Published 12 hour ago on 21 Aug 1919
Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.
This week’s question: What’s your favorite anthology series of all time? Why?Marisa Roffman @marisaroffman, Give Me My Remote
I have to go with the original “Twilight Zone,” because it is astonishing what the show was able to do. One of the beautiful things about television is following characters on an extended journey, but most of the best episodes of “Twilight” were wrapped up in under 30 minutes. That’s a plot/character/world introduction, story, and a twist/resolution in about half the length of a 2019 premium drama episode.
It also remains the only show I’m content to watch out of order a normal no-no for me, and the only series I try to not seek out via streaming services. I tend to get sucked into the holiday Syfy marathons, and it’s always a delight when a new to me episode pops up.
Also, even if you’ve never seen an episode of any version of “Twilight Zone,” if you consume pop culture, there’s virtually no way you’ve missed something inspired by it.April Neale @aprilmac, Monsters & Critics
Currently “The Terror: Infamy” on AMC is living up to the excellence from last summer’s premiere season with Ciaran Hinds and Jared Harris, the captains of two doomed British ships locked in Arctic ice floes. This season’s focus on the Japanese-American internment camps and having George Takei he walked that fire as a five-year-old as a consultant and actor portraying an elder with a big fish tale was brilliant and timing spot-on for obvious reasons. Incorporating Japanese horror elements layered onto the real-life crimes against humanity just gives us viewers the massive chills when we need it these relentless dog days of August.
My past pick is purely sentimental, as spending every Friday night with my two sons watching HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt” all together is a treasured memory. This anthology series ran from 1989 to 1996 with the cackling Crypt-Keeper John Kassir voiced him and from the opening music to the end credits was brilliant, stuffed with a great array of actors and A-lister creatives behind the scenes. Popcorn, blankets to hide under during the scarier bits…I still miss it.
Ed Araquel/AMCAlan Sepinwall @sepinwall, Rolling Stone
How are we defining “anthology,” exactly? A show that tells a new story with new characters each season? In that case, it’s probably “Fargo,” even though I had issues with the third season. A show that tells a new story with new characters every episode? That’s almost certainly the original “Twilight Zone.” I’m going to stretch the definition, though, and go with “Quantum Leap.” Yes, that show had ongoing characters in time traveler Sam and his holographic advisor Al, and an ongoing story arc of sorts in Sam’s desire to return home. Mainly, though, it was a steh anthology, with a new set of characters each week &mdash one of them just happened to always be played by Scott Bakula as Sam, inhabiting the body of a black chauffeur or a beauty queen or a NASA chimp &mdash and a new genre. It could do hard-boiled detective fiction, domestic comedy, musical theater, and more. And because it always had Bakula and Dean Stockwell there, it got to pull the audience along from week to week, no matter their interest in this particular setting, genre, or group of new people. The best of all possible TV worlds.Emily VanDerWerff @tvoti, Vox
The answer, of course, is “The Twilight Zone,” but that feels too easy, which is why I’m going to talk a little about “Playhouse 90.” It’s a show I haven’t seen that much of &mdash a lot of it has never been commercially available, due to the poor image quality of too much early TV stuff &mdash but the handful of installments I’ve seen from its four seasons which ran from 1956 to 1960 are wonderfully eclectic, ranging from stories for kids to searing social dramas to gloriously funny comedies. The idea of the show as expressed in its title was that every episode was 90 minutes long, a daunting prospect even in those days of more theatrically inclined TV productions. But boy would I love to see some enterprising broadcast network revive this show, at least in spirit. A new, stage-like story every week, all across 90-minute timeslots? It would be wonderful.
FXAlec Bojalad @alecbojalad, Den of Geek
I'm tempted to go with Netflix's dubiously named “The Haunting of&hellip“ series even though it sits at only one installment so far. But for as much as I loved “Hill House,” I still need to see how “Bly Manor” and other future installments pan out. “Black Mirror” seems like a good candidate as well though I don't know how I feel about its “anthology“ status – it's more of a series of sci-fi films if anything.
That leaves Noah Hawley's “Fargo” as my ultimate answer. “Fargo's” three seasons have varied a bit in quality but in some sense that just makes an even better example of an anthology done right. Within the anthology format, some seasons will be better like Season 2 and some will be worse Season 3. What's important, however, is that each installment be united both narratively and thematically. Though the time periods and criminal schemes in every season of “Fargo” may change, each installment exists within a consistent world and is ultimately about how “normal people“ deal with forces beyond their control and understanding. Those forces might come in the form of a seemingly unstoppable hitman, a UFO, or even just humanity's maddening inability to communicate.
Hawley's ability to take the Coen Brothers' original format, find the soul of what made it unique, and adapt it to television has helped make the medium a more anthology-friendly place.Clint Worthington @clintworthing, Consequence of Sound, The Spool
Call me basic, but I just don’t think anything will ever live up to the dynamism, craft, and social bite of Rod Serling’s original “Twilight Zone.” Independent of their objective quality which I’ll get to in a minute, they’re one of the shows that shaped not just my childhood, but my lifelong love of speculative fiction. Plus, the intermittent New Year’s marathons of old “Twilight Zone” episodes give me ample opportunity to tap back into that sense of childhood wonder.
There’s something intangible about their budget-friendly nature as modest teleplays, their ideas explored not by state-of-the-art visual effects but the power of scriptwriting and suggestion. It hearkens back to the imagination-heavy Golden Age of science fiction, a time when we finally understood the power of science but still needed to explore its implications. Serling’s stories were didactic in the best way, modern fables told through the language of the atomic era, and notably progressive for their time. Imitators like “Black Mirror” and I’ll say it Peele’s CBS reboot of “Twilight Zone” itself will never be able to match the timeless potency of images like Burgess Meredith breaking his glasses, or the pig-faces from “Eye of the Beholder.”
