Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
As a dedicated subscriber to streaming services like Netflix and HBO, I have had a chance to indulge in a plethora of long-standing American TV drama series, right from The West Wing (1999-2006), The Sopranos (1999-2007), The Wire (2002-08), Breaking Bad (2008-13), Boardwalk Empire (2010-14) to Better Call Saul (2015-22) among others. These shows have left an indelible mark on the television landscape, captivating audiences with their engrossing narratives, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes. From "The West Wing" to "Better Call Saul," each series has contributed its unique flavor to the ever-evolving world of television storytelling. With the conclusion of “Better Call Saul”, the long form style of American TV series has, possibly come to an end. They were kind of long epics in themselves.
To one thing perhaps every TV watcher of these series would agree that the Indian TV series in a noir genre, being catered to the Indian audience on OTT platforms never have been able, till today, to capture the vast canvas and gripping story telling technique and the dark depiction of the plot of the above-mentioned American TV series, which are miles ahead, compared to Indian TV dramas.
Let us see in brief what these TV series have offered to the audience.
1. The West Wing (1999-2006):
The landmark political drama series "The West Wing" provides an inside look at how the White House functions. The lives of President Josiah Bartlet and his team of committed staff employees are followed as they negotiate the complicated realm of American politics in this well-praised drama created by Aaron Sorkin. Known for its quick-witted banter, idealistic depiction of public service, and fast-paced language, "The West Wing" enthralled viewers with its compelling characters and stimulating plots.
2. The Sopranos (1999-2007):
"The Sopranos" is a ground-breaking criminal drama that changed the face of television. This HBO series, which was created by David Chase, centers on Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mob leader who balances his illegal enterprise with the difficulties of family life and therapy sessions. By diving into the mind of a complicated anti-hero and examining themes of family, loyalty, and the murky underbelly of organized crime, "The Sopranos" pioneered a new genre. The programme redefined character-driven storytelling with its outstanding performances and gripping tale.
3. The Wire (2002-2008):
David Simon is the creator of the unflinching and realistic criminal drama series "The Wire". The program, which is set in Baltimore, takes a blunt look at the institutions of the city, including police enforcement, the drug trade, politics, and the media. "The Wire" addresses themes of urban deterioration, systematic corruption, and the interconnectivity of many social sectors. It is renowned for its painstaking attention to detail and social criticism. The series is recognized as one of the best TV dramas of all time because of its commitment to examining the complexity of the modern American metropolis and its realistic representation of its people
4. Breaking Bad (2008-2013):
Vince Gilligan's drama series "Breaking Bad" is suspenseful and emotionally draining. The program focuses on Walter White's development from a cordial chemistry instructor to a cunning methamphetamine manufacturer, along with his collaboration with former pupil Jesse Pinkman. "Breaking Bad" captured fans and became a cultural sensation thanks to its morally complex characters, suspenseful narrative turns, and examination of topics like identity, morality, and the results of actions. The programme stretched the limits of storytelling while showcasing Bryan Cranston's iconic Walter White performance.
5. Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014): Terence Winter is the creator of the epic historical crime drama series "Boardwalk Empire". The program centers on Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a crooked politician and bootlegger kingpin, and is set during Prohibition in Atlantic City. This historical drama features 21 real-life gangsters, including the notorious Mafia leader "Scarface" Al Capone. "Boardwalk Empire" examines the seedy underbelly of the Roaring '20s and tackles themes of power, greed, and the brittle nature of loyalty. It does this with regard to historical detail, magnificent graphics, and a large ensemble cast. The series won praise from critics for its high production standards, nuanced characters, and Steve Buscemi's riveting portrayal of Nucky Thompson.
6. Better Call Saul (2015-2022):
Prequel and stand-alone spin-off roles are filled by "Better Call Saul" in "Breaking Bad." This courtroom drama, which was created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, depicts the life of Jimmy McGill, a hapless attorney who gradually transforms into the dubious Saul Goodman. Better Call Saul enthralled viewers by offering a fascinating back story to one of "Breaking Bad's" most recognizable characters through careful character development, intentional storytelling, and the examination of moral ambiguity. The series stands out as a tribute to Gilligan and Gould's mastery of narrative storytelling and can be enjoyed alone as a gripping drama.
In the ever-expanding landscape of television, these long-form American TV dramas have set the bar high, pushing boundaries and captivating audiences with their intricate narratives, rich character development, and compelling performances. Through their exploration of politics, crime, morality, and the human condition, these shows have left an indelible mark on the medium, forever shaping the way we consume and appreciate television storytelling.
My all time favorites among these series have been the last three “B”s, Breaking Bad (2008-2013), Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014), and Better Call Saul (2015-2022). I would even part with my precious Rolex wristwatch to binge watch them time and again, again and again! Why these shows are so special? I will let you know in my next few articles, taking them one by one.
More by : Dr. Satish Bendigiri