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The 10 Best Television Series to Binge Watch

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Since the late 1920s, television stations have been broadcasting shows and sitcoms. Beginning with the original black and white family-friendly shows to the now critically-acclaimed Netflix series, television has changed the way we see the world. Here are the best television shows out there based on writing, characterization and plot.

1. The X-Files

This 1990s hit goes on to explore the supernatural and paranormal aspect of this world. It traces the work of two FBI agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Essentially, these two characters chase down creatures in hopes of finding the truth about the government’s alleged involvement with and knowledge of aliens.

What makes this show quite possibly the best series out there is do to the fact that it features a strong female lead, a plot that keeps the viewer guessing and it proves the science fiction aspects with science and reason. Just remember: The truth is out there.

2. Parks and Recreation

This seven season series follows the struggles Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) faces as a small town government employee trying her best to better her community. The series opens with an overexuberant Knope who just wants to turn an abandoned pit into a park and the series ends with the building of the park. 

With camera frames and scenes similar to that of “The Office,” this series is something special. The writing is hilarious and riddled with sarcasm and nonsense. Also, the cast and character development is one to follow.

3. Dexter

This drama is based off of the best selling novels written by Jeff Lindsey. It follows a serial killer who has a conscious. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) works as a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Police Department. His father, Henry (James Remar), a police officer, realizes Dexter’s need to kill and teaches him a code to live by in which Dexter can only kill other killers.

What makes this show so incredible is its ability to dive deep into the mind of a killer and allows the audience to empathize and actually like its anti-hero, Dexter. Throughout the series, several motifs appear that add to the storyline. It is truly a remarkable series that will leave everyone laughing and crying.

4. 30 Rock

This series comes straight from the mind of writer and actress, Tina Fey. In the show, Fey plays an overworked, overzealous writer and producer known as Liz Lemon. Lemon, on top of producing a show, has to deal with a slew of dramatic and a little out there characters.

What makes this show one of the best, is its writing. WIth its witty remarks and one liners, the show is set apart from others like it. Not to mention, the cast adds to its overall comedy; many of them have starred in Saturday Night Live such as Tracy Morgan and Tina Fey.   

5. Law and Order: SVU

This dramatic crime has been on air for more than 15 years. A spin off of the original Law and Order series, SVU focuses specifically on the dedicated detectives who investigate vicious felonies such as special victims. The leading heroine throughout the series is Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay): A no-nonsense detective who seeks justice for special victims in New York City.

What makes this series one of the best, is it features a strong female lead. Olivia Benson serves as a role model for all of the girls who watch her. Benson is a hero in a field predominantly dominated by men. Also, the show is educational as it teaches its’ audience about sexual assault and the procedures that lead up to prosecution.  

6. My Name is Earl

This campy series follows Earl Hickey (Jason Lee), a used-to-be criminal who changes his life around after being hit by a car. With his found belief in karma, Earl makes a list of all the bad things he has done in his life and seeks to rewrite his wrongs.

What makes this series the most comical is its troupe of misfit, trailer park characters. There is Randy (Ethan Suplee), Earl’s brother who is a grown up child; Joy Turner (Jaime Pressly), Earl’s ex-wife who causes much of the conflict; and Darnell Turner (Eddie Steeples), Joy’s current good-natured husband who is in the witness protection. This dynamic cast leads the audience on a goose chase around a small town in order to finish Earl’s list. Truly, one of the funniest series in history.

7. Freaks and Geeks

The 1990s one hit wonder, this show chronicles what it’s like to be in an average American high school. The show offers to perspectives: That of the freaks and that of the geeks. The freaks include the troublemakers, the drop outs and the burned out stoners. The geeks include the freshman who prefer to stay at home and watch Star Wars or play Dungeons and Dragons.

Even though this show only aired one season, it is one of the all time best. It includes an all-star cast with actors such as Jason Segel, James Franco and Seth Rogen. It includes as many comical scenes as well as life lessons.  

8. Bob’s Burgers

All the ridiculous antics of a typical family combined with a fun-loving but overzealous mother, a hormonal boy crazed teenager, an evil genius youngest daughter, an inappropriate, musically-driven middle school boy and a simple cook for a dad. This show is hilarious and well-mannered. It follows the life of the Belcher family who own a burger restaurant.

This adult cartoon is different from most as it is not crude like Family Guy or American Dad. Instead, the series draws humor from the eccentric lives of each character. The character development is also crucial for this show as episodes are often based around one character; adding extra emphasis on their characterization. The show also dances around social issues in today’s world and pushes the boundaries on issues regarding gender roles and traditional family dynamics.  

9. American Horror Story 

This series has revolutionized television as we know it. Instead of having the usual characters and plotline for all of the seasons, AHS uses each season as a new plot. However, most of the seasons include the same actors.

On top of that, the show consists of an A-list cast including Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Lady Gaga and Evan Peters. The writer and creator Ryan Murphy takes real life horror stories and turns them into elaborate, eloquently terrifying pieces of art. all while maintaing classic archetypes and tropes from classic horror films.  

10. Orange is the New Black

Based on true events, this series follows the story of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) who winds up in a woman’s prison for a year because of money laundering. In the show, Piper meets many beautiful and wonderful women in prison; however, she also finds herself in some conflict that she must resolve.

The show itself focuses on an intricate understanding of the intersectionality between characters and the systems of oppression they exist in. The show tackles difficult concepts such as rape and prison oppression. However, the show also features issues that have never been discussed before in the history of television. These issues include LGBTQIA+ lives, race and unjust and outdated laws. The show uses persons of color and racial tensions within the prison to symbolize that of the real world. I cannot fail to mention the show itself was created and produced by a woman, Jenji Kohan. The cast is diverse and includes so much representation of all persons. Truly, this is a remarkable and revolutionary series.

Emily Holter is a Freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University. She studies Mass Communications with a concentration in Print and Online Journalism. She is an avid reader of books, a lover of all things Cher, and a flower enthusiast. Most days, she is tucked away in a coffee shop, sipping on her black coffee and enjoying light conversation.
Keziah is a writer for Her Campus. She is majoring in Fashion Design with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. HCXO!