My Favorite Things: 15 Television Shows

I’ve watched a lot of television in my (almost) 23 years of life. Anyone who knows me is well aware of that fact. And while I’ve always been quick to say “That’s one of my favorites” to a variety of different shows, I’ve never actually made a list. When I sat down to write this, I intended for it to be a Top 10. However, there were some that I just really needed to include. So, without further ado, here is the list nobody really asked for…My Top 15 Television Shows!


1. Friends

I have been watching Friends my entire life. I was only two years old when it started so I truly can’t remember a time when it wasn’t on TV. I didn’t read Harry Potter as a child like a lot of people in my generation (I have since read it, don’t worry). I always say that Friends was my Harry Potter. These six people have been there for me in literally every stage of life. When it ended in 2004, I cried myself to sleep and thought I would never love again. From this list, you can see I was clearly wrong about that. But I’m thankful that Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross will always be there when I most need them.

Favorite Character: Chandler Bing

Favorite Episode: The One Where Everybody Finds Out

Friends is available to stream on Netflix.


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2. The West Wing

I can’t lie…I probably do love The West Wing more than Friends. However, I have to give it the number 2 spot because it’s been in my life for significantly less time. I watched this show mainly because my best friend asked me to. I knew I would enjoy it, but I had no idea I would fall deeply in love with it. This show combines everything I love into one: politics, smart writing, walk-and-talks, and the most perfect television ensemble of all-time. But most importantly, this show is about a family of people–Jed, Abbey, Leo, Josh, Donna, CJ, Toby, Charlie, and Sam–trying to make the world a better place. It gives me hope that maybe one day we’ll actually have some politicians like them in office.

Favorite Character: Donnatella Moss

Favorite Episode: 20 Hours in America

The West Wing is available to stream on Netflix.

Previous blog posts about The West Wing can be found here and here.


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3. The Office

I recently rewatched all nine seasons of The Office and was immediately taken back to the days when I was deep in the fandom on message boards and OfficeTally. The Office was the first show I can remember binge-watching. It was back in 2007 so I had to do it the old-fashioned way—I purchased the DVDs for seasons 1 through 3. It was a complete obsession that I left behind when Steve Carell exited the show. But as I rewatched it, I really missed those glory days. It’s such an intelligent and hilarious show with the most wonderful cast. I also didn’t hate seasons 8 and 9 nearly as much as I thought I did. I won’t ever forgive them for what they did to Andy Bernard, but everything else about it is pretty perfect. If you can find me a better season of pure comedy than season 2 of The Office, please let me know.

Favorite Character: Pam Beesly

Favorite Episode: The Dundies and The Injury (tie)

The Office is available to stream on Netflix.

A previous blog post about The Office can be found here. (This list has changed a bit since then.)


4. Breaking Bad

Is there a show quite as flawless as Breaking Bad? I have yet to find one. It’s clear from the beginning that Vince Gilligan meticulously planned every facet of this show, and it definitely pays off. Each season builds wonderfully on each other, which made the show better as time went on. That’s rare in television, and I’m glad Gilligan and AMC had the sense to end the show when they did rather than keep it on the air for ratings. It’s the only show in the top fifteen that I continued watching despite the hatred I felt towards the main character and the weekly anxiety I had for Jesse Pinkman and Skyler White. The show is so perfect that it makes all of those things so worth it.

Favorite Character: Jesse Pinkman

Favorite Episode: Ozymandias

Breaking Bad is available to stream on Netflix.


5. Parks and Recreation

The Parks and Recreation that just ended is incredibly different from the Parks and Rec that premiered in 2009, and I could not be more grateful. The first two seasons of this show are a bit rocky. Originally slated as a spinoff of The Office, Parks and Rec truly became its own show by the end of season two. And once the characters were firmly established, Parks and Recreation was an incredible treat about a group of misfits with big dreams to make their crazy town better. Throughout its seven seasons, the show remained optimistic, lighthearted, and genuinely hysterical, culminating with a finale that for any other show, I would have loathed. For Parks and Rec, though, it felt just right.

Favorite Character: April Ludgate

Favorite Episode: Flu Season

Parks and Recreation is available to stream on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime.

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A 22 Year Old Girl Meets the Most Important Show on TV

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Like a lot of people my age, I grew up watching reruns of Boy Meets World every day after school. The ABC show about Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong), and Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) was always one of my favorites. Like Cory, I’ve had the same best friend since I was 3 years old, and we’ve gone through life together calling ourselves “Cory and Shawn.” I even ended my high school graduation speech with my favorite quote from Mr. Feeny (William Daniels): “Believe in yourselves, dream, try, do good. I love you all. Class dismissed.”

So, when Disney Channel announced a spinoff show about Cory and Topanga’s daughter, I was skeptical. As we all know, for every spinoff like Frasier, there are 10 spinoffs like Joey, and this was going to be on a children’s network instead of ABC. I felt a little better once Savage and Fishel signed on as series regulars, but I still worried the magic of Boy Meets World would be lost. Eighteen episodes of Girl Meets World later, I’m thrilled to say I was 100% wrong. Honestly, there is a part of me that is starting to like Girl Meets World even more than I like BMW.

I’m so grateful that young kids have the opportunity to watch Girl Meets World. Here are five reasons it is so important to me that they do.

1) A strong female friendship.

