Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 26-30 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

The last group before the Top 25…

30.  FRIENDS (1994-2004 NBC)

I’ll be honest, I don’t like this show even on the list.  I always thought the show should have been named “Whiteville,” or something similar.  Here they are in NYC and they only ran into white people for like 8 seasons until the press finally said “What is with the lack of minorities?”  Then all of a sudden an avalanche of non-white people showed up on the show.  I always hated the aspect that the show was so incredibly racist in their casting…  of course people will say it’s coincidence.  I say “No way in hell.”  The show didn’t need one of the main characters to be a minority it just needed them to at least run into a minority, date minorities, etc.  Yet every time there was a casting call it said “white,” and thus the whitest show in modern times makes this list for every other reason.

Lets look at those reasons:  It was on 10 years, and was massively popular.  In fact its best year was the 8th season when it finally made it number 1 and had 24M viewers on average.  That season also was the only one to ever win an Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series.    All 10 seasons it was a top 10 show, something that very few can ever claim.

Cultural impact?  Hard to say.  Just about every source I could find states some absurd claim, like Joey’s catchphrase of  “How you doin?” becoming popular.  Like people weren’t using that before.  I do remember people getting their hair cut a lot like the women on the show particularly Aniston & Cox.

Was the show funny?  Not exactly.  It wasn’t a show that was going to make your sides hurt from laughing so hard.  What it was, was comfortable.  The ensemble cast was so good together they made us all believe these were real friends, and thus it was easy to sit down and watch 30 minutes “with them.”  One study I found while researching this piece was that viewing went up 17% immediately after 9/11.  Meaning people tuned in to “tune out.”  Which shows just the kind of impact it had.

Yes, this show could be a top 10 show, but I threw it in at 30 simply due to it being “Whiteville.”  It just wasn’t realistic.  There was actually a drinking game, where every time someone came on scene who wasn’t white, you’d have to take a shot.  People were practically dead of alcohol poisoning at the end of every episode!  😉

29.  LAW & ORDER (1990 – ???? NBC)

It is about to tie GUNSMOKE for the longest running prime-time drama in American TV History.  Created by Dick Wolf to combine police procedure and legal drama.  The gamble of would the two coincide and bring in viewers was a healthy yes.  However it wasn’t the first show to do so.  In the 60 there was ARREST AND TRIAL which Wolf claims he was unaware of.  Britain had a show in the 70s entitled LAW AND ORDER which again Wolf claimed he wasn’t aware of.  However the creator of the British show claims he sent copies of his show to Michael Mann who at the time was making MIAMI VICE with Wolf.  So it’s hard to say if Wolf just came up with it, or not.

The show had a few things going for it at the time which were unique (and now are old and tired) which was the first segment dealt with the police investigating, then the 2nd segment dealt with the trial.  The unique aspect at the time was the trial was from the POV of the prosecutor which during that time on TV when it came out was unique, the vast majority of legal shows were from the other side of the court room.

Ratings for the show are interesting.  It was never a huge massive success until its 12th and 13th seasons when it became a Top 10 show.  Most of the time the series is ranked between 25th and 35th, and only 2 of the 19 seasons weren’t a top 50 show.  For a show that airs in the top 10/9 time slot this is a great success.

I could write more, but the show has been on for 19 straight seasons, if you don’t know of it or about it….  it has had numerous spin offs, inspired shows, etc.

28.  OZ (1997-2003 HBO)

The impact of OZ is un-debatable.  It was the first hour long drama produced by HBO for HBO.  It would lead to THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD, etc.  Created by Tom Fontana (and written by Tom Fontana, every episode had his name attached as a writer or co-writer), the show revolves around the Oswald State Correctional Facility a maximum security prison.  To further tie it to the fantasy “OZ,” the show also seemed to primarily center around a section called “Em City,” which was a tightly controlled part of the prison aimed at rehabilitation.

OZ used a unique Voice Over which broke the “4th wall” (character talks directly to the viewer, generally staring at camera, think Ferris Bueller) that involved Augustus (former drug dealer and convicted murderer) narrating and introducing characters.  He was what is referred to as writers as an omniscient narrator, he was aware of everything, and thus when a new character was introduced Augustus would fill you in completely on his past, the type of person they were, and what brought them to Oz.

