There is no doubt that we are in the golden age of television (and in my estimate the third wave). Everywhere you turn and look every network and streaming service is releasing the next great epic that you should be watching. So, I’ve taking it upon myself to put out a list of the shows you should absolutely be watching right now. These are shows that are either on the air right now, about to come back, or just wrapped up their season finale. I’m also not going to include Game of Thrones, because – let’s face it – if you’re not watching it by now, you’re not going to.
5) The Flash
We now have four shows set in the same multiverse, and run by the same producers (Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg) and share many of the same writers and staff. Every property shares a similar old fashioned DNA that makes them fell more like a procedural you might find on CBS (even though most of these shows are on the CW), that being said, the thing that makes The Flash stand out above the rest is due to the titular hero and the series lead, Grant Gustin. There’s a good reason why people were upset when he wasn’t cast as Barry Allen in the movies, it’s because his performance is coated in charm and vulnerability are so palpable you can’t help but root for him. He is, in fact, nothing like Barry Allen from the comics (like, not AT ALL like him), but his portrayal is so poignant that they’re basically turning Barry Allen in the movies into the same spastic, nerdy brain that he is in the show.
In addition, in the era of dark dramas and struggling antiheroes, it’s wonderful to see a real hero with a defined moral compass do the right thing day in and day out. Barry Allen saves people because it’s the right thing to do, and the only thing that drives him is to save people. It’s also nice to see a show where he has not just one, but two great father figures instead of an absent or deadbeat father. And unlike other shows (looking at you Legends of Tomorrow) it’s unapologetically embraced it’s silly comic book roots while not letting it drag down the tone of the series into the same muck as Batman 1966.
4) Modern Family
I know what you’re thinking, “I thought this was a nerdy website? Why am I reading about Modern Family?” Well, I’m here to tell you if there was a comedy out there that was consistently better than Modern Family it would be here on this list, but seeing as Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, and 30 Rock are off the air, this is what you get. Not only is it a modern and relevant take on how families are now a days, it’s consistently funny, is able to juggle multiple storylines with a massive ensemble cast, and it still had the ability to make you cry. Maybe I’m a sap, but I’ve not watched any show that has made me turn into a babbling pool of water as often with the same level of intensity as a Pixar movie. If you’re still one of those people upset with how it denied Parks and Rec from getting an emmy, get over yourself. There’s a reason it won.
Now I know I just bemoaned the nature of grim/dark superheroes, but lets face it: there’s a reason why it’s so popular. It’s more compelling to show a hero rising above more realistic, violent, and psychopathic villains that we could see ourselves (and society as a whole) failing to overcome. Daredevil is the best example we currently have of a hero in a dark setting that is still actually heroic. His whole arc the first season was struggling with the idea of his role and society, and if that role was to kill the bad guys. The show makes you think about the ethics and morality of superheroics in a way others try to, and fail (looking at you Arrow). In the same way it challenges notions of what defines heroism, we see the counterargument with what separates heroes from villains in Wilson Fisk’s arc. If for no other reason watch it for Wilson Fisk. He’s the first great villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Loki, and he’s electrifying to watch.
In addition to it making you think itf simply has the best fight sequences of anything else on TV (and most movies for that matter). If you don’t believe me, just watch the hallway fight:
and if you want a better idea of what to expect when the new season premieres in March, check out our post on it.
2) The Expanse
I really, really hate it when people say things like “it’s the new Game of Thrones.” Any show that tries to emulate the formula of another show is going to be derivative. That being said, it’s a helpful phrase to use as a point of comparison. Syfy’s newest show, adapted from a sprawling series of books, is very similar to Game of Thrones in some regards. It features a large ensemble cast set over a vast geographic area and heavily features geopolitical machinations like what we would see at Kings Landing. It’s also a dynamic world with multiple cultures struggling with racism, economic classes, and the general hardships of life. That being said, it’s set in space, and shows humanity as it spreads out in our solar system. The way in which humanity has adapted to survive has created new ways for people to hate, but at it’s core The Expanse really isn’t another Game of Thrones, its a thriller. It mostly follows two groups of heroes as they are searching for answers, and those answers lead them into conflict with some exceptionally powerful, and monstrous, people. Aside from featuring great CGI and a fully developed world, you also get to live in the fantasy that Firefly has come back (as the series actively pilfers many of the canceled series hallmarks).
And you can’t tell me that Holden and Mal aren’t the same person.
1) Black Sails
I must admit, I never thought I would like this show as much as I do. After all, Michael Bay is one of the producers (although Jonathan Steinberg, the co-creator of Jericho is the showrunner). The first season was certainly entertaining, but had some serious flaws. Season two however, was fantastic and one of the greatest things I’ve watched in a long time. Season three, has made it the best show on Television, bar none.
For those who are unaware, the series is a prequel to Treasure Island (that’s right THAT Treasure Island) and follows the story of Captain Flint and the crew of the Walrus as they fight to secure a haul of Spanish gold from a treasure ship (that’s right the gold from Treasure Island). We quickly get an introduction to many of the players from the original book like John Silver. (The actor Luke Arnold, who portrays John Silver, manages to channel the cunning and charm of a young Tim Curry, who assumed the same role in Muppet Treasure Island. Mentally, I make a lot of comparisons of that movie to this show). The magic is how they managed to turn a children’s story into a dark, adult drama without removing the heart of the original tale. Whereas in the book it’s Jim Hawkin’s story, in this it’s John Silvers progression into piracy that frames the viewers perspective.
The show is also very sneaky. In addition to using an entirely fictional crew, they’ve inserted them into a very real place in history with real pirates from the 1710s. The series is as much about the rise and fall of the Pirate Republic of the Bahamas as it is about the journey of the Walrus crew. Each character the series revolves around are well defined, strong, and identifiable. It’s astounding in a series dominated by strong male characters that you have equally strong female characters whose stories are not defined by the men. It’s also strange that a vehicle of this sort serves up more relevant social commentary on class, freedom, and civilization than even the Star Trek movies. It also manages to take these real life monsters and doesn’t just stop at making them understandable, it makes you root for them. In addition, Ray Stevenson’s turn as Blackbeard in this series is just incredible to watch.
Watch Blackbeard’s first scene below. He shows up at about the 1:37 mark:
— Black Sails (@BlkSails_STARZ) January 21, 2016