So I often get asked why I don’t review television on here as well. There’s a lot that goes into the answer to that question, but mostly because this site revolves around ‘going’ to the movies. I mean, ‘Go’ is in the name.
But that’s a simple answer for a simpler time. And this, dear readers, is not a simple time. As I recommended movies to watch while staying home to avoid COVID, so too will I recommend some of my favorite TV series.
The Americans – Aired on FX, now available on Amazon Prime – This is my favorite TV show of all time. That simple. It’s incredible from beginning to end and includes the best lead performances I’ve ever seen in the medium. It follows a married couple in Washington, DC during the Cold War that are secretly spies for the USSR. They’ve been embedded as a sleeper cell for so long, they also have children that they raised as Americans. It includes lots of American history and thrilling espionage but, at its heart, it’s a human drama that examines all types of relationships. It is also the only show I know of whose last episode is its best. A show that actually sticks the landing. Imagine that.
Mad Men – Aired on AMC, now available on Netflix – Jon Hamm gives the performance of a lifetime as one of the all-time great TV characters Don Draper in this classic AMC series. And if you want to binge a show that isn’t too too long, you could honestly watch seasons 1-4 of this show and be completely satisfied. It completes a number of character arcs and ends on a perfect note to show the change we’ve seen in the Don character. Now… the show was immensely popular so they kept going and the rest of the seasons are incredibly well made and well acted television, but they lack the same vision and purpose and punch the first four seasons do. I knew when I watched it live it was one of the best TV shows I had ever seen, but I’m re-watching it now and I realize how much better it even is than I remembered.
Lots of HBO Shows – Available on HBOGO / HBONOW – Home Box Office is often referred to as the birthplace of prestige television, ever since they completely changed the game with The Sopranos. Since then, they have churned out lots of amazing content. Sticking to shows that are complete so you could binge them in their entirety, here are a few of my favorites over the years: Band of Brothers, Chernobyl, Deadwood, Game of Thrones (Seasons 1-6), Girls, John Adams, The Leftovers, The Night Of, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, True Detective (Season 1), Watchmen (read the graphic novel first).
Still Airing / Incomplete:
A few things that are still airing that I’m watching currently that I’d recommend:
Westworld – HBO – Season 3 currently airing – This sci-fi drama is so beautifully constructed and acted that you don’t mind the fact you have no idea what the hell is going on. It’s a puzzle box show and that hurt it in the slog that was season 2. But season 1 was incredible and so far Season 3 has turned the show on its head for the better.
Succession – HBO – Season 2 ended earlier this year – If you were looking for the best writing on television, you found it. Couple that with a magnificent ensemble and a gripping premise (following the interpersonal dynamics of a rich family in charge of a media conglomerate) and you have a winner. I don’t know a single person that has tried this show and hasn’t fallen in love with it.
Mindhunter – Netflix – Season 2 ended earlier this year – I would easily call this the best Netflix Original show I’ve seen. Of which there are now many. Following the early days of the FBI using psychology to study criminal behavior, this is the type of show that you enjoy spending time in and hanging out with its trio of protagonists. Which is a huge compliment considering how heavy the subject matter is. Because the show draws from real life cases, it’s a great alternative to just watching the Nth small town murder documentary that comes around.
Here’s just a smattering of other recommendations if you’ve never gotten around to them. And PLEASE keep in mind these are all shows I have seen and can vouch for. Not stuff I ‘heard’ was good. There are what feels like an infinite number of shows out there and I have not seen all of them. So don’t get mad when I didn’t mention yours: I either didn’t like it enough to mention it or, more likely, didn’t get around to it.
The West Wing – Netflix
Parks & Recreation -Netflix
Breaking Bad – Netflix
Arrested Development (Seasons 1 & 2) – Netflix
Black Mirror – Netflix
Community – Netflix
Penny Dreadful – Netflix / Showtime
The People vs. OJ Simpson – Netflix
Fleabag – Amazon
The Boys – Amazon
Russian Doll – Netflix