For some reason I've been having lots of conversations about television lately, and have found myself actually watching the ol' boob tube as well. As such, I just thought I'd list my top-ten favorite shows/series (including one miniseries) of all time, followed by an attempt to qualify the ranking:
10. The L Word (Showtime)
OK, OK...this one made this list for obvious reasons. But after living in an annoying "shadow" of a prominent stereotype of lesbians (softball), it was great to see a new image crammed down premium cable subscribers' throats. Even if the new stereotype is now getting stale.
9. Band of Brothers (HBO)
No, I didn't pick this just because it came out when I was an Army ROTC cadet and all of the other nerd-alert cadets (of which I was not one) were obsessed with it. [They were really, really obsessed with it]. I actually thought - even as the more-non-Republican person that I am - that it was a beautiful portrayal of the type of unit morale indicative of WWII and the Modern Era. A well-delivered, wonderfully-directed account of the soldiers and the war.
8. Friends (NBC)
Always hailed by sitcom experts as a look inside the post-Gen-X-but-not-quite-Gen-Y generation (you know, the one in between Reality Bites and Grey's Anatomy) -- the scripted peek inside what happened to My So Called Life's characters once they developed better social skills and moved to the Big Apple -- Friends (whether you hate it or not) DID change the scene for sitcom writing and innovated what has now become "formulaic" comedic timing...what you see in the likes of Scrubs to Grey's...something all of these lame-ass shows (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, What About Brian?, etc.) would never innovate. But even without higher thinking, I always found myself laughing hysterically at the really-for-real situations encountered by the affable Friends, and their realistically-portrayed attempts at getting out alive.
7. Twin Peaks (ABC)
I'm not going to lamely repeat all of the high-brow prose surrounding Lynch's incredible show; in fact, I'm not completely read up on it to this day just because I could really give two craps anyway. Alls I knows is that his style translated brilliantly to the small-screen, and every single scene -- even the comedic ones -- gave every last inch of my body the creeps. This show wins for eliciting the most physical reaction!
6. Disney's Adventures of the Gummy Bears (Disney Afternoon on ABC/NBC)
Dashing and daring, courageous and caring...this was one of those staple shows of my childhood. But aside from its catchy, motivational theme song that made me feel like I could do anything, it really impacted the way I thought about life and the power of teamwork. Overall, I gained a significant amount from the Disney Afternoon (which also included Chip-N-Dale Rescue Rangers, DuckTales, Goof Troop, and Darkwing Duck).
5. Six Feet Under (HBO)
Never has death been portrayed to me as such a meaningful and meaningless occurrence.
4. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
I remember watching The Daily Show with Craig Kilborne and thinking how it couldn't get any better than this. And then it did. Seriously, if Jon Stewart ran for president I would vote instantly. I rely on this show in so many ways, it's kind of embarrassing. Well, not really.
3. Jeopardy! (Sony Pictures)
The simplest and classiest show on TV. One of my life's dreams is to be a contestant.
Again -- please don't turn to this schmuck of a paragraph for anything "new" about Seinfeld's role in TV and pop history. But this show was instrumental in the development of my sense of humor, which is a crucial element of my personality (did you think I didn't know that?). Its contributions go beyond reminiscing with friends about "the one with...." to some serious borrowing of joke-delivery inflections, humorous concepts, and all the rest of it. And as a high-schooler, I was drawn to this foreign world of selfish adult life in Manhattan in a fascinating anthropological way: it was so foreign from my then-Wal-Mart-centric existence, and it armed me with the ability to take people I meet now like Elaine Benis with a grain of salt.
Absolutely Fabulous (BBC)
Edina Monsoon is one of my heroes (and so is Jennifer Saunders) because she just does whatever the hell she wants.
1. The Wire (HBO)
Here's how good The Wire is: I'm only finishing up Season 2 (Season 5 starts in January 2008), and it's my favorite show of all time. So I guess that could disqualify it if you're going to be all nit-picky. Which you probably are because you never cut me any slack anymore.
Maybe it gets really bad and I'll regret this decision. Maybe not. I don't really care, yo. The show's writing is, hands-down, the best I've ever experienced, thanks to writer/creator Edward Burns' real-life experience as a career BPD cop. It is so real -- so true -- that you literally want to move to Baltimore and at the same time never want to move to Baltimore. Nobody wins and nobody loses -- just like real life. There is not one single cheesy or obvious moment -- as of yet -- and there is not one instructional scene or dialogue to make you "get it." In watching the true reality of Baltimore play out, though, you just do.