Dear 100 Hour Bird,
Which TV show from the last 5ish years should more people be watching?
-Old, Decrepit Sheldon Who Wasted His Life And Resents The Young And Healthy
I rarely go out of my way to watch TV and even more rarely enjoy it, but words cannot describe how much I love The Good Place. It's got philosophy! It's got ethics! It's got a superb cast and brilliant writers! It's got the twistiest plot twists that actually make sense! (I predicted the Season 1 finale's twist, and it still caught me by surprise.) It's got serious twist-induced rewatch potential! It's got details you can only fully appreciate with the help of a screenshot! And it's got the absolute best out-of-context quotes in the history of television.
Also I missed the second half of season two because of an evening class and I'm lazy and still haven't watched it so if you give me spoilers I swear I will hunt you down and duct tape you to the floor and make you watch The Phantom Menace on a loop until it is the only existence you can remember. You have been warned.
If you generally enjoy fun comedies, I recommend Brooklyn Nine-Nine! It's a charming show about the NYPD with great representation (women/POC/LGBTQ characters in positive leadership roles).
If you're into sci-fi that asks a lot of philosophical and ethical questions, I can't recommend Westworld enough. The less you know about it going into it, the better, but know that it is very rated R for just about every reason you can think of. I'm still waiting to see whether season two is as good as season one (it's okay so far but not phenomenal like season one was).
If you like quirky comedies with great female leads, Broad City is one to check out. The series is about two young women and their misadventures living in New York City. The first few seasons are a little better than the more recent ones, but I've enjoyed it all, honestly.
If you are interested in beautifully filmed crime series, consider the tv show Fargo. It's an anthology-style crime show and each season is based off a different true crime story that happened in the United States. It is fantastic in just about every way imaginable: writing, cinematography, music, dialogue, characters.
Hope you find something cool to watch!
I'm not really breaking new ground with these suggestions, but everyone should be watching Stranger Things, The Good Place, and The Great British Baking Show.
If you'll believe it, this is my edited-down list.
- The Good Fight (CBS All Access): Technically it's a spinoff of The Good Wife, but you don't need to have watched all 7 of those seasons. It's a show about high-powered Chicago lawyers doing their best in the Trump era. Christine Baranski is the lead, with a great ensemble cast. It's witty, hilarious, and just all-around great tv. And Baranski's style in it is unparalleled. Nobody does fancy businessperson like her character.
- The Americans (FX/Amazon Prime): It's going to be over in two weeks, but it's all (except the current season) on Amazon Prime. I watched the first few seasons while I was unemployed a couple summers ago, and it's a masterclass in acting. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are illegal Soviet spies in DC in the Reagan era, who have to live normal American lives while carrying out insane missions. You'll never know who you're rooting for, and every single week I'm surprised at how incredible of actors Russell & Rhys are.
- Please Like Me (Hulu) - Australian show about millennial life. It's short (4 seasons, 32 eps total) and will break your heart in the funniest ways possible. It also has a really fun theme song.
- The Bold Type (Freeform/Hulu) - Centered on three best friends who all work at a magazine in NYC. One of the only shows that actually *gets* modern female friendship.
- Outlander (STARZ) - A nurse from WWII falls through time into 1770s Scotland. So naturally, it's a romance.
- Take My Wife (Seeso/STARZ) - Remember that podcast I was raving about from Cameron Esposito? Well this is her and her wife's TV show about being queer comics in LA. There are only 14 episodes, so you could watch them all in one lazy weekend.
- Insecure (HBO) - Another show about friendship and just getting by, but this time from Issa Rae. The Obamas love it too, so check it out.
- Barry (HBO) - A hitman wants to stop being a hitman and takes an acting class.
- Fleabag (Amazon Prime) - Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterpiece. Very hilarious, very British.
- Last Man on Earth (Hulu) - There was a virus that wiped out the vast majority of the world, so a group of people who have nobody else left live together. Every episode, you think you know where it's going. You will never be right.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW) - It took me a solid 10 episodes to really like it, but once you do, it'll be your favorite. It's super feminist and has great new music numbers every week.
- Atlanta (FX/Hulu) - Donald Glover can do no wrong, so just watch it.
- Also I'll echo other writers' suggestions for American Vandal, One Day at a Time, Search Party, and Jane the Virgin.
Dear Horseman of the Apocalypse,
WATCH BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.
WATCH BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.
Like, I'm trying to actually write out a decent answer and explain why it's so great, but all my thoughts keep rushing my brain at once and in the end all that comes out is WATCH BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.
I'll throw in Angie Tribeca as well, but I'm less impressed by the third season. Maybe my tastes are changing, I don't know.
Documentary Now is wonderful.
The Good Place is as good as everyone else is saying it is.
And I'll put in a plug for Terrace House, a Japanese reality show that was (somewhat) recently revived by Netflix. It is a reality show where everyone is nice and polite and respectful; it's basically the equivalent of The Great British Bake Off but for reality shows.
