Our Top 10 Favourite TV Shows of All Time
‘Tis the season for curling up on the sofa in front of the TV and it’s got us thinking about our favourite shows of all time.
OK, so we think about TV quite a bit, good TV - or what we consider to be good TV anyway but we’ve never officially put fingers to keyboard and published a definitive list and what better time to do so than the season most befitting of a good binge.
You’ve probably seen, or are at least familiar with the majority of the list but hopefully there’s something here you can take as a recommendation, get in front of and watch while hiding from the cold weather.
OK, hear us out HEAR US OUT!
Yes the show has it’s problems, yes show creator Lena Dunham has her problems but we urge you to revisit the first season, particularly the opening three episodes, which are in a word - superb.
We think the key to seeing the shows many great aspects is accepting it for what it is; a show about a group of spoilt, privileged white girls navigating their late adolescence, that doesn’t exactly negate it’s many negative qualities but it certainly helps with the enjoyment. If you can get past the need for it to be a perfect representation of several different identity sets all at once it does do well at touching more broadly on common struggles faced by a lot of millennials, and we mean millennial in the correct sense of the term not whoever the media wants it to mean this week. Difficulty finding fulfilling work, navigating modern relationships, dealing with the consequences of making bad decisions and body image are all covered. It’s always hard to separate the artist from the work particularly when the two are so intertwined as they are here but on body image in particular Dunham broke a lot of ground that has since been eclipsed by various (and valid) critiques but what she has done to represent alternative body types on screen, particularly under a sexual lens shouldn’t go passed unnoticed.
Importantly Girls was also often very funny, particularly early on when it wasn’t too bogged down in answering it’s critics, something Dunham doesn’t do very well to say the least. Honestly, revisit those first three episodes again and remember why it was so lauded upon it’s first release; Shoshanna’s self-help book and it’s subsequent taking down by Jessa, Marnie claiming that the musical RENT was a major factor in her decision to move to New York, Hannah’s train of thought spiraling out of control while having an STI test - pondering whether contracting HIV would actually be beneficial to her as people would get off of her back about not having her shit together, and her response to the nurse stating that you couldn’t pay to relive her twenties; “well, they’re not paying me at all”. Come on, that’s pretty near perfect.
Also Adam Driver has his top off, a lot.
Where to find it: HBO Online
Notable episodes: ‘Vagina Panic’ ‘All Adventurous Women Do’ ‘Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident’
9. Sex & the City
From a set of four rich, privileged white girls to a set of four richer, more privileged white women.
Sex & the City and your response to it/relationship with it can seem a bit like a right of passage for a lot of women (and some gay men), and much like Girls it’s a show with a myriad of problems but one that also broke new ground and arguably changed the landscape of TV and culture along with it. It was the show that put unapologetically sexually active women on the map and is probably single-handedly responsible for the success of Manolo Blahnik but it wasn’t just titillation and eye candy the show also dealt with serious subject matter.
The complexities of female friendship, abortion, breast cancer, difficulty conceiving and juggling work and childcare are all topics covered on the show. Progressive in it’s time for putting woman driven issues at the centre of it’s narrative that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be dismissive of it’s more problematic elements. Racism, homophobia and transphobia can all be laid squarely at the show’s well heeled feet, in one episode while dating a Black businessman Samantha manages to position herself as a victim of reserve racism, Carrie claims a date’s bisexuality is a "layover on the way to Gay Town" and Charlotte, in spite of the later #wokecharlotte meme, manages to frequently slut shame her friends.
But it’s Miranda who perhaps best sums up the main problem with the show, in one episode she grows frustrated at brunch and chastises the group, herself included for being obsessed with men. They're smart, successful women so why do they spend so much of their time and energy to pursuing men. Why indeed. For all it’s faults though Sex & the City shouldn’t be discounted on account of our political awaking, it should be remembered as the brilliant, daring and pioneering show it was.
Not all the choices on the list need this much defending we promise, stick with us!
Where to find it: HBO Online
Notable episodes: ‘Cock a Doodle Do!’ ‘The Real Me’ ‘My Motherboard, My self’ ‘The Good Fight’ ‘Ring A Ding Ding’ ‘A Vogue Idea’ ‘I Heart NY’ ‘Anchors Away’ ‘One’ ‘An American Girl In Paris (Part Une)’ ‘An American Girl In Paris (Part Duex)’
8. Chewing Gum
A lot of shows on this list are comedies and while all of them can be very funny we don’t think any of them have made us cackle out loud quite as much as Chewing Gum.
