It’s hot outside, and while the beaches and amusement parks are always dope summertime options, my absolute favorite thing to do in my leisure time when it’s hot as Satan’s scrotum outside is to sit in the air-conditioned wonder of my living room, binge watching cable series and eating unhealthy snacks in complete and total bliss. As a writer, I love plots that are intricate and keep me interested episode after episode. I am completely inspired by great writing, and these shows all take the cake. I also really, really like movie snacks, and since I pay Comcast a quarter of a million dollars a month and deal with all their shitty customer service, I might as well get my money’s worth and be compensated for my pain and suffering, right?
I compiled this list for those of you who are always asking, “What’s a good series to watch?” These are, in my opinion, the best of the best.
The criteria for this list is as follows:
1. The series had to be on either cable or Netflix. I didn’t consider primetime series.
2. The series has to have been around for more than one season.
3. I only chose the series I’ve seen… hence them being MY top ten. No, I’ve not watched everything on television (read: Insecure), so I could only comment on what I’ve watched.
The rules for responding to this post are simple:
1. DISAGREE. Please. Just tell me why. We can argue and then hug it out at the end.
2. Keep in mind that my bias is clear. This article is absolutely not objective. It’s not meant to be politically correct or accurate outside of my opinion. Please please PLEASE don’t “well, actually” me to death.
#1 on this list, however, is non-negotiable.
So here they are, in order from my least to most favorite:
There is no #10 (PLOT TWIST!!) because this is my list and I do what I want but I had to write something here because this is a #TopTenTuesdays post, as #TuesdayTopNINE doesn’t have the same appeal. No, seriously… I sat here forever trying to think of a tenth series. I couldn’t come up with anything worthy of being added to this list. Sorry not sorry. *shrugs*
Netflix, 2 seasons
SUMMARY: Set in Columbia, South America starting in the late 1970s, this series depicts the rise of Pablo Escobar from a black marketeer to one of the most famous drug lords in history.
-based on a true story… Pablo was that dude. He was a Columbian drug lord who, at the height of his narco-terrorist career, was worth $30 billion—the wealthiest criminal in history.
-Pablo was RUTHLESS. He’s the bad guy you will LOVE to root for.
-Pablo CONSTANTLY outsmarted the police… which is always awesome to watch. Always.
-the subtitles. So listen. Pablo n’nem are Columbian. They don’t speak English. Most of the show, with the exception of the interaction between the DEA and Columbian police and government officials, is in Spanish. That means you have to read most of the dialogue, which can be annoying, because you inevitably miss something no matter how hard you pay attention.
-it drags a bit here and there, especially when you’re learning background information
#8- Orange is the New Black
Netflix, 5 seasons
Fun Fact: Maritza Ramos gives me LIFE.
SUMMARY: The show follows the lives of inmates, guards, and prison officials at Lytchfield Correctional Facility, a small privately-owned women’s prison in upstate New York.
-It’s hilarious. The women are funny as hell.
-The show tackles real social issues, so while the plot is funny, there are serious moments, too.
-The characters are likeable, for the most part.
-The cast is incredibly diverse, culturally and age-wise, and casting is EXCELLENT.
-Each of the major characters is developed through flashbacks that explain why they are locked up in the first place. The inmates are humanized, which I appreciate, since in real life, inmates are often disregarded as people.
-Some parts of the series are incredibly slow. The first several episodes of Season 5 were almost painful to watch.
-The main character, Pieper, is incredibly annoying. Thankfully, the focus shifts from Piper to other characters in later seasons.
-The show actually makes prison seem appealing. Prison sucks in real life. (Duh.)
SoHo (an Australian cable station, but you can watch it on Netfix), 5 seasons
Fun Fact: I was utterly and completely bored the first time I tried getting into this series last summer, but I read so much about it that I forced myself to try again, and I am so glad I did.
SUMMARY: This is an Australian drama that chronicles the lives and the prison hierarchy of power of inmates, guards, and prison officials at Wentworth Prison for Women.
-The plot is INTENSE. Once I got past those first few boring background episodes, I was hooked.
-Prison life in this series is believable, unlike OITNB. NOTHING about being locked up at Wentworth looks fun or entertaining in any way. This is NOT a ‘dramedy.’
-The plot is unpredictable.
-Boomer. She’s so refreshing.
-Joan “The Freak” Ferguson might be my favorite TV villain of all time.
-For me, the series started really, REALLY slow.
