When someone asks me what TV shows I watch, I'm always aware that the network that gets the majority of my viewership is HBO. I was a Starz viewer until about 2010 when I switched my premium channel option to HBO and never looked back. They've consistently had good TV. I recently finished watching The Sopranos for the first time, and it got me thinking of where I would place it on the list of shows I watched. So I figured why not do that?
Now, I know this is going to be kind of unfair, because some shows only have one season vs others that have several. There are also shows I love that have seasons I absolutely hate, so I'm going to rank by how I feel about the shows at their best. I'm leaving out limited series for another post, and I'm only ranking the shows that I've seen every single episode of.
20) Vinyl - Starting off with a two hour series premiere where not a lot happen really set the tone for this show. I think it could've been really good, but it never recovered from its bad start.
19) East Bound & Down - This show had moments where it was absolutely hilarious but there is such a thing as too much Danny McBride, and this was it.
18) The Deuce - Similar to Vinyl, I liked the premise but it was missing something, and I still don't know what that was. I think it needed to reign itself in a bit. It had promise.
17) The Outsider - I really enjoyed this show up until the finale which was so underwhelming and had so many holes in the story that it kind of put a damper on me even caring about the second season.
16) His Dark Materials - Another freshman show, but one that's off to a decent story. This is very mid-tier HBO for me. I'm not in love with it, but I'll continue to watch.
15) Barry - Barry spends half his life as a wannabe actor and the other half as a hitman, and I feel similarly about this show. Half of it, the half where he's not in his acting classes is so good, but when he's there, the show just takes a serious dive in quality. That's the reason it isn't high on this list.
14) Six Feet Under - This is a perfectly competent show that had a few amazing episodes, but was pretty melodramatic for the rest of it. But please believe the hype that this does have the best series finale ever. I've never seen a show so perfectly wrap up every loose end the way this does. Even if I didn't love all of it, it went out on the highest of notes.
13) Silicon Valley - As much as I love comedy, I don't watch a ton of comedy series on TV. This is one that like Six Feet Under had some brilliant episodes, but as a whole I just wasn't as into it. I appreciate it quite a bit, and enjoy most of the cast.
12) Euphoria - There's only one season of this show to judge, which I really enjoyed, but it lands in the middle because it is a show based on teenagers and even though I'm enjoying it now, who knows how I'll feel about it after a few seasons. I have high hopes, but I know it's something I could end up feeling out of touch with.
11) Big Little Lies - A lot of people hated the second season of this, but I thought it was fine, and the first season was wonderful. I definitely don't want a season 3, but I'm happy with what I got.
10) Westworld - This was the show I knew I was going to have the hardest time placing. I really like it, I do, but it's very uneven. The third season didn't even feel like Westworld, it felt like an episode of Black Mirror. I hold it to a high regard, but I don't know if it's consistent enough to be higher in my top 10.
9) The Sopranos - I know everyone reading this is going to say it should be higher. I think this show does a remarkable job of making unlikable characters entertaining. I only truly "liked" a handful of these people but I was never bored once. The horrendous editing is what prevents it from getting higher on this list. That and what they did with Dr. Melfi in season 3, and how they ended her story in general. *UPDATE* I'm dumb and forgot to include SUCCESSION. They would take my #9, and everyone else would move back one.
8) Insecure - I feel like in time Insecure could keep climbing this list. Issa Rae is so funny and even though this show gives me dating nightmares, it's so good.
7) The Newsroom - Hear me out. I know the only time people talk about it is when they're clowning on that admittedly awful scene where the producers tell a flight crew that Osama bin Laden has been killed - but other than that, I really dug this show. I know it's Sorkin at both his best and worst, but I think the good far outweighed the bad. Red Team III for example is one of my favorite hours of television ever. That episode plays out perfectly.
6) True Blood - This show came at such a perfect time in my life. I needed a sexy, trashy, vampire romance in the late aughts. For a show that could've survived entirely on camp, it was actually pretty high quality. Full disclosure, I stop acknowledging this show after season 4 because yikes.
5) Veep - I think this might be the funniest TV show I've ever seen. I laughed my ass off in every single episode. There was not a weak link in the cast, everyone had perfect comedic timing.
4) Boardwalk Empire - While this show made some...choices, it's one I still consistently think about. The actors were great and the set design was gorgeous. I wish they would've done a few things differently but overall I do consider this superior to The Sopranos as a crime show. It's just more polished.
3) True Detective - If we were just talking the first season, this would be number one because season 1 was absolute perfection. I enjoyed seasons 2 and 3 as well, but I've re-watched season 1 a few times and it's just absolute peak TV.
2) The Wire - Everyone and their mom told me to watch this after mentioning that I loved Breaking Bad and they were right. I do love this show, even though I think the final season ruined a lot of the characters you can't argue how good the writing was the rest of the time. It gave us so many classic things, like Omar Little whistling, to Wee Bey getting excited over his fish, to a perfect scene of police work where only the work "fuck" is uttered by each character involved.
1) Game of Thrones - I know I'm going to die mad about how this show ended, but even with that betrayal, I still feel like this has to be my number one just for how I felt about this show at its best. I dove head first into the ASOIAF fandom. I was on fan forums, read the books multiple times and read so many theories and I still think so fondly of the episodes of this show that were good. Some of these episodes looked so good that they belonged on the big screen and the showrunners throwing in the towel early and being lazy with their ending cannot take those high moments away from me. Now please join me in a prayer circle that The Winds of Winter will come out in 2021.