Michaela Coel creates and stars in a show about a restricted, religious virgin called Tracy who sets out on a quest of sexual exploration. If you were just to describe to someone what happened in any given episode they might think you’re talking about a gritty drama, one flashback laden episode recalls Tracy’s attempt to lose her virginity to her boyfriend in the disabled toilet of a homeless shelter while covered in her own vomit, in another she uncovers a seedy zoophilia ring! To say the humour of the show is close to the knuckle would be an understatement, with lines like “you’re mixed-race you’re meant to be more evolved” it’s not for the faint of heart!
The brilliance of the show is of course that it manages to make everything gruesomely, brilliantly funny, pushing boundaries but without ever making anyone or anything feel mocked. Race and sexuality are all dealt with with unflinching honesty and humour, in one episode Tracy finds herself falling for a guy who turns out to have a fetish for Black women, initially uncomfortably performing a tribal dance for him Tracy’s inner confidence explodes out and she pushes back against the grossness of the situation all while hilariously referencing an iconic moment from BBC drama Doctor Foster. Praise should also go to Susie Wokoma as Tracy’s fantastically nasal and uptight sister, Cynthia.
It’s a shame that there will be no further series made as the show truly felt like the future of British comedy, inventive, original and breaking all the rules, Michaela Coel is certainly a talent to watch and hopefully she’ll go onto bigger and better things but it would be remiss to overlook this gem of a show; a unique voice telling vivid, human stories that don’t focus solely on the white, or the moneyed.
Where to find it: 4 On Demand
Notable episodes: ‘The Unicorn’ ‘Road Trip’ ‘Toiled Road’ ‘Replacements’
7. Killing Eve
The most recently aired show to make the list but by no means any less important to us. When watching Killing Eve last year we could not stop thinking about it. A sign that you really enjoy a show these days isn’t that you can’t get enough so you binge it all in one sitting (if that option is available obviously), but that you try to make it last as long as possible, savouring every last drop of pleasure from it. At least that’s the case with us but maybe we just have more self restraint than some…
Another marker of a good show is that when watching it we could think of little else, every aspect of it consumed us, the plot, the performances, the wardrobe! We’re not even sure where to begin so we’ll start with the biggest surprise - Jodie Comer is a revelation, we had unfairly written her off as a naff soap actress but the term ‘tour de force’ was made for performances like this. Comer is deliciously seductive as the assassin Villanelle, managing to mix icy charisma with a slight goofiness that is impossible to resist, it’s also about time that Sandra Oh had a vehicle to showcase her impressive talent through in the criminally underused Fiona Shaw and you have a cast that was definitely made to kill.
The show is essentially a cat and mouse thriller, or should that be cat and cat, we forget which animal is meant to be gendered as woman in that idiom, but just as she did with Fleabag Phoebe Waller-Bridge manages to subvert expectations in shocking and delightful ways. Killing Eve is stylish and substantive, unclassifiable, it’s as darkly funny as it is thrilling, as outlandish as it is intimate and as sexy as it is violent. We the audience find ourselves much like the two main characters - completely obsessed with each, finding yourselves unsure of who to route for is just one of the genius ways the show manages to subvert the spy fiction genre, we don’t want Villanelle to prevail and fulfill the promise of the title but we don’t want Eve to succeed and capture her mark. Just let us continue this tense high wire journey for a little longer, at least three series worth please!
Post Script: There’s also some mouthwatering typography.
Where to find it: BBC iPlayer
Notable episodes: ‘Nice Face’ ‘Don’t I Know You?’ ‘Sorry Baby’ ‘I Have a Thing about Bathrooms’
6. 30 Rock
The mark of a good show is how seamlessly it incorporates itself into everyday life and while 30 Rock may not have had the cultural impact of say Friends or Sex & the City it certainly plays an integral part in our pop culture landscape. We can often be found extolling the virtues of sandwiches, doing something just for the attention, living every week like it’s Shark Week or praising Kabbalah monster.
30 Rock is the ultimate in meta TV; a show within a show based on the headwriter’s time as a headwriter of another show that the show within a show is based on! We consider Tina Fey a genius, and not in the way that that words is casually banded around (usually about men that are just good at their jobs) but a true bona fide genius. The show is often found on many critics list as the best TV comedy of the past decade, it was highly praised at the time but never managed to pull in large audience, something that was frequently joked about by Fey and incorporated into the show, crazy meta see!
