Top Dramas

I love TV. I love it A LOT. I grew up watching TV all day, and all night. I watch even more today, thanks to the greatest invention ever – the DVR. I watch sitcoms, cartoons, reality shows, game shows, documentaries, sports, and most of all, dramas.

You wouldn’t have expected that if you met me. I love making people laugh as much as possible. I joke all the time – especially when it’s inappropriate to do so. When I’m at funerals, when giving serious advice to a friend, when I’m at AA meetings* – if I were in a TV show, and a joke would lighten the situation and provide awkward humor, I’ll say it. I often joke that I wish my life was a sitcom … all the problems would be wrapped up in 22 minutes, occasionally a superstar celebrity would drop by when it seemed that no one cared about the happenings in my life, and even serious moments would be lightened with some humor or a funny facial expression breaking an imaginary 4th wall.

*I don’t go to AA meetings. I don’t have a drinking problem, and I’m not an alcoholic. However, if I did imbibe too much and felt the need to go to meetings, I would inevitably make jokes.

But ultimately, dramatic shows are the ones to which we all gravitate. They are the ones we talk about the next day at school, or at work, or in Facebook groups. Sure, we may rehash a joke or line from a comedy, but those tend to fall flat when said out of context, or if everyone already saw/heard it. But those dramas – oh man. We can talk about those for days. Character development is far more enhanced in dramas. Story arcs are played out over a longer period of time.* Most of all, however, we love dramas for the variety of emotions they are able to evoke from even the staunchest of individuals.

*This does happen in comedies as well. It’s no more evident than in “How I Met Your Mother” which is in the 9th and final season dragging out a premise that could have been completed in a few seasons. I’m not complaining though, HIMYM is incredibly funny and has a lot of inside jokes that sometimes span several seasons, which can make the payoff that much greater.

I’ve made it known that I love lists. I love ranking everything because it gives me something to do. It gives me a sense of purpose, and is very often a point of conversation – and debate. It’s very important to realize that every list I make is, for the most part, a subjective list. These are MY thoughts, reviews, opinions, and rankings. Yours may no doubt be different. What I hope to accomplish with this, however, is try to give some insight into WHY I chose to rank these shows the way I did. I thought about creating a scoring system – I really did think about how I would score things like character turnover, episode count, award count, season length, on-screen time for major characters, number of A-level storylines, guest stars, plot holes, and, if applicable, quality of series finale (particularly the final scene of a series, which often makes or breaks the entire finale – obviously, this WILL be discussed).

Ultimately, I decided against that and concluded that it would make the post too statistic driven for something so subjective and emotionally connected. I will discuss certain things as I see fit. These are my Top 12* dramatic series. But first, I feel I can extinguish some fires ahead of time by mentioning the shows that did NOT make the Top 12.

*I chose 12 because these are definitive for me. After these 12, my rankings tend to sway and alternate. It’s also very tough to rate shows that are still on TV, because the rating can change based on new episodes.

Mad Men I am still watching this show (thank you, Netflix), and will be caught up by the time the 7th and final season begins airing this April. As it stands, it may crack the top 12.

The Wire I will catch the most shit for not having this show ranked higher, but like Mad Men, I haven’t finished it. The writing is incredible, and it may also crack the top 12, but I find it difficult to watch. Not because of content, but because of opportunity. It aired on HBO, and past seasons are not available On Demand in their entirety. I have to watch them on HBO Go – which means on the iPad only. I just don’t like watching TV on my iPad when I have a giant TV in front of me. I will get to them. Promise.

House of Cards Season 2 starts tomorrow, so it’s way too new to be one of the greatest ever, even in my opinion, but if the first season is any indication, it will be amazing. Kevin Spacey is incredible and if you’re into politics the way I am, or just like seeing how things really work in Washington, DC, then it’s a must-watch.

Boardwalk Empire It’s a great show. The characters are great; Steve Buscemi is phenomenal. But sometimes I tend to lose focus because some some plot lines are not as interesting. Great show, though, and definitely Top 25 of all time.

