It seems like we are living a unique time in television history, full of series of all genre and great actors who started showing up in the small screen little by little. The truth is that there have been great shows before this avalanche of quality, some of them qualified as great classic shows. Some of these are still on the air, some are already concluded, and what they all have in common is that they are great classic shows that you definitely must watch before you die because they will provide a complete experience, with their renowned quality and are worthy of to see again or viewed for the first time.
1. Game of Thrones – watch on Amazon now
Based on the fantasy books written by George R.R.Martin, it first aired on 2011 through HBO, breaking a series of rating records. Most part of the story takes place in Westeros – a fictional continent where stations can last for years – and it’s centered on the violent dynasty struggles arising between noble families looking to gain control over the Iron Throne.
Each episode is an actual movie with its own budget that also has everything; action, drama, erotism, etc, as well as great and well-developed characters that make you love them and submerge into their individual stories.
Just try not get too attached to the characters because the more you love them, the more likely is for them to get killed off in a horrible and impious way.
2. Lost – watch on Amazon now or buy the DVD complete collection
No doubt this is a show that set a before and after for fiction television. The responsible is J.J. Abrahams, better known now as the director of Star Wars: episode VII – The Force Awakens.
The plot of ‘Lost’ follows a group of survivors from a plane crash, that inexplicably crash in a paradise island that does not appear on any map. Over the story develops the group uncovers secrets and starts knowing the origin of this island. Why is there a polar bear? What is that thing that runs in the jungle? Why is there a secret bunker? Dozens of inexplicable events happen in this show. After a couple of drifted last seasons, the show was closed with a finale showcased simultaneously on nine countries. An ending – though a bit controversial, since it did not answer every question to show up over the course of six seasons; but still, very recommended due to its cliffhangers and its characters.
3. House M.D. – watch on Amazon now or buy the DVD complete collection
There are hundreds of medical shows – a subgenre loved by many and hated by others – but no doubt there is one of these that stand above the rest. We are talking about ‘House’, a TV show protagonist by the doctor Gregory House (Hugh Laurie).
Dr. House is the head of the diagnose team in the Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital, and on every of his interventions, he shows himself arrogant, bitter and different, however very well versed on uncommon pathologies. Because of this, he and his team will have reunions to decide on the patient’s illness, tending to be the discordant voice in these forums, and how could he not, if he’s usually right. His addiction to painkillers and his character will go a long way through all eight seasons.
4. Breaking Bad – watch on Amazon now
In these last years of great shows, this show has established its position as a contemporary classic, and has known how to hook fans for five seasons in a row and even today, more than two years after the finale, it’s still a topic of conversation. ‘Breaking Bad’ tells the story of a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who has a lot of money issues, which aggravate when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Walter decides then, to start cooking meth in order to leave a good amount of money for his wife and unborn daughter.
What seemed like a noble purpose ends up twisted when White starts becoming crueler and meaner, changing entirely his own personality. As Walter White starts turning into the practical villain of the show, we live with him a series of adventures between comedy and cruel drama, where we start wishing for this villain to get away with it; no doubt, an instant classic.
5. Mad Men – watch on Amazon now
First Aired on 2007 on AMC and set to this year. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is one of the best publicists in the New York of the 60’s. He’s married to Betty (January Jones), with whom he had three children and works for the Sterling Cooper agency. This is his story and of his colleagues. Even though if you haven’t seen it yet, it might seem like a strange choice, Mad Man is one of the best shows currently on TV, and definitely, one you need to see at least once in your life. Not just because of its adaptation of the decade when you can highlight a generalized cigarette addiction by 90% of the population, alcoholism, racism, chauvinism, and the special circumstances that occurred during that time (Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Beatles phenomenon, the moon landing). Jon Hamm is a great actor and Donald Draper is one of the best and more complex characters ever created.
6. The Sopranos – watch on Amazon now
Everyone loves mafia stories, that we can’t deny. For those who were baffled by the first ‘Godfather’ movies, David Chase created The Sopranos in 1999, a very special mafia show. The protagonist of this show is Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), the leader of a criminal organization in which his wife and nephew have also some influence.
