May 17, 2015 at 7:10 p.m. PST
As production costs decrease and networks proliferate, there are just too many TV shows to watch. Some are amazing, but most are mediocre. This article details how to find the best TV shows and where to stream and download them from.
Our time is valuable. Life is too short to watch bad TV shows, and there are a lot of them. Maybe you just finished an amazing show, like Breaking Bad, and just can’t get into anything else. When I finish binge-watching an amazing series, I almost feel depressed. I want more. I find it difficult to get into something new. Sometimes I watch several episodes of a show and just give up because it isn’t very good. Fortunately, there are a few ways to find the best TV shows.
Rotten Tomatoes List of Best TV Shows
Rotten Tomatoes provides some of the best reviews of TV show and movies. The site features an updated annual list of top TV shows. This is probably the best place to find a TV series worth watching. Rotten Tomatoes grades TV shows based on critical and audience reception. This is essential. A great TV show should appeal to critics and the masses alike.
Most of the time, the people are right. You may not love the first few episodes of a new series. I had a hard time getting into Game of Thrones. I kept watching, because everyone, including critics, raved about the show. After the second episode, I liked it more. Now I am hooked. Downton Abbey was a similar experience. It is a show I would not normally watch. Due to the popularity and great critical reviews, I started watching and haven’t stopped. Not every popular show appeals to everyone. For example, I don’t care for reality shows like Duck Dynasty. It is a tremendously popular show, but it is not for me.
What Culture’s List of 30 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
If you Google “best TV shows of all time”, What Culture’s “30 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” is the top result. This is a great article with thoughtful, well-written reviews of each show. Unfortunately, the rankings are based on the author’s opinion. I don’t think you can go wrong with any show mentioned, but there are some glaring omissions. MASH isn’t listed, even though the final episode was the most viewed show of all time, with 125 million viewers. The success of MASH is well-deserved. The show is witty and timeless, and well worth revisiting. Netflix offers every episode of MASH.
There are other great shows that didn’t make the list, but it is based on the author’s opinion. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t limit yourself to these 30 shows. I couldn’t agree more with him ranking Breaking Bad as the best show ever.
Recommendations Based on Viewing Habits
Some people are obsessed with online privacy. They seem to believe there are people looking at everything they buy, watch or read online. For the most part, no one is looking at your data. It is stored in databases and other data stores and analyzed by computer systems. I can understand why people may be concerned about their privacy. On the other hand, the collected data can also be helpful. It enables computer systems to predict what you will like with astonishing accuracy. You can use these recommendations to find TV shows that cater to your interests. After all, we are all different. Some people love Duck Dynasty and others enjoy Downton Abbey. Some people may even like both!
Virtually every major streaming service offers recommendations. For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at Netflix and iTunes.
Netflix offers a fairly sophisticated recommendation system. It not only analyzes what you watch, but also allows users to set taste preferences. You may not be aware of this capability, as it is only available on the Netflix website.
First, open a web browser and navigate to www.netflix.com. Log in to the website and click on Taste Profile on the top menu bar. Next, click on Taste Preferences from the drop down menu. You will see the Taste Preferences menu.
The Taste Preferences section enables fine-grained tuning of viewing preferences. There are numerous screens of preferences, each with dozens of items to tune. Don’t be overwhelmed. This isn’t the SATs. Just fill in as much as you want. These settings will not hide any content from you. They will just fine-tune Netflix suggestions. Since we are looking to find the best TV shows, I recommend setting Critically Acclaimed (in the Qualities category) to Often. This will tell Netflix that you want to see movies and TV shows that were well-received by critics.
You should also rate shows that you like. You can do this on virtually any platform, but since we are already on the website, let’s rate some TV shows. First, click on Taste Profile in the top menu. Select Rate Shows & Movies from the drop down menu. Set this page to rate TV shows. Select the number of stars representing your impression of the show.
If you love a show, give it five stars and Netflix will try to suggest similar programs.
Once you have completed tuning your Taste Preferences and rating shows, you can browse Netflix recommendations. This can be done on any device — even an Apple TV. Simply start up the Netflix channel and select your profile. Suggestions For You is available from the top Netflix menu. This screen displays recommended TV shows and movies organized by category. The first category, Top Picks, is probably the best place to start.
Make sure to enable Netflix Notifications on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. This will allow Netflix to notify you when they add new shows you might like. You can turn on Netflix Notifications by tapping Settings > Notifications > Netflix. By default, Netflix will also send information about new content via email.
Apple was one of the first content providers to offer intelligent recommendations. Of course, in true Apple fashion, they give this system a grandiose name — Genius Recommendations. These recommendations have been a part of iTunes for several years, however, they are often overlooked. Genius recommendations are available in every iTunes Store product, including Apple TV. Even if you don’t purchase the show through iTunes, Genius recommendations can point you to quality programming.
The easiest way to get Genius recommendations is on Apple TV. From the main screen, select TV Shows. If you are looking for popular shows, you can browse Top TV Shows. For personalized recommendations, select Genius from the Top TV Shows menu. The Genius recommendations are surprisingly accurate. Unfortunately, the recommendations are only based on iTunes purchases. Apple is pretty good about privacy. They are not purchasing your viewing behavior data from other providers. If you don’t buy TV shows from iTunes, the Genius recommendations aren’t useful.
You can also browse Genius recommendations using the iTunes Store app for the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Anyone with a Mac or Windows PC can install iTunes and view the Genius recommendations. The iTunes Genius can also suggest music, movies and books. The Genius feature is very mature and sophisticated. It is one of many Apple innovations that has been slavishly copied by others.
How to Find Recommended and Popular TV Shows
You finally found a new show to watch. Now let’s find the best (and least expensive) way to watch it. Maybe you found the show on iTunes, but don’t want to buy it there. It could be on Netflix, Hulu Plus, Hulu, AMC, Crackle or other providers. You could search each of these services one-by-one, but there is a better way. Yidio is an amazing app that provides viewing options for virtually any TV show or movie. It also provides recommendations, if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for.
First, install the Yidio app from the App Store. Yidio also offers a web site, but the app provides better functionality. One can start videos directly from the Yidio app. If you don’t have an iOS device, by all means, use their website. Once you have launched the app, either type or speak the name of the show in the one of the search boxes.
You will see a screen with search results. Tap on the show you wish to browse. Yidio will present a list of episodes. A list of providers is displayed to the right of each episode. Information about the cost of each provider is displayed. This is incredibly useful. You can even tap on the provider to start playing or purchase the show immediately.
For more information on Yidio, please read “Yidio for iPhone“.
I hope this article has provided a better way to find quality TV shows. Unfortunately, following a process can still miss some great shows. The tips provided in this article will make it easier to find a great show amongst myriad mediocre programs. Just remember to give a show a chance. It may take a few episodes to get addicted, but a great show will do just that. When the series ends, you may feel sad that it is over. Don’t worry. There are a lot of great shows out there and you now have the tools to find the best ones.