What Are Your Five TV Shows To Get To Know You?

People have been sharing their personal “Five TV Shows to Get to Know Me” on Twitter, and it led to Autostraddle’s TV Team taking a good hard look within ourselves to come up with our own smattering of shows that best embody who we are at our core. Because we are a group of professional television lovers, definitive lists are our enemies!!!!!! What is meant to be a simple tweet format is, for us, a challenge a bit like dissecting our own hearts! Yes, our relationships with television are perfectly fine and healthy THANKS.

Anyway, after some introspection, we each have come up with our list of five shows that people should watch if they want to know us — and I mean really KNOW us. Reminder: These are not necessarily the five television shows that we think are the best of all time or even necessarily our five favorite shows of all time. They are the shows that are, in some way, indicative of Who We Are. With that in mind, we’d love to hear yours in the comments!


Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Glee: I used to be a musical theater kid, and once a musical theater kid, always a musical theater kid — sorry!

The Vampire Diaries: This show has a lot of heightened emotions in it, and baby, I’m all over the place emotionally.

The Real Housewives Of New York: I like older women and juicy drama, and yes I absolutely am a Gemini with mommy issues! Also I love my friends fiercely, and ultimATELY? All the Real Housewives shows are about friendship.

The Good Wife: I am intense, extremely passionate about the things I care about, and love to drink red wine while wearing a power blazer.

Riverdale: I’m a lover of mysteries like Betty Cooper (and also have anxiety like her), a daddy’s girl like Veronica Lodge (SORRY), a writer like Jughead Jones, a spooky lesbian like Cheryl Blossom, and… ok, I’m nothing like Archie Andrews.

I’m realizing now that all of my answers basically scream CAMP and AESTHETICS, and you know what? Accurate.


Natalie

How to Get Away With Murder: Annalise and I are pretty much the same person, minus all the murder stuff.

Pitch: Ginny Baker and I are from the same ‘hood and we would share an alma mater, if she hadn’t got drafted into the Major Leagues.

Pose: Family first, forever and always.

The West Wing: I’m a political nerd, obvs.

The Young and the Restless: A TV watching legacy shared by generations of Duggins.


Valerie Anne

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I started Buffy when I was 11 and that show shaped my sense of humor and my literal syntax. I still to this day will make up words on the spot if I can’t find one to suit my needs quickly enough.

Wynonna Earp: Wynonna uses the same syntax and humor but this leading lady has a little sister I relate to more than Dawn. I see more of who I am and who I want to be in Waverly Earp than I have in any character in a very long time.

Dickinson: The most dramatic corners of my brain have never been represented more accurately than Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily Dickinson. From the flop-on-the-bed-over-things-that-don’t-matter type of dramatic to the I-think-about-death-an-awful-lot dramatic, it’s all there in one smart, hilarious package.

Supergirl: I tried to argue to put “The Arrowverse” as my answer so I could loop Legends of Tomorrow in here for my sillier side, but instead it’s Supergirl, because when it’s at its best Kara perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be an optimist in the face of a world full of reasons to be a pessimist, and Alex Danvers is the fiercely loyal disaster lesbian I can only hope to be.

Haunting of Hill House: I’m surprised as anyone that Orphan Black wasn’t my last choice, but when it comes down to it, Haunting adds the dark and twisty and emotional layer that would be necessary for painting a complete picture of myself with only five shows. It has great storytelling, a lesbian empath, and a constant, quiet undertone that could burst into screams or tears at any time without warning.


Drew Gregory

The Bisexual: I almost picked The L Word, but Desiree Akhavan’s brand of queer fuck-up-ery is much more similar to my own.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Mental illness, Judaism, obsessed with love. Also. Musicals!

Transparent: Transness, Judaism, bad with love. Also. Musicals!

High Maintenance: Believe it or not I’m actually much more interested in other people than myself. And like this show, I’m very aware that while I’m going about my life everyone else is going about theirs.

Sex Education: If I was asked to describe myself in five words those words could be: “Every Sex Education character combined.”


