So because a grand total of one person (I see and love you, Maddy) said she wanted to see this, I’m going to regale you all with another personal ‘Top 10’ list. To be honest, I love lists and I’ll probably end up making a bunch of these because they’re therapeutic and I really enjoy writing them and telling you all about the things I love. Writing about things that I’m passionate about inspire me to write more, and that’s always a good sign.
That means you lucky few readers of mine are going to be treated to a comprehensive round-up of my 10 favourite television shows ever. Now I can’t remember if I mentioned this in my film list (which you can check out here) but this is entirely subjective. I’m not saying every show on this list is a masterpiece (even though they all kind of are in one way or another) they’re just my ten favourite shows that I adore and can revisit again and again without getting bored. Or, better yet, ones that I will frequently revisit in favour of other shows. It’s the same with movies; there’s a reason I seem to spend all of my free time watching movies and TV shows and I’ve barely seen anything.
Before I start rambling even more about my TV-watching habits, I’m going to get on with the list. Again, I will be going alphabetically, even though I do have a relative order. (If you care to take a guess at my Top 3, or even the entire order, leave a comment or tweet me about it).
Oh, by the way, there might be some small spoilers for different shows so read with caution. I’m going to try my best to keep these spoiler-free, but I might lose track of what I’m talking about and slip up.
The Americans (2013-2018)
I guess I’ll start with my most recent addition to this list.
I remember watching the first three episodes of The Americans years ago and thinking it was utterly amazing. Even those first three episodes had me hooked.
And then…I forgot all about it.
Shameful, right? You might be asking how I could forget about it if it’s so good. Nowadays, I ask myself that same question.
Because in June 2018, I binged all six seasons of The Americans and immediately wanted to start from the beginning. In February 2019, I binged two seasons in a week to celebrate finishing my dissertation. And then uni and other shows/movies got in the way and I had to put it on the back burner.
Enough preamble. The Americans is one of the finest TV shows ever made for so many reasons that I’m very passionate about. Anybody who’s ever talked about TV with me will know that I’m unlikely to shut up about it unless I’m stopped. Because for something so incredible, it’s still “underrated”. I hate using that word, but compared to lesser shows that have huge followings, The Americans has been paid dust. Its last season found it winning some Emmys and it’s gotten intense critical love throughout its entire tenure. So what’s the problem?
Unless I look for it, I barely see anybody actually talking about it.
Now I know that a Cold War-era spy drama isn’t everybody’s thing, I get that. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a showcase of immensely brilliant characters, terrific writing throughout the entire run, acting that’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and a carefully plotted series of events that just gets better with every season. It explores a truly unique family dynamic and shows the limits of tolerance where our loved ones are concerned. What happens when the ones you love go against your beliefs? Do you roll over, or do you fight?
The Americans does a lot of things right, but the casting might just be its strongest asset. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are beyond perfect in the lead roles. So perfect at playing opposite each other that they got together and had a child together. And I swear, because Hollywood loves tearing apart celebrity couples, if they EVER break up I will be rampaging. Rhys manages to find the humanity in almost every situation, no matter how outlandish and irregular. Russell somehow manages to balance the aloof, devoted spy with the doting, compassionate mother in a way that requires some serious acting chops. She certainly has them, as does the rest of the supporting cast.
Noah Emmerich is flawlessly cast as Stan Beeman, the Jennings’ next door neighbour…oh yeah and he’s an FBI agent. As if posing as nice, normal travel agents in America wasn’t hard enough, Philip and Elizabeth have to deal with that. Holly Taylor is such a little breakthrough in the role of Paige Jennings, the daughter of the family who grows into herself so beautifully as a young woman and it might be one of the best story arcs for a child that I’ve seen. Special mention to Alison Wright, who plays Martha Hanson so so amazingly. Anybody who even makes you reconsider who the main characters are and how they’re acting deserves every award. And where would any of us be without the marvellous Margo Martindale? She shows up Claudia and almost steals the whole thing. She’s confident, abrasive, yet patient and very intelligent. The entire cast actually delivers masterclass performances.
