Yes, I am sure I am missing something you love here, but this is the list of shows that I would say give legitimacy to the art form of television serials. The writing, the production, the acting, the concept; something made you see the world differently or captivated you to keep watching.
The Awesome List:
– Breaking Bad (AMC) (Ended) This best acting in a tv series ever. The best writing in a tv series ever. Period.
– Game of Thrones (HBO) Excellent story telling, acting, plot twists, etc.
– Better Call Saul (AMC) A spin off from Breaking Bad, is standing in its own shadow by the second season. Same excellent writing from the Breaking Bad people.
– House of Cards (Netflix)
– Mr Robot (USA)
– Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
– Boardwalk Empire (HBO) (Ended)
– Hell on Wheels (AMC)
– The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim)
– Adventure Time (Cartoon Network) Despite what you think, it’s not really for kids. Which makes it clever.
– Sherlock (BBC)
– Fargo (FX)
– Battlestar Galactica (SyFy) (Ended)
– Stargate Universe (SyFy) (Ended)
– Carnivàle (HBO) (Ended)
– Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (FOX) (Ended)
– Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
– Connections (BBC) (Ended)
– The Day the Universe Changed (BBC) (Ended)
– The Rockford Files (NBC) (Ended) I grew up watching this show and still find it well written to this day.
– Firefly (FOX) (Ended) I’m not a huge fanboy, but it was well written and could have gone on to do even better.
– Taxi (ABC) (Ended)
– The Simpsons (Fox) This isn’t nearly as good as it once was, but it’s surprisingly not terrible for 28 seasons in.
– Six Feet Under (HBO) (Ended) Superbly written for the most part and one of the best endings to a show, ever.
– All in the Family (ABC) (Ended)
– Arrested Development (Fox) (Ended)
– The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS) (Ended)
The Good List
Many of these shows have redeeming value but miss the mark on being awesome. Some of them might have been awesome, and still occasionally awesome, but sometimes fall flat or just overall don’t keep you pulled in all the time and emotionally invested.
– The Walking Dead (AMC) Still love this show, but sometimes they just screw up a good story arc. Or even a finale cliffhanger.
– Fear The Walking Dead (AMC) You want to hate on it, I know. But it’s good, possibly better than the original series.
– Daredevil (Netflix) Yes, it’s good, I was surprised it didn’t suck. But it’s not awesome. But pretty good.
– Orange is the New Black (Netflix) Brilliant moments surrounded by overly soppy or pointless tangents. I actually can’t stand the main character, but like the show nonetheless.
– Deadwood (HBO) (Ended) Season 1 was perfect, By Season 3 it was loosing it’s soul. But still a great show.
– Girls (HBO) I actually hate this show in all of its pretentiousness. But sometimes I don’t hate the characters, which I guess is good writing.
– Archer (FX) How can you not like anything with H. Jon Benjamin in it, much less the great cast in this show?
– Vikings (History) I love history, I love a good conquering story.
– LOST (ABC) You hated on its ending. I loved it and thought it was perfect.
– Bates Motel (A&E) It’s a good look with surprising twists in story plot. It doesn’t keep a good pace but it’s still interesting.
– The Expanse (SyFy) Still trying to love this show, but happy it doesn’t suck. Mostly I feel like it resembles SGU and I’m still pissed that was canceled.
– Bob’s Burgers (FOX) Great characters, great puns, great writing.
– The X Files (FOX) I had forgotten this show was great for falling asleep story telling. In that respect, it’s brilliant.
– Stargate SG-1 (SyFy) Was an innovative continuation of the movie franchise that never was.
– Ash vs. The Evil Dead (STARZ) Full disclosure: I was going to love this show no matter what with Bruce Campbell in it, but I liked it too.
– South Park (Comedy Central) Amazingly, this show has gotten better over time. Very on point with current social commentary.
– Hannibal (NBC) (Ended) It started losing it’s steam after the first season, but it was such a cast of great characters.
– True Detective (HBO) Yes, the first season was awesome. Yes the second season wasn’t. But it wasn’t as bad as you think it was.
– Dexter (Showtime) (Ended) Excellent idea for a show. Stop watching it after season 5 though.
– Family Guy (Fox) There’s nothing redeemable about this show except that it’s crudely funny and that’s why I watch it.
– Seinfeld (NBC) (Ended) You still quote it. We all do. Perhaps the only Sitcom I didn’t mind watching.
– The Daily Show (Comedy Central) A better news source than whatever you are watching.
– The Sopranos (HBO) (Ended) Great story, great acting, great plot developments. The ending wasn’t as bad as you think it was either.
– Oz (HBO) (Ended) None of you remember this HBO series. It was brilliant and it paved the way for a lot of other shows that came after it.
– Mad Men (AMC) (Ended) It was okay. It never sucked me in but I enjoyed the characters.
– Columbo (NBC) (Ended) Even as a kid, I loved watching how he would wind people up to unravel them to admit their guilt.
– Twin Peaks (ABC) (Ended) So weird. So very weird. I can’t even say I loved it but I kept watching.
The Terrible List:
This is what is wrong with television, nay, what is wrong with society. We have become okay with watching shows that are formulaic, and appeal the lowest cheap laugh. Most often this is the situational comedy, but Sci-Fi has seen it’s treasures of embarrassments too.
– The Big Bang Theory (CBS) (Should have Ended a Long Time Ago)
– The Odd Couple (CBS)
– Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
– American Horror Story (FX) This show was pretty decent the first season but continued to decline in absurdity. I gave up after season 3.
– Z Nation (SyFy)
– The Bachelor (ABC) (Should have Ended a Long Time Ago)
– Duck Dynasty (A&E) (Ended)
– Two and a Half Men (CBS) (Ended)
– The Following (Fox)
– American Idol (FOX) (Should have Ended a Long Time Ago)
– Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC) (Ended)
– Pretty much all of the CSI, NCIS crime formulaic type shows.
– Pretty much every reality show on television.
– Anything with a fake laugh track.
Shows I’ve yet to watch but have heard they are pretty good.
– The Americans (FX)
– It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
– Homeland (Showtime)
– Downton Abbey (BBC)