TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time is a list of American TV series compiled by "TV Guide" as a cover story for the week of May 4, 2002. It coincided with an ABC primetime special that aired on May 13, 2002. The list garnered much national attention at the time, as the magazine was simultaneously celebrating five decades on newsstands. At the time, "TV Guide" billed the list as a perspective of the most "influential" television programs in American history. [ [ TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows] . Associated Press/CBS News: April 26, 2002]

Breakdown of shows

*Earliest aired show on the list: "The Ed Sullivan Show" (first aired in 1948)
*Most recently premiered show: "The Sopranos" (first aired in 1999)
*Shortest run: "An American Family" (12 episodes, plus two subsequent special episodes)
*Primetime shows: 41 (highest-ranking was "Seinfeld", #1)
*Late-night shows: 4 ("The Late Show with David Letterman", "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", "ABC News Nightline", "Saturday Night Live")
*Daytime shows: 4 ("Oprah", "Donahue", "Sesame Street", "Today Show")
*Syndicated shows: 3 ("Oprah", "Donahue", "Star Trek: Next Generation")
*Sitcoms: 18 (highest-ranking was "Seinfeld", #1)
*Variety shows: 5 ("Laugh-In", "Your Show of Shows", "Carol Burnett Show", "Ed Sullivan Show", "Saturday Night Live")
*Talk shows: 5 ("Oprah", "Donahue", "Today", "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", "Late Show with David Letterman")
*Drama: 18 (highest-ranking was "The Sopranos" at #5)
*News: 3 ("Nightline", "Today", "60 Minutes")
*Animated: 2 ("The Simpsons", "Rocky and Bullwinkle")
*Game shows: 0 ("although "TV Guide" had earlier made a separate list of the 50 greatest game shows")
*Soap operas: 0
*Reality shows: 1 (technically, "An American Family" at #32 is considered primitive reality)
*NBC shows: 17 (highest-ranking was at #1, "Seinfeld")
*CBS shows: 16 (highest-ranking was at #2, "I Love Lucy")
*ABC shows: 8 (highest-ranking was at #19, "Thirtysomething")
*Fox shows: 2 (highest-ranking was at #8, "The Simpsons"; other was "The X-Files", #37)
*Cable shows: 2 (both from HBO; highest-ranking was "The Sopranos" at #5; other was "Larry Sanders" at #38)
*Public TV shows: 2 (highest-ranking was "Sesame Street" at #27; other was "An American Family" at #32)
*The WB/UPN shows: 1 ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer" at #41)

Criticism of the list

Many were skeptical of decisions such as ranking "Seinfeld" (which made the #1 spot) higher than classics such as "All in the Family" and "I Love Lucy". There was fury over the fact that several popular shows of the 1990s were unnecessarily high in ranking, such as "Frasier" and "ER". Many were upset at the fact that "Married… with Children", which helped save FOX Television, was completely left off the list as well as "Miami Vice", which had a huge impact on popular culture in the 1980s. Also, television experts were stunned that David Letterman's late-night program was named more influential than that of the legendary "king of late-night" Johnny CarsonFact|date=November 2007 and that there were no daytime soap operas or any game shows at all included in the list. Also, the list is heavily skewed toward more recent shows, with shows generally considered "classic" such as "Have Gun – Will Travel", "Magnum P.I.", "Perry Mason", and the original "" left off the list. Many were also upset that JAG (a military drama) which ran from 1995 to 2005 was left off the important list. Also, the only show with a majority black cast on this list was "The Cosby Show". However, several iconic black sitcoms such as "The Jeffersons", "Sanford and Son" and "Good Times" were ignored. [ [ TV Guide Names 'Seinfeld' Greatest Show of All] (Reuters, 2002-04-26) / Criticism of the List from the TiVo Community]

However, L. Brent Bozell III of the Parents Television Council praised the list for including mostly shows from before the 1990s, speculating that "TV Guide" was making "a backlash against the networks' ever-relaxing standards." [cite web | last = Bozell | first = L. Brent III | authorlink = L. Brent Bozell III | title = When Less Is More on TV | publisher = Parents Television Council | date = 2002-05-08 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-22 ]

Only one reality television show was included in the list, although several reality television shows were included on the Worst Shows of All Time list.


ee Also

* TV Guide's Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time, another TV Guide list.

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