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23 March 2015 @ 12:04 am
All-time Favourite TV Shows  
I've had this file for a few months now where I've been typing down my opinions on all TV shows that I remember being somehow important to me, and I've wanted to keep a list of my favourite shows as well. However, the order of the ranking keeps changing, so what I'd like to do here is first post the ranking at the top (which is relatively easy to edit), and then in alphabetical order discuss the shows included on the list. That is also where I attempt to explain why a show was influential to me, why it is ranked as high or low as it is, and why I enjoyed it. (I haven't found a service online where I could easily drag posts up and down in this ranking type of purpose, so this is what I'll have to do.)

So here we go:

My favourite TV shows as of 10/17:
* means that I haven't seen all of the show (it is still airing or I'm behind), so its ranking might still significantly change

06/17 edits: The Affair, Rectify, Westworld, Agents of SHIELD, Mr. Robot, The Leftovers, OZ
10/17 edits: Buffy, Twin Peaks, Better Call Saul, House of Cards, The Defenders, OITNB, The Americans, Mindhunter

To be edited (because did not finish yet): Six Feet Under, Twin Peaks, The Handmaid's Tale

1. The Wire
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. ER
4. Lost
5. Mad Men
6. Better Call Saul*
7. Freaks and Geeks
8. The Americans*
9. Survivor*
10. Fringe
11. Breaking Bad
12. House of Cards*
13. The Leftovers
14. The Sopranos
15. Twin Peaks*
16. Westworld*
17. Black Mirror*
18. Mindhunter*
19. Vikings*
20. Rectify*
21. Fargo*
22. Jessica Jones*
23. Orange is the New Black*
24. Generation Kill
25. OZ
26. The Affair*
27. Luke Cage*
28. The Fall
29. Daredevil*
30. Top of the Lake*
31. Les Revenants*
32. Boardwalk Empire
33. The Good Wife
34. Agent Carter*
35. Bad Girls
36. Popular
37. Stranger Things*
38. The Defenders
39. Orphan Black*
40. Broadchurch*

Honorable mention of shows I haven't finished or plan on finishing, but were influential/enjoyable to me, not in any order:
Ally McBeal
Judging Amy

Disappointments/on hold: shows that I LOVED at some point, but ended up giving up on (explanations for these are also below):

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD*
Game of Thrones*
Mr. Robot*
True Blood
The Walking Dead*
Criminal Minds*
True Detective*
American Horror Story*

Also for those curious, my "shows to watch still" list:
Wentworth, Battlestar Galactica, X-files, Southland, Band of Brothers, Six Feet Under, Firefly, Deadwood, Friday Night Lights, Wonderfalls, Kings, Dead Like Me, American Gothic (for creepy), Twin Peaks, Utopia, The River <- "creepy" ones, Halt and Catch Fire, My So Called Life, Justified, Person of Interest, The Handmaid's Tale

I've started watching (but hopelessly behind): Wentworth, BSG, X-files (selected episodes), Firefly (pilot), Six Feet Under, Twin Peaks


The Affair [Ranked]
Earlier I was hesitant to rank this show higher after one season because cheating generally isn't a subject matter that fascinates me. So there was a thematic bias against this show in comparison to others. However, the show has turned out to be so much more than that. The Affair is one of the shows where I felt that season two was stronger than the first, and I was happy to improve its ranking.

Each episode of The Affair shows the narrative of approximately the same time span (often including the same events) from two viewpoints: in season one, Noah, the main male character, and Allison, the main female character. In season two also the viewpoints of Helen, Noah's (ex)wife, and Cole, Allison's (ex)husband are included. What is interesting is how much their stories differ; they are all revealed as unreliable narrators and it is up to the viewer to decide what to believe. Noah's story, for example, paints Allison as a sexy temptress and reveals difficulties in his family life, whereas Allison's story focuses on the loss she's suffered and how that influences her decision to have an affair. It's pretty fascinating and makes one think how much our memories are coloured by our own subjective perceptions. Season two complicates even further how the viewer perceives each character. There is also a murder mystery tied to all of this, but I don't wish to spoil anything. All I can say is, it has turned out to be more interesting than I anticipated.

Ruth Wilson is amazing as Allison. I've liked her as an actress before, but whoa. Perfection. Actually the cast is largely why I started to watch in the first place; with Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney (ER), Joshua Jackson (Fringe) and Dominic West (The Wire), there was no way I was going to miss this show.

This show is mostly a character study that progresses slowly, and is fascinating because the characters are so flawed and so well portrayed.

Update 06-17: For some reason I've had serious issues getting myself to watch Season 3 after the first episode, especially since I heard that the season as a whole is very Noah-focused and he is my least favourite character. We'll see what happens.

