Top Five or Top Ten or really top anything lists can be difficult to write. I honestly don’t know how critics do it with their year end lists. For me however, my top five is just personal. I couldn’t even begin to do justice to a top five if I had to judge based on which is the best. So what I’ve got here, and what will be any of my future top five lists, is my favorites.
In the case of TV, this means the shows that I go back to time and again. The ones that I can rewatch any day because there’s always something about it that fits any mood. You’ll notice that some are more obvious comfort food style shows. Others are ones that can spark endless debate or reflection. I love a show where the characters are thoroughly well rounded and real and yet there’s still so much more to them that doesn’t ever make it on screen. Or, I guess it does make it on screen since I can see it, it’s just not exposited. Those are also my go to shows.
Finally, the one constant in all of my favorite shows is the idea of found families. You’re born into a family. Stuck with ‘em. Sometimes we get good ones, sometimes we get bad ones, most of the time we get a mix of good and bad. Some of us spend loads of time around our blood families. Some don’t. But the people who seem more like family to me are the friends I’ve gathered around me over the years. Found family. Give me a show with that and it’ll become an instant favorite.
Friends has always been my go to favorite show. It was actually one of the first shows that I watched start to finish. I had to secretly watch at my best friend (who would wonderfully record it), no small feat in 4th grade when you’ve got super strict parents but I was in love with it. Friends is my show by which I judge all comedy shows. I don’t need cutting edge or subversive in my comedy. (Not that those aren’t great). But for me, I want a bunch of jokes from a group of people that I’d want to hang out with. Basically if you put my favorite tweeps in a room & give us a topic, that’s the show I’d watch.
Friends is the show I watch in a bad mood because it makes me smile. It keeps me laughing when I’m happy. Nearly everyone I’ve met knows exactly what I mean when I start yelling “PIVOT!” A Friends gag reel soothes all pain. If I’m in a mood about not having my life where I want, the early seasons of Friends are perfect. And don’t even get me started on Thanksgiving episodes. There’s comfort food. Friends is my comfort TV.
Fave Season: Season 2. The beginning of grown up relationships, jobs, and life makes for great television. But you can also see that the cast has more than just gelled. They’re friends now and it shows in the easy camaraderie.
Fave Episode: As difficult as it is to choose just one, I really do like Thanksgiving in S10. And my major reason for this is the phone call telling Monica & Chandler they’re getting a baby. I WEEP EVERY DAMN TIME. But please, like I really have just one fave.
Favorite Character: Chandler Bing. Chandler is basically the female version of me. As pretty much anyone who meets me can tell.
“You could not be more wrong. You could try, but you would not be successful.”
“I fold like a cheap hooker who got hit in the stomach by a fat guy with sores on his face.”
“Isn’t that just kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic?”
“You have to stop the Q-tip when there’s resistance!”
“The point is moo. It’s like a cow’s opinion, it just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.”
Oh Gilmore Girls. Honestly this show is a little tricky for me. The first time around I loved it. I loved Rory and Lorelai and Luke and the town. And until Logan showed up, I shipped Jess & Rory like it was going out of style. (Which apparently it was). I didn’t really like the elder Gilmores so I tended to ignore their scenes. I’d watch with friends to see how many pop culture references we could get. And I rewatched every chance I got.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost some of the comfort I get from Gilmore Girls and gained a greater respect for the show. Because Rory’s not really as admirable as I thought at first. In fact, she’s more like an obnoxious spoiled brat who okay at least has a decent heart most of the time. Actually, no character on the show is as good as I remembered. I’ve found myself liking Dean a lot more and being really frustrated at Jess. And my baby Logan clearly just needs me to comfort him and go live in his magical house with avocado trees. (Seriously Rory, what the fuck were you thinking during down free & unlimited guacamole?”
The thing is though, Gilmore Girls was a damn good show. It was smart and funny and heartfelt and all of the descriptor phases you can think of. But best of all, it represented a place people wanted to be. There are a number of famous places from TV. But in my opinion, the best ones are the ones you wished were real. Central Perk, the Cheers bar, and Stars Hollow. (Yes, there are more. This is a small example). Stars Hollow was the kind of place I wanted to live. Not just visit, but buy a home and stay forever. That’s why it’s a favorite. Because watching an episode feels the tiniest bit like coming home.
Favorite Season: Season 4. I honestly don’t think it’s the show’s best season but it is my favorite. The college dynamic, Paris, and the push towards Luke/Lorelai was wonderful.
