The Best TV Shows Not Enough People Have Seen


Augustus, the narrator from Oz

It’s impossible to give Oz enough credit, both for its socially conscious messaging and for being the show that led HBO into the kind of high quality dramas we associate the network with today. I don’t think you can say that shows like The Wire and The Sopranos wouldn’t have existed without Oz, but you can say with absolute certainty that those shows were given the opportunities they were because of Oz.

There’s no beating around the bush here: Oz is not an easy watch. It’s violent, it’s depressing and it leaves you spending a lot of time contemplating some very serious issues in the world, not limited to America’s justice system. On the flip side, Oz is a show that needs to be viewed, not just for its messaging but also because its a damn good show. So many well known talents got their start on Oz. There are few shows that can claim to have this talented of a cast and the acting is every bit as good as the writing. The characters are compelling and the prison drama is captivating. Oz suffers a bit of a “pioneer’s curse” in the fact that it’s not always given its due for how good it truly was and is rather remembered for being HBO’s first drama, or the careers it launched. Make no mistake about it, Oz is a show that needs to be revisited, especially in today’s world.

Tell Me You Love Me

Adam Scott and Sonya Walger in Tell Me You Love me

Adam Scott has now made the list for two different shows and HBO is on the board again. No bias, I promise. Tell Me You Love Me is another series that I wouldn’t classify as an easy watch but one that made an impact and really stood out in the era of “therapy shows” in the wake of The Sopranos. Tell Me You Love Me was one of those rare shows that consistently conveyed human emotion in a realistic manner. The series followed three couples, who each had intimacy issues, and their therapist, who had intimacy issues of her own with her long time husband.

How raw these ten episodes were emotionally also carried over into the sex scenes, which were shot in a very realistic manner, to the point where there was a bit of a controversy about whether the scenes were simulated or not. While these ten episodes setup a fantastic foundation to build upon, series creator Cynthia Mort and HBO could not reach agreements on the direction of what a second season would look like. This ultimately lead to the show’s cancellation, which was unfortunate, but not to a point where it discredits the work done in Season 1. These stories were relatable to a wide variety of couples in various stages of their lives and it made for groundbreaking TV in how far they were willing to go to tell these important stories. Unlike the commitments being made on the show, Tell Me You Love Me is only a ten episode commitment and worth every second.


From the pilot of ABC's FlashForward

Looks like Sonya Walger is on the board twice now, for both Tell Me You Love Me and FlashForward. OK, here’s my controversial pick. I know all about FlashForward‘s problems. I’ve even extensively written about them myself. None of those problems take away from how good this show was, how well it rebounded from its early problems and how strongly it set itself up for a second season, though. FlashForward had an excellent ensemble, great characters, a developing mythology and enough intrigue to make me count the days until the next episode would air. For the viewer who enjoys having their mind go from episode to episode, this is a show for you.

FlashForward is highly unlikely to get a reboot or anything like that (that ship has most likely sailed) but for the viewer that’s into a mythology heavy type TV show, the one season holds up as still being worth watching. Sure there’s loose ends and a large cliffhanger, but that just adds to the fun in a sense, allowing the viewer to write their own next chapter, the way we often do when we’re watching TV week to week, awaiting the next episode in a show we’re invested in.

Bonus Picks

Because I, like every other modern TV viewer, haven’t had the chance to catch every quality show out there, I figured I would mention the two shows I keep hearing that I need to check out. First, there’s Halt and Catch Fire, which ran for four seasons on AMC. The other show that my fellow 25YL writers keep recommending to me is Rectify, which also ran for four seasons. Hopefully I get to those shows soon and can update this article to fully include them.

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

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  1. The first two seasons of Halt and Catch Fire were great. The story started to fall apart after that. I watched Rectify to the bitter end and the only advice I have is, don’t do it.

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