My wife (Kimberly) and I decided to make and share a top ten list of our favorite TV Shows from the last 5 years (some reaching back further in time).  The task of consolidating them down to merely ten shows proved more challenging than we anticipated – so we employed a multi-tiered ranking system and both of us independently ranked each show within that tier.  Although ultimately our list includes 37 shows, you can infer the top ten, because they are in rank order under categories of The Very Best, Excellent, Very Good, Good, and Good but Faded.  The latter category includes shows that were initially captivating, but they lost our interest over time. 


We have watched each of these shows, and all of them left us wanting more at the end of each episode.  That longing for more is what made, in our opinion, these shows binge worthy.  The Very Best and Excellent shows and even some of the Very Good shows truly captivated us and we found ourselves talking or thinking about the characters the next day.  Production quality, artistry (as in The Handmaid’s Tale), and both character and plot development played important roles in sustaining our interest.  Epic stories with multiple characters and big complicated story lines elicited intrigue, confusion, and the formation of hunches that we absolutely needed to see unfold.


The average IMDb score on our list was 8.2 out of 10 and the average Rotten Tomatoes (and in a few cases Percent of Google Users liked) score was 86.5%. A close (statistical) look at these ratings indicates that there is a diminishing trend of score quality from our top rated shows to those at the bottom of our list.  It appears that professional and lay people think highly of most of these shows, and overall, they concur with our ranking system.  We have also included the Genre and TV rating level for each show.  Most of our preferred shows are Action/Adventure/Dramas, many with a SciFi twist.  Our preferences also trend toward shows for Mature Audiences (MA) only, but there are several family friendly or TV-14 and/or PG shows. 


The Very Best

  1. Game of Thrones (HBO) IMDb 9.3/10 89% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) – Action/Drama/Adventure
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) IMDb 8.5/10 88% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) – Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller


  1. Black Sails (Starz and Hulu) IMDb 8.2/10 81% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Adventure/Drama – This TV Show is a fictional prequel to the book: Treasure Island
  2. Madam Secretary (CBS) IMDb 7.6/10 92% Google Users Like (Family) Political Drama
  3. Outlander (Starz) IMDb 8.4/10 91% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/Fantasy/Romance
  4. Mr. Robot (USA Network, Hulu) IMDb 8.5/10 94% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Thriller
  5. Chernobyl (HBO) IMDb 9.4/10 96% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/History/Thriller
  6. Mars (National Geographic, Netflix, Hulu) IMDb 7.5/10 95% Google Users like (TV-PG) Adventure/ Drama/Sci-Fi
  7. Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 8/10 84% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/Sci-Fi/ Thriller
  8. Counterpart (Starz, Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 8.1/10 100% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller
  9. Fleabag (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 8.7/10 100% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Comedy/Drama
  10. Travelers (Netflix) IMDb 8.1/10 100% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
  11. Carnival Row (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 7.9/10 57% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Fantasy/ Mystery/Thriller
  12. His Dark Material (HBO) IMDb 8.5/10 94% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-14) Adventure/Drama/Family/ Fantasy
  13. Blue Planet II (BBC America) IMDb 9.4/10 97% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-G) Documentary                                                                                                                

Very Good

  1. The Expanse (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 8.5/10 93% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-14) Drama/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
  2. Justified (Hulu) IMDb 8.6/10 97% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Action/Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller
  3. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 8.1/10 71% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Action/ Drama/Thriller
  4. Westworld (HBO) IMDb 8.7/10 85% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Western
  5. Homeland (Showtime, Hulu) IMDb 8.3/10 85% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller
  6. The Outsider (HBO) IMDb 8.0/10 82% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller
  7. Hunters (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 7.2/10 63% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Mystery
  8. Marvel’s Agents of Shield (ABC, Netflix) IMDb 7.5/10 94% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-PG) Action/Adventure/Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller
  9. Altered Carbon (Netflix) IMDb 8.1/10 76% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Action/Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller
  10. The Deuce (HBO) IMDb 8.1/10 93% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama
  11. Ozark (Netflix) IMDb 8.4/10 81% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Thriller
  12. Mindhunter (Netflix) IMDb 8.6/10 97% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama/Thriller
  13. The Mandalorian (Disney+) IMDb 8.7/10 93% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-PG) Action/Adventure/SciFi