Agent Carter [Ranked]
Agent Carter now has two seasons and is focused on a fucking awesome strong intelligent badass gorgeous female character that is Peggy Carter. After the first season I saw a lot of comments saying they liked it much better than Agents of SHIELD, but the reasons why I have it ranked lower are that I didn't fall in love with the characters as much (even if Peggy was perfection and I liked other characters, as well) and I think I wasn't as impressed with the villains on the show. After the second season my initial feeling seems more justified, because it was much more comical and seemed kind of... 'simple' at times. It felt like a different show; not bad, but strange. I'd still recommend it to anyone who wants to see strong female characters who know their value, and it's entertaining enough. I'm not sure that it's a very memorable show, however.

Ally McBeal [Honorable mention]
Wasn't Ally a delightfully quirky and smart show at its time, with a lead female character who wasn't perfect, but was still totally likable? It also largely brought us Lucy Liu, so fuck yeah. I think it was the first show of its kind (smart and funny 'adult show' with also some serious themes) that I saw as a kid or teen - my sense of time is hazy - and I remember enjoying it quite a bit, even if to my best memory I never saw all of it. I might be nuts, but I think there really was something fresh about it when it first came out. There must have been a reason why everyone was talking about the dancing baby.

The Americans [Ranked]
The Americans is a show about two Russian spies and their family in the 1980s United States. It's an incredibly well-made, suspenseful and well-acted show that I warmly recommend. It's a very fascinating viewing experience because there are times when I notice myself buying into the characters' justifications for their actions - these are people who kill innocents if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! - and then have to check myself or wonder if some awful action is really truly worth it (and let's be real, most of the time it's not). The main characters can be rather frightening with their skills in lying and manipulating others, but perhaps the most frightening thing is how the viewer despite this is rooting for them and anxious as fuck when they nearly get caught. Even we are, perhaps, being manipulated to love these characters that are such complex messes and outright monstrous at times. After seeing four seasons, this show is still amazing. Do give it a try.

American Horror Story [Disappointment]
AHS is different from many other shows on my list because each season is its own story and while many of the actors remain the same, their characters are different each time, as well. The first season focused on a haunted house, the second one asylum featuring aliens (though everyone wants to forget about the aliens), the third one witches, and the fourth season on a freak show. The fifth season had vampires in a hotel that also had ghosts of some kind. Yup.

American Horror Story is mostly fun popcorn horror. This show doesn't scare me at all, but it definitely is dark and upsetting and breaks taboos more than I eat chocolate (fingers crossed). Initially I found it so entertaining for its crazy, over-the-top ways! Unfortunately I seem to have gotten tired of the way it's made, and stopped watching both 4th and 5th season before they finished. Because of two seasons of "flop" experiences, I'm removing it from the ranking.

I'd like to keep this previous paragraph, however: The great thing about the horror genre (when used in this way) is that it allows to create characters that would otherwise be impossible or completely unbelievable in a tv show. Fun horror results in some creative good times. A lot of horror cliches are used as well, yes, but the show is so all over the place that it doesn't really matter. I think actors have understood the fun creativity aspect as well, because this show seems to attract some pretty impressive, already established talent, in addition to introducing new ones. There really are some great actors on the show, wonderful women in particular. Hell, if I was an actor I would love to be on this show. Haha.

Bad Girls [Ranked]
Nostalgia glasses ohoy! Bad Girls was like a little bit less violent, British, female version of OZ, as it took place in a women's prison. It didn't hold back punches and had some very dark and tragic storylines and great acting. I still shiver at the way I remember one of my favourite characters dying. Awful, awful. But the show also featured deep connections of friendship, moments of triumph and love, so it wasn't as dark as OZ overall. Bad Girls happened to me in my teens and was probably the first show where I truly hated a character; a man who used his power position in the most hideous possible ways. It was probably also the first show I watched that had a lesbian relationship as the main romantic storyline. Towards the end there were maybe a few soapy jump-a-shark moments, but overall I'd say it was quality British television that the nation is known for. Somehow shows that take place in prison getting a bit over-the-top at times is understandable to me because of being limited to one space with largely the same people and the writers trying to keep the show as engaging.

If a reboot of Bad Girls was announced, I'd be on that shit so quick.

Better Call Saul [Ranked]
A prequel to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is more of a character study than the sometimes more action-packed Breaking Bad. The first season was very good; it had emotional pull, hilarious moments, and (pre-)Saul is a fascinating character. The second season was even better. I particularly enjoyed the increased focus on Kim Wexler, and love her a lot. In some ways the show feels more 'mature' than Breaking Bad, which I don't think is bad at all, and it's actually a good thing, to me, that this show has its own vibe to it, while still having some of that black humour that Breaking Bad also had during its early seasons, and then lost as it got darker and darker. It'll be interesting to see if the same thing happens with Saul. I've really come to love this show and think it's one of the best shows currently airing.

After 3rd season: still some of the best TV. Getting even more "becoming Saul", slowly but surely. There was one suspenseful scene in particular this season that left me in awe.

