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.


West Wing

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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Golden Globe Nominations: Television!

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It’s early. I just finished my last final of the semester, which is a good reason to be excited. But I’m happy and excited today because of something that actually affects me in no way, shape, or form. The Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and as I was putting on make-up and fixing my hair, I kept refreshing my Twitter feed to see the nominations. As always, the Golden Globes are shocking this year. However, they’re surprising in a few really good ways this time! They are shaking things up!

Even though I still love Homeland a lot, I was not at all surprised to see it missing from the nomination list. If anything, I was mostly surprised to not see Claire Danes in the Best Actress category. I take comfort in the fact, though, that she has four Globes and three Emmys sitting in her home right now. (Plus, she was still nominated for the SAG Awards which means we’ll get the Claire Danes/Jared Leto reunion everyone wanted this year.) I was surprised, but slightly happy, to see Mad Men missing. I have a lot of thoughts about that show, and I feel slightly validated now that it has been snubbed by both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I do enjoy Mad Men, but season six was exhausting to watch.

I was extremely excited to see Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, Michael Sheen, and Masters of Sex get some much deserved love. Since the Globes gave Steve Carell his award for Michael Scott, I’m hoping they’ll do the same with Poehler. It’s not fair that she keeps getting ignored. And with Masters of Sex, I hope this just a sign of many good things in the future. A nomination for Lizzy Caplan is the only thing really missing here.

However, the happiest moment for me came when I saw the nominees for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series. I immediately texted both my best friend and my mother to celebrate, and I may or may not have started crying. (Spoiler alert: I did.)

So, here are my thoughts and picks on each category of television, including what made me so damn happy about that Supporting Actress category.

Happy Awards Season!

Best Drama Series:

  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
  • Masters of Sex

My Pick: It’s not even a contest in my mind. I don’t watch The Good Wife, though I really want to after the buzz about this season. I tried both Downton Abbey and House of Cards and didn’t love either (though my preference goes to DA). I do love Masters of Sex. It’s been a surprising and high-quality show since the pilot premiered on September 29. However, the award has to go to Breaking Bad, right? I don’t think there has ever been a more flawless or stressful show on television. With its intricate plot, amazing cinematography, brilliant performances, and smart directing, nothing on this list comes close to Breaking Bad. I hope that Masters of Sex will continue to get better and better. In due time, it can get its awards. However, let’s just all agree to give Breaking Bad everything for its final season.

Best Actor- Drama Series:

  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • James Spader, The Blacklist

My Pick: Okay, I know I just said we should give Breaking Bad everything. However, Bryan Cranston has won three Emmys before. He’s never won a Globe, but he’s been recognized a lot for his performance of Walter White. So, in this category, I’m torn between Cranston and Michael Sheen. Cranston has gotten better and better with the show, and he made me feel absolute rage that I didn’t know I was quite capable of. Sheen, on the other hand, gives a very subtle but heartbreaking performance as Dr. William Masters. It might be interesting if he wins here. It will change things up a bit, but I will also completely agree with the HFPA if Cranston takes it home.

Best Actress- Drama Series:

  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
  • Kerry Washington, Scandal
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

My Pick: WOAH. What a weird category. First, I love Claire. And Vera Farmiga of Bates Motel. Neither one is on this list, which makes me sad. Second, my roommate and I tried Orphan Black and were bored. We stopped after two episodes. Third, I love Taylor Shilling and Orange is the New Black. It was my favorite new show of the year, but I still think it should be in the comedy categories. So, I’m going to go with Kerry Washington for Scandal. Olivia Pope is simply the best, and in a category like this, she has to be the winner for her phenomenal performance. The show could easily be seen as a primetime soap opera, but it never feels that way largely because of Washington and the supporting cast, who are sadly always forgotten.

Best Comedy Series:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Girls
  • Modern Family
  • Parks and Recreation

My Pick: Parks and Recreation! Parks and Recreation! Parks and Recreation! No contest. No further comment.

