Watchworthy

The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time 

Ranker TV
Updated April 20, 2020 3k votes 555 voters 7.4k views 32 items

List Rules Vote up the series that tried to be groundbreaking in their form or message, but in a self-indulgent way that makes you roll your eyes.

When it comes to the most pretentious TV shows of all time, things tend to get tricky due to the subjective nature of the question. How exactly does one define what some might call a pretentious TV series (or pretentious film), after all? For the purposes of this particular list, one might consider a TV show in question to fit the bill if it accidentally comes across as condescending, preachy, not as earth shattering as it thought it'd be, and/or amassed a following largely consisting of a hipster population. 

Here you'll find a collection of shows that some might just peg under the title of pretentious television. Whether they tend to be shows for TV snobs, hipster television series, or ultimately proved to miss the mark, it's up to you to decide which of these shall inherit the not-so-coveted title of the most pretentious TV shows of all time.

Take your revenge by voting up the most self-indulgent shows and feel free to add any of your own that you feel belong on the list.

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list ordered by
1
Girls is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke

Premiered: 2012

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Drama

Girls (HBO, 2012) is an American comedy-drama television series created by Lena Dunham. Cut off from her parents, an aspiring writer (Dunham) navigates life in New York City with her three ...more
2
The Big Bang Theory is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco

Premiered: 2007

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 2007) is an American television sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. A woman (Kaley Cuoco) who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but ...more
3
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Political drama, Political thriller

House of Cards (Netflix, 2013) is an American political drama television series developed by Beau Willimon, and an adaptation of the BBC mini-series based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. ...more
4
The Real Housewives of P... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
shellywin672 added
The Real Housewives of Potomac (abbreviated RHOP) is an American reality television series that premiered on January 17, 2016, on Bravo. The show was developed as the 8th installment of The Real ...more
5
The Newsroom is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr.

Premiered: 2012

Genres (Tv): Drama

The Newsroom is an American television political drama series created and principally written by Aaron Sorkin that premiered on HBO on June 24, 2012, and concluded on December 14, 2014, ...more
6
Frasier is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce

Premiered: 1993

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Frasier (NBC, 1993) is an American sitcom television series created by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee, and a spinoff of Cheers. After his divorce, psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane ...more
7
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

Premiered: 2007

Genres (Tv): Period drama, Serial drama

Mad Men (AMC, 2007) is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. Womanizing advertising executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) balances work and pleasure, while harboring ...more
8
Lost is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Naveen Andrews, Emilie de Ravin, Matthew Fox Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Supernatural drama, Science fiction, Mystery

Lost (ABC, 2004) is an American drama television series created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof. After a horrific plane crash, a group of strangers are forced to work ...more
9
Sex and the City is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
kikibeth34 added Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis

Premiered: 1998

Genres (Tv): Romantic comedy

Sex and the City (HBO, 1998) is an American romantic comedy-drama television series created by Darren Star, based on the 1997 book by Candace Bushnell. Four female New Yorkers (Sarah Jessica ...more
10
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright

Premiered: 2016

Genres (Tv): Sci-fi, Drama, Western

Westworld (HBO, 2016) is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and based on the 1973 film. In a technologically advanced Wild ...more
11
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn

Premiered: 1990

Genres (Tv): Drama, Crime, Mystery

Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990) is an American mystery horror drama television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch and, despite being canceled after two seasons, sparked a cult following that ...more
12
Keeping Up with the Kard... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Down in Florida added Kris Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian

Premiered: 2007

Genres (Tv): Reality television

Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!, 2007) is an American reality television series focusing on the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian-Jenner blended family.
13
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Mahershala Ali, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama

True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.
14
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Dark comedy, Police procedural

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American crime drama mystery series developed by James Manos Jr., based on the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. When he's not doing forensic work ...more
15
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Action, Thriller, Mystery

The Blacklist (NBC, 2013) is an American crime thriller television series created by Jon Bokenkamp. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, a high-profile criminal (James Spader) volunteers ...more
16
The Goop Lab is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Elise Loehnen, Gwyneth Paltrow

Premiered: 2020

Genres (Tv): Reality

The Goop Lab (Netflix, 2020) is a documentary mini-series starring Elisa Loehnen and Gwyneth Paltrow. Leading with curiosity and keeping it real, Gwyneth Paltrow and her goop team look at ...more
17
Saturday Night Live is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Down in Florida added Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson

Premiered: 1975

Genres (Tv): Sketch comedy, Satire, Variety show, Sketch, Comedy, + more

Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975), also known as SNL, is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. Hosted by a ...more
18
The Mist is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney
The Mist (Spike, 2017) is an American science fiction-horror thriller television series developed by Christian Torpe. Based on Stehphen King's horror novella, the series centers on a small town ...more
19
Black Mirror is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Rory Kinnear

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Drama, Thriller, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Black Mirror (Netflix, 2011) is a British television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. The show features speculative fiction with dark and sometimes satirical themes that examine ...more
20
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Izzy Van Leesten added James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Crime drama

The Sopranos (HBO, 1999) is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) deals with personal and professional issues in ...more
21
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Psychological horror, Psychological thriller, Crime drama, Crime thriller

Hannibal (NBC, 2013) is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller, based on the characters created by novelist Thomas Harris. A gifted FBI profiler ...more
22
Mr. Robot is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
blairknox02 added Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): Drama, Techno thriller, Psychological thriller

Mr. Robot (USA Network, 2015) is an American drama-thriller television series created by Sam Esmail. Elliot (Rami Malek), a cybersecurity engineer and hacker who suffers from social anxiety ...more
23
Gotham is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz

Genres (Tv): Crime, Action, Police procedural

Gotham (Fox, 2014) is an American drama television series developed by Bruno Heller, based on the DC Comics characters from the Batman franchise. The story behind Detective James Gordon's (Ben ...more
24
The First is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Sean Penn, Natascha McElhone, LisaGay Hamilton

Genres (Tv): Drama, Sci-fi

The First (Hulu, 2018) is an American-British drama web television series created by Beau Willimon. A team of astronauts become the first humans to visit Mars.
25
Marvel's Inhumans is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Marvel's Inhumans Anson Mount, Iwan Rheon, Serinda Swan

Genres (Tv): Action, Adventure, Science fiction, Superhero

Marvel's Inhumans (ABC, 2017) is American superhero series based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name. After a military coup, Black Bolt (Anson Mount), his wife Medusa (Serinda Swan), ...more