Black Mirror [Ranked]
I actually consider Black Mirror must-see TV in some ways, and I probably don't have good reasons for why I feel that it should be ranked below my other favourite shows. Oh well.

Black Mirror is a pretty cool, unnerving and creepy show about what might happen if technology is misused, evolves beyond a certain point, and how powerful it can be. Each episode has a different story and different characters. It's very disturbing because many of the scenarios remind the viewer about things that are actually happening in today's world, just perhaps in a smaller scale. It makes one wonder how far are we going to push the limits until we realize how fucked up a world we've created. Definitely an interesting show and rather well-made, but because of its stand-alone episodes and slow production of episodes it's hard to even think of it as one show. Additionally, in some episodes I felt the concept was interesting, but the execution could have been better. But it's definitely worth watching!

Boardwalk Empire [Ranked]
Boardwalk Empire marks another violent show on my list that has epic moments, but it also had times of drought during which it was only my loyalty that made me tune in. Atlantic City, Prohibition era, crime, corruption, lust, greed. BWE is one of those shows where I can tell it's a quality production and quite enjoy watching it, but can't really fall in love with it. However, the final episode was satisfying and left me feeling at-peace with the show, even if I still don't feel very passionate about it. I'll send my love to the actors - every casting is flawless and the acting is great from start to finish. Maybe the quality of the acting is why I came back every week even if I wasn't always fascinated by the writing and stories taking place, and even when some of the very few characters I actually liked got killed off. I'm not sure what kinds of viewers I would recommend this show to. It definitely has darkness about it, cruelty, and some dark humour; some fascinating, but not necessarily lovable characters, and everyone hurts at some point. The time period is beautiful to watch and the atmosphere at times is great when the music, action, acting, fashion, all comes together perfectly. When I say it's a high quality production, I mean it's a high quality production. But it does get a bit slow at times; maybe it would be a better experience when marathoned through?

I have to say, I thought this show would be something I'd easily forget about once it's over, but something about the finale made me think that perhaps one day I should watch it all again and notice more details and appreciate it more. But there are so many shows to watch that I probably won't.

Breaking Bad [Ranked]
Breaking Bad is an excellent show even if I personally found the final season quite miserable viewing. I believe I read someone describing the show as progressing from a black comedy to a hell, which is pretty accurate, haha. I was a bit sadly surprised at how little emotional impact the very finale had on me; it's like the road to that point had sucked all the juice out of me and I did not weep once. But please don't let my experience prevent you from watching the show, if you have not already seen it! See, it's still on my top 5!

I really, truly detest Walter White, the main character. But he's an amazing character. I think (along with Tony Soprano) he is the anti-hero gone full on detestable creature on television that all future anti-heroes will be compared to. I had actually written here a rant about how much I hate him, but it ends up being rather spoilerific - I don't think someone starting to watch the show will understand why I'm so angry at a high school chemistry teacher with cancer, haha. Let's just say that a fascinating character arc takes place. Juicy juicy, do take a look. The character that made me emotionally connect with the show was Jesse Pinkman, a kid who deep down has a good heart, but ends up tangled in messes. Peek-A-Boo was the episode that made me decide that I needed to know all the rest of his story, even if I ended up hating the show (which did not happen, thankfully).

I know I've made it sound like it, but Breaking Bad is not a completely depressing show! It's just that most of the humour is rather dark. Sometimes you just laugh at the absurdity of it all. Also, none of the characters are pure little angels, which makes the dynamic of the entire show fascinating. You find yourself rooting for a character at some time, yet simultaneously wonder if it's ok for you to root for them because a while ago you were hating their guts. I wouldn't say that this show is easy viewing, but it's a rich viewing experience.

Another thing: the cinematography is amazing in this series. The way it's filmed - what is shown and how it is shown, how sometimes it takes you a while to understand what you are looking at, until the camera zooms out or the picture is sharpened - it's beautiful. The camera work, editing, colour schemes - it all shows such love and creativity from the people who worked on the show. The way that emotion and atmosphere are captured on this show is pure poetry. From that point of view alone this show would be worth watching. And it's thrilling how the pacing can change as well. When there is a sense of urgency - it's almost impossible not to feel your pulse speeding up as well while watching. This show gets so INTENSE. But there are also incredible slowly moving scenes with, for example, a character delivering a monologue that remain engaging despite the slowness because of amazing acting and writing.

Breaking Bad is an exceptionally well-made show and liking it is not just jumping on a bandwagon. However, because of its eventual darkness I would also understand someone wanting to jump off once it gets to a certain point. People watch television for different reasons.

Broadchurch [Ranked]
The finale of the first season destroyed me in a delicious way, but I wonder if the show should have just stopped there. I watched the first episode of season two straight after and it felt a bit weird. Maybe I just need some time to pass in between.

