Best series you've ever watched

Following on from the thread about British tv, I'm coming to the end of The Bureau (French spy drama, Amazon prime) which is truly excellent and has set a high bar.

Things are looking bleak out there, my attention span for reading has disappeared and sitting down with a glass of wine with Mr Clove to watch something after the little ones have gone to bed is probably the high point of any given day for me.

So, I'd love some inspiration for what comes next. What's your favourite series ever? Not for nostalgic reasons but because it was engaging, gripping, thought provoking, funny, you fancied the characters, whatever. Ideally at least a couple of seasons. But any recommendations welcome!

Thanks Judy, I've actually never got around to watching it so that's a good reminder.


Incidentally, for something a bit lighter, warm with human interest, beautiful young men and a break from the general atmosphere of doom, while also recognising racism and deprivation in small town US, I also really recommend "Friday Night Lights" - High School American Football team and their coach. Some strong female characters too. Not quite in the category of the best thing I've ever watched though.

A cliche but the fifth season of Breaking Bad is the best tv I’ve ever seen. 

Yeah Breaking Bad up there - don’t remember big so riveted by anything else

Ah yes, I also really enjoyed the good wife and the good fight. Again, not too dark. Something to look forward to and enjoy, rather than being pumped with adrenalin and dreading what might happen to the characters.

Loved Breaking Bad but have no desire to revisit it. Ditto GoT.

It’s a funny thing Clove but I have never wanted to watch it again either, even though there have been plenty of programmes I have rewatched several times 

mad men but it takes a while to understand the format of the show. once it clicks for you it’s one of the best tho

Breaking bad / Sopranos / Game of Thrones (early seasons...the most recent ones are absolute gash)

breaking bad, mad men, prime suspect, cracker, spooks.

Not sure I have a favourite, but ones I really liked the first time I watched them include Blackadder, The Thick of It, Borgan, Spooks, Mad Men, House of Cards, Homeland and the West Wing. 

(But I gave up after the first series of both 24 and Breaking Bad.)

Judo, a secretary on our team snogged Kiefer. She's a bit...well... she's bad at reading a room and thought they made "a real connection" rather than something that was shuffling into a ONS. 

So she looked deep into his eyes and said "I just need to know - is it completely over with you and Julia Roberts?". 


He turned and walked out. 

24 is like a drug. But a low quality one.  You get hooked but it's ultimately crap.  Basically a Dan Brown novel. 

The Smileys People adaptation with Alec Guinness is brilliant- even if a bit dated. 
The Deutschland 83 etc. series is pretty good and an easy watch, plus one hot German chick who gets her tits out. 

If you enjoyed the bureau :




deutschland 83 and 86

das boot (series)

babylon Berlin 

Shtisel - absolutely brilliant 

fauda - equally brilliant 

Baron Noir 


Lol! Jelly - that's brilliant! I would definitely have settled for the ONS.

This was our 2019 top 10s

Top 10 box sets:

The wire
Prisoners of war 
The bureau 
Mad men
The Shield 

Top mini series:
This is England
Generation kill 
Patrick Melrose 
People v OJ


I loved Deutschland 83 - I wasn’t grabbed by the first episode of 86 so didn’t continue. Am I missing out? 

Mad Men way ahead of the others tho.  Truly exceptional. 

Lost is garbage.  It was a cultural phenomenon, but not good. 

  • Mad Men
  • Game of Thrones
  • Sopranos
  • The Wire
  • Chernobyl
  • Stranger Things
  • Band of Brothers



the only thing with mad men is you have to understand it’s a collection of short stories set in a 60s ad agency, not a traditional show about jon hamm and his family and coworkers

so an episode might stop its plot halfway through and just focus on two characters having dinner, or a main character disappears for ages and comes back and has been married for a year. or an entire episode is about a minor character having a dinner party on a saturday

it took me ages to understand what it was trying to do because it’s structured so differently to normal tv shows (closest is maybe the wire? but mad man has less “plot” really than that)

but is excellently written and acted and the payoffs for characters over years are exceptional

OB I loved dietwaalf

if you’re a fan of Dutch language drama Overspel is good, on All4

We’ll give it a go thx JY. 

Tokyo girl was also quite fun and Giri/Haji was very good.

Im all about foreign dramas - feels like I’m getting to see the world a bit 

we watched the wasteland recently that was also good - Czech drama 

Friday night lights is really good.

