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The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time 

Ranker TV
Updated January 24, 2020 3k votes 539 voters 7.1k views 31 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

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 20

Network: HBO

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Girls is an American television series that premiered on HBO on April 15, 2012. Created by and starring Lena Dunham, Girls is a comedy-drama following a close group of twenty-somethings living ...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

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 135

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Television comedy, Sitcom, Comedy

The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, both of whom serve as executive producers on the show along with Steven Molaro. All three also serve as head ...more
3
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 73

Network: Netflix

Genres (Tv): Drama

House of Cards (Netflix, 2013) American political drama television series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of the BBC's mini-series of the same name and is based on ...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

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: HBO

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

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 264

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Farce, Comedy

Frasier is an American sitcom that was broadcast on NBC for eleven seasons, premiering on September 16, 1993, and concluding on May 13, 2004. The program was created and produced by David ...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

Number of Seasons: 7

Network: AMC

Genres (Tv): Drama, Period piece, Costume drama

Mad Men is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. The series premiered on July 19, 2007 on the cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. The ...more
8
Lost is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 121

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Supernatural drama, Action/Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, + more

Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, comprising a total of 121 ...more
9
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright

Premiered: 2016

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: HBO

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
10
Sex and the City is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
kikibeth34 added Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis

Premiered: 1998

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 94

Network: HBO

Genres (Tv): Romance Film, Black comedy, Blue comedy, Sitcom, Romantic comedy, + more

This show is an American television romantic sitcom created by Darren Star and produced by HBO. Broadcast from 1998 until 2004, the original run of the show had a total of 94 episodes. ...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

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 48

Network: ABC, Showtime

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

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 92

Network: E!

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
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 8

Network: HBO

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

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

Network: Showtime

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Police procedural, Suspense, + more

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also ...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

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama

The Blacklist is an American crime drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former U.S Navy officer turned high-profile ...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

Network: Netflix

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 Darrell Hammond, Kenan Thompson, Seth Meyers

Premiered: 1975

Number of Seasons: 38

Number of Episodes: 738

Network: NBC

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

Saturday Night Live is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, ...more
18
Gotham is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz

Network: FOX

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
19
Star Trek: Enterprise is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 98

Network: UPN

Genres (Tv): Military science fiction, Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Action, + more

Star Trek: Enterprise is a science fiction TV series and a prequel to the original Star Trek. The series premiered September 26, 2001, on the UPN television network with the final episode airing ...more
20
The Mist is listed (or ranked) 20 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
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

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 13

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Police procedural, Crime, Drama, Psychological thriller, Thriller

Hannibal is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more
22
Black Mirror is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Rory Kinnear

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 22

Network: Channel 4

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

Black Mirror is a British television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker that features speculative fiction with dark and sometimes satirical themes that examine modern society, ...more
23
The First is listed (or ranked) 23 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.
24
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Pretentious TV Shows Of All Time
Izzy Van Leesten added James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 86

Network: HBO

Genres (Tv): Drama

The Sopranos is an American drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American Tony Soprano, the show portrays the difficulties he ...more
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