Law and Order: SVU Funny thing about this show: I did not start watching until last year. I began watching when I heard that the great Fred Norris of the Howard Stern Show was going to be on an episode. After that episode, they previewed the next one, which was guest starring Mike Tyson. So I watched that one, too. By that point, I was hooked. I’ve watched every episode since. At some point, I’ll take in one of the all-day marathons on TNT and watch earlier episodes.

The Walking Dead The first two seasons – phenomenal. After that, it began adding characters that were throwaway, laughable, unlikable, or just plain boring. And there are stretches of pure boredom as well. But once it gets going, it is edge-of-your-seat tension. And there are few shows that could actually make you root for the death of a whiny little brat of a kid by the second season, and now make you glad he survived because he’s turned into a bona fide badass. It’s also brought attention to the coolness of the crossbow and kitana, thanks to Daryl and Michonne, respectively. My biggest gripe? Shooting moving targets in the head while having almost no serious firearm training is a LOT harder in real life than the show makes it seem.

Game of Thrones Another show that makes you root for the death of a kid, although King Joffrey is less a kid and more just that kid from your old elementary school that acted like a sniveling, prepubescent asshole because he knows that even though he is hated by everyone, they need to pretend to like him because he has the cool toys. Peter Dinklage is outstanding in every way and was well-deserving of his 2012 Best Actor Golden Globe win. It’s created a myriad of “Winter is Coming” internet memes and countless other jokes and references. The imagery is amazing, the scenery is stunning, and there’s lots of gratuitous nudity (although South Park was right about all the “floppy wieners”). And the opening sequence is so awesome, with the most kick-ass theme music, that Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals has adopted it as his walk-up song for every at-bat, which makes him a whole lot cooler in my book (despite his lack of fantasy production which caused me to drop him from my team).

Playmakers This show lasted just one season, because the NFL threatened ESPN with a boycott if the show was not removed. It was as real as real can get, with storylines of drug use, infidelity, homosexuality, and the everyday battles of playing professional football. An extremely well done series … but unfortunately, for only one season.

Freaks and Geeks Another show that only lasted one season – NBC cared more about ratings than reviews. It was featured the early work of such stars as James Franco, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segal, Martin Starr, and Busy Phillips, and also starred the great Joe Flaherty. Great writing, realistic stories, and incredible acting. NBC flat out screwed up shutting this one down.

Homeland Amazing show – just hasn’t been on long enough to warrant a higher placement. They just finished Season 3, and we’ll see how they proceed after the ending of last season.

Others worthy of at least a mention:

Shameless William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum kill it in every episode, and a supporting cast of largely unknowns provide amazingly cringe-worthy and uncomfortable moments in the life of a struggling family in downtown Chicago.

The Newsroom Jeff Daniels is superb, and if you have any doubt about his acting abilities, watch an episode of this series immediately following a viewing of him as Harry Dunne in “Dumb and Dumber.”

Desperate Housewives Shut up. I liked it. It was a silly comedy/drama, but I got hooked on it. We all love gossip, even if we don’t admit it, and this show was chock-full. It was funny at times, sentimental at others. It showed how affairs hurt, lies are damaging, and family isn’t always who shares the same bloodline. True friendships can withstand almost anything. The finale was exactly how I expected it to be … life goes on

True Blood I love vampires, but sometimes this series veers too far off course by adding too many different supernatural creatures. Although I will admit that the dry humor is great, and Deborah Ann Woll is excellent even if she says nothing.

Heroes They added too many characters as the series progressed, and everyone seemed to have superpowers, but the first season remains one of my favorites ever.

Nip/Tuck The opening scene of the pilot, where Dr. Christian Troy meets the model Kimber, who rejects his pick-up lines until she realizes he’s a plastic surgeon, is still one of my most favorite scenes ever. The show was one of my guilty pleasures. It was over the top, outrageous, featured more plot twists and fantastical ideas than one could imagine, but it was really fun to watch. And the line, “Tell me what you don’t like about yourself” is something we could say in the mirror every day.

