Harmonious Melodies: The Ultimate Guide to Top Musical TV Shows

When it comes to combining the magic of music with the drama of television, few genres can match the allure of musical TV shows. From the catchy tunes to the captivating storylines, these shows have the power to transport us into a world where music takes center stage. Whether you're a fan of the classics like "The Partridge Family" and "The Monkees," or prefer the contemporary hits of "Glee" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," there's no shortage of options to satisfy your musical cravings. In this article, we will explore the top musical TV shows that have charmed audiences around the world, from nostalgic favorites to recent sensations. So grab a mic, warm up those vocal cords, and get ready to dive into the wonderful world of musical television.

 

INSTANT STAR

 

Instant Star Image Credit: Everett Collection

This Canadian musical dramedy, which aired on The N in the United States, received high praise for its captivating soundtrack. The show featured memorable songs like "Waste My Time" and "Liar Liar." Over the course of four seasons, fans followed the journey of singer/songwriter Jude Harrison, portrayed by Alexz Johnson, as she worked on her latest album, which was then released in real life. While the series and its music were enjoyable, it's important to acknowledge the concerning romantic storyline between Tommy, an adult in his mid-twenties, and Jude, who was still a teenager.

 

SCHMIGADOON!

 

Schmigadoon Image Credit: Courtesy of Apple TV

Even if you're not a musical enthusiast, it's hard not to appreciate the meticulous attention to detail in Apple TV's exuberant show, Schmigadoon! This series strikes the perfect balance between parody and homage as it humorously pays tribute to musicals from different eras. It starts with 1940s musicals in Season 1 and transitions to 1960s and '70s musicals in Season 2. Executive producer Cinco Paul managed to assemble an impressive Broadway talent lineup, including Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Ariana DeBose, Jane Krakowski, and Aaron Tveit.

 

CALIFORNIA DREAMS

 

California Dreams Image Credit: NBC/Everett Collection

A year after the iconic "Rockumentary" episode of Saved by the Bell, TNBC introduced the lovable surf dudes of California Dreams. This beachy sitcom, complete with cheesy original songs each week, may not have been a critical success, but its theme song still lingers in our minds. If the complete run of California Dreams were available for streaming on Peacock, we would happily queue it up for some nostalgic enjoyment.

 

WE ARE LADY PARTS

 

We Are Lady Parts Image Credit: Courtesy of Peacock

Peacock's under-watched comedy, We Are Lady Parts, revolves around a British punk-rock band comprised entirely of Muslim women. Their biting wit and original songs, such as "Voldemort Under My Headscarf" and "Bashir With the Good Beard," showcase their rockstar talent. If only Season 2 would be released soon, this already fantastic show would become even better.

 

THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY

 

The Partridge Family Image Credit: Everett Collection

Loosely based on the real-life family pop group, the Cowsills, The Partridge Family aired on ABC and followed widow Shirley Partridge as she joined her five kids to form a band. While only Shirley (played by Shirley Jones) and eventually her real-life stepson David Cassidy performed the songs, the show's musical aspect remained a highlight. The series earned two Golden Globe nominations for Best Musical/Comedy during its four-season run.

 

THE MONKEES

 

Monkees Image Credit: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Inspired by the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, this 1966 NBC comedy centered around the fictional struggling rock 'n' roll quartet, The Monkees. Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork portrayed the members of the band and found themselves in comedic capers while always making time for musical performances. Initially criticized for not writing or performing their songs, the show adjusted in Season 2 to showcase their true talent.

 

THE HEIGHTS

 

The Heights Image Credit: Aaron Spelling Prod. / Courtesy of Everett Collection

This short-lived Fox drama centered around a band called The Heights and gifted us with the No. 1 Billboard hit "How Do You Talk to an Angel." Though it only lasted 12 episodes, it introduced us to a pre-NYPD Blue Charlotte Ross and provided a memorable musical moment.

 

COP ROCK

 

Cop Rock Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Steven Bochco's ambitious 1990 crime drama/musical hybrid, Cop Rock, blended procedural elements with rock, blues, gospel, and pop numbers. While the series ranked low in the Nielsen ratings, it was praised for its creativity. It eventually faced cancellation, but Bochco remained grateful to ABC for keeping the show on the air despite its poor ratings.

 

GALAVANT

 

Galavant Image Credit: Courtesy of ABC

This hilarious legend, known as Galavant, aired on ABC in January 2015. It followed the adventures of Galavant, played by Joshua Sasse, as he clashed with King Richard, portrayed by Timothy Omundson, over the heart of Madalena, played by Mallory Jansen. The show's extremely talented cast and the witty songs penned by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater made it a true gem.