  1. The Blacklist (NBC, Netflix) IMDb 8/10 91% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-14) Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller
  2. Hanna (Amazon Prime Video) IMDb 7.5/10 97% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Action/Drama
  3. The OA (Netflix) IMDb 7.9/10 84% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Drama/Fantasy/Mystery/Sci-Fi
  4. The Witcher (Netflix) IMDb 8.3/10 67% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Action/Adventure/Drama/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery
  5. Nightflyers (Syfy, Netflix) IMDb 5.9/10 35% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-14) Horror/Sci-Fi


Good but Faded Over Time

  1. Jessica Jones (Netflix) IMDb 8.0/10 83% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Action/Crime/Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller
  2. Girls (HBO) IMDb 7.3/10 89% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Comedy/Drama
  3. Peaky Blinders (BBC, Netflix) IMDb 8.8/10 92% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Crime/Drama
  4. Love (Netflix) IMDb 7.7/10 94% Rotten Tomatoes (MA) Comedy/Drama/Romance
  5. Stranger Things (Netflix) IMDb 8.8/10 93% Rotten Tomatoes (TV-14) Horror
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The Power of a Story

27 October 2011

I recently heard a RadioLab story that was, well, moving.  It touched upon a feeling that I have, a somewhat romantic notion of love, and I found it to be incredible.  By incredible, I mean unbelievable, and by unbelievable, I also mean, “It cannot be true!”  Of course, it is just a story.  But, stories like this have a way of touching us in profound ways.  They touch us at a spiritual level, a level that is seemingly, transcendent.  It inclines us to accept the story as being true.  This story had this affect on me.


The story was shared by Plato who attributed it to Aristophene in the 3rd century BCE, over 2400 years ago.  Aristophene was a Greek playwright, an Athenian comic poet.  This love story is interpreted by Robert Krulwich. Robert tells the three minute story in a way that is far more compelling than is the transcript below.  You can listen to it here (1-minute-50-seconds into the episode) or read it below.  It speaks for itself.


“Once upon a time, he says, people were not born separate from each other. They were born entwined, kind of coupled with each other. So there were boys attached to boys, and there were girls attached to girls, and of course, boys and girls together in a wonderfully intimate ball. And back then we had eight limbs. There were four on top,  four on the bottom, and you didn’t have to walk if you didn’t want to. You could roll, and roll we did. We rolled backwards and we rolled forwards, achieving fantastic speeds that gave us a kind of courage.


And then the courage swelled to pride.


And the pride became arrogance.


And then we decided that we were greater than the gods and we tried to roll up to heaven and take over heaven. The gods alarmed, struck back!  Zeus, in his fury, hurled down lightning bolts and struck everyone in two, into perfect halves. So all of a sudden, couples who had been warm and tight and wedged together, were now detached, and alone, and lost, and desperate, and losing the will to live.


And the gods see what they had done, worried that humans might not survive or even multiply again. Of course, they needed humans to give sacrifices and to pay attention to them, so the gods decided on a few repairs. Instead of heads facing backwards, or out, they would rotate our heads back to forward. They pulled our skin taut and knotted it at the belly button. Genitalia too, were moved to the front, so if we wanted to, we could.


And most important, they left us with a memory.  It was a longing for that original other half of ourselves –the boy or the girl who used to make us whole.  And that longing is still so deep in all of us, men for men, women for women, men for women, for each other, that it has been the lot of humans, ever since, to travel the world, looking for our other half. And when, says Aristophanes, when one of us meets another, we recognize each other right away. We just know this. We’re lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy. We won’t get out of each others sight, even for a moment. These are people, he says, who pass their whole lives together, and yet if you ask them, they could not explain what they desire of each other.


They just do.”


As heard on Desperately Seeking Symmetry by Radiolab.