I'd planned on watching The Good Place even before it got recommended at last year's Alumni Week, but I finally got around to watching it and it was incredible. Spectre and I had to pace ourselves through the first season, and after most episodes we just looked dumbfounded at each other. We're totally going to host a season 3 premiere party this fall featuring food from the past seasons (but mostly shrimp and froyo).
I haven't seen Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I have loved the gifs I've seen from it. "If you had asked me a year ago what Guillermo del Toro, Sean Astin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Hamill, and Seth Meyers would have in common in 2018 I don't think I would have answered 'a group chat dedicated to recently canceled and renewed Brooklyn Nine-Nine' but here we are" (source).
Madam Secretary has been one of my favorites over the past couple of years. I recently watched (and rewatched) The West Wing for the first time, and they're very similar, except that Madam Secretary focuses more on the personal lives of the characters than The West Wing does.
I've also loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, if only because they're rather faithful to the books. The additions to the TV series don't detract from the story, since it's still very plausible those things happened in the book series but weren't written about. Granted, it is depressing to watch, but there's enough humor that it keeps me going. Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf is amazing.
One Day At A Time is an underappreciated treasure. While some of the discussion feels heavy-handed, the show does not shy away from difficult topics. The main character is a single mom who's a Army veteran currently working as a nurse; the family is Cuban-American; the grandmother is played by an EGOT actress who is absolutely hilarious; the daughter comes to realize she's not attracted to guys; and I forgot, but the main character also has depression. It's funny, it's thoughtful, and I've absolutely loved both seasons.
Galavant is a treasure. It's a musical about a knight who goes to save a kingdom and his one true love. Except it's so much funnier than that. Featuring Timothy Omundson (of Psych fame), the story line is captivating and the songs are super catchy. The second season is wonderful, since they thought the show would be canceled (it wasn't) and it wouldn't be renewed (it wasn't). As a result, they just milked the opportunity for all it was worth. And it was worth a lot.
The Great British Bake-Off is great to watch. For some reason I just love how nice they are to each other.
I've enjoyed Supergirl (though the latest season available on Netflix wasn't my favorite) and the first season or two of The Flash.
There were a couple of episodes of Electric Dreams I liked, and I liked the "Hang the DJ" episode of Black Mirror.
Broadchurch, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, iZombie, and The Letdown are others I've liked.
Dear Bad Bazinga T-Shirt,
- The Leftovers (HBO): On October 14, 2011, two percent of the world's population simultaneously and instantaneously disappears without explanation. The show is about those left behind stuck dealing with the fallout. This show tracks how different people respond to religion, logic, and science failing us collectively. It's about the all-consuming nature of grief and limits of faith. The show is made by Damon Lindelof of Lost fame and stars Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Amy Brenneman, and many other greats in more limited roles. Based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name, the author of which is heavily involved in the show as well. Top five favorite TV show of all time for me.
- American Vandal (Netflix): An incredibly spot-on mockumentary and true crime documentary spoof that tries to solve the mystery of who spray painted penises on twenty-seven faculty cars in a high school parking lot. I mean, this show won a Peabody Award. C'mon. Show it to the person in your life who is obsessed with Serial, Making a Murderer, S-Town, or The Jinx.
- Search Party (TBS): So much more than simply a John Early delivery vehicle, which would be reason enough to recommend this show. This is a brisk and dark comedy/mystery show about oblivious New York 20-somethings caught up in disappearances and crimes. Co-created by cult comedy luminary Michael Showalter and starring Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development's Maeby).
- Catastrophe (Channel 4/Amazon): A British comedy/relationship drama from co-creators, co-writers, and co-stars comedians Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. It is a small, intimate, focused, and honest look a relationships and parenting in the 2010s. This show is about little moments and small jokes and I love it so.
I'm writing this after most people have finished their answers and here is who I'd take a bullet for so far: Ace and Sauron. I want to especially, specifically, and vociferously back up Ace's recommendation of Please Like Me. I too learned about that show from Ace (her tweets about the show, specifically) and ripped through the glorious series in a matter of blessed days.
Also everyone is obviously mother forking right about The Good Place.
May we bask in the sunlight of TV our whole lives o'er.
Dittos to Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jane the Virgin, Westworld, Galavant, Great British Baking Show, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
I'm also enjoying the Series of Unfortunate Events reboot (bless you, Patrick Warburton and Nathan Fillion), The Handmaid's Tale (also worthy of an R for sex and violence and probably swearing too, but less than Westworld so hooray? Also HOLY COW WHAT A GREAT ADAPTATION and I'm excited to get to season 2 so I can see what they're doing now that they've run out of Atwood's original plot), Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (IMDB doesn't have an end date for the show so I'm holding out hope there will be more later. Also still sex and violence, but TV-PG type and from such a refreshing perspective but I won't get into it here because my answer is already too long), Dark Matter (kinda fluffy, but it scratches that sci-fi, lovable space-criminals, swashbuckling, mildly philosophical itch), and Ugly Delicious (definite swears but overall a nice little examination of a few food cultures).
