After writing about my favourite films, the natural next place to go is my favourite TV shows. I watch a LOT of TV, probably far too much. I’m actually writing this as I watch the newest season of Homeland on another window of my laptop. I also become obsessed about shows once I get into them; watching new episodes as soon as I can find them online, watching episode after episode late into the night etc. My proudest story is the time I watched the entirety of the US Office during the Easter holidays in my last year of school when I really should’ve been working. You’ll also see from this list, and from the list of films, that my taste is both eclectic and probably different from what you think.
DISCLAIMER: GAME OF THRONES AND BREAKING BAD DO NOT FEATURE ON THIS LIST…
I know it’s not the highest quality show out there (although it has rightly won Golden Globes), but it really is the funniest program I’ve ever watched. Andy Samberg is absolutely hilarious as the main character, Jake Peralta, but his performance is perhaps surpassed by Andre Braugher, who portrays Captain Raymond Holt. Braugher was best known as a serious actor, but takes to comedy like a natural. He is just so, so funny, and is one of the most quotable characters of any show. The supporting cast of Fumero, Beatriz, Lo Truglio and Peretti are also brilliant, and Terry Crews is Terry Crews (always a good thing). Not only is the show laugh-out-loud funny (which is really is; I genuinely laugh out loud watching it by myself), but it also deals with more serious issues at points. It consistently highlights the homophobia that Captain Holt encounters, and deals with this with both seriousness and humour. Episodes like ‘Captain Peralta’ and ‘Sal’s Pizza’ address Jake’s abandonment issues to do with his father, and make us appreciate the father-son dynamic between Jake and Holt even more. Finally, in Season 4, ‘Moo Moo’ gave us one of the more poignant and meaningful episodes of comedy, and is an episode everyone should see.
Best episode: The Pontiac Bandit Returns
Best character: Captain Holt
Best actor/actress: Andy Samberg
Best quote: “Actually I was calling you a goat, you goat.” – Captain Holt
It’s just so meta. Dan Harmon creates a simultaneously witty and sharply intelligent show that also deals with the theme of family, and how it is what you make it. I can’t even think of another program with so many classic episodes. All of the main characters, played by McHale, Jacobs, Pudi, Brie, Nicole Brown, Glover and Chase, are superb, although I can’t deny my favouritism for Troy and Abed (the best bromance on television). Now, I’m not going to lie and say that Glover leaving the show had a big effect on my enjoyment, it did, but Ken Jeong getting a more prominent role can never be a bad thing. The thing that I really got out of the show is how each character relies on the group. Jeff appears to be the leader, but he’s possibly more reliant on the group than anybody. Pierce and Shirley are the oldest, but they use the group to finally have some real friends, and they never really seem like parents to the others, except perhaps Pierce to Troy. Troy, Annie and Abed are the youngest of the group, but again, they never really need security and guidance from the older characters. And Britta, as much as she’d like to believe she has it all together, she needs the group just as much as Jeff. In fact, every character needs the group, and the group needs every character. It’s a beautiful, hilarious tale about family.
Best episode: For a Few Paintballs More
Best character: Abed
Best actor/actress: Donald Glover
Best quote: “I was gonna be the first person in my family to graduate from community college. Everyone else graduated from normal college” – Troy
Homeland (Mainly Series 1 and 2)
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the first season of Homeland is the best season of any television show ever. I think it’s that good. I rewatched it recently and it’s even better than I remember. Damien Lewis and Clare Danes give a masterclass in acting, and the suspense throughout the show is as good as it gets. I genuinely had no idea if Brody had been turned or not for large parts of the show, and that’s a testament to the incredible writing and acting from Lewis. Season 2 is nearly as good as Season 1, however in my opinion it does take a little bit of a dip once the Abu Nazir plotline concludes at the end of Season 2. The true genius of Homeland, and in particular the first two seasons, is actually make us feel legitimate sympathy for Brody for large parts. Of course, there are moments he disgusts us, but for most of it he just appears a tragic character to me. A soldier exposed to such horrors, he had no choice but to be manipulated by Nazir. Moments of internal conflict are where the character is his most fascinating, as we try to figure out whether he’s good or bad, whether he loves Carrie or not, and whether he’ll ever tell the truth about anything. Supporting actors Patinkin, Klattenhoff and Friend add their weight to the show and make for some superb scenes.
Best episode: Marine One
Best character: Nicholas Brody
Best actor/actress: Clare Danes
Best quote: “This is a fucked up business.” – Carrie Matherson
As I said in the previous article, I love superheroes. I’m first in line to see the newest addition to the MCU every time, and I love all of those movies (except for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Jesus Christ those were awful). Where I think the superhero genre thrives is when it is taken with a more gritty and realistic perspective, and this is exactly what Daredevil does so brilliantly. It takes a larger than life concept of superheroes and does it with such brutality that it feels so real. The cinematography is truly masterful for a TV show, and the script, while sometimes inconsistent, has some profound and philosophical moments. However, what really sets this show apart from other Marvel projects is the acting. Cox, Woll and Henson are great, and their chemistry is both charming and heart-warming, but it would be wrong to not appreciate the sheer mastery of the antagonists, Wilson Fisk and Frank Castle, portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio and Jon Bernthal respectively. After watching D’Onofrio steal the show in Season 1, I thought it would be difficult to match the acting skill in Season 2. Then Jon Bernthal went and delivered one of the most intense and damaged performances anyone could hope for, rightly meriting his own spin-off (which is also awesome). The scenes featuring him and Cox are electrifying.
Best episode: Penny and Dime
Best character: Frank Castle
Best actor/actress: Vincent D’Onofrio
Best quote: “You hit ’em and they get up, I hit ’em and they stay down!” – Frank Castle
I’d say I’ve stayed reasonably far from the mainstream with this list, what with the lack of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad etc, but I couldn’t resist putting this on the list. I’m proud/ashamed to say that I can nearly quote along with every episode, that’s how much I’ve watched it. It’s not groundbreaking, the cinematography isn’t even cinematography, and the script, to be honest, isn’t even that special. But there’s just something about this that makes it so watchable. The chemistry between LeBlanc, Perry, Schwimmer, Aniston, Cox and Kudrow is as good as you can hope for, and Friends delivers laughs and drama without the weight of having to concentrate. It’s not pretentious, it’s not fancy, but it’s funny and we all wish we could have a cup of coffee with the group. Guest performances from Paul Rudd, Brad Pitt, Danny DeVito and more are all hilarious, and let’s all just try to forget the Elizabeth and Janine storylines, those were shocking. Overall, this show is loved by all, and for good reason. We all want to be as funny as Chandler, as loyal as Joey, as caring as Ross, as organised as Monica, as care-free as Phoebe and as brave as Rachel.
Best episode: The One With Unagi
Best character: Chandler
Best actor/actress: Lisa Kudrow
Best quote: “Sure, I peed on her. And if I had to, I’d pee on any one of you!” – Joey
Master of None
It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia