On the 4th of July 1776 our friends across the Atlantic signed the Declaration of Independence, officially cutting the colonial ties with the Kingdom of Great Britain.
In the 237 years since that fateful day, they’ve had plenty of time to work on making a bit of telly. From drama to documentaries, science fiction to comedy, the Americans have often been at the forefront of TV production for decades.
So, for the day that’s in it, here are just 10 deadly TV shows that were born in the USA.
1. Breaking Bad
We’ve spent most of the last week singing the praises of Vince Gilligan’s smash hit TV series, so it just had to make our list of American gems. This tale of a Chemistry teacher turned Drug Lord has captured the imaginations of millions, and made world-wide stars out of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. We still can’t believe it’s almost over.
From The Pilot to The Last One, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey wormed their way into our lives between 1994 and 2004, and had a massive cultural impact too: Who didn’t have the Rachel at some point ladies?
3. The Sopranos
Voted the best written TV series of all time by the Writers’ Guild of America, The Sopranos will go down in history as one of the best US exports, capiche? The world wept when James Gandolfini passed away just a few weeks ago: Tony Soprano was one popular fella. Well played David Chase, well played. The clip below ain’t for younger ears by the way…
Who could forget the time Pat Kenny pronounced Seinfeld incorrectly in the presence of the titular Jerry? That made for one awkward interview. Anyway, this witty comedy made quite the impression over 9 Seasons, and re-runs are still all the rage. Plus, it gave us the wonderful Julia Louis-Dreyfus, brought George Costanza into our living rooms, and yes, even Kramer deserves a gold star.
5. The West Wing
Aaron Sorkin may be tearing up the telly with The Newsroom on HBO, but The West Wing is without doubt, his TV legacy: The 3 Golden Globes and 26 Emmy Awards the show won is testament to that. And sure isn’t Martin Sheen’s Josiah Bartlet the ultimate US President? Four for you Martin Sheen.
6. Star Trek
From The Original Series to The Next Generation, Voyager to Deep Space 9, Star Trek encouraged us to boldly go where no man had gone before. It may have made the move to the big screen of late, but who could forget those wonderful evenings we spent in front of the telly, watching the crew of the various starships (but mainly the Enterprise) head off on their often perilous missions? And sure our own Colm Meaney made a wonderful Miles O’Brien.
7. The Simpsons
The quality may have waned in recent years, but you can’t talk American TV without mentioning Springfield’s most famous family. The brainchild of Matt Groening and Sam Simon, The Simpsons started life as a small sketch, before going well and truly global. Bart released a single, Homer chased a spiderpig across the big screen, and everyone wanted to know who shot Mr Burns? All together now…
8. The Wire
Described by critics as one of the best TV Dramas of all time, The Wire brought us right to the heart of Baltimore and introduced us to one of America’s most dangerous Irish-American detectives. Over the course of 6 seasons it made a star of Dominic West, and had us hiding behind our fingers on more than one occasion. That’s why everyone was so surprised that it didn’t win more awards or get better ratings.
9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
When it comes to Joss Whedon’s teen sci-fi drama there really isn’t much we can say. Buffy is a cult classic, and will probably haunt Sarah Michele Gellar and David Boreanez for the rest of their lives. That said, it was a truly great piece of telly, bringing us Anthony Stewart Head, Alyson Hannigan, Seth Green and yes, even Nicholas Brendan. The less said about Michele Trachtenberg’s Dawn the better. Oh, and the theme tune was pretty fantastic too.
From that shower scene to the infamous shooting, Dallas had quite the cultural impact back in the day. Larry Hagman’s JR Ewing quickly became a TV icon, and his attempted murder spawned one of the biggest TV campaigns in living memory. (Excuse us while we go and look up who it was again). Sure isn’t it still incredibly popular, having been rebooted for a brand new generation and all?