Miss Portmanteau’s Top Picks
From fantasy dragons to horror zombies, big-time drug traffickers to small-time suburban mom pushers. Friends old and new, series both made up and true. Miss Portmanteau’s TV Top 20 has got it all.
TV Shows have come a long way over the past 20 years.
Production budgets, viewer numbers and original ideas have exploded, creating shows like the Game of the Thrones, the largest TV production in the world, Breaking Bad, Modern Family and many more.
But that’s not to discredit awesome shows from back in the day, such as Faulty Towers, Married with Kids, 90210, Full House, Absolutely Fabulous… which many of us grew up watching. These shows were ground-breaking in their own time.
But in order to make this already impossible task of choosing just 20 titles a little bit easier, I’ve focused on shows since the turn of the century. You’ll notice that many popular shows such as Friends, Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives, 24, Luke Cage, Power among others didn’t make it. I found that a lot of shows not on the list are either too old, too young, or not exciting, amazing, original or clever enough.
Since I published this post, I’ve seen many more shows. But the only one I would consider adding to this list is Parks and Recreation. I guess it should replace An Idiot Abroad…. It has many more seasons and it’s really an amazing show. I had put off watching it forever and when I finally gave it a chance I was like woah, I’ve been missing out!
Out of over 100 TV Series that I’ve watched and enjoyed, this is my Top 20.
1. Game of Thrones (2011-)
9.5/10 IMDb – Adventure, Drama, Fantasy – HBO
Epic. Insane production, insane storyline, insanely complicated plot. Incredible visuals, twists and turns. It hands down deserves the number one spot.
2. Planet Earth I (2006) and II (2016)
9.5/10 IMDb – Documentary
Another huge undertaking, the research, the hours, the work that goes into this documentary is mind-boggling. A peek into the amazing natural world.
3. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
9.5/10 IMDb – Crime, Drama, Thriller – AMC
When Breaking Bad came along, it woke up parts of me that I hadn’t realised were asleep. The plot is just perfect, a true exploration of desperation. Completely addictive. Rich character development. Amazing plot. Just wow.
4. The Wire (2002-2008)
9.4/10 IMDb – Crime, Drama, Thriller – HBO
Considered one of the best shows ever made. Real. Raw. Complex. What has always impressed me so much about this show is how it was able to make a story about the drug trade in Baltimore appealing to every type of person. Man, female, rich, poor, left, right, this show crosses all boundaries and stereotypes.
5. Sopranos (1999-2007)
9.2/10 IMDb – Crime, Drama – HBO
The most epic mafia series ever made. I fell in love with these characters, their stories and their conflicts. It blurs the line between right and wrong, between family and crime mafioso.
6. Sherlock (2010-)
9.2/10 IMDb – Crime, Drama, Mystery – BBC
An impressive performance by Benedict Cumberbatch. A really good mystery, very clever, and always keeps you guessing.
7. True Detective (2014-)
9.1/10 IMDb – Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller – HBO
Two seasons, each one unique and highly disturbing. Fantastic performances by Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Colin Farell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams.
8. Stranger Things (2016-)
9.0/10 IMDb – Drama, Fantasy, Horror – Netflix
This came along and I was like YES! It touches every 80s nostalgia nerve in my body. A boy goes missing and his friends are looking for him. Lot’s of strange things happen, Winona Ryder has a comeback, the soundtrack is epic, the Upside Down whaat?
9. Death Note (2006-2007)
9.0/10 IMDb – Anime, Crime, Drama – Japan
I don’t really understand why Netflix is remaking Death Note. The original Japanese anime is amazing. What would you do if you found a notebook which had the power to kill any person whose name you wrote down?
10. Narcos (2015-)
8.9/10 IMDb – Biography, Crime, Drama – Netflix
Colombia’s most infamous narcotics kingpin. Narcos does a nice job of focusing on Pablo as well as the intense and often fruitless efforts by the CIA to catch him. A real cat and mouse chase that went on far longer than it should have. A fascinating story.
11. Archer (2009-)
8.8/10 IMDb – Animation, Action, Comedy – FX
This animated comedy deserves a lot of props for its character boldness and originality. The scary thing is that I actually have a friend who sounds just like Archer. It’s about a small private team of special agents called ISIS. Unfortunate name, but they later get rid of it. The show can be a bit hit and miss, but it’s pure comedy gold when they get it right.
12. South Park (1997-)
8.8/10 IMDb – Animation, Comedy – Comedy Central
The South Park makers are nothing short of genius. I grew up watching South Park, the no bullshit, piss taking alternative narration to what goes on in the world. Always topical, always controversial, but always entertaining. They too had some bumpy years but have since come back strong.
13. The Bridge (Broen) (2011-)
8.6/10 IMDb – Crime, Mystery, Thriller – Sweden/Denmark
I would love to put this at number one, it’s literally one of my favourite shows. I fell in love with the two characters, I watched this back to back and when it finished I found myself missing them. It’s original, it’s interesting, it’s a masterpiece. A body is found on a bridge, right on the line that marks the border between Sweden and Denmark. The police from each jurisdiction have to work together to solve the murder.
14. The Walking Dead (2010-)
8.6/10 IMDb – Drama, Horror, Thriller – AMC
The show that revived the zombie TV genre! Disgusting, so disgusting, so many people die, so many stupid decisions… You can’t help but keep watching.
15. Silicon Valley (2014-)
8.5/10 IMDb – Comedy – HBO
Another pure genius show. This is the most hilarious and accurate depiction of life in Silicon Valley out there. The awkward personality types behind the latest multi-million app technologies. One moment you have it all, the next you have nothing. The competition is intense when you’re talking this much money…
16. Modern Family (2009-)
8.5/10 IMDb – Comedy, Romance – abc
The new Friends? I love this show so much. Again I have a real bias for shows that pick apart all the little nitty gritty details of reality and turn them into comedic reflection.
17. Entourage (2004-2011)
8.5/10 IMDb – Comedy, Drama – HBO
The most epic ‘bro show’ ever made. Enough said.
18. Broad City (2014-)
8.4/10 IMDb – Comedy – Comedy Central
The most epic ‘broad show’ ever made. Enough said. No, I have to say a bit more. It’s not a chick show. I repeat. It’s not a chick show.
19. An Idiot Abroad (2010-2013)
8.3/10 IMDb – Documentary, Adventure, Comedy – Sky1
Shows like these deserve their spot over other shows for their originality. Follow Karl Pilkington, a super ordinary English guy who hates to travel, travel the world. It’s one of those shows I can’t watch quietly.
20. Weeds (2005-2012)
8.0/10 IMDb – Comedy, Crime, Drama
I started watching this show in university. It’s about a suburban mom whose husband dies and she has to figure out how she is going to afford to keep her house and provide for her kids… So she starts selling weed. I love this show for the insane journey it takes us on and its criticism of suburban life. The main character transforms from a suburban mom into a seriously kick ass survivor. It changes her completely.