Hello friends! If you have read any of my blog posts, it is pretty clear that I watch a lot of TV (that’s not to say that I’m some lazy couch potato, however, as I mostly watch TV while riding my stationary bike). Thanks to services provided by Netflix and Hulu, I have the resources to binge watch many top-notch (and slightly less top-notch) television series. And, because I tend to be a very opinionated and competitive person, I have ranked them all in a pyramid format:
Now, what’s my criteria? I am a pretty specific person. This pyramid has almost nothing to do with which series are most critically acclaimed, but rather with how entertaining, comforting, and non-offensive I find each series to be. It is important to note that I am biased toward series with 22-minute episodes–I find it difficult to stay focused for a full 45 minutes. In addition, as a considerably busy person, I find it hard to find time to commit a full 45 minutes to anything.
Before you complain that your very favorite television program is not top-tier, here’s my justification for the placement of each show:
Friends is near and dear to my heart. It is so full of platonic (and sometimes romantic) love that it can fill you up with warm fuzzies and make it easy to fall asleep at night. I relate on a personal level to Monica, a control freak who doubles as the heart of the show. I love Chandler’s sarcasm, Joey’s ability to be both a womanizer and a thoughtful friend, Rachel’s stark independence, and Phoebe’s disregard of other people’s opinions. Friends is hilarious and heartfelt and I love it despite its off-color jokes (the jokes played off Monica’s former obesity and Chandler’s LGBTQA+ father are almost cringe-worthy). I should be outraged by these jokes, but I have to remember that these jokes were not taboo in the 90s when they aired.
In summary: Friends is awesome, and will always be the sitcom that paved the way for all other soft, comforting, but still hilarious sitcoms.
Parks and Recreation
When I started Parks, I was sure it could never live up to The Office. But I was wrong. Parks and Recreation has so, so much heart and soul. Leslie Knope is my spirit animal. Chris is my other spirit animal. April and Andy are #relationshipgoals, and Andy is literally the sweetest and most adorable little man in the whole entire world. Ron Swanson is 10/10 hilarious even though I disagree with him on pretty much ever political and social issue mentioned on the show. Ben and Leslie have a relationship dynamic that I can only hope to achieve one day when I am old.
In summary: Parks changed my life. Leslie Knope made being nerdy COOL and cute. Chris’s dedication to exercise and health made me feel like he was my real-life buddy. Sure, The Office, is great too, but Parks is sweeter and kinder and chock full of the warm fuzzies that make life worthwhile. Parks also gets bonus points for introducing the world to Chris Pratt, my celebrity husband.
Oh, Michael Scott. The nerdiest, most cringe-worthy yet well-meaning character I’ve come to know. The Office is smart and witty, and all in all has a lot good things going for it. Jim and Pam are both wonderful on their own, but even more charming together. Dwight is so ridiculous he’s lovable, and as aforementioned, Michael Scott somehow manages to be equal parts adorable and offensive. The show is full of buffoons and is lovely because of them.
The only bad thing I could possibly say about The Office is that it gives me too much damn secondhand embarrassment. I can’t watch the Scott’s tots episode without wanting to cry, both for Michael and the students he promised to provide tuition for. Also, despite his good intentions, Michael can often be pretty racist, which I don’t find to be particularly funny.
Anyway, The Office is undoubtedly lovable and binge-worthy and has earned its top-tier status.
The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project is a little reminiscent of The Office, if only because Mindy Kaling served as a prominent writer for both. The Mindy Project is more modern than The Office, and focuses more on Mindy’s personal endeavors than work life (while The Office shows its characters personal lives as a function of their time at work). Mindy hooked me right at the beginning. It is the only popular sitcom right now to feature an Indian woman as its main character, and generally teaches very feminist principles. Mindy is smart and independent, and proves that these traits are not undermined by her femininity.
Mindy’s supporting characters are just as lovable as she is, with the exception of Danny during season four. I really liked Danny and Mindy in the beginning, but as Danny morphed into an ultra-religious snob obsessed with gender roles, I knew Mindy had to get out (I mean, seriously, if Danny wants Leo to have a stay-at-home parent so bad, why can’t he do it?) The fact that Mindy chose her independence and happiness over Danny was super cool. I do, however, think they will eventually get back together when (if?) Danny comes to his senses.
How I Met Your Mother
I know a lot of people would fight me on this; Many of my friends actually prefer HIMYM to Friends (which is honestly a character flaw, but let’s not get into that). I see HIMYM as a wannabe Friends that got pretty close to finding its identity toward the end of its run, but then screwed everything up with the series finale. HIMYM has too many similarities to Friends to truly be its own totally original show. For example, both shows follow a group of friends in New York City. Both groups of friends frequent a local bar/cafe and sit in the exact same place every time. Both groups date and marry within the group. Even the characters of HIMYM are reminiscent to the Friends gang:
- Ross and Ted are basically the same person. Both suffer from Nice Guy Syndrome™, in which they feel they deserve love from the girl they’re stuck on simply because they are “nice” (when in reality, both Ross and Ted are whiny, pretentious buttheads). Ross and Ted are also both the intellectuals of their groups.
- Barney is a more misogynistic version of Joey. Joey is sweeter and softer than Barney and is protective of his female friends and family members. Barney sees women almost exclusively as objects and frequently lies to and manipulates women to get them into bed.
