After a long day of hard work there is nothing more soothing than a delicious family dinner and dessert eaten in front of the TV. With your feet up, a cozy armchair and your favorite TV show on, the relaxing cocktail is complete, and you can finally sigh with content. Indeed, many of today’s modern families prefer spending their free evening hours in front of the TV, and they even call it their “favorite leisure activity”. But when you think about it though, those people pulling the strings for higher and higher TV ratings probably love it more than those at home. For them, higher TV ratings don’t just mean they are crushing the competition; they fulfill every TV producer’s artistic dream of having a real flair for finding the best shows ever directed. Some of the best rated TV shows of all time will be briefly presented merely in order to recollect just how much they spiced up our childhood years or flavored our adult free time.
1. Star Trek
One of the most known and loved TV shows ever that first aired in 1966 on NBC is Star Trek, also later known as Star Trek: The Original Series. The original idea for the show belongs to Gene Roddenberry who claimed that he was inspired by a popular Western series of that time entitled “Wagon Train to the Stars”. Privately, Roddenberry told his friends that the Start Trek idea actually came to him after reading Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”. Each episode that he created served to the public a double layered science fiction show that ultimately gained ground as both an adventure story and a morality tale. Following the lives of humans and aliens who enrolled and work for the so-called Starfleet – a peacekeeping armada of the United Federations of Planets – the TV show allegorically addresses political and cultural issues of the 1960’s. Some of the most common themes Roddenberry approached are: war and peace, racial and sexual discrimination, religion, economics and social organization forms (authoritarianism, imperialism). In many ways, it is fair to say that he supported, encouraged and actively militated for the emerging youth movements of the 1960’s which were defending human rights and fighting for a righteous society. Even Gene Roddenberry himself admits it: “[…] a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on Star Trek: we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network.”
Seinfeld is the most famous American sitcom produced in the 1990’s that aired on NBC. Actually, in support of this allegation, TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” list published in 2002 officially named Seinfeld “the greatest television program of all time”. To get an idea of the competition Seinfeld was up against in this race, the top ten also included “The Sopranos”, “Saturday Night Live”, “Late Show with David Letterman”, and “60 Minutes”. The sitcom was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter also starring as himself. Several critics agree that the philosophy behind the hilarious Seinfeld episodes is based on nihilism and absurdism. Thus, its characters are portrayed as making constant efforts to find meaning in life and ultimately failing, or as they deny that life has any value at all, while hope, love, intimacy, compassion and other aspects of the human condition are overly mocked or comically treated as inadequate.
3. Twin Peaks
One of the top-rated American serial dramas of the 1990’s was Twin Peaks – a TV show that aired its 2 seasons on ABC. Created, directed and produced by world renowned filmmaker David Lynch and his collaborator Mark Frost, Twin Peaks illustrated and conveyed some of Lynch’s favorite themes and leitmotivs. With an almost surrealist atmosphere, the show disturbs and intrigues the audience while luring its attention further into the intricate story of the murder of popular teenager Laura Palmer. Twin Peaks features elements from the horror movie genre, but stands out with the “show-in-a-show” narrative technique randomly applied; the bizarre double lives its characters are revealed to lead adds to the quirkiness of their portrayal. Overall, the show’s outline is marked by the “Lynchian” weird humor and sense of morality.