-There’s very little comic relief. The plot is pretty dark.
-The actors are Australian, so it takes a while to get used to their accents.
#6- The Walking Dead
AMC, 7 seasons
Fun Fact: I once swore I’d never, ever watch this show, because who wants to watch a show about zombies? Not me. Be careful what you swear you’ll never do.
SUMMARY: The show follows a group of people, led by former sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who are trying to survive in a post-zombie apocalyptic world where zombies reign supreme and nobody can be trusted.
-Carol. Her level of gangsta continually shocked and impressed me. Also, she won’t die. She’s been beaten, shot, stabbed, chased… She’s invincible.
-Neegan. He is such a ruthless villain and I hate him SO MUCH, which, in MY opinion, is a definite pro. Villains should be nefarious. Neegan takes the cake.
-Darryl. If he dies, I will legit stop watching this series.
-There’s an awesome plot that has nothing at all to do with the zombies.
-So. Many. Zombies. Like, so many. I understand that there can’t be a zombie apocalypse without them, but damn.
-The show is VERY gory, not for folks with weak stomachs. There is no shortage of blood and guts. (Maybe a pro for some, but not for me.)
-Carl’s hat. Just… no.
-I binge watched this series and had to take a break every few episodes or so. Parts of the plot dragged on to me, and the zombies are incredibly annoying.
-The zombies. Yes, I said this already. Maybe more than once. That’s how annoying they are to me.
Starz, 3 seasons
SUMMARY: This series follows James St. Patrick, aka Ghost—underground drug lord, businessman, night club owner, eye candy—and his wife and children, his business associate and best friend (Hey, Tommy! with your white chocolate self), his enemy Kanan (played so flawlessly by 50 Cent that I am convinced that Fiddy ain’t shit in real life), and his former-mistress-turned-nemesis district attorney Angela.
-The plot is incredibly well-written. Endless suspense.
-The casting is amazing, so much that Lela Loren, who plays Angela, gets real life death threats. I mean, that’s not amazing. And people gotta chill. But she’s that good at playing her role… and that’s always a good thing.
-James St. Patrick is easy on the eyes. And he’s ruthless.
-The show has the best theme song ever, next to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. *sings* They saaaay this is a big, rich tooooown…
-Tariq. I get why his character is how he is, but I’m more annoyed than anything else with him and somebody needs to whip his ass.
#4- The Wire
HBO, 5 seasons
Fun Fact: I didn’t watch this show until several years after it was finished airing (read: like three summers ago). I had no interest in watching it initially, but I was tired of defending my black card for never having seen it.
SUMMARY: Set in inner-city Baltimore, each season of the show chronicles a different institution of the city- the illegal drug trade on the streets, the shipping docks, the government, the public school system, and the media. At its core, the show is really about how institutions affect the individuals involved, but how every institution relies on the others to stay afloat, and how the individuals involved do whatever needs to be done to keep their institution afloat. It’s a street drama—gritty, compelling, sometimes hard to watch, but so, SO real.
-EXCELLENT writing. Each season is its own story, and I love how each season reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the institution being highlighted in that season.
-This series is a dope perception of urban life. It’s so realistic. Or so I’ve head… I’m only a trap queen in my head, and I only flip bricks in my imagination.
-No set was built for this show. All the scenes are shot in Baltimore. That’s both awesome and depressing at the same time.
-Avon Barksdale. *drools*
-Every character is fully and completely developed. You really get to know all of them. You celebrate their wins and mourn their losses.
-Many critics argue that this was the best series in television history. I’ma let them finish, but George R. Martin wrote the best story of all time…
-Baltimore is… difficult. Sheesh.
-The second season, though vital to the overall plot, was incredibly slow to me.
#3- American Horror Story
FX, 5 seasons
SUMMARY: This is an American horror anthology that is so delicious to watch. Each season has a different setting, a different plot, and different characters played by the same actors. There are ghosts and other oddities, as this is a horror series, that add to the appeal of the plot.
-Each season is a self-contained miniseries, meaning you don’t have to watch the previous season to understand the plot (even though there are some dope overlaps) and you can watch them out of order.
-JESSICA FREAKIN’ LANGE. She is everything I need, especially as Sister Jude in Season 2.
-Speaking of Sister Jude, Asylum, season 2, is my favorite season so far.
-The show is an awesome combination of funny, scary, dramatic, heartfelt, and intense. The seasons are so easy to binge-watch.
