For this week’s #thereisnospoonfriday, I reached out to my brother for inspiration. I have been fortunate enough to be spending the week in his beautiful vacation home in Naples, FL. Being my brother, of course we engaged in a lot of spirited debates over the week about everything sports and pop culture. My love for these “top 5” lists come from my brothers and I arguments about these topics over the years. One argument that has continued for years is around the Top 5 TV shows of all time. My brother believes you cannot include cable shows in this list, but I completely disagree. My list includes anything seen on the small screen – cable or network TV. Ready?
1. The Sopranos – To me, the standard by which all other TV shows are measured – before and after their TV run. Yes – I know the last couple of seasons were not as strong as the first 4, but the entire body of work was arguably equal to or better than some of the greatest movies ever made. The ultimate anti-hero, we both loved and hated Tony Soprano. The dynamic of running a mob family and his own family gave the show a new perspective on the mafia genre, and all of the supporting characters were incredibly fleshed out and compelling. My favorite character: Christopher. His story arc from up and coming prodigy to drugged out liability to the family was amazing – but all the while through his character was always one I loved to see every week.
2. Seinfeld – the ultimate comedy classic. The show about “nothing” – and truly it was. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer were the core of a show that literally had no major theme except their interactions with and perceptions of the everyday mundane. And it was hysterical EVERY time. From the classic Chinese restaurant episode to my favorite “The Bet” episode (master of my domain!) there was rarely – if ever – a miss (except the finale – still thought that one was not up to par). So many of their classic dialogue has made its way into our everyday language and its impact is beyond reproach. Favorite Character: George. Yes – he is short and bald like this author, but his neurosis was the best and the “it’s not a lie if you believe it” mentality was classic.
3. The Simpsons – One of the longest running shows in history, and with good reason. Yes – I too think the most recent seasons can’t hold a candle to seasons 2 – 14, but I disagree that they aren’t good anymore. They just can’t compare to those early seasons which were some of the best TV ever made. Bart was originally the focus, but when Homer J Simpson became the center of the show is when it really hit its stride. Satire at its finest and “The Family Guy” before “The Family Guy” – you really have to pay attention every episode to get all the great references. Favorite Character: Nelson. The bully with the catchphrase “Ha Ha!”.
4. Breaking Bad – My second favorite TV drama of all time behind The Sopranos. The journey of Walter White from High school teacher to Drug Kingpin and Criminal Mastermind Heisenberg was some of the finest TV ever made. The acting was perhaps some of the best I have ever seen, and all of the characters were really well played and not one dimensional. Jesse with his demons and yet a heart to math, Saul the creep yet savvy attorney, Mike the cool criminal, I could go on and on. Bonus point for the best finale I have ever seen on TV for any show. Favorite Character: Gus. The cool, detached criminal mastermind. I don’t think he ever smiled. Not even once.
5. The Twilight Zone – while the show actually aired long before I was born, I was fortunate enough to see them in reruns over the years. These are mini movies told within the framework of the show itself – but all different and all really creepy. From the one with the boy who could imagine anything (and create it in our world) to the goblin on the plane only one passenger could see, these were legitimately scary and weird vignettes never before seen or matched since on TV. Favorite Character: None – because there were no recurring characters.
Honorable Mentions: Cheers, Star Trek, Star Trek The Next Generation, Happy Days, Miami Vice, Welcome Back Kotter, The Superfriends, Friends, Orange is The New Black and of course – Game of Thrones (my favorite show on TV right now).
Hope you enjoyed the read and leave me your Top 5 TV shows in the comments section. Enjoy your weekend and remember – there is no spoon.