“The Real Top 10 TV Shows…Or the Rebuttal to Brandon Karlis ”

By BJ Smynaim

Well, looky what we got here. A cuppa haters. A couple haters. Actually, apologies to Enzo Amore, it’s just one hater, and it’s me. You see, I look at other people’s lists and I react in one of two ways. I will either see the points they make and agree, either partially or in most cases completely, or I read it and just think, “how in the hell did this person even manage to find this much crap to put in one single list,” which brings me to the list I just read from my buddy Brandon. I’m hoping that they will put this article right below his article so that it will have a frame of reference, but if not, I will summarize:

“Blah blah, Brandon Karlis, burp, I didn’t love Breaking Bad, blah blah blah”.

I think that about sums it up. I stopped reading and started skimming once he gave away that BB didn’t make the list at all. Then just to be nice, after he messaged me, I went back and actually read all the words. I will agree on several of his Top 10 shows, but it’s hard to take him seriously since he was so wrong about so many things. So in direct rebuttal, ranked in proper order from 10 to 1, here is the correct list of the Top 10 TV Shows, without the extra scoop. I’ll leave the scooping to the professionals, and cat owners. One final caveat, I have left off 1 person from this list that deserves honorable mention: James Spader, who I could watch exclusively and be happy, but none of his shows have been better than just him being on them.

10. Glee – Go ahead and laugh, this won’t be the only time on this list you question my sanity. A high school glee club musical comedy on Fox in the top 10? I have 2 words for you: Jane Effing Lynch. There are so many reasons this show hooked me from the jump. The name of the group, New Directions (go ahead and say it out loud), the gay kid on the football team doing Beyoncé, the slushies to the face, throwing the wheelchair kid in the dumpster, cheerleaders who wear the same outfit every single day, and whether you like it or not, some great singing and choreography. All that was enough to get this show into my top 10, but the true addiction to keep watching week after week, was Sue Sylvester. Maybe I just love anti-PC things in the PC era, but when she nicknames kids Wheels, Asian, and other Asian, how could you not wait to see what she would say and do next. And not to get too long winded, but the way they handled the death of their lead was touching and gave them the chance to address substance abuse to the kids who watched the show.

9. Game of Thrones – Truthfully, I didn’t get into this show until season 4. I stayed up late one night rocking a baby and a friend gave me his password for HBO GO, since I don’t have any premium channels. Hence why there is no Dexter, Girls, Sopranos, or Californication discussions on my list. I know there is great TV on there, but my list is slanted to mainly free networks or basic cable. GOT is the exception. Because after that first viewing, I watched 3 ½ seasons in the next 4 days. It was gripping and addicting and once it got ahold of me it did not, and has not, let go.

8. The Walking Dead – If I was basing this list on what I think is must watch/can’t miss TV, this show would be at the top. I may have ranked it lower than it should be just because it is current and I didn’t want to overthink the spot because of my feelings every week in the immediate aftermath while I commiserate with Talking Dead. But that alone shows you how much this show has meant. It has a highly rated show devoted to talking about the show! So I put it down here at 8, just to make it clear that in the world of adapting material, Walkers beat Dragons, despite Tyrion Lannister being the best character on TV today.

7. The O.C. – OK, time to laugh at me again. I think this will be the hardest one to justify being on the list, and I had to force myself to put it lower than I did at first ranking. But I want you to think back to the first season. “Welcome to the OC, bitch!” The phenomenon exploded. This show was, for that first year, the biggest show in the world. You can call it a prime time soap opera, you can call it another Beverly Hills, 90210, you can talk about it jumping the shark with Marissa getting killed, there are lots of negative arguments. I don’t care. Because I have never seen myself more than I did in Seth Cohen, and I know half you nerds out there felt it too. There is no Big Bang without Seth Cohen. Seth made nerdy cool. Sandy made parents cool. Summer made snobby rich girls human. And Ryan punched people. Hmm, now that I look back, this wasn’t that hard to justify after all.

6. Seinfeld/Friends – OK, this is just a cheap way to get an extra show into my top 10. The only real similarity here is that they are both in New York and they were on back to back on NBC. Seinfeld had better writing, Friends had better guest stars. Seinfeld was about nothing and had Superman hidden in every episode, Friends had a progressing plotline and crew doodles on the back of Joey’s door. The reason I am joining them is because of 2 characters. I wanted to be funny, like Jerry. I wanted to be zany like Kramer. But I knew that in reality, I was a George. And just when I embraced that notion, Friends came along, and suddenly I saw myself on TV. My smart mouth sarcastic trolling on-screen alter ego, Chandler Bing. George and Chandler were my inner voices, and getting to see them on TV, made me more comfortable in my own skin, and allowed me to continue to be that person out loud instead of only in my head.