That’s also a testament to the quality of the writing involved. Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields deliver consistently fantastic episode quality that just leaves you hanging for the next episode. The character writing is so rich and so satisfying that it never really goes the way you think it’s going to. With standout episodes like “START”, “Rififi”, “Dyatkovo”, and “The Great Patriotic War”, there is an embarrassment of riches in the writing archives of The Americans.
And, DEFINITELY no spoilers for this and avoid them if you can, but the way the show ends is utterly perfect.
Big Little Lies (2017-present)
Ah, Big Little Lies. The lil miniseries that owns my entire ass, so much so that I’ve watched it through about five times now. And the thing is that I pick up new moments to love each other. That’s so rare for me with TV, usually I invest myself so wholly that I see everything the first time around. But series director Jean-Marc Vallée manages to weave something so spectacular that his directorial details are abundant and oh so special.
Big Little Lies is pretty simple conceptually: a group of mothers raising their children in a small area where they thrive on gossip and their intertwined lives cause drama and tragedy. Sounds too simple, right? That could easily be the summary for Desperate Housewives (another banger of a show). But what sets Big Little Lies apart…well, there are a lot of things about it that make it unique.
I’ve got to get it out of the way because I’m dying to talk about it! The cast! Reese Witherspoon leads us in this charge, providing her natural charisma to really embellish the role that’s a pretty complicated one but it seems quite superficial on the surface. Witherspoon embodies this character, and plays her with so much respect and pathos that she’s incredibly easy to both relate to and root for, even when she’s messing up left, right, and centre. Madeline Martha McKenzie is a big, lovable mess.
Nicole Kidman is absolutely absurdly mind-blowing in this role as Celeste Wright. She takes her character to levels that don’t appear on the page in such an intense way that sometimes it’s very hard to watch. Her impossibly brilliant screen presence really jumps out here, she’s so compelling and interesting to watch that you really do miss her absences when she’s not around. Her vulnerability and strength are ever-present, always. She’s never one or the other, because Celeste isn’t always just one thing. And that’s really tricky acting work that Kidman really sinks her teeth into and kills it. No wonder she won every award under the sun for that role.
Shailene Woodley deserves so much credit for her role as Jane Chapman that other actors are getting, too. I think Woodley might have the hardest job to really sell her character. She’s the enigma of the group, the one that we’re slowly learning about. She’s the audience’s perspective, really, since she’s new to town and sort of the catalyst of the whole thing along with her adorable son, Ziggy. Jane is dealing with a lot: trying to build a new, better life for her son. Dealing with her past trauma. Dealing with the suspicions and accusations of the other parents. And just trying to be happy. Woodley is really quite charming as Jane. She’s impossibly strong, protective, and kind. But she also bottles up her emotions, only to let them explode at moments when they perhaps shouldn’t. And I, without spoilers, want to highlight a key moment in the series. In the final episode, a revelation is put forth without dialogue. We only have the editing (I’ll get to that) and Woodley’s facial expression to read it off and she sells the hell out of this one moment. Her eyes, her mouth, her whole body works better than a line of dialogue and that’s incredibly tough for an actor.
I’m aware I’m rambling so I’ll praise the other actors in this little paragraph. Laura Dern as Renata “I SAID THANK YOUUUUU” Klein, Zoe Kravitz as the delightful Bonnie Carlson, Alexander Skarsgard in a brutal role as Perry Wright, and Adam Scott as Madeline’s husband Ed McKenzie. They all shine and they’re absolutely perfect.
I want to shout out the editing for a second, because it’s absolutely genius. The recurring use of snapshot images to demonstrate the turbulence of the character’s mentalities was an amazing touch, particularly in the sequences with Jane running. I want to talk about this more, but I’m aware that everything I could say can be summed up much better in a video essay that I saw that is exceptional, so you should watch that if you’re interested.
I love how this series explores its female characters, how they’re at odds but there’s also an underlying respect there. They’re not fighting over men, they’re not tearing each other down for no reason, there’s conflict there but its reasonable. The writing affords them those opportunities and it’s brilliant. The finale is one of the best episodes of TV I’ve ever seen.
I don’t think it’s possible for me to love this show more. I’m very much looking forward to Season 2. Expect a review when it’s all done!
Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Yes, of course this is on here. Even if it’s more of an objective pick than a subjective one, it deserves a place on every TV list ever made.