OZ because it was on HBO took full advantage of everything that had to offer.  Nudity, language, & violence were all a regular part of the show. This caused an uproar at first, but that was only due to it being the first.  Now, it’s no big deal.  In fact DirecTV is going to air the entire series in order, unedited with no commercials on their 101 station.

The impact of OZ was great, and it just wasn’t an industry impacted, it was culture.  The most famous pop culture take on OZ was the SNL episode immediately after the SEINFELD finale, which starred Jerry Seinfeld.  In the famous skit, a continuation of the finale,  Jerry (from the TV series) is sent to OZ for his punishment.  The skit was all shot on the OZ lot, and featured many of the actors from the series.  In fact this skit was better than the entire finale on SEINFELD.

27.  ENTOURAGE (2004-???? HBO)

Yeah, it’s a show that is far funnier for those who work in the industry.  It’s why everyone of them tries to get on the show.  It’s just one of those things.  However for the rest of the nation it provides a look into just how absurd the industry is and the lifestyles of these stars who make it big.  It’s all loosely based on the real life of Mark Wahlberg, who yes has an entourage.

Everyone argues about who the show is about and who came up with the idea.  The actual answer is Mark Wahlberg’s assistant who just started filming Mark and his friends.  Then he gave the idea to Wahlberg who toyed with a documentary then a show based on him and his friends.  Then he decided their background might be too tough for America to swallow so Vinny Chase was created.  The Turtle character and the Johnny Drama character are the only two characters that held up from the original idea.  Doug Ellin, himself a member of an entourage (David Schwimmer’s) as the lead writer and show runner then took his experiences and mixed them in with Wahlberg’s.  Thus ENTOURAGE was born.

The show however is mainly just a way to watch Jeremy Piven light up the screen as Ari, the agent for the main character (and based on Ari Emanuel).  The lengths Ari goes to and his lovable but annoying nature make the show what it is.  Without Ari the show would be close to nothing in the early seasons.

26.  REALTIME WITH BILL MAHER (2003-???? HBO)

HBO is really starting to make this list eh?  Well, the importance of REALTIME is that Bill Maher really wants to get down to the bottom of everything and screw the left and the right, he wants the truth.  The truly great thing about this show is that up until this season the Right and Left had no problem going on the show and battling it out in a manner that was surprisingly forthcoming with information.  Things these people would never be caught dead saying on FOX or CNN were being said on HBO.  Maher, who while a nut in his own right, is the perfect middle man.  He isn’t far left or far right.  He does have some leftist beliefs, but he also has some heavily right leaning beliefs.  The fact that he isn’t “liberal media,” is why the show works.  Yes, he was against McCain.  Right now his show is paying for it with the Republicans not going on the show like they used to.

Still, strangely the best and most accurate news seems to come from this show.  You get takes on situations that no News network would ever dare say.  Then you think about it and realize that take might be the right one.  Many times it comes from the guests and not Maher.  Maher is just there to rule over it all.

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24 responses to “Top 100 TV Shows Of All Time 26-30 (Or Nick C Has No Taste)

  1. RE: Friends/”Whiteville. Doesn’t deserve to be on the list, unless your “impact” criterium includes NEGATIVE impact (re: role of minorities, etc.).

    I asked of you a question (and I’m sorry it was so lengthy) in regard to the lack of shows centered on minorities – particularly African Americans – in your previous list of shows which included Sandford and Son. I guess this kind of gives me your feeling about the whole issue – so are the networks “racist,” or do they just lack the balls to prominently feature minorities – particularly African Americans – as the central figures in major (non-cable) network programming today??

    Families like Fred Sandford & Son and The Evans (from Good Times) still exist and are still struggling (believe me, I know, I live near Gary, IN). You can’t tell me that somehow, whether via drama or comedy shows that focus on this still wouldn’t be relevant today.

    I’d much rather see these “reality” shows than the phoney baloney shows about the rich, spoiled “white folks” that the networks (and the cable channels) keep presenting over and over and over again.

  2. Rick Holy, I definitely read you comment before, and this one. I just think a response is more deserving of a thoughtful opinion piece, and I’ve started to write one. I’ll do some research and try and fill it up the best I can with some facts as well as my opinions. There is definitely a problem, but the biggest problem is that Hollywood is mostly white.

