After watching a lot of TV series, here is my list of what I consider the best TV series of all time. It’s mostly based on this list by IMDB, but also my personal preferences.
1. Game of Thrones
This one doesn’t really need an explanation, it’s the best TV series of all time by far. Not only it’s based on an amazing series of books, but it has an unparalleled production value. Each character is incredibly rich and complex, and there’s scores of them, many which will die sooner than you would expect.
It’s a huge phenomenon and if you haven’t watched it already, you should be ashamed and do it now.
Yes, it’s fantasy, but only the right amount. Paradoxically it is more realistic than most shows; there is no such thing as good or evil, just people with different points of view, motivations and in different circumstances. Good people die, bad people win, honor can kill you, a sure victory can turn into crap. And just when you think you know what will happen next; your favorite character dies.
2. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is the story of a high school teacher going, as the title suggests, bad. Step by step a seemingly average family man starts to secretly change his life. While at first you might think you would do the same morally dubious actions, eventually you will reach a point where you will wonder if the protagonist has gone too far.
It is incredibly rewarding to see how a teacher of chemistry, a man of science, would fare in the underworld of drug cartels. His knowledge and intelligence come in handy in creative ways to find solutions to hard problems.
His arrival to the scene doesn’t go unnoticed, and a host of characters are affected by this new player, and the chain reaction that follow is interesting to see to say the least.
3. The Wire
The Wire is simply a perfect story. It is local, and although you might not relate with most of the characters; it feels very real. The politics, the drama, the power dynamics, the every day struggles, everything is dealt with masterfully.
The characters are rich, some drug dealers are human, some politicians monsters, street soldiers incredibly smart. This show would give you insight into why a clean police detective would choose not to investigate a series of (possible) murders, why breaking the law can be sometimes good, and why in general violence is a much deeper problem that won’t be solved by simply putting some bad people in jail.
4. True Detective
What are Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson doing in a TV series? History. True Detective is anything but a typical show. It might start slow, and if you are not keen in admiring the superb acting that shows in every gesture, you might find it boring, but sooner or later it will hit you like a truck.
This is not CSI, do not expect easy resolutions to multiple cases, in fact do not expect any resolution at all. The show is about the journey of investigation and everything that goes along with it, including the political roadblocks, and the toll it has on the people doing it (officially or unofficially), and their loved ones.
Also, thanks to the beloved character played by McConaughey (Rust); we are greeted with a heavy dose of philosophy, human relations, and in general; life.
6. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
John Oliver is relatively new to the world of comedy, and as many students of The Daily Show, he graduated to be one of the best. Now he has his own political/comedic show dealing with subjects that actually matter, weekly, and deals with them masterfully, and at length.
Since the show is in HBO, it is not afraid of the reprisal of advertisers, and fiercely attacks commercial companies (as any real news show should) when they do something bad (which is very often).
The first season became and instant hit, and since all the important segments are available in YouTube for free, and are from 10 to 30 minutes in length, you really have no excuse not to watch it. In fact, do it now. Seriously.
Imagine the most egotistical asshole you know, add a big dose of raw pure genius, spray a chunk of autistic disregard to what anybody else thinks, disinterest in money, love, or hobbies. Finally add a side-kick who is well mannered, polite, and in general: normal. Use this concoction to solve crimes, and what you have is Sherlock.
Sherlock is a very uncommon show, starting from the fact that each episode feels more like a movie. so if you don’t want to watch a movie, perhaps you shouldn’t watch an episode of Sherlock either.
The show is not without its flaws, and sometimes caricaturesque endings–as I said, it’s different–but it is definitely worthwhile.
7. The Sopranos
Can you ever sympathize with a psychopath? After watching The Sopranos you might. The show follows the life of Tony Soprano, the boss of a New Jersey-based mafia. As you would expect, there will be violence, betrayals, and a constant supply of lies. However, you would also experience Tony’s human side, including caring for a family of ducks, and his constant duel with his psychologist.
Can you actually get better if you can’t even tell your psychologist that you killed one of your closest friends? How do you take care of your friend’s family with a straight face? These are the problems Tony faces all the time, not to mention trying to raise a couple of teenagers, and keep a marriage together which is surrounded by mystery.
And can you even blame him for being the way he is after you learn about his mother and father? Can a monster have a conscience?
After watching the show a lot of these questions will have clearer answers.
8. Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty is a cartoon, but it’s deep, funny, witty, definitely not for children. It centers around an old mad drunk scientist, and his grandson companion (which is not so smart). Together they have so many ridiculous adventures, so crazy that the mere premise of them will make you laugh.
Yet, despite the overblown adventures they have (due to the impossibly advanced technology the old man has developed), the show is at times deep and will leave you thinking with a renewed perspective about life, family, love, priorities, the human race and its place in the universe, and all the things that could have been, and might be… In a parallel universe.
Cowboys in space. Star Wars but better. Relatable, warm and interesting characters. Renegades, an empire, the wild outskirts of the galaxy in a distant future that is so different, yet feels so familiar.
Easily the best science fiction series of all time, unfortunately there’s only one season, which is why Firefly became so much of a cult, and a phenomenon. There’s a movie (not as good), and even a documentary about the phenomenon. It is really something else.
There is only one drawback; after watching it, you will become one of us and wonder–why the f*ck did they cancel this wonder?
10. Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul is a spin-off of Breaking Bad. A good honest lawyer in an extremely precarious situation tries his best to succeed with integrity, but it turns out it’s not so easy to achieve that.
The show is very recent, and the first season hasn’t finished yet, so there is really not much more to explain, except that it is dark and intense.
So why is it in the list of the best tv shows of all time? I just know :)