-Lady Gaga. She won a Golden Globe for her role in Hotel, season 5, that I don’t think she deserved. Her performance was underwhelming.
-Season 3, Coven, left a lot to be desired. The story line didn’t quite come together and several elements were left unresolved, which is annoying.
-Sometimes, the writers are a bit too ambitious. When it works, like it did in Asylum, it’s amazing. But when it doesn’t, like in Coven, it’s sloppy and unsatisfying.
-I hated the way Monster House, season 1, ended.
Showtime, 7 seasons
SUMMARY: The show is based on a wildly popular British series by the same name. The US version is set in Chicago and follows the life of the highly dysfunctional but completely awesome Gallagher family—Frank, the father and my favorite alcoholic, and kids Fiona, Phillip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam (who is black, even though both his biological parents—genes never lie), and their neighbors Veronica and Kevin
-Frank is the single most ain’t shit person on the planet. He will do anything, scheme anyone, and go to any length for a come-up.
-The show is hilarious. Like, side-splitting, gotta pause because I’m about to pee on myself, oh shit… soda just came out of my nose funny. (Don’t drink soda while watching. The show is funny, but carbonated beverages coming out of your nose is not.)
-The show is believable. The characters are likable.
-People are flawed. The greatest attributes of these characters is their imperfection. Imperfection is real.
-I love the way these characters love one another and have one another’s back without question.
-This isn’t a con in real life, but there is a lot of sex. A LOT OF SEX. Parents, please be mindful.
#1- Game of Thrones
HBO, 6 seasons
Fun Fact: I’ve seen this series from the beginning three times. THREE TIMES.
NOTE: While the order of the rest of my list was difficult to determine, I had absolutely NO issues choosing Thrones as the top series I’ve ever seen. In my opinion, it’s the best written series of all time. Absolutely amazing. As close to perfect as anything I’ve ever watched in my LIFE. The writer in me LIVES for Thrones.
SUMMARY: How does one summarize Thrones? I have been trying to put this synopsis in as neat a package as I possibly can, but I’m struggling because of the amazing complexity of the story line and at how many different intersections everything overlaps. There are three overarching stories—the quest for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms and all its alliances and conflicts, the realm as a whole—it’s occupants, its defenders, and its various threats, including the long winter and the Army of the Dead, and Daenerys Targaryen, the last surviving heir of the ruling dynasty, who has dragons and balls bigger than any male character on the show.
-THE CHARACTERS ARE DELICIOUS. They are amazing and dynamic and complex.
-White skinned people with blue eyes are the real enemy. Need I say more? *flips hair, walks away*
-The villains are flawless. Ramsay Bolton. Cersei Lannister. If I don’t absolutely despise a villain, they aren’t playing the role well enough. I absolutely despise the Thrones villains.
-The characters evolve. Your favorites in the beginning are not necessarily still your favorites as the plot unfolds.
-The intricacy of the plot moves me. Everything seems disjointed, but it all comes together. The plot touches on everything from love to heartache to betrayal to defeat and every single thing in between.
-I’m biased because I think this show is perfect and I could write pros FOR DAYS.
-JON GOTDAMN SNOW.
-The whole show is a pro. Tuh.
-Because of all the background information you need before the plot can really unfold, the first few episodes are kind of slow, making the series a little difficult to get into.
-There are so many weird-named characters. Tywin and Tyrion. Eddard and Euron. Arya and Aerys. It can be difficult to keep everybody sorted out at first. There’s a lot of, “Wait, who is that again??” until you get used to everyone.
-Some of the scenes (re: Sansa’s wedding night with Ramsey) are difficult to watch.
-You can’t miss anything. Like, at all. You can’t go to the bathroom or get a snack without pausing. If you miss even the smallest detail, you’ll be lost. There is so much going on. Thrones isn’t a leisurely show. You have to watch every single episode actively, so wait to see it when you can pay complete attention to it, or watch it alone so you don’t annoy other people with your incessant rewinding.
So… There you have it. My top ten favorite series.
Snowfall (FX), Atlanta (FX), and Stranger Things (Netflix) didn’t make the list because they haven’t been on for more than one season.
Greenleaf (OWN) started off okay in season 1, but season 2 has been a drag so far. It’s TOO black church cliche’ at this point.
This Is It (NBC) didn’t make my list because it comes on primetime TV and because it’s only been on for one season.
I plan on watching Ray Donovan and Insecure before the summer is over. Maybe then I’ll have a #10.
Ready to argue? Let’s go!