20. Parks and Recreation
Region: UK, US
The show: One of those series that’s slowly cemented itself as a comedic classic. Parks and Recreation is worthy of cult status, treading the line between mockumentary and sitcom perfectly. That’s in large part because of its razor-sharp writing. Amy Poehler leads the cast as Leslie Knope, deputy director of the fictional Pawnee parks and recreation department, who goes above and beyond to do what’s right, with the help of her colleagues.
Why it's worth a watch: Who doesn’t like to laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy, too? Reminiscent of Modern Family’s early seasons - back when it was consistently funny - it balances the gags with genuine affection and warmth. There’s no other show that maintains the same level of quality throughout seven whole seasons. Yes, it’s better than Friends.
19. Pushing Daisies
The show: Bryan Fuller has, over the years, made a delightful habit of mashing together the world of the living and the world of the dead. Hannibal dealt with it somewhat brutally, whereas Dead Like Me and American Gods? Err more on the fantastical side, which is where Pushing Daisies lands. Another victim of early cancellation, the show stars Lee Pace as Ned, a baker with a gift for bringing the dead back to life with a mere touch. Following the murder of his girlfriend Chuck (Anna Friel), he revives her, and the pair begin a new, altogether unusual romance - as they cannot physically touch. They’re not wanting for things to do, however, as a PI ropes Ned and Chuck in to help solve bizarre cases.
Why it’s worth a watch: Quirky and funny and heartfelt, Pushing Daisies is about finding the joy in our lives instead of being so drawn into the misery of death. Fuller’s intention was to shine a light on the small, seemingly insignificant moments that ignite real happiness in us. What more could you want? Plus, there has been talk of a revival at some point...
18. Six Feet Under
The show: One of HBO's finest achievements attempts to make sense of death by chronicling the lives of a family who own and run a Pasadena funeral parlor. Just because The Fishers are forced to contemplate mortality on a daily basis, doesn't mean they're any better at coping with it. They struggle to derive meaning from death and choose to instead celebrate the joy of life. Each episode opens with a different person’s moment of death, which inspires the Fisher family’s individual journeys.
Why it's worth a watch: Aside from the fact that its last ever episode will make you BAWL, it’s a simple drama that brings to light the troubles we all struggle with, through the lens of those closest to death. The Fishers aren’t perfect, either, making them all the more relatable. Eldest son Nate (Peter Krause)'s acerbic wit is an intoxicating blend of self-affirming mantras. He'll make you laugh and break your heart.
17. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The show: When his 1992 movie about a cheerleading vampire slayer flopped, writer Joss Whedon couldn’t let Buffy languish in pop culture history in its campy coffin. So he did what any genre-loving creator would do! He revived it, and spawned one of the most successful female-led fantasy shows of all time, with Sarah Michelle Gellar taking over as the vamp-stabbin’, monster-huntin’ badass. Not only is Buffy tasked with saving the world from the apocalypse (multiple times) and preventing several baddies from destroying her hometown of Sunnydale, she also grapples with typical teen angst.
Why it’s worth a watch: While the “monster of the week” format stakes its claim in earlier seasons, Buffy’s complex life and those of her best friends, Xander and Willow, extend beyond that into rich, layered storytelling that is brilliant serial television. Without a doubt a genre staple, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a must-see for anyone with a love of good vs. tales that give the middle finger to convention.
The show: A new series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening? There was a lot riding on Futurama when it dropped in 1999, and luckily, his trademark humour made the leap to this irreverent and clever animated comedy about a misfit bunch of pals who work for an intergalactic FedEx. The show’s premise, ripe for fish-out-of-water gags, finds pizza delivery boy Fry fall into a time machine only to wind up living in the year 3000. Along with the delivery crew of Planet Express he explores the universe and the whole gang pass comment on the state of society and popular culture with deft wry humour.
Why it's worth a watch: It’s tough to pin the success of this gem on one component: the writing, the vocal cast, the constant snipes at modern living, it all unites to create one of the best animated series on Netflix. But, if we had to pick? Fry's robot best friend Bender is pure comedy gold. He is the perfect amalgam of American Dad's Roger and The Simpsons' Homer. Drunk, sharp-tongued with a raspy laugh, and constantly with a cigar on the go.
