The 56 Shows I’ve Watched and Why I Spent That Much Time Staring at a Screen
To my friends, my family and sometimes myself, I am an alien. A being that looks like them and communicates in similar ways, but one that has a specific outer-worldly identity trait. This trait is an addiction to television. I define it this way not because it has any relation to the most common types of addiction, but because it is a part of my life I cannot function without, am passionate about, and I of which I never get tired.
I sat down one day and wondered why I chose to start watching these series and why I stayed, my eyes glued to the screen, until their finales (or until their most recent episode aired). What makes this my addiction, my alien quality, is my ability to re-watch every episode of a series I have already completed — sometimes multiple times—and not lose interest.
So, if you are itching for a new cable drama or Netflix comedy to watch or if you just want to read on and discover how I could’ve spent so many hours of my life in front of the TV, here are all 56 ranked by genre with a description of the value I found in watching my favorites.
P.S. Some genres I used (or made up) for my own convenience in grouping, even though a title may not typically be put in that category.
1. “The Newsroom”
This show taught me about journalism, hard work, and the meaning of integrity. No other program can compete with the effect The Newsroom has had on my own sense of professional and personal ethics.
For a similar reason to why I find The Newsroom so powerful, the dialogue in Sherlock is expertly written. When I hear Jeff Daniels give a speech on morality and how he views our country, I get the same rush of awe and inspiration as I do when Sherlock goes on a rant deducing information at a crime scene. I find skillful oration and almost boastful intelligence the most endearing quality in a character.
Honestly, while Shameless is a drama, the hilarious antics of that family help me to see my own family as boring and normal.
4. “This Is Us”
Not only is the narrative structure of this drama executed skillfully without any confusion — due to its lack of chronological order, but the actors have a convincing connection to each other that makes me cry every time.
5. “The Crown”
I have always loved British Dramas and in this remarkably cast Netflix creation, Claire Foy is able to play a woman who is as equally powerful as she is vulnerable.
6. “Big Little Lies”
9. “Grey’s Anatomy”
David Tennant’s performance is compelling and raw. Also, his natural Scottish accent is music in my ears.
2. “Orange is the New Black”
4. “American Crime Story: The Trial of OJ Simpson”
5. “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”
6. “White Collar”
7. “Twin peaks”
1. “West World”
I finished this series in about three days over Thanksgiving break. I could talk about this show forever, but I will just say that the creativity and imagination that goes into a story like this — a futuristic setting where the scientific advancements are unfathomable — must be praised, as well as the performances by the actors themselves.
2. “Doctor Who”
This series is unmatched in the devotion of its fan base by any other science fiction comparison. It has performances by David Tennant, Matt Smith, Billie Piper and Arthur Darvill. If science fiction isn’t your cup of tea, it’s easy to look past the aliens and space travel and fall in love with the quirky wit and pure spirit of The Doctor.
3. “Game of Thrones”
At this point, I have to find out how it all ends. But originally, the strangely classic roles of the characters in each family bring a relatability that most fantasy shows cannot accomplish.
5. “American Horror Story”
1. “Teen Wolf”
I can’t say much about this show. I love it because Dylan O’Brien grows as an actor throughout the seasons and that led to me need to see him succeed.
2. “The Vampire Diaries”
I have a deep attraction to Nicholas Hoult who is the main character in the first two seasons of this show; however, the following seasons are carried by the stunning connection between actors Jack O’Connell and Kaya Scodelario. Also, Dev Patel got his start on this British series and has since been the lead in “Slumdog Millionare,” “Lion,” and a vital part of “The Newsroom” cast.
2. “The Fosters”
3. “Friday Night Lights”
4. “Gossip Girl”
6. “Gilmore Girls”
7. “Dawson’s creek”
8. “The Bold type”
10. “One Tree Hill”
11. “The Carrie Diaries”
12. “13 Reasons Why”
14. “Pretty Little Liars”
1. “The Office”
I appreciate smart comedy and Steve Carell’s skill in portraying a character with no sense of political correctness, humility or selflessness while at the same time, a character that can’t help but win the support of the audience is unparalleled.
2. “New Girl”
The dialogue, humor, and character dynamics in this sit-com are so original that I considered investigating the writers to see if they are superhuman. It is the only show of which I know 70 percent of the lines of every episode.
4. “The Inbetweeners”
6. “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
7. “Wet Hot American summer”
9. “Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt”
While I find Lena Dunham’s character frustratingly righteous, Adam Driver’s character is charming and real enough to block out her unyielding sense of moral arrogance.
2. “Jane the Virgin”
An American telenovela, the ridiculously complicated plots make me feel like I’m watching a soap opera, but with the emotional intensity of an Oscar-winning film.
3. “Secret Diary of a Call Girl”
4. “Faking It”
8. “Dance Academy”
There is one important aspect of television of which I became aware after reading my list. I found that one of television’s communication roles in my life is as a teacher.
Television shows are made up visual and auditory information. It has been proven that the combination of different types of information increases the chances of that information being remembered. Through absorbing the characters’ narratives and the places, times and communities within they occur, we learn.
It has not been the case with every show I have watched; however, many of their dialogues and period settings have taught me about different personal struggles, cultures and historical events.
“The Crown” taught me about the expectations of women in mid-1900’s England; “The Bold Type” gave me examples of powerful women in the communications industry and the challenges they face in the workplace; From “The Fosters I got an education about the problems within the foster care system in America. My imagination expanded as I traveled with The Doctor in “Doctor Who,” my notion of trust was tested by “Broadchurch” and no show or life experience has given me more insight into how we as humans think, feel, grow and progress than “Westworld.”
Now, these are just my experiences, but it’s obvious that the words we hear and images we see on our screens leave a mark on us. I’d love to know how television has taught you and what affect that has had on your view of the world around you.