Behind the (Best Television Shows Since 1990ish) List

The story behind my list of the best television shows since 1990 and the shows that didn’t make the cut.

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Larry-ShockedThis list was bound to happen about halfway through Breaking Bad.

It was bound to happen once I finished two episodes right smack in the middle of Breaking Bad’s third season: “Sunset” and “One Minute.” That was when I realized I just wasn’t watching a great TV show, but one of the greatest TV shows. By the time season three had ended with Doug from Flight of the Conchords getting shot in the eye by Jesse, Breaking Bad had enter rarefied air- air belonging to The Wire.

The list in question, the great television show list, was going to come down to a single question. It’s the same question that started the list.

What’s better, The Wire or Breaking Bad?

However the second question was slightly more pressing from a logistics standpoint.

How far back would this list go?

Well, I never watched much of Cheers, but frequently hear from people older than me that it’s great. People slightly older than them talk about M.A.S.H. and people older than them are split along Archie Bunker: racist/Archie Bunker: not racist lines. This list needed to my list and needed to be made up of what I thought- not what others thought or what I think is great solely based on someone else’s memories or stuff people have written.

So with that being the case, anything before 1990 was out. Because as it would turn out, while thinking about this on a walk with Lucy, I came to the conclusion that my memories about legitimately liking something start around 1990. If Seinfeld and then Friends were the first two shows I can remember really liking, than the list would start there. The list would be THE GREATEST/BEST TV SHOWS SINCE 1990ish.

Right off the bat, shows would be excused from the conversation. Like Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, Loved those shows, but emotion is only going to be a fraction of this. A show like Game of Thrones isn’t currently included but could possibly be the first show to prompt a possible review of this list in the next couple years. The same can be said for Downton Abbey.  From what I hear 24 petered out at the end, so it’s excluded because we’re looking at a show’s body of work and that entails the entire girth of a show (i.e. how that shit ends yo.) But that makes it tough to include Mad Men, only because it’s not finished. If Game of Thrones isn’t included and if Parks and Recreation isn’t included, Mad Men shouldn’t be.

Right?

Wrong.

Mad Men is most definitely included.

Entourage is not. Neither is ER30 Rock or Dexter. For some reason, I feel like Saturday Night Live doesn’t count. Neither does The Big Bang Theory because I refuse to acknowledge that show’s existence. I’ll never forgive it for it’s reruns replacing reruns of The Office Tuesday night’s on TBS a few years ago. The Office Tuesdays were one of the best nights of the week and those nerds ruined it. So they’re not included.

The list is made up of both drama and comedies. I thought about separating the two genres, but some comedies transcend the comedy label. They deserve to go toe-to-toe with great dramas.

When deciding the rankings, I factored in the following things:

  1. Emotion: does the show connect with me on an emotional level?
  2. Continuity: is the show great from start to finish? If not, how close does it get?
  3. Characters: how many great characters does a show have?
  4. Legacy: what kind of legacy does the show have and how long will the show live on?
  5. Visuals: how great is the directing of the show?
  6. Verbiage: how great is the writing and/or dialogue on the show?
  7. Re-Watchability: would I watch the entire series again? If so, how many times? How likely would it be for me to watch an episode if it was randomly on?

Some shows didn’t make the cut, but were close.

  • The Colbert Report
  • Band of Brothers (it’s a mini-series and a fantastical one at that, so it counts)
  • The O.C.
  • South Park
  • The Simpsons
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Friends

And I’m sorry, I’ve never seen The Larry Sanders Show. From what I’ve heard, it’d be included in this list. But see: Cheers.

Going to get cracking on this tomorrow, so check back for the list.

Go Red Sox.

Photos:
Larry David: HBO

Stephen Colbert: Comedy Central

  1. I’m impressed to see the OC on the almost list

    Reply

    1. Gotta give respect where it’s due.

      Reply

  2. […] If you missed my preview of this list and the story behind it, check it out HERE […]

    Reply

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