The show: Another killer small-screen series featuring Timothy Olyphant, who diversifies his skill set by playing Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal forced to return to his backwater Kentucky hometown after his quickdraw antics attract the attention of his superiors. Upon his arrival, things get worse when he gets embroiled with the dealings of the Crowder family, in particular his old pal, Boyd (Walton Goggins).
Why it's worth a watch: If old-school westerns and their outlaw-knows-best type of morality are your thing, then Justified is a must-see. Hell, even if they’re not, this is riveting telly! Givens has a particularly special brand of justice that makes for great viewing: doing whatever he decides at any given moment. Saddle up folks, and leave your judgement at the door.
Region: UK, US
The show: A BBC original that’s thankfully made its way onto Amazon Prime, Fleabag is the best show around that you’re not watching - yet. Phoebe Waller-Bridge pillaged her own one-woman theatre show to create the TV series, expanding the production into a small-screen format that luckily never shakes its theatrical origins (there’s a lot of brilliant fourth-wall breaking). The story revolves around the experiences of Fleabag, a woman living life on her own terms in London. Despite possessing a savage wit, her day to day isn’t quite the barrel of laughs you’d expect, which makes this a bittersweet watch from the get-go as Fleabag deals with the heart slam of grief.
Why it’s worth a watch: On the surface it might sound like any other comedy series - but it’s in a world of its own. Dabbling with most modern day topics through Waller-Bridge’s immensely likeable persona, there’s laughs to be had in every moment, bringing a wholly new style of black comedy to television.
13. The Good Wife
Region: UK, US
The show: Now is as good a time as any to start watching one of the best network dramas of all time. Or, perhaps now is a good time to start re-watching it, because The Good Wife is so good you’ll end up seeing it more than once. The show kicks off with the downfall of Alicia Florrick's (Julianna Margulies) marriage, as her politician husband is caught cheating with a prostitute. That’s the firing shot, but it’s Alicia’s subsequent rise, as she returns to practice law, that makes the series so compelling.
Why it's worth a watch: Even though it appears to be a standard courtroom show, it’s anything but. The Good Wife departs from the procedural format and details the operatic goings-on in Alicia's private and public life, and how the two often become entwined. Its well-rounded cast of supporting characters and unexpected subplots that continue to bubble up are what makes this a unique wedge of criminal television. Oh, and did I mention that one of those occurrences includes a serial killer in love with Alicia? Yeah, this show has a wicked sense of humour.
12. Battlestar Galactica
The show: Reboots are tricky. Paying homage to what came before, whilst breaking out into new territory, and maintaining a fanbase is easier said than done, but Battlestar Galactica manages all this in its pilot alone. With mankind crippled and struggling to live following an attack by the Clyons that obliterates billions - think Skynet but even worse - it’s up to a small group of survivors to band together. Their quest to find a planet named Earth is just the beginning of the story.
Why it’s worth a watch: A sci-fi reboot earning loads of critical acclaim and snagging loads of awards? It can’t be true, can it? As well as becoming a firm fan favourite right from the off, Battlestar is a rare beast that’s not satisfied with only playing up to genre tropes. Sure, there are recognisable sci-fi elements, yet the show is about the human story.
Read more: 5 ways to do the Battlestar Galactica movie right
The show: The Vice President of the United States has *got* to wield a decent amount of power, right? Well, actually, no. That’s the genius of Veep. Its continued success over the years lies in its simple premise: highlighting the inane day-to-day responsibilities of Veep, Selina Meyers. Those closest to the Veep, and those she keeps at arm’s length, are both subjected to her never-ending torrent of witty barbs as she tries to attain more power and make the President look like an ass.
Why it’s worth a watch: From its opening scene right through to its newer episodes, the series never fails to make the best of its ensemble cast. Yet the spotlight and kudos goes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won the Emmy award for Best Actress in a Comedy SIX TIMES since the show began. She’s spectacular.