Because Breaking Bad is quite possibly the best show ever made. The places is goes to, the way it gets there, it’s something absolutely perfect and I’m so glad it exists.
When you talk about TV performances, you can not not mention Bryan Cranston as Walter White. It’s transcendental. Then, he was an actor playing out of type, having been known for his work on the eccentric comedy Malcolm in the Middle. Creator Vince Gilligan took a chance on him and boy did it work. Not only opening the door for Bryan Cranston to do more great dramatic work, he created one of the finest characters in the dramatic canon, television or otherwise. Walter White is almost Shakespearean in his conceit; larger than life and impossibly complex. He’s ambitious and conniving, hyper-intelligent, and yet has this underlying layer of compassion that shines through every now and then. That comes in and out of play throughout the seasons, but it’s there. Walter White’s character arc is highlighted in many example pieces about how to write them for television and rightly so. It’s not just “He starts in one place and ends up in another” it’s the journey that Vince Gilligan plots out for him. It’s exciting, dangerous, and unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Walter White is never a stereotypical anti-hero, he weaves in and out of the viewer’s sympathies at any given time and you’re never quite sure how you feel about him. Well, maybe sometimes.
Especially when he’s being mean to everyone’s lil problematic fave, Jesse Pinkman.
Aaron Paul came out of nowhere and bounced into the role of Jesse Pinkman and created a legacy. Whenever I talk to people about their favourite Breaking Bad characters, Jesse more than likely always comes up. Hank and Saul get mentions too, but Jesse dominates the conversation. Jesse also has a very complicated characterisation and arc, but he has tons more likability than Walter which helps audiences relate to the show more. Whenever Walt goes into a big chemistry lecture, Jesse is there to translate, to be the audience’s guide through the issues of immorality the show provides. We see some horrible things happen on this show, and Jesse provides grounding and solidarity to us, even if he does some not-so-nice things himself. Paul’s performance as Jesse is one-of-a-kind; boisterous and extravagant but has a softer side that’s incredible to witness, particularly around children.
Although it’s not just the central two characters that shine. Skyler, Hank, Marie, Saul, Gus, Jane, Todd, I could go on. Every character that has something to do leaves their mark on the show and on the viewer. It’s because the writing is so smart, and so sharp that the characters are never quite black and white and so it makes you think. It’s part of what the show is about: the grey area of humanity, the lengths people go for the things that they care about, the very nature of human behaviour at its core.
Breaking Bad contains some of the best episode of TV to exist, notably “Ozymandias”, “Face Off”, “Full Measure”, “Peekaboo”, “Crawl Space” and so many more. I’m a big fan of the episode “Fly” which is perhaps the most divisive episode amongst fans. I think it’s a genius piece of writing while others aren’t such a fan of its “bottle-episode” feel. But I think most of us can be in agreement that “Ozymandias” is one of if not the greatest television achievement of all time.
The genius of Breaking bad definitely lies in several of its aspects, and they all come together to create some historic, something that will have a long legacy as the peak of television. It swept Emmys for a reason, and it probably even deserved more than it won.
And, once again, the ending. P E R F E C T.
Strangely, this is a lot like The Americans in my relationship with it.
I watched the first 13 episodes in a row whilst hungover one morning with some friends, and then forgot about it for years. I had enjoyed those episodes immensely, but for some stupid reason I didn’t continue with it. And then, once again, in June 2018 I binged all six seasons in a very short space of time and became absolutely obsessed with it. Dan Harmon created something great with this show, because it’s really about what the title suggests: characters who are completely different, and often diametrically opposed, coming together to realise what they all have in common and becoming a community of people who are peers and friends despite their differences. And they don’t always like each other all the time, in fact most episodes include some sort of character dispute which is resolved when they remember the fact that they are a community.
The characters are absolutely my favourite things about this show. Jeff, Annie, Britta, Abed, Troy, Shirley, and Pierce were like my family while I binged the show and continue to be even now that I’m done. I see something of myself in all of those characters, even ones I don’t seem to share any resemblances with. The show taught me so much about myself in how the characters are written. In a lot of comedies, the writing focuses more on jokes than character development. Even some of my favourite shows do this, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But comedies and dramas alike work best when the characters are constantly learning, changing, and developing into better or worse versions of themselves. Now, Community made have had some missteps in that department, but overall it’s very well done. They keep the ‘stereotypes’ the characters going forward but tweak them with their new life lessons and improved character traits and it’s so clearly done in the writing aspect of it.
It’s also wholly original. Some of the episodes are structured and directed in such a way that you know it’s an episode of Community. There’s animation, a stop-motion Christmas episode, a musical episode, and other absolutely mad episode conceits that make the show completely unique.
It’s constant meta-humour is always a big draw for me, playing on things like television tropes that are frequently mentioned and subverted, usually by Abed, the show’s resident TV enthusiast. The show’s popular tagline “Six seasons and a movie!” is just one example of how the show recognises that it’s a TV Show and doesn’t try to be too naturalistic or straight-laced. If the audience can suspend their disbelief for twenty minutes an episode, that’s completely fine.
Even though the show definitely went a little bit downhill after Harmon’s departure as show runner in Season 4, it still entertained me. Yes, the writing wasn’t as firmly rooted in its originality and character as it was when Harmon was in charge, but the characters do a lot of the leg work here anyway. The cast changes later on in the series are noticeable and you feel the absence of the ones that are no longer there but, again, they’re still highly entertaining.
With standout episodes like “Remedial Chaos Theory”, “Modern Warfare”, “Cooperative Calligraphy”, and “A Fistful of Paintballs”, Community provided fans with something both entertaining and relevant without feeling preachy. The show speaks for itself, NBC gave it an indefinite hiatus in Season 3, and it ended up lasting for three more seasons off fan support and dedication alone.
It doesn’t hurt my enjoyment of it that Community consistently makes fun jokes about my next pick, either. The pop-culture references are such a big part of the show and they make me laugh pretty much every time.
Oh, we all knew this was coming.
And how could it not? This is one of the only shows that I’ve been with since its beginning. I watched the very first day it premiered and then watched the series finale on the day it premiered, and what a damn journey it was.
Glee absolutely came at the right time for me. I was 12 years old, starting high school, and didn’t know a single thing about the person I was. Glee definitely helped me with that. Featuring a huge ensemble of characters of every classification you can think of, Glee stands as a pillar of my adolescence, undoubtedly playing a part in the person I am today – even if the only reason is because I now know all the words to Young MC’s “Bust a Move” which now that I think about it isn’t totally helpful in everyday life.
The show focuses on a, you guessed it, Glee Club and the performers in it, all moving through high school at different places on the social ladder. They’re trying to fit in, finding something they love, while dealing with the pressures of being a teenager. It’s all very been-there-done-that, but the energy of the show and the dynamism with which Ryan Murphy develops its opening seasons sets it apart from everything else. Musical television shows don’t come along every day, especially not one with positive messages and a diverse cast of characters. That’s why I appreciated it. Like with Community, I saw something of myself in most of the characters, something I related to which is nice to have when you’re growing up. I often wonder what shows this generation of teenagers has to relate to. Whatever they are, I know they won’t have the same impact as Glee. Mainly because Glee was a journey I both loved and also never want to go on again.
Before I talk about the Dark Times, I want to shout out the characters. Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Quinn, Santana, Will, Sam, Puck, Tina, Artie, Mike, Mercedes, Blaine, and of course Sue Sylvester, just to new a few. And there are more, tons more actually. That’s new even counting the New New Directions. They all provided something different to the show, whether denouncing a stereotype or showing that someone can be more than what they’re painted as in high school. As Kurt, perhaps mathematically incorrectly, says in late Season 1: “I’m not a box. There are more than four sides to me.” Despite an actual box having six sides, I get what he meant. People think they know you based on a variety of factors; the way you dress, what you like, who you like, what music you listen to, who your family or friends are, stuff like that. But everyone has individuality, everyone is a complete different person than the person next to them, even if interests are similar. And that’s a big part of what Glee represented and it’s a big part of why I attached to it so much.
And yes, it definitely went downhill. Season 4 just managed to come out okay but Seasons 5 and 6 were not good. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them with my whole-ass heart, but I recognise that the writing is not good. The actors are still doing their best but the writing and the continuity, and the plot points are just bad. And it’s such a shame because the highs that Glee had were very high and its lows were extremely low. And that’s not even counting the external mess with the fandom of the show and behind the scenes drama. I’m going a spoil a future blog post: maybe later this week I’m going to be writing a lot more about Glee to commemorate its tenth (WHAT) anniversary and go into more detail about a lot of the things I’ve been talking about. So I’ll save the juicy stuff for that post.
I’ll just leave you with some standout episodes of mine: “Duets”, “Born This Way”, “Dance With Somebody”, “Laryngitis”, “Wheels”, and “Bash”.
I’m guessing if you haven’t watched Glee by now, it’s either not your thing or you tried watching it and didn’t enjoy it. To each their own, but to anyone who didn’t watch its entire run while it aired, you done missed out.
Grey’s Anatomy (2005-present)
Oh, Shona Rhimes, please end my suffering.
It’s been 15 going on 16 seasons and I think it’s time to stop, don’t you? Even though it’s still watchable, perhaps enough is enough.
It sounds like I hate this show when in fact it’s the complete opposite. Like with most of the others, I started quite late into the show’s run, binging 9 seasons and starting weekly at season 10. It was a lot, but it was so worth it. So much so that a few years later my mum wanted to watch and we ended up watching 13 seasons in about a month, it was seriously crazy.
I have serious respect for those who have been with Grey’s since the beginning. 24-ish episode a season for fifteen years is a lot of content. It’s easy to remain invested in the show as the later seasons are a very easy watch, but it can be a struggle as with any show.
Enough complaining, now I’m going to talk about why I actually love it.
The first…6 seasons or so were some of the best on television. The drama was intense, the stakes incredibly high, and the quality was exceptional. The original cast really shone and, even though most of them no longer remain on the show, their characters and legacies will always be remembered for what they started. A big shout out needs to go to Ellen Pompeo, who was been the show’s centre throughout, having something crazy to do each season while Meredith Grey was put through the ringer dramatically. Other performance standouts go to Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson, , TR Knight, Chyler Leigh, and Jessica Capshaw, who are my personal standouts and heroes of this series. They, in particular, took their characters from the page and imbued them with life, charisma, and an indescribable individuality which would give the cast of Glee a run for their money.
Of course, every actor on the show has put in some valuable work, which is especially great because of just how many character there have been and how many different cast changes and story changes there have been within the run. Some characters saw their parts cut down considerably from one season to the next, some saw their characters featured in more intense storylines as they built up a relationship with the fans and their characters became more beloved.
There all throughout this process was the one and only Shonda Rhimes, who has become synonymous with the word ‘show-runner’ in the best way. The fact that Grey’s is still on air and still actually pretty good is a testament to her strengths as a developer. Of course, the staff writers, directors, actors, and everybody has a big hand in making that a reality. But Shonda, as well as with her other shows, has revolutionised what it means to be equal in a television show. The diversity on her shows is always commendable and she’s always making strides to be inclusive of storylines that wouldn’t be told on another show.
And the freshness of the show still stands today, it’s something that continues to push boundaries, breaking records and milestones, and still becoming one of the most entertaining shows to air on television in their respective seasons.
Though while all of this is true, I think the show needs to start to wind down soon. I’m going to miss it like crazy, but it’s about time. Go out in a blaze of glory, Grey’s, rather than overstaying your welcome and becoming a chore to watch rather than a joy.
The Leftovers (2014-2017)
As soon as the opening of the Pilot episode happened, I knew that I was bound to love The Leftovers.
An interesting almost dystopian concept that explored characters? With Justin Theroux playing a police officer? Count me IN.
A lot of similar concepts spend too much time trying to explain away the mystery at hand, but The Leftovers explores what the title suggests. After an enigmatic event called ‘The Departure’ when 2% of the world’s population disappears randomly with no explanation, those left have to deal with what’s been left behind in their lives. Families are torn apart, relationships ruined, but everyone has to find a way to keep moving forward.
I want to start by saying that this is perhaps the smartest show I’ve ever seen. The way that Damon Lindelof and the other writers plot this show is incredible. They introduce multiple mystery threads and don’t bother trying to explain them, but you’re so consumed with the brilliant characters at play that you don’t really want them to, as that would take time away from exploring these interesting people at the centre of the narrative.
