They make their way around the world, entertaining an array of nationalities, cultures and identities, and their Summer breaks leave an empty void in the lives of many people. Like film, American television is undoubtedly the World’s frontrunner, and it’s hardly surprising; the following shows, and many others, are well made, greatly performed and excellently written, and are able to appeal to audiences of all ages, genders and nationalities. This list includes just a small selection of the current extremely successful and universally admired shows produced in the United States.
Prequels are always at risk of angering loyal fans of original stories, but Bates Motel, which is based on characters created in Robert Bloch’s novel Psycho and which is clearly inspired by the film of the same name, is free of any risk. In an enticing recreation of director Alfred Hitchcock’s famous settings, Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga offer incredible and captivating performances as son and mother Norman and Norma Bates.
The series avoids becoming monotonous with a combination of a main plot concerning Norman’s mental health and sub-plots featuring Norma’s strained relationship with her eldest son Dylan, and a Twin Peaks-esque focus on the criminal activities of the Oregan town’s residents. Bates Motel is well written and terrifying at times, while also offering and intriguing a unique view into the life of the mentally unstable and nervous Mommy’s boy made famous by Anthony Perkins and Alfred Hitchcock.
The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory needs no introduction; it has been a firm favourite of audiences and a ratings champion since its inception in 2007. Featuring four loveable nerds and their love interests, the show fuses science with popular culture and excellent writing, comedy and acting. Its characterisation is a huge part of the show’s success, with Jim Parson’s depiction of genius theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper, who lacks social skills, empathy and interest in the opposite sex.
The Big Bang Theory is a crowd pleaser; an hilarious show that appeals to a huge range of audiences by allowing spectators, nerd or not, to connect with its characters.
The Walking Dead
Capitalising on the world’s current obsession with zombies, The Walking Dead allows insight into the day to day lives of a group of survivors led by Sheriff Rick Grimes, who face obstacles in the form of the rabid undead, the aggressive and untrustworthy living and touchy relationship issues.
It boasts a badass lead cast, including the loveable and highly skilled tracker Daryl Dixon and the tough, Samurai sword wielding Michone, who undoubtedly hold much of the show’s appeal. Although sometimes criticised for having discriminatory themes, characters and storylines which have been identified as racist and sexist, The Walking Dead is a must watch. It presents action, adventure and great characterisation in a harsh post-apocalyptic world, attracting audiences from around the world.
In this highly amusing and sarcastic animated show, the ‘world’s greatest secret agent’ Sterling Archer and his colleagues tackle problems facing the United States resulting in battles with communists, double agents and bionic spies. The show would be fairly straight forward if it weren’t for Archer’s careless, selfish and drunken attitude calling for the aid of his strong but sexy fellow agent Lana and overbearing mother Mallory.
There’s plenty of funny office banter from the company’s wacky employees, strange but entertaining scenarios and sarcastic takes on the world’s issues. A smart, humorous and extremely well voice acted show which deserves more attention than it gets.
There are so many other great television shows from the US, what are your favourites?