For my first top 10 post, I wanted to start out with the hardest possible category: my favorite TV shows.
Anyone who knows me knows that I watch a lot of TV, and I’m very passionate about it. Most of my tweets are just me flailing over Jeff/Annie or the twist in the latest Doctor Who episode. I’m sure most of my Twitter followers think my capslock button is broken. But I’m always up for a challenge, and so, here it is, after much scrutiny, and always subject to change: my top ten television shows.
“You got me. I’m just a needy love-crazed girl on a husband hunt – who’s trained in over 200 ways to kill you. Afraid yet?”
Chuck was the show for nerds before making shows for nerds was cool. It starred Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski, an employee at Buy More’s Nerd Herd (a parody of Best Buy and its Geek Squad) who was kicked out of Stanford twelve credits shy of graduating. His former college roommate, Bryce Larkin (played by Matt Bomer, who was just as gorgeous five years ago as he is now), sends him an email that, unknown to Chuck, contains the Intersect, a collection of every government agency’s files. Chuck opens the emails and the images upload into his brain, giving him access to all the government’s information – and making him very, very valuable.
Like I said, Chuck is the quintessential nerd show. Every episode features countless jokes or references to pop culture. Chuck is a self-proclaimed nerd with anxieties about his future and frequently doubts whether or not he can handle all the responsibilities that come with the Intersect, but over the course of the show’s five seasons, we see him slowly emerge as a hero. He’s not the socially inept, self-aware nerd TV loves to portray; he’s caring and brave and when he finally gets the girl (played by Yvonne Strahovski, who I’m not entirely convinced isn’t a mirage), it’s not in spite of his interests and personality, but because of them.
“Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What do you suppose that makes us?” “Big damn heroes, sir.”
The concept of Firefly sounds strange to anyone who isn’t a sci-fi fan…or used to Joss Whedon’s brain. It’s a 26th century Western that focuses on a group of nine people, the crew of a spaceship called Serenity. Their activities aren’t always exactly honorable – they often smuggle goods or raid deserted ships for valuables, and two of their crew members are hiding from the Alliance, who governs the galaxy. But the ship is their home, and the crew is a family, and, as the theme song says, you can’t take the sky from them.
Like many Joss Whedon shows, Firefly is about family – creating it, holding onto it, learning how to protect it. It has his trademark quick wit, but the center of the show has more heart than his other shows. And, come on. Young Nathan Fillion. What else do you need?
Tragically, Firefly was cancelled after just eleven episodes, but it’s become a cult classic. There are still Browncoat conventions being held every year, and in 2005, Serenity was released, the rare case of a movie being produced to wrap up a cancelled TV show. The show is great; there’s really no other way to put it. I even have a quote from Serenity tattooed on my foot. So really, if you haven’t watched Firefly yet…what have you been doing with your life?
“And how are we supposed to do all this, genius?” “I got no idea. But what I do have is a GED and give-em-hell attitude, and I’ll figure it out.”
Supernatural is the most recent addition to my list, and when I say that, I mean I finished watching it last Wednesday. It centers on Dean and Sam Winchester (played by the unfairly beautiful Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki), who travel around the country in their ’66 Impala, hunting monsters. It starts out simply: they usually hunt demons, but often find themselves dealing with popular myths (Bloody Mary, for example) and ghosts.
I’m seeing a pattern in my favorite shows. Apparently I really like the idea of constructing a family. That theme comes up in at least four of the shows on this list, but it’s not quite so integral to most of those shows as it is to Supernatural. Sam and Dean are brothers, but they’re about all each other has; their mother was killed by a demon when Sam was six months old, and their father passes away early in the show’s run. Over the first five seasons (and into the sixth and seventh seasons), they start trusting other people and letting others join their family – first Bobby, their father’s friend who winds up a surrogate father figure, then mother-and-daughter hunters Ellen and Jo, and the fallen angel Castiel (or, as he is known in my head and will be known in this blog, OMGMYSWEETBABYCAS).
The monsters they hunt are just a backdrop for the heart of the show, which is constantly questioning the ideas of loyalty and love. Who can you trust? What’s more important, self-preservation or loyalty?
