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Sepinwall and Seitz’ List of the 10 Best TV Shows in Prime Time History

“The Simpsons”

“So ambitious, intimate, classical, experimental, hip, corny and altogether free in its conviction that the imagination should go where it wants, that to even begin to explain all the things ‘The Simpsons’ is, and all the things it does, you need an immense Venn diagram drawn on a football field, each cricle representing different modes of comedy.”

“The Sopranos”

“At its peak, it produced moments so transcendently funny, real, brutal and mysterious that they make even the finest moments of other great series seem underachieving.”

“The Wire”

Its “great triumph is that, for all its detail and all of its Cassandra-like prophecies of the unreal danger done to society by institutional corruption and individual ambition, it is ultimately a restrained, humanist work; a pointillist novel comprising faces.”


“To put it in terms Sam (Malone) would understand, ‘Cheers’ had Sandy Koufax’s peak but instead of retiring early, it kept going for the comedy equivalent of Nolan Ryan’s career – and damned if it didn’t achieve the impossible.”

“Breaking Bad”

“A treasure trove of of sociological and pop culture signifiers. But nobody would care about that stuff (and the show would not have become a sensation) without (Vince) Gilligan’s determination to entertain at every second.”

“Mad Men”

“‘Mad Men’ doesn’t just have vision, it’s about visions and seeing and seeing through.”


“In its fascination with zooming in on life’s most insignificant details, it actually wound up offering a hard view of life at the end of the twentieth century; the show about nothing that was really about everything.”

“I Love Lucy”

“Invented a new stylistic language for TV comedy. It is not only one of TV’s best sitcoms ever but its most influential.”


“The show was, in no particular order, a Western, a gangster picture, a political drama, a lewd farce,and a comedy of manners; an operatic potboiler chock full of sex, violence, and profanity; a sustained, long-form narrative that interweaves parallel plots tighter than a hangman’s rope....a weekly showcase for characters and dialogue so rich in complexity and contradiction that they deserve to be called ‘Shakespearean.’ ”

“All in the Family”

“The series wasn’t just a situation comedy, it was an ongoing national conversation rooted in multifaceted characters.”


“The show was truly bold and it grew more audacious by the season.”

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