Television Junkies

November 4, 2015

When Jessica hosted her favorite things party back in April, one of the fun things she did was have everyone fill out a sheet that asked their favorite way to relax.

A good 75% of the answers were some variation on “watch Netflix and eat chocolate.”

Which meant that we spent a good chunk of the evening discussing our favorite television shows.

Bart and I don’t watch a whole lot of television, but over the decade we’ve been married, we’ve managed to make our way through quite a few shows (and we always have strong opinions about how good or terrible a show is).

Here are the ones we’ve liked the most:

Our all-time favorite shows we've watched as a couple
  1. White Collar. Hands down my all-time favorite show about Neal Caffrey, a con man, artist, and forger, who escapes from jail just a few months before his sentence is up and is caught a second time by the same FBI agent, Peter Burke. Neal swings a deal where he can serve out his new jail sentence working with Peter to solve other crimes in the white collar devision. I love the crisp clean feel of the show and it makes me love NYC more than anything else ever has. I think the dialogue is brilliant and funny, and the show managed to really stay excellent over the course of six seasons. Also, I don’t know many shows with better characters. I loved everyone of them (many people recommended Suits since we liked White Collar, but after two seasons, we gave up on Suits because one thing we LOVED about White Collar was that both of the main characters are so smart and likable and their chemistry is fantastic, whereas Suits we basically wanted to strangle Mike every single episode). It is hard for me to end this paragraph because I just want to talk forever about how much I love this show. 
  2. Friday Night Lights. This is a close second for me. It’s the story of a high school football coach and his wife (who is the school counselor) and the nowhere Texas town that basically lives for football. I’ll tell you, I don’t care at ALL about football and I barely even understand football well enough to watch a real game, but I was RIVETED by this show. We watched the first episode when we lived in Boston and didn’t like it well enough to keep watching when the DVDs were due back at the library, but when we moved back to Texas, our neighbors owned several seasons and this time we plowed through it like television was going out of style. This is another one with killer character development and I dare you not to love Coach Taylor and Tami and Tim Riggins (I can’t stand long hair on guys, but. . . somehow Tim Riggins manages to make it look very very appealing). Also, there is a stupid stupid plot line in season two and when it happens you’ll know it, and just rest assured that eventually they just basically pretend that plot line never happened and it goes away. Plow through. 
  3. 24. This was really one of the first television shows I ever watched – when Bart and I went on a week-long cruise for our first anniversary, some friends gave us the DVDs of the first season. I has basically no interest, but we watched the first episode on the third day of the trip and then finished the entire season before our cruise ended. In fact, we got off in Jamaica the fourth day, looked around and said, “This is our vacation. Let’s watch 24 if we want to.” And we got back on the boat and watched more episodes. I am a Jack Bauer fan for life. (Also, Dave Barry’s commentary on every episode is just the best thing ever). 
  4. Once Upon a Time. This is the only show we are currently watching. Bart watched the first episode on Netflix just before Ani was born and I was totally uninterested (do you see a pattern here) but he convinced me to give it a spin, and then I was totally won over. It’s a bunch of fairy tale characters trapped in a town by a curse set by the Evil Queen from Snow White and it’s so fun to see all the characters from various stories interact. I especially loved the first couple of seasons when you got tons of backstory with different characters and I REALLY love Hook. 
  5. Lost. I love a show with flashbacks and backstory and this one had it in spades. Season 1 and 2 were excellent and then it really went downhill and never recovered (in my opinion) in season 4. But we watched the whole thing anyway. vI also discovered with this show that watching something live seriously detracts from my enjoyment. Give me the whole season in one go. Also, I live for snarky characters in television shows and Sawyer is one of the best. (And I just noticed that it’s been 11 years since the pilot. How!?). 
  6. Downton Abbey. One of the things I love about Bart is that he doesn’t blink an eye about watching regency films or shows (or other British period dramas). When I started hearing some buzz about this one, I borrowed the first season from a woman in my bookclub (thanks, Carol!) and we watched the whole thing over the Thanksgiving weekend. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, but after the ending of season three (you know what I’m talking about . . . ), Bart said, “I refuse to watch this show anymore on principle.” I don’t know if he meant it, but we never started watching again when season 4 aired. 
  7. Lie to Me. My mom introduced us to this show, and I loved this series about a guy who solves crimes by studying micro-expressions to tell if people are lying are not. It’s a little heavier than White Collar but not as crazy as 24. 
  8. Smallville. I’m not particularly a Superman fan, but I loved the first 4 or 5 seasons of this show about Clark Kent’s high school years. After that it got all weird and we quit, but for a long time we loved watching it. We still quote Lex Luther’s line about “sanctimonious platitudes.” And I secretly pretended Lex wasn’t going to end up being the bad guy because he was just so likable. We also pretended not to notice that the 16-year-olds were all played by 25-year-olds and that also they appeared to have stayed in high school for practically a decade. We won’t quibble over those details. 
Any great suggestions for other shows? Because I can only re-watch White Collar so many times (I lie – I could re-watch it indefinitely). 

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  • Reply Kimberly November 4, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    We have watched at least half of these shows and loved them. I feel like I should give the rest another try (or in the case of Friday Night Lights, the first try). My favorite two shows on Netflix to watch over and over are West Wing (the first 4 seasons especially) and 30 Rock.

  • Reply Kayris November 4, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    The Wire. Based in my city, five seasons. Each season has a specific focus. It's very gritty, lots of language and drugs and gang murder, but also so very real and entertaining.

    I also like Rizzoli and Isles on TNT. Based on characters created by the writer Tess Gerritsen. Starring one of my most favorite actresses ever, Angie Harmon.

  • Reply Kate November 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    The West wing. The lives of the top level of the White House as a new Democrat president is elected.
    It got me really involved in politics (I hadn't cared much before), and the characters are really admirable, upstanding, caring citizens. Their flaws and shortcomings are non cliche. And it's truly a wonderful show when it comes to adult, life long friendships. There's a terrible female character in the first five episodes, but she is promptly written out and never comes back.

    And they are magicians with words! The president is a huge nerd who quotes all kinds of wonderful books, the speech writers are incredible (and the process of writing presidential sketches is fascinating!)

    Really strong female characters. The president and his wife also have a really interesting and loving marriage.

    • Reply Jill November 4, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Yes. Just Yes. Couldn't have said it better! So good. West Wing is the best.

  • Reply Elaine November 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    We don't have a television any more, but I used to love watching Quantum Leap. I love anything time travel based.

  • Reply Brooke November 4, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    We have watched every one of these e Celt Lost and I agree with you. By the way, We also stopped watching Downton Abbey after the third season. Josh was not happy. And have you seen Prison Break? It's been a long time since I watched it but I remember thoroughly enjoying it.

  • Reply Megan November 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Loved Friday Night Lights! We are knee deep in season 2 of Downton Abbey – I'm mystified by this reference to season 3 ending!
    I think we might have to check out White Collar.

    We were big fans of the police procedural The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick. That's over, but the spin-off, Major Crimes, lives on. It's not as good as The Closer, but we like most of the characters, so we watch.

    Another show we loved was Psych which was comedy/detective show. Probably our favorite show ever

  • Reply Alyssa November 4, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I love White Collar too! My all time favorite show is Chuck (which is on Netflix too)

  • Reply Brianna Soloski November 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    NCIS. Madam Secretary (only the first season is on Netflix). The Bletchley Circle. Bomb Girls. Call the Midwife. Pretty much anything made in the 50s-80s — Adam 12, Emergency, Murder She Wrote. Old television is so much better than new television.

  • Reply Chrissie November 4, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Love Friday Night Lights and Downton Abbey! And as far as that series 3 ending, I was equally devastated/angry, but the show is still wonderful if you can pick it back up!

    I'll also second the recommendation for Chuck. It's got a great balance of humor and action, characters you care about, and a satisfying story overall. Have you watched Castle? Another one I love, and based on your preferences seems like something you'd like too. I also feel like you've mentioned watching Gilmore Girls in the past but you didn't reference it here – by far this is my favorite comfort show. I could watch it over and over (and absolutely do) and it never gets old. Great time to watch now too with the revival in the works!

    And lastly, I'll mention my current obsession – Doctor Who. Oh, this show. My husband and I started it this summer and, while we both watch a lot of TV, this has moved right to the top of our favorites list. The first season was difficult for me to get through, to be honest, but I'm so glad I stuck with it because it got so. freaking. good. Time travel, crazy fun characters, lots of action and heart – and really, the kind of show that makes you think and leaves you with tons of questions. But in the very best way.

  • Reply Elisabeth November 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    We've liked a lot of these, too. Netflix also has Leverage (a Robin Hood-style band of thieves/con artists), and that's a lot of fun.

  • Reply BrittWilk November 4, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    aaron and i watched Leverage a few years ago and it is so fun. great characters. and right now we're slowly abandoning Once to Marvel's Agents of Shields. If you like those movies at all you'll love the show. A spin off of it with some of the same characters. And totally clean. šŸ™‚

  • Reply BrittWilk November 4, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    just saw the person above me recommend leverage. it's awesome!!

  • Reply Meg November 4, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Some of our favorites that we've watched together since we got married have been Better Off Ted (I think we've watched through it almost once a year and it still makes us laugh), Alias (Sydney Bristow forever!), and Fringe. Fringe takes about half a season to really find it's stride and the first episode is really gross, but it gets SO good once it finds its way. I love all of the characters and I love how many times I went, "WHAT??" (The first show we watched together when we got married was X-Files, and this starts out feeling really similar, and then finds it's own way and is better for me in a lot of ways because it's not just monster of the week every week – the story is ongoing and always surprising.) Right now we're watching through Monk, which is quite fun. I really love Doctor Who, but Eric lost interest after a point and now I watch it while I'm sewing. šŸ™‚

    • Reply Chrissie November 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Yes, Alias is so, so good!

  • Reply Grace Haynes November 4, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Iā€™m curious about White Collar now! Friday Night Lights is one of my very favorites, too. I love Riggins and Tami Taylor, but also Matt Saracen and Smash. I was frustrated by the Downton Abbey season 3 ending, too, but I would recommend that you keep going ā€“ still some great episodes to watch!

    Some others I love ā€“ Gilmore Girls, West Wing, Frasier, Friends, and Will & Grace. I just finished watching Friends for the fourth time, so I might try something from your list now!

  • Reply Sherry November 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I'm glad so many people have suggested The West Wing. So good. I'm currently watching Once Upon a Time. Burn Notice is also pretty good, especially the first four seasons.

  • Reply Kate Unger November 4, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    You have some great shows on this list. My husband and I also watched Snallville, Lost and some of 24. I'm so jealous that Bart watches Once Upon a Time, Friday Night Lights, and Downton Abbey with you. I love those shows and don't mind watching them alone.

    Jim and I also enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, Friends, Firefly, and How I Met Your Mother. Alone I watched Parenthood and Brothers & Sisters – I love family drama. We just watched Sense8 on Netflix and loved it.

    • Reply Emily November 7, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Firefly is my favorite series of all time!!! Too bad there are so few episodes šŸ™

  • Reply Jessica November 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Here are two entirely different recommendations, both great: Blacklist and As Time Goes By.

  • Reply Jenae November 4, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Three seasons on netflix. Glamorous 20's in Australia. Love it. Also liked Chuck for a few seasons. And Castle but that's not on Netflix. Love White Collar.

  • Reply Candy November 4, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I can't believe no one has mentioned Breaking Bad! I was reluctant at first, but it ended up being one of the best shows I've ever watched. Also, The Office.

  • Reply Meridith November 4, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    This is a bit away from your list, but have you seen The Great Brtish Baking Show? Totally delightful.

    • Reply Carlee November 13, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      I just started this on a friend's recommendation and I agree, delightful!

  • Reply Natacha November 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    I love Call the midwife and Bramwell.
    I just finished The Crimson Field, the 1st season. I hope there will be a 2nd season!
    And I am waiting for Poldark with Dutch subtitles (I'm from Holland).

  • Reply Ash November 4, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    If you like flashbacks and backstories, try Person of Interest. SO good. And please watch Psych because it's my favorite show in the world and so, so funny. I need to try White Collar and OUAT- I've heard good things!

    • Reply Krista November 4, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Huge second for Psych. It's amazing. I've never seen Lie to Me, but Psych seems to have a similar plot. It's just too funny – and stays good throughout its run.

  • Reply MommySizedHeart November 4, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    We loved White Collar and I was super sad when it ended!

  • Reply MommySizedHeart November 4, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    We loved White Collar and I was super sad when it ended!

  • Reply Lauren November 4, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    If you haven't watched The West Wing, you should start TODAY. I'm not even kidding.

  • Reply Jill November 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I have to add my thoughts about West Wing. I don't really care about politics…. but I LOVED THE WEST WING!!! I will say the Pilot has a kind of a stupid plot line (which thankfully goes away). If we hadn't been forewarned, we would have stopped there. But we pushed through. It is witty, the characters are so fantastic. It's just awesome. I could go on…

  • Reply Paige Flamm November 4, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I feel like I have a lot of Netflix to go through over the next decade because I haven't seen any of these shows! I did watch the first season of Once Upon a Time but then just stopped watching when I got busy! I'll have to pick it up again.

  • Reply diana November 4, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    I'm in the middle of (another) rewatch of Friday Night Lights right now and it's fantastic. A few story lines I don't like but overall, great tv. My husband and I try to watch Lost in it's entirety every few years. We're also working through The Office (again) while we work on projects at night. The first few season (not the 1st, but 2-4 maybe) are the best but still enjoyable. And Friends! That's like my comfort tv show. I've seen every episode many times and they are still enjoyable.

  • Reply Madame Coin November 4, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    The one show my husband and I watch every year is As Time Goes By, starring Judi Dench. It is adorable, British, hilarious and just so sweet.

    +1 for Chuck (except Season 5).

    You want great laugh-out-loud TV? Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I end up gasping for air I'm laughing so hard every single episode. I plan on making my kids watch it when they're teens, because it beautifully handles serious subjects, too.

    Burn Notice! Again, the last season was a bit bizarre, but we love that show, too. The actors are really talented.

  • Reply Jennifer Lee November 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    I love reading these recommendations. I really don't have anything to add that your other friends haven't mentioned, but I'll give additional votes to The West Wing, The Closer, Major Crimes, Psych, Call the Midwife, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Shark Tank, America's Test Kitchen, and Doctor Who.

  • Reply Katie November 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I just finished White Collar – so good! I am in such withdrawal without Peter, Neal, Mozzie, & El! You might like Psych, which is in the same vein – snappy dialogue, funny characters, plus a mystery/detective element.

    Gilmore Girls and Friday Night Lights are probably my top two shows of all time. Parenthood reminds me a bit of GG, especially with Lauren Graham starring in both. And One Tree Hill is sort of like a basketball version of FNL.

    Always good for a laugh: Frasier, Friends, The Office, Last Man Standing, Parks & Rec, How I Met Your Mother, & The Mindy Project. For drama or thrills: Sherlock, Breaking Bad, Scandal, & House.

    And an oldie but so good: The Mary Tyler Moore Show!

    P.S. Downton Abbey is set in the early 20th century, so it's not a regency series (which would be set in the early 19th century).

  • Reply JoLee November 4, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I don't know about you, but I feel like it is so hard to find a show that my husband and I BOTH want to watch. That said, we also love White Collar. We just watched the final episode. It's rare that we get through a whole series together. One of the only other series we watched from beginning to end was Monk. We just loved that show.