Moviestore/REX/ShutterstockDamian Holbrook @damianholbrook, TV Guide Magazine
OK, I had to look this one up to make sure my pre-teen mind wasn’t messing with me, and it turns out that it wasn’t! In 1979, there was a show called “Cliffhangers!” that was anthology-ish, except it wasn’t a different story every season, it was three different serials and every episode featured 20-minute installments of each storyline that ended with, yes a cliffhanger, before a commercial break. When the show came back from commercials, the next serial’s chapter would air and you’d have to wait until the next week to see how each one resumed.
I remember being fascinated by a show that was three distinctly different shows instead of currently being annoyed by one particular series that becomes like four different shows over eight episodes and also being confused. The stories were such opposites! “Stop Susan Williams” starred Susan Anton as a female Indiana Jones, “The Secret Empire” was a Western with aliens and “The Curse of Dracula” was more of a romance than horror. Still, it was so different from anything I had seen in my 10 years of life at that point and a young Michael Nouri as a San Francisco vampire was all that little gay kid needed to be hooked. I don’t remember how it all tied up and according to Wikipedia, it never actually finished airing all of the parts. But it left its mark and is probably why I keep giving “American Horror Story” another chance. Even after that garbage “Hotel” season.Joyce Eng @joyceeng61, GoldDerby
Can I say Harper’s Island even though it was, cruelly, unjustly canceled after one season? I know I kinda, sorta just name-checked in an answer last month, but it deserved better, OK? But I’ll go to my first true anthology love that lasted more than one season and is also in the horror/mystery vein: “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” That scared me sh–less when I was a kid, and I absolutely loved it. It went there with some truly disturbing stuff that you hardly ever see in children’s shows then or now. Hell, I still think about “The Tale of the Dollmaker” or “The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle” and shudder.
NickelodeonEric Deggans @deggans, NPR
I feel this answer has to be divvied up into two eras, because the anthology series of yesteryear are a lot different than the anthologies today's TV talents are rolling out. So, in the category of historic anthology series, I'd have to go with Rod Serling's “The Twilight Zone.“ Created by Serling, a radio and TV writer eager to develop programs addressing deeper social issues, “The Twilight Zone“ aired for five seasons starting in 1959, featuring stand-alone stories every episode, often with a science fiction or fantastical theme and often with a telling twist at the end. Some classic “Twilight Zone” episodes included Billy Mumy “Lost in Space” as a super powered six year old who isolated a small town and ruled it with an iron fist Cloris Leachman played his mother William Shatner as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown who sees a gremlin on the wing of a passenger plane and Burgess Meredith as a henpecked, bookish bank teller who thinks he's in paradise when a nuclear war kills everyone but him, leaving him free to read all the books he wants the twist ending: his glasses fall off his face and shatter, leaving him unable to read. The series was so groundbreaking, it inspired three revival series, a movie, a radio series and even the Tower of Terror ride at W Disney theme parks. Most importantly, “Twilight Zone“ aired at a time when network TV was still largely escapist, avoiding direct mention of controversial events in the real world. Serling used the science fiction and fantastical settings of his episodes to talk about social issues like racism, war and poverty in ways the network executives and sponsors could accept.
Modern-day anthology series often avoid the heavy lifting of creating a new story every episode. Instead, they craft a new story every season, stretching the narrative over eight, ten or thirteen episodes. In this class, I'd name FX's “American Crime Story,“ mostly for the power of its first entry, “People v. O.J. Simpson.“ It was the first of two Simpson-oriented TV projects that year &ndash including ESPN's “O.J.: Made in America“ &ndash and the only scripted recreation of the murder trial which managed to tell viewers loads of new things about the most media-drenched prosecution in history, while also speaking to our current concerns about criminal justice, race and policing.
Daniel Fienberg @TheFienPrint, The Hollywood Reporter
Is there some trick answer that I’m missing here? Otherwise, it’s going to be an entire poll of people saying “The Twilight Zone,” plus Ben saying, “I’ve cheated and looked at everybody’s answers, so let me do something else. Is ‘Leftovers’ an anthology series?” I mean, I love “Fargo,” all three seasons. Yes. Even the third. But it’s only worthy of being a bonus answer here, because the real answer HAS to be “The Twilight Zone.” Classic flavor. Rod Serling. You know the one.Diane Gordon @thesurfreport, Freelance
I know I’m cheating a bit but I’m going with “The Wire” for my favorite anthology series. Yes, I know it has characters that carry over from season to season thanks to Hanh for the reminder that both current series “AHS” and “Fargo” do this too but I’m choosing it anyway because when you look at the totality of the five seasons, it’s an anthology about the past and present of Bimore.
“The Wire” had a major impact on my storytelling brain as it incorporated Bimore civic history with larger themes about the problems American institutions cause and attempt to alleviate. Whether it was illegal drug trade, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, or the print news media, David Simon and the series writers told stories on a granular level and the detail added to the charged emotional impact of each season. Because the same unit of officers and politicians recurred over the show’s five seasons, there was a sense of the need for change while also showing that progress is slow and often seems impossible.
Even though season four aired in 2006, I still haven’t forgotten how emotional the season about the Bimore school system made me feel. The outlook for some of the children was so bleak, and even when the writers offered a glimmer of hope, it was usually dashed by a part of the city bureaucracy.
It was often hard to reconcile my feelings about the show as it was such extraordinary, expansive storytelling and it was done so well, but watching it usually left me sad and wondering if any solutions were even possible. To this day, I marvel at “The Wire” for its outstanding casting, writing, vision and civic-minded soul.
Ben Travers @BenTTravers, IndieWire
All right, I really think “The Leftovers” could qualify as an anthology event of some kind, given the dramatic scenery and tonal shift seen between Seasons 1 and 2, as well as a series finale that functions beautifully as a standalone feature film, but I’ll relent to traditional thinking and choose something else. Inspired by my ever-inclusive colleague Dan “Mr. President” Fienberg, let me shout-out “Room 104,” “The Missing,” “Fargo,” and “The Twilight Zone,” before ultimately going with “True Detective” &mdash that all right with everyone? No? Well, even with the disastrous second season’s overreaching machoism, Nic Pizzolatto is two-for-three with his star-studded HBO anthology. My love for Season 1 is as endless as a flat circle, and Season 3’s ambitious structure and return to character-centric storytelling made for excellent TV. Plus, there’s Matt and Mahershala. Always Matt and Mahershala. All right, all right, all right.
Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*A: “Succession” four votes
Other contenders: “Lodge 49” two votes, “The Boys,” “David Makes Man,” “GLOW,” “Hypnotize Me,” “Pose,” “The Terror: Infamy” one vote each
*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.
Published 16 hour ago on 21 Aug 1919
Carmen Ejogo Selma and Isiah Whitlock Jr. The Wire are set as series regulars opposite Bryan Cranston in Your Honor, Showtime's limited series based on the hot Israeli drama format Kvodo. The legal thriller hails from Peter Moffat, whose BAFTA-winning Criminal Justice was the basis for HBO's Emmy-winning limited series The Night Of, and The Good Wife&lsquos Robert and Michelle King. The series, produced by CBS TV Studios, is slated to go into production this fall in New Orleans.
Written by British TV writer-playwright Moffat, the 10-episode limited series rips through all strata of New Orleans society. Cranston stars as a respected judge whose son is involved in a hit-and-run that leads to a high-stakes game of lies, deceit and impossible choices.
Ejogo will play Lee Delamere, a smart lawyer at a moneyed law firm whose passionate pursuit of justice pulls her back into the New Orleans criminal justice system.
Whitlock will portray Charlie, who is the oldest and best friend of Michael Desiato Cranston. Charlie is a rising political star in New Orleans, who will do anything to protect his best friend.
The series also stars Michael Stuhlbarg Call Me by Your Name, Sofia Black-D'Elia The Night Of and Hunter Doohan Soundwave.
In addition to her portrayal of Coretta Scott King in Selma, Ejogo has appeared in films including Roman J. Israel, Esq., the Fantastic Beasts franchise, It Comes at Night, The Purge: Anarchy, among others. On television, Ejogo's recent prominent roles have included True Detective, The Girlfriend Experience, Zero Hour, Chaos, Kidnapped and Boycott, in which she also played Coretta Scott King. She is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment.
Known for his role as Clay Davis on The Wire, Whitlock has starred or recurred on such TV series as The Good Cop, The Mist, Veep, Lucky 7 and Rubicon. On the big screen, Whitlock, whose most recent credits include The Old Man & the Gun and BlacKkKlansman, will next be seen in the upcoming Corporate Animals and Da Five Bloods. Whitlock is repped by Liebman Entertainment, Cornerstone Talent Agency and Schreck, Rose, Dapello & Adams.
Published 16 hour ago on 20 Aug 1919
In one of his most challenging projects to date, Michael B. Jordan stars in, co-produces and helped cast the biographical drama Just Mercy through his new Outlier Society banner.
The upcoming Warner Bros film follows the true story of Wer McMillian, an African-American man sentenced to death in Alabama for a murder he didn’t commit. He eventually was exonerated. The film is based on the bestselling memoir of the same name by Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been denied a fair trial.
Earlier this month, Stevenson, Jordan, producer Scott Budnick and Warner Bros SVP Film Production Niija Kuykendall introduced clips of the film at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Miami.Warner Bros
After a Q&A with CNN's Van Jones at the confab, Jordan told Deadline he wanted to tell this particular story to give back and educate people about inequality in the criminal justice system. “With this project, I feel like we want to change some hearts and change some minds,“ he said.
The story began in the 1980s, when Stevenson - then a recent Harvard Law School grad - took on McMillian's case. “I heard his story, and this is depicted in the film, I went back and read the file. That’s when I realized, &lsquoOh, my God, this man is innocent. There’s no way he committed this crime,' “ Stevenson told Deadline.
Jordan portrays the young lawyer opposite Jamie Foxx as McMillian. The Black Panther star said he was determined to convince Foxx to take on the role.
“I called him and I thought he was perfect for it,“ Jordan said. “It’s really hard to make movies in general, just everything has to line up perfectly, everybody’s schedule has to work out, and we were able to get Jamie.“
Destin Daniel Cretton directs and co-wrote the script. The cast also includes Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rob Morgan, Rafe Spall and Tim Blake Nelson.
While Jordan and Larson are both part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the actor said it was Larson's connection to Cretton that ultimately led to her casting.
“I didn’t make that Marvel call,“ Jordan joked. “She worked with our director, Destin Cretton, on Short Term 12, which was her first indie project that really put her on the map.“
Larson and Foxx have both taken home Oscars. Although Jordan noted people sometimes forget the Ray star &ndash who also sings, hosts TV shows, and does stand-up comedy - is such a talented actor.
“I wanted to remind people who Jamie Foxx was. I think people forgot over the years, that this is the man who played Ray [Charles], who won that Academy Award, and this was the type of material that was going to show people that, and he took it seriously,“ Jordan said, adding that Foxx helped elevate the film.
“He was a great scene partner. He helped me out a lot while shooting this film,“ Jordan said. “I just can’t imagine anybody else taking on that role.“
Just Mercy is set to make its world premiere next month at the Toronto Film Festival. The drama will get a limited release December 25 and expand into wide release January 10.
Published 16 hour ago on 16 Aug 1919
Last Updated: August 15th
There are a number of great television series on HBO, both past and present. If you're trying to figure out what to watch next on HBO Now or HBO Go, here's a great place to start with a look at 35 of the best shows to on HBO of all time, ranked.
Related: The Best Movies On HBO Now And Go, Ranked
1. The Wire
5 seasons, 60 episodes | IMDb: 9.3/10
The Wire, created by David Simon, examines the Bimore drug scene from the perspective of both the police and the drug dealers, providing flawed but deeply human, sympathetic faces to both sides of the drug war. It confronts the inner-city drug problem from every perspective, from the politicians elected to stamp out drugs to the distribution channels that bring in the drugs to a flawed education system that produces drug dealers to the gang warfare that ensues and the journalists assigned to cover the drug trade from all angles. It's an incredibly detailed series that defies expectations at every turn as it provides viewers with riveting, addictive, glimpse into a world that most of us have never understood beyond newspaper headlines. Spanning five seasons, The Wire is like a series of intricate, interconnected crime novels, a one-of-a-kind series that is not only entertaining, thoughtful, and insightful, but also necessary viewing.
Add To Watchlist
HBO2. The Sopranos
6 seasons, 86 episodes | IMDb: 9.2/10
The godfather of prestige dramas, The Sopranos is about New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano. He's running a crime syndicate putting hits out on his enemies, and he's got rivals &mdash and the FBI &mdash closing in on him. But he's also got a suburban family he has to protect, kids he has to raise, and a marriage he has to nurture. With all that pressure, Tony begins to seek therapy to help with the panic attacks, to cope with the anxiety that balancing his family life and a career in crime produces. Creator David Chase takes a villain who knows he's a villain and finds ways to make us relate to and sympathize with him. The series, which kicked off the Golden Age of Television, may be the best-written and most well-acted series of all time, and it's certainly one of the most awarded, earning 21 Emmy Awards with 111 nominations three of those wins and eight of those nominations went to James Gandolfini. Notable for being one of television's most groundbreaking series, The Sopranos is a stunning, surprisingly affecting, often funny family drama punctured with moments of devastating violence, and it also boasts one of television's most polarizing, heavily debated series finales ever.
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HBO3. Game of Thrones
8 seasons, 73 episodes | IMDb: 9.5/10
The series, based on George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire book series, is an intricately woven fantasy drama that's more about political gamesmanship dragons and war. Although it's about that, too. The series sees dozens of characters representing the seven kingdoms of Westeros vying for the Iron Throne, but there's also a supernatural outside force &mdash an army of the dead &mdash threatening to topple them all. Game of Thrones works for both those who love fantasy and those who don't because the universe is so impeccably built, the characters so vividly drawn, the relationship drama is so complex, and the plot twists so shocking. The sex and violence can be gratuitous at times, the storylines can occasionally drag, and the motivations of the characters can veer into the perverse, but that's all part of Game of Thrones package. It's more than just a show it's a provocative, immersive, unpredictable weekly television event.Add To Watchlist
HBO4. The Larry Sanders Show
6 seasons, 90 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
The kings of comedy over the last decade &mdash Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Judd Apatow, Ricky Gervais &mdash and many of the best comedies of the last 20 years Arrested Development, 30 Rock, The Office Curb Your Enthusiasm &mdash owe a huge debt to The Larry Sanders Show, which established the kind of single-camera, character-based comedies that are the norm today. The Larry Sanders Show is dark comedy perfection, a sitcom about a neurotic late-night talk show host in the heat of the late-night wars between Letterman and Leno, who are frequently mentioned. Long talked about as a possible late night star, Gary Shandling plays the host and Jeffrey Tambor co-stars as his sidekick, the boob, the sad sack, the butt of the joke in what's still the role of Tambor's career no small feat considering his part in Arrested Development, Transparent, and even Three's Company. Those who want to know the root of cringe comedy need look no further than Tambor's Hank Kingsley. Celebrities play both the public and private versions of themselves, putting on their celebrity personas during the talk-show segments of Larry Sanders, but playing parodies of themselves backstage or during commercial breaks. David Duchovny, who develops an uncomfortably strong man crush on Larry Sanders, is a particular stand-out. The Larry Sanders Show is not just groundbreaking, however it's in the running for best comedy of all time, a show &mdash like Arrested Development &mdash that actually gets better the more times it is watched.Add To Watchlist
HBO5. The Leftovers
3 seasons, 28 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Damon Lindelof's series &mdash based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name &mdash is a dark drama, a mystery, a meditation on grief, and often a religious experience in and of itself along with our pick for best TV show of 2017. Set in a universe where two percent of the entire world's population mysteriously vanishes, The Leftovers plays with questions of faith, death, the supernatural, rebirth and the afterlife, all the while featuring some of the decade's best performances from Carrie Coon, Regina King, Christopher Eccleston, and Justin Theroux. The first season is bleaker than it needs to be and can occasionally be a slog, but the second and third seasons are as close to perfect as television gets &mdash excellently written, emotionally powerful, masterfully crafted spiritual journeys with layers of mystery, literary and pop-culture allusions, humor, and heart. It is confounding, and heartbreaking, and magical. With the pitch-perfect, beautifully executed finale, Damon Lindelof also atones for whatever sins he committed in the Lost finale.Add To Watchlist
HBO6. Six Feet Under
5 seasons, 63 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Six Feet Under, Alan Ball screenwriter, American Beauty set out to make a family drama that focused equally on the Fisher family and their grief after the family patriarch succumbs to the business end of a city bus, and stories about the bodies they bury each week as funeral parlor owners and the loved ones to whom they sell coffins. Each episode begins with a death starting with Nathaniel Fisher, Sr. in the pilot, and the rest of the episode explores its repercussions, how it affects the survivors, and how, thematically, the expiration of that life plays into the lives of the Fisher family. It also explores death as an industry, the cold business of dying &mdash the financial exploitation, the detached corporate franchising, and the cookie-cutter, assembly-line processing of corpses. Ultimately, Six Feet Under is the best examination of death ever put on the small screen, but it's also a hopeful series for the way it uses the loss of life to prove a point about living. It also features one of television's all-time greatest series finale, a ten-minute montage that will leave viewers sobbing.Add To Watchlist
