There are probably plenty of lists like this out there, laying out which TV shows you will enjoy for their story or their lovable characters; shows like Friends or Gilmore Girls. While shows like that have enjoyable aspect and artistic value, this list is a little different. These shows are geared toward audiences who want to see the humanity in a series. The raw, the ugly the funny, and the heartbreaking. These shows are utterly human and will teach you much about what it is to be a human being.
10. Parks and Recreation
Amy Poehler's show is sophisticated, fun, and will make you laugh out loud. Every episode is an instant classic (maybe after season 1) and you will find yourself watching it over and over. The characters are uniquely fun and each have their own distinct personality that people can both relate to and laugh with. Whether your more of a Ron Swanson or a Ben Wyatt, this show is perfect for laughs and amazing friendship moments.
This show has a tease of only 3 episodes per season, but each is as good as the last. These 90 minute episodes will take you to a modern-day re-telling of Connan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. It is a fresh take on the beloved consulting detective and will have you captivated every step of the way. Sherlock’s character has taken on some more depth from the original stories and with each season we delve more into what makes him and the other characters tick. While the cases are brilliantly thought-up, it's more the character development that attracts me to this show. I should say no more, just go watch it!
8. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
While all series of Star Trek are amazing and must-see’s, (and yes, I’ve seen them all), I wanted to accent Deep Space Nine in particular. Because of the nature of the show. DS9 was the first of the Star Trek series to tackle issues of war, something that Trek had been against from the start. The characters are forced to break their non-violence pact to help win a war against aliens who wish to dominate, spreading their ideals of superiority. It is a divergence from the other Trek series which makes it uniquely good. Each character deals with their internal struggles of fighting in a war and even brings up heavier topics like PTSD and depression. It is a brave new face of Trek that is so utterly human.
7. Doctor Who
A classic since the 50s, Doctor Who has always been a sci-fi staple. With each reincarnation of the Doctor comes more adventures and heart-warming/breaking tales. Every new season brings on some amazing concept and characters and it is worth going through from the beginning. I particularly love how each Doctor/Companion duo brings a fresh perspective to the world. The Doctor is constantly amazed by humanity and their ability to keep going and their persistence. The show has some amazing strong women figures who are insanely badass and the Doctors are always willing to give everyone second chances, even monsters. And now we finally have a female Doctor coming to the newest season. Progress!
6. Band of Brothers
This HBO show created by Stephen Ambrose and Tom Hanks follows the US Paratroopers of World War II, with 10 heart-filled episodes, all true stories of these war heroes. Each episode starts out with an interview with the real soldiers whose story we follow. Then the actors show us truly what war was like for those men. It is not romanticized, it is not pretty, and it is not often heroic. It is men fighting for their country, for their unit, and for their lives. These men forge the strongest of bonds, facing hell together and showing true strength of courage and unity. It’s an unforgettable series that deserves much applause while giving you a history lesson on a part of WWII you may not be aware of.
5. The Wonder Years
This is a true expression of growing up, living through middle school and high school in the 60s and 70s. This follows Kevin Arnold, a teenage boy trying to make his way through school, romance, family life, and the pains and delights of growing up. It is a perfect show to watch when making that transition to college and has a very nostalgic effect on me. It’s quite a powerful show.
4. Game of Thrones
Of course this had to be in my list, because without it, I would be missing out on a whole incredible fantasy genre. I do not know who isn’t watching this show at this point, (saying as the new season just came out), but if you haven’t seen it yet and aren’t queasy, then it is a must! The show demonstrates incredibly woven story-lines with intrinsic characters. It shows the power-hungry, and the ugliness of humanity. While also showing the strength of a strong will and persistence. Each character faces great trials and grief in their lives and we see them succumb or overcome it. It is a wonderful study on humanity with a fantasy twist. Not to mention dragons.
3. Breaking Bad
Another household standard, this show became an instant hit after it was released. Breaking Bad main character is the definition of the anti-hero. Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a chemistry teacher-turned meth cooker, who we all love to hate. The show is brilliant because Walt is not lovable. He is often devious and terrible, but we still root for him. It shows how power is intoxicating and can corrupt even the most innocent and good people. The anti-hero in all of us craves a show like this and you all must see it.
2. The X-Files
The X-Files is the staple for both sci-fi and detective shows. Agents Mulder and Scully, with their amazing 90s outfits, will take you on a ride through conspiracies, shady FBI characters, and a whole lotta monsters. Scully, a skeptic meant to keep Mulder in check will question the quirky detective at every turn, provides a logical, scientific explanation to every strange case. Meanwhile, Mulder, a believer, will ramble on and on about alien abductions and shape-shifters and he will always turn out to be right. These two shouldn’t get along but it is their counter nature that makes them such a good team. It is amazing to watch these two characters mature together as seasons progress, making life-changing impacts on one another. With the government cover-ups and alien conspiracies, Vince Gillian and Chris Carter were able to create a seamless story-line. You will be captivated for 9 seasons straight by the amazing cast of characters.
I am not sure how many millennials are familiar with this show. Created in the 70s, M*A*S*H follows medical surgeons on the front lines of the Korean War. It is as witty as it is heartbreaking. M*A*S*H was the definition of a “dramaity", being able to make the audience laugh and cry in the same episode. This cast of characters are some of the most memorable on television. It was a marvel for its time, because it tackled issues of racism, bigotry, war, death, and loss. It is in my opinion the best show on television and always will be. Each character has a perspective on the war and the situation they are placed in. Growing up with this show, it has a special place in my heart, for it taught me so much about war and people and coming to terms with death. It’s a masterpiece.
So go out and watch these shows and who knows, you may just learn something about humanity in the process!