Favorite Episode: They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They
Favorite Character: Paris Gellar. Lorelai Gilmore is one of my all time favorite TV characters. But within the show itself, I’ll actually take Paris. I love her quotes for one (as evidenced below) but I also love the way the character was developed over the years. Paris grew from an utter bitch to a strong, confident, and emotional woman and it is a joy to watch.
“Oy with the poodles!”
“Like stop eating the paste special?”
“I’m currently one of the women sitting home, thinking, if I could only find a man like Aragorn.”
“Hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey, monkey, underpants”
“You don’t fall in love with people that make you want to crap your pants.”
“I’m not your mother or your hugger. If you need love, find a hooker. If you’re having a bad day, find a ledge or a way to deal. My door is not open to you, ever. You have five minutes to eat your cookies.”
“People are particularly stupid today, I can’t talk to anymore of them.”
“I just have to cancel everything I have planned for the next three months because I’ll still be laughing my ass off.”
“I heard he controls the weather and wrote the screenplay to Glitter.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It may be listed further down but Buffy is actually my all time favorite show. I mentioned sneaking out for Friends, well I did the same with BtVS. They were my two shows that I wasn’t allowed to watch (or at least the shows I still insisted on watching despite supposed restrictions). Yes I’m a major Whedonite and yes this may be cheesy but I know y’all will understand when I say that Buffy changed my life.
It was the show that inspired me to stand up for what was right but perhaps just as importantly to stand up for what mattered to me. Buffy told me that as a teen girl I was supposed to be smart and confident and tough but that I was also completely allowed to crush hopelessly and fall in love and get my heart broken. It reminded me that friends are the most important people in the world and that your friends can also be the ones whose betrayal hurts the most.
Buffy showed me that the bad guy usually is the bad guy and that high school really does suck and that life doesn’t always get awesome after that. But at the same time it showed me that you fight for the good moments and you fight for other people to have those good moments. It said that it didn’t matter if you might lose, good was worth fighting for.
But most importantly, within Buffy and Cordelia and Willow and Tara, I found heroes.
Favorite Season: Season 3/Season 7. Okay season 3 is kind of a given. It or S2 tends to be a favorite of most BtVS viewers for obvious reasons. Season 3 was big for me because it wasn’t Buffy trying so much to figure out who she was but trying to get other people to let her be herself. Her journey was formative for me. Season 7 is often more polarizing but for me it very much reflected S3. As I’ve gotten older and gone through my own personal hells, it’s made the season all the more powerful and poignant.
Favorite Episode: 3.1 When Buffy, after being beaten down and felt like she needs to disappear realizes exactly who she is, who she wants to be, and that people need her…that’s why I love this episode. She’s supposed to say she’s nobody, nonexistent. But this is Buffy Summers. And no way in hell is that who she is. So she looks her tormenter right in the eye and says very clearly “I’m Buffy. The vampire slayer. And you are?” And then she kicks his fucking ass.
Favorite Character: Oz. I will get further into this one when I do my top 5 favorite TV characters. Just know that he has never and will never be defeated from number one. EVER.
“Sunnydale: Come for the food, stay for the dismemberment.”
“What is your childhood trauma?”
“In my fantasy when I’m kissing you, you’re kissing me.”
“This is not gonna be pretty. We’re talking violence, strong language, adult content.”
“Hello, salty goodness.”
“The earth is doomed.”
AND A ZILLION MORE.
As of the last few weeks, Teen Wolf not only knocked Vampire Diaries out but also bumped itself above Grey’s Anatomy. Now I highly doubt that it will be able to beat any of the top 3. Okay I know it can’t beat BtVS or Friends. While I love Gilmore Girls though, every time I rewatch that show I get a little more pissed off at Rory so I suppose give Teen Wolf a few more seasons and we shall see.
The thing about Teen Wolf (which I wrote about previously) is that it started out as a fairly cheesy show, geared towards a very specific (and young) demographic. Around the end of the first season though, it turned into a show that basically went ya know what? We’ve got things to say and themes to discuss and some badass shit to show off and we’re just make an amazing show and y’all have to deal with that.
And it’s hard to understand this if you don’t watch a lot, I mean A LOT, of TV but that’s a lot more rare than it sounds. You get the shows like Lost & Game of Thrones & Breaking Bad that are expected to be great and for the most part are. And you get the shows like Gossip Girl & Secret Life that are expected to be awful and are. And nearly everyone else lives up to expectations. Once in a while you can get a stellar episode or a knockout character but most TV finds its fanbase and rolls with it.