Prison Break It should have been a mini-series instead a 4-season show. Great premise, excellent execution, and Robert Knepper was chilling, but it ran too long and was too convoluted as it went on for a spot in the upper echelon of TV.

Knight Rider, The A-Team I list these two together because they weren’t very good who watching them now, as an adult, but boy were they entertaining. I dressed up as Mr. T for Halloween one year and met David Hasselhoff once.* I still look online for 1982 Firebirds to buy one day so I can build my own K.I.T.T. and just drive it to my dad’s to show him.

*I wore a mask; I did not use black face. But I did wear a bunch of fake gold chains and carried a plastic Uzi. I have a picture. When I met Hasselhoff, he was at the RI Convention Center (or Civic Center, I forget) and he was there with the KITT car. He was a dick to me because I called him Michael Knight and not Mr. Hasselhoff. My dad responded, “He’s 6, asshole.”

Ok, on to the Top 12. I could easily write an entire post about each of these, but I’ll try to be brief. Please keep in mind that I may divulge some endings/plot twists if the show is off the air. So beware …


12. Dexter (2006-2013) This ranking is more a casualty of other shows just being better, and the reason I dropped it lies mostly with the series finale, which made me feel mixed emotions. After the pilot, I thought it would be a dark, gritty, drama. But then I noticed the subtle humor that Dexter displayed. His tongue-in-cheek jokes made me smirk and chuckle despite the fact that he may have uttered them while dismembering a victim. As the series progressed, we were introduced to some characters that were despicable (Lila, in particular), lost some eye candy (the murder of Rita is still traumatic), gained some eye candy (despite her serial killer ways, Hannah was still gorgeous), saw some AMAZINGLY well acted villains (John Lithgow was simply chilling as The Trinity Killer), and met one of the most disturbingly inappropriate and hilarious side characters ever (Vince Masuka was probably one of the most realistic TV police employees ever – if you can’t make untimely sex jokes at work to keep things light around death, you’re probably a boring individual). All that being said, the finale was good, but not great. Dexter faking his death was a cop-out to me, but it was filled with emotion, as the goodbye to Deb was the most human Dexter had ever been. All in all, after 8 seasons and 96 episodes, it is worthy of a high placement.

11. Grey’s Anatomy (2005-present) Yes, it can get very much like a soap opera with the romances between characters, and I understand that this being on the list makes people question my toughness. But there are many plot lines of many episodes devoted ENTIRELY to specific surgeries and procedures. I’ve often said that if I had to go back to medical school, I would choose neurosurgery or trauma as my specialty. The show has been on for 10 seasons and over 200 episodes, and since Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey just resigned for another 2 seasons, it will surpass 250 episodes before it’s all said and done. That’s very impressive in today’s age of short attention spans and premature cancellations. That hospital has seen more tragedies and suspenseful moments (floods, power outages, mass casualties arriving, mass shootings in the hospital, etc.) than any hospital could in real life, but it’s still gripping entertainment. And the death of George O’Malley is still one of the most gut-wrenching episodes the show has ever done.

10. Smallville (2001-2011) Yes, it took 10 seasons and 217 episodes before Clark Kent finally flew. Yes, the first two seasons were mostly of the “freak-of-the-week” variety. But this show so adeptly chronicled the growth of Clark Kent to Superman while learning his powers and being tested by Jor-El through trials of moral and ethical strength, that it warrants being my 10th favorite drama of all time. As the show continued, we began to see more of the DC characters (heroes and villains) we know and love from the comics: Lois Lane, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Brainiac, Slade Wilson, Doomsday, Metallo, Toy Man, Amanda Waller, Darkseid, General Zod, and of course, Lex Luthor. It paid homage to the original movies and TV shows with cameos from Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, and even a spot from the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter. And one of the coolest cameos for me on a personal level was the reunion of the Dukes of Hazard, when Tom Wopat guest starred as a politician and old friend of Jonathan Kent, who was played by John Schneider. I loved the Dukes of Hazard as a kid, and the scene introducing Wopat of course had him speeding up in an old Charger. The scenes of Clark in the Fortress of Solitude with subtle tones of Superman’s theme in the background still give me goosebumps.