It’s probably due to nature of the comedy which can be hard to pin down, the show satirises corporate culture as well as the entertainment industry but the humour can often get quite broad, verging on the surreal, which is a delight to us but we can see how it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Credit also has to go to the cast who come with impressive comedy chops, Alec Baldwin clearly has a riot playing against type as a conservative executive who gets to utter lines like “those shoes are definitely bicurious”, and Jane Krakowski can do no wrong as the supremely self-centered co-star of the show within a show TGS. Both Krakowski and Tracy Morgan put in performances that make you realise that meeting the stars of your favourite comedy show wouldn’t be a dream come true, it would be a living nightmare!
30 Rock deserved all the critical acclaim it received (and all the trophies it picked up along the way) it would be great if it finally got the recognition it deserved from a wider audience. So if you haven’t get yourself over to 30 Rockefeller Plaza and acquaint yourself with Liz Lemon and the other writers at TGS, you won’t regret it.
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
Notable episodes: ‘Pilot’ ‘Tracy Does Conan’ ‘Cleveland’ Seinfield Vision’ ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ ‘MILF Island’ ‘Succession’ ‘Sandwich Day’ ‘Dealbreakers Talkshow #0001’ ‘Anna Howard Shaw Day’ ‘I Do Do’ ‘Reaganing’ ‘TGS Hates Women’ ‘Queen of Jordan/Queen of Jordan 2: The Mystery of the Phantom Pooper’ ‘Leap Day’ ‘St Patrick’s Day’ ‘The Tuxedo Begins’
5. Gilmore Girls
We got into Gilmore Girls just after graduating into the worst financial crisis in decades and found ourselves much like some of the characters in shows on this list - a drift. We’d watch the double bill on E4 every day at 10am while taking a break from applying for jobs, then we’d rewatch the same episodes when they were repeated that afternoon during a second break from the soul crushing monotony. To say it was a tonic would be an understatement.
Show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino effortlessly creates characters and settings that are at once completely familiar and relatable while being totally offbeat and almost fantastical. We would love to live in Stars Hollow, grab breakfast at Luke’s Diner, pick up a great chair at Kim’s Antiques and accompany the Lorelais to Friday night dinner. No one, no one, not even Joss Whedon does fast paced, pop culture peppered dialogue quite like Sherman-Palladino and keeping up with the Gilmores can be quite dizzying but boy what a ride. ‘Witty’ and ‘charming’ are the words most often used to describe the Gilmore Girls and they are apt, perfectly encompassing everything about the show from the writing, to the performances, to the streets and shops of Stars Hollow.
Following the lives of single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her fiercely intelligent daughter Rory the series explores issues of family, friendship, romance, education, ambition and disappointment along with generational divides and social class, the majority of the friction coming from Lorelai’s fraught relationship with her wealthy parents, particularly her mother - a career defining performance from Kelly Bishop. It’s the kind of show that teaches ‘life lessons’ but it manages to avoid the trite cliche that might but sophisticated viewers off, funny and entertaining but also capable of bittersweet drama, it’s a genuine gem of a show and if you haven’t visited Stars Hallow yet we suggest you makes plans for a trip there soon. The A.V. Club, people we trust implicitly as should you, named "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" as one of the best TV episodes of the decade, praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
In conclusion, Gilmore Girls is comfort viewing without being overly sappy or devoid of a point of view, you could even call it quietly revolutionary, where they lead we will follow.
Where to find it: Netflix
Notable episodes: ‘Pilot’ ‘The Deer Hunters’ ‘Lorelai’s Graduation Day’ ‘I Can’t Get Started’ ‘They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?’ ‘A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving’ ‘The Big One’ ‘Those Are Strings Pinocchio’ ‘The Lorelai’s First Day at Yale’ ‘Raincoats & Recipes’ ‘Lorelai? Lorelai?’ ‘So…Good Talk’
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ah, were it all began. Our love affair with good TV pretty much starts and ends with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What can be said about one of the greatest pop culture phenomenons of recent history that hasn’t already been said before (and better) already! BtVS ticks a lot of boxes for us, longtime fans of fantasy, a strong female lead is almost a prerequisite for us to even consider watching a show, then once you’re in the brilliant writing, engaging performances and powerful feminist message just sort of envelope you. It’s difficult to fit into a couple of paragraphs what makes BtVS so important when whole academic courses are dedicated to the subject but we’ll try.