There are only a handful of shows that tell a story because they want to, that buck the system for the hell of it, and that still manage to be smart, witty, and ADDICTING. Buffy did it. I think Battlestar Galactica did it. Teen Wolf is doing it. It’ll be interesting to see how Teen Wolf does going into the future but for now, it has become an absolute favorite.
So far Season 2 nailed it. Again, we’re talking a 2 season show so this could change. But S2 managed to be heartbreaking, exciting, and romantic without ever breaking pace. What truly stood out for me was the introduction of the kanima though. In a supernatural show, one expects the introduction of additional supernatural characters. But the tough aspect can be weaving the mythology together so it makes sense to the core of your show. The Vampire Diaries does a damn good job of that. True Blood is a disaster. So I found it really intriguing that not only did Teen Wolf introduced a new creature that was tightly woven within werewolf mythology, it also used mythology we already knew about to defeat the villain. I’m a million times happier with a show that ends the season making me go “how the fuck did I miss all the clues” than a show that pulls a solution out of their ass. Teen Wolf’s S2 was the latter. They nailed it.
1.09. Obviously my favorite scene here is with “Cousin Miguel” because it is just freaking priceless. But the episode is a damn strong one regardless and I think it’s the moment Teen Wolf turns a corner.
Stiles. Hands down, across the board, Stiles is my absolute favorite. He’s basically my spirit animal. Or well he and a blend of Seth Cohen are my spirit animals.
“I’m really not into the whole women make you weak Spartan warrior thing.”
“Sometimes the people closest to you are the ones holding you back the most.”
“I’ve been scarlet nerded by you.”
“Smile, because you never know who’s falling in love with you.”
“It’s called heartbreak. About 2 billion songs written about it.”
““Everybody wants to be a hero. Everybody thinks, that when there moment comes, they’ll know exactly what to do. But, not everyone does. And you’ll never know until you’re tested. Because when your friends in trouble, you don’t think. You trust the instinct.”
“FYI: I’m everyone’s type.”
If you’ve noticed a theme so far it’s that I like shows that make me feel like I want to belong to the family that’s been created. And that’s very much Grey’s Anatomy. Or to be more precise, that’s very much Meredith’s house. I love love love found families and creating your own family out of friendships. So watching as Meredith let people in and opened up her home and basically created a new family, was exactly what I crave in a show. In fact, you can tell from the quotes I included just how important that is to me. Grey’s Anatomy has had its failures, epic ones, but it’s one of my favorite comfort food shows.
Favorite Season: Season 2. I think a lot of people call this a favorite. It had Denny (pre-ghost sex), an Izzy worth rooting for, a George who wasn’t a complete asshole, people figuring out their places in life and truly compelling ‘medical’ cases.
Favorite Episode: The Kyle Chandler Episode. Okay so I think it’s called something to do with the bomb but please, it’s the Kyle Chandler episode. HOT! And that episode is just plain epic so yeah.
Favorite Character: Alex Karev with Lexie (RIP) Grey a very close second. I actually love Meredith, contrary to a lot of fans but Alex wins. The way he’s grown and developed is fantastic and a great deal of that is due to the very talented Justin Chambers. Now if we could only give him a decent shot at happiness.
“There’s an old proverb that says you can’t choose your family. You take what the fates hand you. And like them or not, love them or not, understand them or not, you cope. Then there’s the school of thought that says the family you’re born into is simply a starting point. They feed you, and clothe you, and take care of you until you’re ready to go out into the world and find your tribe.”
“We’re adults. When did that happen? And how do we make it stop?”
“There’s no such thing as a grown-up. We move on, we move out, we move away from our families and form our own. But the basic insecurities, the basic fears and all those old wounds just grow up with us…We get bigger, we get taller, we get older. But, for the most part, we’re still a bunch of kids, running around the playground, trying desperately to fit in.”
“Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us in the ass.”
“At the end of the day faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don’t really expect it. It’s like one day you realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it’s not so important that it’s happy ever after, just that it’s happy right now. See once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you, and once in a while people may even take your breath away.”
“Boundaries don’t keep other people out; they fence you in. Life is messy, that’s how we’re made. So you can waste your life drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them. But there are some lines that are way too dangerous to cross. Here’s what I know. If you’re willing to take a chance, the view from the other side is spectacular.”
*Note*: A lot of you reading this I’ve met through Vampire Diaries, so you’re probably wondering how I couldn’t put it in my top 5. The thing is, while I love that show with a passion, it’s not at the top of my list for shows I can watch over and over again. Actually, it probably wouldn’t even crack the top 10 list. And that’s not to say it isn’t an amazing show. It absolutely is. It’s just not a go to show.