It feels like the first time. It feels like the very first time (I watched The Sopranos). As you endlessly scroll through the streaming verse of mediocre shows you know will leave you disappointed, why not fantasize about those shows that made you feel things you didn’t see a TV show could make you feel?
1. Band of Brothers (2001)
If you’re familiar with IMDb ratings, you understand the magnitude of Band of Brothers’ 9.4 rating. It’s no fluke, though. The ten-part series documents the journey of Major Dick Winters and Easy Company of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division as they make their way through Europe during WWII.
Each episode is like a standalone film, one of the few series that remains stellar throughout. The show took home several Emmys in 2002, including Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries. Though watching Band of Brothers for the first time is a gift you can’t put back in the box, the show warrants a re-watch every couple of years (or more frequently, for history buffs).
2. The Wire (2002-2008)
Anyone fond of Jimmy McNulty, Bunk Moreland, and the unbelievably complex cast of characters in The Wire feels a strange sense of arousal when the show’s theme (any of the multiple iterations) plays. As one commenter notes, there is also “such a weird feeling of sadness when it’s over.”
When “Where’s Wallace?!” becomes “Where’s my next episode of The Wire?” life suddenly becomes emptier than an abandoned Baltimore row house.
3. Better Call Saul (2015-2022)
There is a significant contingent of fans who rank Breaking Bad among their pantheon of best all-time television shows but rank Better Call Saul even higher. The devious journey of Jimmy McGill (also known as Saul Goodman) focused heavily on the world of law in New Mexico but included just enough criminals to keep the Breaking Bad vibe.
Characters like Chuck McGill, Howard Hamlin, Kim Wexler, and Lalo Salamanca continued showrunner Vince Gilligan’s unique reputation for developing side characters who are just as compelling as the leads. This talent allowed Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad fame to carry a spinoff series with flying colors (and a cadre of garishly colored suits).
4. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006)
Malcolm in the Middle hit the airwaves at a time when viewers were limited to the shows that television networks chose to air. And, as far as network comedies went, Malcolm in the Middle mixed heart with edgy humor in a delicate way that its competitors never did.
Fans could see exaggerated elements of their own families in Hal, Lois, Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey. For this reason, along with the show’s consistent ability to deliver laughs, Malcolm remains a cult favorite that many fans wouldn’t mind rediscovering.
5. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
In an age where it’s difficult to separate hype from substance as streaming services constantly flood viewers with content, The Haunting of Hill House is long on substance. The show revolves around grown siblings who reflect on a traumatic childhood spent in a haunted house—Hill House.
Critical ratings don’t lie, and fans don’t either. If you haven’t seen it, you’re luckier than those who already have. Enjoy The Haunting of Hill House ASAP.
6. Arrested Development (2003-2019)
Arrested Development was a pioneer of network comedies. It used unmounted cameras to imitate a documentary feel, a tactic that later shows like The Office would emulate. Arrested was also unique for network comedies in that it was clever, which is part of the reason it could never garner the ratings it deserved.
Do the chicken dance for me once if you wish; you could meet the Bluth clan for the first time again. Ba-gock! Ba-gock!
7. The Expanse (2015-2022)
If you have a friend or family member who voraciously consumes all things sci-fi, you may have already gotten the “The Expanse isn’t just for nerds, I swear” talk. I know I have.
The show brings us to a future where humans have colonized planets beyond Earth, and all kinds of interplanetary political beef have (naturally) emerged. It’s an intriguing concept even for non-sci-fi fans, and those who love The Expanse wish they were in your uninitiated shoes.
8. Severance (2022-Present)
If there were a real-world operation precisely like the premise of Severance, fans would use it in a heartbeat. You see, the characters in Severance have had their memories surgically split between work and personal, where they know nothing about the other half of their life when occupying the other half.
If there were an operation where someone could completely forget that they’d watched Severance while living the TV-watching portion of their lives, it would be the perfect remedy for fans who wish to rediscover their fandom of the highly-rated Apple+ show.
9. What We Do in the Shadows (2019-Present)
The premise of vampires living in the modern world is as original as brilliantly executed by show creator Jemaine Clement. Taking a comedic approach to centuries-old vampire tropes (death by sunlight, a diet powered by human plasma) and adding hilarious twists like human energy vampires (who bore their victims to absorb their energy) makes for non-stop laughs.
Those laughs aren’t quite as hearty the second, third, or fourth time around.
10. Community (2009-2015)
Fans of the NBC comedy Community recall a young Donald Glover, an old Chevy Chase, and a quirky cast expertly executing an even quirkier script. In the vein of The Office, writers of Community delivered levity by highlighting the minutiae of a community college.
A standout in the genre of relatable comedy, many fans have felt a distinct absence of community in their stable of visual entertainment since they finished the last episode of Community.
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This article was produced and syndicated by The Cents of Money.