Throughout the story, Tony will not just have to deal with rival groups and classic mafia problems but also with family issues. Being the head of his family and leader of the mafia is hard work for Tony. The Sopranos’ is still considered as one of the best shows in history, and it’s still worth watching if you haven’t watched it yet.
7. House of Cards – watch on Amazon now
Just like ‘Lost’, because of a controversial and somewhat out of place ending, it is considered as a show that changed the world’s perception on television fiction. House of Cards has set a landmark on a very different moment in television: the age of the streaming platforms and the gamble for self-owned content.
So far, HBO and Showtime, as well as other cable networks, were the synonym for quality. Some online sites had shyly tried before but their products were cheap and, unfortunately, they were also very intrasentential and lacked quality. And then came Netflix, hit its fist on the table and established that not only networks could make good television. That’s how House of Cards was born and because of that other sites like Amazon have started their own productions.
8. Seinfeld buy the complete collection
Speaking of ‘Seinfeld’ is talking about a real icon of the 90’s. This show set many referents back on its time for all sit-coms these days and stays in the memory of its fans as one of the best comedies to be transmitted on television history. This original situations comedy is protagonist by its own creator Jerry Seinfeld, actor and comedian who reached worldwide fame thanks to this television show.
‘Seinfeld’ goes about the life of Jerry himself and of his friends Kramer, George Constanza and Elaine Benes, who go through a series of daily situations with hilarious consequences. The stories of the protagonists, each one with its character and weirdness, interact on each episode, usually ending with a stand-up presentation of Jerry.
9. Friends – watch on Amazon now or buy the complete collection
Another 90’s icon; on Friends, we live day by day the life of a group of six friends; three guys and three girls who, basically, live a normal life and get involved on all sorts of absurd situations. Ross Geller is a paleontologist, Rachel Green is a spoiled girl, Chandler Bing is the funny guy in the group, Monica Geller is a chef and Ross’ younger sister and Joey Tribbiani is an actor and player, and Phoebe Buffay who is the weird one of the group.
What seems normal today for this kind of comedies, wasn’t so normal back when this show first aired. Everyday problems of the protagonists, the absurd solutions of the rest of them, and their love affairs that – many times – led nowhere; for many seasons, ‘Friends’ was the synonym of laughter on television, and despite its irregular final season we can’t do anything other than surrender to this great comedy. ‘Friends’ is an extemporal classic that is still emitted on several channels and still has a faithful fandom following it.
10. The Big Bang Theory – watch on Amazon now
Created and written by Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men), Bill Prady and Steven Molaro, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ shows us the life of four geek friends whose scientific knowledge goes far above average but not so does their social skills.
The lives of these geeks start to change when they meet Penny, their hot neighbor and a waitress at the cheesecake factory. Just the fact of having a girl across the hall turns into a challenge for them, creating all sorts of hilarious situations.
The show’s been in the air for nine seasons already, breaking many rating records and winning countless awards throughout the years.
11. Prison Break – watch on Amazon now or buy the Blu-Ray complete collection
This one would fall in the group of shows that after a brilliant start, went slowly dimming until they fell into oblivion. The primary premise was innovative and it supposed a blow of fresh air for the jail genre. An architect from Illinois introduces himself inside Fox River prison in order to bust his brother out who was unjustly sentenced to death, through an elaborate escape plan.
The first season was an immediate hit, each episode would leave extremely addictive cliffhangers, the characters were charismatic and loveable, and it has trepidant narrative rhythm. The show took home a Golden Globe to the Best Dramatic Series, and Wentworth Miller, the great Michael Scofield, won the one to Best Drama Actor.
12. 24 – watch on Amazon now or buy the Blu-Ray complete collection
Jack Bauer is a counterterrorism agent who deals with bad guys on a daily basis. This show takes place in real time, and every season unfolds one day of Jack Bauer’s life. 24 is considered one of the most iconic television shows of its decade because of its originality and because of how well interlocked the stories are and how well developed the characters are allowing you to empathize with them and get let them get under your skin.