Carmen

Living Single: Friendship and sisterhood! Oh, and when I was eight-years-old, I had a Queen Latifah themed birthday party. I’m that kind of homo!

A Different World: Damn I love black people and Damn I love books, so surely this isn’t a surprise. In my heart, I’m still a Whitley just looking for my Dwayne Wayne. (Except if you know the show at all, I’m actually a Freddie. Never mind.)

Glee: Yes, I was a high school theatre geek. And yes I hate myself probably as much as you do for including this show on the list.

The L Word: TECHNICALLY I wanted to call this the L Word-verse and include Generation Q, but it was decided that was breaking the rules, so I kept it to the mothership. I obviously write about queer women on TV for a living so The L Word is life. BUT ALSO now that I’ve seen Natalie’s list, I really wish I had gone with Pose. Maybe just pretend this says Pose. Thanks!!

One Day at a Time: I’ve written about this plenty of times. I’m a queer Latina nerd, formerly of Catholic high school uniform fame, who was raised by my single mom. I am Elena Alvarez, and in my heart, she is me.


Riese

My So-Called Life: I’m Angela Chase and everybody I’ve ever loved is either my Rayanne, my Jordan, my Sharon or my Brian.

The Office: This is the attitude I like to take into the workplace

The L Word: This is the way that we live because for my job I’ve watched every episode of this show over and over and over until this show BECAME me, and now it is bigger than me, and I have no choice but to succumb to its wiles, just like all the girls do with Shane.

Six Feet Under: Smart people talking about death — a typical day in my DMs or this brilliant, insightful, challenging, weird television show about a family for whom death is always, always there. And you can do anything with it! Be serious or not, sing and dance or scream.

Sex and the City: (Sorry but this is what I watched, what I wanted to be? on some level? when I was in college. sometimes I’d watch it when I was sad and think, “I’ll be there some day!”)


Heather

Gentleman Jack: I’ve just never met someone who embodies my own soft butch mentality as much as this depiction of Anne Lister, tromping around with her masculine gait and ties and hats, making men fear her and women adore her, holding the entire world together with her own hands and sheer willpower, tender and fierce and oh so resilient.

She-Ra: Of course three of my choices are animated TV series because, for one thing, people always underestimate animated TV and write it off as innocent and naive, when, in fact, it’s the facade of innocence and naivety that allows it to explore the depths of human experiences and relationships in ways live-action “adult” TV shows do not. And for another thing, I think anyone who’s really living is constantly coming of age in new ways. For, She-Ra, it’s the path out of fascist evangelicalism and into the prism of light cast by found family, and the never-ending quest of figuring out who you are.

Friday Night Lights: The thing I am more than anything else is southern. I will likely never live in the rural south ever again, but it will never not live in me. Friday Night Lights somehow embraces both the oppression and the comfort that exists in the perpetual cycle of living in a town — where kids grow up playing football and have kids who grow up to play football who have kids who grow up to play football — where everyone knows everything about you and “y’all” can be a term of endearment or an indictment.

Steven Universe: What I said about She-Ra and add in a hard-won ability to hope, an eternal journey of compassion and self-betterment, and the firm belief that love really is the answer.

Adventure Time:Sometimes life is scary and dark. That is why we must find the light.

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, Drew Gregory, and Heather Hogan. Follow them on Twitter!

The TV has written 129 articles for us.

47 Comments

  1. Gilmore Girls: about 75% of the words that come out of my mouth are exact quotes or direct references to this show. I understand my own life through Lorelai and Rory, and no one will ever be able to truly understand me if they have not watched this show. And Luke is the best human who has ever lived, fight me.

    The West Wing: I’m a political junkie and I make no apologies for that.

    Glee: Like so many, I hate that this show is even on this list. But because I hate it, that’s why it’s here.

