Binge-Watch Fodder: The Best Rated TV Shows

When it comes to entertaining yourself at home, the most obvious answer is to turn to the TV. We have been told multiple times that we live in a golden age of television, thanks to a focus on bringing cinematic scope to the small screen and acting performances going up several gears. While some people always find an aspect of TV to complain about, for the most part, TV watchers have never had it so good.

The boom in TV can be credited to a variety of causes. The surge in the cost of going to the movies has definitely played a part. However, arguably the biggest defining factor is that we all have far more choice than we ever used to. Just try searching for cable in my area and you will see just how many varieties are available. TV shows need to compete for our attention now there’s a plethora of different channels and options, as the packages from display perfectly. With all those different options, if we get bored, we can switch over to something that doesn’t bore us. As a result, TV has had to up its game.

While it’s tough to initially see there being a downside to this golden age, there is one: what should you watch? When you finish your latest show, it can be a tough task whittling down which series you should move to next. Everyone has an opinion; there’s more to choose from than ever before; and researching your choices because a task in and of itself.

So, let’s make it simple. Using various different ratings systems, here’s a list of the best rated TV shows of all time. If enough people have loved a show to get it onto this list, then there’s a high likelihood you’ll appreciate these shows just the same.

Breaking Bad screened its last episode in 2013, but its popularity is enduring. It’s usually the show that everyone has been told to watch at least once. This means they either watch it and get the hype, or they become almost so irritated by being told to watch it that they don’t want to.

Let’s be clear: if you have resisted up until now, then watch Breaking Bad immediately. The premise of the show is simple; a high school chemistry teacher discovers he has terminal cancer, and teams up with a former student to cook meth. The premise, however, doesn’t even come close to covering the layers of complexity to this show. As shown on, lead actor Bryan Cranston won numerous awards – including Emmys – for his portrayal of the troubled Walter White. The strength of his performance alone makes the show a must for any television fan.

Having just concluded its seventh season, Game Of Thrones is no newcomer – but it’s achieving heights that have never been seen before. The effects on show are cinematic, which is astounding considering the TV budget. If you’re not convinced a TV show can reach SFX close to movie magic, then it’s worth watching the stunning “Field of Fire 2.0” on If this sequence doesn’t intrigue you enough to try the show, then you might want to check for a pulse.

When a show enters into popular culture the way Game Of Thrones has, it’s easy to dodge it, be the outsider who doesn’t follow such conventional trends. However, by doing this with this show in particular, you are going to be missing out on something truly groundbreaking. With the eighth and final season due to be broadcast in 2018 (perhaps, as detailed at, it might be 2019), you can catch up and join in the excited group think as the show reaches its conclusion.

The Wire was the Breaking Bad of its day; the show that everyone tells you to watch, and you resist because it can’t possibly be as good as you’re being told it is. Interestingly, The Wire was actually before the so-called golden age of TV really set in. The show concluded in 2008 after a five-season run that saw it receive little attention or award recognition. However, it is still considered by many critics and fans alike to be one of – if not the – best TV shows of all time.

The Wire focuses on the urban lives and relationships between law enforcement in the city of Baltimore. While the premise might not sound capturing, The Wire has managed to attain heights of celebration that most other TV shows could only dream of – meaning it’s probably worth trying at least a couple of episodes. While the first couple of seasons might seem somewhat outdated now, the show makes up for it in the pureness of its storytelling ability.

As details, there have been many adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation over the years. However, the BBC adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous detective is perhaps the definitive one.

As with many British TV shows, the series is short. Unlike the previous entries on this list, it’s possible to binge watch its entire run in a weekend. The show offers an interesting twist, bringing Sherlock into the modern world and seeing how the mysteries he unravels are able to flourish in this new environment.

There is a fifth season plotted but, as yet, there are no clear signs it will get to air. However, there’s plenty to unpick from the first four, so it’s worth trying if you have a penchant for mystery and suspense. Cumberbatch is engaging in the role also, and the tales are familiar with updated in clever ways.

“Hang on,” you’re probably thinking. “Thus far it’s been logos to signify which show is next. That’s not a logo; that’s just a photo of David Attenborough.”

Well, yes, but there’s a reason for that. It would be possible to breakdown all of the David Attenborough shows that make the list of the best-received TV shows of all time, but there are a lot. For the sake of clarity, let’s just keep it simple and list “seemingly anything that David Attenborough touches is televisual gold”.

Attenborough, a British naturalist, is the recognizable face of some of the highest thought-of TV shows of all time. His series on the earth and its animals include:


  • Planet Earth
  • Planet Earth II
  • Life
  • Human Planet


And many more besides. These shows are different from the list in that they very much focus on reality, but are all the better for it. If you fancy something different for your next TV binge, then you can’t go far wrong with sampling one and seeing if it’s for you. The shows are comfortable to watch even if you don’t have any experience with naturalism, and you might be surprised by how much you enjoy them.

Another change of pace here, but dictated to by the simple fact that Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has garnered an outstanding 9.1 rating on This is about the best rated shows, and it’s pretty difficult to argue with that kind of consensus.

Last Week Tonight is currently in its fourth season, but has already managed to cement a place in the hearts and minds of the country. The show is roughly split into half. The first covers recent news stories, while the second is a “deep dive” into a subject of the week. It’s the second half of the show that has brought such acclaim, with Oliver and his team investigating little-known but important issues such as mandatory minimum sentencing and problems in the bail system. Genuine investigative nous is coupled with Oliver’s quirky humor to produce a show quite unlike anything else found on television before.

If you’re tempted to go back and watch from the start, then bear in mind the “news” element of the show might be one to skip over. For the most part, however, the deep dives in the second half of the show are timeless, so they can be as interesting now as they were when first broadcast.

So Which Should You Try?

There’s a good chance that at least one of these shows should appeal to any type of TV viewer, but here’s a simple breakdown…

  • Choose Breaking Bad if you like nuanced storytelling and exquisite acting performances.
  • Choose Game Of Thrones if you like fantasies and epics.
  • Choose The Wire if you like your drama as real as possible and your storytelling balanced on a knife edge.
  • Choose Sherlock if you’re a keen amateur sleuth and are a fan of snappy dialogue.
  • Choose anything by David Attenborough if you want to know more about the world around us and enjoy something sedate to relax with of an evening.
  • Choose Last Week Tonight with John Oliver if you like investigative journalism, humor, and have a liberal lean to your politics. The folks at believe Oliver is often biased in his reporting but – in fairness – is quite open about not attempting to be neutral.

So, the only question remaining is: which one are you tempted to try next?

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