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The Wire, a 2002 HBO series, appears to be a conventional police drama on the surface. On second thought, the show may be seen as a criticism of the criminal justice system or a relentless review of the War on Drugs. The Wire is, in fact, a detailed analysis of one American city, specifically Baltimore, Maryland. Author and former Baltimore journalist David Simon created the book, which was written by acclaimed authors like Richard Price (Clockers) and Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby, Gone), the series was known for it’s hard looks at civic bureaucracy and gritty realism.
A very talented, but not generally well-known cast, which included ex cops and drug dealers on occasion, contributed to the show’s realism. The Wire’s cast brought characters like Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), Omar Little (Michael K. Williams), “Kima” Greggs (Sonja Sohn), and Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) to life for 60 episodes with performances so genuine you would believe they were real even they weren’t actors. Another remarkable aspect of the show was its willingness to kill off lead characters in service of the story, unlike most shows, just about anyone could go at any time.
The show’s realism allowed it to tackle social, political, and educational issues without coming across as sensational or exploitative. Unfortunately, many of the topics discussed in the show are still important (and entertaining) today, allowing the show to remain relevant (and entertaining).
Few TV shows have ever been able to tell such a big, interconnected storey on such a grand scale. The show began with the drug trade, then abruptly turned to union longshoremen, then to mayoral politics, education, and eventually print journalism. The Wire was able to elevate TV drama to the level of consistency and depth found in a great book, which is why it was chosen as.
2. THE SOPRANOS
Few dramas have had such an impact on contemporary television as The Sopranos. Not only did it manage to balance a large cast of characters, which was unusual for television in the late 1990s, but each and every one of them was as well-written, memorable, and complex as the plot arcs they supported.
Coppola and Scorsese’s American epics and bringing them into the modern age. Tony Soprano, his family, and his other Family live and work at a time when the Mafia’s mythos have vanished with the dawn of the twenty-first century an existentially disturbing and emasculating endeavour for Tony himself, who chooses to go to therapy at a time when the stigma surrounding anxiety and depression was finally being lifted. TV’s most “badass” crime boss to be making regular visits to a psychiatrist was revolutionary in the early 2000s.
It had been advantageous for TV dramas to remain as straightforward and inoffensive to the average audience as possible up until that point, but The Sopranos was brave enough to break away from the mould, thanks in part to the exclusivity and independence of premium cable network HBO. It began by “de-dramatizing” the traditional Mafia tale, shifting the focus away from the traditional.
3. THE TWILIGHT ZONE
In 1959, The Twilight Zone defied expectations by going against all that television was at the time: plain, fast, and secure. Instead, it examined culture, mostly through the prism of science fiction, but without the melodramatic fear-mongering that characterized other media of the time.
Twilight Zone was more interested in sowing the seeds of new ideas in its audience than in shaking them into submission, continually subverting our perceptions in new and insightful ways with its now-iconic twists and clever life lessons that book ended each standalone chapter.The Twilight Zone’s stories and theories are still as surprising and topical today as they were nearly six decades ago, paving the way for more technologically modernized takes on the formula, such as the recent Black Mirror.
4. BREAKING BAD
The transformation of cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher Walter White into meth manufacturer and drug lord “Heisenberg” made for compelling television. Because of the Vince Gilligan-created series’ impeccable scripting, direction, and, of course, acting, there are arguably no completely bad episodes.the performances of its cast, most notably Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as his former student-turned-drug partner Jesse Pinkman.
Breaking Bad was the pinnacle of a decade-long fascination with antiheroes on American television, which started with The Sopranos. The show became better the worse Walter got, the more disgusting his actions were, and the more horrific the consequences were for his family. Better Call Saul, a spin-off of Breaking Bad, is a critically acclaimed but very different kind of show.
5. STAR TREK: The original Series
This Gene Roddenberry invention was never a ratings juggernaut during its initial 1960s run (it was cancelled after just three seasons), but it found new life and fans when it went into syndication. Following the popularity of Star Wars, it was taken off the air after a decade.
