10. Beverly Hills 90210, Season 3
We all know that like many shows Beverly Hills, 90210 stuck around long after its expiration date, but that does not diminish the pure back stabbing joy of season three. While Brenda and Donna eat brains, fake French accents, and narrowly escape dabbling in porn, Kelly and Dylan heat things up back in L.A. I can already hear Sadie B. Hawkins “Damn, I Wish I was Your Lover” swelling in the background.
9. The Comeback
Fuck Friends, this is Lisa Kudrow at her very best. At times squeamishly uncomfortable, this show hits a pitch perfect tone that feels totally authentic. Look for early performances from Malin Akerman, Laura Silverman (Sarah Silverman‘s sister), and Kellan Lutz. Brought to you by Michael Patrick King of SATC fame.
8. That 70’s Show, Seasons 1-4
This show is a stoner’s delight. Seasons 1-4 maintain consistent laughs with enjoyable fashion and Ashton Kutcher before his ego made him unattractive. Pull out the bong, gather your friends, and revisit this hilarious series. Don’t bother with seasons 5+, it’ll just make you wonder how they managed to fuck up such a good thing.
7. The L Word
To really enjoy a show I need some juicy women characters, and The L Word is in no short supply of strong female leads. Jennifer Beals of Flashdance nostalgia anchors the show with gravitas; while the poor man’s Jennifer Connelly, Mia Kirshner, brings a certain goth Lolita charm. Good fashion, great hair, and with all the girl on girl action you might even be able to get your boyfriend on board.
6. True Blood
I won’t bore you by recapitulating the heaps of praise already ladled on this show, but if you are staying away because you are over the vampire thing, you are really missing out. True Blood’s heady mood stanks like a Louisiana swamp, think Anne Rice + Twin Peaks + Cheers + a healthy dose of homoeroticism thrown in for good measure. Don’t worry, after the first or second episode you’ll forget about that huge fucking gap in Paquin’s teeth.
5. Mad Men
Painstaking research and attention to detail goes into making this show as historically accurate as possible. No sloppy anachronisms here. The award-winning costume designers bring bold fashion, raising the stakes each episode. I don’t know if I love Don Draper or hate him, but I do know I would kill to raid Betty’s closet.
4. Freaks and Geeks
As far as I’m concerned this is where James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel got their start, and they aren’t even the best part of this show. Gets the feeling of early 80’s Detroit just right, and is probably the most accurate depiction of high school of all the high school series.
3. My So-Called Life
Jordan fucking Catalano bitches! Jared Leto justifies his increasingly irrelevant existence by having served as Jordan fucking Catalano. Trust me, this was his peak. Beyond that muffin, Claire Danes does good work here, as does A.J. Langer as Rayanne Graff. This show succeeds where many fail in seamlessly integrating the parental story lines with that of the teenagers. Endlessly quotable dialogue makes up for the dreadful fashion.
2. Gilmore Girls
When I criticized Gossip Girl for its failure to create over-arching story lines to sustain the series, I was thinking about how Gilmore Girls did this so brilliantly. The Luke/Lorelai relationship stretched seven seasons without contrived delays. Lauren Graham was fucking robbed in having never been nominated for an Emmy. She really shows her chops with her natural delivery of quick-fire witty dialogue. I will never tire of this show.
- Sex and the City
I recently re-watched the entire series to see if it holds up, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel as fresh now as it did in the late 90’s. Patricia Field created genius, detailed, memorable images. Every time I watch it, I see something new and brilliant. She succeeded in never dating the series with clothes. The themes remain relevant, and Sarah Jessica Parker is at her very best as Carrie Bradshaw.