9. House, M.D. (2004-2012) If we lived a better world, one without lawyers who would sue doctors for speaking the truth, I would have been exactly like Dr. Gregory House – snarky, smarmy, obnoxious, and hysterical. It was a show that, in the beginning, was primarily a “disease of the week” and followed a typical formula. But then the patient of the week became the B-plot and the main story became the character development of the drug-addicted House and his team and their relationships with each other. And the finale was as fitting as could be, with the title “Everybody Dies” (after the pilot was entitled “Everybody Lies”) as House gave up his career and faked his death to spend time with his best (and only) friend, who had only months to live. The show also took several serious turns throughout its 8 season/176 episode run, dealing with topics like suicide (and the fact that sometimes, we NEVER know why a person does it – that was one of the most incredible episodes of any show, ever), genetic diseases that impact our own future, abuse, the morals of helping someone who doesn’t deserve it, and even love and infidelity.

8. Sons of Anarchy (2008-present) The only show in my top 10 that is still on the air, SoA enters its 7th and final season in 2014. It follows the lives of a motorcycle club in California, and how the life impacts family and decisions. Part “Sopranos” and part “Hamlet,” it is an incredibly well written show and it’s a travesty that Katey Sagal has only been recognized for her outstanding work as the matriarch of the club once (2011 Golden Globe – Best Actress). I am intensely excited to see how the series wraps up, especially after how Season 6 ended on such a thrilling moment.

7. Rescue Me (2004-2011) Denis Leary hit a home run with his darkly comedic drama about the FDNY in the years following 9/11. Alcoholism was front and center, and constant heartache followed Leary’s Tommy Gavin. His family and friends provided constant entertainment and often very touching moments, especially about death, which followed Tommy like a shadow. The supporting cast making up the rest of the fire department and the dysfunctional Gavin family made the show have a seamless transition from comedic scenes to those of pure sadness. The series finale was funny, heartwarming and almost perfect. It was a poetic remembrance of those lost who sacrificed themselves for others. It was the most fitting way to end one of my favorite shows, ever.

6. ER (1994-2009) Fifteen seasons. 331 episodes. And 28 different actors appeared in at least 100 episodes. Another 12 appeared in between 50-100 episodes. The strength of ER was the fact that there was so much turnover in the cast; it made it real. People change and move on. And in television, it allows for exceptional reunion shows (George Clooney’s return was such a wonderful moment in the show’s history). It also provides the audience with such emotional connection to characters that when they leave, we feel a genuine loss. The death of Dr. Mark Greene, played by Anthony Edwards, was one of the most emotional episodes I’ve ever seen. Granted, my heart strings were pulled that much harder by the playing of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which always reminds me of my grandfather, but Greene and the cast of ER were the main proponents in my decision to become a doctor. So many moments are memorable, but two of them (in addition to Clooney’s return and Greene’s death) are scorched into my brain. The first was the brutal stabbings of Dr. John Carter (Noah Wylie) and Lucy Knight (Kellie Martin) by a schizophrenic patient. John walks into a room looking for Lucy on Valentine’s Day in the hospital and sees a card. He opens it, sees blood on the floor, then is stabbed in the back by the patient. When he falls to the floor, he sees Lucy in a pool of blood on the other side of the bed. The other moment was actually the very next episode, which began with Dr. Kerry Weaver finding the two bodies, and the entire staff fighting to save their lives. I had goosebumps. I watched the show every week with my mom until I moved to college, and we talked about it every week after a new episode aired. There will always be a love for this show because of the connection I make with it. It only fell out of the Top 5 recently, and the only fault I could explain with any seriousness is that when you have 300+ episodes, there are bound to be several that fail to live up to the reputation that precedes them.

