Sights and Sounds Department Collection and State Library Resources

Groundbreaking Views: Must-Watch American TV Series

These critically acclaimed American television series have broken new ground in popular entertainment. If you haven’t seen them yet, use the following links to catch up on these pioneering programs that challenged the generic conventions of network TV and deeply influenced American culture, generating devoted cult followings and changing forever the way we watch television.

BreakingBad1BREAKING BAD (AMC) - Seasons 1-4
Breaking Bad is the award-winning story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who, with the help of former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), turns to producing and selling methamphetamine to support his family after he learns he has inoperable lung cancer. Now in its 5th and final season, its final eight episodes will air in August 2013. Check Pratt catalog 

FreaksAndGeeksFREAKS & GEEKS (NBC) - One season
The short-lived (18 episodes) teen drama that many consider to be Judd Apatow’s crowning achievement addressed cliques and identity issues at a fictional Michigan high school in the ‘80s, while launching the careers of Seth Rogan and James Franco. Check Pratt catalog


GoTGAME OF THRONES (HBO) - Seasons 1 & 2
Based on George R. R. Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels, HBO’s adaptation of the power struggle to rule the Iron Throne of Westeros thrilled viewers with its bloody battles, bawdy beddings, and barbaric beheadings and created a pop cultural phenomenon every bit as epic as Martin's books. Check Pratt catalog


SeinfeldSEINFELD (NBC) - Seasons 1-6
Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld’s show about “nothing” reveled in life’s minutiae with a cast of adult Freaks and Geeks, creating one of TV’s most devoted cult followings and spawning Larry David’s spin-off HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. Check Pratt catalog


Sopranos1THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Seasons 1-6
The Writers Guild of America named HBO’s New Jersey mob saga the best-written TV series ever screened in the US, adding, "No show has been more responsible for TV's storytelling renaissance.” As Tony Soprano, the recently departed James Gandolfini (1963-2013)’s struggles with domestic life and his complex relationship with his shrink made the show much more than a simple crime story. Check Pratt catalog


24_124 (Fox) - Seasons 1-5
Each 24-episode of 24 covered 24 hours in the life of Counter Terrorist agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutrherland), using a real-time narration method to chronicle his race against the clock to thwart terrorist plots. Though controversial for its "ends justify the means" depictions of torture, it won numerous awards and remains the longest-running American TV espionage series ever. Check Pratt catalog


TwinPeaksTWIN PEAKS (ABC) Season 1
Mark Frost and David Lynch’s series about FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)’s investigation of the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) was genre-defying, deftly switching tone between Norman Rockwell Americana and surrealistic creepiness – all underscored by Angelo Badalamenti’s brooding soundtrack music. Check Pratt catalog


WireTHE WIRE (HBO) – Seasons 1-5
The Wire should be required viewing for anyone living in Baltimore. Despite only receiving modest ratings and never winning any major television awards in its five seasons (2002-2008) on HBO, David Simon’s gritty crime drama was a favorite with critics, many of whom called it one of the greatest TV dramas of all time. Check Pratt catalog