If anyone had told me ten years ago that I would have a list of ten television shows I loved, I would have called him or her insane. I hate television. Or, I did at one point. TV has evolved. Sure, bad sitcoms and lame reality shows still strive to dumb down our civilization through the airwaves, but new, cleverly written shows and concepts have emerged and offer us options. I have compiled the below list of my favorites this year, and I should warn you that somehow two reality shows made my list. Don’t worry they don’t have rose ceremonies or islands or stupid fake drama or anyone named Snookie; they are actually good reality shows. Trust me. I also must confess that there are numerous popular shows I have never seen because I really do hate watching television in general, so feel free to recommend a show that in your opinion should be in a top ten list, unless of course, it involves rose ceremonies, islands, stupid fake drama, or anyone named Snookie.
10. “American Ninja Warrior” – For those of you who’ve never seen “American Ninja Warrior”, it’s an American version of the popular “Sasuke” Japanese show aired on G4 as “Ninja Warrior”, which included contestents from all over the world competing for the title of “Ninja Warrior.” To earn that title, one must successfully complete a series of stages through a ridiculously challenging obstacle course. The first stage is timed. An athlete has minutes to get through a series of obstacles that challenge upper body strength, endurance, and nimbleness. The following stages, while not timed, test almost predominantly upper body strength and coordination. Only a few people have EVER completed the course, and it is amazing to watch people attempt it. I preferred the original Japanese version because the announcers were so fantastic to hear. There’s something musical about the Japanese language when spoken with excitement. Back to the American version, though. Same obstacles, but just Americans get to compete. It’s an exciting show, fascinating to watch, and darnit, America, we gotta conquer this thing! (I’m looking at you, Brent Steffensen.)
9. “So You Think You Can Dance” (SYTYCD) – Yes, I am a fan, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I love dancing, and watching talented people move their bodies gracefully, powerfully, and skillfully. This was a series I began watching when it first aired because it seemed okay. I had no idea I would get completely sucked into the whole thing, but dance is a beautiful form of self-expression, and this show really serves it well. Complete with heartwarming, inspirational, or heartbreaking back-stories of contestents, SYTYCD delivers something more to standard reality television. My only real annoyance with the show occurs when the judges fake react to things. If someone falls or has a particularly awful routine, they lean back in their chairs, flail their arms, “pull faces”, and just look ridiculous. No one reacts that way to anything. Let’s not get stupid. There’s enough going on with this show that those kinds of forced and obviously faked reactions are unnecessary and detract from what this show should be about – Dancing.
8. “Dexter” – While the show has had its ups and downs, I’ve stuck by it. Some seasons have been phenomenal, while others more lackluster. I think this season has both great and annoying moments, but I have watched from the start and will continue to watch until the end because there is enough good to counter the bad. It’s kind of like supporting your team even during bad seasons. You stick it out because you expect things will turn back around and your team will show the side that originally made you a fan.
7. “American Horror Story” – With each new season, it’s a brand new bag, baby. This is such a clever idea, making tons of sense, I’m not sure why no one has come up with it previously. Instead of a new scenario every episode or one long continual story crossing over seasons, “American Horror Story” starts fresh every season, while keeping many of the same cast members taking on completely different roles. Having just one season allows the story to play out more smoothly and thoroughly without dragging it on for ages. While I enjoyed last season, this season, taking place in an asylum, is superior on many levels. Containing more intrigue, more interesting characters, odder twists, and a more expansive vision, American Horror Story Asylum is a dark, violent show with great possibility. Jessica Lange’s performance as Sister Jude is exceptional, and I eagerly anticipate the continuation of the season.
6. “Mad Men” – I resisted watching this show because by the time I had heard about it, it was well into the 5th season, and I was too busy to start on a new show. Eventually, enough people convinced me I needed to check it out so with the magic of Netflix, I caught up. My ultimate enjoyment surprised me given that the first episode didn’t impress me as much as I had anticipated. However, the complexity of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who is both a warm guy and a complete a-hole, intrigued me, and I find him a truly fascinating character. In fact, the writers have done a superb job in creating strong, complex, appealing characters, and I look forward to watching what will become of them.
5. “Game of Thrones” – A fan of historical-based dramas like “The Tudors” and “The Borgias”, and expecting “Game of Thrones” to be similar, I was taken aback by the inclusion of supernatural elements when I first started watching this show. I also found the first few episodes to feel too expositionary, although once things started going, they really started going, and consequently sucked me in. Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister is one of my favorite television characters, although my favorite storyline in season one was Daenerys Targaryen’s. Combining powerful characters, interesting stories, and surprising elements, this show is off to an amazing start. I am looking forward to the next season.
4. “The Walking Dead” – Yes, of course I’m a fan of “The Walking Dead”. This current season is phenomenal (even though we are on a mid-season break). If you don’t know anything about the show, you may, in fact, be a zombie, which is all the more reason to watch it since it’s in your genre. It is a character-driven show about survivors in a zombie apocalypse. More about the relationships than the zombies, this show is more fascinating than it sounds at face value.
3. “Archer” – Laughing is good for your health, and “Archer” is good medicine. Sterling Archer is a vain, idiotic spy who works for his mother’s agency, ISIS. The dynamic among the characters enhance the show, but clearly Archer is the star. Be warned though, inappropriate themes abound, proving that not all animated material is appropriate for all ages. If you have a warped sense of humor like I do, this is very funny stuff indeed. I laugh aloud at least a couple times every episode.
2. “Doctor Who” – I, like pretty much all Americans, was late discovering “Doctor Who”. How can the British hide something so great from us for so long? We helped them in a war for goodness sake! If you have not watched this show, I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is a show for most age groups, although some of the monsters may be a little too intense for young viewers (or sensitive older viewers – the weeping angels are terrifying). I discovered “Doctor Who” when BBC America first aired the new season with Doctor # 11, Matt Smith. He was my first doctor, and I didn’t understand why people had various reactions to him. I get it now. It’s so easy to attach to a particular doctor, and when the new doctor comes along, it’s an adjustment. David Tennant (doctor # 10) held that role for 5 years, and he’s so darned likable. Losing him surely was difficult for a lot of people, but Matt’s great; he’s different, but great. I have become a huge fan of the series, even though I’ve only seen Doctors 9 – 11, and I have every plan to watch from the beginning, but the show originally aired in 1963, so that’s a huge time investment. I hope to achieve this goal by the end of 2013. Check in next year folks!
1. Breaking Bad – At the point when people started recommending “Breaking Bad” to me, I resisted. Already watching way too much television, I desperately wanted to get back to socializing and watching more movies. Every time I turned around, a new person I met raved about the amazing “Breaking Bad” show. Complete strangers scolded me for not watching. (You don’t even know me!) Finally, I surrendered and watched the first episode of season one on Netflix. Immediately following that, I watched the next episode. By the time I turned off the computer that night to sleep, I had watched 4 episodes. Within a month, I had watched every available episode on Netflix, purchased enough episodes on Amazon to catch me up to the ones available On Demand, and I watched those, too! So, yes, to sum up, the show is brilliantly captivating. I love the evolution of the characters, and particularly how my opinion has evolved regarding them. The show is well-written, excellently acted, and I am genuinely worried for my favorite character this upcoming season. A show that grabs me and makes me care this much deserves to be seen, but it’ll have to wait, it’s slated to return to AMC in Summer of 2013. (I DON’T WANT TO WAIT!)
What shows didn’t make my list that you think should be among the best television has to offer? Let us know!