 

QUEENS

 

Queens Image Credit: ABC / Getty Images

Featuring Brandy and Eve, Queens was an ABC drama that drew inspiration from Verzuz, showcasing a reunited '90s girl group. With music producer Swizz Beatz as the executive music producer, the show delivered tight tunes. While some storylines may not have been winners, the rehearsal montages, music videos, and Nasty Bitches performances made Queens shine.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Nashville Image Credit: Disney General Entertainment Content / Getty Images

Set in Music City, Nashville effortlessly blended drama with catchy country tunes. The show featured a talented cast of actors who played country musicians, and their performances on stage and on tour added authenticity. Even with its later seasons veering into far-fetched plotlines, the music of Nashville always remained a highlight.

 

CENTAURWORLD

 

Centaurworld Image Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/Everett Collection

Centaurworld, a hidden gem on Netflix, is a masterpiece that follows the journey of a war horse to save two worlds from a dark force. Featuring powerful Broadway voices like Megan Hilty, Lea Salonga, Jessie Mueller, and Kimiko Glenn, the show's inspiring tale of perseverance, friendship, and horses in thigh-high leather boots is both heartwarming and occasionally heartbreaking.

 

SOUNDTRACK

 

Soundtrack Netflix Image Credit: Courtesy of Netflix/Everett Collection

Soundtrack, a dance-heavy series on Netflix, explores interconnected love stories set in Los Angeles. Although the show didn't receive the attention it deserved, it had ambitious aspirations. Unfortunately, it was canceled prematurely before word could spread about its under-appreciated brilliance.

 

VIVA LAUGHLIN

 

Viva Laughlin Image Credit: Sony Pictures Television / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Viva Laughlin, a glitzy CBS series, featured Hugh Jackman as a singing and swaggering casino mogul. Unfortunately, this musical show veered into campy self-parody territory and failed to captivate viewers. As a result, it was quickly canceled after only two episodes. Nevertheless, it's worth a watch for those who enjoy Jackman's performances and his cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."

 

GIRLS5EVA

 

Girls5eva Image Credit: Courtesy of Peacock

Girls5eva takes us back to the '90s with a quippy comedy centered around a girl group reuniting for a second chance at fame. The show's sharp jokes, courtesy of creator Meredith Scardino and executive producer Tina Fey, and an incredible cast led by Renée Elise Goldsberry make for an enjoyable viewing experience. The parodies of Y2K-era hits, including the catchy theme song "Famous 5eva," adds another layer of nostalgia to the series.

 

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Image Credit: Courtesy of The CW

The CW's quirky and colorful musical rom-com, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, takes us on a journey through the mind of Rebecca Bunch, a hopeless romantic who upends her life for a chance at love. The show's elaborate musical numbers, ranging from doo-wop to hip-hop, and cleverly written original songs showcase the creativity of the series. It explores dark themes while maintaining a lighthearted and humorous tone, making it a truly unique and unforgettable show.

 

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS

 

Flight of the Conchords Image Credit: HBO screenshot

Flight of the Conchords, an HBO gem from 2007, takes us into the world of New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie's whip-smart writing and off-kilter humor bordering on surrealism make for a hilarious viewing experience. The show's songs and parodies provide a cathartic and silly outlet for its characters' expression.

 

GLEE

 

Glee Image Credit: Fox / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Glee, a Fox dramedy, became a cultural phenomenon known for its catchy songs and talented cast. Lea Michele, Amber Riley, and other powerhouse performers dominated the iTunes charts with their musical performances. The show provided a safe space for outsiders and had a significant impact on pop culture. However, in later seasons, it lost its way with convoluted plotlines and bizarre song covers.

 

HANNAH MONTANA

 

Hannah Montana Image Credit: Disney Channel / Getty Images

Hannah Montana, Disney Channel's 2006-2011 hit, may have leaned towards over-the-top goofiness, but its kid-pop bangers and iconic theme songs stood out. Miley Cyrus as the lead character, Miley Stewart, brought catchy tunes to life, even if they were sometimes overshadowed by the show's wigs and secret identity plotlines.

 

BIG TIME RUSH

 

Big Time Rush Image Credit: Nickelodeon screenshot

Big Time Rush, a Nickelodeon comedy, followed the misadventures of four hockey-playing friends turned boy band. Despite its intended audience of tweens, the series became a favorite for many. The catchy power-pop songs in the show, performed by the group, added to its appeal and still have the ability to get stuck in your head.

