On Sunday, the Writers Guild of America released their list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.
The list was voted on in May of 2012 by WGA members and is intended to honor “classics, trailblazing series and miniseries, as well as current and critically acclaimed programs, from comedies to dramas to variety/talk and children’s programming.”
And while it might do that, we all know the list's real purpose: to spark endless debate on the Internet about which shows actually deserve to be on it and where they should be ranked. Frankly, I can’t even understand why people bothered to make lists like this before the “comments section” was invented, but alas. We don’t have to worry about that here, do we?
Considering I am one of those annoying children who grew up in a home without television, I’ve actually watched my fair amount of TV. Much like how my mother only let me drink Coke on special occasions and now I’m addicted to Diet Coke, the “No TV” rule totally backfired, and I’ve been known to spend entire days in my PJs having a threesome with my couch and the remote.
And though there are many shows I haven’t seen that people say are great -- “Dexter,” “Twin Peaks,” “True Blood,” “30 Rock,” “Game of Thrones,” “Northern Exposure,” “The Office” (UK or US), and so many more -- I am not going to let that stop me from presenting you with my list for the 10 Best Written TV Shows (That I’ve Seen).
Before I go any further, I should tell you: I watched three episodes of “The Wire,” and I hated it. My friend said that everyone he knows who is intelligent loves “The Wire,” so take from that what you will. He also loaned me Season One in a desperate attempt to get me to watch it again, but I’m still nine episodes behind on “Vampire Diaries” so it’s probably never going to happen. Anyway, just be warned: it’s not on the list. Oh, and I got bored of “Breaking Bad” after one season. Oopsie!
First, the WGA’s 10 Best Written TV Series of ALL TIME:
- "The Sopranos"
- "The Twilight Zone" (1959)
- "All in the Family"
- "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
- "Mad Men"
- "The Wire"
- "The West Wing"
And now.... MINE. In descending order. For SUSPENSE!
The 10 Best Written TV Shows (That I’ve Seen)
10. "90210" (The Brenda Years)
Yes, even I, most loyal TV viewer of all time, stopped watching "9-0" eventually. Though I did stick around for Valerie. And when Kelly was burned in a fire. And when Kelly joined the cult. And when Kelly became a Cocaine addict. I stopped sometime after she shot the rapist who impregnated her.
But the Brenda years. Oh the Brenda years. Tell me you didn’t love Brenda and Dylan, and I will tell you that you have no soul.
9. "The Comeback"
If you missed “The Comeback,” I order you to Netflix it immediately. Shot in the style of a reality show-within-a-show following a sitcom actress who has fallen out of favor, this show is full of one-liners and Lisa Kudrow is hilarious and amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time. Only the recent demise of “Smash” crushed me like the fact that this HBO comedy was cancelled after being on the air for 13 weeks. “I don’t need to see that!” (Except, I do.)
8. "The Great Space Coaster"
Okay. So maybe this should be on here for its amazing theme song and not its stellar writing, but let me tell you, I used to come home at 3 a.m. with an egg sandwich from the deli and watch “The Great Space Coaster” and it totally holds up to when we (fine: just me, probably) were kids. The whole thing feels like it was written by someone on acid. “No Gnews is Good Gnews from Gary Gnu!” Anyone?
7. "Downton Abbey" (#43 on the WGA's “official” list)
What? I don’t ONLY watch “bad” TV. The costumes, the sets… it all makes me want to live in that time despite the fact that people actually die from things like Scarlet Fever and childbirth. But mostly it’s worth watching for Maggie Smith’s brilliant one-liners. Like when she asked, “What’s a weekend?”
6. "Friday Night Lights" (#22 on the WGA's “official” list)
First, I promise: this is a show about football that’s not actually about football at all. It’s an hour-long drama about high school, family, relationships, struggles, and fine: at the center of it are the Dillon Panthers, the town’s pride and joy. And it doesn’t hurt that all of the actors are super good looking. Two words: Tim Riggins.
5. "Saved by the Bell" – every season BUT the first
Hiding in lockers? Taking a “Time Out” to talk to the audience? The Max? Pure genius, people. And it wasn’t just a fun-loving sitcom. Remember the episode when Jessie Spano, good girl and know-it-all, became a speed addict? Never forget.
4. "Arrested Development" (#16 on the WGA's “official” list)
It’s time for a confession: I’m only on the second season of AD. But I’m addicted and I love it and it’s pure genius. Clearly, it’s not YOUR first time to the banana stand, but sometimes I’m slow. Also, Lucille is basically my mother incarnate. And although my mother and I never hug, this moment will stand out as my favorite of all time in any TV show ever:
Michael: Why are you squeezing me with your body?
Lucille: It’s a hug, Michael. I’m hugging you.
Season 1-4 are all streaming right now on Netflix. Because you needed me to tell you that.
3. "The Wonder Years" (#54 on the WGA's “official” list)
I just had to choose between “Six Feet Under” (#18 on the WGA's “official" list) and “The Wonder Years” and I’m not sure I made the right choice, but there you go. Although if you haven’t watched “Six Feet Under,” you should. The final scene is one of my favorite final scenes of all time. Way better than last scene of “The Sopranos.” Anyway, this is about “The Wonder Years.” I mean, Kevin and Winnie. Enough said.
2. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (#30 on the WGA's “official” list)
I pretty much die for Larry David in this show. So much so that I left “Pretty Little Liars,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dawson’s Creek,” and “Weeds” off of this list completely.
1. "My So-Called Life" (#68 on the WGA's “official” list)
I can -- and will -- watch “My So-Called Life” on DVD over and over and over again for the rest of my life. The fact that it was cancelled after only one season is literally the worst thing that has ever happened to me and my father left when I was a baby and my mom sent me to reform school when I was 15. Angela is so raw and so real, it’s just… There are no words. And Jordan Catalano? I still dream about him. Like, often. I wish there were some way to magically go back in time and make 10 more seasons of MSCL, but alas, we have to live with what we were given, and just hold on to that moment when Buffalo Tom is playing in the background and Jordan Catalano grabs Angela’s hand as they’re walking down the hall in school. Sigh.
Okay. I've shown you mine, now you show me yours. What are your picks for the Best Written TV Series (That You've Seen)?
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