5. 24 (2001-2014) Jack Bauer is the single greatest TV action hero ever. There is absolutely no equal. The most original premise I’ve ever seen in TV history delivered. Every. Single. Time. I changed my cellphone ringtone to mimic that of the office phones at the Counter Terrorist Unit, and paid close attention to the handful of times the show used a silent countdown, which followed an important death to a major character. (It occurred 11 times in total over the 8 seasons and the movie “24: Redemption”. Season 4 is the only season to never feature a silent clock.) To air a show in real time does force the viewer to see some downtime, and the creators (Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow) admit that, which is why when they bring the show back for a 9th season this May after a 4-year layoff, they are switching to a 12-hour format to cut out that slow stuff. But when the action was moving, it was at such a breakneck speed that you grabbed your seat and held on. Kiefer Sutherland brought the character to life – with heart and soul and tortuous behavior. He could get any terrorist to talk, and his interrogation tactics were as enhanced as they could get. He was an unstoppable force aided by an undying love for his country. As far as a supporting cast, there was no greater sidekick than Chloe O’Brien (played perfectly by Mary Lynn Rajskub). And Dennis Haysbert was brilliant as the greatest TV president ever, David Palmer. Add the stunningly beautiful Anne Wersching as Agent Renee Walker and the gorgeous Elisha Cuthbert as Jack’s daughter Kim Bauer and you have a gold mine for success. But the best part of “24” was how frightfully real it COULD be. Thanks to the Patriot Act, we will never know how many potential terrorist attacks are thwarted every day. But there are disturbingly eerie similarities between President Charles Logan and the lies and deceit we’ve seen in D.C. over the past several years. And that makes us hope that there are agents like Jack as well.

4. The Sopranos (1999-2007) Without Tony Soprano, there would be no Walter White. Without Tony Soprano, there would be no Vic Mackey. He WAS the first great anti-hero; he was the bad guy we rooted FOR. When he would kill someone in cold blood? It’s ok; it’s Tony and that’s what he does. When he would cheat on his wife with his girlfriend or cheat on his girlfriend with his other girlfriend? It’s ok; it’s Tony and that’s what he does. We forgave his illicit behavior because he brought forth the fantasy of the mafia in all of us. He was the boss of the entire Soprano crime family, yet he had trouble controlling his kids. He possessed a quality that allowed us to relate to him. Most of us are not criminals; we have not killed people; we don’t make our living on the wrong side of the law. Yet we could all relate to Tony on some level. Maybe it was the frustration he felt at “work.” Maybe it was the strife he experienced with his aging mother, in whose eyes he could do nothing right. Maybe it was the excitement he felt taking his daughter to visit colleges or when he worked on his NCAA March Madness pool or when he’d feed the ducks in his pool. “The Sopranos” made us laugh with very dark humor; one of my favorite scenes in the entire 6 seasons was the fresh-off-the-boat enforcer from Italy, Furio Giunta, entering the Korean massage parlor to collect tribute from the owner and smashing his way in with a bat and then shooting the owner in the knee, all while Tony sat in his Suburban smoking a cigar and smiling as he hears the commotion. The series finale, particularly the final scene, brought forth scorn from TV viewers across the nation. Cutting to black during Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” created more controversy than any show in recent memory. Was Tony shot by the man in the Members Only jacket? If so, did he survive? Earlier in Season 6, he sat on a boat with his brother-in-law, Bobby Baccala, discussing what it might be like to get shot in the head. They surmised that “everything just goes black.” Unfortunately, with the death of James Gandolfini, we will never get the true answer, as the potential for a movie ended.

