The Simpsons changed America's vocabulary. A Russian soap opera helped Boris Yeltsin win a presidency. Behold the awesome power of the boob tube.
TV doesn't get much respect. It rots your brain and grows couch potatoes. But the so-called idiot box also swings elections, rewires brains, snares criminals, and even sways the Supreme Court.
The following may not be the best shows of the last 25 years—in fact, some are among the worst—but their impact reaches far beyond the living room.
A version of this post originally appeared on Mental Floss, an Atlantic partner site.