Best TV show lists are pretty much dominated by the same series: The Sopranos, The Wired and Breaking Bad always feature pretty high on every list. But what about the cult classics or forgotten series?
Here are the shows that Reddit users think are unmissable.
When people talk about the greatest TV shows of all time, they generally favour gritty dramas over kids’ TV shows. But Sesame Street, which has aired on PBS since 1969, transcends snobby TV fan stereotypes.
“I'm going to go off the beaten path here and say Sesame Street,” writes one Reddit user. “It's probably the show that's had the most positive impact on the greatest amount of people in the entire history of television.”
“I love this show because it has excellent character development and amazing attention to detail, while almost never relying on action sequences or cliffhangers. You just learn more and more about each character and why Don is the way he is. Also, its full of hilarious moments and one-liners. The dialogue, the sets, the outfits, the make-up, the antics are always top notch.”
The Twilight Zone
“After over 50 years many episodes still hold up and it has been incredibly influential to modern pop culture and television,” according to one Reddit user. The Twilight Zone’s original iteration ran between 1959 to 1964 and was inspired by creator Rod Serling’s childhood obsession with pulp fiction. The episodes focused on dark and often political themes, with storylines involving time travel, Pearl Harbour, death, the apocalypse, robots, the Devil and more.
The X-Files has pretty much achieved ultimate cult status at this point. The show aired for nearly 10 years from its 1993 debut, with FBI agents Mulder and Scully solving a bunch of cases that almost always ended up being creepy paranormal goings-on.
“Man, I remember in the ‘90s people didn’t go out on the night that an episode aired,” said Yamaha_User. “If you were out, it was unusually quiet. Sure VCR was a thing, but everyone stayed in so they could talk about it the following day.”
No ‘best TV’ list is complete without the inclusion of The Wire, which currently sits at a sweet 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Set in Baltimore, The Wire follows the drugs trade, the seaport system, Baltimore’s city government, the education system and the media across five seasons. “I'm not sure if anything else even comes close,” one Redditor said.
The Office (US)
“I always have this show on repeat. The character development, the exploration into an unexciting but realistic life, the writing... it's just all spot on.”
Matt Groening’s animated sci-fi comedy has never been as popular as The Simpsons, but it’s (almost) as good. Following a 20th Century pizza delivery guy’s adventures through space after he accidentally cryogenically freezes himself for 1,000 years, Futurama is funny, intelligent and kind.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
“I just recently watched TNG for the first time and it's almost disturbing how accurate the political and social commentary is. When you think about it in context of its time, all of them make sense, but they're all just as valid in contemporary 201X. It makes me feel less concerned that the world is ending because we've been through it all so many times before.”
Scrubs, the early ‘00s hospital comedy, isn’t often on ‘best of’ TV lists. But one Reddit user said the show had “one hell of a run with an outstanding cast” and that it features in the small number of shows that “can hit you with that level of depression and humour within a single episode”.
The Joy of Painting
On paper, The Joy of Painting doesn’t sound like that riveting a watch: half an hour of an old dude calmly teaching you how to paint a particular scene. But presenter Bob Ross’ gentle humour and sly life lessons have made the show a sleeper cult hit.
Band of Brothers
“I don't think a show has ever immersed me more, or made me feel as connected to characters plights as Band of Brothers. The narration, with the real veterans speaking before each episode sharing their experience really brings a life to the show that would otherwise be missed, and started a trend for other shows. If you watch this show for anything I would say it would have to be for when they find the concentration camps, the directors really held no bars and there is a reason this was IMDB's top rated show for so long.”
According to LotzaMozzaParmaKarma, Buffy has “compelling villains and the best drama-filled relationship ever, lovable characters we got to know and grow with, season after season.
“Even the infamous sixth season slump was highly story motivated, and had episodes like ‘Tabula Rasa’, and (regularly rated as the best television episode of all time) ‘Once More with Feeling’.”
Like The Wire, The Sopranos is almost always included in best of lists – and for good reason. One user described it as “hands down the greatest”.
“I'm re-watching it now and the cinematography, score, acting, and drama are world class EVERY episode. It also has the richest and most developed ensemble of characters to ever grace the screen... truly a work of art.”
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender was an animated series in which various characters were able to ‘bend’ things using psychokinetic powers and martial arts. A combination of anime and American cartoon conventions, Reddit user SatansFieryAsshole describes the character development of the show as “insane”. And who can argue with that username?
“Breaking Bad is one of the only shows that I've watched scenes over and over again. The writing and acting were superb. It had a very real character arc and by the end I was more or less rooting for a monster. But a very awesome monster who I think lurks deep within many of us.”