I've watched both THIS LIFE and SECRET LIFE OF US and SECRET LIFE is, hands down, my choice for "best TV ever." It's great fun, as addictive as potato chips, and the characters are incredibly memorable and likeable. It's considered a drama but has some fun in it, and is also a bit soap opera-y, but nearly to the extent of something like "Melrose Place." It seemed pretty realistic to me. It also aired in 2001 -- the DVD release was a quick one.
THIS LIFE was out in 1995, and it's definitely worth watching -- it's a great show, but is more heavy-drama than fun. It follows the lives of several college friends who are all mid/late-20s lawyers, sharing a house. I really liked the show (can't remember how many episodes on it... maybe 12?), but it wasn't an addiction the way SECRET LIFE was. According to some of my Brit friends, THIS LIFE sort of paved the way for more film-like, well-written, heavy-hitting TV like the original British "Queer as Folk."
If you're shopping around for SECRET LIFE, chaosmusic.com has the best prices. And the trick is, once you've ordered AU$50 worth of merchandise, you get 10% off of all future purchases over $50 (I think that's the right amounts)... so just buy a couple DVDs to start, then take advantage of the discount.
Enjoy... SECRET LIFE is like crack!!!