Looking forward to checking out a few of these other recommendations, too. Many of my current favorites were introduced to me by these sorts of questions.
Dear Old and Decrepit,
I'm seconding Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, and a Series of Unfortunate Events.
I'm adding Jane the Virgin, Blackish, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Also, if you're into weird true crime documentaries, I recently watched the series Evil Genius on Netflix, the true story of a pizza delivery guy in 2003 who had a bomb strapped to his neck during one of his deliveries and was told to go rob a bank, and it's pretty interesting.
I'm pretty sure all the shows I would recommend are mentioned by other writers so instead I'm going to instead request that you either stop watching or never watch Riverdale. I recently finally broke down and quit watching it but it is the worst TV show with a sizeable fanbase that I know of and the almost two seasons of it I watched were agonizing and made me hate everyone and everything more than I usually do. It's a stupid show and I hate it and watching it will destroy your soul.
That being said, I'm hoping that the Sabrina reboot is spared from whatever disaster spawned Riverdale and is actually good and enjoyable and that the two shows never, ever crossover so that the former will never be sullied by the latter.
So many great suggestions above, but these ones are, uh, even better than those? (Source: I have degrees.)
Here's my top 14, best at the top.
- The Leftovers
- Nathan for You
- Search Party
- Black Mirror
- Better Call Saul
- The Letdown
- Bojack Horseman
- The Expanse
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- The Jinx
I largely agree with my husband, but with some additions that are very dear to my heart. (Source: I have good taste.)
In no particular order:
- Rick and Morty
- Orange is the New Black
- Louis (Yes, I know that Louis C.K. fell from grace, which colors the show in a terrible way. But in its time, the show meant a lot to me)
- Master of None (Speaking of falling from grace...)
- Broad City
- The Good Place
- Last Man on Earth
- Queer Eye
I second (third? fourth?) the viewing of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. High quality comedy with lots of heart. Like most comedies it takes a season to establish it's comedic voice and returning gags, but it seriously pays off in subsequent seasons (which is not to say that season 1 is bad, just also not AS good as the rest).
WYNONNA EARP. Oh did you want something to fill the void that Buffy has left in you all these years? Did you want a female lead that is full of puns and witty one-liners whilst slaying demons, but who is also kind of a disaster in her personal life? Did you want delightful, ridiculous, campy villains that (almost) steal the show? This is the show for you.
Legend of Korra/Avatar the Last Airbender. This might be stretching that 5 year rule a bit but technically it's been less than that since Korra finished. I personally like Legend of Korra more overall, and I think that season 3 of LoK is better than any other season of the Avatar-verse, but other people prefer Last Airbender. Regardless, you should watch it.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Not sure how this will translate to anyone not watching at least one other Arrow-verse DC show (specifically Flash or Arrow) and season 1 is pretty meh. But season 2 and 3 are entirely delightful. I enjoy that this is a superhero show that doesn't take itself too seriously and sometimes has plot lines that revolve entirely around stuffed animals ruining (and saving) time.
Scream the TV show. This is kind of a trash show, but also it kind of knows it's a trash show and that's part of the charm? It's a TV show that tries to tackle the slasher horror genre. I think it succeeds because of it's hyperbolic nature and by weaving itself into a teen drama as well. It also doesn't pull punches on who lives and who dies. There are a few character deaths that completely shocked me. Plus it's always kind of hilarious to watch a show where everyone is supposed to be between 16-18 but where the actors are all clearly in their mid to late 30's.
Other shows that I recommend/second from other people:
- Take My Wife
- The Bold Type
- One Day at a Time
- Jane the Virgin
- The Runaways
- The Good Place
In no particular order:
- Seconding: Westworld, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Brooklyn 99, The Expanse, Stranger Things, The Great British Bake Off
- Raising: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Electric Dreams, Supergirl
- Honorable Mention: Rewatching The West Wing
Have fun storming the castle,
As many have already said, The Good Place is fantastic. Also, Troll Hunters is pretty great even though it's meant for a younger audience.
A year ago my roommate got me hooked on Korean dramas. I didn't have any time to watch TV during Fall and Winter semesters, but now that it's Spring, I've just been immersing myself back into this gloriously melodramatic genre of shows. The drama I'm currently most into is Descendants of the Sun, which I wholeheartedly recommend (action, romance--what more could one ask for?). Another one of my favorites is Hello My Twenties, which covers the lives of several college aged girls all living in the same apartment.
No one's mentioned Voltron: Legendary Defender yet. It has a similar vibe to Avatar: The Last Airbender in terms of art style and characters, but it's in space. Needless to say, it's fantastic. The sound design is absolutely incredible, which seems like a funny thing to say about a cartoon, but it's really well done. Lots of epic moments.
The Hunt. Nature documentary on predation tactics. So cool. On Netflix.