    Person of Interest: I am Shaw in so many ways. More the Shaw from fanfic than from the show itself, but you should probably watch the show before you read the fic…

    Supergirl: No explanation of who I have become since November 2016 would be complete without explaining that I binged this show the day after the election and have avoided any “dark” or “gritty” entertainment ever since. We’re stronger together, and this show gives me hope for the future. Also I have never related to a character as much as I related to season 2 Alex Danvers.

  2. Living Single was & still is my jam. Also, a Queen Latifah themed birthday party sounds amazing. I think I know what I am doing for my bff this year, who has a U.N.I.T.Y. & Ladies First tattoos. Thank you for that idea.

    I dunno what 5 shows I’d be?
    Transparent(queer & trans jews)
    Curb Your Enthusiasm(some mix of Larry, Jeff, & Suzie if I am being honest)
    Bob’s Burger(mix of the whole family & some Teddy as I am a bit handy with tools)
    Jeopardy(as I know facts that are sometimes useless)

    I can’t really think of the 5th one.

  3. Laverne & Shirley (my childhood obsession, probably my root somehow tbh)
    Space Cases (space! rainbow hair! almost no one has heard of this show but look it up because it’s great)
    Charmed (the late 90s/early 00s version, I’m probably Phoebe)
    Firefly (this show is my heart, the only things that would make it better is if it were gay and had more seasons)
    Parks & Rec (Leslie Knope is my aspiration, though maybe slightly less Type A and sugar motivated)

  4. Xena I figured a lot of things out watching this show

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer DUH

    West Wing I am a bit of a nerd

    Supergirl Alex’s story was pretty much my story

    Orphan Black Super hot science girl Enough said

    • Daria – snarky misfit assholes keeping each other company

      My So-Called Life – the hopeless aching way that Brian loved Angela

      Firefly – everything is shit but finding community and family anyway

      Radio Free Roscoe – adorable Canadian tech/music nerds with secret identities

      Psych – Shawn Spencer is my style goals

      So… primarily programming from The N circa 2002

  5. The Office: What I wish my Office was like and also it is my favorite show to quote with my wife, we’ve watched it at least 10+ times together

    Parks and Rec: as a public servant, I only hope to be as amazing as Leslie Knope and her gang

    Bob’s Burgers: and as a mom, I really feel like I strive to be a supportive and amazing as she is with her kids.

    Great British Baking Show: Im not a great baker, but I’ve started learning to bake from it, and even better my wife and I have started baking together and getting our toddlers involved

    Diner’s Drive-Ins, and Dives: Ok, I want to deny this, but apparently I am known for talking excessively about this show and taking my family to the restaurants featured (my dad called me out on this, I didn’t even realize I talk that much about it!) It also represents all the free time I used to have before kids and all the time watching it with my wife and all the time I can’t wait to waste one day watching it again with her when our kids are older.

  6. My So-Called Life: I was a girl growing up in the 90s, just a little younger than Angela. I wanted to be Angela, and then I was Angela, and so much of this show is still a gut-punch for how true it rings.

    The L Word: The first time I ever really saw lesbians like myself (and so much not like myself) on TV. It really formed some of my earliest ideas of what my life could look like one day.

    West Wing: Every political professional of a certain age thought this was what it would be like to work in politics…

    Veep: Every political professional who has worked in the field for any length of time knows that politics in action looks much more like Veep than it does WW or any other political show. It’s uncanny.

    The Fosters: I’m in a biracial lesbian marriage raising an adopted bilingual daughter. Our family is the one we made for ourselves. When watching The Fosters, I saw a glimpse of our own family – one that I don’t see reflected back to me often on TV.

  7. Scrubs
    Babylon 5
    Buffy
    Warehouse 13
    POI

    Funny, quirky med show that has surprising depth.
    An emotionally distant commander with a secret stuck in a war between good and evil.
    Blonde chick with martial arts skills and depression out to save the world.
    Smart and kickass book nerd thrust into a world of wonder with a lovable crew and complicated love interest. (I’m speaking about H.G.)
    A deeply philosophical show that makes you love an AI and features a weird family who fights to save individual people and the world, while not fitting into it themselves too well.

