The last twenty years has been a golden age of TV, with plenty of amazing shows that have premiered, creating fanbases for many the shows that have given us awesome storylines. Some of these series aired on the premium service, Showtime, and went strong for years and years, with a large amount of fans even now, after the shows ended.
I’m talking about classics like Dexter, or newer additions like Shameless that just came to a close not that long ago. Whatever your favorite genre is, from comedy to drama, the cabler has you covered with some fantastic shows. These are some of the best Showtime shows you can watch right now.
Dexter (2006 - 2013, 2021- )
In this classic Showtime series, Dexter follows the life of Dexter Morgan, a Miami Metro Police Department blood pattern analyst. Seems like a normal job, until you realize that this cop is actually tainted - because he’s a secret serial killer who kills murderers who have escaped justice, all while working with the homicide division.
The very idea of Dexter is really what makes this series so great. I mean, just think about it - someone using their job to basically cover up the fact that they like to kill, but they only use it as a way to kill other murderers in a twisted fashion. It’s screwed up in all the right ways. The Dexter cast is full of talent, and the story is super interesting and will make anyone want to keep watching, even if blood isn’t entirely your thing.
However, I do feel inclined to warn you that the ending to the original series was terribly bad - probably one of the worst series finales of all time. Luckily, we are getting a Dexter reboot soon that will hopefully fix all the wrongs, so if you’ve never seen the original show, be sure to check it out now.
Ray Donovan (2013 - 2020)
In this drama from Showtime, Ray Donovan stars the titular character, who is a “professional fixer.” He arranges bribes, payoffs, threats, crime-scene clean-up, and any other illegal activities to protect his celebrity clients - well, usually they’re celebrity clients. Sometimes they're more criminals than anything else.
Ray Donovan went on for many years because it became such a popular show. The drama starred Liev Schreiber, alongside a phenomenal cast. Its story is engrossing and interesting, but I think what I like the most about this show is the setting. While the first five seasons take place on the West Coast, in L.A., the last two primarily focus on New York City, giving a whole new vibe to the series. There's also a Ray Donovan movie in the works for 2022, so now's a great time to catch up.
Shameless (2011 - 2021)
Oh, Shameless. You don’t f**k with a Gallagher.
In this U.S. reboot of the U.K. series of the same name, Shameless follows the lives of the Gallagher family, a group of misfits who live on the South Side of Chicago, starring Fiona, the eldest sister who has to somehow manage her whole family while her alcoholic father messes everything up.
Shameless was my first Showtime show, and honestly, it’s such a great one to start out on. The stories are all over the place, from some great heartwarming tales to ones that are really screwed up. The Shameless cast is full of stars, including the ever-talented William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. It’s really such a fantastic series, with so much heart and yet so many things that will make you laugh your ass off. With eleven seasons, it’s the perfect series to binge.
Billions (2016 - Present)
In this drama series, we follow hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod as he accumulates wealth and power in the world of high finance, with a lot of his tactics often crossing over into possibly illegal territory.
I think one of the things I like about Billions is that, for a lot of people, the topic here is a bit out of our comfort zones. I didn’t really know anything about finance, hedge funds or the like that prior to watching this series. While the show is fictional, you still do learn some fun facts about the financial world, and you get a great story with high stakes that will have you watching episode after episode. You never know who’s going to get in trouble when it comes to money.
The Tudors (2007 - 2010)
The Tudors focuses on one particular king in history, the infamous King of England, Henry VIII. The show takes place in the sixteenth century, looking into his relationship with an unpopular Chief Minister, his romances (especially Anne Boleyn), and his desire to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon - and that’s just Season 1.
King Henry is one of those figures in history that I feel we all know for what he did with his several wives, and The Tudors takes that into account and charges up the drama by about 100%. While you can’t expect this to be totally accurate - this is a TV series - The Tudors is still a fun period drama, filled with plenty of historical elements about one of England's oldest families - even if every aspect isn’t true. Plus, you get to see a young Henry Cavill - how can you not enjoy it?
Homeland (2011 - 2020)
If you want a military thriller, look no further than Homeland. This Showtime drama is about Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brody and Carrie Mathison, a CIA operations officer who has come to believe that an American Marine has been turned by the enemy, Al-Qaeda, and is now working for the other side.
I feel like Homeland is the perfect series for so many people. If you want something close to espionage, it’s right here. If you want something very dramatic, Homeland has it. If you’re craving some awesome action scenes, Homeland is the perfect choice. Really, it’s a great series, and went on for eight seasons, becoming a huge hit for Showtime. It has something for everyone to enjoy, and you'll be trying to track down who exactly is the traitor to the U.S.
Your Honor (2020 - Present)
In this courtroom drama, Your Honor tells the story of a New Orleans judge, whose son accidentally kills another teenager during a hit-and-run collision. However, things becomes messier when the judge learns that the slain teenager is the son of a local mafia kingpin. Now, he must question his own honor to try and keep his son safe.
Starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Your Honor reminds me so much of Cranston’s former series, with a man trying to keep his family protected with extremely high stakes, except this time around it's with a mafia boss instead of a meth lord. Bryan Cranston is perfect in his role, and the rest of the cast rocks it as well. With a second season already renewed, Your Honor is the perfect binge for someone who doesn’t want multiple seasons, and wants to get invested for the long haul in the future.
Californication (2007 - 2014)
Another classic Showtime series, Californication follows Hank Moody, a New Yorker who moves to California and suffers from writer’s block, while also having his own constant issues to deal with, including his alcoholism, drug abuse, and womanizing.
I know from the premise that this sounds like a guy you don’t want to support, but Hank is actually a really great character and the best lead for a series like Californication. He isn’t perfect and you know it right out of the gate, but you can tell that he’s trying to make an effort to improve himself - even if he can rarely ever say no to his vices. While there are plenty of reasons to watch this show, including its constant references to rock culture or the amazing set design, Hank, played by David Duchovny, is the main reason you stick around.
Penny Dreadful (2014 - 2016)
If you’re looking for a horror series, look no further than Penny Dreadful. This thriller is filled with suspenseful stories, showing that sometimes personal demons from your past can be even more terrifying than the scariest of creatures, like vampires, monsters, or even demons.
I don’t think I can say too much about this show without giving a lot away. As someone who loves to watch the best horror movies, I absolutely adore scary films or horror flicks that make me feel all shaky inside. However. Penny Dreadful is another kind of horror, where there are moments where you’ll be terrified of what you see on screen, and the next you’ll be thrown into something extremely deep and meaningful. I feel like Penny Dreadful should have gotten more seasons; it’s such a good scary yet insightful horror series.
The L Word (2004 - 2009)
With all of these dramas and thrillers, I think it’s time we put in something that’s a little more light-hearted, but still serious. The L Word follows the lives of a small, close-knit group of gay women who live in Los Angeles, as well as their friends or family members who support them or hate them.
What I love about The L Word compared to many of these other series is while it’s always great to watch a drama like Homeland or Penny Dreadful, sometimes you need a show that just portrays the lives of regular people, and that’s what this does. The L Word cast is wonderful, with leading ladies like Jennifer Beals and Mia Kirshner, and the story is full of relationships with plenty of drama, sweet gestures, and instances that will make you want to yell at your TV. There are even a couple of spin-offs of the show now for you to enjoy, so why not watch the original first?
Showtime is definitely one of those channels that seems to have everything you could want, from dysfunctional families to scary monsters. The question is, what are you feeling like watching today? Since Halloween is coming up, maybe some Penny Dreadful for me.