I Started Watching These 10 TV Shows Just To See What The Hype Was About

I Started Watching These 10 TV Shows Just To See What The Hype Was About


  • Discovering hidden gems like Freaks and Geeks can lead to amazing TV viewing experiences.
  • Some TV shows, like The Wire, surpass their hype and present raw realities in unique ways.
  • Hyped shows like Game of Thrones can disappoint in the end, but others like Breaking Bad will leave a lasting impact.

I’ve always felt an incredible need to keep up with popular TV shows, and my most hated feeling is being out of the loop about what’s happening in the world of media. This means always checking out the latest popular shows while consistently making a dent in the massive backlog of television classics from bygone eras. While this habit has extraordinary benefits when discovering amazing new series, it also leads to painfully sitting through lackluster television seasons that, when I’m truly honest with myself, just don’t live up to the hype.

But you’ve got to take the good with the bad, and part of being a TV fanatic means occasionally tuning in to shows that everybody seems to love that I thought were just okay or, in some circumstances, actively disliked. Many TV shows get incredible hype when they’re initially released, only to be quickly forgotten by viewers or canceled after just one season. However, there were other times when a show exceeded its hype and proved itself to be among the greatest series I’ve ever had the honor of watching.

10 Freaks and Geeks (1999 – 2000)

Freaks and Geeks was hyped up as an incredible cult classic

I was just a kid when Freaks and Geeks initially aired, and even if I was one of the lucky few who knew about this hidden gem during that time, growing up before the widespread use of the internet, I don’t think I could have watched it even if I wanted to due to its haphazard airing scheduling. But, despite its low ratings, the legacy of Freaks and Geeks grew over the years, and by the 2010s, hype around the show had built up to extraordinary levels, and it felt like a must-watch series.

As the launching point for the careers of acclaimed comedy actors like Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, and Linda Cardellini, I knew I had to see Freaks and Geeks once I’d learned about its existence as an underrated cult classic. It did not disappoint, and it was a prime example of a series that lived up to its hype. Not only did Freaks and Geeks exemplify the best of Judd Apatow’s comedy style that would dominate the 2000s, but it also played into my love of music, with incredible bands like The Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, and The Who among its soundtrack.

9 The Wire (2002 – 2008)

The Wire was hyped up as groundbreaking television

Growing up during the dawning of the Golden Age of Television meant there was never a shortage of great TV shows to check out, and I was always drawn to fantastic HBO series like The Sopranos and Deadwood. However, when discussing the greatest TV shows of all time, television aficionados consistently told me about one series, and I knew I had to check out The Wire to find out what all the hype was about. As a slow-moving series, The Wire took a while to click with me, but once I was invested, I was all in.

With incredible attention to detail due to the show’s creator, David Simon, being a former homicide reporter, I was blown away by how The Wire presented the true realities of crime in America. With iconic characters like Jimmy McNulty and Stringer Bell, The Wire felt like nothing I had ever seen, as it demanded the viewer’s complete attention in its depiction of the social, political, and economic landscape of urban life in Baltimore. The Wire gave me a newfound appreciation for what could be accomplished through episodic television and truly lived up to the hype.

8 Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)

Breaking Bad was hyped up as one of the best narratives out there

When I first heard there was a TV show where the dad from Malcolm in the Middle became a meth cook, I was expecting to see an out-and-out comedy. So you can imagine my shock when confronted with what would become one of my favorite shows. From its tense opening episode to its perfect finale, Breaking Bad was among my greatest television viewing experiences, made even better by the hype surrounding it. Watching Breaking Bad as it aired was amazing, as fans endlessly discussed their theories about how the story of Walter White would end.

With exceptional performances from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad set a new standard for what I could expect from a TV show. I compared Breaking Bad to every subsequent show I watched, although I was equally impressed by the prequel, Better Call Saul, and how well it fleshed out the character of Saul Goodman. With the advent of streaming, Breaking Bad has found new viewers, who I am incredibly envious of because I wish I could go back in time and watch the series again with the excitement of not knowing how it would end.

7 Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019)

Game of Thrones was hyped up as the most talked about TV show on the air

I have to admit, I was never the biggest fantasy fan. Although I appreciated series like The Lord of the Rings and have a genuine soft spot for Harry Potter, Game of Thrones didn’t look like the kind of thing that would interest me. However, after the first couple of seasons were released, the hype became too great, and I had no choice but to check out the show for myself.

Despite my general avoidance of fantasy series, I enjoyed Game of Thrones as characters like Tyrion Lannister won me over with their witty comebacks, and the shock of seeing Ned Stark meet his end cemented this as a series where anything could happen. Before long, I was a faithful convert and eagerly anticipated the new seasons of Game of Thrones. That was until the show surpassed the books, and things completely fell apart. Looking back with the power of hindsight, I wish I had never gotten invested in the first place after the lackluster final season.


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6 Suits (2011 – 2019)

Suits was hyped up as an incredible stylish and enjoyable series

Mad Men is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, and whenever I mentioned this, I was always told that I absolutely had to check out Suits. After a while, I’d heard this so often that I decided it was time to find out whether this legal drama could truly live up to the hype and finally acquainted myself with Mike Ross and Harvey Specter. In the end, I felt that Suits lacked the subtle nuances that made Mad Men so extraordinary, but in terms of pure entertainment, it was incredibly watchable.