  8. Charmed: the 90s version holds a special place in my heart so much so when I tried to watch the reboot with a completely unbiased view, I just couldn’t do it. Plus, I’m always a slut for witches

    The Nanny: Ms. Fine is my style icon and the older I get the more I turn into her which I’m so happy about

    Young Justice: the show that made me finally start reading comics

    Kids Baking Championship: I just recently started baking and watching these kids create treats and have mini breakdowns give me hope that I might be alright

    One Day at a Time: this show has been my biggest source of comfort since the day it aired. A show has not made me fully laugh one minute and then crying the next the way this show has. I fell to the floor when it got cancelled. I screamed and jumped around my room so loudly when it got saved that my brother came in and told me to sit my ass down. This show has gotten me through so much and I care about these characters more than I care about my own family. It will always and truly be a part of me.

    (honorary mentions go to The Bold Type, Pretty Little Liars, Everybody Hates Chris, Happy Endings, and Martin)

  9. Heather, I have to say that “I will likely never live in the rural south ever again, but it will never not live in me”punched me right in the gut. Truer words and all that.

    My five:

    All in the Family: This show more than any other put racism and sexism in the spotlight for me and truly made me question all that I thought I knew about the world outside my small Southern hometown.

    Buffy: A one-stop-shop for friendship, queerness, and the supernatural.

    Glee: Theatre nerds unite! The love/hate goes without saying…

    Gentleman Jack: Queer history with a soft butch lead. Nuff said.

    The White Shadow: I can’t attest to its representations of Black and Brown folk since I haven’t watched it since it was on network television, but I loved this show when I was in high school, mostly because it centered on all things basketball. Thinking back, it reminds me of sharing the bus with the JV boys team for away games, listening to the Sugar Hill Gang, and trying to do our best Wonder Mike imitations.

  10. Apparently I’m not the only Angela Chase around here, but truly My So-Called Life is the only show I can think of where I’ve felt like I was seeing a version of myself onscreen. The rest are less representative of me as a person or of my life, but exemplify the kinds of themes and ideas that I’m obsessed with:

    Sense8 – I’ve described myself as a crescendo junkie irt music and this is the TV show version of that

    The Good Place – Why are we here? What is existence? What is the meaning of life? etc

    His Dark Materials series – (Ok I’m only sneaking this one in on a technicality because it’s actually the books I want to talk about but) multiple fantasy universes and communion with cute animals yay!

    Russian Doll – Give me ALL the weirdo timey wimey stuff that also digs in deep to themes of identity and personal growth pls

  11. 1. Parks and Rec – Funny, hopeful, lots of heart
    2. Gentleman Jack – queer representation changed me
    3. West Wing – Idealism, government, nerdiness
    4. Grey’s Anatomy – I love me some drama/Arizona Robbins
    5. L Word Gen Q/L Word

  12. Broad City – I am the London Ilana. Same hair, same hyperactivity, same HAIR, same lust for her bff (thats over now), same dramatic facial expressions, same HAIR but bigger, feminist and queer in my DNA. Three people, one was a friend and two others I met for the first time (none knew each other), all said I remind them of Ilana and I ended up watching broad city because of them.

    Legends of Tomorrow – Sarah fucking Lance. Captain. Lead. Incharge. Badass. Control freak? Thats me, I’m just not as sexy doing it.

    Pose – Opulence. Combines my love for dance & attention with my sense of community. I come from the Middle East and so we are still going through what they were in NY 1980s if not more. The struggle is real.

    The L word Generation Q – DANI. A power femme top that secretly likes to also be bottomed. Career oriented. Loves deeply. Great at telling people how to communicate their feelings but suck at it myself. She’s a scorpio, I’m convinced and you won’t sway me.

    Friends – I’ve always been a big city girl and have always regarded my close group of friends as my family. We go through life together (now in our early thirties) in London just like they did in NY. Same sense of humor. My comedy is a mix between Monica’s control, stating the obvious stance and Chandler’s sarcasm.

