16 Iconic Shows to Rewatch
Netflix. HBO GO. Hulu. Amazon Prime. These days, it’s hard to imagine a world without streaming. But for some of us—older millennials, Gen X, the boomers—television used to be a thing. When I was younger, I remember racing to the telly right before dinner to catch an episode of Buffy, Charmed, or Dawson’s Creek. And because episodes aired once a week, I would have to wait a full seven days to find out what happened next. That, or anticipate the DVD release to be able to enjoy a season in its entirety without the commercial breaks.
There was no shortage of good telly back then. And fortunately for us, it is now much easier to rewatch—or watch, for those new to these series—our old favourites, as the streaming giants have acquired the rights to some of these programmes.
Enjoy a walk down TV memory lane with our recommendations as listed below:
No list would be complete without everyone’s favourite comedy, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. Whether you are an avid fan or a casual viewer, it’s always easy to jump back in with Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Ross, and Phoebe for some good laughs and heart-warming moments. Good news? The cast will be reuniting for an unscripted special sometime this year.
2/16 The OC
Coming-of-age shows were all the rage in the 2000s, and The OC was one of the pioneers. The four-season series follows Ryan Atwood, a boy with a troubled past that was taken in by a pair of wealthy philanthropists. Together with his foster brother Seth, Ryan navigates the ups and downs of young adulthood while trying to deal with life as an outsider in Newport Beach.
3/16 One Tree Hill
Airing alongside The OC on a different network, this teen drama centres on half-brothers Lucas Scott and Nathan Scott, who are competing for positions on the school basketball court, as well as Lucas’ romance with Payton Sawyer. The show is also a treasure trove for music, having featured songs by Gavin DeGraw, Fall Out Boy, and Jimmy Eat World, among others.
4/16 Gossip Girl
Based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar, Gossip Girl tells the stories of a group of privileged upper-class adolescents from Manhattan’s Upper East Side, made extra unique with the inclusion of a catty, omniscient narrator. From grand romantic gestures to diabolical schemes, from enviable fashion moments to feuding frenemies, this show has everything.
5/16 Mad Men
Travel back in time to the 1960s, where the ad executives of Sterling Cooper smoked cigars, knocked back drams of whisky, and made tons of money. Matthew Weiner’s period drama is regarded as one of the best shows of all times, having won 16 Emmys and five Golden Globes—not something you’d want to miss out on.
The series centres around the lives of The Charmed Ones, sisters who use their powers to protect innocents from clutches of warlocks and demons, while attempting to maintain normal lives and relationships. It met instant popularity with its pilot episode, which led to a cult following that lasted throughout its eight seasons.
7/16 Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Celebrated for its feminist messages, Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced viewers to a female action hero—one girl in all the world powerful enough to combat the forces of darkness. Apart from being a supernatural series, it is a coming-of-age story as well, with its protagonist struggling to embrace her destiny while navigating the complexities of her personal life.
8/16 The Wire
This crime drama was lauded for its literary themes and accurate portrayal of urban life—but it did not gain much traction until well after its original run. Set in Baltimore, Maryland, each season explores the relationship between a specific institution—the illegal drug trade, the print news medium, the seaport system, among others—and law enforcement.
9/16 Sex and the City
Sex and the City tells the stories of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, four New York-based women who maintained a close-knit friendship despite their starkly different personalities and lifestyles. A progressive programme, themes such as sexuality and feminism were woven into its storylines, earning both acclaim and criticism from audiences.
10/16 The West Wing
Hailed as one of the greatest and most influential telly shows of all time, this political drama has been praised by political science professors and White House staffers. Set during the fictional Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing offers a realistic glimpse into the inner workings of the White House.
11/16 The Office
An adaptation of a British mockumentary bearing the same name, this sitcom focuses on the day-to-day events that take place within the walls of the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. It is noted for being filmed using a single-camera setup with no studio audience or laugh track. The Office has won several awards, including acting nods for Steve Carell.
12/16 The Sopranos
This crime drama series stars James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, an Italian-American mob boss who is struggling to strike a balance between his familial obligations and his duties as the leader of a criminal organisation. Critics have praised the writing, acting, and directing, as well as the show’s willingness to deal with difficult topics such as gender roles and mental health.
TV Guide once described this series as “an uncommon cure for the common medical drama,” which is fitting as its titular character—a misanthropic Vicodin-addicted genius—leads a team of diagnosticians tasked to treat patients whose illnesses have stumped other medical professionals. Irreverent and, at times, sentimental, House, M.D. is a genre standout.
14/16 The X-Files
This science fiction drama—the longest-running in US TV history—revolves around Mulder and Scully, a pair of FBI agents tasked to investigate unsolved cases relating to paranormal phenomena. It evolved from cult series to pop culture touchstone, highlighted as a series that explored conspiracy theories and tapped into public mistrust of government institutions.
15/16 Six Feet Under
Lauded for its writing and acting, Six Feet Under tells the story of the Fisher family, who own and run a Los Angeles funeral home. On the surface level, it is a conventional family drama. Digging deeper, it explores the subject of human mortality—each episode begins with a death—on a philosophical level. Its preference for sardonic humour adds to its unique tone.
16/16 Breaking Bad
“I am the one who knocks.” So says Walter White in one of his most iconic scenes. Breaking Bad, in summary, is the story of a terminally ill high school teacher who becomes a meth overlord—a man who transforms from Mr. Chips to Scarface, according to creator Vince Gilligan. It’s everyone’s favourite show, and for many a good reason, too.