Kate’s Top 14 Off-the-Air TV Shows

Okay, first of all, if you guys remember, to show you how much we appreciate you guys participating in our Scoop posts, we’re picking a commenter from the previous month’s Scoop posts and sending them a little prize! This month, it was Allison from the Snicker’s post a few weeks ago.

We’re sending Allison a Bare Minerals starter kit (just because we love you guys, not sponsored in any way). Congrats, Allison!

My husband and I have quite the DVD collection. Actually, it’s 90% my husband and 10% me–before we met (and really, for awhile after), I rarely bought movies and I NEVER bought TV shows on DVD, but that was one of his things. But the longer we’ve been married, the more I’ve hopped onto the DVD-buying bandwagon and now, for better or worse, I am a participator.

Because of our collection (and my fondness for TV-watching), my friends frequently ask what they should watch next. You know, after they have a baby or are recovering from surgery or during Christmas break or late summer, that bleak period between when The Next Food Network Star ends and the fall shows begin. And honestly, I kind of love picking the perfect show for them based on their personal tastes and what they’re in the mood for and what’s going on in their lives. Comedy? Drama? Dramedy? Gotcha covered.

I have a whole list of shows that I love that are currently still airing new episodes, but for today’s post, I wanted to share shows that are off the air, meaning you can either find the entire thing on DVD or for streaming (like from Netflix or Amazon). Also, for whatever reason, I haven’t included anything that has been off the air for less than a year. You know, just to be arbitrary (kind of like how I just picked 14 shows). Also, I haven’t included anything that would probably be R-rated if it were a movie, but, like any media, you’ll have to use your own discretion.

30 Rock

30 Rock was the first show that I can remember where we were laughing so hard that we had to pause it and rewind it so we could see the things we missed while we were laughing. I could relate to Tina Fey’s character on so many levels–sarcastic and goofy and a little nerdy–and the crazy supporting characters and situations always led to hilarity. It’s not really everyone’s thing, but if you’re in the mood for something a little quirky, this might do it for you.

Arrested Development

Okay, if 30 Rock is a little quirky, Arrested Development is a lot quirky. It’s kind of a love-it-or-hate-it show, and it’s not one you can really watch while you’re surfing Facebook because so many of the funny things are plays on words or puns or recurring jokes. But. Once you watch it (“watch” is a loose term…more like “experience”), you’ll find things creeping into everyday life for years to come. Remember, there’s always money in the banana stand.


After each of my babies, I told myself I had the entire series of a TV show to chill out and then I had to get back to real life. With Will, it was How I Met Your Mother, with Meredith it was Gilmore Girls, and with Clark, it was Frasier. I’d watched it on and off for years, and  pretty consistently for the last few years it was on the air, but I’d never watched it start to finish. It was so consistently funny and sweet, one of the last of its kind, and perfect for that post-baby time when you just want to be entertained and you don’t want anything too heavy.


Friends is Friends–I mean, what can you say? I remember discovering it the first year it was on–I was in 8th grade and it was the episode where Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica are having a pajama party and burning stuff from their old boyfriends and I was laughing out loud, all by myself–kind of a first. For me, it was the first show I watched that was my show, not something my family was watching or my sisters told me I needed to see. And I watched it all the way from that moment when I was 14 to the finale, in a hotel room, married and just graduated from college, right after I found out I was having our first baby.

Happy Endings

Happy Endings didn’t last too long. It started out a little clunky and “I’m trying so hard to be funny,” but once it settled into a good rhythm, it became one of our favorites. It kind of borrows the Friends premise (and refers to that at least once) of single friends living in a big city, but it’s the humor is a little more off the beaten path than Friends.


This was another show that I loved in high school (and I was truly devastated when Phil Hartman was murdered. Also, the show was never the same after he died.) It’s definitely a little more in the old-school comedy classification, but we still pull it out from time to time and are amazed how much we still love (and quote) it. “This one I like, I keep.”