This show is a great murder mystery that ends up revealing dirty deets about everyone in a seemingly harmless little town. The first three episodes were rather strange for me to watch because I'd previously seen the first three episodes of the American version, and it was... odd. David Tennant's character was suddenly Scottish, etc. But yeah, great acting, enjoyable writing. I still rank it rather low because I'm not sure how memorable it will be to me down the road, and I guess generally the one-season-murder-mystery isn't my favourite format.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Ranked]
I haven't done a re-watch of Buffy so maybe a lot of this is based on nostalgia, but I also have a feeling I would enjoy it if I watched it today - perhaps just in a different way. I'd probably understand jokes that I may have been too young or inexperienced to understand before. I also would not need subtitles!

Buffy was the first show for me where I truly connected with and loved the main characters and felt I knew them. It is an incredibly entertaining show about fighting evil that has great humour and fun action but also heart-breaking moments and some Serious Shit (tm). Buffy continues to be a great example of a complex, strong female character; for example, the show doesn't teach us that being strong means giving up feminine qualities, since according to our cultural stereotypes being feminine means being weak. But she is also incredibly brave, smart, resourceful, funny, reliable, and just all around amazing.

Looking back on it there are some things I would probably find icky now - the show is not perfect, but the goal of keeping this description spoiler-free prevents me from sharing what I might find icky. I would say that if you like television that is fun, enjoyable, entertaining, yet also touches your heart at times, and has a bit of a gothic creep factor with vampires and demons and things, you should definitely watch Buffy. Also, the late 90's/early 00's fashion is hilarious to see now.

10/17 addition: I started rewatching Buffy on Netflix and made it to season 2 episode 7 before the series was removed. I watch the show from a very different perspective now and it has made me so moved (aka put tears in my eyes) many times. I knew I would still enjoy it and I wish I could continue watching it, grr. Also - I really love Buffy.

Casual+y [Honorable mention]
Casual+y is a classic British hospital series. A Finnish channel used to air old episodes of this show every single day when I was a teen and I still think it was great. It was rather raw and real with sympathetic, but complex characters. It had its shocking moments like the stabbing of a nurse and another falling off the second floor landing on the back of his head, and, hell, the entire hospital burned the fuck down once. This show was my ER before I got into ER. A crazy thing about the show is that it's still being made. There's too much history missed for me to catch up now and it also hasn't been aired here for well over 10 years, but I've got good memories of the old days.

Criminal Minds [Disappointment]
At the time that I started watching Criminal Minds I wasn't really into procedural dramas with an episodic format anymore, but I wanted to give the show a chance because the analytic approach to the mind of serial killers was intriguing to me, and because dark subjects fascinate me anyway. Since the show is mainly episodic it has a very hit-or-miss quality to its stories, but the reason why I stayed was the amazing chemistry between the characters, the little jokes between them and us the viewers who knew them - and it was when this aspect of the show increasingly got the back-seat that I lost interest and eventually quit. Also, the writing in general wasn't as strong; the powers-that-be treated the show's actresses shittily; there was an attempt to boot a sister-show that was awful, etc. If today I accidentally tuned in to the show I might just keep watching until the episode ended, but I think the love story between us is over. Season four in particular, I believe, was pretty good, however, and this show introduced me to the lovely Paget Brewster, so it's all good and it was fun while it lasted.

CSI [Honorable mention]
Mang when CSI first started, the way crimes were investigated and solved on the show was so impressive and felt fresh - who knew it would turn into a CSI factory churning out different versions of the show and continuing year after year even after major cast changes. Initially I was completely hooked; I liked the characters, I enjoyed the cases and was impressed with the technical aspects of showing bullets piercing through objects in extreme slow motion and extreme detail, etc. But oversaturation is not good for me, so I eventually dropped out. I still absolutely love the opening theme music, however. CSI may have been one of the first shows, and certainly crime related shows that I got addicted to, so for that reason it deserves a mention.

Daredevil [Ranked]
First of all, I acknowledge that Daredevil's current ranking on my list might be based on recency bias. With that being said, I appreciate the grittiness and having a hero that makes mistakes and whose lies and actions have consequences. Also, he is dreamy. When he's not being frustrating. Season 2 had a lot of that.

... ANYWAY, I really like both the main cast and characters and their personal stories, which I also felt were expanded on in season 2, along with the introduction of further fascinating characters. The storyline of the first season was kind of predictable in that super hero way - of course our hero can't die or there's no show, and it's likely that the villains will get what's coming to them - but I think it worked for setting up the show that will hopefully get at least two more seasons? Three seasons sounds pretty good. This show is basically a super hero story taken to a context where the hero (and his friends) will get seriously hurt and it will hurt to see it. Actually if there's one complaint I would make, it's that the violence was even overkill at times. A lot of the combat was enjoyable to watch, but seeing someone endlessly bash a guy's head in, and the scene just.won't.end? It was a bit much for me. So if you are into Avengers, for instance, but don't usually enjoy very violent stuff, this series might not be for you even if it's a part of the Marvel universe. It also progresses slower. But it is enjoyable and addictive especially if you enjoy Charlie Cox. And who wouldn't?

