Television has gone through a kind of revolution in the past 20 years. From the boring soap operas of the 80’s, slowly emerged new authors and new genres that brought back our attention to the favorite item in our living room – the TV screen. Here are some of the most memorable TV shows to capture our attention to the fullest during the past two decades.
1. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones, a tv show created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for HBO, is a fantasy drama television series. The show is an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire, the first of which is titled A Game of Thrones. This hit show is filmed in numerous scenic locations throughout the world, like Morocco, Northern Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Scotland, Iceland, and the United States. So far 7 seasons have aired, and the 8th and final season is currently in production.
2. Breaking Bad
This show is one of the biggest in recent TV history, judging by the ratings and the huge and almost cult-like following it has garnered. Breaking bad depicts the transformation of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, from upstanding citizen to a criminal mastermind. It won numerous awards, got high praise from critics and the audience, and sky-rocketed the careers of most of the cast.
3. The Simpsons
Not much can be said about the animated TV series which is now airing for 29 years that is not already well known. The Simpsons is a cultural phenomenon by itself and with more than 600 episodes has managed to depict almost every aspect of our present day. It is the the longest-running American sitcom of all time. This record is not to be broken any time soon, considering the show creators have no intention of stopping any time soon.
Friends was an American television series created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired for 10 seasons, from 1994 to 2004. The show is centered around six friends living in Manhattan, depicting their daily lives, filled with comedic and romantic adventures and career issues. It is considered to have a huge impact on the 90s and early 00s pop culture, especially among the post-teen generations of those years.
Seinfeld is a half hour sitcom, often described as a “show about nothing”, centered around the daily happenings of its main protagonist. It is created by Jerry Seinfeld, who prior to the show already had a notable career as a stand up comic, along with Larry David. The show ran for 9 seasons, praised by critics, and is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms ever made.
6. The X-Files
The X-Files is a science fiction drama TV series, that delves deep into the paranormal and flirts constantly with sci-fi themes. The series is centered around the duo of FBI special agents, Fox Mulder (portrayed by David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (played by Gillian Anderson). They investigate the infamous X-Files: unsolved FBI cases involving paranormal phenomena, cases which no one else would touch. Mulder takes the side of believing in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while on the other side – Scully, a medical doctor and a skeptic, is there to point Mulder to his “true north” with her scientific analyses of his findings.
Lost was a science fiction and adventure show with many shades of supernatural, airing for six seasons on the ABC network, between 2004 and 2010. It was created by J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber and Damon Lindelof. However, the story line was developed cooperatively by many different writers during its six years of production. That proved to be one of the things that helped the show encapsulate such a large audience, as its ratings suggest. The plot-line of Lost follows the survivors of an airplane crash, which was flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, California, on a tropical island awash in mystery, somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. Additionally, flashbacks and flashforward sequences give us further insight into the lives and destiny of the show’s characters. Lost won numerous awards, including Emmys, Golden Globes, Bafta, etc.
House is the critically acclaimed medical drama, which ran for 8 seasons on Fox broadcasting network, from 2004 to 2012. It is centered around Dr. Gregory House, the Head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine. Played by Hugh Laurie, House is an eccentric, misanthropic medical genius. His personality traits and work methods are considered to be inspired by the most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes – a favorite of the show creator David Shore.
Dexter is a Showtime original drama series that revolves around the forensic technician Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall), who specializes in blood spatter pattern analysis for the police. He leads a secret parallel life as a self-proclaimed righteous vigilante serial killer who hunts down murderers that have somehow evaded the hands of justice.
10. The Office (UK)
The UK sitcom, The Office, is a television show filmed in mockumentary style, depicting the every day live of an office branch of a fictitious paper company. Ricky Gervais created the show alongside Steve Merchant, and also plays the main character – David Brent, the office’s regional manager. He constantly tries to “get on the good side” with his employees and peers, which often results in embarrassing or disastrous results. Brent’s character flaws are usually the main sources of comedic relief, as he mostly fails to understand how his behavior often borders on the racist, sexist and generally socially inappropriate.