The trials and tribulations of growing up told metaphorically through a monster of the week format sounds a little corny, and sometimes it is, we’re looking at you Willow’s ‘magic’ addiction, and with anyone but Joss Whedon at the helm it could have been a disaster but it works damn it, it works perfectly. From the figurative (and literal) hell of high school to losing your virginity to a guy only to find out he’s a bit of an arsehole. Dabbling in the black arts serves as a stand in for lesbianism and of course the politicians are snakes, giant demon snakes that is! BtVS was also one of the first shows to incorporate a seasonal arc to episodic storytelling, giving characters the room to develop greater depth and grow alongside the audience while simultaneously paving the way for more long form narrative across all television. It’s also worth noting that of all the shows on this list that started in the late nineties and ended in the earlier naughties it’s this one that has withstood the test of time the best, while still being very much of it’s time in the way that Sex & the City and the Gilmore Girls are looking at BtVS through a more ‘woke’ lens it manages to be the least problematic.
It would be remiss to not talk about the star making turn from Sarah Michelle Gellar in the title role, never before has an actor been so perfectly cast or been more identified to a single character. Sarah Michelle Gellar is Buffy and just like the slayer she’s well supported by a terrific ensemble, special note must go to Anthony Stewart Head as the perfect mentor/father figure and Alyson Hannigan as the initially timed best friend who inspired by Buffy goes on to become powerful in her own way. That’s the message that ultimately makes BtVS so special (and important). Buffy spends the majority of the series just wanting to be normal, like everyone else, she sees her power as a burden, something that sets her apart from her friends and family, stops her from fulfilling her potential. She ends the run of the show achieving her dream of becoming just like everyone else, but not by shedding her status and power as she initially desired but by sharing it with others. Buffy’s final lesson is that what sets you apart, makes you different or special shouldn’t be discarded in the pursuit of normalcy, it should be shared. Don’t relinquish your power because it makes you uncomfortable, whether your power be your sexuality, gender, race, depression or disability. Share it, so that we can all be powerful.
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
Notable episodes: ‘Innocence’ ‘Earshot’ ‘Hush’ ‘Who Are You’ ‘The Body’ ‘The Gift’ ‘Once More with Feeling’ ‘Conversations with Dead People’
3. Please Like Me
Please Like Me is often (understandably) sold to people as a ‘gay Girls’ but this show is so much more than that. The similarities are obvious, show creator Josh Thomas stars in a show he created based on his life experiences as an adrift twenty-something, it even has some of the same problems as Girls though interestingly isn’t subject to the same amount of criticism, yes the shows have widely divergent audience sizes but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a smidgen of sexism at play here.
The first episode begins with Josh’s girlfriend dumping him “because you’re gay” and ends with an attempted suicide by his mother but don’t be fooled, for a show that deals with mental illness on a regular basis Please Like Me is a surprisingly joyful watch, we often find ourselves watching whole episodes with a smile on our faces, sometimes it’s a slightly melancholic smile but it’s a smile none the less. The show features many different relationships; Josh and his (real life) best friend Tom, Tom and his whimsical girlfriend Ella (a really standout character and performance), Josh and his anxiety ridden boyfriend Arnold, Josh and his overly concerned and interfering father Alan, Alan and his wisecracking wife Mae (another standout character), but the heart of the show is really the bond between Josh and his mother Rose, played with the perfect mix of fragility and bravado by Debra Lawrence. Like the majority of us Josh loves his mum a lot but their relationship is complex, complicated further by Rose’s bipolar. The show treats the difficult aspects of Rose’s condition, and the effects it has on those around her, in much the same way it deals with the majority of the difficult subject matters it covers, in a straightforward, matter of fact and humane manner, forgoing sentimentality for honesty. Please Like Me avoids the preachy tone that can sometimes be found in other ‘issue TV’ shows and doesn’t fall into the trap of needing to ‘fix’ or ‘solve’ everything. Things won’t always be alright in the end, they won’t even be neatly tied up a lot of the time and it’s a better show for it.
Sexuality and sex are dealt with in a similar unremarkable fashion; there is little fanfare to Josh’s coming out or to any sex (gay or otherwise) portrayed on screen, it’s all done in a very naturalistic and unfussy manner making the show feel gently groundbreaking. Each character is so vividly drawn, free from stereotype and idiosyncratic in a way that feels true to life and not gimmicky, you find yourself caring about those even on the fringes of the ensemble and when long departed characters return for a visit you realise that you’ve missed them, it even manages to make you miss the days of living in shared housing with friends! Spending your time playing silly dares, contemplating why they aren’t any shit X-Men and taking MDMA and heading out to a deserted club on a Tuesday night only to later find yourself in A&E with a broken arm!
