This is Part II of my look at the Top TV shows of right now…if you haven’t already definitely make sure you check out Part I!

Embracing the life of the couch potato can be a daunting task, especially since I’ve only given you 5 TV shows to keep you busy so far.  Check it out as we count down to the #1 show you can find on television today!

6. The Amazing Race

 

Now, I proudly consider myself one of the proud few that has a zero tolerance policy against reality TV.  I think if the Big Brother bus crashed into the Jersey Shore bandwagon the world would be a much happier place.  However, The Amazing Race has, for the most part at least, avoided the trappings of god awful reality TV full of approval-starved attention whores with an irreparably warped view of what “reality” actually is.  Although you’ll be occasionally cursed with what I call “career reality weirdos,” these are the exception rather than the rule.  More often than not the teams are genuine and likeable so you can let yourself root for your favorite team rather than hoping against hope that the obnoxious pair you’ve hated since day one loses their passport and gets stranded in the Arctic.

The Amazing Race features a premise that is at the same time laughably simple and ridiculously complex: race around the world.  11 teams of 2 set out from a US coastal city and over the course of 3 weeks the pack is thinned until only one team remains.  Each episode features a new city (and oftentimes an entirely new country) and there are 2-3 challenges that teams must complete along the way.

The most intriguing part of these challenges is how they correlate with the local customs, be that herding an Alpaca through the Peruvian mountains, assembling a solar contraption for boiling water in the desert, or learning a traditional song or dance from the host country.  For those of us without the budget to travel the world ourselves, The Amazing Race provides a unique way to satisfy that thirst for culture without having to find a dog-sitter for the next month.

The Amazing Race airs 8pm local time, Sunday nights on CBS.

 

5. Parks and Recreation

 

When Parks and Recreation first aired  back in 2009, many people (admittedly myself included) touted this as a blatant knockoff of The Office.  Now don’t get me wrong, Parks and Recreation is a pretty blatant knockoff of The Office but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t written a smart, witty show with a great cast of characters that you can’t help but feel a personal connection with.  The great part is that the story builds on itself but doesn’t assume a prior knowledge of the characters to understand the jokes, so definitely feel free to check out an episode or two from this season (the shows fourth) and I’m sure you’ll be Netflix’ing seasons 1-3 in no time.

Parks and Recreation follows the antics of local government employees of small-town Pawnee, Indiana and the big-time political aspirations of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler).  Add a supporting cast of sitcom sweetheart Rashida Jones (who plays Leslie’s best friend Ann Perkins), deadpan master Nick Offerman (playing Ron Swanson, creator of the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness), and one of my favorite comedians right now Aziz Ansari (as full-time Parks Department official, part-time club promoter, fashion guru, and fragrance designer Tom Haverford) and you’ve got all the elements of an instant classic.  Plus, any show where Louis CK guest stars as the romantic interest is, well, just straight-up awesome.

Parks and Recreation airs 8:30pm local time, Thursday nights on CBS

 

4. Modern Family

 

Remember when you were a kid and you were jealous because everyone else had a normal family and you were stuck with the only embarrassing one?  Now, remember when you realized that insanity was about as common as sibling rivalry and you gave your dad a great big hug for not being “that guy” that mowed the lawn in a Speedo?  Modern Family, widely consider to be one of the most well-written sitcoms on television right now, embraces and celebrates that undeniable fact that you can’t choose your family and you’re better off learning to love and appreciate them for who they are.

Modern Family, which can be compared to one of my all-time favorite shows (Arrested Development), features one family in three households.  This umbrella-like approach has allowed the writers the freedom to explore a variety of non-traditional family dynamics.  Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill of Married with Children fame), who’s been decades removed from raising children, has to adapt to his renewed role as a father figure alongside his new wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara), who doesn’t need to adapt to any new figure whatsoever (see what I did there? Yep, reverted to a 13-year old!).  Jay’s son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) are just beginning their parenting journey, having adopted a baby girl from Vietnam in the pilot episode, and Mitchell’s sister Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) round out our namesake “modern family” as they try and strike the balance between raising teenagers and going completely insane.

Modern Family airs 9pm local time on Wednesday nights on ABC

 

3. The League

 

If the phrase “Act Your Age” makes you throw up a little in your mouth, The League is certain to be right up your alley.  A group of adult friends in their 30s, anchored by their Fantasy Football league, will stop at nothing in their quest to one-up each other and take down the Shiva (the first place trophy).  You could say that The League expertly toes the line between immature and downright filthy or, more appropriately, lives in grey area between practical jokes and psychological abuse.  The kind of intricate, devious, and multi-leveled pranks that leave you in shock and awe while reminding you never to poke that bear.

The biggest question I get when I rave about The League has to do with whether or not you have to understand and enjoy fantasy football to like the show.  While you don’t need to know anything about fantasy to appreciate the unabashed humor of the show, it does bring the comedy to a whole new level if you can relate to that insatiable desire to destroy your opponent in your own imaginary gridiron.  In a world where Fantasy Football greatness is paramount and triumph has no price, The League reminds us that you don’t always have to win…just make sure you don’t come in last.

The League is currently between seasons but will return Thursday nights on FX.

 

2. The Big Bang Theory

 

Not to go all hipster on y’all but I was a nerd long before it was cool.  The Big Bang Theory was one of the first shows for me that flipped the tables and saw us pulling for those guys that we know best for their unique ability to fit inside lockers of all shapes and sizes.  As scientifically brilliant as they are socially inept,  our 4 Caltech scientists (an experimental physicist, a theoretical physicist, an aerospace engineer and an astropsysicist) are juxtaposed against Cheesecake Factory waitress and aspiring actress Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who makes up for her lack of quantum physics knowledge with street smarts and basic common sense.  More often than not, this basic common sense is as foreign to our nerdmigos as string theory is to Penny, which provides the fodder for some hilarious situations as these worlds collide and our characters try and navigate the unfamiliar terrain.

While most people cite Sheldon (Jim Parsons) as the star of the show for his shameless arrogance and utter disregard for social protocol, I’m much more a fan of his long-suffering roommate Leonard (Johnny Galecki).  Whereas Sheldon has no interest in adapting to social norms, Leonard tries (and repeatedly fails) to build and grow his personal relationships and step outside his comfort zone to pursue new experiences.  Add that to the constant and palpable sexual tension between he and Penny, who he’s been head over heels for since the pilot episode, that has been a recurring storyline throughout the series and it’s no surprise that The Big Bang Theory has been one of CBS’s most popular shows for the better part of 5 years.

The Big Bang Theory airs Thursday nights, 8pm local time on CBS.

 

1. How I Met Your Mother

 

At this point if you’ve read my other posts, it’s no surprise that How I Met Your Mother tops this list.  Even if we ignore the fact that I have this poster hanging up in my home office or that I created a party game based on the show, How I Met Your Mother is the perfect show for those of us in the post-college-pre-kids years.  HIMYM is narrated as the lengthy story told by the main character, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), to his future children about, you guessed it, how he met their mother.  The story follows Ted threw his various relationships, some more successful than others, in his search for his soul mate.

Much of the storyline takes place at the gang’s favorite bar, McLaren’s Pub, which is reminiscent of Central Perk as the stomping grounds for the Friends crew.  Ted is joined at the hip with his best friend and former college roommate Marshall (Jason Segal) and Marshall’s wife and fellow Wesleyan University alum Lily (Alyson Hannigan).  While Ted and the other characters move in and out of relationships, Marshall and Lily are steadfast in their devotion throughout (most of) the series.  Having met Anne during her second semester while we were at Villanova, I can relate to how Marshall and Lily’s friends have grown around them while their relationship progressed and I think it adds a nice constant to Ted’s revolving door of girlfriends as he looks for “The One.”

Round out the crew with eternally suited-up Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), who is brilliant as the unapologetic womanizer intent on sexual world domination, and news journalist/Canadian immigrant Robin, the only woman to which Barney has ever welcomed into the Bro-therhood.  These 5 characters have appeared in every single episode (except for Lily who was absent from only two Season 4 episodes due to Alison Hannigan’s real-life pregnancy) allowing the audience gets to grow and evolve with these characters.  A sitcom by definition, HIMYM also contains elements of drama which provides depth to both the characters and the story.  If you watch one show from this list, How I Met Your Mother is a guaranteed winner.

How I Met Your Mother airs 8:30pm local time, Monday nights on CBS.

And there you have it folks, my top 11 recommendations for TV shows you can watch right now!

 

Did I leave out any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!