They say the 2nd season was basically the Punisher's introduction story, and I can't say I mind. I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the female characters overall. Good stuff, keep it up.

The Defenders [Ranked]
I'm not sure this show truly deserves a spot on the list, but it was entertaining enough? The Defenders brought together all the Netflix Marvel heroes, three of which I love/really like and one of which I have no interest in (the Iron Fist). Oh, and the supporting characters/cast is great, too. About 90% of the fun in this show came from watching these heroes unenthusiastically come together. But in the end, especially with the storyline focusing on Iron Fist so much, and the villain organization being kinda meh, I doubt it was too memorable. We'll see what I think a year from now. But I think Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil even with their flaws come way ahead this co-op series.

Dexter [Disappointment]
Oh Dexter. For those who don't know, this show is centered around a serial killer (introduced as incapable of love or empathy) who works for the police as a blood spatter analyst and only kills criminals that have escaped the justice system; he has a 'code'. It is also perhaps a surprisingly humorous show, not in a HA HA way, but enjoyable nevertheless. This show started up great, had some strong seasons (if not all as excellent), but the characterization of Dexter flew out the window at some point and when I found out how the show ended (as I spoiled it to myself on purpose when trying to decide whether to watch the final season or not) I had nothing but vile things left to say and I certainly will never finish watching. I was furious, let me tell ya. Deb, however, is still one of my favourite TV characters, and I think maybe halfway through they should've just killed Dexter and renamed the show to Debster. Yes. That would have been amazing. If you are curious to give the show a try, if nothing else potty-mouth Deb will make it worth it, but skip the last two seasons, at least.

ER [Ranked]
ER is a great hospital drama show. It is smart and warm with relatable, flawed characters, and the first 5 seasons I consider golden television that any serious television fan should watch. It also has a great cast, great characters, and especially great story arcs for the characters during their stay on the show. My favourite character is Abby and she particularly goes through a LOT during her time on the show, but always remains believable as Abby; her past affects her current situation, and continuity like that isn't achieved on every show. It becomes of a bit of a repetitive pattern on the show that some characters start out as unlikable, but then become more complex and eventually can be embraced as part of the team - but even if it happens with quite a few characters, it is still mostly effective.

Watching the show several years after it first aired, it is also possible to see how it reflects social issues of the time - and many of them are, sadly, still important issues. ER dared to tackle sensitive issues, some happening to the characters that we know (e.g. addiction, post-traumatic stress, the parental rights of a lesbian mother) and some witnessed in patients. The fact that ER was such a popular show and featured such important topics means that it must have had some significance at the time it was airing at bringing some needed attention to said topics.

I'd like to give shout-outs to some of my favourite characters besides Abby: Neela, Susan, Dr. Corday, Dr. Greene, Ray, Dr. Chen... So many characters I love.

I admit that the later seasons were at times too comedic (in an unrealistic way) to my taste, but I did still enjoy them and after watching the very last episode it felt very confusing to think that there were no more episodes to watch. I almost wish ER was rebooted one day - but it would have to be the right writers and producers. And the same location!

This write-up seems too short for a show that I have ranked so high, but in a way the fact that there are so many and seasons and characters means it is difficult on focus on something to talk about, especially without spoilers...

The Fall [Ranked]
The Fall is set in Belfast where a serial killer is killing young brunettes. Gillian Anderson portrays the lead detective who is trying to catch him and the character she portrays is awesomely complex and takes no bullshit. She alone makes this show worth watching. It seems though that every character on the show is complex. The show is quite deliciously suspenseful and dark. It actually gets pretty depressing at times.

I have now seen the third and possibly final season. I'm not completely happy with how it ended, but I am happy with the closure. When it comes to crime shows like this, centered around one case, it's hard for me to really think that they will have a lasting impact on me. That's why I think the show may drop further down on my list as time goes by. However, Stella Gibson (Gillian's character) is possibly one of my all time favourite characters. Many of her quotes reflect such wisdom that I feel I would benefit from remembering. I wish the show could come back one day with her investigating a new case, but we'll see what happens, I suppose.

Fargo [Ranked]
I have now seen the film Fargo and both seasons of the show! If you love the film, you will love the show, and I'm happy to say that season two was as delightful as season one. You also do not need to have seen the film before you watch the show; that's how I started, and I really enjoyed it.

Fargo will structurally be like American Horror Story - a new season means a new story. What remained similar on both seasons was the dark humour, quirky characters and great acting. I very very very strongly recommend this show. WATCH IT. There, I brought out the capslock.