11. The Sopranos
The Sopranos is a crime drama TV series whose story is centered around Tony Soprano, a fictional New Jersey-based Italian American mobster, masterfully portrayed by James Gandolfini. The series depicts the daily struggle of Tony as he tries to balance between his two roles, a boss of a criminal organization and a father and husband in a respected family. The show has a vast array of characters, including Tony’s family members, mafia colleagues and rivals, and sometimes it delves into their separate story arcs. As the show creator David Chase says, “It’s a story about the reality of being a mobster—or what I perceive to be the reality of life in organized crime. They aren’t shooting each other every day. They sit around eating baked ziti and betting and figuring out who owes who money.”
12. The Big Bang Theory
An american comedy sitcom, describing the everyday geeky life of 4 genius scientists Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard. The series treats their awkward social life, confusing romantic life, and brilliant professional life with focus on science. Throughout the years, the show has won many People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Comedy, and Lead Actors in Comedy Series.
13. South Park
Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, this american animated satire, follows the calamity adventures of four boys Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovsky, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick. They are school friends, going to elementary school in the calm but rather dysfunctional town of South Park, Colorado. We have Stan the average american kid, Kyle the Jew, Cartman the antagonist. And then there’s Kenny, a kid from a poor family who dies in every episode in the first five seasons. All the other characters also play an important role in this critique of the american modern society. The show is rich in cultural and political references, and has garnered a cult status among its fans, since the very beginning in 1997. The theme song is performed by the band Primus.
14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This show’s narrative follows Buffy Summers, portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar. She is latest descendant in a line of young women called “Vampire Slayers”. They are chosen by fate to fight vampires, demons and other forces of darkness. At first Buffy just wants to lead a normal life as any other young woman. But as the plot develops, she learns to embrace her destiny, with the help of the Watcher, who is for all intents and purposes her trainer, guide and teacher.
15. Family Guy
Centered around the mishaps of the Griffin family, Family Guy is an animated comedy that deals with the challenges they face living in the fictional small town of Quahog, Rhode Island. It was nominated and won numerous awards during its 15 seasons (16th started on October 2017). Family Guy has been praised by critics for being inventive and fresh. It was also labeled as repetitive and offensive by others. Some even say it’s the lesser version of the The Simpsons.
16. Arrested Development
Arrested Development, originally airing for only three seasons on Fox, with a forth released on Netflix years later. It is widely considered to be one of the most hilarious, wittiest and most charming sitcoms ever to be aired on TV. The show was created by Mitchell Hurwitz and depicts the life of the Bluths, a fictitious family who were once very wealthy. They are now forced to handle everyday life from a different standpoint.
17. Modern Family
This show is a family comedy drama and follows the lives of three families, each one portrayed full with stereotypes. We have Jay Pritchett, an elderly rich man, well into his second marriage with his beautiful Colombian wife Gloria, and her son from the previous marriage Manny. Jay’s daughter Claire and her husband Phil are the nuclear family, married young, with three children. Claire’s brother Mitchell and his partner Cameron, are the gay family – upper-class, fashionable snobs, with an adopted Vietnamese daughter Lilly. They all live in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
A TV crime drama, about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a modernized version, set in 21st century London, staring Benedict Cumberbatch in the leading role. The main character solves a vast number of mystery cases in modern day London. He is accompanied by his collaborator Dr John Watson (played by Martin Freeman). The show started airing in 2010, and has been nominated for several awards, including Emmy’s, BAFTAs and Golden Globe.
Firefly is praised as being one of the greatest sci-fi TV shows ever made. It is centered around a group of nine individuals who live on the Serenity, a Firefly Class spaceship (hence the name of the show), trying to stay out of the limelight, after a devastating civil war. The crew of the ship fought on the losing side in the war. Now they live their lives at odds with the ruling society, the so-called, Alliance.