Today’s teens and young adults dig TV shows like nothing else. With innovative story lines, great casts and ultimate humour, these shows have managed to capture the hearts of millions of viewers across the world. There is something for everyone – TV shows range in genres like comedy, drama, crime thrillers, medical, law enforcement, reality shows, teen drama, vampires and much more. All these shows have won some of the most prestigious awards of the television industry, but more than that, they have been successful in winning people’s hearts. Thanks to improved connectivity and streaming platforms, people now watch TV shows at home, while travelling to work and even host binge watching parties at home. In no particular order, let’s take a look at some of the best shows that you need to start watching ASAP, if you haven’t already!
Friends, an American television sitcom aired on NBC for ten seasons from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004. It followed the lives of six 20-something friends who lived, laughed and loved in Manhattan. It has remained one of the most loved TV shows of all times and attained cult status for its situational comedy and amazing camaraderie between the cast. It is just so very relatable that everyone loves to catch that random episode even now on TV.
2. PRISON BREAK
Prison Break, an American television serial drama, aired on Fox TV for 4 seasons from 2005 to 2009. The series primarily revolves around two brothers – One brother who has been framed and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, and the other who deliberately gets himself into prison so he can help his brother escape. As they try to execute the elaborate plan, they realize that things run deeper and it was a devious plot for a cover-up from the presidential office nonetheless. It was a stupendous success and was lauded for its gripping storyline and originality so much that the show was revived for a fifth season and the first episode aired yesterday in the US.
3. BREAKING BAD
Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series that originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013. The story begins when a struggling high school chemistry teacher is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and he joins hands with his former student to produce and sell high quality crystallized methamphetamine. With a good intention of securing his family’s financial future before he dies, the story gets extremely interesting as he encounters a number of roadblocks from major drug cartels and his own brother-in-law who works for the DEA(Drug Enforcement Administration).
Seinfeld is an American sitcom that originally ran for nine seasons on NBC, from 1989 to 1998. Though hugely popular as a “show about nothing”, it was intended to depict the life of a stand up comedian in New York City, Jerry Seinfeld and his eccentric friends as they go about the minutiae of mundane daily life. It was named the greatest television show of all time by TV Guide in 2002.
Sherlock is a crime drama television series based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Benedict Cumberbatch impresses as Sherlock Holmes as does Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. Four 3-part series have been aired in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017. The series has been adapted to the present day with Watson documenting their adventures on his blog and Sherlock using tools like internet and GPS to solve crimes that makes it so much more relatable. The show has garnered rave reviews and a very huge fan following for Holmes’ exceptional intellect and bold powers of observation, and the extremely witty repartee between Holmes and Watson.
6. GAME OF THRONES
GoT, as it is popularly known, is an American fantasy drama television series that premiered in 2011 and is poised to enter its seventh season soon. Based on the storylines of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin, Game of Thrones is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in the continent of Essos. Armed with a complex storyline comprising of several plot lines and a huge ensemble cast, the series chronicles the brutal struggles among the noble families for the Iron Throne, while other families fight for independence from it. GoT has been extremely successful with record viewership on HBO from a very active, loyal fan base across the world.
Suits is an American legal drama television series that premiered on June 23, 2011, on the USA network and just completed its sixth season in March 2017. Set in a fictional law firm in New York City, the show revolves around Harvey Specter, the best closer in NYC who hires talented college dropout Mike Ross as his associate despite knowing that Mike never attended law school. The show focuses on Harvey and Mike managing to close complex cases and struggling to maintain Mike’s secret as he meteorically rises through the ranks at the firm.
8. SEX AND THE CITY
Sex and the City is an American romantic comedy series that aired on HBO for six seasons from 1998 until 2004. Set in New York City, it is based on the 1997 book of the same name and follows the lives of a group of four women who are the best of friends and confide about pretty much everything that is happening in their lives with each other. Every episode is narrated by Carrie Bradshaw(Sarah Jessica Parker) as she pens down her thoughts for her weekly column in a reputed NY newspaper. The quirky series dealt with relevant and modern social issues such as feminism, sexuality, and promiscuity and received widespread critical acclaim throughout its run. It even led to two successful films, Sex and the City (2008) and its sequel Sex and the City 2 (2010). Listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME, the show still airs in syndication worldwide.
9. GOSSIP GIRL
Gossip Girl is an American teen drama television series based on the book series of the same name originally ran for six seasons from September 2007 to December 2012. Narrated by the omniscient blogger “Gossip Girl”, the series revolves around the lives and the highly volatile relationship dynamics of adolescents living in Manhattan’s elite Upper East Side. The show was highly popular among young adults and won multiple teen choice awards.