Best Actor- Comedy Series:

  • Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Show
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

My Pick: I honestly do not know. I don’t watch House of Lies, The Michael J. Fox Show, or The Big Bang Theory. Arrested Development was disappointing this year, and as much as I love Bateman, I’m not feeling the nomination here. So, I guess I’ll go with Andy Samberg. He’s goofy, hilarious, and heartwarming on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I think it would be kind of fun if he won. I’m disappointed Matt LeBlanc is missing. Even though I don’t watch Episodes (yet), I cried when he won a few years ago. It would have been nice to see it happen again.

Best Actress- Comedy Series:

  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

My Pick: Amy Poehler. Again, this is no question for me. As I said above, she deserves it.

Best Supporting Actor- Television Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie:

  • Josh Charles, The Good Wife
  • Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra
  • Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Corey Stoll, House of Cards
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

My Pick: Aaron Paul. I think it’s weird and unfair that the Globes combine Supporting Actor for all of television. It puts unequal and very different programs against each other and leaves a number of people out of the running. Paul, though, is definitely my favorite on this list. My love for Jesse Pinkman knows no bounds. When I talk about Breaking Bad, 90% of my time is spent talking about how much I want to take care of Jesse. He breaks my heart. Aaron Paul deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress- Television Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie:

  • Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
  • Janet McTeer, The White Queen
  • Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
  • Monica Potter, Parenthood
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

My Pick: THIS IS THE ONE. This category actually made me tear up this morning. It was the happiest surprise to see Monica Potter’s name on that list. I don’t know how many times I can say “I love Parenthood!” but I’m going to say it again. I LOVE PARENTHOODParenthood has been overlooked by every major awards show since the beginning. (It’s most surprising to me that the SAG Awards forget about it every year, since it is the most ensemble-y of all the ensemble shows, but I digress.) This is a much-deserved nomination for Potter, who took a character that could have been so one-dimensional and made her incredibly human. I would absolutely burst into tears if Potter wins, and I really hope she does. I don’t know anything about Bisset’s and McTeer’s performances in those miniseries, but Potter seems to be the strongest on the list.

Team Braverman

Warning: This is really long because I have a lot of feelings about this show and I can’t stop thinking or talking about it. Also, there are two minor spoilers in this post.

When Jasmine (Joy Bryant) and Crosby (Dax Shepard) announced their engagement to the rest of the Bravermans in the second season of Parenthood, Kristina (future Emmy nominee Monica Potter) quietly said, “Jasmine, welcome to Crazytown.” And that’s exactly what Parenthood is…Crazytown. Population: 17 (with one more on the way).

And Crazytown is perfect.

My mom has begged me to watch this show for the last four seasons. I would watch episodes sporadically with her when I was home from school, but I never watched it religiously. So, after attempting to watch House of Cards and being less enthusiastic about it than the rest of the world, I decided to grant my mother’s wish and give Parenthood a try during my spring break. (I know what you’re all thinking…I know how to party hard during spring break.) So, on Sunday, March 10, I sat down to watch the pilot on Netflix before bed. That night, I ended up watching Parenthood into the wee hours of Monday morning. I fell quickly down what I affectionately refer to as the Braverman trap. It’s a trap full of tears, laughter, heartbreak, and joy. It basically means you can’t watch just one episode or you will sit there restless and unable to think about anything else until you can watch it again. (My best friend fell down the trap a week after me. It’s a real thing, I swear.)

