It takes talent to make a good movie that will engage you and entertain you for two hours. It takes genius to make a TV show that will engage and entertain you for twenty-two episodes. That being said, it was hard for me to narrow down my top ten television shows of the year, because it was a good year for TV!
My top 10 television shows of 2011:
- The New Girl – It started out a bit generic with only Zooey Deschanel’s quirky personality keeping me interested. After a bit, though, her roommates have evolved into much more interesting characters separate from lovely, amazing Zooey.
- How I Met Your Mother – My biggest obstacle with this show has always been the ridiculous laugh track. It’s unnecessary, and it panders to the lowest common denominator. An audience should not be told when to laugh – a well-written show will make it obvious. Once I can ignore that poor decision, though, I’ve found a show that layers stories tremendously well, builds on history for each character, and manages to walk a fine line between hilarity and drama.
- Walking Dead – The second season suffered a little bit from some lackluster pacing, but the fact is that it’s one of my favorite dramas on television and it’s about zombies!
- Doctor Who – I love Amelia Pond, I love Matt Smith’s Doctor, and I absolutely loved the season-long mystery about the final death of the Doctor. This show has finally transcended the cheesiness that has been its birthright.
- Childrens Hospital – In fifteen minutes, this satire manages to cram more laughs per second than any other comedy on television. Skewing every medical show and television cliche possible, Childrens Hospital is best viewed all in one sitting, because the wait between episodes is miserable.
- Saturday Night Live – Every week, the cast puts on a 90-minute sketch comedy show, and every week, they come up with some really funny shit. Anyone who expects the show to be consistently funny with every single beat doesn’t get the point.
- Community – One of the smartest shows on television and definitely the smartest comedy. Defying conventions at every turn and taking risks with format and structure, this show has only gotten better, and it will be a shame if NBC caters to the morons of the world by not renewing it.
- Shameless – I haven’t seen the original UK show, but the US version of Shameless, starring William H. Macy and a delicious Emmy Rossum, is like a gritty, realistic version of Malcolm in the Middle. It’s funny, dark, sad, and twisted, and I can’t wait for the 2012 premiere of season 2.
- Boss – Kelsey Grammer as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane is cold, calculating, ruthless, and compelling. I expected this show to be predictable, but it threw me for a loop, especially with the last two episodes.
- Louie – Created, written, edited, directed, and acted by comedian Louis CK, this show is about the life of a comedian. It’s funny and sad and decidedly fucked up. I absolutely love it and have so much respect for Louis for what he’s accomplished with this show.
- Onion News Network – Mostly sharp, with a few missteps and weird tonal shifts, this show is an entertaining look at news television. Anything including the autistic reporter Michael Falk is a favorite bit of mine.
- 2 Broke Girls – Rampant cliches and a stupid laugh track almost ruin this show, and if it wasn’t for the chemistry and presence of Kat Denning and Beth Behrs, I wouldn’t even watch it or consider it. Something about those two broke girls, though, really intrigues me and keeps me entertained.
- Fear Factor – I love this show for the depths to which it will sink. People will do anything for $50,000, which is a relatively marginal sum of money, and I love to see how right I am about the stupidity of the world. Plus, Joe Rogan’s disdain for every contestant is quite fun.
- American Horror Story – It’s little more than a compilation of every horror cliche out there, but it’s equal parts creepy, sexy, and thrilling. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming, and it managed to avoid being too cheesy.
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – There were some fantastic parts of this season so far, including almost all of the Jersey Shore episode. I love these guys.
And the worst television shows of 2011:
- Two and a Half Men – I don’t get the appeal. It’s obvious, tired, and trite.
- Big Bang Theory – It’s worse than Two and a Half Men because it has the potential to be a very funny geeky show. Instead, it relies on stereotypes and terrible premises.
- Whitney – This show is like Whitney’s stand-up. It might have been good in 1984.
- Terra Nova – I’ll never understand how they managed to make a show about time travel to the dinosaur age boring and predictable, but they did. Bravo, idiots!
Disagree with me. I dare you.