So let’s talk about them.
Justin Theroux plays the protagonist Kevin Garvey, one of the most interesting characters in TV history, and he delivers the best performance of his career consistently for three seasons. I didn’t even know that he had that in him. If you want a reason to watch this show and I haven’t already persuaded you, look for Justin Theroux in sweatpants and you should be convinced.
The unstoppable Carrie Coon (AKA my mother) gives my favourite television performance ever as Nora Durst, the feisty but troubled woman who loses her entire family in the departure. She is indescribable and her performances in every episode deserved Emmys, particularly the finale in which she delivers a showstopping monologue that also should have won the show an Emmy for writing. I don’t know what Emmy voters were thinking but it remains one of the biggest snubs EVER.
If you know Lindelof’s work, you know that getting answers to your big questions won’t be easy, you just have to trust that he knows what he’s doing. Because he does, he takes you along for the ride and gives you some of the best television concepts and moments ever.
Episodes like “The Book of Nora”, “International Assassin”, “Guest”, and “I Live Here Now” are my standouts, but they’re honestly all great.
I don’t want to say much more about the show for fear of spoiling it, and this is an adventure you’re best going into blind.
W A T C H T H E L E F T O V E R S !
Mr Robot (2014-present)
Mr Robot is a brilliant show in many aspects, and it’s one that I became obsessed with very slowly. The first few episodes I enjoyed but by the end of Season 1 I was hooked. I watched them about three times each just to prepare for Season 2 (which I will defend until my dying day). The writing is just so slick and addictive that I always want to be watching it.
The writing is probably the centrepiece of the show. It’s a cool concept, yet not a unique one. It’s the way it’s told that sets it apart from the others. The cinematography is famous for its insights into storytelling. I wrote a whole uni essay once about the storytelling in this show, and it was fun researching all the ways the DP, writer/director Sam Esmail, the cast, and the rest of the crew tried to enhance the story through craft. It’s always a good sign when everybody working on the show is on the same level with what they want to achieve. There’s one particular piece of trivia that excites me about the show but it’s a big spoiler so I can’t talk about it. Not sure why I mentioned it, I’m just excited to be writing about this show again.
Rami Malek (in an Emmy-winning turn) plays Elliot Alderson, a troubled hacker who is drawn into an elusive, enigmatic group of hackers who call themselves ‘f society’. The story unravels from there, making grand statements about the state of the world and it’s something that couldn’t feel more timely, especially now in the world we live in. Rami Malek is at his best here, his character work and consistency is a joy to watch, plus his raspy voice is perfect for the voiceovers he narrates. It really works together to create a wonderful character.
I want to take a second to talk about how much of a genius Sam Esmail is. He’s the mastermind behind this whole thing and it’s his genius mind that developed such a cleverly-written and plotted show. The ‘twists’ are well-thought out and planned, and they come at the right times and catch the viewer off guard. Esmail really knows how to work with the format and his storytelling, which is one of the big things I love it. I love not knowing what to expect, not being able to pinpoint where the narrative is going – I have so many theories and they’re all incorrect. It always zigs when I think it’s going to zag and that’s what I adore. Being kept on my toes for ten episodes a season and still being provided with satisfying storytelling.
Along with great writing, Mr Robot also uses fun camerawork and editing to make unique episode, particularly one in Season 3 that has one of the best executions (suddenly I want to watch it again). It’s that kind of show, where you can be utterly confused when you finish an episode but you just want to watch it again because you’ve been so thoroughly entertained and serviced by the episode you’ve just seen. It’s that kind of magic show that only comes along every once in a while.
Standout episodes include “eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00”, “eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v”, “eps3.5_killpr0cess.inc” which are just mind-blowing episodes in a series full of wonderful achievements in television.
Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
I couldn’t make a list of favourite things without including this wonderful piece of television.
Parks and Rec has the most individual spirit out of any show on this list. It might have spawned from The Office’s coattails but it couldn’t feel more independent. From its short, albeit underwhelming six-episode first season to its astonishing final season, Parks and Rec created something special in its time on the air. The characters feel alive, the stories told in each episode are fun and it’s some of the most joyous storytelling every told. Similar to some of these shows, it features an ensemble cast, who only grow in prominence and in their development.