Star Trek became a franchise with a presence on both the big and small screens after making the transition to feature films. Roddenberry’s ambitious view of humanity’s future and his social commentary were as entertaining as the Enterprise’s quest to find new worlds and new cultures.Star Trek was significant, bold, and, eventually, timeless because of its consciousness from the diversity of its cast to its treatment of today’s hot button issues. It also helped that the characters in Star Trek were so meticulously drawn and then brought to life by actors who had undeniable chemistry with one another.
6. I LOVE LUCY
Many sitcoms have come and gone over the years, but Lucy Lucy has stood the test of time. Given the show’s era, watching an episode now, 66 years after it first aired, will elicit at the very least a smile, if not actual big laughs.But I Love Lucy, a show created by Lucille Ball and her husband/co-star Desi Arnaz, challenged the limits of television in a number of ways. Arnaz and director of photography Karl Freund worked together to perfect the multi-camera, live studio audience method that would become the template for countless sitcoms to come.
Ball and Arnaz even gave the show a light consistency, which was unusual at the time, and also depicted Lucy’s real-life pregnancy onscreen. (Mind you, this was in an age when the two leads had to be seen sleeping in separate beds.) The times were a-changing, and a zany redheaded comedienne was leading the charge.
7. MAD MEN
Thanks to its smart, introspective scripts and wonderful cast of characters, Matthew Weiner’s complex, immersive look at a 1960s advertising executive put AMC on the map as a major player in the scripted TV world. Although the title “advertising executive” does not sound particularly thrilling for a TV show, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) proved to be a fascinating protagonist.
His entire persona was a fabrication that helped him prove how good he was at selling people on the right picture. He was a self-made man in every sense of the word. Weiner used the supporting characters, especially Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), to illustrate how turbulent the 1960s were and the challenges that were constantly thrown in the way of those seeking to rise above society.
Lost forever changed network television, and it did so in a beautiful way that kept us all wondering. More than a decade after Lost terrified the country with smoke monsters and dark hatches, mythology-driven, sci-fi-tinged ensemble-cast TV is still king.
The show is well known for its meta-mysteries, some of which paid off spectacularly and others of which… didn’t (looking at you, Hurley Bird). But there was more to Lost than that. It was also breathtakingly beautiful, with spectacular island vistas that showcased its then-unprecedented budget. And, particularly in the first season, it placed a strong focus on character-driven side stories.
9. THE SIMPSONS
After The Simpsons, sitcoms were never the same. The Simpsons, in addition to putting Fox on the map as a network, injected sharp writing and informative social commentary into primetime, showing that animated shows could be enjoyed by adults as well. The Simpsons has never shied away from tackling real-life issues, and the show’s first seasons were phenomenal.
The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom in history, having aired for over 20 years. Even if current shows aren’t quite as sharp as they were in the beginning, the fact that it’s still on the air is a testimony to the show’s enduring influence on pop culture and popular comedy in general.
Homer and Bart Simpson are two of the most well-known pop culture icons in the last two decades, and it’s difficult to think of a modern sitcom that hasn’t been inspired by The Simpsons in any way. The Simpsons will have to end at some point, but when it does, it will be remembered as one of the most significant (and hilarious) television shows ever created.
Seinfeld definitely got people talking about a “show about nothing.” Seinfeld managed to not only bring subjects once considered controversial on mainstream television in front of millions of viewers, but also redefined what contemporary comedy could explore in its nine seasons on the air. Seinfeld defied any sitcom trope by focusing on the bizarre misadventures of four flawed people and the cast of characters in their lives, and it became a media sensation as a result.
Jerry Seinfeld became a household name thanks to his unusual phrasing and outrageous plots, which inspired a whole new generation of comedies. (It also gave co-creator and future Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David a break.) Seinfeld is regarded as one of the greatest shows of all time, despite its controversial series finale.