What Are the 10 Greatest Television Shows of All Time?
This is a topic on which no one will fully agree, but it would be interesting to see if any shows end up on multiple lists.
1. The Sopranos.
The unquestioned best television series of all time. Every aspect of this show was remarkable; the rich, visceral writing, the vintage New Jersey backdrop, and of course the most convincing acting from every character in the series from top to bottom, led by the incomparable James Gandolfini.
2. Six Feet Under.
This show was another HBO hit that ran during the same period as The Sopranos. They were paired together on Sunday evenings during a time when television recording was not common, so the result was a must-see evening of television rarely rivaled. Six Feet Under managed to find a way to serve up an introspective, entertaining, thought-provoking, darkly comedic, what-are-you-doing-with-your-life story that was at once interesting, amusing, and unforgettable. The acting was so good that one could not help being absorbed in the trials of each character.
This show received some accolades during its time, but not as much as it deserved. The brilliant dialogue and understated yet persuasive acting by David Duchovny are what sets this series apart...in addition to an inordinate amount of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (a good drinking game is to take a shot anytime there is a rock and roll reference. You won't last long). Duchovny's character grows with each season and reveals a depth of character that made the show rich far beyond the surface-level boobs and jokes.
4. The Americans.
A riveting, tension-filled series about two Soviet spies living as U.S. citizens in Washington, D.C. during the 1980s. On the surface, the storyline is interesting enough; however, the series got better each season as the character's arcs progressed and a deeper sense of what it was like on a human level for these two unique characters to live such a dangerous life all while raising two teenage children they birthed in America.
Who doesn't love Cheers? This classic 80s sitcom featured a washed-up baseball player, a know-it-all mailman, a drunken accountant, an arrogant psychologist, a conceited would-be writer turned waitress, and a wise-cracking waitress. What did all of these characters have in common? They could all be found at Cheers, the friendly neighborhood Boston bar where you can find friendly banter, cheerful camaraderie, and where everyone knows your name.
6. The X-Files.
The premiere of The X-Files was incredibly well-timed. The show was unveiled in the fall of 1993, a time in the United States when the internet was just starting to take off and when government conspiracy theories abounded. Combine those cultural elements into a series about the government hiding alien secrets, werewolves, and a wide assortment of other creatures and oddities, and you have the making of a highly interesting series. It helped to have two attractive, talented actors serving up an ongoing sexual tension as the lead protagonists.
Another great HBO hit. It was the first series from the network that helped launch a highly productive decade of remarkable television shows. Without it, one could argue that we would not have The Sopranos. The story featured the dark, ongoing struggles experienced by inmates and staff in a high-security fictional prison called "Oz." If you weren't already convinced, watching this show will absolutely, definitely, no doubt make you not want to go to prison.
8. House of Cards.
House of Cards was a revolutionary show when it was released. It was the first Netflix series to have all episodes for a season released at once and introduced "binge-watching" to the world. It helped to have top-notch acting from series leads Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. The story of aggrieved and ambitious congressman Frank Underwood is a sordid fiction of seedy backroom deals in modern Washington politics that viewers can't help but believe is inspired by reality.
9. The Chappelle Show.
This relatively short-running series served up the most creative and hilarious comedy bits ever seen on television. Dave Chappelle managed to draw in a diverse audience of all races, despite the heavily black-infused humor.
No list of greatest television series is complete without Seinfeld. The "show about nothing" was sort of about something: Four thirty-somethings living in 1990s New York City and their various comedic dating exploits. Hilarity ensued.