I am often asked what I think are the greatest television series of all time. It is very difficult to answer this question because I know that many people have never seen the shows I would mention to them. For this reason I am reluctant to answer. Below I have compiled a list of four of the greatest TV shows of all time that the vast majority of people have never seen in an effort to spread their greatness and significance. Each of the series I have mentioned below contribute to or have contributed to television in their own right. I have expressed my opinion and given a brief overview of the series without divulging any spoilers.
1. The Wire (2002-2008)
The Wire is the greatest television show of all time. Period. No exceptions. It is not even fair to call it a TV show. Instead it should be called a masterpiece. It really is. When I watched The Wire for the first time (because I have seen the whole series multiple times), I did not once say to myself “wow, that should have been done differently.” Not once. This is very very unusual for me. I am usually able to watch one episode of a TV show (especially the pilot) and point out the things that I think are wrong with the series and what will prove to be a problem when it continues on in later seasons. That is a testament to how I feel about The Wire that I could not find one thing to comment on.
It is based upon the drug trade in Baltimore, Maryland. While this may draw some people away from the series, it really shouldn’t. The Wire is so much more than that. It is a social commentary that provides America with an inside view of the streets of Baltimore. It blurs the line between what is good and what is bad. The Wire, in its foundation, makes us question if some of the things we were raised to believe were wrong or may sometimes be right in certain extenuating circumstances. That is why the series is so compelling. This series is not only one of the most compelling dramas ever but it teaches us so much about life.
Many people’s main criticism with the series is that nothing seems to happen. I understand where this criticism comes from, believe me, but that is the exact thing that makes the series the masterpiece it is. The series is not like other series that rely on their story lines or plot twists. Instead, The Wire relies on its characters. David Simon, the creator and executive producer of the series, created some of the most well written and thought out characters of all time. Each and every character is so well written that it feels as though they are real people living in a real world.
I can and probably will one day write a full article about The Wire, but in the meantime, I compel everyone who reads this to log on to iTunes and download the pilot episode. I dare you not to fall in love with it.
2. The Shield (2002-2008)
It may seem that I loved The Wire so much that no other show can compete. That is false. If there is any show that comes close, it is The Shield. I love this TV show with all my heart. It is so amazing that I kind of feel bad for all the other TV shows that had to be on TV on the same night and time. Each and every episode draws in the audience and doesn’t let go. The series takes the audience on a trip that never ends.
It is about a police precinct in Farmington, California that implements a new experimental police procedure. It consists of a group of detectives that go out onto the streets of Farmington and implement the law by force. They are called the “Strike Team.” Every single one of them are corrupt and steal money from the criminals they arrest. The series centers around this Strike Team and how they solve cases, try not to get caught for all of the illegal things they do, and how this affects their families.
With one of the greatest series finales of all time, The Shield is a TV show that few have seen/heard of but that all must watch.
3. The Good Wife (2009 – Present)
The Good Wife is my favorite television series that is currently on the air. The poignant manner in which every single episode is made is what makes the show so damn spectacular. Headed by one of the greatest casts on TV ever, The Good Wife, will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest television series of all time.
The series centers on a woman, Alicia Florrick, whose husband is the States Attorney in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. He gets tangled up in a sex and bribery scandal for which he goes to jail. With her husband in jail, Alicia is forced to go back to work as a lawyer, reentering as a Junior Associate at the largest and most well respected law firms in Chicago. She must deal with the stress of her husband’s shadow hanging over her, the stress of being a lawyer, and the stress of taking care of her teenage children.
The series really does not have any weak points. It is just so compelling to watch this woman fight for her family and be the best lawyer she can be. Again, just like The Wire, this series really excels with its character depictions and the actors that portray them. The level of acting that is seen on this series is beyond exceptional. Julianna Margulis who plays the protagonist, Alica Florrick, plays her with all the complexities and quirks that the character deserves.
4. Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
Six Feet Under is perhaps the saddest TV series I have ever seen and that has ever been on television. While it is one of my favorite series and one of the greatest of all time, it really is not a show that everyone can relate to/enjoy. You really need to be a person who can handle death and sadness the right way.
The show centers around a family who owns a funeral home. They deal with death and loss every single days of their lives. I do not want to ruin any part of this exceptional series for anyone so I will not tell you what happens on the series, but I will say that the very first scene of the series sets the stage for how this series will be. I guess you will just have to watch it to understand what I mean. It is one of the greatest pilots of all time. The series really teaches its audience what death really is and what it really means to the people who the dead leave behind.
Its creator and executive producer, Alan Ball, is a very successful filmmaker. He is the creator and Executive Producer for HBO’s True Blood and was the screenwriter for one of my all-time favorite movies, American Beauty. It is no surprise that Six Feet Under is so extraordinary.