7 seasons, 66 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Creator Armando Iannucci's political satire boasts the best ensemble comedy on television it has a whopping 42 Emmy nominations and 12 wins, arguably the best comedy writers four of those nominations are for writing, and easily the most withering insults on the small screen. The series follows Selina Meyer Julia Louis-Dreyfus as she navigates the office of Vice President, the most pointless, powerless position in the executive branch. This is not West Wing &mdash there are no political heroics in Veep &mdash nor is it even Parks and Recreation. There's not an ounce of heart in the series. These are cynical soulless characters engaging in cynical soulless activities with no other end in mind aside from political victories, of which there are few, all of which Meyer and her staff stumble into backwards. It contains more jokes per minute than any other show on television, and the putdowns are a form of bloodsport. It's as vicious as it is funny, but it wouldn't work as well as it does unless it didn't have a ring of truth to it.Add To Watchlist
HBO8. Curb Your Enthusiasm
9 seasons, 90 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Curb Your Enthusiasm is basically what would happen if the George Costanza character was teased out of Seinfeld, relocated to Los Angeles, and the cringe humor dialed up to 11. The fantastically funny show from Larry David who inspired Costanza is improvised, and like Seinfeld, it's often about nothing. But David takes it to darker, more awkward places, and he's never afraid to depict himself as an entitled, self-indulgent, morally bankrupt, and decidedly unlovable man. It's a must-watch series for anyone that can stomach David's twisted comedy of discomfort, and for fans of Seinfeld, 2009's seventh season also offers a reunion of Seinfeld within the series.Add To Watchlist
HBO9. Big Little Lies
2 seasons, 14 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
On paper, HBO's Big Little Lies, an adaptation of Liane Moriarty about a group of housewives hiding a dark secret, seems like your standard melodramatic fare. There's cheating spouses, family squabbles, catfights, and murder with a classic whodunnit twist, but the show benefits from some truly brilliant performances and the kind of subtle, stylish direction only Jean-Marc Vallee &mdash who's responsible for another series on this list &mdash can deliver. Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley star in this sordid tale about secrets and betrayal in a quiet, affluent seaside town, but it's Nicole Kidman who swallows up the screen, playing an abused wife and mother grappling with the consequences of her husband's nefarious deeds.Add To Watchlist
HBO10. The Young Pope
1 season, 10 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
The Young Pope is the kind of batsh*t crazy show that only HBO could pull off. The series is a masterclass in excess &mdash each frame is filled with decadent costumes, outrageous characters, bizarre action, and memeable dialogue. It's a gif-giving treasure trove of melodrama, and its star is Jude Law, who plays the titular guy. This is a pope who smokes, schemes, and sashays his way through the Vatican, decked out in immaculate robes and dripping in dramatic flair. Conflict arises as he tries to enact a decidedly conservative regime, resulting in scandal, violence, and chaos amongst his cardinals. If you need any more incentive to watch, you may consult our own Brian Grubb's flawless Popedown coverage &mdash a breakdown of all of the insane action that happens on this show.Add To Watchlist
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
Before Game of Thrones and Westworld, there was Rome. This sprawling historical drama made all kinds of noise and won its fair share of awards when it first premiered and rightfully so. With a large and talented cast, the series took on some of history's most notable characters &mdash think Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Brutus, and the like &mdash while also managing to craft a narrative around the struggles of two low-level Roman soldiers. The real draw of this series though, aside from some superb acting and an intriguing narrative, is its sheer scope. If you thought GoT battle scenes were ambitiously planned, wait until you watch this show.Add To Watchlist
3 seasons, 36 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
In television's greatest all-time Western series, David Milch creates a brilliantly distinctive universe peopled with characters who speak their own language, a pungent mix of Shakespeare, profanity, and gunslinger lingo all rolled into one. Set in 1870s South Dakota, Deadwood charts the growth of Deadwood from a small camp into a town, basing many of the characters on real-life historical figures like Al Swearengen, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, and George Hearst. It also stars an incredible collection of talent &mdash Timothy Olyphant, Anna Gunn, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkins, Kim Dickens, and John Hawkes, among many others &mdash who bring the town alive with all its danger, corruption, and family struggles. Fans of profanity should also take note: There are 1.58 f-bombs per minute in the series, which unfortunately was cancelled after three seasons, leaving several storylines unresolved. However, a Deadwood movie currently in development could eventually tie up those loose ends.Add To Watchlist
HBO13. Sharp Objects
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
The second Jean-Marc Vallee entry on this list marks yet another series about complicated, flawed women. Amy Adams plays Camille Preaker, a reporter running from her past who's forced to return to her Southern roots for a story. Her homecoming is fraught with family tension, courtesy of an abusive mother played by a devilishly sinister Patricia Clarkson and a rebellious younger sister newcomer Eliza Scanlen. Camille is an alcoholic with suicidal tendencies, suffering from PTSD after another sibling's death and her mother's involvement in it, and Adams plays her to perfection, giving us a look at a woman intent on self-destruction, one who's searching for a shred of humanity in her sleepy, Southern town.Add To Watchlist
HBO14. Silicon Valley
5 seasons, 46 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Created by Mike Judge Idiocracy, Beavis and Butthead, Silicon Valley is essentially Office Space for the tech worker of the 2010s. Instead of a traditional office, it's set in a modern workplace &mdash the inside of a house &mdash and instead of bosses, there are investors. Judge and co-creators John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, however, approach the tech industry with the same biting, satirical edge that Judge took to Office Space. Nominated for 22 Emmys winning two, the HBO series follows the ups and mostly downs of a group of six friends trying to get a start-up off the ground. It works as both a scathing takedown of the tech industry as well as a traditional comedy. Through four seasons, it's also remained one of the most consistently funny comedies on television to both the code monkeys who understand the intricacies of Silicon Valley and laypeople who appreciate smart writing and indelible characters who are fun to hang out with &mdash think better, smarter Entourage with ambitious tech geeks and incredibly sophisticated dick jokes.Add To Watchlist