- Monica and Lily are very similar, although Lily is arguably more annoying and selfish
- Although Robin is tougher than Rachel, they both play the role of Unattainable Girl™, the object of desire of Nice Guy (Ted or Ross, respectively)
Anyway, there’s nothing really wrong with HIMYM. It’s definitely entertaining. It’s just not Friends. #sorrynotsorry
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is fun and inventive. I admit I was put off by its title at first (it seemed a little un-feminist), but it wasn’t long before I adored the show and its girl-powery, LGBTQ-friendly messages. The songs make it even better! Each episode is like a fun baby musical. What is also cool about the music is that Rachel Bloom writes in many different genres. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs are not only totally hilarious, but super diverse, ranging from pop to techno to old-school Broadway.
New Girl helped to fill the hole in my heart left by Friends. Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is quirky and feminine, but no less strong or cool because of it. This show is hilarious. What makes it similar to Friends is its softness–that same softness that HIMYM lacks. Like Friends, the playboy-type character (in this case Schmidt) is the heart of the show.
Oh, and who doesn’t want to play True American?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is witty and original. It’s a cop show that isn’t too scary for me to watch alone. It has a super diverse cast, and features two well-rounded, non-stereotypical black men in the highest positions of power and I think that’s awesome. I also love Amy Santiago, the pretty, super type A detective whose strong need for approval from her superiors mimics my own. Brooklyn does not get the credit it deserves–most people I know have never even heard of it. Of course, a lack of media appreciation does not always correlate with poor quality. Brooklyn is awesome and I would recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor.
Modern Family is undoubtedly funny, but it’s not quite riveting enough for me to watch it religiously. I just don’t care enough. And while it definitely gets points for featuring a married gay couple in its forefront, it sorely lacks racial diversity.
On a slightly unrelated note, the family dynamic of the feature family in Modern Family is so similar to that of my own family that sometimes when I watch the show, I feel like they stole my life.
30 Rock is okay. Like Modern Family, I never found it interesting enough to truly binge-watch. In addition, I find Liz Lemon to be very complain-y for a rich, conventionally-attractive white woman with an amazing job. Also the show can be racist (its characters are shown in blackface more than once) and that makes me understandably cringe-y and uncomfortable. Other than this show, though, I really do like Tina Fey.
Criminal Minds is fun, but it is not the kind of show you can watch by yourself. It’s far too murdery to be a show I can handle watching in the evening, and is sometimes too dark to stomach even in the morning. It’s undoubtedly entertaining. It has exciting twists and turns and stars Matthew Gray Gubler, one of the cutest men of all time. Still, it doesn’t make me happy. I realize this makes me biased, but I want my television shows to comfort me from the harsh realities of the world, not remind me of them. In addition, I like shows that I can kind-of zone out during once in awhile. For example, you don’t have to watch The Office that intently to get the gist of an episode. With Criminal Minds, however, you better pay attention to every single second or you might miss the big reveal. And that’s fine. But for me, that’s almost too much commitment. I want to be able to check my messages and go to the bathroom every episode or two and still feel in the loop.
Even as a 13-year-old girl, Gossip Girl was so unrealistic that I couldn’t watch more than a couple hours straight without my brain melting. I mean, the writing is very, very poor. The characters look about ten years older than they are supposed to be, and, although beautiful, none of them are particularly likable. Blair, Serena, and their families and love interests are intensely vapid and selfish. In addition, like HIMYM, the ending of Gossip Girl is confusing and disappointing.
Basically, Gossip Girl is good for a few hours of mindless fun but not much else. Still, I guess Gossip Girl gets points for introducing the world to the glory that is Blake Lively.
One Tree Hill
I tried to like One Tree Hill. I really did. I watched it with my friends, who adore it, and tried to love it like they did. But I can’t, and you want to know why? Because it’s stupid.
One Tree Hill suffers from the same disease that makes Gossip Girl so boring after a while. It’s too melodramatic, the teenagers are too pretty, people die too often, get married too often, and suffer terrible tragedies too often. When watched, One Tree Hill feels like a low-quality Disney Channel Original Movie stretched over several hundred one-hour episodes. Bleh.
Pretty Little Liars
I know, I know. This isn’t really a sitcom, Emily, its a drama-murder-romance-mystery show. But guess what? This is my blog and I can do what I want.
The summer after 8th grade, I watched PLL all day everyday for weeks on end. It was the first show I ever truly binge-watched. PLL starts out pretty good. The problem is, it has been on TV way too long. The writers have completely abandoned the books they were originally so faithful too, and throw in new twists, turns, and near-death experiences just for the heck of it.
Here’s the way I see it:
A good mystery writer outlines her story first. She has a beginning, middle, and end. She develops clues that, although subtly, lead to the big reveal. And her big reveal is logical, meaning that if a reader/viewer went back to the beginning, all the clues would fall into place to create the larger picture.
Pretty Little Liars does not do that. Instead, it asks question after question after question. Then, it promises answers with new, super-exciting, high-stakes upcoming episodes that ultimately only ask more questions. At this point, PLL has raised about 1000 questions and answered 15. I eventually had to abandon the show because I lost hope that it could ever deliver on its promises (something it has still yet to do in the four seasons since I stopped watching).
So, when it comes to PLL, I wouldn’t bother. It’s a horror movie that never comes to a conclusion and eventually incites more frustration than terror.
So that’s my beautiful hierarchy and my hopefully sound reasoning. I realize that this article is SUPER long, so if anyone actually reads it in its entirety I will be very impressed.
Have a nice day, and make sure to binge-watch wisely 🙂