In our heads rent-free…

Mind-blowing. Devastating. Life changing. We’ve all used those superlatives to describe those few TV shows that altered our brain chemistry. I know people who’ve watched Friends upwards of 20 times and while those are concerning numbers, that’s the kind of effect I’m talking about.

While steaming fresh content continues to flood streaming platforms everywhere, these personal classics will hold tender places in our hearts for whatever reason it might be. Childhood nostalgia, a take on life and love we never thought to imagine or just a cloud of cinematic trauma – these are our picks.

If you relate to any of these – sending virtual up-tops to you.

The X-Files


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There are countless shows I could list that have flavoured my comic tastes (Live at the Apollo, Family Guy, Peep Show, Big Train, Pugwall’s Summer) and guided my introspective musings (Midnight Gospel, Cosmos) – but there are two series that ostensibly make up 90 per cent of my personality. The first is The X-Files. I’m absolutely obsessed with the idea that there are an unfathomable wealth of things out there, that go way beyond conventional comprehension. Maybe it’s the fact I’ve had my own experiences that defy rational explanation, perhaps it’s the teenage crush on Gillian Anderson, the cabal of shadowy figures with names like Mr X and ‘Cigarette Smoking Man’ or maybe it was just the completely original storytelling, all I know is that, when it comes to the power and beauty of The X-Files: I believe. – Miles Buckeridge, Deputy Editor, What’s On Dubai

Man vs. Wild


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I was a Cub. I was a Scout, in fact I have absolutely zero shame in admitting that drawn by the joy of turning deodorant cans into flamethrowers, cooking marshmallows on a bonfire and abseiling at night – I was also a Venture Scout. Bear Grylls is my spirit animal is what I’m saying (what, he’s a bear non?). And even though suburban life has trained me to be wolf chum in a post-apocalyptic wasteland scenario, Man Vs. Wild has stepped in and given me the skills (or confidence at least) to rappel down sheer building faces, knife in mouth, ready to scout the perimeter. – Miles Buckeridge, Deputy Editor, What’s On Dubai

Mad Men


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Like any living being, Don Draper is flawed. In fact, he’s an outright mess in a well-fitting suit. But he’s also a creative genius and a born storyteller, which is what drew me to this series (and the numerous times I’ve rewatched it). Watch Jon Hamm, a television behemoth in his own right, bring his signature eloquence and brooding best to Sterling Cooper on Madison Ave., and navigate perennial hurricanes in his personal and professional lives. Your hidden gem throughout all seven seasons would be the character of Roger Sterling, but no more spoilers. Be old fashioned for a change, pour yourself a refreshing beverage, and enjoy the show.  – Dinesh Ramanathan, Deputy Editor, What’s On Abu Dhabi

Bill Nye the Science Guy


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A large number of millennials (and just old timers like myself) would remember Bill Nye the Science Guy, from back in the day. This edutainment legend and former airline engineer broke down complex scientific topics for young learners, and has been broadcasted several times over the years with good reason. A 30-minute episode will have children singing along to the jingle first, watching wide-eyed next, and getting smarter in a matter of minutes. This was edutainment before the days of OTT, and we loved and looked forward to every episode. Okay. You can stop singing the jingle now. – Dinesh Ramanathan, Deputy Editor, What’s On Abu Dhabi



If I had to pick one TV show with a character I adore, it would have to be Frasier. The radio psychiatrist takes us along his journey through life in the TV show’s 11 seasons surrounded by the people he loves including his father and brother (who at times drive him insanely batty). I love this show for so many reasons including the hilarious situations Frasier manages to get himself in, the heartbreaks, and so on… but it was the way the show ended that always gets me crying and pondering. I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet (and I highly recommend that you should) but it ends with a bit of a twist with Frasier still on his path to finding his dreamy happily ever after. Guess I’ll find out when the reboot finally (and hopefully) airs… – Aarti Saundalkar, Online Reporter

New Girl


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Without a doubt, a TV Show that altered my brain chemistry has to be New Girl. I know it might seem like a cop out to some because it’s just so popular – but it’s popular for a good reason. I will forever pronounce chutney as chut-a-ney and constantly have use “gave you cookie, got you cookie, man” as a direct quote when my friends do something unnessasarily nice for me. I probably quote it randomly without even realizing (although I do the same with The Office and Community)  – Shelby Gee, Junior Reporter

Teen Titans (and other legendary cartoons)

Teen Titans

Okay, this one might be a wild card, but I would not be half as sarcastic as I am if it weren’t for old school cartoons including but not limited to (the original) Teen Titans, Codename: Kids Nextdoor, Regular Show and Recess. Special mention to Disney shows like Wizards of Wavery Place, Hey Arnold, and CatDog – realistically if I spent half as much time as I did watching TV as a kid and focusing on more important hobbies I’d be a more well-rounded person, but probably only half the fun. – Shelby Gee, Junior Reporter



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Pheobe Waller-Bridge is a genius, in my opinion, and also the queen of my heart for creating a show like Fleabag. I generally go through life binge-watching any series I start, but this one I did so with an honest-to-God investment in Fleabag’s life. Her all-consuming grief, her piercing guilt, her love that never found fruition and all of her hilarious mess – it’s just a fantastic portrait of how unpleasant and pleasant life can be at the same time. The constant breaking of the fourth wall is the most intimate invitation into her world, and the fact that Andrew Scott’s priest is the only one in her life who can sense that devastates me. – Manaal Fatimah, Editorial Intern

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Straying away from the English-language train here, Alif comes from Pakistan’s creative minds and follows the journey of a high-flying film director on a quest to find his faith and in turn, himself. You would imagine a series about spirituality is more of a preachy sermon than a TV show, but this one takes that concept and creates a beautiful journey so individual to the protagonist, you are compelled to look within yourself and wonder where your belief stands. – Manaal Fatimah, Editorial Intern

Neds’ Declassified School Survival Guide

T.V. shows

This is a show I go back to very often. Ned’s Declassified takes us through the lives of the protagonist and his best friends from their formative to final years of schooling. Every episode, the characters face a new struggle, from sports to homework to group projects (gross) which growing up was just relatable and fun to see on-screen. And as the name suggests, the show is an unclassified list of advices to help you survive school, as unscathed as possible. – Mabel Elizabeth, Editorial Intern

The Good Place

T.V. shows

If there’s one show that makes me have an existential crisis every time I (willingly) watch it, it’s undoubtedly The Good Place. For starters, it opens with what is deemed to be the afterlife and surprise-all the characters are dead! Further, the plot twist was one that was totally in your face, but at the same time easy to miss. It’s an entire philosophical conundrum, making you question life because what matters at the end of the day is you keep trying your best as you move through the world. Forking hell. – Mabel Elizabeth, Editorial Intern

Image credit: Stills