant relative with a morally bankrupt robot as a best friend and a cyclops as a love interest. It’s easy to dip in and out of this show, which is handy because it always seems to be on.
48. The Big Bang Theory
It’s LA and three nerdy manchildren/scientists befriend a stunning actress who’s a neighbour of theirs. Of course, comedy and romance ensues as this impossibly beautiful girl starts to date one of them. This is a bog standard Chuck Lorre sitcom that’s dotted with upmarket jokes that will take you right back to junior cert science. What sets it apart is how the characters remain endearing and grow along the way, plus the clichéd setup is remedied by the addition of two female scientists. Now in its billionth (7th) season, this is TV to put your feet up and turn your brain off to.
47. Red Dwarf
Smeghead is now a proper insult thanks to Red Dwarf creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. This BBC comedy is set on a mining ship, where, after being cryogenically frozen for longer than expected, Lister is stranded with a hologram of his anal roommate, a creature evolved from his cat, a lunatic computer and a robot servant. Running from 1989-1999 and then returning to the air again in 2009 and 2012, there’s plenty of zany, camp episodes to enjoy — which I’d recommend doing in order because characters and circumstances tend to change quite drastically.
46. Doctor Who
Cards against Humanity nailed it when they stated the show’s premise as: ‘A strange man living in a police box kidnapping women’. Doctor Who started up again in 2005 after the last TV movie aired in the nineties, and has been popular ever since. The new ‘season one’ beings a little ridiculously, but the writing and the performances bring some real substance to it. Be warned though, Eccleston’s (my fave) and Tennant’s reigns as the infamous Timelord are the show’s peak. When Steven Moffatt takes over as showrunner DW’s quality plummets due to unlikable/stock characters and sloppy writing.
The most downbeat comedy you’ll ever laugh then hate yourself to. Louis is a low-key offering from stand up, Louis CK, and is quasi-autobiographical, much in the vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The tone is horribly dark, but extremely clever and has a distinctive voice and grittiness not often seen on the small screen. Critically acclaimed and winner of several Emmys, Louis is now heading into the forth season.
44. How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother, now an episode away from its conclusion, has been on the telly box for ten years. That’s a full decade of one man telling his kids about the lead-up to him meeting his wife. It starts out hilarious; it’s well plotted with sharp humour and loads of strong in jokes. Like the majority of sitcoms, however, the quality drops in the later seasons, and the show’s protagonist goes from being a semi-relatable guy to embodying THE MOST IRRITATING WHINE ever to be on TV. Then again, the counter argument for remaining a loyal viewer is Barney Stinson.
43. Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Gallactica is named after the old, powerful star ship that is leading a fleet of the few remaining humans to safety. Since their home, the Twelve Colonies of Kobol was destroyed by the super-sexy Cylons, President Laura Roslin and Commander William Adama have to make tough decisions and sacrifices to ensure the protection of the fleet. BG is Sci-Fi drama it its tensest, and only falls down due to the lack of any amount of humour in the show. The mythology is detailed and the plot twists will have you regularly shouting: ‘What the frack?!’
42. United States of Tara
Sharp, funny and dark, The United States of Tara features top female talent and stars the Academy Award-nominated Toni Collette and Juno writer Diablo Cody. Tara is your average suburban housewife; she’s married to SATC’s Aidan, and has two kids… only she’s also coping with dissociative identity disorder. Her other unruly personalities include a slutty teenager, a biker guy and a ’50’s housewife. The show’s authenticity began to dip by the third season, which is probably had something to do with why it was cancelled, but The United States of Tara is solid TV and well worth a watch.
Deadwood is gritty western, set in a gold mining camp in 1876, complete with a noble sheriff and some rowdy outlaws. Upon seeing the trailer, I couldn’t be less drawn to a show if it was called: ‘Shooting Kittens — a documentary’ but yet I found myself watching all three seasons with gusto. Surprisingly Deadwood is well written and filled with interesting, flawed characters that inhabit a fleshed out world.