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The greatest thing about this show is the friendship between Riley Matthews (Rowan Blanchard) and Maya Hart (Sabrina Carpenter). Blanchard and Carpenter are incredibly talented young ladies who have actually become best friends offscreen, which helps their television friendship seem effortless. From the first episode, it is clear to older fans that these two are meant to be like Cory and Shawn. Riley is a slightly awkward young girl who wants to believe she’s as rebellious as her best friend. Maya is the cool and calm best friend whose single parent struggles to provide everything that she needs in her life. However, the writers do a wonderful job of making Riley and Maya their own people too. They are smart, funny, and adventurous, and most importantly, they completely negate the stereotypes given to preteen girls. Riley and Maya have a strong, loving friendship in which they maturely discuss their wants and needs with each other. They’re quick to support each other in any way possible. They fight, of course, but who doesn’t? But as they work through their conflict each week, viewers young and old are able to see a healthy female friendship on a children’s television show.

2) A discussion of nontraditional families.

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In an interview, Sabrina Carpenter said “To my knowledge, there has never been a character on a Disney Channel show with an absentee mom and a dad who has another family, because that’s not a typical, perfect life. But that’s what life is. It’s not perfect.” The 15-year-old actress is so right. Like her Boy Meets World counterpart Shawn, Maya doesn’t come from “a nuclear family.” Her parents are divorced, and her mother is often nowhere to be found because she’s working extra shifts at a restaurant to provide basic life necessities for her daughter. Unlike her best friend’s life, Maya’s family life is often difficult. She sees the Matthews family as her own, like Shawn did on BMW, which also brings up the important realization for kids that family does not always mean you are related to a person by blood. Maya’s situation is not an unusual one for children to experience. Shows made for kids rarely feature families that are not the “normal” family lifestyle of a mother, a father, and two or three kids. It is refreshing for young children who don’t have that family life to see one a little closer to their own on television.

3) Cory’s continuous growth.

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I’m new to this whole adulthood thing. So far, I’m not a fan. As a kid, I thought when I became an adult, I would magically know everything I needed for life. All of the adults I saw on television seemed to have it figured out. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. On Girl Meets World, they not only understand that but they show it in every episode by allowing Cory to grow as much as his daughter and her friends do. He’s grown tremendously since we first met him in middle school on BMW. But Cory still has a lot to learn about being a father, a husband, a teacher, and a human being. As a 22-year-old fan of a children’s show, I’m thankful that the boy I watched every day on TV after elementary and middle school still has not figured it all out, and I hope kids are able to watch this and see that adults do not know what they’re doing either.

4) Tackling world issues.

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While I take issue with the fact that the middle school featured on Girl Meets World lacks a significant amount of diversity amongst their students for a school in New York City, this show has tackled many vital issues for kids in just 18 episodes. In one episode, we learned that Lucas (Peyton Meyer) has recently moved to NYC from Texas. He didn’t want to leave his friends and family behind, and as someone who experienced this twice in my childhood, I connected deeply with Lucas. It is not easy to do, but Lucas and I are far from the only children to experience this life event. I never saw it on television as a child, and I wonder if it would have been easier if I had seen some small representation of it on one of my favorite television shows.

Like most shows for young people, the writers have also tackled an episode on bullying, but they addressed popularity, bullying, and self-image in unique ways that made the episode standout from the other shows. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of that episode was Cory’s lesson on cultural appropriation to Riley and his other students. When Riley begins dressing in Harajuku style to become popular, he discusses the dangers of cultural appropriation. Since viewing the episode, I have seen some interesting discussion on the fact that Harajuku is meant to be shared with the world and is therefore not cultural appropriation. And while I do not know a lot about Harajuku and cannot speak to that, I found the overall explanation of cultural appropriation incredibly important for a children’s show. In a time when singers like Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea, and Selena Gomez are appropriating other cultures for their music videos and tours, the issue is rarely discussed in the mainstream media. Instead, it is either ignored, or even worse, celebrated as “art.” By explaining to children what the issue is, even if they did not explicitly use the term “cultural appropriation,” they are helping kids learn early that it is exploitative and racist.

5) Allowing former fans of BMW to enjoy it with their kids. 

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I know I am not ready to be a mother, but a small part of me wishes I had a child who was old enough to watch this show with me. One of the things the Girl Meets World writers have done so intelligently is bridge the gap between the old show and the new. In doing so, they provide a perfect opportunity for the two generations of fans to watch this show together. People who enjoyed BMW as teenagers now have kids around the ages of Riley, Maya, and Riley’s younger brother Auggie (August Maturo), and the show is more than enjoyable for these adults to watch. So far, GMW has featured the return of Shawn Hunter, Cory’s parents Amy and Alan Matthews (Betsy Randle and William Russ, respectively), and Topanga’s school rival Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris). We even saw a brief appearance from Mr. Feeny, and season two promises even more Shawn and Mr. Feeny as well as the return of Cory’s older brother Eric Matthews (Will Friedle). They use flashbacks creatively to show the younger fans what they missed on BMW in a way that is not confusing or overwhelming. By keeping the new generation of viewers informed about the past, they make the show nostalgic and exciting for loyal fans of BMW and build a deep connection between the two shows. And even though I am a huge fan of GMW without having kids to watch it with, I know I would love to spend my Friday nights watching this Disney Channel show with my children if I was a parent.

I don’t know how long the show can last without moving to ABC Family to keep it relevant to the aging audience, but for now, Girl Meets World is exactly what this world needs.