  3. Friends! I’ll always love Friends, and to be honest, up until right now I have never even thought about the whole “Whiteville” situation. But I think it has more to do with the time and place I grew up in than anything else. Race isn’t really a big deal for me, or anyone I know, and it took me years before I realized that another show I grew up watching, Family Matters, had almost no white people in it. But I guess racism is a lot more of an issue for you guys, so I get it.

    Law and Order.. Well, I guess Law and Order is pretty nice. But to be honest, I’ve seen so many episodes of it and it’s spin offs that I am just sick of it, and I can’t even sit through an episode anymore (I feel much the same way about).

    Oz, well, I figured you’d put it in when I asked and you didn’t respond 😛
    Oz is awesome, I love it, you should all rent the six seasons and watch it all. And it’s always fun recognizing people from Oz on other TV shows 😛

    I like Entourage. Been watching it since it began, and it’s pretty good.

    I also like Bill Maher. We only get Conan and Jimmy over here so I’ve never watched Real Time. But do I remember correctly that Bill got that show after his other talk show, “Politically Incorrect” was canceled because he made a joke about 9/11? Or is that someone else? Or did I just make that whole thing up? xD

  4. Thanks, Nick C.!! I’m sure that whenever you’re able to get the piece written, there will be PLENTY of discussion about it. Peace!

  5. bill maher is one of the worst human beings on the planet

  6. Jimmy, I’ve had my run ins with him, and while he isn’t a saint … it’s the show I’m rating not him. The show is unique in that it generally allows both sides to really tell their side. That is what is good about it, and since it’s on HBO they really tell their side…

  7. I agree about what is good about Bill Maher. I’m one of those who will watch O’Reilly and sometimes Olbermann because I’m only satisfied when I hear all perspectives. Love him or hate him, agree or disagree with him, Maher makes no bones about his opinions and his guests do the same. I love the candor.

  8. Josh Emerson

    I feel the same way about Friends as Pere. My age probably has a lot to do with it. Growing up in the 90s, my schools were always diverse. I watched both Friends and shows like Family Matters and Cosby. It just wasn’t an issue for me either way. Funny is funny, period. A lack of non-white people doesn’t take away from the fact that Friends was a hilarious show IMO.

    I enjoy watching Bill Maher. My only problem is that he acts like such a jackass most of the time. But I agree with him on a lot of issues, and I like his bluntness.

  9. Josh – bluntness was the word I was looking for and couldn’t get off the tip of my tongue while trying to describe Maher. Thanks!

  10. So Friends and the people who watch are racists? 😉

    I’m guessing Realtime is the highest placed among the top 100 for a news type show? I can only think of one other (60 Minutes) that might make this list too.

  11. Good assessment of Friends. You hit the nail on the head with it not having much cultural impact, being all that funny, or realistic, but that it was just a comfortable show with people who seemed to click on screen.

    The viewership numbers are amazing though, especially for a show that never generated one (okay maybe one) catch phrase. Contrast that with a show like The Simpsons, which (I think) never had near that kind of viewership, but has substantially penetrated the pop culture lexicon.

  12. Frank, the 1st episode of season 2 of THE SIMPSONS was watched by 36 million people, and was the first time it aired on Thursdays against THE COSBY SHOW, and yes, it beat the show. Of course that was just one week, and there was so much hype over the summer of Bill Vs. Bart…

    In fact I believe it finished a season the 3rd most watched show on TV, but not sure.

  13. Wow, okay so it did have the viewership! Why I was thinking it never broke 20 million I don’t know. Monster show with a monster impact. If I had to guess, I’d say it and Seinfeld are two of the most quotable shows on TV–quotable even years removed.

  14. Wow, Entourage really doesn’t deserve such a high spot. At times it is hilarious, and occasionally it’s even dramatic, but mostly it’s just a very easy watch. I’d liken it to the way you described Friends above, though I’m not a fan of that show. And this is coming from someone who generally loves ‘industry’ type shows. Jake Kasdan’s The TV Set is probably one of my favourite movies. Maybe I just like my entertainment generally darker and bleaker.
    Have you seen Party Down, Nick? It’s been described as ‘the anti-Entourage’. It’s great.