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.9/10
With an intriguing storyline, an A-list cast, and roots in the beloved sci-fi genre, it was clear early on that HBO was banking on Westworld to fill the hole that would be left when Game of Thrones eventually ended. It looks like the powers that be made the right bet. Not only does this show offer a plot full of twists, turns, strange mythologies, and moral dilemmas, it's got a talented cast of colorful characters and it's premise &mdash a robot uprising at an amusement park where adults can indulge in their basest desires free of consequence &mdash is the kind of stuff great TV series are made of.Add To Watchlist
5 seasons, 56 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Nominated for 57 Emmys winning 20, Boardwalk Empire takes a simmering novelistic approach to its storytelling. Brilliantly acted and meticulously plotted, Boardwalk Empire can be a slow burn while the audience waits for the pieces to come together, but they always do with near-perfect execution. With a sprawling cast spread out geographically and numerous plotlines flowing away from the series' main character, Nucky Thompson Steve Buscemi, the Terence Winter-created series is historical fiction at its best. Loosely based on the life of Nucky Johnson, Boardwalk Empire examines the bootlegging industry in Atlantic City during Prohibition, and it brings in a host of familiar names including Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Arnold Rothstein. However, it's often the series-created characters played by Michael Pitt, Jack Huston, Charlie Cox, Michael Shannon, Michael K. Williams, and Kelly Macdonald that prove most riveting. It's a fascinating series from a historical standpoint it tracks the rise of the modern mafia, absorbing as a work of storytelling, and a remarkable acting showcase. There are no weak seasons here it's an incredible series from start to finish and, if anything, it's only gotten better as it's aged.Add To Watchlist
HBO17. Band of Brothers / The Pacific
2 miniseries, 20 episodes | IMDb: 9.5/10 and 8.3/10
The adaptation of Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name, brought to HBO by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, follows the “Easy“ Company from training through its participation in several major battles in World War II up until the Japanese surrendered and the war ended. Meticulously researched with consultants who were actually in Easy Company, Band of Brothers is the best fictional account of World War II ever recorded. It's an extraordinary series that captures the violence of war, as well as the heroism &mdash and flaws &mdash of its characters. Nothing else comes close, really, to capturing the true sense of sacrifice of these men, nor documenting the slog and banality of war &mdash long stretches of boredom punctuated by extreme violence. It's a harrowing series, and it's hard not to come away with a better appreciation of the men who served in that war. The Pacific, meanwhile, is a similar mini-series, offering an account of the United States Marine Corps' actions in the Pacific Theater of Operations. It's worth noting, too, that Band of Brothers and Pacific feature more than a dozen actors who would become famous after their roles in the miniseries.Add To Watchlist
HBO18. My Brilliant Friend
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
HBO is taking a big step in its global programming plan with the premiere of its first, non-English series. Adapted from Elena Ferrante's best-selling book series, My Brilliant Friend follows the story of two young women, growing up in 1950s, post-war Italy. The series begins with the girls as children, one outspoken and rebellious, the other mourning her childhood before it's even over. Over the course of this first season there should be more if the show does well, the series explores the bonds of female friendship amidst a male chauvinistic backdrop. It's beautifully wrought, benefiting from an eager and inexperienced cast and a script filled with nuance, heartbreak, and hope.Add To Watchlist
2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Bill Hader brings more of his signature brand of humor to this dark comedy series about a Midwestern hitman who travels to Los Angeles for work and ends up immersing himself in the local arts scene. Watching Hader do anything is guaranteed fun but he somehow manages to make this down on his luck gun for hire a sympathetic anti-hero of sorts. Of course, the real gem of this show is Henry Winkler, who plays a tough-as-nails acting coach determined to make a thespian out of Hader's hitman.Add To Watchlist
HBO20. Sex and the City
6 seasons, 94 episodes | IMDb: 7/10
Based on Candace Bushnell's 1997 book of the same name, Sex and the City put HBO original comedy on the map in the same way that The Sopranos did for HBO dramas. Following the lives of four New York City women, the series reveled in decadent fashion, relationship drama, and of course, sex. It was a fashion magazine come to life. Lasting six seasons and 94 episodes, the series peaked in season 4, but would still go on to spawn a bad Sex and the City movie and an even worse sequel. In the years since Sex and the City debuted, it's had a number of imitators &mdash some better, some worse &mdash which may have the effect of making the original seem dated. The '90s pop-cultural references don't help. Still, the groundbreaking series is essential viewing because of the way it changed the conversation about women and sex, even if some of those themes are ultimately neutralized by the materialism and the self-absorption of its lead character, played Sarah Jessica Parker.Add To Watchlist
HBO21. Big Love
5 seasons, 53 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10
Running for 5 seasons and 53 episodes, Big Love tells the story of a Utah businessman and later Congressman Bill Henrickson Bill Paxton, a practicing polygamist with three wives Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and a set of children with each. Inspired by the real-life Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it sees Bill navigate the complications involved in providing for three families, keeping those three wives happy in their own marriages as well as their relationships with each other. The premise is risky, as it asks the viewer to sympathize with a polygamist, but it works thanks to the marvelous performances of its ensemble, the original situations, the complex relationship drama and a bizarrely loving family dynamic. It wavers some in the middle seasons, but Big Love successfully rebounds in its final season.Add To Watchlist
2 seasons, 11 episodes | IMDb: 7.7/10
Succession is a show steeped in commentary about corporate greed, the dark side of capitalism, and the elite. It's a show about men and women behaving badly, siblings squabbling over questions of inheritance, aging kings refusing to give up their withering empires. It's a show about four siblings who wrestle for control of their family's media conglomerate when their father's heh begins to fail which may not sound too interesting &mdash we don't need another series about rich, white-people-problems &mdash but its the performances that make this series stand out.