Supernatural is guaranteed to rip your heart out multiple times each season, and it’s so, so awful. After almost every episode in the second and third seasons, I would lay on the floor under my blanket (dubbed my “feels blanket”) until the pain went away. But you can’t stay away long. Whether Sam and Dean are hunting the New Jersey Devil, or trying to prevent the apocalypse, or just driving around in their Impala, it’s one of the most compelling shows I’ve ever seen.
Also, they always look super hot while they do it, so if that alone isn’t enough to make everyone watch it, I have no faith in humanity.
7. Veronica Mars
“Come on. Ruined lives? Bloodshed? You really think a relationship should be that hard?” “No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.”
Veronica Mars, or as I like to call it, the show that first introduced me to the concept of fictional characters ruining your life.
Veronica is the daughter of a private detective, who’s also the former sheriff of their town, Neptune. After Lilly Kane, the daughter of one of Neptune’s richest residents and Veronica’s best friend, is murdered, Veronica’s father is fired due to his handling of the case, and the Mars family becomes outcasts. Her mother leaves them, forcing Keith and Veronica to rebuild their lives in a town where everyone hates them and where they can’t trust anyone.
Just like Chuck, Veronica Mars thrives on pop culture references, though it’s probably best remembered for Veronica’s quips. Though, who am I kidding? There’s one huge reason it’s still loved by fangirls today, and that reason is Logan Echolls. The classic misunderstood bad boy, son of two A-list actors, who was dating Veronica’s best friend before her death, goes from being Veronica’s main tormentor to her main love interest. All other character arcs pale in comparison to Logan’s growth. Seriously, I could go on and on about his perfection, so I’m going to stop myself here and simply say that if you’re a fan of ships that are simultaneously THE CUTEST THING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN IN YOUR LIFE and absolutely soul-crushing, you need to watch this show and let yourself relax and slowly fall in love with LoVe (even their ship name is perfect. Come on).
Oh, and I think it goes without saying that if you like Piz or Duncan, we can’t be friends.
“You were the best man, the most human…human being that I’ve ever known and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie.”
Anyone who follows me on Tumblr or Twitter knows of my obsession with this show (and Benedict Cumberbatch’s face, but that’s neither here nor there). It premiered in the UK in 2010, and since then, has produced…six episodes. No, seriously. Three episodes air at a time, all ninety minutes long, and there was an eighteen-month gap between the two series. As you can imagine, it’s a bit infuriating to be a Sherlock fan sometimes.
But it’s also kind of the greatest thing in the world, because every second of all six episodes is television in its highest form. The acting, the writing, the cinematography, every aspect is absolutely brilliant. Series two brought it more attention in the US, so hopefully everyone reading this blog has at least heard of it, if not watched it (though if you haven’t watched it, why don’t you love things that are awesome?). But in case you’ve been living under a rock the last few months, Sherlock is a modern adaptation of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories. The show is intelligent, hilarious, and, on a few notable occasions, heartbreaking. Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott have both won a BAFTA for their roles (John Watson and Jim Moriarty, respectively), and…oh, come on. I don’t really have to sell anyone on watching this show, do I?
5. Parks and Recreation
“We need to remember what’s important in life. Friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. It doesn’t matter. But work is third.”
Parks and Rec is another show that focuses on family, though the Pawnee family’s a bit more dysfunctional than most. At its heart is Leslie Knope, the idealistic and determined assistant director of the parks department (and newly elected city council representative). Many storylines focus on problems the parks department is facing, and the current fifth season has been showing the usually confident Leslie’s resolve shaken as she adjusts to her new high profile job (and Ben and his assistant April are in Washington, DC, together, and whatever, it’s totally hot, but I’m not gonna get into that). The show has one of the strongest ensembles on TV, so much so that any combination of characters is guaranteed to produce laughs and a great storyline.
