Hello guys, Atiya here. I know, I know. We have been MIA for a really long time. Tbh my photography buddy aka Amna was out of town for a friend’s wedding and I honestly was stumped about what post to write. Even though she is back, she is super busy so I thought why not write about my favorite shows of all time. I do consume a lot of pop culture though most of it is British and American (guilty, guys though I am a huge fan of everything Mehreen Jabbar puts out but her drama serials come once every two years). So without further ado, let’s do this.
5. House, M.D.
Warning, three out of my top five favorite shows are about white men who are depressed and full of themselves and I would like to say that I do not condone this behavior, obvs, I am a nice person. That said, House was one of the shows I was consistently addicted to from the time I was 19-23, when I had no idea how seasons worked and everything was just a DVD set away. House is a loose adaptation of that great detective Sherlock Holmes although instead of murderers and thieves House solves medical mysteries. Basically that is the whole show but the medical mystery of the week style was pretty interesting. In fact some of the episodes bordered right on kooky like the one where House knew exactly where to look for a bug in a patient (FYI, it was her vagina.) And a running joke in the show was that his interns would guess the disease was Lupus and it was most certainly not Lupus. That said House’s cynical outlook on life was consistently hilarious and the main reason to watch the show.
4. Pushing Daisies
This is one of the cutest, adorablest and yet darkest shows that you will ever see. It is about a gifted pie-making man who get’s the ability to bring back the dead for just 60 seconds and then he has to touch them again because he will mess up the balance of the Universe, if he doesn’t. He has a detective friend who comes to him whenever there has been a murder and then they hightail to the morgue so the Pie maker can touch the body and the person can say in 60 seconds who killed them, what is the last thing they saw or give a clue as to how they died. But what can a man do when his childhood sweetheart lands up on the gurney? He can bring her back to life but he cant touch her again. And so begins the dilemma. Pushing Daisies barely lasted two seasons but it is such a charming, loving yet melancholy show, you cannot help but fall in love.
3. Mad Men
So yeah, I really have a thing for sad self-destructive men in my entertainment. What can I say, as a pretty chirpy person, I find watching such shows very cathartic. Mad Men, the term is a shortened form of Madison Avenue Men which is where advertising boomed in New York City in 60s. As much as Mad Men is a character study, it is also a study of the values that made America what it was, back in the day. We see in snippets, the events that shape these people, from the Kennedy Assassination to the epic boxing fight between Sonny Liston and Mohammad Ali. And amidst it all, one ad agency which is trying to land all the big accounts, Hershey’s, Philip Morris, etc. To ground this giant narrative, we follow Don Draper, ad man extraordinaire about whom it seems that whatever he touches will turn to gold. And then there is Peggy Olson, who is fighting to be taken seriously in a time where men sleep with their secretaries (in fact it is encouraged that they do) and the doctor tells her that only naughty girls take birth control. We see Don Draper make a mess of his family with his endless womanizing and drinking while also keeping the young, hungry up-and-comers at bay so that they don’t take over his career.
Mad Men held up a mirror to America’s rampant consumerist ways and showed a society already on it’s way to decay. As a literature buff, I loved how the show unfolded like a novel, the characters evolving and the phenomenal writing. Visually, the show is a treat, from the beautiful 60s sets to the clothes and the impeccably dressed men and women. If you like your shows emotional, moving and well-written, you cannot do a show better than Mad Men.
2. Orange is the New Black
Is there a more inclusive, aware of all genders, sexes, races show than Orange is the New Black? I think not. Based on the memoir by Piper Kerman, the show follows Piper as she is arrested for smuggling drugs and is put in a high-security women’s prison, Litchfield. Now let me say off the the bat that prison narratives are some of my favorite things to watch and read about. A prison is its own ecosystem and the power dynamics in it are so fascinating. That is not to say that I romanticize life in a prison. No, I am aware that hundreds of women are incarcerated in America each year and that the system does not support their rehabilitation or their health problems.
But this show, created by the inimitable Jenji Kohan, understands what it is like for a woman in prison. And she also gets what it is like for trans women, Hispanic women, black women, women who have been beaten and broken by the men in their lives and have ended up here. Each character is given a back story and as they unfold in episodes over three seasons your heart just breaks at what they have gone through to end up in prison.
Consistently perfect, heartbreaking and beautifully written, Orange is the New Black is one of the best shows ever created.
- Breaking Bad
Hands down, my favorite show of ALL time is Breaking Bad. Like seriously, if you were to meet everyone in my immediate circle they will say, yeah, you cannot get her to shut up about Breaking Bad. The story is about an overqualified high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and so he turns to making meth to fund his expensive treatment. At first, the whole thing starts out as just a joke, an easy way to make money but Walter White’s meth is 99.1% pure, the purest strain there is out there and the drug mob is hungry for more.
The thing about Breaking Bad is that it doesn’t have heroes or villains. It is about a man who walks into hell, eyes wide open. In the beginning you support Walter White like “Yeah! the man has cancer and the American health care system is the pits. Why shouldn’t he provide for his family?” But as his ego becomes bigger and the body count climbs higher, you start to think that maybe all this hubris is terribly destructive. His partner Jesse Pinkman, a screw-up drug addict who used to be in his class years ago, constantly questions Mr White’s motives and there are some incredibly sad episodes where he loses people he loves all because of the machinations of Mr. White.
Breaking Bad has everything I love in a show. Phenomenal writing, a Shakespearean approach to tragedy, insanely gorgeous cinematography and the most fascinating characters. Bryan Cranston plays the terrifying Walter White and he conveys each line with the a sneer and a growl. There is an incredible letter that Anthony Hopkins wrote to the cast of Breaking Bad, that rarely has he seen such a “master class in acting.” And this is from Sir Anthony Hopkins himself!
Basically, I love this show so much I took the tour in Albuquerque, where the show was filmed.
I really hope you give these shows a look-see. And if you have already seen them, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!