 

AUSTIN & ALLY

 

Austin & Ally Image Credit: Disney Channel / Getty Images

Created for a younger audience, Disney Channel's Austin & Ally was a candy-coated musical comedy that told the love story of Austin Moon and Ally Dawson. The show incorporated their collaborations seamlessly, offering a glimpse into the future success of Ross Lynch, who played Austin Moon before his breakout roles in Teen Beach Movie and The Driver Era.

 

DREAMS

 

Dreams Image Credit: CBS / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Despite not even airing half of its episodes, Dreams managed to make an impact with its pop act storyline. Starring a young John Stamos, the musical sitcom showcased tunes that perfectly captured the spirit of MTV's Golden Age. One of the songs even became a No. 1 hit, but not until Heart covered it three years later.

 

FAME

 

Fame Image Credit: NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images

Fame, set at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, became a hit thanks to the talented cast and energetic production numbers. Featuring the incomparable Debbie Allen, who reprised her role from the film, the series showcased the power of song and dance. The clip above, featuring Janet Jackson before her breakout as a solo artist, highlights one of the series' memorable moments.

 

STAR

 

Star Fox Image Credit: Courtesy of Fox

Inspired by the success of Empire, Star was a musical drama from Fox that followed three young singers chasing their dreams. Although it didn't quite reach the heights of its predecessor, the show managed to deliver great music and solid performances. It ended after three seasons, leaving fans wanting more.

 

EMPIRE

 

Empire Image Credit: Fox / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Empire, a Fox series, took the television landscape by storm with its cultural impact and soaring ratings. The show's original songs and the magnetic performance of Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon made it an undeniable success. However, as the series progressed, it became increasingly convoluted and lost its initial spark.

 

ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST

 

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Image Credit: Courtesy of NBC

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, an NBC dramedy, explored the link between music and emotion. Zoey, portrayed by Jane Levy, gained the ability to hear people's thoughts through song covers, resulting in emotionally charged musical moments. While the show faced some challenges in maintaining its focus and navigating love triangles, it remained heartfelt and showcased standout performances.

 

RISE

 

Rise NBC Image Credit: Courtesy of NBC

Rise, the NBC musical drama from showrunner Jason Katims, had high expectations. The series revolved around a high school drama club producing the musical Spring Awakening. While it had an impressive young cast led by Auli'i Cravalho, the show struggled with self-seriousness and some unfortunate character choices, preventing it from reaching its full potential.

 

ELI STONE

 

Eli Stone Image Credit: Touchstone Television / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Eli Stone, an underrated ABC series, combined legal drama with a unique twist. The titular lawyer, played by Jonny Lee Miller, experienced visions that manifested as delightful musical numbers performed by the cast. Quirky and thought-provoking, Eli Stone left viewers wondering whether he was experiencing a brain aneurysm or truly a prophet. The show deserved more than just two seasons.

 

DAISY JONES & THE SIX

 

Daisy Jones & the Six

Image Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video

The Prime Video drama, Daisy Jones & the Six, narrated the ascent and tragic downfall of a 1970s rock band that experienced romantic turmoil similar to Fleetwood Mac, which fueled their music. Regardless of whether viewers found the adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid's novel to be a faithful portrayal or a miss, the series truly shined when its lead singers, Daisy and Billy, channeled their conflicting emotions into their songs. Collaborating with numerous experienced music producers and songwriters from the industry, and with the unexpected vocal chemistry between stars Riley Keough and Sam Claflin, the captivating original tracks effortlessly compensated for any narrative missteps.

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VICTORIOUS

 

Victorious

Image Credit: Courtesy of Nickelodeon/Everett Collection

During the early 2010s, tweens failed to fully appreciate the treasure they had in Victoria Justice, Liz Gillies, and Ariana Grande who delighted audiences weekly with their pop-rock performances in Victorious. The show not only served up catchy tunes but also kept viewers entertained with Nickelodeon's signature nonsensical humor. From 2010 to 2013, everyone desired enrollment at Hollywood Arts High School.

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SMASH

 

Smash

Image Credit: Courtesy of NBC/Everett Collection

The music in Smash achieved perfection, but unfortunately, the same could not be said for the show itself. NBC's two-season drama depicted the creation of a Broadway musical centered around Marilyn Monroe's life. While the resulting musical (Bombshell) was a masterpiece, Smash struggled due to its unlikable characters, lackluster storylines, and excessive theatrical clichés. Nevertheless, the show developed a devoted following that remains steadfast. In fact, Smash's popularity is currently being acknowledged with the development of a new original musical based on the series set to premiere on Broadway during the 2024-2025 season.