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6 seasons, 62 episodes | IMDb: 7.3/10
A daring, smart and polarizing comedy, Lena Dunham's Girls is an observant and well-acted show about privileged, self-absorbed and often unlikable characters dealing with their relationships and their fledgling careers in New York City. It's funny, it's awkward, it's frequently provocative, and it's aggravating as hell. However, it's also undeniably honest, unflinching, and original, and there's an undercurrent of sweetness beneath the often inscrutable actions of the characters, who behave as flailing 20-somethings do while trying to figure out their lives. Viewers may ernate between empathizing with the real struggles of the characters, and loathing their choices, but it's impossible not to feel something for these lovable and impossibly annoying people. In six seasons and 62 episodes, Girls never loses a step &mdash it's as compelling, funny, and obnoxious in the first season as it is in the last.Add To Watchlist
HBO24. True Detective
3 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 9/10
The first season of the Nic Pizzolatto-written series is a truly exceptional season of television that combines ambitious writing with the bold, atmospheric direction of Cary Fukanaga and two of the best television performances of the decade in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson's depiction of Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. Set in 2012, the first season sees Cohle and Hart questioned about a 1995 murder investigation they were involved in after new evidence surfaces and ultimately reunites the estranged partners. It's a riveting immersive season of noir, an enthralling and masterfully crafted murder mystery layered with literary allusions and unexpected twists. Unfortunately, the second season of the anthology series, which takes up a new case and features all new characters, is every bit as disappointing as the first season is great. Season one is must-see television, the second season should be avoided. The third season is a bit of a mixed bag but is definitely worth watching for the obviously great Mahershala Ali and the surprisingly great Stephen Dorff.Add To Watchlist
HBO25. True Blood
7 seasons, 80 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10
Part gothic romance and part vampire story, True Blood &mdash based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris &mdash is set in a Louisiana town where vampires live among humans thanks to the invention of a synthetic blood. It's generally well acted hough the accents can be occasionally bothersome features a great ensemble notably led by Anna Paquin, Bill Moyers, and Alexander Skarsgård and contains a lot of wry, dishy humor that it blends with social commentary. At its core, however, True Blood is a biting, erotically-charged soap opera, and the more it leans into that, the better the series is. Warning: There is a precipitous drop off in quality in the final two seasons after showrunner and creator Alan Ball leaves.Add To Watchlist
4 seasons, 36 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
David Simon's follow-up to The Wire, Treme shares much in common with jazz, one of the major subjects of the series: It's dense, meandering, and occasionally discordant, but it's frequently moving when it's not overly self-indulgent. Set in New Orleans three months after Hurricane Katrina, Treme sees its residents attempt to rebuild their lives in the wake of the devastation. Over the course of four seasons and 36 episodes, Treme tracks the successes, the setbacks, and the heartbreaks of musicians, chefs, lawyers, and developers, among others, and while it's often glacially paced and can get bogged down in extended musical interludes, it's as honest a depiction of the aftermath of Katrina as we're likely to see, warts and all. Treme is not for everyone it's filled with big beautiful moments and great music, but it offers no easy answers or satisfying conclusions. After four seasons, Treme doesn't end so much as it trails off, leaving the characters facing the same uncertainty that the residents of New Orleans faced in the years after Katrina.Add To Watchlist
6 seasons, 56 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
Groundbreaking because it was the first original drama created by HBO ultimately paving the way for The Sopranos and the golden age of television, Oz can still stand on its own as a brutal, unflinching Shakespearean prison drama. It's set in Emerald City, an experimental unit within a prison with a carefully managed population designed to encourage rehabilitation and conflict resolution. Yet the inmates nevertheless continue to struggle to survive as each faction fights for power. It's a harsh, sadistic series, grim and often unpleasant to watch because it is so often gruesome in its depiction of violence. It does, however, rely too often on stereotypes, and the writing can be both overcooked and pretentious especially Harold Perreneau's monologues. However, Oz is remarkable not just for pushing the boundaries of premium cable at the time, but for helping to launch the careers of so many talented character actors J.K. Simmons, Lance Reddick, Dean Winter, Christopher Meloni, and Bobby Cannavale, among them.Add To Watchlist
2 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
Set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Carnivàle pits an 18-year-old carny with magical healing powers against an evangelical preacher who has his own supernatural abilities to bend people to his will. Each episode takes place in a distinctive carnival setting where an ongoing battle between good and evil is raging. The series was originally envisioned as a trilogy of stories, each part told in two seasons. Unfortunately, due to the expense of the series, only the first part of the trilogy was completed, which left a few storylines unresolved. Over a decade later, however, Carnivàle remains rich and singularly original series, a compelling if often frustrating combination of Twin Peaks, John Steinbeck, and Lost.Add To Watchlist
hbo29. The Night Of
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
An eight-part miniseries based on the British series The Criminal, The Night Of follows a legal case from the night of a murder through the arrest and trial of the lead suspect Riz Ahmed. From novelist Richard Price Clockers and Steven Zaillian Moneyball, who wrote and directed the series, The Night Of works on a number of levels: It's a compelling murder mystery, it's a tour de force of acting thanks to Ahmed and John Turturro and it's a scathing indictment of the American criminal justice system. The series illustrates, best of all, that a conviction isn't even necessary to ruin a mans' life, especially if he's a person of color. Suspicion is all it takes.Add To Watchlist
3 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Grown out of Issa Rae's web series Awkward Black Girl, Insecure takes us through the romantic and career travails of an insecure twenty-something black woman in a way that makes it clear that many of the experiences of the characters are rooted in reality. There's nothing particularly original about its premise &mdash it's a relationship comedy &mdash but its approach is uniquely bold, honest, and witty. It's very funny, but it also hits a lot of dramatic notes well and features one of the most remarkably authentic friendships on television.Add To Watchlist
HBO31. Flight of the Conchords
2 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Created by James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, and Bret McKenzie, Flight of the Conchords follows the day-to-day lives of two clueless shepherds-turned-musicians, Jemaine Clemaine and Bret McClegnie playing fictionalized versions of themselves who have moved from New Zealand to New York City in an attempt to make a career out of being folk musicians. In each episode, the characters also break into song, delivering irresistible, infectious pop-song parodies. It's hard to describe exactly what kind of show Flight of the Conchords is, but its humor is dry and sardonic. It's a lightweight comedy &mdash it often feels like sketch comedy &mdash but it's hilarious and infinitely clever.Add To Watchlist
HBO32. Eastbound and Down
4 seasons, 29 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Danny McBride plays Kenny Powers, a brash, profane washed-up major league relief pitcher who returns his North Carolina hometown and ends up living with his brother and teaching P.E. at the local middle school. The show, like Kenny Powers, is loud, obnoxious, and grating, and yet still capable of delivering some of the funniest lines on television. It's completely absurd, but it works because of how far Danny McBride is willing to take it. The show only seems to have one joke, but Eastbound and Down manages to find new ways to poke and prod that joke into life. In fact, the series gets better as it progresses through its fourth season, especially after it figures out how to combine emotional heft with the crude, bombastic humor.Add To Watchlist
2 seasons, 18 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
Laura Dern has starred in two fantastic series for HBO but her best work remains as Amy Jellicoe, a middle-aged woman going through a nervous breakthrough on Enlightened. The dramedy follows Amy as she recovers from a mental break that happened after being fired by the shady company she'd been working for &mdash to be fair, her heavy drinking and the affair she was having with her married boss didn't scream longevity. After a two-month rehab stint and a bipolar diagnosis, Amy tries to get her life back on track and ends up uncovering a damning secret about the people she works for. Dern in anything is worthy of a watch but when the actress plays messy, “unlikeable“ female characters intent on self-destruction, she's truly at her best.
