Ever feel left out when your friends are talking about a new television show that you’ve never heard of? Or you’re unsure if it’s worth spending a weekend eating Cheetos and binge-streaming that show everyone keeps mentioning on Twitter?
Well, fear not. I’m here to help.
Being a TV fan these days can almost be overwhelming. HBO has consistently been churning out must-see shows for more than a decade. In recent years, we have seen quality original programming popping up on channels like AMC and FX. And now a whole new crop of original content is being produced on streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
It would be impossible to watch everything coming out now, unless maybe you were just a blogger living in your mom’s basement. No, I’m not talking about myself, I swear. Editor’s Note: He’s talking about me- Ryan.
Luckily, I’m going to make it easy for you and share the top current shows you should be watching. The following are my five favorite shows on television that are still making new episodes. Perhaps I’ll put together a list of best shows of all time in another post. (Sweet tease!)
So anyway, watch these shows. You’ll like them. Really. And if not? Well that’s just, like, your opinion man.
5. Silicon Valley (HBO)
As you will soon glean from the rest of my list, I tend to like dramas more than comedies when I’m watching TV. I like a continuing story with good characters, and something that makes me think.
“Silicon Valley,” however, just so happens to be a comedy that checks these boxes. Plus, it is really, really funny.
It’s about a group of programmers that live in a start-up incubator owned by the hilarious Erlich Bachman (played by T.J. Miller). The group works to establish a data compression algorithm called Pied Piper, while having to compete with the Google-like mega company Hooli.
The technology aspect makes the show fresh and current, but without bogging down the viewer. I’m far from a tech-geek, but I don’t have trouble following along.
But where this show shines is its cast. Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), the creator of Pied Piper, is an awkward, sweaty mess. It’s really a pleasure to watch him timidly go to battle with other high-powered executives.
Programmers Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) constantly bicker and prank each other, but without being a distracting sideshow.
I was surprised by how much I have come to like “Silicon Valley.” But between the story line, endearing characters, and laugh-out-loud-for-real-ness, this show is a can’t-miss for me.
4. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Remember when “The Sopranos” was airing and watching it was “an event” in which everyone was talking about it? I feel like “Game of Thrones” has reached that status — every Sunday is an event.
Five seasons in, and the show is still going strong. I found the most recent season to be disturbingly enjoyable and can’t wait for the next installment — especially now since the TV series’ story line has bypassed the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books. If George R.R. Martin isn’t going give us the next book anytime soon, I’ll take what I can get — because I can’t get enough.
I realize this show is by no means under the radar. You’re probably already watching it or have tried it and know it’s not for you. But if you’ve always wondered what the fuss was about but haven’t yet visited the world of Westeros, get on it.
3. The Americans (FX)
In “The Americans,” two KGB spies pose as normal travel-agent Americans in the 1980s, while literally living across the street from an FBI agent.
It definitely makes for some intense moments — maybe a little too unbelievable at times, but so what? Just sit back and enjoy. The show really hit its stride in the third season, in which Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) Jennings have to come to grips with how much of the truth they will tell their unsuspecting children.
The fourth season starts in March 2016, so now might be a good time to catch up.
2. Rectify (Sundance)
The premise of “Rectify” is simple: Daniel Holden (Aden Young) is released from prison, where he was on death row after being convicted for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend.
The show begins with Daniel’s release after conflicting DNA evidence is discovered, and the show follows Daniel and his family as he adjusts to life after spending 19 years in jail.
“Rectify” has so much working for it. First of all, the writing is superb. Show creator Ray McKinnon can turn a simple scene in a diner into magic with realistic and heartbreakingly written dialogue.
Second, while Aden Young does a fantastic job playing Daniel Holden, he is surrounded by a ton of great characters. It’s not easy for Daniel’s family to make the adjustment of being home, and you truly feel for them all.
Finally, the show has an element of mystery. Daniel cannot remember what happened on the night of his girlfriend’s murder. Or if he does remember, he doesn’t reveal that to the audience. So as a viewer, you want to believe Daniel is innocent, and it’s likely that he is, but you don’t know for sure.
I cannot express how much I love this show. Watch it. Now.
1. The Leftovers (HBO)
If you had asked me a year ago if HBO’s “The Leftovers” was one of my top shows, I would have said “no way, no how.”
In “The Leftovers,” an event later dubbed as the “Sudden Departure” occurs, in which 2 percent of the world’s population vanishes. The number of people to disappear isn’t enough to create a post-apocalyptic-type setting, but it’s enough to thoroughly mess with the people who have remained.
Where did the Departed go? Why did it happen? Well, we don’t really know.
The first season of the show had me intrigued and I enjoyed it, but it definitely had its flaws. It was VERY dark and depressing, without any offsetting humor or light moments. But it was weird enough and an interesting enough premise that I stuck with it and gave the second season a chance.
Boy was I glad I did.
The second season, which wrapped up not long ago, fixed many of the flaws of the first, and even improved on multiple levels. It was basically a reboot of the show, as new (great) characters were introduced and the setting of the main story line was changed.
From start to finish, it was one of the best seasons of television I have ever seen. It was mesmerizing.
I’m not sure I can remember a show having such a dramatic improvement over the course of one season.
HBO recently announced that “The Leftovers” will return for a third — and final — season. I’m not sure how they will top the previous season, but I’m looking forward to it already.
Honorable mentions, just missed the cut
I know what you’re thinking: “I noticed that Big Lebowski/Cohen Brothers reference at the beginning of this piece. I figured ‘Fargo’ would make an appearance on the list.”
But seriously, I enjoy “Fargo” very much and would put it just outside my top 5. The show’s first season was fresh and brilliant. But — after starting off strong — the second season fell a little flat for me.
I honestly don’t know if “Fargo” will be able to keep its magic going for much longer.
Two other shows that I loved made debuts in 2015: AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and USA’s “Mr. Robot.” I’ll have to see how they perform in their sophomore seasons before putting them in my top-shows list, however.
There you have it. Stick to these TV programs and you won’t be let down — I swear.