The Wire is the best TV ever made, if you haven't seen it you have to.

I think the first series of True Detective is in the top 5 if you don't object to serial killer shows.

Plus 1 for Alec Guiness Smiley although start with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

All the Black Mirror series 

The Crown (obvs) 



Yes (Prime) Minister.  Still the most valuable guide to British politics ever made.

Breaking Bad > Wire imo

although seasons 3 and 4 (especially 4) are better than any individual season of breaking bad

Prison Break. Only seasons 1 and 2 though, dropped off after that 

Breaking bad is good but the idea that it is better than the wire... in the words of Bunk, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Chernobyl and Patrick Melrose good shouts for short series.  I would add first series of My Brilliant Friend, which is weirdly under the radar

Oh, yeah - forgot Breaking Bad. 


There's lots of good/enjoyable telly, but if you think Prison Break should be within 5000km of a list of "best ever tv series", you're suffering some sort of episode and should be heavily medicated. 

I am rewatching the wire almost 20 years now since it was first on.  It is as good as when I first watched it.

s1 prison break was good jelly but it went off the rails hard

Really geeky TV connoisseurs say Heimat is the best TV ever made but have as yet been unable to get into it.

It was well-made trashy telly. On its best day it wasn't better than watching Walter White spend 57 mins trying to kill a fly. 

Watched both the wire and the west wing again recently. I think the west wing holds the interest better the second time. (Plus really wasn't a fan of s2 of the wire.) Omar is the boss, though.

Both more than hold their own against recent shows. You can see how they were pretty ground breaking at the time. 

I'm watch West Wing at the minute. It's really, really good, but doesn't make it to greatness for me, Clive. 

Notwithstanding it is full of clichéd characters I loved Sucession recently. That might just be because I discovered Sarah Snook watching it. 

Jellymonster is a man of the utmost refinement and good taste judging by that list up there

Except swap Breaking Bad for GoT because of the last two series of GoT which were wank

I think when people say GoT it is implicit they mean series 1-6. How they went from the last two episodes of s6 (which were two of the best single espisodes of historcal/fantasy TV I have seen) to the stuff in s8...

Whilst I wouldn't pretend it's 'great' TV or  best-in-class, Black Sails is something I'll happily watch repeatedly, particularly once it gets past the initial swearing and boob fest of the opening episodes.

The Bill


Band of Gold 

All Creatures Great and Small (original) 

Better Things 

Death in Paradise 

Series 2 and 5 of the wire are gash

1 is ok but not brilliant

3 and 4 are probably the best two individual series of TV ever 


i also really liked season 1 of true detective. Chilling and brilliantly acted

True Detective season 1 (but certainly not the others) by about a million miles. 

Breaking Bad

Also Sons of Anarchy. It’s takes a criminally long time to get going, bit worth it. 

Need to watch True Detective 1 again.

Never bothered with the others. Would only be a disappointment. 

No mentions for Hugh Laurie hobbling his way through a classically misleading case of non-sarcoidosis. 

Oh, I really enjoyed watching breaking bad. Great show 

Jonatton - The Adulterer was terrific (3 seasons on All 4) and you abs do not need to be a fan of Dutch drama (whatever that means) to enjoy it

Amazed it took Sons of Anarchy so long to get a mention.  The Mayans MC spin off is also good.

Clove if you like stuff about American football then Last Chance U and QB1 Beyond the Lights.  The latter has some amazing American stereotypes in it.

Amazed two people have cited Sons of Anarchy as a contender for best ever TV series. It's enjoyable guff but not even good. And Mayans is terrible. 


Also surprised Ozark hasn’t featured.

Glad nobody has suggested Schitt’s Creek which is indeed schitt.

the only thing with mad men is you have to understand it’s a collection of short stories set in a 60s ad agency, not a traditional show about jon hamm and his family and coworkers

so an episode might stop its plot halfway through and just focus on two characters having dinner, or a main character disappears for ages and comes back and has been married for a year. or an entire episode is about a minor character having a dinner party on a saturday

You must have watched a different Mad Men to me - I don't recognise this description AT ALL. 

Think may have seen the same one you saw Kimmy. 

Ozark is very good, but not for this list. 

Obviously The Sopranos must top any list, but honourable mentions to each of:

  • The Wire
  • Yes (Prime) Minister
  • I Clavdivs

Sopranos, still, and by quite a long way the best ever.