  13. For the trauma and healing, The OA and The Haunting of Hill House, for the optimism and ambition, The Fosters and Parks and Rec, and then Glee because I wasn’t even a theater kid but I did suffer through the entire series

  14. West Wing – This show made me want to go into politics
    Degrassi – the single biggest show that was there for me as teenager, shaped my values, introduced me to many queer characters that helped me when I was questioning/coming out
    One Day at a Time – Elena made me feel seen as a progressive, nerdy, politically active queer teenager in a way no one else has.
    The Bold Type – Demonstrates what it means to a young politically engaged woman hoping to make a difference in a modern, complicated world. Also, the embodiment of women supporting women.
    Ellen, the 90s sitcom – Besides Degrassi this is probably the single most important piece of media to me while I was coming out.

  15. 1. any Mets home broadcast (I know this is cheating)
    2. Are You The One Season 8
    3. the marvelous mrs. maisel
    4. sex education
    5. my boys (tbs show circa 2006, i’ve never actually seen an episode but my best friends and i have an on-going joke that the show is my life)

    • POI – as a nerd named Sam this is unavoidable

      Babylon 5 – in the middle of 15 things, all of them annoying

      Charmed (90s) – I’m the youngest of 4 sisters. Shows about sisterhood but me to the core.

      Archer – When I dressed up as Pam for our Halloween group costume may have been one of the truest moments in my life.

      Rick and Morty- I’m sorry but your opinion means very little to me.

  16. POI – as a nerd named Sam this is unavoidable

    Babylon 5 – in the middle of 15 things, all of them annoying

    Charmed (90s) – I’m the youngest of 4 sisters. Shows about sisterhood but me to the core.

    Archer – When I dressed up as Pam for our Halloween group costume may have been one of the truest moments in my life.

    Rick and Morty- I’m sorry but your opinion means very little to me.

  17. Daria – snarky misfit assholes keeping each other company

    My So-Called Life – the hopeless aching way that Brian loved Angela

    Firefly – everything is shit but finding community and family anyway

    Radio Free Roscoe – adorable Canadian tech/music nerds with secret identities

    Psych – Shawn Spencer is my style goals

    So… primarily programming from The N circa 2002

  18. Everything Sucks – Teenage me was a lot like Kate Messner
    Black Mirror – because the world is terrible and I want to escape to San Junipero
    Sex Education- I don’t know why exactly, just friendship and a healthy attitude to sex
    Russian Doll – I have people I love and who love me but sometimes I think about the fact that no one else is experiencing my life with me
    The Good Place – friends are important and I try to keep becoming better as a person but that is complicated and hard

  19. Twin Peaks – because I wanted to be Dale Cooper basically, even if I didn’t realize it then?
    X-Files – because of Scully, I think? And the impossible chemistry – one of the shows that made me a shipper
    Xena – the ultimate epic ship and OTP forever
    Buffy – because of Willow, Tara, and overall brilliance & fun
    My So-Called Life – because of the way it felt in my heart, all of it!

  20. The Golden Girls – I can’t believe no one has said this. Feminist, progressive even by today’s standards and still funny to this day. Dorothy and Sophia are my snark spirit animals.

    Parks and Rec – I’m also like Leslie in that I truly want everyone in my life to be happy and loved as much as humanly possible. Every character on this show was gold.

    Living Single – I’m a goofy black 90s kid and I didn’t know it at the time but I had a gigantic crush on Maxine Shaw Attorney at Law.

    Avatar: The Last Airbender – Hands down one of the most intelligently written shows (anitmated or otherwise) about found family, coming of age, defining yourself despite where you come from or people’s preconcieved notions about who you are based on where you come from, and overcoming your inner/outer/past/present demons.

    Can there be a tie for #5? Star Trek: TNG and Voyager and Profiler (my aunt used to watch this when I was a kid and I rediscovered it recently. I think I might just have a crush on Ally Walker’s hair and voice).

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