    My favorite show on television now is definitely Call the Midwife. I can't get my husband to watch it because of all the births, but it so amazingly good. I was an early adopter of Downtown Abby. I remember being at choir practice and having this very intense conversation about the show with the one other lady that was watching it. No one else even knew what we were talking about. I agree that season 3 of Downtown Abby was horribly traumatic. I feel like I made season 4 work really hard to win me over again. And it did. For the most part.

  • Reply Susanne November 5, 2015 at 12:36 am

    My favorites (net flix) are: call the midwife, when calls the heart, cedar cove, alias, hart of Dixie and, in my opinion, the best series ever…Chuck!

  • Reply Virginia Prescott November 5, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Psych! You will laugh so much. Kinda like a funny version of lie to me with running jokes and ridiculous situations. So good.

  • Reply JJ November 5, 2015 at 3:20 am

    Veronica Mars! Smart, funny, sweet show! Love it. Also Gilmore Girls! Great dialogue on both shows!

  • Reply Melanie November 5, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    My best memory of Friday Night Lights is binge watching most of season 1 the night before an international flight. I wanted to keep myself up all night so that I'd sleep on the plane and better adjust to the local time.

    Many people have already mentioned The West Wing; I'm also a fan. I've been wanting to watch it for years but my libraries haven't owned it…until now. Unfortunately the first disc of season two is broken so I'm waiting for the reorder to come in. I pretty much love anything that makes me feel connected to DC.

  • Reply Asha November 5, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    I'm a bit late to this party but didn't get a chance to comment yesterday. I'll throw in a vote for Call the Midwife- who knew midwifery could be so entertaining?! And Suits- because who knew corporate law could be so interesting?!
    Also, although this one isn't on Netflix it's well worth hunting down- Pushing Daisies! The writing and dialogue is smart, the characters are quirky, and the storylines are just plain fun. It's about a man who can bring things back to life with a touch, and take at away again with a second touch. He runs a pie shop and works with a private investigator solving murders by bringing people back. It sounds like it could be dark, but it's NOT! He brings back to life his childhood crush and the two develop a relationship that involves no touching- it so sweet and funny. And it's clean. Both hubby and I enjoy it. Track it down!!

  • Reply Unknown November 5, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Depending on what you are into from a subject matter standpoint, there are lots of options. Look for stuff by Aaron Sorkin or Joss Whedon for really dialogue-heavy formats. Shonda Rhimes can also lean that way. That said, I liked:
    Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chuck, Friends, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, the West Wing, Doctor Who (focus on the modern episodes not the classic ones), Sherlock, The Mindy Project, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

  • Reply Caitlin November 5, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    If you guys loved White Collar then I think you would definitely enjoy Psych! And I've been hearing lots of good things about Blacklist. I'm saving it for when I'm stuck on the couch nursing a new baby in February šŸ™‚

  • Reply Leslie Seror November 6, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Your comment about Tim Riggins is EXACTLY how I feel! I don't like guys with long hair, but Tim Riggins? I love him.

  • Reply Feisty Harriet November 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Whiiiiite Collllaaaaarrrrrrrr!!!!!!


  • Reply Jess November 6, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Prison break! Best series I've watched. I also enjoyed Parenthood and Dexter (it's a bit dark, not as dark as Breaking Bad).

  • Reply Ash November 8, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Call the Midwife! Delightful characters!

  • Reply Olivia November 8, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I love Lie To Me! Think I'll give White Collar a go, everyone in the comments seems to love it! I'd recommend The Walking Dead, just binge watched the last two seasons to get up to date with the rest of the world, completely worth it!:D

  • Reply Kristie November 12, 2015 at 3:15 am

    I loved lie to me. I just finished Numbers, which was pretty good. Burn notice is another one that is really fun. And thanks for this list.

  • Reply Carlee November 13, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Yay for White Collar! Some of my favs: Chuck, Castle, Psych (though I can't binge watch this one, I need to break it up), Burn Notice, Veronica Mars, Life (only two seasons, pretty sure it's still on Netflix), Haven (sci fi channel!), and Parenthood (good to have on in the background). I'll give FNL another shot since what stopped me was the stupid story line in season two ha.

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