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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Hey Hollywood Reporter, you forgot some shows

The news outlet’s list of the best TV shows of the 21st century has some glaring omissions.

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The cast of "The West Wing" is pictured.

On Oct. 4, The Hollywood Reporter released its “50 Best TV Shows of the 21st Century (So Far).” THR restricted the list to English-language shows that aired episodes after Dec. 31, 1999. Some of the shows on this list are pleasant surprises, like “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005–2008) at No. 49, while others are more “How did this get here?” moments, like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (2015–2018) at No. 37. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to imagine how some shows did not end up in the top 50 or even in their honorable mentions. Here are three of those shows:

“The West Wing” (1999–2006)

“The West Wing” not being considered one of the best shows of the 21st century is an abysmal mistake by THR. Per their parameters, the first 10 episodes of the series would not be considered, but that does not justify the omission of the best political drama ever created for the small screen.

“The West Wing” follows the staff of the fictional President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) as they work through challenging political issues and an assortment of personal relationships while trying to run a country. The dialogue is quick and witty with a perfect balance of drama and comedy, which is no surprise considering Aaron Sorkin wrote almost every episode of the first four seasons. Additionally, the acting is unmatched and the chemistry between all the actors makes their work environment feel real, to the point where you often find yourself stressed for them. With Allison Janney’s remarkable four-time Emmy-winning performance as press secretary C.J. Cregg, Martin Sheen’s powerful President Bartlet being one of the best presidents (yes, he’s fictional, but he would be the best president) and too many other great actors (Janel Moloney as Donna Moss, Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn, Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman and John Spencer as Leo McGarry) to include in this short review, it is frankly embarrassing that THR failed to include this masterpiece, which should be well within the top 10 of the best TV shows of the 21st century.

“Schitt’s Creek” (2015–2020)

Frankly, “Schitt’s Creek” might be one of the best comedies of the 21st century. Most shows tend to trail off and lack the same quality they had in early seasons, but with “Schitt’s Creek,” the show only got better over the course of its six seasons. The fact that the show swept the comedy categories at the Emmy Awards for its final season, becoming the first comedy to ever win all four main acting awards in a single year and the most awarded comedy in a single year, is a true testament to the show’s writing, acting and comedic genius.

The riches-to-rags story of the Rose family is heartwarming and every episode will have you laughing. The main cast of Dan Levy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy deserves all the praise for their ability to bounce off one another and create a dynamic that feels authentic and truly familial. Each character has their own quirks and traits that make them unique, from Moira’s (O’Hara) nonsensical vocabulary to Alexis’ (Murphy) various ridiculous stories about celebrities, and yet it never feels overdone or “too much” — it just adds to the comedy and makes you love them more.

“Stranger Things” (2016–)

The cultural impact of “Stranger Things” alone is something that should garner it recognition as one of the best TV shows of the 21st century. No other TV show has been able to send a 37-year-old song to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 until “Stranger Things.” That song was “Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)” (1985) by Kate Bush, in case you lived under a rock during the summer of 2022. Pop culture impact aside, there is nothing like “Stranger Things” in terms of concept and originality.

The show starts with a more simple premise. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) goes missing, his friends discover an alternate world called the Upside Down, they meet a super-powered girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) — oh, and there’s a monster. But what makes the show so great is how over the course of four seasons (with a fifth and final season in the works), viewers discover how everything is connected and the events of the first season are still relevant in the fourth, if not even more important. The way the Duffer brothers, the show’s creators, are able to weave everything together and build onto the lore of the Upside Down is incredible to watch. Perhaps with a successful final season this show would secure its spot in the ranks, but either way it should already be on the list.