We cannot seem to gush about Please Like Me enough, we’ve made four friends watch it now (all loved it FYI) and we push it on everyone we can when given the chance, we’re pushing it on you now! We’re even turning our enjoyment of the show into a little self initiated creative project.
So, Please Like Me? We LOVE you. And you should too.
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
Notable episodes: ‘Horrible Sandwiches’ ‘Sausage Sizzle’ ‘Scroggin’ ‘Natural Spring Water’ ‘Coq Au Vin’ ‘Puff Pastry Pizza’ ‘Amoxicillin’ ‘Pancakes with Faces’ ‘Christmas Trifle’ ‘Degustation’
2. The Good Wife
Before watching The Good Wife we had kind of written it off as a cheap legal procedural aimed at an audience who thinks that they’re smarter than they really are and boy were we wrong! Though to be fair the marketing of the show particularly in the UK did make the show look a little like a slightly higher production value Law & Order with an added soapy element, the show creators have also said that if they could go back in time they would come up with a new title as it was felt that ‘The Good Wife’ hampered viewing figures as people believed that the show would be ‘the menstruation hour’ but the title is actually smartly ironic which is much more suited to what the show actually is.
Show creators Robert and Michelle King were inspired by the sex scandals of high profile politicians such as Bill Clinton and John Edwards, noting that both held uncomfortable press conferences after being exposed in which their wives, successful lawyers in their own right who had halted their careers for the sake of their husbands ambition, watched on silently, smiling and dutiful. The Kings became interested in telling the story of what happened after that press conference from the point of view of the wife., the resulting seven seasons are almost as drama filled as the real life trajectory of Hillary Clinton post Lewinsky.
After her husband’s imprisonment Alicia Florrick goes back to work as a lawyer in order to support her family and here is where we meet the rest of the show’s stunning ensemble, special mention has to go to Christine Baranski in a career best as senior partner Diane Lockhart, has anyone wore power suiting and statement jewelry quite as well? What follows is essentially a self contained story per episode, a ‘case of the week’ with a more overarching narrative woven throughout, so far so familiar but The Good Wife is so much more than that.
The show isn’t the run of the mill drama it could have easily been, The Good Wife is uncommonly good, tightly plotted, perfectly paced and writing that is complex, intelligent and humane, all elevated by stellar performances from one of the best casts ever to grace a TV studio. Julianna Margulies deserves her double Emmy win for playing the title role with cool tenacity and even guest stars make an impression, played by parade of industry stalwarts and a surprising amount of Broadway stars characters on the periphery of the show are just as well drawn and multifaceted as the main players, if you don’t come to respond to the name ‘Elsbeth Tascioni’ with unadulterated glee then there is no hope for you.
The premise of the show was unashamedly stolen from the headlines and many of the episodes feature story lines taken directly from live cultural, political and legal events, which in a lesser show would usually induced a groan but for the most part The Good Wife pulls them off with aplomb, it’s also one of the most tech savvy shows to ever grace TV, something so many productions seem to struggle with; Bitcoin, Anonymous, viral marketing in political campaigns, voice control software, NSA surveillance and self driving cars have all made appearances in ‘case of the week’ plots.
We feel that in spite of the mass critical acclaim the show garnered it is still somewhat underrated by audiences and even by those critics who have nothing but praise from it. We freely admitted that our misconception of the show had prevented us from watching it for quite a while, and it’s difficult to parse out unconscious bias from enjoyment of a show but The Good Wife deserves to be considered alongside other more male driven prestige TV like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Wire. It is every bit as good as those shows, hell it’s better than two of them!
Where to find it: Netlix
Notable episodes: ‘Hybristophilia’ ‘VIP Treatment’ ‘Executive Order #13224’ ‘Hitting the Fan’ ‘Hitting the Fan’ ‘The Next Day’ ‘Dramatics, Your Honour’ ‘The Last Call’
The League of Gentleman
It’s a disappointing that there aren’t more homegrown UK shows on the list but The League of Gentleman was definitely a formative TV and sense of humour experience for us, it also gave us a few nightmares!
Surrealist sketches, grotesque characters, the blackest comedy and powerhouse performances from each of the cast made this a truly iconic addition to cult British comedy.
It also helps that a lot of the humour is Northern, some of the filming was even done nearby, the local shop for instance is actually local!