    Also, Piven was arguably even better in Cupid.

  15. Also it’s WahlBERG! Make me an editor! : )

  16. Party Down is great, hopefully once it’s had a longer run and more people become aware of it on DVD, it will get some more notice from the public. I discovered it entirely by chance when I got a free six month subscription to Starz and I found it on demand one night. I’m halfway through season one right now, already one of my favorite shows. Entourage, meanwhile, remains on my list of shows I still want/need to see, but haven’t yet.

  17. Jack, but it says Wahlberg, are you going blind? 😉

    We have an editor for the new site, which we’re working. Should be up this week.

  18. I guess these two decades of life have really taken a toll on my eyes.

    That news is both good and a little disappointing. From one anonymous internet user to another, if there’s any position even more lowly (like the web equivalent of runner), keep me in consideration. Now I feel like I’m practically begging so I’ll shut up. Heh.

  19. Jack, heh I edited it. Send an email to me. I need someone in Australia who can go interview some people who are making the new MAD MAX movie.

  20. Some guy named John

    FRIENDS –haha, whiteville… I like to call the show, NBC’s last extremely popular show

    LAW & ORDER, oddly enough I think I have watched it more on lazy weekends on cable than in primetime.

    OZ , I never got into this show. But without HBO taking chances, none of the Cable channels would have tried running original inhouse produced content, so I have to give props to HBO.

    ENTOURAGE — great show, whats funny is tha Piven is part of Jon Favreau/Vince Vaughn
    entourage, and whose own career is very much like the Johnny “Drama” Chase character.

    REALTIME WITH BILL MAHER aka Politically Incorrect on HBO… He had Meghan McCain on last week, and it showed that while Maher is against her father now, he supported him 9 years ago. Maher is a great host and can keep a show moving. Shows like his and the Daily Show are how I like to get my political news

  21. Some Guy Named John, actually Piven was part of the John Cusack entourage. He may hang with Favs and co. but he was brought into the system because he was friends with Cusack.

  22. Ok…I have to disagree with your take on Friends, but my disagreement is really just a matter of personal opinion. I mean…I COMPLETELY understand the “Whiteville” comments. There were definitely not a lot of minorities on the show…but the show itself was funny and sweet and had a lot of heart. Sure, it was a formulaic sitcom…but so were a lot of shows.

    SO MANY sitcoms have an underlying mean tone to them. The jokes are often at someone’s expense and many times you don’t understand why the characters interact with eachother at all (Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, King of Queens. Don’t get me wrong Seinfeld is a favorite as well…). This show was different. Sure it was feel good television, but I believe it was a great show, with great characters that really have become iconic and I believe the show DID have a huge impact on us culturally. I personally would have put it a bit higher..or should I say LOWER? on the list.

    And there are scenes that did had me laughing out loud…and hard…such as the scene when Ross wears tight leather pants on a date and can’t get them back on in the bathroom. It was a silly, fun and heartfelt show! Yeah…it was about white people…but I’m not going to let that stop me from loving it! It’s not as though the characters were racist or something geez…LOL.

  23. Jenna, you’re right the comedy wasn’t mean in tone, and it should be applauded for that. I mentioned how “comfortable,” the show was and that was definitely a factor in making the show comfortable.

    A show to me is the sum of all parts, many aspects of this show would make it an easy top 10 choice if not for the blatant racism of the producers. To me and my many African American friends this show was a serious sign of the falling equality of TV. It doesn’t take 8 season to cast an African American as a guest star unless there is serious racism involved. Some of the stars have claimed it was entirely coincidental and nothing was meant by it. How did it happen?

    The producers. They knew what they were doing. For that reason I rank it lower, and I don’t feel bad about it. If the NAACP and others hadn’t felt the need to attack the show (and have good cause) I’d have rated it higher.

  24. Yeah…as I said I completely agree with you on that point. There were very few minorities on the show and that was a negative point. The only minority I remember from the earlier seasons would be the character of Julie, who played Ross’ girlfriend and was Chinese-American… I think it’s pretty ridiculous how few minorities you see on broadcast TV these days! I can’t even think of a TV show on one of the major networks that has African American main characters…that’s sad.