The Ten Greatest TV Shows
Just a note: this is not a list of my personal favorites. I am trying to step back from this list and be as objective as possible. These shows are ranked on importance and impact as well as quality. I have a feeling there will be a lot of disagreement with this one, but that’s the way it goes.
10. Star Trek (1966-1969)
In many ways Star Trek is bigger than a television series (and I don’t just mean because it went on to make 10, almost 11, feature films as well). It had a vision and scope that really went beyond. Star Trek was a forum for ideas and a medium to promote acceptance and harmony. It challenged the modern ideas of race relations and had a vision of a united Earth who focused the positive advancement of knowledge. And as for the science fiction aspect, it truly set a standard of innovative ideas and philosophies for the entire genre.
9. Sesame Street (1969-present)
Is there anyone born after the 1960’s whose childhood was not influenced by Jim Henson’s Sesame Street? Okay, maybe there were, but not many I would wager. Sesame Street was able to use the television medium for a purpose: to make learning fun. TV was turning out to be simply a way of life for children, for better or for worse. So Sesame Street did what it could to make it for better.
Sesame Street has introduced loads of memorable characters into the north American cultural fabric: Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Cookie Monster, Grover, Snuffleupagus, Oscar the Grouch, and the list goes on. Sesame Street has tackled subjects as rudimentary as counting and spelling to such subjects such as death. Sesame Street has been a staple of childhood for decades.
8. 60 Minutes (1968-present)
Investigative television journalism at its peak. 60 minutes has been around for 40 years and has done some very important investigation, as well as been embroiled in much controversy. None the less, it is an important staple of American television.
7. Cheers (1982-1993)
Cheers is the prime example of how a formulaic situation comedy can be great if all of the pieces fit; the characters, the writing, the chemistry between the actors, all at the top of their game There is a reason it was the most popular show out there for almost a decade. Sam, Diane, Norm, Cliff, Carla, Woody; everyone knew their name.
6. The Honeymooners (1955-1956)
The Honeymooners was able to lay a foundation for television comedy beyond simply being the show that The Flintstones is based on. Jackie Gleason and his cast created a show which was both rip-roaringly hilarious and incredibly sweet at the same time. A classic in every sense of the word.
5. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
The ‘show abuot nothing’ revolutionized TV comedy and ingrained itself into popular culture. Seinfeld gave us one ofd television’s greatest characters in George Costanza and gave slapstick comedy a new name with Cosmo Kramer. Sure it was outrageous and over-the-top at times, but that’s all a part of its charm. Even though its been off the air for ten years, Seinfeld remains master of its domain.
4. All in the Family (1971-1979)
Archie Bunker is one of the most colourful and important characters in television history. Why? Because he was able to bring out the prejudices f our society out for all to see. For some he was able to show that maybe they weren’t that different from him after all. He made we as an audience face our own biases. All in the family was an important show when it aired and its legacy is still important today.
3. I Love Lucy (1951-1960)
Not including Lucy on this list would be like AFI not including Casablanca in their top ten. I personally am not a big fan of I Love Lucy, but it is an undeniable classic which laid a foundation for television comedy, and television in general, for the next fifty years.
2. M*A*S*H* (1972-1983)
Mash blurred the lined of drama and comedy, using the Korean War as its backdrop. Mash was an incredibly funny show with something to say. Sure it could be melodramatic at times, but usually it managed to hit just the right note. The characters are memorable as are the ideals they struggled to maintain in the chaos of war.
1. The Simpsons (1989-present)
When it comes to television, The Simpsons is almost on a different plane than all other shows. The Simpsons has carved out a unique place for itself in pop culture. Not only are Homer, Bart, Marge and Lisa Simpson household names, but even the dozens of supporting characters are very widely known: Mr. Burns, Moe the bartender, Chief Wiggum, Groundskeeper Willie, Sideshow Bob, Duffman, and the list goes on and on and on.
The Simpsons is comedic genius. The first half of the shows long and successful run of almost 20 years is simply untouched it terms of quality in the writing. The greatest episodes of the Simpsons are simply some of the greatest episodes of TV period. And there are many, many of these great episodes. Simpsons manages to find just the right balance between slapstick humour and social satire which allows this show to be vastly layered in its levels of humor.
The Simpsons is simply the greatest television show ever.