10th: House of Cards (2013 – present, Netflix)
House of Cards is the American adaptation of the eponymous BBC mini-series. With 39 episodes so far, House of Cards follows the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat who, aided by his wife Claire (Robin Wright), seeks a higher position in Washington, D.C., at the same time looking for revenge on those who betrayed him.
Game of Politics
Nothing can say more about a TV series than an opening with the main character killing an animal with his bare hands in order to save him from a long painful death. Right from the start, this TV series announces its audience about its theme and purpose, as it is going to show how sometimes one needs to do something bad in order to achieve something good.
In this case, Frank Underwood’s purpose is gaining power after helping the president secure his campaign and not being repaid as he was expecting to. Frank knows very well how to play his cards and so he manipulates his new pawns and starts playing a true game of politics. On his way to achieve more power, Frank is not afraid to wade through slaughter as his own wife does not hesitate playing her own aces.
An American Twist
One huge aspect that makes House of Cards so appealing to the public is the fact that it is broadcasted by Netflix, so once you get caught by the storyline, you can watch an entire 13 episode-long season without waiting for the next part and dealing with countless and endless commercials.
Also, being a remake after a British series – starring Ian Richardson – has brought itself a huge fan base right from the start. People just love the use of satire on Kevin Spacey’s character, the symbolist elements and the development of other characters such as Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), who is more complex and ambitious, and Claire Underwood, who is the actual backbone of her husband.
9th: Once Upon A Time (2011 – present, ABC)
Once Upon A Time is a drama TV series based on fairy-tales and Disney original stories. With over 80 episodes and currently at its 4th season, Once Upon A Time follows the destiny of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a 28 year-old bounty hunter and a bails bond woman who is brought by her son Henry (Jared Gilmore), whom she gave to adoption after birth, in a little town from Maine called Storybrooke.
There start her adventures as she discovers that her son’s adopted mother Regina (Lana Parilla) is not only the mayor but also the Evil Queen from our classical fairy tales, and that her own parents are no one else but Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) who, along the entire town, don’t remember who they really are.
Magic is coming
But the Evil Queen, Snow White and Prince Charming are not the only famous characters Emma encounters. While she struggles to believe and to adapt to Storybrooke, she also befriends characters like Cinderella (Jessy Schram), the Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Bolger) and Elsa (Georgina Haig).
At the same time, she is also destined to be the Savior of all the characters, to save them from evil curses, wicked witches and dragons and to bring them their happy endings, which is not an easy thing to do with characters like Rumplestilskin (Robert Carlyle), Cruella (Victoria Smurfit), Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) around.
Nothing is what it seems
The main themes of Once Upon A Time are family and love. So, if you want to start watching Once Upon A Time, you’d better take some paper and a pen – the family tree in this show is a crazy thing and everyone is related to everyone. The most obvious example is the Evil Queen being the adopted mother of Snow White’s grandson – in other words, Regina actually ends up being both the great-grandmother and the mother to little Henry.
Also, the couples and love triangles are the most wicked as somehow the Evil Queen and the Savior fight for the Hunter’s (Jamie Dornan) heart, but in the end, one ends up with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and the other with Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). If you don’t believe us, watch it yourself and prepare to be caught under Once Upon A Time’s spell and eventually under its spin-off’s Once Upon A Time in Wonderland too.
8th: American Horror Story (2011 – present, FX)
American Horror Story is a horror television series created by Ryan Murphy, better known for his work for Glee. With 4 seasons up to date, American Horror Story is shaped as an anthology, each season following a different plot-line and having a new set of character, though portrayed mostly by the same actors – Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe and many others.
The series also includes its own version of some famous mystery cases such as the Black Dahlia murder and the serial killer Madame Marie Delphine Lalaurie and supernatural creatures such as ghosts, zombies, aliens and even the Minotaur.
New places, new plots, new monsters
American Horror Story’s debut season subtitled Murder House is set in Los Angeles in 2011 and follows the Harmon family: Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivie (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) as they move in a new house, hoping to get over their past and start anew. But everything becomes worse as the house is marked by the deaths of all its past owners who still haunt the place.
The second season, Asylum, takes place in the 60s and is centred on a young lesbian journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) who is locked against her will in the Briarcliff Manor by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange). While trying to escape, Lana befriends Kit Walker (Evan Peters), a man dealing with an accusation of murder and aliens, and Doctor Oliver Threadson (Zachary Quinto), a psychologist which is much more than he seems.
Back to the 21st century, the third season, Coven, is set in New Orleans and follows a coven of modern witches who find themselves caught in a war for power and revenge, all for the sake of survival. The latest season, Freak Show, takes another time jump back to the 50s, when one of the last freak shows arrives in Florida, just as a serial killer clown (John Carroll Lynch) is going on his murder spree and the wealthy heir Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) gets a new disturbing hobby.
More to come
Following its spectacular success, American Horror Story has already been renewed for a fifth season, Hotel, about which all we know is that it will star Lady Gaga. At the same time, the regular cast might suffer some changes as Ryan Murphy has already planned not one, but two spin-offs: Scream Queens, starring Kathy Bates, Jamie Lee Curtis and even Ariana Grande, and American Crime Story, whose first season will focus on the murder trial of O.J. Simpson. With all 3 of them to be released in 2015, we can say that this year announces itself as an exciting one.
7th: Orphan Black (2013 – present, Space | BBC America)
Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction TV series starring Tatiana Maslany as the main characters. The TV series focuses on Sarah Manning (Maslany) a rogue who witnesses the suicide of a woman physically identical to her.
The woman, identified as Elizabeth “Beth” Childs (Maslany), left behind her belongings and Sarah, already struggling to get away from her drug-dealer boyfriend Victor (Michael Mando), takes advantage of the situation and usurps Beth’s identity with a little help from her foster gay brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris). While she expected to get rid of all her problems by exchanging places with Beth, she had no idea that what caused the young woman to take her life is about to go after Sarah too.
Soon Sarah discovers that Beth is not a random doppelgänger but a clone and that there many others out there who could not be any more different from her. While Sarah is a British punk con artist with a messed up life, who tries to make peace with her foster mother Siobhan “Mrs. S” Sadler (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and her daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler), Beth was a police detective with a mysterious boyfriend;
Other clones are Alison Hendrix, a perfect soccer mom and housewife with a slight passion for pills and alcohol, Cosima Niehaus, a genius bisexual woman studying biology and doing her best to discover their origins as clones, Helena, a deranged woman brought up in an Ukrainian convent who loves food, killing people and her “sestra” and Rachel Duncan, one of the antagonists and the only one raised knowing who and what she is.
Ledas and Castors
If for the female clones it was difficult to get used to the idea of their origins, being part of the Project Leda and getting caught between the Dyad Institute, which constantly gets involved in their lives and monitors them, and the Proletheans, whose sole purpose is to annihilate the clones whom they perceive as abominations, now they have to cope with fact that there is also a Project Castor with male clones. What’s up with Project Castor and what will happen with our girls? We have to wait just a few more weeks to find out in season 3.