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Entertainment Weekly Names The Top 5 Shows of All Time, Get Number One Right

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | June 28, 2013 | Comments ()


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It takes either boulder sized balls to rank the top 5 shows OF ALL TIME or a hard-core desire to sell issues, because to suggest that your staff of TV writers and interns can accurately identify the top 5 shows OF ALL TIME is an act of total ego. How can you actually look at the entire universe of television, factor in the writing, acting, and directing, and accurately determine the best five shows EVER. It's such a subjective thing, and it takes some real bravado to say to the world, "Yeah, but we know." It's like naming the top five foods of all time. YOU CAN'T DO IT.

Well, except for the number one show of all time. That's easy. It's The Wire. NO ONE DENIES THIS.

From EW via The Baltimore Sun:

"The most sustained narrative in television history, The Wire used the drug trade in Baltimore, heavily researched by creator David Simon, to tell tales of race and class with unprecedented complexity. Politics, the war on drugs, labor unions, public education, the media -- these were among the big themes, all examined through exquisitely drawn characters, such as the brilliant yet broken detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) and the great avenging thug Omar Little (Michael K. Williams), who will live on in legend."

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Nice selection, but really, was there any other choice?

The rest of their top five, however, I'm sure EVERYONE can disagree with.

2. The Simpsons
3. Seinfeld
4. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
5. The Sopranos

Have fun arguing over that. [Insert Show Title] WUZ ROBBED.

(Source: Sun)







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • NoSenseOfPorpoise

    Is no one lobbying for Twin Peaks? (Okay, Twin Peaks Season 1?)

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    To my mind, it's hard to separate 'best' from 'most groundbreaking, therefore deserving a place on a list out of respect'. It's only five shows of course, so comprehensiveness is just a stupid expectation. And still, my stupid expectation brain is wondering (in principle) where landmark shows like All In The Family, The Johnny Carson years of The Tonight Show--or perhaps The Ed Sullivan Show, The Twilight Zone, the Looney Tunes output, The Flintstones, The Cosby Show, I Love Lucy, Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Carol Burnett, Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live and Black Frasier are in the heads of the authors of this piece. But then that just turns it into an obligation piece that favours innovative but uneven shows like Star Trek and Bonanza or hedges bets with bests of their genre and that feels a bit joyless.

    Thinking about that leads me into thinking about titans of the medium, or who shouldn't be ignored because of volume and quality of output. What makes shows by say James L. Brook or Norman 'The Emperor of Television' Lear so exceptional? And say what you will about soap operas but Agnes Nixon is a force, same as Merv Griffin.

    I'm being neurotic.

  • dakotadamian

    dafuq? where's 'breaking bad'?

  • sherlockzz

    There is The Twilight Zone and then there is everything else. My personal 2 through 5 would include The Ed Sullivan Show, The Prisoner, All In The Family and Star Trek.

  • Ringo183

    What's not funny about a drop of piss being mistaken as Jesus' tear?

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Homeboyz in Outer Space ignored again.

  • toblerone

    Where's Archer?

  • Mrs. Julien

    He's there, you just can't see him because of his tacticalneck.

  • SackBlabbath

    Deadwood &Arrested Development (seasons 1-3)

  • Big George

    The Wire? Never heard of it.

  • Dion Abbott

    That says more about you then anything .

  • stella

    No Friday Night Lights? Huh.

  • Kristopher R

    What the snuh?? No "Automan?" For the love of all that is holy!!!

  • The Kilted Yaksman

    Damn you, I came to post just that!

  • sean

    They got #2 right as well.

  • apsutter

    So, I finally watched The Wire last month after being badgered about it forever and I thought it was just okay. It was a good show but I just can't help but think its overrated. I enjoy Breaking Bad and (most of) Six Feet Under much more than the wire.

  • Dion Abbott

    It's just you.

  • Zuffle

    If it were my list of recent US TV that we can remember, I'd definitely include The Shield. I experienced emotions watching that show that I've never felt through any other offering in any medium - or from real life, for that matter - and it's chronically underappreciated, certainly this side of the pond. Family meeting!

  • sanity fair

    Thank you! I was just about to say that!

  • Zuffle

    No, thank you. It's nice to know I'm not alone, even on Pajiba, where I feel more part of something than anywhere else.

