Monday, June 14, 2010

HBO is better than your favorite network

Spent some time with the latest season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” this weekend. You know – the season featuring the “Seinfeld” cast reuniting in a way that had every critic use words like “brilliant” and “well-done” to describe it. And they were right. Only around half way through it, and I can say that it’s a pretty smart way of going about it. Definitely worth checking out.

Anyways, it got me thinking about HBO. Just now finding “Dexter” and already being a hardcore fan of “Californication,” I can now confidently say that Showtime is on the network’s heels (especially considering the notion that arguably the best shows to ever grace the HBO screens are currently over and done with). While HBO may be on top for now, it’s certainly seeing some stiff competition from all ends when you include the excellent programming from networks like AMC or FX that take the HBO format and twist it enough to be acceptable on basic cable while not losing the edge and intelligence that shows from pay-for-service television have typically offered.

Seeing “Curb” made me ponder the best shows HBO have produced. Naturally, because we love you, the incredibly insightful reader, I thought I’d post what I consider to be the best three shows HBO has seen. Before doing that, though, it must be pointed out that I have never seen any more than a few minutes of “The Sopranos” and “True Blood,” both shows that have universally been praised by just about everyone who watches television. Other shows I’ve always meant to sit down with though never found the time: “In Treatment,” “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” (hey, it’s got Jill Scott), and “Big Love.” So yes, consider the following and abridged (i.e. ignorant) version of the list, but a list nonetheless. And lists are always so much fun, aren’t they? So feel free to disagree, complain that I know nothing and be utterly dismissive of any opinion I decide to share. Besides, the appeal of lists lies only within the people who are willing to debate them. So without anymore ramblings…

3. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Could have easily been replaced with “Flight Of The Conchords,” but considering the latter had a mere two seasons, it just didn’t feel right. “Curb” is admittedly put over the edge because of this latest season, but that doesn’t mean seasons one through six weren’t any good. It’s like “Seinfeld” for grown-ups, really. The cursing helps and while I’ll be the first to admit the plot lines get a bit grating and predictable after a while, it’s still pretty neat to see the celebrities come on as themselves, willing to say and do just about anything. Plus, Larry David seems like a nice guy to root for. Especially when you happen to be as neurotic and petty as he portrays himself in the show. Come on, now. Tell me this isn’t great…

2. Entourage
Hey, it’s back in two weeks! Yes, yes, I know most anyone who has watched it has completely jumped the shark by now. But if you can accept the show for what it is – a sometimes-charming analysis on relationships – you can find the light appeal within each episode. Sure, Johnny Drama has become a bit of a caricature of himself, and Vinny Chase seems to be getting more and more like a pomp-filled, bubbling idiot, but if you can’t root for Eric and Sloan, then I don’t even know why you bother watching television all together. You can’t think this show will go much longer than the next couple seasons, but in it’s hay-day, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better dude-show that translated well to those who aren’t dudes. Besides, the first season’s finale really was greater-than-awesome television. Don’t remember? Check it out…

1. The Wire

Remember this? Oh, those were the days, before we had any comments, followers or connection to the outside world. Part of the reason why I am so reluctant to finally sit with “The Sopranos” is because of my love for "The Wire" and everybody’s insistence that while both shows are great, “The Sopranos” is a bit better, though in the same vein. The storylines intersect like city roads impossible to navigate. It’s gritty. It’s obscene. It’s funny. And most importantly, it’s universally decided that it depicts inner-city life better than any other show in the history of TV. Plus, it kind of spawned “Treme,” which, had it been around for longer than one season, may have made its own way on this list itself. It’s the smartest show to ever make its way on to a television screen, and by my calculations, the second best show ever on any network. For those who agree, you may want to check out the below clip…


  1. Ok.

    The Sopranos
    Six Feet Under
    Big Love
    True Blood

    All amazing shows that should be on any HBO Top-Whatever list... actually, many Television Top-Whatever lists in fact. If this post doesn't generate an argument (or at least a conversation), expect a conflicting opinion post in the near future.


  2. Before I ever sit with The Sopranos, I'm going to end up hating it for all the praise you people want to shower it with.