1. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
Seinfeld is one of those shows that you can watch again and again and it’s still funny. Seinfeld has spawned memes, jokes and one liners we still use to this day. It’s epic awesomeness and it’s one of the reasons why Gen Xers are cooler than Millennials – we had Seinfeld and you have safe spaces. Created by Larry David (see number 9) and Jerry Seinfeld.
2. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Vince Gilligan created one of the greatest shows ever and put together a cast of characters that made Breaking Bad both a household name and one of the most watched cable shows in America. Bryan Cranston who most of us knew as a comedy actor was breathtaking in his portrayal of Walter White – he wanted us to remember his name and we shall.
3. The Walking Dead (2010-Present)
The Walking Dead is a show based on a comic book of the same name – it’s about a zombie apocalypse and what would happen to us should one occur. It’s a surprise hit for many but not for those of us who watch. The show is gritty and intense and unlike other shows TWD will kill off beloved characters because in life that’s what happens. The writing is impeccable and the acting is even better. This is the best horror series ever and one of the best shows of all-time.
4. The Sopranos (1997-2007)
Story of a fictional American crime family with a cast of amazing actors including the late James Gandolfini, Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco. It’s gritty, dark and intense. This show is easily one of the best show of all time.
5. Game of Thrones (2011-present)
Based on books by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones is one of the best shows on the air now. The acting, the scenery, the CGI – all of it is breathtaking. The story is well weaved together and it is well deserving of all the praise that has been heaped on it.
6. The Simpsons (1989-present)
If I have to tell you why The Simpson’s has made the list then you must not own a television. This is the longest running sitcom in the United States. It’s won awards, it’s hysterical, it spawned other shows and a line of clothing and toys. This is modern day America.
7. Sherlock (2010 – Present)
Set in modern day London, Sherlock is one of the best written and acted shows ever. It is the brain-child of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Each season only has 3 episodes but despite that it is one of the most watched shows in the world.
8. Sex and the City (1998-2004)
Sex and the City was based on a book by Candace Bushnell. The show pretty much launched HBO’s series cred and really was the start of people looking at HBO as something besides a movie channel. It received 54 Emmy and 24 Golden Globe nominations. This was the show that made women feel was really about them.
9. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-2011) (2017-present)
Co-creator of Seinfeld, Larry David, stars in a fictionalized version of his own life. Larry often finds himself in the most odd/awkward situations that always go wrong. The funniest part of this show is that we can see ourselves in Larry’s bumbling attempts to do the right thing as he sees it. The show is loaded with stars some playing characters, some playing themselves. This is one of the funniest shows on television today and has reached cult status among many of its loyal fans – myself included.
10. Mad Men (2007-2015)
Mad Men received widespread critical acclaim for its writing, acting, and historical authenticity; it has won many awards, including 16 Emmys and five Golden Globes. The series was set in the 1960’s and ran through to 1970. Mad Men ran the gamut on themes for the show – they covered racism, adultery, sexism and addiction.
11. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
This was British sketch comedy at its finest. The skits were brilliant, hilarious and oh so naughty. Monty Python spawned some of the most quotable quotes of all time from their spam skits to their movies, Monty Python reached cult status in the 1980s and is still going strong.
12. Greys Anatomy (2005-Present)
Meredith Grey … the every woman who also could use a scalpel. Grey’s became a cult almost from the beginning. Brilliant and fresh writing, incredibly well acted and even losing favorite characters could not stop the train that is Shonda Rhimes. Shonda Rhimes wanted to create a show about smart women competing against each other and she succeeded.
13. ER (1994-2009)
Medical drama written by Michael Crichton it won 23 Emmys and received 124 Emmy nominations overall, it was the most nominated TV drama in history. It catapulted George Clooney to superstardom and was very focused on sociopolitical storytelling. The stories were riveting and the acting was stellar and that’s why ER is number 13.
14. Friends (1994-2004)
Sitcom that very quickly reached cultish icon status. Ross and Rachael, Monica and Chandler, Joey and Phoebe…you know their names and you know their stories. If you are a woman of a certain age then you at some point asked your hairstylist for a Rachael. You also may have been on a break from your sig other but NOT a Ross and Rachael break…right? Now if you had to look that up – go watch Friends on Netflix and you’ll see for yourself.
15. The West Wing (1999-2006)
Brilliant portrait of what life looks like in the White House. Whatever your political affiliation it’s hard to deny that the writing and acting were some of TV’s finest and even if you disagreed with President Bartlett, you liked him.
16. All in the Family (1971-1979)
This show was a groundbreaking comedic venture. Archie Bunker was a just a working class stiff with major racist issues. The show went after the taboo subjects and blended them into the comedy making it one the most influential shows of its day.
17. Star Trek (1966-1969)
Star Trek for its short run made such an impact on our society that it spawned 13 major motion pictures and 5 spin off series. An instant cult classic that continues to this day.
18. MASH (1972-1983)
Mash was a comedy set during the Korean War. It started out as a film and that spawned a series. It was about the 4077thMobile Army Surgical Hospital. It is one of the highest rated shows in U.S. television history. This is one of the best written shows I have ever seen and I know I am not alone in believing this. It was fun and it tackled some tough subjects it occasionally got preachy but ensemble cast made that more than tolerable.
19. I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
The show starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz was genius. It was so good that even now it is still in syndication. The comedic timing and brilliance of Lucille Ball is something that needs to be seen. Her husband played by her real-life husband at the time played the perfect foil for her. It is widely regarded as one of the best sitcoms in history.
20. Cheers (1982-1993)
Where everybody knows your name…a great comedy who launched or in some cases revived the careers of most of its cast. It spawned Frasier Crane who got his own show after Cheers ended. Cheers was a funny, smart and not too PC comedy which makes it a gem. It had many celebrity guests stop in for a drink and while it did try to tackle some social issues it never lost sight of the humor and that made it a rare sitcom. Too many sitcoms lost the fun when they tackled sensitive topics but Cheers never did and that is why it made the top 20.