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MONARCH

 

Monarch Fox

Image Credit: Courtesy of Fox/Everett Collection

Have you ever felt betrayed by a television series? That's likely how most Monarch viewers feel as they reflect on this country music drama, which used Susan Sarandon as the centerpiece of its marketing, only to abruptly kill off her character in the first episode. Unfortunately, the show's uninspired murder mystery plot and the abundance of covers masquerading as original songs contributed to its disappointment.

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Phineas and Ferb

 

'Phineas and Ferb' Disney Channel

Primarily, the show Phineas and Ferb revolved around the escapades of the stepbrothers who perpetually enjoyed a summer vacation filled with inventing extraordinary creations and frequently defying the laws of physics. Nearly every episode featured an original song or two, often tied to the plot and showcasing character emotions through musical expression. Phineas and Ferb subtly integrated music throughout its episodes, establishing itself as a musical series.

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'The Get Down' (2016-2017)

 

A group of Black children looking at the camera in The Get Down’ (2016 - 2017) (1)

IMDb Rating: 8.2

Oscar nominee Baz Luhrmann created Netflix's seriesThe Get Down alongside Stephen Adly Guirgis. The show explores the rise of hip-hop in the late 1970s through the experiences of a group of Black teenagers. Notably, the performances of the young cast received substantial acclaim from both critics and audiences. Many regarded them as the driving force behind the show's otherwise conventional narrative. The music in the series also garnered high praise, particularly in later episodes.

 

'Julie and the Phantoms' (2020)

 

A group of teenagers celebrating on stage in the show Julie and the Phantoms.Image via Netflix

IMDb Rating: 8.4

Netflix's decision to cancel many shows prematurely includes their unfortunate choice regarding Julie and the Phantoms. This series revolves around teenager Julie, who collaborates with a trio of ghostly musicians to form a band and achieves unexpected success. Critics and fans were highly impressed with Julie and the Phantoms, praising the catchy songs as the show's main strength. The performances of the cast and the series' feel-good atmosphere also garnered additional acclaim. Consequently, the cancellation of Julie and the Phantoms left a profound impact on its devoted fanbase, who continue to actively campaign for a second season on social media.

 

'Flight of the Conchords' (2007-2009)

 

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie playing guitars in Flight of the ConchordsImage via HBO

IMDb Rating: 8.6

The two-man band Flight of the Conchords hailing from New Zealand, consisting of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, starred in their own HBO show from 2007 to 2009. The series followed their journey to achieve fame and success in New York City. Flight of the Conchords garnered highly positive reviews from critics, and the show received several Emmy Award nominations, including recognition for Clement's performance and three of its original songs. Although Flight of the Conchords developed a relatively small but fierce fanbase, it is widely regarded today as a modern classic and one of HBO's standout shows from the 2000s.

 

'A Very Potter Musical' (2009-2010)

 

Darren Criss and the cast of A Very Potter Musical

IMDb Rating: 8.9

Before achieving fame in Glee, Darren Criss captured hearts with his portrayal of Harry Potter in the renowned A Very Potter Musical. Originally produced by the Team StarKid theater company at the University of Michigan, the project, written by Criss, parodied multiple Harry Potter novels through its songs and irreverent humor. The full musical is available on YouTube, where it rose to prominence and became an internet sensation. It currently resides on the official Team StarKid YouTube channel, divided into twenty-three parts, each accumulating at least 3 million views. The success of the musical inspired several follow-ups, including A Very Potter Sequel, A Very Potter Senior Year, and A Very Potter Christmas.

 

'Yeh Meri Family' (2018)

 

A family smilign for a photo in the show Yeh Meri Family

IMDb Rating: 9.0

The Indian comedy-drama web series Yeh Meri Family centers around 12-year-old Harshu Gupta and his family during the late 1990s. As the quintessential middle child, Harshu navigates the complexities of growing up within his unique family dynamic. Yeh Meri Family received highly positive reviews from both critics and fans, particularly for its musical numbers and nostalgic tone. Indian audiences appreciated the show's portrayal of the '90s period, a time of significant change in the country, while international viewers were drawn to its universal themes of family and coming-of-age.

From the iconic hits of Glee and Hannah Montana to the underrated gems like Julie and the Phantoms and Eli Stone, the world of musical TV shows continues to captivate audiences with its harmonious blend of song and storyline. Whether you're a die-hard fan or a casual viewer, these top musical TV shows have the power to transport us to a world where music takes center stage and emotions soar. So, grab your popcorn, turn up the volume, and get ready to embark on a melodious journey that will leave you humming for days to come.

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