As people mourn the end of LOST I started thinking about what makes truly great T.V. I was never a fan of LOST. I couldn’t take the time warps and dream sequences. They all seemed too much like dramatic trickery instead of true dramatic storytelling. But I won’t bash on the LOST fans. I know people were in love with the show. Still, when someone uttered that this was the best show television has ever made I had to blink twice. Either the person hasn’t watched much television or well, that person hasn’t watched much good television.
LOST Popular Only With Some
LOST fans are described as rabid, dogged, obsessed. They should be described as infinitesimal. Many people equate the television LOST with quality because of its popularity. Newsflash: It isn’t all that popular. Only 13.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the LOST finale. That’s 3 million less than the audience for NCIS on an average night. This season, the show averaged a measly 11.6 million viewers over its lifetime. But that’s tiny compared to some perennial television champs. More than 100 million people watched the final episode of M*A*S*H. That’s a 1/3 of today’s U.S. population. This statistic says more about television than the shows but you get the picture. M*A*S*H was a popular show. I defy you to not whistle along with “Suicide Is Painless,” the theme music from that dramatic comedy.
No LOST, Now What?
LOST is gone leaving millions of television-starved obsessives in its wake. For those of you looking for some good TV to fill the gap between now and the next television phenomenon here are some of my obsessive, can’t-live-without television shows. So get out your Netflix queue and start filling it.
1.Homicide Life on the Streets – this Peabody-award winning television series (yeah, LOST won one also) from David Simon amazingly was just the beginning of what Simon and Co., were going to do to change the television landscape forever. The put the reality into fictional television with this cop show about cops, not the crimes they solve. Homicide broke molds not seen since Hill Street Blues and rarely seen since. A beautiful examination of character, location and story arch, Homicide will forever be the television series to beat.
2. The Wire – as if television could not get any better along comes Simon’s The Wire. More beloved than watched, this HBO television series enthralled us in the racial, cultural, political and educational world of Baltimore’s drug trade, poverty, schools, political halls and police stations. Even long after its final episode aired two years ago fans are still commenting, FB’inking, Twittering and talking about this gritty drama. The characters were like people from my own family. I see things happening in the world and I find myself wondering what would Bode, Omar or Lester do? From the characters, the stories, the music to the fans, The Wire is an event not a television series, a spiritual experience not just a work of art. Get all 60 episodes. You won’t regret it.
3. The Golden Girls People were shocked when a Facebook campaign got notorious male chauvinist Lorne Michaels to relent and let Betty White host SNL. If you watched the Golden Girls you would not have been surprised. This show about women of a certain age could be more raunchy than any MTV show and more emotional than any city of housewives, desperate or otherwise. Through this series White, Bee Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty broke all the rules featuring episodes on AIDS, divorce, love, marriage, artificial insemination, assisted suicide and much more all during the late 80s and early 90s. As a teenager I used to watch this television series with my mom and it’s just as relevant today as it was back then. Truly, a class act.
4. Everybody Hates ChrisNot shockingly, considering the Emmy’s longstanding racial issues, this show never won one but that doesn’t mean it’s not a winner. Chris Rock’s answer to The Cosby Show, this sitcom followed a young Chris as he grows up in Bed Sty, a working class neighborhood in New York. It paints a satirical and poignant look at the working class black family. The fact that his father had, not one, but two jobs was a true breakthrough in Hollywood stereotype machinations. Rock’s show is a show about black people not a black show. It stayed away from the buffoonery often seen in current black sitcoms (yes,Tyler I mean you) and offered an insightful, funny and sometimes heartbreaking look at what it was like to grow up during the 80s. The show’s writing is brilliant. “Everybody Hates Guidance Counselor,” is a must-see episode. Much like the comedian himself, this show defies expectations and never disappoints.
5. Entourage/Sex in the City – OK so I couldn’t decide on this one. Neither one is super fantastic but they both have elements of greatness. There are many who say Entourage is a one-season wonder that has outlived its usefulness. I disagree. This show, which began reveling in male adolescent obsession with boobs, bling and more boobs, graduated to become a heartfelt drama about love, loss and friendship. One critic said the relationships on Entourage are more real and truthful than the ones on SATC and I tend to agree. These are homeboys from New York who truly love each other despite their antics. And Kevin Dillion is doing some brilliant acting as Johnny Drama. But the cherry on this sundae is Jeremy Piven. Known as the hardest-working man in Hollywood, this Chicago homeboy has been in probably every movie, ever made. But he’s truly risen to new heights playing the homophobic, potty-mouth, misogynist with a heart of gold, Ari Gold. The fact that I still like Ari is a testament to Jeremy’s acting chops and many people often confuse him in public, thinking he is Ari. His relationship with Lloyd on the show was the crowning achievement for last season. The reason why I hate the SATC movies is because they take the funny, sexy and clueless lives of women of a certain age and boil them down to a running joke about being single. SATC had passion, fun, empowerment and funky shoes. For a real deal on this show skip the cinema and rent the DVD’s.