Until Parenthood, I had never watched a TV show before that made me laugh uncontrollably one minute and then sob in the fetal position the next minute. However, it’s not always the emotional or dramatic scenes that reduce me to a crying mess. It’s often the happy scenes: the moments between the four main siblings and those epic Braverman dance parties. As I watched the first season, I often wondered why that was the case, but then it hit me. Watching Parenthood is essentially the same as watching my family. The only difference is that the Bravermans have a really great soundtrack playing in the background. (I will note here that the music only makes the tears worse. Whoever chose to play Adele’s cover of “To Make You Feel My Love” in episode 18 of season 2 may actually be the devil.) Many of the conversations and arguments the Bravermans have on the show are ones I’ve heard in my grandparents’ house. Jason Katims and the rest of the writers just understand how big families operate. In the past, I’ve often been frustrated with family dramas that have huge dinner scenes or family parties where you can clearly hear what everyone has to say. I don’t know what civilized families these other people come from, but it’s not a family function for me until everyone is so loud I can’t understand the person sitting right next to me. And it doesn’t seem to be a Braverman get together either without the shouting, laughter, and the dancing. My family is the kind of family that stays up at the hospital late at night when something bad happens, the kind of family that will be there if you need to rant, cry, and scream. We take up entire sections of bleachers at a first grader’s baseball game. We have basketball and football games in our backyard during birthday parties, and we turn a New Year’s Eve party into a night of crazy dancing in our pajamas and competitive charades. We’re the Bravermans and the Bravermans are us, and I love that.

Now, let’s talk about Lauren Graham. She is, and I say this without any question or doubt in my mind, the best person on television. I’m currently watching Gilmore Girls with a friend and I don’t understand how she has never been nominated for an Emmy. She was Lorelai freaking Gilmore, queen of the sarcastic fast-talk and endless pop culture references, and she doesn’t have an Emmy nomination. And now she’s Sarah Braverman, and she still doesn’t have one. I thought it was bad that Steve Carell never won for Michael Scott, but at least he was nominated. She’s so happy and charismatic, you can’t help but root for her. When she laughs, I laugh. When she cries, I cry. She’s perfect. And if you need proof of the perfection that is Lauren Graham, watch the final scene in season 2’s “If This Boat is a Rockin’.” In this scene, Crosby is putting his house boat up for sale with the help of his siblings, Adam (Peter Krause), Julia (Erika Christensen), and Sarah. Until this moment, Graham’s time with Shepard had been limited. Because of the similar ages of their TV children, he mostly shared screentime with Christensen while she mostly shared screentime with Krause. Even in this scene, Crosby and Sarah barely speak. It’s the look in Graham’s eyes that tell you how proud Sarah is of her little brother for growing up and changing his life. It’s a hopeful moment for Sarah where she finally seems to believe that she and her children may still be able to do the same. It’s wonderful in every way, and it’s only one short example of how great she really is.

I also need to mention Miles Heizer, the actor behind my adorable, sweet, and sensitive Drew, son of the aforementioned Sarah. From the moment I saw the scene in the rain between Heizer and Graham in the pilot, I immediately questioned why I had not heard more about him. He is the most broken of the Bravermans, and for such a young actor, I find him to be amazing. The whole ensemble is the most underrated cast on television, but he’s the most underrated of them all. The relationship between Drew and Mae Whitman’s Amber constantly reminds me of my brother and me, but it’s his relationship with Sarah that causes me to cry the most on this show. Their scenes together are incredibly beautiful but also difficult to watch because they feel so real. My heart breaks for Drew because I understand why he’s so upset but it also breaks for Sarah because I know she is doing the best she can. He loves and appreciates his mother, even if he is reluctant to show it, but he needs his dad too. I just want to jump through my television (or iPad in this case), tell him everything will be okay, and give him a big hug.

But Heizer and Graham aren’t the only cast members that amaze me. As I watch each episode, I find myself hanging on to each and every performance, from the young children Tyree Brown (Jabbar Braverman), Savannah Paige Rae (Sydney Graham), and Max Burkholder (Max Braverman) to the veteran actors Bonnie Bedelia (Camille Braverman) and Craig T. Nelson (Zeek Braverman). I don’t know how they did it, but Jason Katims and the rest of the crew managed to create an ensemble that not only has perfect dramatic and comedic timing but also one that is completely believable as a family. The Parenthood writers recognize this magic and thrive on it. Each cast member fits perfectly together like a puzzle, and I’m not sure if that’s casting luck or skill but they are flawless.

I am so head-over-heels in love with this family. I highly recommend you fall down the Braverman trap as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. Just go buy an economy-sized box of tissues from Costco first.