Last week, I presented the first half of my top ten television series of all time. This week, I will be highlighting numbers 5 through 1 on my list. As I said before, this is my personal opinion only. First, I will present some honorable mentions.
- Game of Thrones
- Mad Men
- The Wire
Now, without further ado, here are what I consider to be the five best television series ever made.
5. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is a particularly unique entrant on this list. Firstly, I would argue that it is far and away the greatest spinoff in television history. Virtually every other spinoff I have ever seen has been frankly insulting to the original show from which it was spawned. However, SVU outshines the original Law and Order in ways that can’t be understated. The cast, the stories, the character development, everything about SVU is magnificent. The iconic status that this show has reached can be demonstrated very simply. Approach nearly anyone (particularly people ages 13-30) who watches television regularly and say the words “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous,” and there is an astronomical chance that they will be able to recite the remainder of the show’s introduction flawlessly. I generally find myself drawn more toward shows focusing on the other side of the law, but SVU is just so good that it has to be mentioned on this list. Even through all of the cast changes over the years, SVU is still the greatest police drama ever made and is more than deserving of a place on this list.
I don’t want to hear about The Office. I don’t want to hear about Seinfeld. I don’t want to hear about Arrested Development. Friends is the greatest comedy series ever made. The story of six friends in their mid to late 20’s trying to find their way in life in New York City is both compelling and hilarious. I think, to some extent, that every group of friends can relate to at least one of the show’s characters, as well as the group as a whole. That sense of relatability is part of what makes Friends so great. The show premiered 24 years ago and is arguably just as iconic now as it was back in 1994. Although there are a few storylines that do not age particularly well, Friends has maintained its popularity in ways that no other TV show ever has. It will continue to bring laughs and joy to more and more generations to come.
3. The Sopranos
Before I start, I must confess that I have not watches all of The Sopranos like I have all of the other shows on this list. However, I am currently on the 4th season and I can say, with absolute certainty, that it is deserving of at least a top 3 spot. The impact of The Sopranos on television is unparalleled, in the sense that it started the popularity surge in the anti-hero. Tony Soprano is the original Walter White, Don Draper, Dexter Morgan, etc. What I love most about the ensemble of characters in the show are their complexities. Not a single character on this show is one-dimensional. They all have their own agendas, their own shortcomings, and their own sense of their own humanity. The Sopranos doesn’t glamorize mob life. Instead, it presents all sides of it: the violence, the money, the delicate balance between the Mafia family and the family at home. Everything about this show is great. I already know how it ends and I can definitively say that it is both terrible and brilliant. Watch the show and you will understand. It really is a must see.
2. The West Wing
I spent more time than I care to admit deciding if The West Wing was going to be number one or number two. Ultimately, it just barely lost out. That does not, however, take anything away from the show’s greatness. As far as political dramas go, it will never get any better. The West Wing is hands down the best written television series of all time. The witty and genuine dialogue goes unmatched in the world of TV. The show is driven by the strong performances of both the main and secondary cast. The show’s driving plot lines center on real world issues and the people trying to solve these issues, making the show that much more compelling. For some reason, I have found that a lot of people have never seen this masterpiece of a show. I urge anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to find the time and watch it. You absolutely will not regret it.
1. Sons of Anarchy
If Tony Soprano was the original anti-hero, then Jax Teller is the ultimate anti-hero. The son of the founder of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Jax Teller is forced to balance out his role as a leader of a violent motorcycle gang with his role as a new father. The story of Sons of Anarchy draws heavy inspiration from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The show does an outstanding job of using subtle foreshadowing mixed with great, intense dialogue and heavy amounts of violence to create a story unlike any other ever put to television. The ending of Sons is what I consider the single most artistically beautiful ending to a television show ever. The deeps symbolism is the kind of thing someone like me, who loves to look for the deeper meaning in everything, lives for. Simply put, Sons of Anarchy is the greatest television series of all time.
Thanks for reading! If you haven’t read part one of the series yet, check it out here.
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