The Office

Aw, man. I remember when The Office was a little struggling mid-season replacement that started right after my oldest was born, before it transformed into one of THE comedies. Sometimes I forget how amazing the first season (just 6 little episodes) was, but really, it was magical from the very beginning.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Okay, so my husband is a big science fiction/fantasy nerd, but I am not. Not really. There are times when I do love something, but those times are fairly few and far between.

My daughter has never been a great sleeper–late nights and early mornings have pretty much been a way of life since she was born 7 years ago. When she was about 9-18 months, she was getting up before 6 every morning. We’d go snuggle on the couch and, in an attempt to not fall back asleep, I’d turn on the TV. There are very few options that early in morning, but one of them was Angel, the Buffy the Vampire spinoff with David Boreanaz (hello, Agent Booth.)


I watched Angel. I got mildly invested. And I decided if we were watching Angel, we should watch Buffy. So my mild investment in Angel turned into a full-blown love of Buffy. It was like Gilmore Girls in a Harry Potter universe. Throw in the nostalgia factor that Buffy and I were exactly the same age, so she graduated from high school the same year I did, and I was sold. Yes, the monsters and special effects were often campy and goofy, but it was never about the special effects (or the monsters), it was about the characters and the stories; the monsters were more metaphorical than anything. And then I got a cat and named it Willow and I officially became one of those girls. Yeah.

Friday Night Lights

My love of all things Friday Night Lights is long-established. Good golly, that show makes me feel things. If you watch Parenthood, you’ll know (Jason Katims is the creator of both of them)–sometimes it’s the big things, but sometimes it’s the little things that blindside you into a weepy mess, like someone convincing someone else to buy a car. If there was ever anything that made me want to love football, this would be it.


Even though the end was a little rocky for me, the mythology and storytelling and deep human connection of Lost make the whole journey worth it. Kind of. I’m still trying to figure out what happened in the end.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Apparently I have a thing for sketch comedies and shows about what happens behind the scenes of them. This is like the drama side of the coin of 30 Rock. It (sadly) only lasted one season, but it was smart and captivating and I wish there were more episodes. 


So many of my favorite shows started in the fall of 2007. I don’t know if it’s just because there were so many great shows that came out that year or if it’s because we had a newborn and my husband was in his last semester of school and literally home for, like, 6 hours a day (which he spent sleeping), but I have a lot of fond memories of TV-watching that fall.

We actually recorded Chuck by accident–we were definitely not cool enough for a DVR, so we had an elaborate VCR recording system that went awry and recorded what ended up being one of our favorite shows. The premise is a little goofy–a super-smart nerdy dude has a crisis of confidence after he (unrightfully) gets kicked out of Stanford and is working at the equivalent of a Geek Squad. Through a series of unlikely events, he unknowingly becomes the recipient of all the government’s secrets, thus placing him in danger as well as making him a valuable asset. It’s action-y and sweet and fun and funny.

Gilmore Girls

 I held out on watching Gilmore Girls for so long, but I started just as it was about to end and it kind of became my world–I wished I lived in Stars Hollow. It’s another one that’s great for when you want to invest emotionally in something, but you don’t want something too heavy or dark. You guys know all this–I’ve talked about it before. But if you haven’t watched it yet, you reallyreallyreally should.


Scrubs started the fall after my husband and I got married and I just remember wrapping Christmas presents, those first Christmas presents when we had, like $25 to spend on each other, and laughing at Scrubs. It wasn’t like anything I had every seen; at that time, most comedies were still shot in multi-camera, either in front of a live audience or with a laugh track. So to have this small, intimate, single camera show with an interior monologue running the whole time, something that intertwined comedy and drama in a 30-minute time slot, was completely foreign (and I’ll maintain that even though Scrubs was never a massive hit with audiences, it changed the face of TV comedy). For the record, I don’t actually consider the last season of the show part of the show–most of the original cast was gone and the final episode of Season 8 was one of the most perfect, beautiful endings to a series ever, so I just pretend like there never was a Season 9.

So those are my picks! What are your favorite shows that you think about going back to and watching from the beginning?