10. SHARK TANK
Shark Tank is an American reality television series that premiered in August 2009 and is currently in its eighth season. The show is a franchise of the international format Dragons’ Den, that originated in Japan. Shark Tank features aspiring entrepreneur-contestants as they make business presentations to a panel of “shark” investors, who then choose whether or not to invest.
The Sharks, mostly self made billionaires and business experts, are paid to participate in the show, but the money, if they choose to invest, is their own. The show is popular because of the intensity and drama that ensues in pitch meetings. Many business have seen exponential sales just after appearing on the show.
11. MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA
MasterChef Australia is a Logie Award-winning Australian cooking reality show primarily for home cooks based on the original British MasterChef. The show has constantly been lauded for being a good mix of entertainment, skill and fun with affable judges. Since its premiere in 2009, Masterchef Australia has been such a success that it has been recreated with a local flavour in numerous countries like France, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, New Zealand, India, Peru, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the USA and many more. It has also spawned spinoffs like Celebrity Masterchef and Masterchef Professionals.
Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired from September 2004 to May 2010 over six seasons. With elements of science fiction and the supernatural, Lost follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet, flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. The primary storyline is set on the island and the interaction between the survivors, along with sequences from the past and future to provide additional insight into the involved characters. LOST achieved both commercial success and critical acclaim throughout its run along with many awards as well.
24 is an American political crime thriller television series starring Kiefer Sutherland as counter terrorist agent Jack Bauer. The series premiered in November 2001 and continued for eight seasons until May 2010.
Each season, comprising 24 episodes, covers 24 hours in Bauer’s life using the real time style of narration. A typical plot has Bauer racing against the clock as he attempts to thwart multiple terrorist plots like presidential assassination attempts, bioweapons, mass destruction detonations, cyber crime, and many other conspiracies involving the top echelons in the government and corporate world. 24 garnered critical acclaim, winning numerous awards over its eight seasons It was even adapted to an Indian version with Anil Kapoor playing the lead.
14. THE SOPRANOS
The Sopranos is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. The story revolves around an Italian mobster in therapy in the New York area. The show premiered on HBO in January 1999 and ran for six seasons until June 2007. The focal point of the series is Italian American mobster Tony Soprano and the travails he faces as he tries to balance his personal life and his criminal organization. These are often highlighted during his therapy sessions with his psychiatrist as are issues with his mother. The series features Tony’s family members, mafia colleagues and rivals, most notably his wife and his protégé. The show was very well received and is a part of the 2000s American popular culture. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America named The Sopranos the best-written TV series of all time
15. MAD MEN
Mad Men is an American period drama TV series that premiered in July 2007 and ran for seven seasons until May 2015. The series is set in 1960 and moves to 1970 by the conclusion.
Mad Men is set primarily in an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City. The plot focuses on the business of the agencies as well as the personal lives of the characters, highlighting the American societal norms of the 1960s like alcoholism, smoking, sexism, feminism, adultery, homophobia, and racism. Themes of alienation, social mobility and ruthlessness also underpin the tone of the show.
Mad Men has received high critical acclaim since its premiere and is generally included in critics’ lists of the greatest television shows ever produced.
16. WHITE COLLAR
The show premiered in October 2009, and aired six complete seasons, with the final season concluding in December 2014.Neal Caffrey, a renowned con artist, forger, and thief, is captured after a three-year chase by FBI Special Agent Peter Burke. When the multitalented Caffrey escapes and is caught again, he proposes a deal to help Burke apprehend dangerous white collar criminals with the FBI as part of a work-release program as a consultant on a leash. Every episode is a case that they solve along with an overarching story of Neal trying to find his girlfriend with help from his best friend. The series was received very positively and appreciated for amazing chemistry between the lead actors and clever plots.
17. TWO AND A HALF MEN
Two and a Half Men is an American television sitcom that began broadcast in September 2003 and ended in February 2015 after 12 seasons. The series was about a hedonistic jingle writer, Charlie, his uptight chiropractor brother Alan; and Alan’s son Jake. After Alan divorces, he moves in to Charlie’s beachfront Malibu home, disrupting Charlie’s free life. Charlie Sheen was replaced by Ashton Kutcher in the middle of eighth season owing to his alcohol and drug abuse. The humour in the relationships between Charlie, Alan, Alan’s son Jake and their housekeeper Berta is the driver of the show. The success of the series led to it being the fourth-highest revenue-generating program for 2012, earning $3.24 million an episode.
