I was on a forum earlier today and someone trotted out the ole "All our good shows are ending!" harrumphing.
And to some extent, its true. I don't know if anyone can ever really touch HBO's output a decade ago - The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, and Six Feet Under create a lineup that no network has ever come close to matching.
But if you wanted complex dramas back then, that was literally ALL you had to watch. Eventually things like Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, and The Shield came in. But still.
So yes, perhaps the next AAA medium defining works have yet to appear. There are so many robust and interesting shows to watch this year alone that I can't help but feel that we're incredibly blessed to witness.
In no particular order here's what I'd recommend enjoying:
Just spitballing here, but if I were to put together a list of great TV that's still on the air...
Justified - Successfully manages to offer great Cases of the Week procedural plots while still offering the longer more intricate plots of serialization. It is also a HELL of a good time, and is easily the funnest show to watch currently on-air.
Masters of Sex - Finally, a show that treats Sex with maturity and insight beyond "teehee, look at the boner." The rapport between Sheen and Caplan is a great example of subtle writing that never goes for the clanging "LOLOL ain't the fifties funny" jokes.
The Americans - Way better than it has any right to be. Its blend of action and nuance feels like it could totter off the edge at any second, but Keri Russell's performance alone is worth the investment. 'Show them your face!" takes her character far past the cliche of the femme fatale Soviet Agent.
Scandal - Balls out insanity with the occasional scintilla of actual insight about modern politics. It's ultimately a steamy soap opera, but it is also so much more.
Orange is the New Black - Female characters have been vastly under-served this past decade. Orange feels less like an apology and more like a rocking party that reminds us what we've been missing. A stacked list of talent - we're talking mesmerizing performances by at LEAST twenty actors, and a show that's willing to go to some weird places if the story calls for it.
Arrow - Over-obvious dialogue aside, Arrow's plotting is top-shelf. The show has a fantastic institutional memory, which is a fancy way of saying the character's actually remember things that happened five episodes ago. Earlier this year a character was poisoned, and the other cast members proceed to talk about the ways they've cured people in the past - a small moment that most shows would never think of including. Also features the best fight scenes in television.
Mad Men - Duh.