#5 Mad Men – Change The Conversation
This Drama about an Advertising agency in the 60′s is merely a template to explore far darker themes in the revolutionary decade of counter-culture. At the core is the ever mysterious Don Draper, a fictional character topping a list of most influential men in 2009, embodies the American Dream. The idea that you can be anyone, no matter where you come from. The show has slowly slipped from the sixties into the seventees; from the corporate empire that continues to expand and the moral fabric which has begun to fray.
#4 (Tie) The West Wing – Let Bartlet be Bartlet
What’s it really like being the President of the United States? Politics made engaging and entertaining, Aaron Sorkin’s sublime writing style and perfectly casted ensemble helped him make the smartest show on television. Tracking sequences shot with fast paced dialogue down the long corridors and hallways of the west wing set bring to life this political drama. This came to American television at a time when the presidency was becoming the subject of global scrutiny it’s message was so idealistic and liberal that some critics even call it the ‘Left wing’.
#4 (Tie) Twin Peaks – ABC killed Laura Palmer
Special Agent Dale Cooper investigates the murder of High School sweetheart Laura Palmer and discovers the true intentions of the seemingly wholesome residents of Twin Peaks, discovering that Laura was not as innocent as she had everyone believe. Small town America is familiar territory for David Lynch who dances between PG-13 comedy and the surreal with some of the scariest scenes ever filmed. The forced conclusion to the shows main storyline spelled its premature cancellation and subsequent cliff-hanger ending, which in hindsight adds to the intrigue, mystery and cult status.
#3 Breaking Bad – No Half Measures
Vince Gilligan created the ultimate western; the classic motifs and countless references are impossible to deny. Serialized, modern and for a TV audience, the tale of a High School Chemistry Teacher turned Drug Dealer is darkly comic and thrillingly terrifying. This outlandish premise is realised by a truly phenomenal performance by Bryan Cranston giving birth to the ultimate anti-hero, now a 21st Century archetype. Stakes rise each season with a brand of high octane action and tension that can’t be matched.
#2 The Sopranos – Made in America
A depressed middle aged mobster suffers from panic attacks as he goes through a mid-life crisis. Putting HBO on the map, this seemingly cliché mob story is in fact the complete family drama and an exhibition of character acting at its best. Emotional intelligence and depth is paramount as the integrity of these characters is never compromised to tell the story and situations are fully realised. Stereotypes are stripped bare through therapy sessions and dream sequences that allow for unrivalled levels of character exploration.
#1 The Wire – All the pieces matter
Gritty, intelligent and insightful, the show bleeds reality with a scope encompassing the political sphere, organized crime, changing face of media, death of the working class and the travesty of the failing school system illustrating the inner workings of Baltimore bureaucracy; and in so perfectly capturing the capitalist nature of the American city. The Wire deconstructs the American dream in a way that will be studied, analyzed and reviewed for generations.