3. Breaking Bad (2008-2013) Here is where the ranking will cause the most debate. But if you think about it, in any list, when you get to the Top 3, there are bound to be debates and discussions because if you’re talking subjectivity, it is all based on where you place more value. Breaking Bad ran for 5 seasons and 62 episodes. Every single episode was stellar. Every. Single. One. Surely that kind of percentage warrants a higher placement, no? Well, while I do think that a 100% EEP (Excellent Episode Percentage) is a feat that is almost impossible to match in a show that runs more than a season or two, it’s not the only factor. Breaking Bad was an amazing idea of a show, written with genius, directed with brilliance, and acted with some of the greatest performances I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. The final 8 episodes were so impeccably made that people talked about them all week until the next one aired. Walter White (portrayed by multiple Emmy winner Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (multiple Emmy winner Aaron Paul) made us laugh, cry, cringe, and cheer on their journeys from high school chemistry teacher and former student to the largest meth dealers in the Southwest. The supporting cast was equally amazing. Anna Gunn and Dean Norris were riveting. The dynamic between Walter and his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Norris) began on one side of the coin and flipped 180 degrees as Hank saw the mild-mannered, geeky, meek man transform into one of the most dangerous men alive. His opinion changed from feeling sorry for Walt to anger and even fear. The music throughout the show was mixed beautifully, with lyrics matching emotions and mood of the scene. The colorful scenery and imagery added to the analysis and foreshadowing. The finale answered questions and provided closure for every character. The final scene and accompanying music is masterful. It can be argued that Breaking Bad was the greatest drama ever, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for making that claim. But there were two shows that, for me, rank just a smidge higher.

2. The Shield (2002-2008) While this show is fiction, it was based on the LAPD Rampart Division’s anti-gang unit. The opening theme music is an in-your-face mix of guitars that wakes you up and gets you ready to experience something special. Many of the minor story lines were based on real events. The police technical advisor* for the show once told creator Shawn Ryan that “every cop will love this show, even the higher ranks who will publicly say they don’t.” Vic Mackey and his Strike Team were bad news for anyone committing crime in the Farmington region of LA. He bended some rules, broke others, and simply ignored the ones he didn’t like. But his was likable. He was funny, he was sincere, he loved his family and his children, two of which were diagnosed with autism.** This increased need for additional finances may have been what drove Mackey to make underhanded deals, or rob the Armenian Money Train, or have more back-alley relationships with those who should’ve been behind bars. Ultimately, Vic was about honesty and loyalty. The end of the pilot episode showed very clearly the extent to which he’d go to protect his team. The murder of Detective Crowley would be a lasting plot, culminating in one of the greatest scenes in TV history: Vic Mackey sitting down to confess his crimes in exchange for immunity, looks at the digital recorder and asks, “How much memory does that thing have?”

*The spell-check kept telling me that it should be “adviser” and not “advisor.” They are both accepted spellings and there is no difference. But ‘adviser’ is listed as the primary spelling in most dictionaries because it is an older version. It’s also 5x more common in current news publications. However, ‘advisor’ is commonly used as a job title and is only marginally more common in American and Canadian English than other varieties of English. I just wanted to clear that up for anyone that complains about my spelling.

**As someone who is becoming more involved in the autism community now, thanks to very dear friends with autistic children, the plot of Vic’s son being diagnosed was my first “experience” with autism. Seeing him and his wife try to cope at a time when many doctors still didn’t truly understand the diagnosis was real, sad and frightening. Here was this tough, strong cop who beat criminals with his fists, burned them on stoves, and threatened them with poisonous snakes, and he’s crying behind closed doors because he feels helpless to care for his child.

My reasoning behind placing The Shield above Breaking Bad is largely based on the finale and the final outcome of the main character. **SPOILER ALERT AHEAD** Both Walter White and Vic Mackey were powerful men who were likable and had funny personality traits but were ultimately awful people. They both killed people, and ruined the lives of their friends and families. Both wanted to provide for their families, get away with their crimes, and be happy. By the end of BB, Walt died after being shot by a stray bullet (although he was going to be dead from his cancer anyway), but had set up a trust for his children and family with more money than they could ever spend. He murdered everyone who crossed him, allowed Jesse to go free and in the final scene, died in a meth lab so everyone would know him to be the kingpin of a drug empire. At the end of The Shield, Vic lost his family to witness protection, saw his longtime friend Shane kill himself and his family (after knowing that Shane killed their friend Lem), saw his other friend Ronnie arrested for all the crimes Vic committed after Vic betrayed him, and in the final scene, was shown stripped of all power and glory by being placed at a desk job typing reports instead of being on the streets fighting crime. It was the worst Hell he could envision; it was the perfect punishment. And THAT is the main reason that this show ranks just a hair above BB.

