It’s debatable whether any of these are actually educational shows at all, but they were certainly entertaining and that’s what I want to extract from my television-watching experience. If I don’t enjoy watching it, why would I bother watching it? This list is far from exhaustive, but here are four shows that immediately come to mind.
Beavis and Butthead was one of the first programs that showed us cartoons can be controversial and adult-oriented. I enjoyed watching the antics of this misfit teenagers much more than Ren and Stimpy and it was via Beavis and Butthead that Mike Judge eventually introduced us to King of the Hill.
The portions of the show where Beavis and Butthead would “critique” the different music videos weren’t the best, but the “sitcom”-like portions offered plenty of irreverent and crude humor. That why I also enjoyed the Beavis and Butthead Do America movie. You also have to remember that Mike Judge is the man behind Office Space, a comedy that became an instant cult classic.
Seinfeld may have been known as the show about nothing, but it really was something. The concept of having some friends hang out at a coffee shop isn’t terribly original, but there was something about the storylines that it offered and the execution by the actors that made this show the legend that it became.
Who can forget about the Soup Nazi? Or how about the time that George’s mother “caught” him? Or the first time that we get to the “dancing” by Elaine? Yes, Seinfeld had many successful seasons and we recently got to enjoy a mini-reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I think Fusilli Jerry still has much to offer.
The Sopranos gave us the same kind of detailed and intricate mob perspective that we were offered in feature-length films like Godfather and Goodfellas. It wasn’t so much a regular serial television show as much as it was a never-ending movie broken up into hour-long segments. Yes, it’s a TV show about the Mafia, but we are offered much more of a glimpse into the family life and personal dynamics than the actual “business” itself.
I will admit that I have yet to finish watching the entire series and I’ve still got some catching up to do, so I’m not quite as anxious to see the revival of The Sopranos just yet. In the meantime, I can think about the talking bass, the writing ambitions of Christopher, and some poor sap known only as Big Pussy.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip only managed to survive a single season on the air before being canned. That’s really unfortunate, considering that 30 Rock continues to thrive and win awards every chance that it gets. While 30 Rock is more of a standard comedy, Studio 60 had a much more intense “dramedy” feel to it.
The pilot episode was positively electric and the show had a very strong cast, but the plot lines did start to lose a little steam as the season went on. Even so, it was an intelligent and insightful show that offered a (relatively) realistic behind-the-scenes view at an SNL-like show (without Alec Baldwin). Aaron Sorkin is a genius. I really ought to check out The West Wing when I have a chance.
What television shows would you like to see come back on the air?