Freaks and Geeks [Ranked]
This show lasted for only one season, but what a brilliant season it was. Freaks and Geeks is, I think, the funniest of all my favourite shows. The characters were so lovably awkward and real, and the fact that they were kids and teens makes their issues feel that much greater and their feelings of sadness more heart-breaking. Freaks and Geeks differs from many of my other favourite shows in that nothing EPIC ever happens in it. Nobody's saving the world, nobody kills anyone, there are no big badabooms. It's just a show about life from the point of view of some teenagers, but it manages to make the viewer laugh and sympathize with the characters while succeeding to avoid sappiness and all the reasons why normally I would avoid any American show that centers around teenagers. I suppose you could say it's a smart show. (It's been a few years, so I'm having some trouble writing well about it. I do feel like I should watch it again.) Freaks and Geeks is awesome and you should watch it. Since it's short, there's no way it isn't worth the time invested. I seriously think anyone could enjoy it.

Fringe [Ranked]
After finishing season 4 I had ranked Fringe lower, but after finishing the show a few hours before starting to type this (edited to add: these are old notes hey) I'm glad to raise it up a bit. At the end of season 4 I was quite sick of some convenient plot points and how - after having taken a break in watching the show - it was incredibly difficult to track each supporting character's progress because of major storyline spoilers that I can't discuss here because spoilers. But the final 5th season had good villains, good character moments, and in my opinion a satisfying ending. I cried. I didn't even cry watching Breaking Bad's finale, but I cried for Fringe. So there we go. The finale gave lots of nods to fans who had watched the show since the beginning, which made the experience rewarding, like an old friend referencing a moment from the past that you both remember.

OK let's get more into Fringe. Fringe largely has to do with nutty science that results in some pretty frightening yet intriguing cases for our FBI fringe team to investigate. This is combined with a story of an estranged father and son reconnecting, and the strong, amazingly amazing super agent Olivia Dunham. This show starts a bit slow and it must be fortunate that I somehow believed enough in the show (even if I get easily bored) to keep watching. By season two I had fiercely fallen in love with the characters. Olivia is a dream. Walter Bishop is possibly one of my all-time favourite television characters. He has his quirky, silly moments where he functions as comic relief, but also shows such vulnerability and despair that it's heartbreaking. He is complex: he is responsible for having done horrible things in the past, but becomes someone who eagerly yearns to do the right thing. He can be adorable, frightening, depressing, lovable, frustrating. JOHN NOBLE IS AMAZING IN THIS ROLE. I AM DEDICATING MY ONE ALLOWED MOMENT OF CAPSLOCK PRAISE TO HIM. He alone is enough of a reason to watch this show, I would argue.

Peter Bishop I am not as much a fan of. I mean, he's incredibly stubborn and I always have a problem with stubborn male characters - the ones who do things on their own and lie about it because they think it's the best way to handle it, but is it really anything more than selfishness and inability to trust your companion or team? I probably would have loved the show even more if I had supported the main love story of the show from the bottom of my heart, but it is what it is - I still enjoyed the show. I don't hate Peter really, I was just okay with him, and I do like Joshua Jackson (the actor).

But that's only the main characters! Fringe being about an FBI fringe team means that some epic fucked up stuff takes place and it is a fun ride. The show does have largely an episodic pattern, but there are also major story arcs and it's rather impressive how the show goes through so many world and time-line changes and still retains the things that fans love about Fringe. Mostly. If you like the science fiction genre, you should give Fringe a try.

And again, Olivia is a dream.

Game of Thrones [Disappointment]
I have a lot of complaints, bear with me. I feel that based on the source material and the cast this could have become one of the best shows ever made, but unfortunately HBO has adapted some kind of obligatory number of boobs and rape per episode type of model that, at this point, makes a mockery of the show - it completely takes me out of the moment and is part of the reason why I won't (hopefully) be watching the show anymore because why watch something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth? If I didn't love the cast so much, maybe I would have quit much earlier. Peter, Lena, Sophie, Maisie and others are just too precious and amazing. Sigh... I haven't even whined that much about the changes from book vs. television until the latest season when 1) the quality of the changes begun to drop to a 14-year-old fanfic writer levels, and 2) what was supposed to be the most heart-breaking and devastating part in Tyrion's story arc so far turned out to be just "oh... ok" worthy. Tyrion at the end of the most recent episode is not even close to being the same person (or, rather, monster) as the Tyrion in the books at that point because his storyline on the show was apparently fed through a fluffy cotton candy machine before production.

So my complaints are a product of disappointment, since during season 1, I really thought the showrunners would be able to capture the feeling of the books and what the characters are about, despite having to make some changes. But nope. I was really invested in this show you guyse, but I really don't think it's as high quality anymore as it seemed at first. It's still good during its good points, but every show has its good moments, right? Even a 'casual' show like Without A Trace had great episodes now and then. I'm rather glad for its success as a fantasy series and I continue to be glad for the actors for its success, but for my own sanity's sake I shouldn't tune in again, and instead focus on shows that better deserve my full attention (after all, I do have a very long list of shows to watch).