Amy Poehler leads the charge of the unique, spirited Leslie Knope, one of the best television characters and quite possibly the most enthusiastic. The fact that Amy Poehler never won an Emmy for this role…criminal. Then again, Parks and Rec did air along the same time as Veep so Julia Louis-Dreyfus was dominating. The ensemble cast aren’t to be laughed at either, and the fact that not a single one of them was recognised for their roles by the Television Academy is dumb. Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones, Retta, Jim O’Heir, and Chris Pratt are all brilliant in their roles. They bring so much energy and vitality to the screen, and the cast’s chemistry is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Any of those supporting characters could be the lead in their own show and that’s a testament to just how good the character writing is.
The great thing about Parks and Rec is how joyous and inspirational it is. Sure, the plights of the characters are amusing and the messes that they get themselves into are quite hilarious, but it’s their motivation and resilience that really shines through. Every time Leslie gets knocked down, she complains for a few seconds and then picks herself right back up to try again. It’s such a great message to send and something that everyone needs to take into consideration. It provides a sense of family, because the characters and actors really do grow into a family of people (a community, you could say). Positivity is all around in this show and it’s so well-intentioned that it’s extremely hard to hate. Unless you purposely love to hate nice things in which you probably wouldn’t want to watch this anyway.
Standout episodes have to be “Telethon”, “The Fight”, “Flu Season”, and “The Treaty”.
If you just want some pure joy in your life, Parks and Rec is the way to go!
And we come to the grand finale.
And what a way to end it, with one of the most beautifully complex, frustratingly clever shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.
I watched the first season of Westworld in two days. I watched the first six in one night and then the remaining four the next day, absolutely enraptured in what was going on. Even though I didn’t really understand most of it.
Westworld is a show that rewards attention being paid. The dialogue is grandiose, but it has a point. If you’re watching, and listening, you can understand what’s going on. It’s hard to keep track of the various storylines sometimes, especially in Season 2, but just trying to piece everything together is half the fun.
Of course the actual show itself is beautifully. HBO poured money into this and it shows that they have faith in show runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the creatives behind the project. The cinematography and production design is gorgeous, often feeling like a big-budget movie. And that’s what I love about HBO and why they have the most entries on the list than any other network.
Another ensemble cast, another amazing group of actors. Though unlike the other shows, it’s hard to say who the lead is. I don’t think there is one. Some might say it’s Anthony Hopkins’ Ford, some might say it’s Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores. Both exceptional performances, by the way. Anthony Hopkins delivers plenty of rich monologues in the series, and they’re all a treat to listen. His embodiment of the character and his natural screen presence combine beautifully to make this wonderful character come to life. Wood is also brilliant, her nuances are something to behold, particularly in the character that she is playing and all that is required of her. I think she perhaps has the hardest job on the show, with all of the things that are asked of her. I can’t go into any more detail without touching on spoilers, so I’ll move on.
Westworld is another one of those shows that’s best gone into as blind as you possibly can, so I’ll keep this brief.
I love Westworld because of its thought-provoking narrative and challenging storytelling. It’s a truly rewarding TV journey and one that’s really great to binge. And, just like Mr Robot, it’s impossible to tell where they’re going to end up at the end of each season, but it’s a treat watching them get there, again even if you’re not entirely sure of what’s happening.
Special shout-out to Ramin Djawadi, the composer who also does the brilliant music for Game of Thrones (an honourable mention of mine), who manages to infuse Westworld with a score that is appropriate and beautiful, and it really feels organic, not just that they need a score for the sake of it.
Everything truly comes together with this show and it’s a wondrous thing.
It’s annoying that I can’t say too much, but just trust me, it’s a brilliant watch.
So there’s my list.
As always, I want to know what you all think, whether you agree/disagree.
And if you want to guess my order, feel free to tweet me @Jamie_Carrick_
I wanted to list some honourable mentions, ones that I do love they just had to axed for other shows.
-Game of Thrones
-The Good Wife
-How To Get Away With Murder
-This Is Us
Thank to you everyone that’s been reading these, I should post my Glee post either Sunday or Monday depending on how much detail I go into.