It’s a decade since The Sopranos finished, a time to get nostalgic for some of the great TV shows loved by men worldwide.
The last ever episode of The Sopranos went to air 10 years ago tomorrow, cementing its status as the greatest television program of all time. But if Tony Soprano and his New Jersey mob blackmailed and murdered their way to the gold medal, which other shows were breathing down their neck? These are the five TV shows every man cannot miss.
It’s not really fair to describe this show as a ‘crime drama’ because The Wire so much more than that, providing a hyper-realistic and unflinchingly gritty portrayal of life urban life in Baltimore, a society rocked by drugs and crime. Created by ex-Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon, each season is projected through a different lens — first cops, then struggling dock workers, corrupt politicians, school kids, and journalists — over a stellar 60-ep run.
Malcolm in the Middle’s dad (Bryan Cranston) breaks bad as a cancer-addled New Mexico high school teacher, first turning to the meth trade to stash away a nest egg for his family in case his tumour gets the best of him . . . but then getting hooked on the feeling of becoming a backyard Pablo Escobar, playing out every man’s wildest criminal fantasy in the bloodiest mid-life crisis in TV history.
Springfield is a little less menacing than the ganglands of New Jersey, Baltimore, and Albuquerque, but no less addictive of a TV show. Although you can count the number of watchable episodes produced this millennium on one hand, the impact of those early seasons was indelible, pumping more idioms and quotes into the vernacular than anything or anyone since Shakespeare — many from the mouth of Homer Simpson, TV’s most iconic everyman.
The West Wing
The tale of principled President Jed Bartlet’s tenure as POTUS is about as realistic as an episode of the X-Files in this brave new Trumpian world — and it struck a chord during the Bush presidency, too — and it probably veered a tad on the idealistic side with its dewy-eyed depiction of service-minded politicians . . . but the witty, rapid-fire dialogue and razor-sharp acting make it must-watch man TV.
At the other end of the style spectrum stands Don Draper, the ever-dapper, always-flawed ad man who was the king of Madison Avenue advertising in the 1960s. A unique part of Mad Men’s appeal is the mid-century aesthetic — the suits, cigarettes, and Old Fashioneds — and a unique part of its greatness is the show’s influence on modern culture, reviving interest in men’s formalwear, grooming, and the swinging ‘60s in general.