    Five upvotes. Did only seven of us love that fucking show? There's not a day goes by that something from it doesn't hit my consciousness, whether it's Dutch strangling the cat, or Vic locking the two guys in the cargo container to sort out their differences, or the body parts spread down the street, or "I'm sorry, Lem!"' or "Your wife's pussy tastes like sweet butter", or Vic crying when he comes home to an empty house, or (most likely; I'm haunted) Shane's behaviour in the final episode, when I genuinely couldn't even look at the screen on first viewing.

    One of the five best shows of all time? On one leg. Over Seinfeld? On a fucking toe, on point, like Michael Chicklis in a fucking tutu, calling Jerry Seinfeld a shithead on network TV. Simple as.

  • sanity fair

    I would upvote this a million fucking times if I could! I've seen the pilot at least ten times, and I cannot look away every single time. It just pulls me in, and I'm fascinated each time! And the one where Dutch strangles that cat? Jesus, that whole episode hits me every time too. And I am totally with you on the final episode with Shane--I still can't watch those scenes fully. And I cry like a fucking baby about it!

    No way Jerry Seinfeld could EVER top Micheal Chiklis as Vic. It's just not possible.

  • Artemis

    The Office (U.K.) is my pick for the best comedy of all time. It should easily be in the top five shows.

  • becks

    Such a great show. It shaped the way a lot of popular shows are shot now. The cringe humour was more astutely done on that show than on any other I've seen. David Brent is basically the prototype for idiot boss now and though he was over-the-top, it was done in such a naturalistic way. Tim and Dawn are my favourite tv couple of all time (besides the Taylors) and if I think about the ending of the Christmas special I still tear up every time.

    That show was such a game changer for sitcoms and in a very good way. Great pick.

  • Martin Holterman

    Coupling (UK). and as a show overall, I much prefer Extras to The Office. The former had much more heart.

  • I may be the only one here who has not seen The Wire (I know, I know), but I trust everyone who has told me it's brilliant. I can agree on Mary Tyler Moore, because it was an excellent show and a game changer in lots of ways. For the other three, I'd give it to MASH, The West Wing, and (surprise!) The Waltons. The latter was appointment TV in my family; the writing was good and consistent, and they dealt with issues like poverty, alcoholism, racism, political corruption, dementia, and even menopause in a way that didn't freak people out.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I wish I weren't so wussy about violence. My sister and I share a Netflix account (got it watch AR season 4) and we talked about a bunch of shows that everyone loves but we hadn't yet seen. Not three days after mentioning that Game Of Thrones is supposed to be good I'm at her place and she's OB-sessed. How do I know? I said in passing, 'I wonder if the Red Wedding is some reference to the Scarlet Nuptials?' and she started chasing me.

    Clearly, there's something there. Then she went on to tell me about some kind of joust and horse decapitation and the die was cast. I'm missing out stuff that's supposed to be great, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones etc, due to wussiness. It's not a redeeming quality.

  • DataAngel

    I haven't seen The Wire either, and I live in Baltimore City. Actually I haven't seen it BECAUSE I live in Baltimore City. I watch TV to get away from daily life.

  • koko temur

    upvoted for the west wing. *some* people let the mediocrity of 5th season to overshadow the brilliance of it all. And those people ARE WRONG.

  • dizzylucy

    I haven't seen the Wire either - yet. Sooner or later I will, but I feel like it's going to be a big time suck and maybe not such a feel good show.

  • Bedewcrock

    It's not. I rewatched it and convinced multiple people to watch it after I had been convinced to watch it. It's stellar, dynamic, and completely relevant.

    I encourage you to take the plunge.

  • dizzylucy

    I don't doubt it will be all those things, I just have the feeling that I'd binge it and get bogged down in all the sad.

  • Artemis

    I don't think it would be top 5 in any event, but surely seasons 5 and 6 of The West Wing are argument enough for excluding it.

  • ellcoolj

    In no particular order the best missing shows are:
    Saved by the Bell
    Miami Vice (Screw the Wire... These cops got the job done and looked sharp!)
    The Price is Right (get your pets spayed and neutered)
    There's Company (F-you DOMA)
    The Facts

    But for schizzle
    MASH
    The Daily Show (non-fictionish)

  • nick

    miami vice over the wire? you're out of your tree. The wire is one of the top 2 dramas ever created along with the sopranos.

  • Martin Holterman

    Really? Seinfeld wouldn't even be in my top 1000, and the Simpsons would at least drop below 100. (Not being a white American grandparent, I have never seen the Mary Tyler Moore show, nor ever had the desire to.)

