Binge-watching is my thing. Surely it’s everyones thing, right?
For many years I thought I liked to spend hour after hour watching episode after episode of something because I am lazy – and that’s definitely part of it – but I recently watched a programme where a woman with a tumour on her spine talked about the importance of TV in coping with limited mobility.
It got me thinking. Whilst feeling emotionally attached to the lives on screen may seem sad to some, film and television play a huge role in the lives of the chronically ill, the elderly, the socially awkward, the physically challenged, and many others. The arts are important and I don’t feel like something has to be award winning, critically acclaimed or particularly profound for it to be enjoyable, supportive and meaningful. (This is me justifying my love of shit TV here. Can you tell?)
So I thought I’d kick off the new year by sharing my top 50 favourite TV series with you. It sounds like a lot, but this was surprisingly easy – which is either a massive achievement or a huge life failing on my part. Take it as you will. Some of these are what I call “good shit TV” whilst others are truly excellent; you can be the judge. In no particular order, here we go:
#1 The Sopranos. Follows family-man Tony Soprano managing his family and the mob. The final episode is one of the most frustrating finales I have ever watched.
#2 The Night Of. A Netflix original about a guy who’s arrested for committing murder. The evidence is clear, but he swears he didn’t do it. I was hooked in the first five minutes.
#3 Breaking Bad. Chemistry teacher turned crystal meth dealer. What’s not to love?
#4 The Fall. If only for Gillian Anderson. But also, a good BBC psychopath drama.
#5 Veronica Mars. If you love high school drama (who doesn’t?) then this is for you. School student turned private detective. Genius.
#6 Friday Night Lights. Again with the high school drama. American football, high school relationships, and the best power couple you’ll ever see on screen.
#7 Freaks and Geeks. Did I mention I love high school drama? This is all about the outcasts at an American high school, and the difficulty that is your teenage years.
#8 The Following. It’s not that great, but it’s got Kevin Bacon in (that’s a good thing guys) and follows FBI agents trying to catch a serial killer. It’s good shit TV, trust me.
#9 House of Cards. Another Netflix original. Great cast and perfect if you suspect every politician is completely corrupt, as I do.
#10 Pretty Little Liars. I got through seven series of this. It’s terrible and ridiculous (but completely addictive) and follows four high school girls looking for their friend’s killer.
#11 Greys Anatomy. Obviously. Because it’s Greys, and Greys is brilliant.
#12 The Wire. It took a while for me to get in to this but once I did, oh my. Five intense series following the police and drug scene in Baltimore.
#13 Arrested Development. Such brilliant comedy. This series follows the dysfunctional Bluth family and brings with it some incredible one-liners.
#14 Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes is obviously a classic, but with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman it is so very good.
#15 Friends. It never gets old.
#16 Sex and the City. Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie got me through my university days.
#17 Orphan Black. Clones. And some great dry humour.
#18 Girls. The modern day Sex and the City but, some would argue, better.
#19 The Walking Dead. Zombies. Series 1-3 are great, but I gave up after that. There’s only so much running from zombies, killing zombies, hiding from zombies I can do.
#20 Fargo. I preferred the film, but still worth a watch.
#21 Dexter. Serial killer who only kills bad guys. It’s good shit TV except for the final episode which is RUBBISH.
#22 The Killing. Danish series following a murder case day-by-day. They made an American version as well, which is also good. Watch the Danish one first though.
#23 The Americans. Oh I absolutely adore this. KGB spies fitting in to American society.
#24 Mad Men. One of the best. Follows the lives of advertising executives in the 1950s and 60s. Sustained its brilliance for an entire seven series.
#25 The Shield. Corrupt cops running the strike team in LAPD. Horrible and excellent.
#26 The Office. Brilliant British comedy with a good little love story to boot.
#27 The Missing. Follows the investigation of a child’s abduction. It’s good.
#28 Veep. Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President of America. Genius.
#29 Peaky Blinders. Gangster series set in Birmingham in the 1920s. Gross and brilliant.
#30 Happy Valley. British crime drama set in Yorkshire. Gritty, excellent and not at all happy.
#31 Broadchurch. Olivia Coleman and David Tennant, two of my favourites. Police drama about the investigation of the murder of a young boy.
#32 Cold Feet. This will forever be one of my absolute favourites. If Desert Island Discs was about television, this would be one of mine.
#33 Jessica Jones. Comic book series, and the best one I’ve seen in a while.
#34 Stranger Things. Another Netflix original starring Winona Ryder, set in the 1980s and based on strange things that start happening when Winona’s son goes missing.
#35 Community. American comedy about an unlikely group of friends at a community college. Funny funny funny.
#36 The West Wing. Politics, dry comedy, Allison Janney and Rob Lowe. Thumbs up.
37 #The Returned. Set in a small town where people who previously died in a coach crash return after many years have passed.
#38 Parks and Recreation. I adore Amy Poehler and I adore this comedy series. Felt like I’d lost my friends when it ended, but that’s because I’m a bit sad.
#39 Line of Duty. A BBC police drama about the department that investigates corrupt officers.
#40 The IT Crowd. Three hilarious people who make up the IT department, based in the dark basement of the office block. Brilliant funny brilliant
#41 The Hour. The BBC launching a new cultural affairs programme in the 1950s. Strong cast, strong story line.
#42 Lost. Many people felt the Lost writers’ had lost their way by the end of series two but I remained loyal and loved it from beginning to end.
#43 W1A. Set at the BBC headquarters and follows a team who have been put together to redefine the values of the BBC. Hilarious – especially if you work in an office.
#44 Better Call Saul. A spin-off of Breaking Bad and so much better than I ever expected. I am wary of spin-offs but this was so worth it.
#45 Orange is the New Black. Set in a female prison and centered around a slightly annoying prisoner, Piper. But the other inmates make up for her frustrating qualities.
#46 Love Hate. Gruesome, gritty series about gang life in Ireland. Not one for the faint-hearted.
#47 Ally McBeal. Quirky series from the 90s about a group of unconventional lawyers. Made me fall in love with Barry White and yearn for unisex toilets to dance in.
#48 iZombie. A twenty-something girl is turned in to a zombie, gets a job at a morgue to secretly eat brains, but ends up ‘seeing’ how murder victims are killed. Outstanding!
#49 Search Party. A group of self-absorbed twenty-somethings start looking into the disappearance of someone they loosely knew at college. I like it a lot.
#50 The OA. Another Netflix original and the latest must-see series. Gripping and emotional and beautiful throughout. One of the best on this list.
*Takes a bow*
Pin this for later…