Rupaul’s Drag Race
We’re not the biggest fans of reality TV but we do enjoy when talent is the basis for a televised competition and you don’t get much more talented than Rupaul’s Drag Race.
Contestants have to be sickening seamstresses, gut busting comedians, stunning models and fierce performers, they’re not lying when the call it ‘the Olympics of drag’.
The show has become a cultural phenomenon and it’s heartening to see more mainstream audiences embracing such a diverse, subversive and queer art form.
Angels in America
Yes, technically this was a limited miniseries but it was made for and broadcast on television, it counts! Though it might also be here because we consider Angels in America to be one of the best (if not the best) pieces of art to be produced in the 21st century.
Having said that this TV adaptation of Tony Kushner’s seminal two part play is stunningly put together, it has Meryl Streep in four different roles for sobbing out loud what’s not to love! Though for us Mary Louise Parker’s turn as the tragic yet optimistic Harper Pitt is the stand out performance.
Will & Grace
Will & Grace deserves the reverence afforded to Friends.
Far from perfect in its depiction of gay men and very white and very moneyed Will & Grace was still unarguably a groundbreaking show. It’s also a lot more subversive than people seem to recall and there was often some pretty edgy jokes.
Plus it features a (high) pitch perfect performance from Megan Mullally as gin soaked socialite Karen Walker who has more zingers than KFC, a gay icon was born.
‘About as good as TV can get’ is something you hear often in relation to Mad Men well, we’re here to tell you that it’s better than a lot of cinema, it’s beautifully shot, superbly written and excellently performed by one of the best ensemble casts evert ensembled!
For us Mad Men is the beginning and end of the ‘Golden Age of TV’, though it never quite took off in the way that The Sopranos or Breaking Bad did Mad Men is the understated jewel in the crown. Set in the 1960s the show follows the business of an advertising agency and the personal lives of those who work there. Hard drinking creative director Don Draper, who’s habouring a secret about his identity, initially mousy secretary Peggy Olsen who’s about to embark on an ascendancy through gender politics of 60s workplace and a host of other characters who are so compelling that they don’t feel like characters at all but are whole people.
One of the main criticisms often levelled at Mad Men is that' it’s boring, or that nothing happens, it’s true that the show is lethargically paced but that is one of the best things about it, it gives the viewer time to luxuriate in the finely crafted character development and well honed plot. This show isn’t for the impatient viewer, storylines unfold slowly and one of the main themes the series explores is the notion of change, and whether a person can ever truly change, so if you’re looking for a breakneck thrill ride you’re not going to get here but if you prefer something a little closer to actual reality, to how lives are lived, then Mad Men is the show for you, never before has TV managed to capture the complexities of human emotion so well.
In one of our favourite episodes, ‘The Summer Man’ a subplot begins with a incident of work place sexual harassment, it’s dealt with initially by the victim of the incident, bold office bombshell Joan, with her trademark sass in what feels like a ‘go get em girl’ moment, Peggy later deals with the issue in a more professional manner that feels to us as modern viewers as the most appropriate way of resolving the situation, only at the end of the episode Joan takes umbrage with being undermined in such a way explaining that Peggy has only reenforced the culprits belief that women are stuck up humourless bitches while simultaneously allowing herself to look important leaving Joan as nothing but a ‘glorified secretary’. The writing and performances gently bat you around for the length of the episode leaving you unsure of where you yourself stand on the matter, just like in life the show doesn’t present you with an easy point of view to accept, things her are complicated and often go unresolved which sounds like it would be unsatisfying but it’s quite the opposite.
The other day we realised that we don’t really like any TV show in which a white straight man is the main protagonist, it might seem like this is the exception to the rule but aside from being more of an ensemble piece Mad Men was never about Don for us, or any of the other men on the show for that matter. It was always about the women, Peggy’s journey in particular - from clueless secretary to a powerful creative in her own right. Though it’s The Handmaid’s Tale that is winning her all the raves currently we think that Peggy Olsen is really Elisabeth Moss at her best.
Mad Men is worth investing your time in, it’s superbly written, brilliantly acted and gorgeous to look at. Pour yourself a scotch and enjoy.
Where to find it: Netflix
Notable episodes: ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ ‘Nixon vs Kennedy’ ‘The Wheel’ ‘Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency’ ‘Shut the Door’ ‘Have a Seat’ ‘The Suitcase’ ‘The Summer Man’ ‘The Beautiful Girls’ ‘The Other Woman’