1. LOST (2004-2010) Here we are … Number 1. My favorite drama of all time. LOST was so much more to me than just a show about castaways on a mysterious island. It wasn’t just a science fiction show. It was about relationships. It was about not knowing the lives of the people you meet every day. We are all connected and no meeting is by chance. We all have a destiny. The two major conflicts were science vs. faith. But it was more than that. LOST became a way of life for true fans across the world. Each season brought questions, and admittedly, they weren’t all answered by the finale. But that’s part of why it’s so great. In life, we don’t always get to learn the answers to every question. We are sometimes left wondering.

LOST introduced us to incredible characters. By the end of the show, every character had their back-story told in detail, and they all had redeeming qualities. The point was, everyone we meet is the way they are because of something that’s happened to them. This was actually part of the homily I heard at mass last Sunday. We don’t always know the stories of the people we meet daily, but everyone’s actions have a reason behind them. That woman in the market who’s throwing a fit because her coupon wasn’t accepted? Maybe she just learned a friend was very sick. That young cashier at the coffee shop snapping at a customer? Perhaps she just received a letter telling her that she was rejected from her first choice of college. The guy swearing and yelling at a worker in a store? He just buried a family member. That boss who suddenly seems distant and despondent? He just found out he was lied to and cheated on by the love of his life and best friend.

The relationships between the characters on LOST were deep and complex. They all had inner demons that they needed to fight to gain truth and salvation. It’s true for all of us. Sure, some of us hide it well, but we all have issues. LOST displayed that in the truest of forms. Jack Shephard – the orthopedic surgeon trying to live up to his alcoholic father’s professional reputation, while battling his own self-doubt; Kate Austen – the fugitive being chased by federal agents for killing her abusive step-father after being turned in by her own mother; Charlie Pace – the downtrodden heroin-addicted former music star trying to find his place in life and love; James “Sawyer” Ford – a con man living with the guilt of killing an innocent man on his hunt for the man responsible for his parents’ deaths; Sayid Jarrah – the former soldier in the Iraqi Republican Guard who misses the love of his life and lives with the memories of torture and war; Jin and Sun Kwon – a married couple from Korea trying to work through her lies and infidelity while he continues to love her unconditionally; Hugo Reyes – a millionaire who believes that his money has been the source of all the bad things that happen to him; Claire Littleton – the single, pregnant girl sent on the flight by a fortune teller who feared for the child; Boone and Shannon – a man who loves his step-sister and repeatedly saves her from self-destruction; Ben Linus – a mysterious man who lived on the island all his life, neglected by his father after his mother’s death, and seeking acceptance from anyone; and John Locke – a paraplegic who miraculously can walk after the plane crash and knows that his destiny (and the Island)  is something far greater than he ever imagined. Of course, there are many more characters throughout the 6 seasons, all of whom play an integral part in the story as it progressed.

LOST is my favorite drama of all time because of the emotions I feel every time I watch it. I try to introduce to it as many people as possible, especially if I think they need to re-evaluate their own relationships. If I can, I’ll try to watch every episode with them. I’ve even watched on my own while they watch 4 hours away, because I know that once they start watching, they’ll feel better, and making someone I care about feel a little better makes me happier. It sounds silly. It sounds stupid. But LOST has made my life better because I pay more attention to human emotion and behavior. Sure, I can still be a jerk sometimes myself, and I still make jokes if I see someone doing something dumb or making a fool of themselves. But I do that for reasons inside me – the need to make people laugh for acceptance, to make someone I love cheer up a little after a rough day at work or at home, or because I’m having such a bad day that I lash out. It happens. I now try to recognize why others might do it.

We were all meant to do something with our lives. We may never get the answer to what that is. Hopefully, some of us do. But I firmly believe that the people in our lives are there for a reason. It may be to teach us something, or for us to teach them something. And in the end, we are judged by who we are. LOST taught me that.

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