George Morahan – The Wire
You don’t need me to preach the greatness of The Wire. It’s hardly an original proclamation; if you have any investment in pop culture then you have probably heard every superlative imaginable lovingly affixed to David Simon’s modern epic and by far more reputable sources than me, but one cannot praise this show enough.
The Wire is HBO’s best show simply because it covered a greater breadth of issues with a greater depth of intelligence than any other. When one looks at the pantheon of great shows of the twenty-first century – The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad etc. – one can identify that, at their heart, they are reliant on a thorough portrayal of one man and his double life and that’s what makes them great, but The Wire creates a world stocked with fully-realised characters that comfortably occupy the shades of grey.
The Wire explored the heart of a whole society, not just one man, and exposed it for the cancerous vessel it had become. It felt more visceral than any other TV series, let alone HBO show, that came before or after it, because of its cutting honesty and delicate intricacies. The Wire is not just a show, it’s a worldview.
Dermot O’Rourke – Generation Kill
I feel sorry for my Fatal Fourway counterparts this week. George has still not won a round and this week has chosen The Wire in a desperate attempt to hold on to any kind of dignity. Aoife, on the other hand, demonstrated her complete cultural ineptness this week after being gently reminded that she could not choose Fade Street again. As for Jon, well, I just feel sorry for Jon in general and letting him choose the easy option again this week will probably give him a much needed confidence boost.
This, then, leaves me to pick up the pieces and tell you, fine reader, about HBO’s genuinely best show: Generation Kill. Although not one of the most prolific, it remains the best example of why HBO is the gold standard for modern television programming. The mini-series chronicles the 2003 Iraq tour of the 1st Recon as they invade Iraq in their Humvees, constantly stay frosty, maintain the Marine’s grooming standard and belt out renditions of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boi’.
Generation Kill is by no means a lengthy advertisement for the Marine Corps and is an unapologetic portrayal of the modern soldier and life during war. Generation Kill paints a stark picture of the peculiarities of war and mismanagement of the 2003 invasion. If you want to truly appreciate the brilliance of HBO programming, it is a must-see.
Jon Hozier-Byrne – The Sopranos
Excelsior! Victory again. As noble as everyone else’s attempts were (except Aoife’s), our readership have proven their intelligence and good taste once more. In a way, we’re all winners (except Aoife).
Now, on for the hat-trick. The Sopranos is not just the best HBO show, it has been widely acclaimed by critics and academics alike as the greatest TV show of all time. The depth of the characters, the riveting storylines, the shiny tracksuits – The Sopranos has it all.
The Sopranos is one of those exceedingly rare shows that doesn’t talk down to its audience. Did you miss an episode? “Well to hell with you, keep up or get out” says The Sopranos, with a superior tone in its voice. Want to know what happened to that murderous Russian guy who escaped into the woods? “Hope you have a good imagination, ‘cos this is post-modern shit right here” says the disembodied voice of the The Sopranos, mocking you for your penchant for traditional narratives.
So sure, The Sopranos is a jerk, but it’s the best kind of the jerk – the kind that has substance behind the pretension. Anyway, how can almost every critic and academic worldwide (particularly the ones that haven’t seen The Wire) be wrong? Vote Sopranos.
Sex and the City – Aoife Valentine
Sex and the City is most definitely the greatest HBO show of all time. It may be a show that hardcore feminists often rage about, and on the face of it, it does look like a show about women who like shoes and have nothing to talk about but their boyfriends and shopping.
What you really get, however, is a show that doesn’t portray women over the age of thirty as spinsters who’ll be left on the shelf for life, but rather, four women who aren’t afraid to be outspoken and open about their sexuality, nor are they afraid to be single.
Depicting the four main characters as strong, confident, intelligent women, and celebrating the importance of close friendship, rather than a need for men in their lives, the show provides relatable, if exaggerated, characters, which have made the series as successful as it is today. So successful in fact, it has two movies. Take that, other shows.
Having said all that, it’s not totally devoid of humour, the shoes are exceptionally pretty and really, who doesn’t want a wardrobe so extensive that you have to store some of it in your oven? So good.