Generation Kill [Ranked]
Stories about 'Murican army life generally aren't a top interest for me, but Generation Kill is awesome and you should watch it. It actually doesn't have that much war action, barely any at all. It's mostly a colourful group of soldiers killing time, and it's brilliant. The characters are great, the acting is great, and it's great how - at least I felt - it wasn't trying to be pro- or anti-war. It's more a character piece than a moralistic story piece. It's been a while, but I'd love to see this show again. Also for those who like male eye candy, Alexander Skarsgård is heavenly in this, and I also had a crush on James Ransone, DON'T JUDGE ME.

Oh, no wonder this was brilliant. It's from the same writers as The Wire.

The Good Wife [Ranked]
When I started watching the show I expected it to be good, but I did not expect to fall in love with it - especially because it's a network show and that means there are many limitations that the show makers must maneuver around to be able to compete with highly esteemed cable shows. It was smart and funny and it had complex and enjoyable characters. The way the main character, Alicia, grows during the show is simply fascinating; she becomes increasingly ambitious and even selfish and I love that she's not always nice little Alicia. Towards the end it appears as though she doesn't really care about anything anymore. She's become quite a political monster. How often do female characters get to have this kind of a story arc?

The Good Wife also has the best guest stars ever. My favourite is Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni, but really she's only one of many. Even Maura Tierney had a role on the show, so it was a mini ER reunion! And yes, the acting on the show is great. It's no surprise that several cast members have been nominated for awards. Special shout outs to Kalinda, Marissa and Lucca in order of appearance, too.

A great thing about The Good Wife is that the 5th season managed to be arguably its strongest one yet. A horrible thing about The Good Wife is that its 6th season was the opposite, and while the 7th season has been better, it hasn't caught up in quality. Some main characters are left to gather dust on the sides and make decisions that seem odd for them, and actual side characters simply disappear without explanation. The Good Wife has gone from a show that I could genuinely recommend as great television to something of a soapy entertainment, for me. I still quite enjoy spending an hour watching the show, but it has lost something. Credibility, I suppose. And it's not because certain characters have left. It's the writing in general. Alicia's gradual destruction may have been a success to some extent, but it came at the cost of nearly every other character. Overall the show has, sadly, been a disappointment, even if it started so damn strong.

Homeland [Disappointment]
A show that thematically has or had a lot to do with fighting terrorism, but also the lead character being a capable agent who struggles with having a bipolar disorder. Homeland has an amazing first season and the second season was mostly good, too, but when I watched the first episode of the third season I realized I had started to view the characters as caricatures - their mannerisms had somehow become so predictable to me that they turned into something comical and since it's a drama show, I had no choice but to stop watching. I don't know what caused this and it happened with every actor and character, so it can't have been just someone suddenly starting to deliver their lines badly. Some switch went off in my head and that was it. Either way, it was fun while it lasted and I sometimes consider going back to it - I might one day ask around how the latter seasons are/were to make my decision.

House of Cards [Ranked]
I have watched all four seasons rather back to back. Even if I understand that there would not be much of a show if the main characters got caught for all the insane shit that they do, it does bother me how predictable it is that they will always get away with it no matter what it is. But aside from that, I find House of Cards a very enjoyable show. The two main characters are so dislikable, but even I sometimes have to remind myself that when someone is about to call them out on their shit, I don't need to side with the main characters. It's scary when I start getting annoyed by someone challenging them when that's exactly what should be happening. It's like the show is not only mind games to the characters, but to the viewer as well. The very ending of the most recent episode gave me the chills, so I'm looking forward to season five. I'm not sure this is one of the best shows ever, but it's certainly entertaining.

Edit after season 5: it seems this show might actually be creeping up to be one of my favourite shows eventually... I thoroughly enjoyed season 5. I watched way faster than anticipated and it seems finally some bigger things might be happening. One may hope! But I'm kind of done with Frank Underwood. I kind of just want him to die. But I don't think they'd ever go there. I don't think they'd finish the show without Kevin Spacey.

Jessica Jones [Ranked]
JESSICAAAA! ~Raise your hand if you heard that in David Tennant's voice. I mean, if you have seen this show.
This show only has one season out, but it was quite good. My favourite Marvel tv or film product, to be honest. It has my favourite Marvel villain so far, and a great 'hero' as well. As in, she's very flawed and a tragic character in a way, yet tries to do the right thing. But it's not always that simple! I very much like how women and abuse are portrayed on this show, and it will be interesting to see when or if the show gets a second season how it will thematically change. I definitely haven't got enough of these characters and Jessica yet!

Judging Amy [Honorable mention]
Something about watching Judging Amy made me feel warm and cozy, like I was at home, even if it is a drama show with sometimes quite heavy themes. Maybe I was drawn to it because of the strong female charcaters in Amy, her mother, and even her initially cold-seeming sister-in-law. I think there will never be a bigger draw to me than an intelligent, strong woman, as someone to aspire to be like, to relate to and in some cases to be attracted to (tho on this show the only one I had a crush on was Amy's brother Vincent, haha). I haven't seen all of the show and I likely never will, but it's special to me for the feeling it gave me, which I think no other show has succeeded in delivering. I even remember taking an earlier train to Oulu after visiting home because I wanted to be back in time to catch Judging Amy on television (they were re-airing the show during my first uni years). Then I could experience a home-like feeling at my non-home uni room.