The show is probably one of the most consistently hilarious shows on television, if not the most, but the reason it can be so funny is because of the strong relationships between characters. Leslie’s girl crush on her best friend Ann and complete OTPdom with her boyfriend Ben (they’re the ship that doesn’t need to be shipped!) grounds the show, which is why we laugh when Leslie gets half a perm or Jerry, the parks employee no one likes, rips his pants. It’s impossible to walk away from an episode feeling anything but joyful.
And this show gave us Tom Haverford and Jean-Ralphio Saperstein. Come on.
4. Doctor Who
“I’ll be a story in your head. But that’s okay; we’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know, it was the best.”
Hey, look, the quote that inspired my blog’s title and URL!
Doctor Who is a long-running British sci-fi series about an alien who travels around in a blue phone booth and fights other aliens.
No, but it’s great, I swear.
Okay, honestly, it’s hard to sell Doctor Who to people who don’t already want to watch it. It’s kind of slow at first, but once it found its footing late in the first series of its 2005 revival, it became something unique and incredible. It’s not a show about monsters or war; it’s a show about – drumroll please – family. The Doctor is over twelve hundred years old, and he’s the last of his species. He’s so, so alone, and the one thing he has is his companion, who travels with him and reminds the mad man in a box that things like love and faith are still possible, even after all the terrible things he’s done.
The show is silly and campy at times, and at other times, it’ll stomp on your soul and then laugh at your pain (I suggest reading my friend Jenn’s list of the top ten saddest Doctor Who moments). As I’ve said before, I’m not a sci-fi fan, but there’s so much more to this show than the monsters the Doctor fights. This is another show that, for whatever reason you don’t already watch, I have to beg you to marathon. It really is a life-changing show.
3. The Office
“I wanna be married and have 100 kids so I can have 100 friends, and no one can say no to being my friend.”
Okay, I know. It’s gone on way too long. It should have ended when Steve Carell left. The characters are caricatures of who they once were. I know, I know, I know. But while the list of my favorite shows is largely superficial and will change depending on the day, the top three positions are set. The Office was the show that changed how I watched television. I had been involved in fandoms before, and had ships before, but I was never so eager about watching new episodes, or about reading up on all the actors involved.
Regardless of what’s been going on with the show since its sixth season, the first five seasons were brilliant and fresh and even surprising at times. Jim’s confession to Pam in Casino Night left me screaming at my television, and it taught me how evil summer hiatuses truly were. The same show that made my stomach ache with laughter was also capable of twisting my heart and making me cry uncontrollably, and I don’t know that any show, to this day, has had such a hold over me.
2. Arrested Development
“There’s always money in the banana stand.”
You’ll note that the only two Fox shows on this list were unjustly cancelled before their time. Damn you, Fox.
Arrested Development was like no other show on television. Even now, I don’t think its influence has ever been matched; we owe shows like The Office, Modern Family, and even Community to its style, a beautiful mix of broad and subtle humor that is nothing short of brilliant.
Despite its amazingness, it always struggled in the ratings, and had celebrity cameos before celebrity cameos were cool. But even then, it was always self-aware; in the rare instance that it had a celebrity appear just for the sake of having a celebrity appear, it would be mentioned self-deprecatingly onscreen. No matter what your sense of humor, you will find something to enjoy about this show. The one good thing about its cancellation is that it managed to go out in its prime – we got three seasons of flawless television, and the upcoming fourth season on Netflix and movie can only add to this amazing series.
“Caring about six people can be a horrifying, embarrassing nightmare, at least for me. But if I can’t say it today, when can I say it? I love you guys.”
Oh, come on. Like you expected anything else to take my number one spot.
Since most of my readers are undoubtedly members of my Twitter study group, I probably don’t need to sell anyone on the merits of Community. But in case you don’t watch it, know this: it’s a show with heart, that will make you laugh, that will make you cry, that shows what it means to have a family. You might not be related by blood, and you might not always like each other, but at the end of the day, you would do anything for the people you love.
Instead of going on and on about why this show is so great, I’m going to simply beg you all to watch it if you’re not already. Tweet about it. Tell all your friends about it. Community is the little show that could, and if you open up your heart to this knuckleheaded show, you will discover something amazing. Six seasons and a movie, yo.