Showtime may be considered by some to be the lesser-known, lower quality little brother of HBO. However, the network has bolstered a fantastic lineup of original series for the past two decades. This list is a recognition of my top five favorite original series from the network past and present. I expect some jeers and screaming at your monitors, but remember this list is only personal preference. If I help feed your binge watch addiction, you can thank me later.
Are you ready to root for a serial killer? Dexter will make you do just that for eight seasons. Michael C. Hall plays the title character, a blood spatter analyst with Miami Metro Police, solves murders by day, and commits them by night. His sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) is a detective for the same police force and has a strong relationship with her brother. She also has no idea about his dirty little secret. The show isn’t as violent as the series would suggest. More suspense and character study than horror. On average, the series isn’t much more violent than a lot of network crime shows. However, the show is graphic at times, and the subject matter hits home with the displays of darkness lurking around the corner. The show had its fair share of critics for the ending, but the first four seasons alone are elite examples of the emergence of premium television as a medium that is level with or could surpass film.
Possibly the best series title to match its content in the history of television. Shameless is an ensemble comedy about a family living in the slums of Chicago fending for themselves due to the negligence of their drunken father (William H. Macy). The eldest sister Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is the responsible one, always doing what she can to provide for her siblings. However, she isn’t without flaws. Showtime’s longest running series is producing its eighth season at the time of this publication. The show is hilarious enough to be a comedy and poignant enough to rank among the best dramas on television.
Ray Donovan (2013-Present)
Hollywood is a strange place. The fixer Ray Donovan deals with the deepest and darkest secrets of the underbelly of Los Angeles. Liev Schreiber plays the title character, a man of few words and many actions. Jon Voight plays his recently released from prison father Mickey, and his reappearance in his family’s lives creates problems for Ray beyond his dangerous job. The show is sharply written and the first two seasons is one of my favorite runs of television from any network. The show still continues to be solid, entering the fifth season to premiere later this year.
Hank Moody is the hedonistic author hero of this bawdy comedy series. It’s raunchy, filthy, and has a lot of heart. This show is only for those with an off-kilter sense of humor and a strong stomach. However, the writing is fantastic, and the lead performance by David Duchovny is the best of his career. The opening scene will tell you all you need to know about if the show is for you, but the ones who love it will find hours of laughter and entertainment in the shows seven seasons.
The Affair (2014-Present)
My fiancee and I love The Affair; this character drama that shows the events from four different viewpoints. Noah and Allison meet by chance while the former is on vacation with his family at his in-laws. Their affair changes the lives of those around them, and the series is a fascinating look at relationships. Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, and Joshua Jackson star in this domestic drama that is still in progress. One advantage of catching up with the show is that you can watch live when the fourth season premieres later this year.