4YE Quicklist: A Look Back At Ryan Murphy’s Top 5 Shows

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When it comes to prolific television writers and producers, it is safe to say that Ryan Murphy is one of them. For the past 19 years, he has given us quite a lot to talk about thanks to his shows and the very colorful array of characters in them, not to mention the intense themes and plotlines they feature as well.

Since 1999, Murphy has helped shaped the television world with his shows and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. As a matter of fact, tonight his latest project, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, one of this year’s most anticipated series, will be making its premiere. The limited series will follow the events surrounding the murder of Versace and features the talents of Edgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, Darren Criss, and Penelope Cruz.

As audiences everywhere prepare themselves for the wild ride that will be Versace, it is only fitting to take a look back at the other series that Murphy has given the world and see what kind of footsteps Versace has to follow in this quicklist.

Without further ado, here are our top 5 Ryan Murphy shows!

Popular (1999)

This one currently sits at the bottom of the best as it was Murphy’s first foray into television. Featuring Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope as rival high school students whose parents end up together, over the course of the series they become close friends and almost sisters. Popular only lasted two seasons but definitely gave Murphy a foundation to work with when it came to high school comedies and drama, and which he improved upon ten years later.

Nip/Tuck (2003-2010)

When one thinks of this particular series, one of the first things that comes to mind is the phrase asked in nearly every episode of this critically acclaimed drama: “Tell me what you don’t like about yourself.” Murphy pushed the boundaries of television with the style and tone of this show about two plastic surgeons in Miami. The series focuses on “McNamara/Troy”, a cutting-edge, controversial plastic surgery center and follows the personal and professional lives of its founders Dr. Sean McNamara and Dr. Christian Troy (portrayed by Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon respectively). Each episode features graphic, partial-depictions of the plastic surgeries on one or more patients, as well as developments in the doctors’ personal lives. The series was nominated for 45 awards during its run, winning Murphy a Golden Globe and an Emmy, and started a string of successes for Murphy on the tube.

Glee (2009-2015)

Arguably Murphy’s best series, Glee broke the mold when it premiered towards the end of Nip/Tuck and elevated Murphy’s standing in Hollywood. It focused on the fictitious William McKinley High School glee club, the New Directions, which competes on the show choir competition circuit while its disparate members deal with social issues, especially regarding sexuality, race, relationships, and teamwork. The series won critical acclaim for its earlier seasons and took home a bevy of awards. For its first season, the show was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, six Satellite Awards and 57 other awards, with wins including the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, and Emmy awards for Jane Lynch, guest-star Neil Patrick Harris and Murphy’s direction of the pilot episode. Rolling right into its second season, the show once again won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series, and Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer won Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor for their portrayals of the sadistic and politically incorrect Coach Sue Sylvester and the amazing talented and openly gay student Kurt Hummel respectively. Gwyneth Paltrow, who guest-starred as a substitute teacher, won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series that year and it also launched the career of Darren Criss, who will next be seen in Versace. The show was also chosen by Fox to fill the coveted time slot that followed the network’s coverage of Super Bowl XLV in 2011. The show may have ended too soon for many after six seasons but its influence on pop culture will live on. Plus, you’d be lying to yourself if you said that you still didn’t listen to all of the songs from the show.

American Horror Story (2011- still going)

Following on the heels of Glee‘s success, Murphy switched genres and instead of wanting to make us happy, he decided to scare the living life out of us. American Horror Story is an anthology series whose theme changes with every season and gives us new characters to love, hate, and be afraid of with every installment. So far, the anthology has delivered seven seasons worth of scares, with its third season, American Horror Story: Coven, being its strongest to date. One of the most interesting aspects about this particular of Murphy’s is his use of the same actors to play different characters every season, most notably Jessica Lange, who won Emmys for her various appearances in the anthology (and who slayed us with every line that came out of her mouth).

American Crime Story (2016 – still going)

From the moment this series aired, it had everyone one buzzing and hooked to their screens. Highlighting what was considered the trial of the century in its first season, American Crime Story is definitely Murphy’s second best after Glee. The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story  revolved around the infamous O. J. Simpson murder case and received critical acclaim, landing 22 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, in 13 categories, winning nine, more than any other show, including Outstanding Limited Series, and Sarah Paulson, one of Murphy’s major players, won pretty much every award under the sun for her portrayal as Marcia Clark. Versace has big shoes to fill as it is part of this anthology series.

We could go on and on about Murphy’s other shows but will limit ourselves to these five for now. Which one of Ryan Murphy’s shows has been your favorite? Hit the comments below and don’t forget to tune into his latest creation tonight on FX!


Erika Negrón Rivera
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