    The Sopranos on 5? Maybe. To make up the rest of the list? Six Feet Under, no question, and Breaking Bad and a 5th TBD. (I would accept MASH as an acceptable answer, but The West Wing works too.)

    It is not bias to only have American shows from the last few decades. Only in America and Britain in the last few decades do people have both the budget and the freedom to make something awesome. Before the mid-90s, there was no TV station in America that would have broadcast any of the shows in my list for fear of losing advertisers, viewers, or litigation with bible thumpers. (With the exception of MASH, of course.) Elsewhere in the world, they generally don't have the budget. The only exception is Britain, and Extras is certainly a contender for the top 10, but the really good British stuff usually doesn't stick around long enough to really make an impact.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I'm not American, I'm not white and I'm not a grandparent, but Mary Tyler Moore is still a good show. Rhoda could've been so much more, but I suppose that that's the way it crumbles (cookie wise) when you try to make a romantic lead out of a medallion-wrapped collection of sentient barber clippings. RIP David Groh.

  • ViciousTrollop

    The Mary Tyler Moore show deserves to be there. It broke a lot of ground in the 70s by portraying a single working woman not interested in marriage. Plus, it was balls to the wall hilarious.

    Also, Buffy needs to be on the list.

  • Some might call these choices 'safe'. Which is an odd way to spell 'correct'.

  • cruzzercruz

    Big Bad Beetleborgs.

  • Roland

    Seinfeld? The greatest trick the devil ever played was getting people to believe Seinfeld was funny.

  • John G.

    This seems to be an extremely popular idea these days. I don't get it. I've always loved this show. Comedy has changed since then, and I was younger, so that may explain it.

  • Kate at June

    Really? This is the first time I've ever found anyone else that shares my opinion on Seinfeld. I dunno if changing comedy styles is to blame for me though. I didn't like it when it first aired, and still don't.

  • dizzylucy

    I actually loved, and still loved Seinfeld, but I can get why others didn't. I'd swap it out for Arrested Development on that list though.

  • TK

    You, sir, are among friends. I've never cared for Seinfeld.

  • Kate at June

    My friends seem incapable of letting me have my opinion that Seinfeld was a bad show. Any time it comes up in conversation: "Kate at June hates it. Lets ask her to explain herself!

  • I totally hate it. My husband does, too, and he IS from New York. It occasionally stumbled on funny, but I'm fairly sure that was a total accident.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    I hate it too - I think it was 'too American' for me - it lacked a lot of the dry humour we appreciate this side of the pond.

  • Kate at June

    I have a hard time liking shows where there are no sympathetic lead characters. No one in the entire Seinfeld universe was sympathetic. I felt like I was in high school hanging out with bullies and laughing at everyone else's expense.

  • Martin Holterman

    Seinfeld made you laugh? How? When? Why?

  • Kate at June

    Briefly. And then I feel deep shame.

  • Martin Holterman

    The other day I decided to give it another chance, but after zero laughs in five episodes, I decided it wasn't doing a very good job as a comedy. (Same for Curb Your Enthusiasm.)

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Can someone explain the appeal of Curb to me?

    Part One: Fabulously Wealthy TV Guy exchanges pleasantries with other Fabulously Wealthy TV Guy.

    Part Two: Small misunderstanding, inflated to 'derisive snort-inducing' levels of nauseating belligerence wherein two egos enter and no one cares. I mean, the Siege Of Leningrad is one thing, but in this century, something happened to my watch and I don't have to say it because you already know but I'm going to say that that is an act far worse than stealing a stale edge of bread out of the mouth of a starving little WWII moppet, one who wanted nothing more than to grow up to be the horse wrangler on the set of Andrei Rublev!

    Now since everyone is richer and more important than God, it is beyond comprehension that someone could say, come to some kind of resolution because--entertainment industry people, amirite? I mean, I know the ladies know what I'm talking about, like Joel Silver, we've heard of him, right? Hollywood! Thus, the reach of the venom has to poison all aspects of life and if someone doesn't hand over some 'stimmy' or write a small cheque or consider if he may have some actual blame to shoulder in this incident it's an inter-generational blood feud because, divas, right? Evidently. But to these adversaries who only make it halfway there by stopping short of the historical and logical conclusion, you know, you're not better than the wergild system, so don't act like as though you are.

    Part Three: Okay, that's enough chaos, there have been enough broken bodies sacrificed to the altar of the Fabulously Wealthy TV Guy overblown dust-up. But wait, something innocuous and off-hand lands us back into the boiler? Here we go again! Ziff, boom, snuh, fizz, mint!

    Is spoofing pissy entitlement that much more entertaining than watching it in any other context?

    And don't get mad at me for the starvation mention, that was Stalin and I probably hadn't yet been born in 1941. It's hard to know, I I flapped like a meth-addled rhesus monkey in the 1920s. Ha-ha, what do I mean, 'like'?

  • heatseeker

    Factually inaccurate. Seinfeld is the funniest show of all time.

  • BWeaves

    Seinfeld wasn't funny.

    I've never been to New York. I figured it must only be funny to people who live in New York.

  • Jerry Kenney

    Only a child would attempt to name a top five of anything. No one but a child would overlook the first 50 years of the medium.

  • oilybohunk7

    This thread has me throwing out upvotes like crazy. I just don't appreciate that show in any way.

  • ZizoAH

    Six Feet Under is the top show of all time. Period.

  • Dion Abbott

    No...it isn't. doesn;t hold a candle to the wire.

  • MJ

    Thirded

  • NoSenseOfPorpoise

    Given the opportunity, I'd have beaten Nate to death. I'm amazed people could watch that show.

  • Martin Holterman

    Seconded

  • Jakesalterego

    Terriers is the only acceptable answer.

  • TCH

    You deserve an upvote.

  • Fredo

    AND WHERE THE HELL IS MANIMAL?! THIS LIST IS INVALID!!

  • Mrs. Julien

    I read this and thought, "Whatever happened to Simon MacCorkindale?" and then I thought, "WHY IN HOLY HELL DO I KNOW THAT ACTOR'S NAME THIRTY YEARS LATER AND I NEVER ONCE WATCHED THE SHOW?!" Then I told myself to "Calm the fu*k down, bitch" cause that was way too much yelling in proportion to the inexplicably retained information.

    I have a job interview in an hour, I'm a little on edge.

  • BlackRabbit

    If I'd have seen this comment earlier, I'd have suggested you try and slip his name into the conversation.

  • DataAngel

    I totally love you in a non sexual way right now. And maybe in a sexual way. BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN TRANSFORM INTO A PANTHER.

  • Mrs. Julien

    A sex panther which, as we all know, 60% of the time, it works every time.

  • I can't not upvote Sex Panther.

  • Fredo

    You come at the king, you best not miss.

    I'm surprised they opted to push down Mash, All In the Family, The Cosby Show, Saturday Night Live and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood down.

  • Steph

    Invalid due to a lack of MASH.

  • BWeaves

    No Ed Sullivan Show?
    No Dick Van Dyke Show?
    No Your Show of Shows?
    No Honeymooners?
    No Lucy, in any form?
    No Mash?
    I'm surprised they even picked The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

  • It says a lot that the oldest show on the list was still filmed in color. I'd find it a whole lot more believable if any of your first five picks made the list. I'd pull for I Love Lucy simply because it established how sitcoms were made, ran for a long time without a significant drop in quality, and broke tremendous ground with Lucy being pregnant on TV .

  • Captain Ron Swanson

    It's a top five list. You seem upset that six shows did not make the list. If the list had been Ed Sullivan, Dick Van Dyke, Your Show of Shows, Honeymooners, and I Love Lucy, would you still be disgruntled that MASH was excluded? It's about making choices - they made theirs. Agree or disagree, there can be only five items in a top five list. What are your top five?

  • BWeaves

    My point was that they didn't go back very far. If this is going to be a top 5 list of ALL TIME, then it shouldn't be heavy with recent programs. Many of the shows from the Golden Age of television were quite groundbreaking from the fact that they did a lot of things first and did them well. I'm not upset that my 6 listed didn't make their top five. I'm just surprised that at least one of them, The Lucy Show, for example, wasn't included in their list. I was just rambling off a list of good shows as I thought of them, not making a list.

  • Culturerabble

    Credit where credit is due. All in the game.

  • Zuffle

    Look the part, be the part, motherfucker.

  • [The Sifl & Olly Show] WUZ ROBBED

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    what Esther explained I'm alarmed that a student can make $9624 in 1 month on the computer. did you look at this page w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

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