“The real object of drama is the exhibition of human character” – Thomas Babington Macauley
Television can offer entertainment and an escape from reality. Good dramas can go beyond that and leave a lasting effect on us. Good dramas can be profound: they lure us in, they become a part of us and they make us reflect on our lives. There is no hard and fast rule to determine what makes a drama good. One of the reasons for this is that the best ones break the mould of tradition and explore new expanses of commentary. What good dramas are not is easier to identify. They do not offer cheap thrills, ending every single scene on an unbelievable cliff-hanger (sorry folks, Lost is out). They don’t revolve around frustrating love triangles, quadrangles or pentangles (99% of girl dramas are out). They don’t obsess over looks and glamour (anything on Fox, NBC and CBS is out). They are not slave to ratings nor driven by their networks.
The best dramas endure, despite a failure to draw large audiences. They offer commentary on society and the human character. They lay bare our biggest flaws. They constantly challenge norms. They can be at once a break from reality and a dark reflection of our own lives.
So, if this holiday season, you find yourself having missed out on the following dramas, bow your head in shame, force yourself in a fight with your girlfriend, burn your Gossip Girl collection, then lock yourself up in your room and start the marathon: