Mood Scale For 25 Popular Television Shows

Television watching is something at which I excel. (What’s the opposite of a humble brag?) I have done it my entire life, as both an amateur and a professional. Again, I don’t want to brag (I do), but I literally have a Masters in television watching. I know, I’m great (and practical). More than that, I want you to know that, besides looking awesome on my wall, the degree comes in handy. For instance, it certifies that I have mastered the skills to create this television program spectrum. Either that or, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz I always had the skills and now I just have the confidence (arrogance) to let them shine! (It was also a Masters in movie-watching, which is how I’m equipped with these fancy references.)

Have you ever made the mistake of unwittingly putting on a show that greatly altered your mood, and in the wrong direction? That’s not right. Whether you want to be happier or more depressed, chuckling or chattering, your mood should be altered by drugs and drugs alone.

If you follow this Light to Dark Mood Spectrum, a disconcerting television surprise won’t ever happen again. Happy shows are the lightest on the scale, and as the colors get progressively darker, so do the nature of the television shows. Sure, some placements may seem counterintuitive, but trust me. After all, my decisions have seemed reasonable up to now, right? Remember that graduate degree in something everyone does all the time for free?

Don’t let “a very special episode” of Roseanne (A heart attack at a wedding? C’mon!), or those times when Community gets really dark (claymation ambush!), creep up on you. Conversely, you don’t want to be surprised when a show you think is dramatic strangely uses a laugh track for its first six episodes (ahem, Sports Night). Originally, I did not want any animated shows on the spectrum. It’s mainly because I don’t want to talk about Family Guy (just… don’t). However, as the list grew I realized I just couldn’t ignore The Simpsons, it means too much to all of us (me).

I capped the list at 25, using mostly popular shows with a few of my lesser-known favorites. I won’t suggest them to you because I’m sure somebody already has and if you wanted to be watching it by now you would be so would everyone just stop sending me that same clip of Portlandia! I’m joking I’ve seen both seasons. (But if you think that means I’m any closer to watching Battlestar Galatica then you can go straight to hell.)


Parks and Recreation
The Simpsons
The New Girl
Arrested Development
30 Rock
The Office
Curb Your Enthusiasm
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Sports Night
Sex & the City
Family Ties
Friday Night Lights
Freaks & Geeks
West Wing
Mad Men
The Wire
Breaking Bad
Six Feet Under

Don’t see your favorite show? Add it in the comments and I will tell you where it sits on the spectrum. I really don’t mind. I’m just here… watching television. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Steve Taylor

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