Well, Hello there. My name is Talia Rose Ostacher, I am 17 years old, and I have a confession to make: I have a crippling addiction to the works of Shakespeare. Yes, from Macbeth to Much Ado About Nothing, I just can’t get enough of the Bard. But in my time reading his many plays, I’ve come to realize a vital truth: not all Shakespeare is created equally. So, I’m here today to rank a number of Shakespeare’s plays on a scale of 1 to 10. Hopefully this will help you decide which of Shakespeare’s plays you should read next. Or maybe it won’t. I don’t know, I’m just the writer.
DISCLAIMER: Please do not mistake this list for a legitimate, comprehensive commentary on Shakespeare’s works. This list is based pretty much solely on my own personal opinions, and I do not claim to be in any way presenting a serious, unbiased analysis of the pros and cons of each play. Find a real Shakespeare scholar if you want that, stay here if you want to see me make jokes.
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is seriously such a good play. I hate how so many people chalk it up to “Romeo and Juliet were stupid, horny teenagers who got a bunch of people killed” because that’s really not what happens at all, but that’s a blog post for another day. Taking points off just because Shakespeare didn’t acknowledge the obvious and say that Mercutio is clearly bisexual. 9/10, very homophobic of him.
By far the gayest of Shakespeare’s plays. There’s a woman crossdressing as a man, a man falling in love with said woman-dressed-as-a-man and subsequently having a sexuality crisis, a GIRL falling in love with said woman-dressed-as-a-man without realizing that she’s a woman, and a too-intimate-to-be-considered-a-bromance relationship between a woman’s twin brother and a male sailor. Only downside is that Shakespeare forced all the characters to be straight at the end. Also, this picture of Anne Hathaway, Andrea McArdle, and Raul Esparza lives in my mind rent-free, so there’s that. 8/10, almost makes up for Mercutio not being bi.
The Merchant of Venice
I don’t know about you, but I personally just can’t vibe with villains who are basically just insanely anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews and whose redemption arcs hinge on their conversion to Christianity. As a meme I saw on a Jewish humor Facebook group once said, “do you SEE this sh*t HaShem???” -1000/10. Gross.
Much Ado About Nothing
The best Shakespearean comedy. It’s hilarious, the story is interesting, and the love story between Beatrice and Benedick is the best depiction of the enemies-to-lovers dynamic in any media ever. Watch the version with David Tennant and Catherine Tate, it involves David Tennant wearing a Superman t-shirt and dad shorts while rolling around covered in white paint. 10/10, kill Claudio.
OOH, don’t even get me STARTED on Hamlet. Look, Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays, and if you read it or see a good production of it, you’ll see why, because this play SLAPS. The characters, the narrative foils, the depiction of mental illness, the tragedy… everything about it is great. I don’t even have any jokes to make, it’s just that good. My favorite version is the one with Andrew Scott (aka Moriarty from Sherlock and the Hot Priest from Fleabag) as Hamlet. 99/10, Shakespeare loses a point for having Hamlet disrespect women so much. Seriously, Hamlet, would it kill you to just be nice to your girlfriend?
A classic! For a play about regicide and a couple’s slow descent into insanity and megalomania, Macbeth is super fun. I mean, it’s got intrigue, it’s got battles, it’s got magic - what’s not to like? Also, Macbeth has got arguably one of the best aesthetics of any Shakespeare play. I mean, come on, a castle in the Scottish Highlands? That’s some Pinterest-level aesthetic right there. Also, the line “What, you egg? [stabs him]” will never not be funny out of context. 10/10, absolutely iconic.
King Lear is objectively the best play that Shakespeare has ever written ever, and you can quote me on that. In the words of Stefon from SNL, this play has everything: betrayals, old men with too much power, heartbreaking tragedy, badass female characters, an omnipresent sense of dread, pretending to go insane, actually going insane, thunderstorms, a scene where a man gets his eyeballs ripped out - this play is incredible. Honestly? I would be happy if all Shakespeare companies only performed King Lear for the rest of my life. 100000/10, would lose my mind during a raging storm again.