Titled “All the TV You Should Have Watched by Now” editors Erik Adams, Laura M. Browning and Alex McCown-Levy, asked an audience member on stage to be a “jury of one”, while each host made a case for one show from the categories of comedy, drama, and genre (sci-fi, horror, fantasy).
Each show was chosen from a post and pre-timeline of other shows from its category, so with the first being comedy, Adams stated, “our dividing line, our evolutionary moment in comedy was The Simpsons…a television show that insulted this entire country with one of its funniest episodes.”
The comedy shows up for debate were Archer, The Thick of It and Arrested Development.
Alex McCown-Levy’s argued that Archer:
“Straddles the line between classic, almost sitcom tropes and new postmodern 21st century comedy that’s very in vogue right now…at the same time does this very dense contemporary style comedy where it’s got as much pop-culture references as an episode of The Gilmore Girls, with lots of fourth wall breaking.”
Browning’s argument for The Thick of It started with a story about how she was introduced to the show by her friends, who told her, “Laura you have to watch it, the swearing is really good.”
Lastly for comedy, and the winner of according to the onstage audience member, was Erik Adams’ choice of Arrested Development. Adams argued:
“It reflects this density of joke telling…it does it more elegantly than any other show…our Film Editor at The A.V. Club Alex Dowd called Arrested Development the first great DVD comedy because it was a show that not a lot of people watched on the air, but most people caught up with it on DVD and Watched it over and over again.”
As time was pressed (blame Dan Harmon), The A.V. Club skipped drama and going directly to cover genre. The shows that were argued were Firefly, The Left Overs and Hannibal.
Browning pitched Joss Whedon’s Firefly stating,
“From the perspective of peak TV and binging, it’s only fourteen episodes long—you can watch in a weekend. If you’re like me, you can watch it in a day. I personally am attracted to a lot of television shows that feature really badass women…there are some really amazing women in this show.”
Adams’ choice was Hannibal,
“Somehow in this sick sad world, to paraphrase Daria, we decided that one of our greatest pop-culture creations is a cannibalistic psychiatrist named Hannibal Lector…I can’t believe this show aired on network television in The States. It is so gross, so violent, and yet so alluring.”
And lastly The Left Overs was McCown-Levy’s winning argument and last of the night arguing:
“What’s so great about it is that I think it’s Damon Lindelof’s attempt to end Lost the way he really wanted to. He’s dealing with the exact same things he was dealing with in Lost…a chance to revisit all those themes about life and death and what’s our purpose on earth and why are we supposed to be here.”
Ending with a brief Q and A session, one plucky audience member had a standout question for the A.V. team about the “massive mess that is American Horror Story.”
Which McCown-Levy answered by saying,
“He [Ryan Murphy] has this great eye for detail, structure and framing and he has no idea how to tell a story whatsoever, he’s hired some very smart people, who are doing their best against all odds…but the problem is, and I’ve heard this in interviews, where they say Ryan Murphy will literally come into the American Horror Story writer’s room, from week to week and he’ll be like: Aliens, guy with a knife and a shoe salesmen—make it.”
There it is TV lovers, you heard it from the best. If you haven’t seen all the listed television shows, the holidays are near, and with it the Australian sun is looking for fresh burn victims. So really there’s no better time to chill with your Kmart fan and get square eyes from some amazing TV. The A.V. Club’s website is filled with other recommendations from music to movies, so be sure to check out their site too when you’ve conquered what’s recommended here.