After checking out Suits to see what the hype was about, I ended up sticking around for all nine seasons and am excited for the spin-off series Suits: L.A. The initial hook of Suits was Mike’s photographic memory, but fan-favorite characters like Harvey, Louis Litt, and Donna Paulson made Suits my go-to show after I first discovered it. Although Suits never lived up to the greatest prestige television shows, I felt like it had a unique identity, and part of its appeal was that it never took itself too seriously.


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5 Stranger Things (2016 – Present)

Stranger Things was hyped up as 1980s nostalgia at its best

The hype surrounding Stranger Things was undeniable in 2016, as I constantly heard viewers praise it as an incredible 1980s throwback that brought to mind the works of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and even the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. That was enough to convince me, and I immediately checked out the first season of Stranger Things and really loved it. Not only did it boast an incredible cast of promising child actors, but there was maturity to its storytelling that meant it lived up to its impressive influences.

The hype around Stranger Things only continued to grow throughout each subsequent season, as I consistently tuned in every time new episodes dropped on Netflix. As Stranger Things proceeded, the stakes grew even more intense, and I watched in awe as the Duffer Brothers fleshed out the world of the show and its creepy alternative dimension, the Upside Down. With the final season on the way, I’ll be sad to see Stranger Things go, but I can’t wait to see how it all pans out for Eleven and the gang.

4 Succession (2018 – 2023)

Succession was hyped up for its hilarious dialogue, satirical edge, and great characters

I was always a big fan of Succession creator Jesse Armstrong’s previous work, and as the hype built up during its first season, I knew I had to check it out. I went in expecting to see something similar to the previous British comedies he’d been involved in, like Peep Show and Fresh Meat, but instead found myself enthralled by the latest HBO prestige satirical drama. This felt like a step-up for Armstrong, and I was delighted to see Succession turn into one of the most popular shows on TV throughout its four-season run.

I should have known Succession would have been great, as it mixed the awkward cringe of characters from Peep Show with the insightful satirical bite of The Thick of It, Armando Iannucci’s political sitcom that Armstrong wrote for. But it wasn’t just the amazing writing in Succession that I connected to, as the characters were truly incredible, and the Roy family was one of the most interesting dynamics on TV. I may have tuned in because of the initial hype, but Succession proved itself to be one of the best comedy dramas out there.

3 Cobra Kai (2021 – Present)

Cobra Kai was hyped up as the perfect continuation of The Karate Kid

I always felt a little out of the loop regarding The Karate Kid franchise. I saw bits and pieces of the original movie as a child, but it wasn’t the stone-cold 1980s classic for me that I’d heard others describe it as. When I heard about Cobra Kai picking up on the untold story of Johnny Lawrence almost 35 years later, I was intrigued, but it still didn’t convince me to watch the show. However, as the series progressed, the hype only grew, and I decided first to familiarize myself with the movies and then finally check out Cobra Kai.

I truly did not expect to be as blown away by Cobra Kai as I was, but the show felt like it walked the fine line between paying homage to the past and carving out something new perfectly. I loved the ongoing rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny, but I also found myself invested in the stories of the upcoming generation and the returning villains who made the show so great. I think the ‘Miyagi-verse’ is currently among the greatest extended universes, and I’m eagerly awaiting Cobra Kai’s final season and the upcoming Karate Kid movie.


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2 The Bear (2022 – Present)

The Bear was hyped up as the an incredible portrayal of the restaurant industry

The Bear was just one of those shows that everybody seemed to be talking about, and after its first season aired, it was hard to ignore its 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This was enough to convince me to check it out, and I quickly binged the entire first season, even if I was disappointed with how little actual bears played into the story. Instead, I followed the intensely engaging story of Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) as he tried to manage his family’s failing sandwich shop amid financial woes and a staff who didn’t live up to his fine dining expectations.

As somebody who previously worked in the restaurant industry, I found it impossible not to relate the frantic pace of The Bear and the high-stress environment of its working conditions. As a frenzied, fly-on-the-wall look at a busy restaurant’s inner workings, The Bear captured something I had never seen portrayed so well on screen. This, mixed with its fantastic cast of characters, incredible dialogue, and thematic nuances, made The Bear a must-watch series for me.

1 Baby Reindeer (2024)

Baby Reindeer was hyped up as an intense, must-watch Netflix series

Forgive me for my cluelessness, but when I first spotted Baby Reindeer in my Netflix suggestions, I thought it was a Christmas kids’ show, and I quickly skipped past it. But then I noticed the series appearing in my news feed, as everybody was writing about the true story behind Baby Reindeer and explaining what happened to the real women that the shocking stalker Martha Scott was based on. I’d heard it was intense viewing, but Baby Reindeer had gained widespread critical acclaim, and the hype was too large to ignore.

While I was expecting Baby Reindeer to be intense, I wasn’t prepared for how well it deconstructed the psychology of abuse, unhealthy thinking patterns, and societal sexual expectations. I thought the show’s creator, Richard Gadd, bravely laid his soul bare in the series, and it was shocking to hear that he based it on his own experiences. I felt like Baby Reindeer was an emotionally complex but enriching series and one of my top shows of 2024.