As I wrote yesterday, no blog about TV shows without a personal top ten list on current TV shows. Before I start, a disclaimer: I’m freakishly interested in a loooot of different shows, worrysome is how many of them I feel passionately about. That means that even a top fifty list would be very difficult for me to write – and more importantly, it is nothing more than a ‘snapshot’ of what I think right now. If I start rewatching The Wire, for instance, it will imediately go up to number one. And if I then return to Breaking Bad – well, than that’s my number one. Etc. etc. So the list is a snapshot of the shows “I dig” the most right now. It’d be fun to write this exact post 6 months from now, just to see what has changed.

I tried to mix it up a bit – some shows that are already ‘classics’ and not all that current any more, and some new shows.

And I’m really curious: what is your top ten list? Please write your own in the comments below!

#10: GO ON, NBC

Like most people in the ’90ies, I grew up watching Friends. And sometimes the curse of doing something uniquely popular like that is of course, how can you ever do anything new again? How can “Chandler” ever live up to his past? Matthew Perry looks older and a lot more vulnerable, but that’s actually refreshing. And in an off way, that’s one of the areas the show touches upon. It’s about being broken and messy, and to shrug your shoulders, because what can you do besides saying: “yeah, well..” and moving on? (Hence the title..)

What annoys me in the show, though, is a running gag that Ryan King, the main character played by Matthew Perry, looks like Rachel Maddow. I adore The Rachel Maddow Show. And there’s something kind of off-putting about those kinds of jokes. I might write a feministic rant about it one day. But hey, I still actually really like Go On!

#9: Community, NBC

Community must be on any top ten list – it’s cult. Fun to watch the old trailer (above), because of course the show has become soooo much more. If you haven’t already: watch it watch it watch it! :-)

So why “only” number 9? Last season or the season before that would have been a different story. But the wounderous story of Community’s renewal despite awful ratings, is also a sad one. The current season is still great, and I haven’t given up on anything – but I’m also not as thrilled as I used to be. Still: watch it watch it watch it!

#8: Arrested Development, Fox/Netflix

Imagine you are one of those incredibly lucky people who have never seen Arrested Development. Which YouTube video should I show you that would give you the best impression of the truly “special” humour on Arrested Development? No one clip or collage could ever do it honour. So I settled for the theme song. I couldn’t eat anything while watching this show, because I would laugh so much that the food would not be able to stay in my mouth. I don’t know if I’ll ever see anything again that makes me laugh as much – we’ll see.

It’s been renewed by Netflix, MANY years after its Fox cancellation in 2006. Which is very fascinating for anyone interested in tv studies – but that belongs in a different post. It remains to be seen if the new season will be as freakishly funny as the old ones. If this was a top ten list of all-time favorite TV shows, Arrested Development would have a sure and safe place as number 2. (The Wire simply has to be number one, as I’ll get to in a moment). But: this is a list on “current shows”, and technically thanks to Netflix, it is a current show. Since I don’t know how it’s going to be, it doesn’t get more than an 8 for now on this list. If you’ve never seen it, and you enjoy “special” humour (think Monty Python!), this is the one thing you must watch. (Netflix has it). And man, I envy you.

#7: Downton Abbey, ITV/PBS

Downton Abbey is a soap (“an epic”). And I like soaps – especially when they are so brilliantly made as this one! Watching this show is like entering into another universe. Which can be said about many TV shows, but always only about the very good ones. It has various simularities with “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971-1975) and the creator’s own previous movie script “Gosford Park”, directed by Robert Altman (2001). Part of the reason I enjoy watching all these TV shows is because I am an extreme ‘story junkie’. This show tells so many stories and promotes the way they are always intertwined. Nothing states “everything is connected” in a more entertaining and simply beautiful way than Downton Abbey.

It would of course also be tempting to read it as an illustration of society as a whole, as a political anecdote. I do think there are several “messages” to be found from such a reading, many of which I even agree with. But it’s not neccesary to watch it that way to appriciate it.

#6: Sherlock, BBC

After three comedies and a soap, now a good old-fashioned (and quite innovate) crime / detective show. It’s just well-done craftsmanship, Sherlock. I love crime shows and the sheer puzzle solving the best of them contain – but I think Sherlock is more than that. It plays with the cinematography and the art of storytelling – not in any revolutionary way, but enough to be very interesting.

And it has the second-family element that all of the shows thus far have had: a very tight, ‘cosy’ relationship with running gags, inside jokes just between the “family” and the viewer. And yet again I have to mention Friends – that says it all. Well, Sherlock and Watson are not just friends, but Friends. The relationship between the two of them might have been what I enjoy the most in that show – and it’s very humourous.

The characters have a “real life” on the internet – Sherlock Holmes and Watson both have blogs which are mentioned on the show. They are funny. Especially the comments on Dr. Watson’s blog from the other characters. Read after watching.

#5: Futurama, Fox/Comedy Central

Futurama also has a very ‘special’ humour – not unlike Arrested Development. It’s witty, satirical, occasionally disgusting – and mostly spot-on. There’s a word for that: Hypnotoad. All glory to the Hypnotoad. (I dare you to watch the whole episode of “Everybody Loves Hypnotoad“!)

Watching is entering an entire universe, if ever there was one, stuffed with geeks and backstories, alien languages, slimy creatures and Slurm, highly addictive softdrinks made by an alien anus. (A cool tip is the Head-in-a-jar avatar generator app – personally, I didn’t feel complete untill I got my own personal head in a jar avatar.)

#4: Mad Men, AMC

And Mad Men is, well, slightly different. Most likely, you know Mad Men well – it has received the status of an undying classic.  Wich is simply well-deserved. And it’s still going! But in stead of explaining why I admire it so much or even introducing what the show is about, I’ll return to the feministic streak I hinted at with Go On.

Mad Men, of course, has a beautiful visual style that makes 1960ies New Yorker style come back to live. No wonder it has also been a great inspiration for fashion trends all over. And where there’s public attention, there’s debate. In Denmark (and most likely also elsewhere), there was a discussion as to whether being a Mad Men fan meant being somewhat anti-feministic.

There were theories that men loved the show so much because they occasionally longed for simpler times where “a man was a man and a smoke was a smoke”. And women loved watching the show not because of it’s plot, but because of the beautiful style – they might even get decorating ideas or inspiration for a new hairstyle, which is every woman’s dream. (In case it wasn’t clear: I was being sarcastic.)

Those are two dominant mainstream media theories about why the show is so popular – I have reduced them to what might resemble parodies. I find them sad and dangerous – they are in fact anti-feministic, not the show itself. One of the most important points in Mad Men is the weird randomness of supression, whether of women, gays or black people. I wish that was seen more. Who knows, one day I might even write a post about it. (That’ll save the world!) (Just to be clear: that was sarcasm again. Nasty habit.)

#3: Game Of Thrones, HBO

“The gods have no mercy, that’s why they’re gods.” (Cersei in episode 9, season 2). It is such a good, capturing and frustrating story, Game Of Thrones. And again a true universe of its own – I even had a Lord Of The Rings-similar adventure feeling in my body for weeks after watching the last episode.

#2: Breaking Bad, AMC

#1: Enlightened, HBO

“Honorary mentions”

Parks and Recreation, Hell On Wheels, The Simpsons, House of Cards, Forbrydelsen (The Killing), Borgen, Boardwalk Empire