Top 5 Current Television Shows

So it’s been a while since I did a Top 5 blog post, and since I’m currently in the middle of a DVR dump (as in, watching a bunch of random shows off my DVR) let’s do one about current television shows.

I have a bit of trepidation about doing these because I’m not a big fan of talking about myself, but I do enjoy letting people know about these things that I enjoy. Maybe you’ll enjoy them too.

Top 5 TV Shows (Currently Airing)
Honorable Mention
(yeah, I’m cheating, but I don’t care)
Mad Men (AMC), Breaking Bad (AMC), Walking Dead (AMC), Californication (Showtime), Suits (USA), Person of Interest (CBS) & The League (FX)

5. Sons of Anarchy (FX)
I actually just started watching this on Netflix a month ago. Like a lot of people, I took a pass on it when it first came out because I had little interest in a show about a motorcycle gang. But it’s much more than that; viewed a certain way, it’s something of an exploration of what true freedom is, and the price required to keep it. The writing is solid, the characters all have depth (even the villains) and the plots keep you guessing. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Back for its sixth season in September.

4. Shameless (Showtime)
Speaking of fun, Shameless is the most fun (funnest?) show on television. It’s depravity on a scale that not even It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia could have matched on its best day. Complete escapism entertainment, with pitch-perfect acting and great characters. Not to mention all of the fun it pokes at other shows. Currently airing now.

3. Parenthood (NBC)
The only traditional network show on this list, though frankly I wish it wasn’t. Network television is quickly becoming a wasteland for middle-mind, group think television, mostly represented in the form of bad reality shows (Who wants to be like Donald Trump? How about an hour long show where people fall off shit. Both of these exist.) Parenthood is exec produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, two of Hollywood’s best, and run by Jason Katims. Katims is one of the leaders of the “semi-improvisational” style, which brings a greater sense of authenticity to a scene. Rather than give the actors a script with lines, the actors instead set the stage with their character situations and motivations in advance, and then enter the scene and try to react naturally. This was also done in Friday Night Lights, another Katims program. Both shows are terrific, but low-rated. The show would be best served on a cable network, as it has a 50/50 chance at best of being renewed for the 2013-14 season. Season (possibly series) finale airs on Tuesday, January 22.

2. The Newsroom (HBO)
Katims should take notes from another great television writer, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin had three network programs before finally taking his talents to HBO with The Newsroom, where he’s finally gotten what he was looking for. (Note: Though The West Wing was successful, ultimately he had to leave the show after its fourth season due to problems with NBC). With The Newsroom, Sorkin has created the opportunity to put the news into context, something he seems to feel is missing in a world where news is increasingly being driven by ratings and corporate interest. Love it or hate it (there seems to be no middle ground), Sorkin does this by revisiting some of the biggest stories of the past couple of years. Plus, he’s finally found the balance he’s looking for with the drama of a behind-the-scenes live television show (on the third try; Sports Night (1999-00) and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006) were squashed on network TV). Back for its second season sometime this summer.

1. Homeland (Showtime)
Consistently has the best writing and acting on television. Carrie and Brody are two incredibly flawed characters and, while a network program might push down these flaws to emphasize the black and white nature of a save the country situation, Showtime actually plays up the flaws and makes them central to the drama. Whip-smart and unafraid to take just about anything on, Homeland is also one of the most surprising programs on television today. Back for its third season, likely in the fall.