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3 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10
There's a reason Senator Elizabeth Warren stans this sports dramedy series starring Dwayne Johnson. Not only is the action star at his comedic best playing Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL player who embarks on a new career as a financial manager to pro athletes in the show's premiere, but the whole vibe of this show is Entourage on steroids. In other words, get ready to laugh your a** off at some raunchy, physical humor and witty one-liners while ogling expensive suits, fast cars, million-dollar mansions, and a yacht or two.
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2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
The Duplass brothers comedy-drama series about a family trying to rediscover their joy for life remains some of the brotherly duo's best work. Starring Mark Duplass as a 40-something sound designer going through a mid-life crises and Melanie Lynskey as his wife Michelle, a woman looking to reinvent herself, the show follows the couple as they try to inject a bit of spark back into their marriage with the help of an out-of-work actor friend and Michelle's sister, a bouncy castle entrepreneur.
Published 16 hour ago on 13 Aug 1919
As part of a an awards-season event on Sunday night, J.J. Abrams moderated a panel for Netflix's limited series When They See Us, and was not shy about gushing over writer-director Ava DuVernay.
Abrams, who has been close friends with DuVernay since they met at the White House in 2014, told the crowd on the Paramount Pictures lot that he was "gut-punched" by the four-part Netflix series about the so-called Central Park Five, with "the pain of it, the anguish, the agony of it, and yet the way it was made, you cannot look away. That is an act of remarkable tightrope walk-ery that just blows my mind and breaks my heart."
The director hosted a panel of many of the show's Emmy nominees, including DuVernay, Jharrel Jerome, Niecy Nash, Asante Black, Aunjanue Ellis, Marsha Stephanie Blake and composer Kris Bowers. After bringing the group on stage, Abrams told DuVernay, "As a white dude I've got to say, watching this thing &mdash I felt like I knew stuff, and once again you've enlightened me in a way that just floored me. My whole family, watching that together withKatieand the kids, we were all just stunned and speechless for so long."
During the conversation, DuVernay revealed that not only does she talk to the real-life Central Park Five members on a weekly, if not daily, basis, but she's also bringing all five as her dates to Emmys, where the show is up for 16 awards.
"When I called them to tell them about the Emmys, none of them knew about it. It was about an hour later and they're on the East Coast, and I called them like, 'So? Right?' And they're like, 'Hey, what's up?'" she joked. "I'm like, 'The Emmys!' Literally I had to explain to them what it was, for one of them I had to say, 'It's like the Grammys but TV.'"
DuVernay, who wrote, directed and executive produced the limited series, also discussed why she changed the name from simply "Central Park Five" to When They See Us, just three months before she finished editing and after Netflix had promoted the show under the previous title.
"'Central Park Five' I associate with a moniker that was given to these men and thrust upon them. They did not choose it and it's not who they are," she said. "They are Korey, Antron, Raymond, Kevinand Yusef. They have mothers, they have dreams, they have families, they have beating hearts and are human beings and they're not this moniker, and I didn't want it."
She added that beyond just focusing on the case, she wanted the series to educate people on every part of the criminal justice system.
"Part one is about police interaction with young black men on the street, how that interaction and presumption of guilt happens it's about precinct behavior, it's about your rights, its about all of these things that we get caught in. Part two is about bail, it's about trials and defense attorneys and prosecutors and how all of that is tilted away from being for many people of color, particularly black men," DuVernay explained. "Part three is about juvenile detention and post incarceration, the way we strip rights from people who've done their time. We say, 'This is the time you need to do for your crime,' and then after they do that time, okay you come out but you're still not a full citizen can't vote, can't get a student loan, can't move, can't get an apartment, can't get anything, it's like an indentured servitude. And then you go to part four which is about incarceration itself as we go through the journey of Korey Wise, and you're locked in part four and doing the time with him, you're in there with him."
Though it's been 30 years since the Central Park Five case, the themes of the show feel timelier than ever, Jerome, who plays Wise, told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the panel.
"I think in 2019, 30 years later while this stuff is still going on &mdash if anything even worse &mdash because it's not being covered by media at all, I think it's very important. Plus we have a specific leader in this country who has a lot to do with the project, so it's very convenient that he happens to be in office as we do this project."
Nash, who plays Wise's mother Delores, added that the series' timeliness is because of "the narrative that exists in America right now, that you can be a black or a brown child and get stopped by the police and maybe not come home, as opposed to somebody who can shoot up a church or a Walmart or a school and be walked out very gently without a scratch. Now is the time."  When They See Us
Source: Hollywood Reporter