13. Shameless – watch on Amazon now
This show is not a drama, and it’s not a comedy either. You can be laughing your head off in one scene and then be crying your heart out in the next; although the third season is probably the least funny one. This indefinable genre might be what keeps it from the critics, who don’t really know how to take it, but for some others, it makes it most enjoyable. There is no topic that Shameless doesn’t touch; teenage homosexuality? Done, Workplace harassment? Done, Euthanasia? Done; and all this without the halo of ¨Omg, I’m so controversial and modern.¨ On shameless everything is treated with an overwhelming naturality.
14. Modern Family – watch on Amazon now
It’s nothing new to say that Modern Family is one of the most popular comedies of this time. Pretty much since it was first aired back on 2009, critique and awards went hand by hand to assert that the fiction of ABC was much more than recommendable. The ones that matter, the viewers, also spoke up, and they loved this adventures of three families so different and alike at the same time and saved a spot for them among their favorite fictions.
To this day, the Modern Family keeps harvesting good audiences and lots of awards due to its narrative which is not always at the reach of every producer; the characters’ personalities, often crazy yet complex and with a social impact for the protagonists of this comedy.
15. Silicon Valley – watch on Amazon now
‘Silicon Valley’ is a parody of the Startup world, of entrepreneurs and the 2.0 life surrounding them. Hooli might be a fictional company but its presentation, the boss, its philosophy; everything is clearly inspired on all big technological companies today, where saying you want to do something for the greater good and accidentally for their own economic benefit is just around the corner. We refer to the ¨politically correct¨ of internet’s new era.
Richard Hendriks is a programmer on Silicon Valley. Brilliant but feeling trapped in his job for Hooli, a technology giant that does it all. He spends his free time developing Pied Piper, a service that allows songwriters and singers to detect if a song or composition is the same as theirs by comparing two files. What Richard doesn’t know is that, on the way, he has created a unique jewel: a very powerful algorithm of lossless decompression.
Inspired by the 1970 novel of the same name, by Richard Hooker, Mash tells the story of the medical team stationed in the 4077th MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) in Korea during the war. This show has 11 seasons and quickly became a huge success.
17. How I Met Your Mother – watch on Amazon now or buy the Blu-Ray complete collection
Ted Mosby is talking to his children and tells them the story of how he met their mother and of his adventures with his friends in New York while it happened.
This show often gets compared with Friends, and in a way, it is very similar only more updated and with a bohemia kind of vibe. Ted’s friends hang out on a bar after work and they often get involved on hilarious situations. One of the fans’ favorite characters is Barney Stinson, a banker with an obsession to get women, a rule book he always tries to impose on his friends and an incredible rate of success.
How I met your mother shares a few of the key format elements that Friends’ imposed on the industry only with a darker humor and more interesting characters; definitely a show you must see.
18. Everybody Loves Raymond – watch on Amazon now or buy the DVD complete collection
This show turns around the life of the Italian-American family of Raymond Barone, a sports reporter from the Lynbrook Long Island, who lives with his wife Debra Barone, his daughter Ally, and the twins, Geoffrey, and Michael. Ray’s parents – who live right across the street from him – and his brother Robert are constantly meddling in his life, creating conflicts and funny situations. Despite being a family with small children, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ is not your average family sitcom, it is more about the complex relationship between men and women, and different generations.
19. Married With Children – watch on Amazon now or buy the DVD complete collection
Married with children tells the story of a family of four; the Father, Al Bundy, Peggy, the mother, and their daughter and son.
20. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – watch on Amazon now or buy the DVD complete collection
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was an American show produced by NBC and it first aired in 1990 until it was canceled in 1996. The lead character is Will Smith, who plays himself as a kid from Philadelphia who’s mother sends to live with some rich relatives from Bel Air, in Los Angeles. 148 episodes were shot along the six seasons.
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