5. Cheers – I’ll just put this here and say that on this show, Brandon is absolutely right. See, I’m not a dick all the time. Plus, this is starting to get too long.

4. The Office – In the scheme of where this ranks on my personal list of favorite shows, this is my all-time favorite. I’m not making a favorite list though, I’m making a best list. So it falls to 4th place. I’d love to say I was on board with the original British version, but I just watched it last year for the first time. I came to this show in Season 2, and just like any person who loves TV, I was hooked after 2 minutes. A mockumentary TV show about a fictional paper company. The premise alone is hilarious. Who gives a crap about a paper company? Dwight Schrute, that’s who! This show could make the list with only the interaction of Dwight and Jim. The camera could have just stayed at their desks the entire series and it would have made the list. But then you add in the ensemble, and top it with the pure genius of Steve Carell, even as I’m writing I’m thinking of moving it up the list…

3. Breaking Bad – Well Brandon, I’m not on my knees here, it’s not even top 2. But it is top 3, and on storytelling and the talents of Bryan Cranston alone, it has the argument to be higher. You may not have liked it, or you may just have left it off your list to rile up some people (like me), but your omission makes your list impossible to take seriously. The arc of this show, the foreshadowing, the character development, I’m not sure what it is you felt was missing. This show filled me with so much tension I seriously had to have a drink after each episode to relax. But I will grant you that enough has been written about this show, so I will stop short and just reiterate, you are wrong.

2. 24 – I know I will be going long on the top spot, so I will go short here. This show changed the game. Not a lot of shows can say they had a new concept that broke the mold. 24 did that, and they did it for a lot of seasons. Did they overdo it when it came to Jack Bauer? Sure. But my instant addiction to the new season without Jack proves to me that this show has earned the spot as 2nd best in TV history.

Honorable Mention for short-lived series: Undeclared and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – In truth, I am writing this portion of my list first and inserting it later. I really wanted to have these shows make the cut, but I just couldn’t because even if something is great, if it doesn’t hang on for at least a second season, it can’t be on the list. But I challenge you, take the one season of either of these shows and put it up against nearly anything, and it stands the test. I bet Fox kick themselves in the ass every single day knowing they had a Judd Apatow show with huge future stars, and they canceled it just when it was getting its footing. Speaking of networks making bad decisions, NBC did the same thing to Freaks and Geeks, but the real tragedy on that network was Studio 60. Aaron Sorkin might be the best dialogue writer in television history, and this show had an all-star cast that could have turned into a truckload of Emmy’s if given the chance to continue. The show had better ratings than 30 Rock but got killed because it cost more. My guess is that if Lorne Michaels had given this show his approval, it would have stayed. Because like it or not, Lorne is the most powerful man at NBC television. Which is why it should be no surprise what show is ranked number 1.

1. SNL – I don’t care who you are, this show has impacted your life. Unless you have no sense of humor and you live in a protective bubble. This show has been the best thing on television for almost every year of its existence. Sure there have been some down years, mainly the ones with Dick Ebersol in charge, but even those had Eddie Murphy. What other show has thrived with an ever changing cast and an ever changing writing staff? What other show has launched the careers of so many of the biggest stars in entertainment? What other show has been declared dead more times than you can count and yet continues to be the target of the President’s twitter wrath even now? I could go on and on asking rhetorical questions, but the fact is, this show is the epitome of cultural significance. From the first time Chevy made President Ford seem a bumbling fool, to Alec being mistaken in an actual newspaper as the real President Trump, this show has been nailing politics since day 1. Hell, it even has an alumnus serving in the US Senate and he just eviscerated a couple Cabinet nominees like he was still writing for the show. I have learned to love many celebs that I thought I wouldn’t like just by seeing what they do on SNL to make fun of themselves. I have discovered so many new musicians watching this show, topped by James Blunt making me spontaneously cry hearing a song I had never even heard before (“Goodbye My Lover” 12/3/2005). I could talk about this show for days, it is that much better than any other thing that has ever been or ever will be on TV. There shouldn’t even be a list, it should just be this one show. And if you disagree, well isn’t that special, your opinion doesn’t matter, and I have a Bag O’ Glass for you to play with (look it up young ones).

And with that, I leave you, perhaps for now, perhaps for always. That’s the nice thing about freelancing, you get to come in, talk all the shit you want, toss in your unrequested two cents, and skip happily away without a care or demand in the world. Thanks for reading, back to the litter box Scoopers. Oh shit! I forgot about Lost! Damnit now I have to start all over!