Buffy - superb, layered, literary TV.  Beautifully acted.  Ranks with Spenser, for me, as allegory.

The original Forsyte Saga

The early seasons of Big Brother (UK version)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Seasons 2, 3 and 5 in particular.

Top ones for me are also Mad Men, Breaking Bad, GoT, The Wire.

For other suggestions, I second Ozark and Black Sails - very watchable.

Enjoyed the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy but once the novelty of biker-culture wears off it is basically a soap and I lost interest.

I binge-watched all of Homeland recently and it has left a void in my life. I thought it was gritty and consistently good almost all the way through, with some great plot twists.

The Killing is an older but excellent Danish crime drama. There is an American remake, but I'd recommend the original.

Silicon Valley is silly but fun.

kimmy i was deliberately trying not to give any spoilers so those were for illustration only

**early doors Mad Men spoilers**



my point is if you go into s1 expecting it to be like a normal show, you will be wrong footed. the way the show treats eg Peggy and Pete or Don and Rachel - or Don and Betty for that matter but maybe after s3 - is (imo deliberately) designed to set up expectations and then undercut them because that’s what happens in real life.  

it’s an excellent show partly because i think it intentionally messes with the way you except narratives on television to work. the way things come together in the season finales is less about plot being revealed (again with the notable exception of the end of s3) and more about how the characters’ experiences throughout the season in all their smaller stories have changed them by the end

Why do you keep repeating this chill? It’s a perfectly normal drama. Character/Story arc approaches have been a thing in US dramas for ages

i think mad men was doing something different and better tho

i think it genuinely might be the best series I’ve ever watched

I honestly think the best series I have ever seen is The Leftovers. I think it's still on Sky if you have that. There are 3 seasons that get progressively better, but it is all entirely awesome. Hardly anybody watched it, but it did get some serious critical acclaim in its late stages.

I second the Leftovers shout. Really leaves an impression on you. Grind through the first half of the 1st series. In s2 & 3 it soars. 

What OB said about The Shield. Proper shoestring budget but the storyline where everything slowly falls apart sucks u in.

Has anyone mentioned Fauda? Dror is the hardest fat man on TV.

Shiny - i so agree about Season 2; i think the ending is the best of any of them.

The second half of Season 2, from Surprise onwards, is peak TV for me.  And it culminates in the perfect episode with Becoming (Part 2).


breaking bad

years and years 

it’s a sin which I binge watched last night 

The Wire, and season 2 is the best season although that's not apparent on a first watch. 

For comedy it's The Office (UK). 

the most interesting thing about series 7 and 8 of got is that they incontrovertibly demonstr7 that the underlying source material is genius. 

the outline of the story was not enough. without grrm’s subtlety, characterisation and detail, it was cheap and simplistic even as it cost millions

The West Wing is in a category of its own for me. It is perfect comfort television. I must have watched most of it 3 or 4 times now.  

Best of the rest is:

The Wire (the last one is a bit daft but the rest of it is amazing).

The Sopranos (I am probably due a re-watch of that actually). 

The first series of Fleabag. 

Blackadder 3 and 4


Geoff Roe and Inceh absolutely spot on - Leftovers is utterly, weirdly sensational. A work of genius.

The Wire

Love/Hate - excellent Irish gangster drama



Prisoners of War (Israeli forerunner to Homeland)

Fargo Season 2 (each season is different story so can watch in isolation) is probably the greatest season of any show I’ve ever seen. 


And for comedy it’s Curb your Enthusiasm.

For unintentional comedy a special award to Sons of Anarchy which I chuckled at seeing in the above list. Every week Jax lurches about as they break an alliance with the Mayans/Nazis/Blacks/IRA/Mexicans only to forge an unlikely alliance with the Mayans/Nazis/Blacks/IRA/Mexicans. There’s then an A-Team style shootout in a warehouse. 

The fascinating car-crash that was the ‘plot’ reached a peak when a prinicipal character was forced to watch his daughter get burned to death. A couple of episodes later he’s happy as larry chilling with the guys as though it had never happened. Mindblowingly awful. 


Unfortunately leftovers doesn’t seem to be on sky box sets. I do wonder about the premise though. 2pc of the population disappearing doesn’t seem that much anymore. I mean, haven’t 90pc of us died with covid?