Baltimore World Trade Center

America has entered a new television golden age, and couch potatoes everywhere have more choices than ever, across multiple platforms.  If you are to commit to a new TV drama, especially if you have play catch up with back seasons, you want to be sure your new commitment is worth the time.  Not sure what to watch next?  You can't go wrong with one of the best 3 shows of all time.

The Wire

HBO’s audacious Baltimore street saga The Wire set a new bar for television when it premiered in 2002.  A case study of the illegal drug trade in the city's slums, the show expertly showcased the pursuit of money and power, as well as the struggle between different races and classes at every level of the city's social structure.  Each of its five seasons displays a different facet of corruption within the city, as the writers flawlessly integrate the pieces into a dramatic whole starring Baltimore as the main character. 

The first season hones in on the tragedy and human loss incurred in the low income projects of Baltimore, an area rife with gangs, violence, and drugs.  The larger-than-life characters living out real-world situations are extremely entertaining and sympathetic, even as you watch them forsake their humanity for money and power.  Subsequent seasons focus on the roles of the city’s unions, schools, and media.  An extremely powerful and human TV drama that pulls no punches, The Wire is a must-watch for fans of excellent television.

Mad Men

Set in the early part of the 1960’s, in a time preceding some of the most profound social changes in America’s history, the appeal of Mad Men hinges in part on the unflappable demeanor of its main character, advertising man Don Draper (John Hamm).  Draper is a man who has everything.  He lives in Manhattan with his beautiful wife and children, wins awards, and drinks martinis with high rollers in smoky lounges.  He is also the perfect example of a man whose life is slowly crumbling around him. 

The characters and sets of Mad Men are amazing to watch, and the small touches that place this show firmly in the ‘60s make this show a delicious and distinct success.  The genius of Mad Men lies in the writing and the sets, although the cast is nothing to sniff at.  It is a beautiful television show to look at, and its prose is expertly crafted.  Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad showcases the slow progression of a good-hearted family man into a power-hungry sociopath, a diabolical genius who's morals continue to disintegrate as he struggles to achieve his goals.  As series creator Vince Gilligan has put it, it’s about turning Mr. Chips into Scarface. 

Walter White is a mild mannered, financially unsuccessful chemistry teacher who lives with his wife, newborn daughter, and teenage son in suburban New Mexico.  When he is diagnosed with cancer and given one year to live, he charges himself with providing a life for his family when he’s gone, at any cost.  After riding along on a major methamphetamine bust with his DEA brother in law, a nugget of an idea is planted in Walt's mind.  He soon discovers that his chemistry expertise lends its hand invaluably to the meth-cooking game.

The brilliance of Breaking Bad lies in its slow and deliberate transformation of its main character.  Walter White has a reason and good intention for every action he executes over the course of the show, even as his actions become increasingly morally questionable.  Brian Cranston's performance as Walter White makes for profound television, even as he is surrounded by supporting actors at the peak of their craft.  Simply put, this show is amazing.