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!

West Wing

1. The West Wing

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: 17 People

The West Wing is available to stream on Netflix.

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

2. 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.


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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Pushing Daisies: The Happiest Show on Earth

The perfect cast of Pushing Daisies: Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chi McBride.

The perfect cast of Pushing Daisies (from L to R): Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chi McBride.

“Young Ned’s secret gift was governed by three simple rules: Touch a dead thing once, alive. Touch a dead thing again, dead forever. Keep a dead thing alive for more than a minute and something else has to die.” Season 1, Episode 2

As I type this, it’s been 4 years, 3 months, 5 days, 1 hour, and 54 minutes since ABC’s Pushing Daisies ended. Recently, for the first time since its 2009 cancellation, I decided to break out my DVDs and rewatch it. And it did exactly what it did to me from 2007 to 2009—gave me a feeling of overwhelming happiness for 21 episodes and left me feeling empty and sad after the 22nd. This isn’t because the show is bad or ends in a disappointing way. It’s simply that the show was not given a proper run, forcing the writers to piece together a last minute ending for air. But the sadness felt as the 42 minutes of episode 22 come to a close is worth the sheer joy this show brings with it—a joy that no other TV show has quite matched since.

The facts were these…Pushing Daisies, created by Bryan Fuller, follows Ned (the brilliant Lee Pace), a piemaker in the fictitious town of Coeur d’Coeurs with the secret ability to wake the dead with a simple touch. When Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a sarcastic and money-hungry private investigator, discovers Ned’s special talent, he convinces Ned to enter into a crime-solving partnership. Ned will wake the dead for one minute, ask them a few questions about their murder, and put them back to “sleep.” In the show’s pilot episode, Ned is forced to wake up his childhood love, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), after she has been murdered on a cruise ship. He can’t bring himself to touch her again, and so begins television’s cutest and most unique romance ever. Chuck and The Pie Hole waitress Olive Snook (Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth) join Emerson and Ned as investigators, and the rest is television magic.

Despite strong critical reception and 17 Emmy nominations in just two years, it could never seem to find a large audience and was sadly canceled by ABC. It didn’t help that the show premiered just before the WGA strike of 2007, and the show was very expensive. Still, I never understood why it didn’t catch on. In the age of too many crime shows to count on your fingers and toes, Pushing Daisies gave the world a creative alternative to all of the CSIs and NCISs.  The show seemed to have the perfect recipe for success: witty writing, creative directing, phenomenal acting, bright colors, mystery, a detailed and unique set, beautiful costumes, and an adorable dog. But for some reason, my family seemed to be the only 4 people in the world who watched it. In fact, when we went to the Warner Bros. Studios in between seasons 1 and 2, our tour guide was shocked that someone did watch it. (She actually tried to get us onto the set but couldn’t, much to my mother’s disappointment. We did get to see the morgue and The Pie Hole from a distance, though.)  We loved it dearly then, and as I’ve rewatched it over the last week, I’ve loved it even more. It’s truly a magical 22 hours of television, and it’s proving very difficult to find a show that will fill the pie-shaped hole it left in my heart.

If I had the power to bring any show back from the dead, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to bring back Pushing Daisies, even if it meant that, like with Ned’s power for dead people, another show had to die in its place. (Maybe it would finally get Two and a Half Men canceled?) However, since I don’t have that kind of power, can we at least start the Kickstarter for the additional episodes or TV movie that’s been talked about since 2009? I would definitely donate some money. The series finale just isn’t enough. Until then, I’ll proudly wear my Pie Hole sweatshirt around campus, force my best friend to watch the series, and drown my sorrows in a pear pie with Gruyère cheese baked into the crust.