The Leftovers [Ranked]
How fun that Leftovers is under Judging Amy, since Amy herself was in this show ♥

The Leftovers, to me, above anything else, is a show about loss (and the pain of it). It's also a show about belief - religious belief plays a role, but I think belief in other people is more significant here. From the human pain point of view I really loved this show. However, it also had some supernatural elements that I didn't care too much about - of course, I love a bit of mystery, but these elements were often linked to mental illness, and I think cheapens real illnesses and issues when we have to repeatedly ask as viewers whether something is a sign of psychological distress or something supernatural taking place on the show. I especially don't like it when someone who thinks he is losing his mind doesn't ask for help, or, it seems, cannot be helped. What kind of a message does that send to someone going through similar issues? That you can't reach out for help, and if you do, it won't do any good? Meh. Well, I'm ranting, but I did find the show thoroughly enjoyable and well-acted. It also has one of my new favourite female characters, Nora Durst: oh so complex, such a loveable, flawed character. Simultaneously so strong and fragile, unapologetic and yet... broken. In coarse language, completely fucked up. I freaking love Nora Durst.

The Leftovers is a beautifully painful show (although not quite to the level of Rectify) that has the potential to make one think about humanity more generally. At three short-ish seasons, it also isn't very long. Worth recommending to mature viewers (there is nudity, violence, and suicidal themes).

Les Revenants [Ranked]
People often wish that their dead loved ones could come back to life, but what would happen if they actually did? Les Revenants in some ways answers to this question. If one lost person returns to life, there's no limiting who else does, including people who arguably deserved to die when they did, or wanted to die. The show is beautiful and painful. Something that could be interpreted as a miracle appears to bring happiness to no-one.

The first season left some questions up in the air and I've heard that a second season is coming to address some of them. I find that even as a stand-alone, the first season is a lovely viewing experience, and I think I would recommend this to someone who wants to watch a beautiful television series, as odd as it is to use this word. Let it also be known that this show has an incredible soundtrack.

Lost [Ranked]
Lost was the first show I started watching the day after it airs in the US because avoiding spoilers became so important. I can't say I was spending a ton of time on trying to solve the countless mysteries on the show, but each week I was impatiently hungry for the next episode to see more, to learn more about what was going to happen. It was probably the first time I was so excited about a show - even more excited than Buffy. Watching it as it was airing was a fun experience with all the twists and turns and revelations about the characters' pasts and personalities, and then watching the characters grow in the present. I also loved all of the cast, even tended to love characters that were introduced to the show in later seasons and accepted them as part of the Lost family. It was a great mystery show and even if it inspired many shows attempting something similar, I don't think any show since has been able to capture the wonder and excitement that Lost provided its viewers with.

Unfortunately Lost has some weak moments when it seems the writers are coming up with filler because, at the time, they didn't know how long the show would be on air. Once they got a certain number of remaining episodes to work on, I felt the show became more dynamic again. I wasn't really crazy about how it all ended, but I'm also not as pressed about it as some others and I did enjoy the show until the end. What I'm pressed about is how the characters that I very most wanted to have a happy ending got screwed - I'll spare you their names and the details as a spoiler-free act of kindness.

I love that the very original setting of the show - an international flight crashing on an island - allowed the cast to be perhaps more diverse than of your average American television show, and how some stereotypes were turned on their heads. Let's just say nothing and nobody is ever what they seem at first on this show. This diversity and complexity are a big part of why it was such a delightful experience, I think.

Anyway, Lost is a very enjoyable nutty experience and since it's been a while that it's been off air, I think it would be safe to start watching now without fear of spoilers, as long as you don't google the damn show. So I would recommend it to someone who missed it while it was happening for the experience of being amazed each week at what the writers manage to come up with.

Luke Cage [Ranked]
Note to those somehow not in the know that this is one of Marvel's "super hero" tv shows.

I'm not completely sold that I preferred LC to Daredevil - it might be 'recency bias' - but it had a lot of enjoyable stuff about it. The female characters were top notch, the struggles of both Luke and Harlem were emotionally compelling considering the (particularly) recent need for BLM movement, the music was great, etc. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, for sure, considering that Luke's "powers" are not that interesting to me. In comparison, I find Daredevil's blind-but-can-see-in-other-ways power incredibly intriguing. But the other aspects came through. Sadly about midway through the show suffered from the introduction of a villain that I couldn't respect or really take seriously, unlike all the other villains on the show. All focus was put on this villain whose motivations, even at the end, to me still seem really silly and, well, comic book like in a bad way? But yeah. I suppose in the end there was a nice mixture of hope and hopelessness. Can't wait to see everyone come together as Defenders.