Battlestar Galactica (Seasons 1, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 4.5) - Jon and I spent a good portion of the end of last year watching this entire series. Season 1 had Jon jumping on the couch in excitement over the initials battles between the remaining human race and a race of robots called Cylons. I think this show is interesting for so many reasons that are probably better articulated elsewhere on the internet. In addition to this epic storyline with religious undertones about finding a new home, various plots deal with human rights, abortion, slavery, religious expression, the military, martial law and treason. I would guess that most viewers fall on the left side of the political spectrum, but sometimes the show seems to at least superficially take conservative stances--an aspect that I find fascinating, especially when you find yourself saying things like "just let Adama (the admiral and military leader) do what he wants" when I would never express a similar sentiment in real life. In addition to being thought-provoking, the show is immensely entertaining even when there are throwaway episodes. My only real complaint is that I think Season 4.5 could have been abandoned all together, as I prefer the ending presented at the end of Season 4.
Big Love (Season 3) - In this very short season, the focus is happily on Nikki Grant, the second wife and daughter to Roman Grant. Roman is despicable for his practices as "the Prophet" of Juniper Creek; exiling teenage boys and marrying off teenage girls. However, as his daughter, Nikki is still ever seeking his approval, this time in the form of lying to her own family by working in the law office who is responsible for prosecuting Roman. Nikki is my favorite character on the show, precisely because she makes bad and selfish decisions. In addition to that storyline, Bill and the other wives are courting a fourth wife, and Sara has to deal with a pregnancy that she cannot share with anyone.
Firefly (Season 1- the only season) - I was caught a little off-guard when I realized that this show was essentially a Western set in Space (for some reason, I imagined it to be more "Space-y"). At times you would be forgiven for not realizing that this had anything to do with Space at all. Mal captains a ship with a motley crew, that makes a living by transporting goods, often of an illegal nature. They are at odds with the government sponsored military, and therefore have to fly below the radar or at the outskirts of the explored planets. Meanwhile, part of the crew includes a brother-sister pair of fugitives. Overall, a pretty fun show that should have easily been renewed for additional seasons.
Homicide: Life on the Street (Season 1 & 2) - Before the Wire, there was Homicide. It was written by the same key players and used to air on NBC in the 1990s. Once again, the setting is Baltimore, but this time the main characters are all on the same shift in the Police Department. It's fun to see Richard Belzer play Detective Munch (as he does on Law & Order) and Yaphett Kotto play Lieutenant Giardello. The cast also features a Baldwin and Melissa Leo. A typical episode may focus on a case or a couple cases being handled by various pairs of partners, intertwined with the detectives' personal lives, philosophies, etc. The visual style is particulary gritty and nearly monochrome in Season 1. I also appreciate that the cases don't always get solved.
the O.C. (Season 2, 3, & 4) - I think Season 1 and 2 of this series aren't too bad in the context of teen dramas, but it would be difficult to make the same argument for the Seasons 3 & particularly 4. Season 2 sticks to the typical teenage high school/romance dramas of Season 1, with the additional drama of having Ryan's bad-boy brother Trey invade the lives of the main characters. Season 3 includes a lot of drama between Ryan, Marissa, and Marissa's new friend Johnny, who predictably loves Marissa. Johnny is perhaps the most tragic character on the show, never getting anything that would make him happy. After the death of one of the main characters at the end of Season 3, Season 4 takes a serious nosedive. The season starts out with a ridiculous revenge scheme, and then episodes later everyone seems fine and even more unbelievable relationships start up. The last episode is particularly saccharine and overall, I don't like the way loose ends are tied up.
RuPaul's Drag Race (Season 1) - Season 2 is only a few episodes from ending, but in a fit of impatience, Jon and I devoured the first season (it's only 8 episodes) via LOGO's website. This show is essentially America's Next Top Model, but with sewing, lip-synching, and much more bitchiness. Obviously, being a reality show, there are no real plot-lines, but it's difficult to not get swept up in the camp of it all. I loved Nina Flowers and Ongina, precisely because of their androgyny rather than "realness." Their styles just seemed so much more creative than the competitors and it is a shame that they didn't win. Either one of them would have dominated all of the girls in Season 2...