Considering everyone is probably binge-watching like they’ve never binge watched before, I decided to come up with my “extremely official, scientific and true” top ten shows. As you will agree, my background as an Investment Advisor and Financial Planner has given me the expertise to make these judgements. Seriously though, this is more than a little subjective. They are in an order, but I’m not sure the order really matters, with the exception of my top two. To me these two series are the best in my books.
The majority of these are Drama’s, but I threw in a Comedy and a Fantasy/Sci Fi (probably not the one you’re thinking) into the mix. I also gave some bonus points towards the trail blazers. Though it didn’t make the list, shows like Arrested Development were revolutionary in the way they were shot and their use of deadpan responses that left you guessing if it was a joke or not. Their approach is now somewhat common.
I’d also like to give an honourable mention to the BBC and Icelandic detective series on Netflix. Hinterland, Shetland, Broadchurch, Trapped, Valhalla and Luther (which can be found on CBC Gem). These are all great shows to watch.
Lastly and possibly most importantly, I will warn you that viewer discretion is advised on this list. You may consider googling these series in advance to determine if they are in your comfort zone.
Hopefully this will introduce you to some new great series, or inspire you to re-watch something you loved.
10. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)
I recently finished this and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great character development, and amazing costumes/setting for this show set in the 50’s. I think one of the reasons I liked it so much is that it was great to watch right now when social anxiety is so high. It’s funny, and the episodes have a lot of “wins” and not a lot of tension. I thought it deserved to make the list for that reason. Watch it and enjoy it.
9. Band of Brothers (HBO)
Early HBO miniseries about Charlie company in the Second World War. It was produced by Tom Hanks. It came on the heels of Saving Private Ryan and is similar in many respects.
8. Mindhunter (Netflix)
This is a fictionalized but based-on-fact story of how the FBI Behavioural Crime unit got its start. It shows how a couple of agents and a psychiatrist discover and investigate serial killers and how the FBI transforms from a police force type of organization, to the investigative body that it is now.
7. Battlestar Gallactica (Amazon Prime)
This is my Sci Fi Choice. Many of you may have been expecting “Game of Thrones”, which is really good and I recommend it, but the last two seasons were too rushed. “Stranger Things” was also a consideration, however the second season just wasn’t as good as the other two, and each season has some episodes that aren’t up to par. Battlestar Gallactica was a two-part minisieries that turned into a three season show on the sci fi channel or something… but now is owned by Amazon Prime. The acting is great and it has a gripping plot with twists. It was shot in the 2000’s and sometimes the special effects show their age, but it was ahead of its time. That fact as well as its Canadian connection (it is shot in Vancouver and a lot of the supporting cast is Canadian) pushed it ahead of the other two in my books.
6. Six Feet Under (HBO)
The first pure Drama HBO series. This is about a family run funeral home and the dynamics between the members of that family. It’s funny and touching. The majority of the episodes start with a member of the public dying in unfortunate and usually humorous circumstances - which sets the scene for the coming episode at the funeral home. It’s a great show.
5. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
This is my comedy entry…and I was torn between this, Veep and Arrested Development. But the Seinfeld connection won out. For those that don’t know, Larry David co-wrote and produced Seinfeld, and is whom the character “George” is based on. So, if you liked George in Seinfeld, this is for you. My knock on Curb your enthusiasm is the first few seasons are not as good as the more recent ones… but Season 7 is the Seinfeld reunion and for any Seinfeld fans, this is a must.
4. The Night of (HBO)
Gripping plot, well-acted, good underdog legal story. I gained so much respect for John Turturro in this, as I think I’d only ever seen him in comedies.
3. The Sopranos (HBO)
We all know it. It really put HBO on the map and is credited with starting this whole binge watching thing we do. I feel it deserves to be above the previous ones I’ve mentioned, but my final two are in my opinion my final two.
The Top 2
The Wire (HBO)
This is a gritty, realistic view of the street and drug scene in Baltimore. “The Wire” refers to a wire-tap. David Simon wrote and produced it and it is the show that put Idris Elba on the map. Simon even hired people into the cast that were living in the projects to keep it realistic. So realistic that many people need to turn on the close captioning to understand what is being said. It is a slow-building character development show, so you need to commit to the first three or four episodes before you make a decision whether you can continue. It’s really amazing to see how far we’ve come since the early 2000’s: we were apparently still using beepers then, and wait until you see the detectives start using a new, state of the art surveillance tool called a “G-P-S”. When President Obama was in office he stated that The Wire was his favourite show and he jokingly asked David Simon to make a 6th season. David Simon released a response that read that he would make a 6th season if the president legalized drugs. Watch the show and you’ll see where Simon’s coming from.
Madmen (Bravo originally, now on Netflix)
I go back and forth between The Wire and Madmen as my favourite, depending on my mood. Madmen is also a deep character development show, where after a while you only need to see the look on the character’s face to fall into stitches laughing. It is set in the early 60’s through the 70’s and is about the Madison Avenue Advertising world. Beautifully written, it portrays the male dominated and chauvinistic work environment by making fun of the men and how absurd it was and they were. Societies norms are on trial and it makes you think about things we are doing today. They also show how mental illness was ignored and brushed under the rug. I recently convinced Dijana to start watching this and I’m really enjoying reliving some of the updates she gives me from the episodes she is going through.