TV (THE BOOK) By Alan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz

TV (The Book) is subtitled: “Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time.” Sepinwall and Seitz make their case for the “Best” TV shows and rank 100 TV series. But most TV fans will focus on the TOP 10. Here they are:
1. The Simpsons
2. The Sopranos
3. The Wire
4. Cheers
5. Breaking Bad
6. Mad Men
7. Seinfeld
8. I Love Lucy
9. Deadwood
10. All in the Family
I have no major arguments with this list. How about you?

28 thoughts on “TV (THE BOOK) By Alan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz

  1. steve oerkfitz

    I would have added Homicide and Twin Peaks and taken off All I the Family and I love Lucy. And changed the order slightly with Sopranos first.

  2. Wolf Böhrendt

    For me as a typical European the list contains a lot of shows I’ve never had the chance to watch (spending a lot of my time abroad, not only in Hungary) …

    Simpsons, ok, I adore them too.

    With many US tv shows I have to complain that their intellectual level seems to be a teenager’s – that remark I’ve read many years ago in Harlan Ellison’s book on tv:

    The Glass Teat

    Of course that goes for European shows too – we haven’t switched our tv on at all this summer – only to watch some blues&rock concerts!

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, much of American TV is aimed at the 18-34 age group because they are Spenders. Less programming is aimed at 60+ viewers because we tend to be Savers. Most of these TV series are available on DBD or Blu-ray. And video-streaming services.

  3. Patti Abbott

    Having never watched THE SIMPSONS it would be hard for me to say it is the best show. I would also take ALL IN THE FAMILY off the list. It is terribly dated now. Also never a fan of I LOVE LUCY. I might add HILL STREET BLUES and HOMICIDE.

  4. Deb

    I’m with THE SIMPSONS, which is now approaching Jungian archetype territory. (Patti–FXX will be running every Simpsons episode in chronological order starting the day after Thanksgiving, I believe. But if you have FXX on your cable system, you can watch episodes–in no particular order, but sometimes thematically related–most evenings.)

    I too would remove ALL IN THE FAMILY–a dated and self-congratulatory show. I’d have SEINFELD higher (20+ years later, those shows are still fresh and funny) and I’d replace CHEERS with FRASIER.

  5. Jeff Meyerson

    I rarely see THE SIMPSONS these days but years ago I watched it regularly. Jackie wasn’t a fan. I would definitely lose CHEERS and ALL IN THE FAMILY. I still like I LOVE LUCY but: 1. not in the top 10, and 2. it is very uneven. Some shows – and some seasons – are brilliant, but there is a lot of dross in there. Watching it over the years gave me a real appreciation for Desi Arnaz too.

    THE WIRE and HOMICIDE would be near the top of my list. I’m almost afraid to re-watch THE SOPRANOS to see if it has held up. I loved the first two seasons of DEADWOOD. Jackie never liked it. SEINFELD, yes, absolutely.

  6. maggie mason

    I was never a fan of the simpsons. I remember watching them on the Tracy Ullman show and being put off by the baby’s sucking noise. I know it’s popular and don’t have a problem with it. I never watched the Sopranos, Homicide or the Wire, Breaking Bad or Mad Men as I didn’t have HBO, and when BB & MM were on, didn’t have a DVR to record. Wouldn’t have watched breaking bad, even if I did have a dvr back then. Also never watched Deadwood.

    I agree with All in the Family being ranked too high, but at the time it was groundbreaking. I’d have liked to see Mary Tyler Moore on there, or either of the Newharts. I’m much more of a comedy viewer than Drama. I think Cheers was good, but don’t agree with the number 4 ranking, and agree about Frasier being better.

    If you want a really nostalgic look at old(er) TV, get a copy of How Sweet it Was. I got a copy on remainder in the early 70’s.

  7. R. Robinson

    I watched a goodly amount of TV once, so some of the older shows would have gotten my vote, but my first question is what the authors mean by “greatest”. Most fans? Best writing? Highest ratings? Best acting? Most thought provoking (for it’s time)? Most groundbreaking? Funniest (and how do you measure that?)?

    It says “all time”, meaning the candidates start when TV did. Yet variety shows are absent and there was a long time when every weekend millions of Americans watched one or another of those, from Sid Caesar to Jack Benny to Ed Sullivan. Also, quiz shows like Jeopardy are much loved and have run for ages. I guess I’d have to see the entire list.

    For myself, I didn’t like Lucy, always watched All in the Family, Laugh-In and Smothers Brothers (there’s an age and culture thing there, obviously). I only watched 4 of the shows listed, and liked Cheers a lot. I also liked LA Law when it was on, and Rosie. I used to watch The Simpsons occasionally, but that stopped when I got married, as my wife dislikes anything animated. Obviously, this book is not for me.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, like all books that generate lists of the “Best” of anything, this book generates controversy and conversation. I’m sure in 10 years, another book like this one will be published and we’ll be debating that list of BEST TV SHOWS, too.

  8. Jerry House

    I’m dating myself, George, but I would choose the original MAVERICK, GUNSMOKE, THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW, and THE JACK BENNY SHOW, a probably THE NACKED CITY.

  9. Wolf Böhrendt

    What about Dallas and Dynasty – and of course Kojak and Streets of San Francisco?

    These were very popular when I was younger and everybody in Europe watched them – and probably thought that they pictured real life in the USA …
    Actually I still remember when we only had three channels in Germany – up into the 80s, so some US shows only made it into the late night programs – and I had to get up early, so no way.

    A bit OT:
    We used to go to a (nudist !) campsite in northern Yugsolavia every summer and made friends with the people working there. One day (must have been around 1986, still under “communism”) a waitress asked us to bring her a colour tv set from Germany – she couldn’t get one and we had a small RV with enough space for that, so we agreed.First I asked her if she really wanted to spend so much money – but it was no problem for her, she got enough tips (in German and Italian money) – and couldn’t spend it in the communist “economy” …

    When I brought it on our next holiday and installed it in their apartment on the Istrian coast (facing Italy) i could only receive the standard Yugoslav “propaganda programs” and she looked really disappointed and I didn’t know what to do – until her husband came home from work and asked:
    Did you switch on the antenna amplifier? Bingo!

    Suddenly they had more than thirty (!) commercial channels from Italy and the first show they watched was of course: Dallas!

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, DALLAS was a big hit during its run. DYNASTY had a large audience, too. But neither series had the staying power over time.

  10. Cap'n Bob

    Dragnet, Leave It to Beaver, Gunsmoke with Chester, and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson would all be on my list! No Simpsons since the voice of Bart is a Hubbardite! Hated All in the Family! Such lists are a waste of time!


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