Castle is an American crime-comedy-drama television series that aired for a total of eight seasons from March 2009 to May 2016. it primarily traces the lives of Richard Castle, a best-selling mystery novelist, and Kate Beckett, an NYPD homicide detective, as they solve various crimes in New York City. Castle tries to shadow Kate for his next book series – Detective Beckett is initially annoyed at the thought of working with a writer and tries in many ways to keep him out of her way. However, romance ensues between the two that continues as a recurring theme as does their ongoing investigation of the murder of Beckett’s mother. Exploiting the popularity of the show, 7 novels were published as tie-ins under the name of Richard Castle and all of them went on to become bestsellers.
19. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
How I Met Your Mother (often abbreviated as HIMYM) is an American sitcom that originally aired from September 2005 to March 2014. The series follows the main character, Ted Mosby, and his group of friends in Manhattan. The show begins in the year 2030, with Ted recounting to his son and daughter the events that led him to meeting their mother. The story then goes into a flashback and starts in 2005 with a 27-year-old Ted Mosby living in New York City and working as an architect; the storyline primarily deals with his best friends, including the long-lasting couple Marshall and Lily, the eccentric, womanizing-playboy Barney and news reporter Robin. This show was the ideal replacement to “FRIENDS” that had just ended in 2004 and was very successful. The quirky character of Barney attained a huge fan following across the world
Nikita is an American action thriller series that aired from September 2010 to December 2013 in the United States. The series is a reboot of the popular 1997 TV series La Femme Nikita. The series focuses on Nikita, a woman who escaped from a secret government-funded organization known as “Division” and, after a three-year hiding, is back to bring down the organization. Division is a secret federal organization made up of trained assassins primarily for black ops including espionage, sabotage, and assassination. Now that Division has gone rogue, Nikita fights to bring it down with the help of her protégé Alex and another Division recruit Michael. The show did extremely well, garnering 3.57 million viewers on its initial broadcast. It was also widely popular in the UK, Netherlands and Bulgaria.
21. THE BIG BANG THEORY
The show premiered in 2007 and completed ten seasons in March 2017. It has been renewed for 2 more seasons and is the highest rated comedy show in the United States. The show is about two socially challenged genius physicists and their 2 geeky friends who befriend their neighbour – a beautiful young waitress cum aspiring actress. Each episode usually focuses on the daily lives of the geeky foursome and derives humour and absurdity from their interactions with the socially brilliant girl. Science and science fiction media are recurring themes throughout the series.
22. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
The Vampire Diaries is an American supernatural drama television series based on the popular book series of the same name. The series premiered in September 2009 and ended in March 2017 after completion of eight seasons. The first season garnered close to a whopping 3.60 million viewers It was the most-watched series on the network. Then show has received numerous award nominations, winning four People’s Choice Award and many Teen Choice Awards.
The show is based in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, a town with supernatural history since its settlement of migrants from New England in the late 19th century. It follows the life of Elena, a teenage girl as she falls in love with a 162-year-old vampire named Stefan. Their relationship becomes even more complicated as Stefan’s mysterious older brother Damon returns, who also falls in love with Elena, making it a complex love triangle among the three. The town’s mythology and the vampires’ history are revealed through flashbacks throughout the series.
23. THE SIMPSONS
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom series that has been on air for 28 seasons now and is credited to be the longest-running American sitcom and the longest-running American animated program. The series is a satirical depiction of working middle-class American lifestyle epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture, society, television, and pretty much everything else. The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 31 Primetime Emmy Awards, 30 Annie Awards and a Peabody Award. The Simpsons have also been awarded a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame.
24. THE APPRENTICE UK
The Apprentice is a British reality show where a group of aspiring businessmen and women compete against each other in a series of business related challenges, in order to become British business magnate, Lord (Alan) Sugar’s apprentice with a six figure salary.
Contestants are given around 10 business-themed tasks to judge their skills in areas like salesmanship, negotiation, requisitioning, leadership, teamwork, and organisation – with each episode covering a single task.
Since its inception, the show has received positive reviews like ” not just a game show: it’s a business school” by The Sunday Times and “The thinking man’s reality show” by The Sun.
25. THE WIRE
The Wire is an American crime drama television series set in Baltimore, Maryland. The show premiered in June 2002, and aired for five seasons until March 2008. Each season of The Wire delves into the various dark facets of the city like illegal drug trade, the city government and bureaucracy, print media, schools and more. It’s all about how the system is a quagmire and all individuals within the system are ultimately compromised one way or the other.
The Wire is highly lauded for its accurate portrayal of American society and politics, and its realistic take on the urban life. Although the show only received mediocre ratings, and never won any major television awards, it has attained cult status and is regarded by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time.
Which was your favourite? Let us know in the comments section!