Absolutely the best TV shows ever made
Just another one of those dumb lists, innit.
Yeah. Let’s get it out of the way. If you really wanted to make a great show separate from the pack, you’d change it up every single season. Go somewhere new, keep it fresh, keep people guessing. Something totally different. Something that’s about ideas instead of carrots. About the human condition. About America. Good people on different sides of the law, that cross the socio-economic spectrum, and they’re all in the same place stuck together. And they’re learning, without even realizing it, that although they’re very different, deep down inside they’re just the same. Well congratulations, you just made The Wire!
The West Wing
If politics is too real for you right now, then live in a blissful ignorance by dropping your online subscription to the Guardian and binge on the ultimate liberal fantasy, The West Wing, where most people are agreeable sorts and things are going to be OK… even though at the end of it all, the legacy of the big-hearted, crazy-smart, ever-charismatic President Josiah Bartlet felt pretty ineffectual in breaking partisan divide and making meaningful change. Remind you of anyone? But however inopportune the series feels now, Aaron Sorkin and co. has crafted such an enticing cast of lovable guys and gals giving it their all in a painfully optimistic vision of progress, that anyone with a human heart will be cheering on the highs and crying on the lows.
You’re probably better of reading the books, but even with actors playing Ancient Romans like they were late to the school play (half the budget was probably spent on Senator Incitatus), the 70s classic I, Claudius remains a timeless something something you get it. In a way, the fact a TV show was written like an evening at Broadway probably is the best way of envision Robert Grave’s original dramatics. And one must note Derek Jacobi, who has the role of the forever-endearing Claudius, masterfully capturing the emperor’s famous buffoonery in an expressed yet authentic limp and stutter.
Battlestar Galactica is the quintessential “humanity is f*cked by over-powered self-actualized robotic swarms, we’ve gotta scram” epic. Such care for the small sci-fi details like the 80s phones and mixed showers, as well as functionally plausible cool-as-shit-looking space ships, makes the great tension and tragedy of the fleet’s seemingly never-ending fight for survival all the more real to the viewer. Maybe all the actors look like supermodels on the catwalk and sometimes the screenplay would fit a soap rather than space opera, but Ronald D. Moore’s 21st century revamping of 1978 classic encapsulates the original’s grandiose vision and unlike back then, is actually an enticing watch.
Better Call Saul
So Breaking Bad is fantastic and all, but the prequel Better Call Saul detailing the adventures of the flamboyant crooked lawyer, James McGill/Saul Goodman, is truly artful in being a bloody good drama — something I’d recommend over the more popular meth-cook-recruitment programming. Excellent writing gives every speech and spectacle some purpose, all complimenting the really explosive moments. The masterminds Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have a real passion in delivering the full package, picking the brains of experienced set designers, make-up artists, video mixers et. al to create an amazingly compelling series.
The raw awkwardness of Peep Show, expressed in a disorientating visual grammar and an exemplified spoken literature that highlights the manipulative condition of the modern man, makes this show something else. Indeed, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea — the show’s piercing commentary of British life seems to only gel with a sarcastic, introspective, yet miserable kind of person who identify with the disposition of the fictional middle-class, middle-aged, middle-of-the-road Mark Corrigan (played by the much beloved Andrew Mitchell). In a way the show is quite therapeutic for those with a depressed mindset, however I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to witness a one-of-a-kind dark(?) comedy.
A stark look at prison life in an American maximum security prison, parodying the grandiose tales espoused in works like The Shawshank Redemption. Everything sucks. Some embrace the depravity, while others work towards a better future. In the end, everything still sucks — yet every twist and turn fully engages you into following the ventures of the Oswald prisoners and staff as they work towards their ends seemingly trapped in a literal and metaphorical cage.
20th century British politics stuff only I would care about
- A Very British Coup — 80s drama about the trials that face a hardcore leftist Labour politician becoming PM
- Yes, Minister — Sitcom satirizing the inner workings of British leaders and their offices
- BBC House of Cards — It’s like Netflix’s HoC but less hollywood and more grounded into humouring a real political tapestry
Also try Brass Eye, which spoofs nonsensical traits of 90s current affair TV programming that is still identifable today.
Annnnndddd while we’re at it, Screenwipe headed by Charlie Brooker (later of piggy/PM-action-depositc-future-fame) is an extremely entertaining window into the inner-workings of television and/or showbusiness in all forms.
Why is there no anime?
Anime isn’t real.