Thursday, December 3, 2009

Best of the Decade: Liz and Red's Top TV Shows

We like lists around here...I think that's well documented. So Liz and decided to each present our Best Of picks for the entire decade. We'll present them every Thursday or Friday (you know we can't be tied down!!!) for the next few weeks and you are encouraged to present your picks in the comment section. Should be fun, right? RIGHT?!?!?

We start with our favorite TV shows. The only criteria we established was the show must have debuted between 2000 and 2009 (this eliminated some classics such as Freaks and Geeks and The Sopranos, so there's that). Here's what we came up with (NOTE: Our picks are very similar because we are pretty much the same person. That's why we get along so well...narcissism):

Liz's Picks (Liz goes first because she wrote better blurbs than I did. Sue me!)

The Wire - As we enter year two of the Greatest Depression Ever, and people point fingers at Wall Street, debtors and every president ever elected, The Wire is there to remind us that the corners of American cities have been rotten since long before national unemployment hit double digits. The Wire did what weekly television has always been capable of but never quite dared: Fixed it eye on the great problems of our day, and never flinched.

Lost - The question, “How will it end?” has hung over Lost since its mind-boggling pilot debuted 5 years ago. This May, we’ll find out. I can’t imagine the writers can find an ending to the time-bending saga of more than a dozen castaways, “others” and the people caught in between that will satisfy every viewer. But the journey to that end has been like nothing we’ve seen on TV (especially network TV) before, and no matter what, it will be worth it.

Mad Men
- The first thing you notice about Mad Men, is that it looks like nothing else on television, and I’m not just talking about the skinny ties and evening gloves. Every shot is framed with precision, every color feels agonized over; this is a very delicately constructed world. Add to this brilliant, subversive writing and acting, and you really feel like you’ve been transported to another time and place. One you might not want to live in, but sure is fun to visit for an hour a week.

Arrested Development - The Bluths never really learned or grew the way bad people are supposed to on television, and that’s what made them so endlessly entertaining. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, Arrested Development’s central characters were some of the craziest ever concocted, and the show was an all-too-brief shot of brilliant lunacy into the TV comedy landscape.

30 Rock
- When trying to describe 30 Rock, the word I always come back to is “zany.” Less sophisticated than Arrested Development and not as cringingly realistic as The Office, 30 Rock thrives on a scattershot rhythm that makes viewers think anything could happen next. The only safe assumption is that whatever it is, it’ll be hilarious.

The Office - When it’s at its best, The Office finds hilarity in the mundane. Such banal tasks as going to meetings, eating lunch and selling paper are sources of high comedy. The show has wavered a bit lately, largely because it’s gotten away from the everyday realities of actual offices, but then every once in a while, Andy will refer to himself as “the ‘Nard Dog” one more time, and I fall in love all over again.

Veronica Mars
- Whip smart writing, a cool film noir vibe, and all shot in beautiful San Diego? Naturally this show about a teenage sleuth was too good for this world. But those who did watch got a fantastic mix of humor, mystery, action and wise cracks that all the Law & Order spin offs in the world will never be able to fill.

Battlestar Galactica
- The sci-fi show for people who don’t like sci-fi flipped the script on just what it was metaphoring so many times, the eponymous space ship itself felt like a human character by the end of the series. Were the show’s humans oppressed or oppressors? Is an insurgency evil or necessary? What does it mean to be human? BSG asked all these questions, and left the answers up to us. Plus, hot robots.

Big Love
- Of course the best female characters and most sympathetic depiction of a deeply religious family on television are all on a show about bigamy. The trials and tribulations of the Henrickson clan make for fantastic drama, and they don’t even swear!

The Colbert Report - In taking on the persona of a blustering, blow-hard right wing pundit, Stephen Colbert has managed to do what The Daily Show tries but really doesn’t: Make equal fun of the left and right, and points out how ridiculous and silly it all is anyway. In spoofing the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Colbert comes off as mostly poking fun at Republicans, but he manages to make a lot of subtle (and therefore all the more cutting) jabs at Democrats as well. You end up not really knowing where Colbert himself stands on it all, which you can’t say about Jon Stewart.

Red's Picks
The Wire - You're totally shocked, right? If you still haven't seen this show, what in the eff are you waiting for?!

Mad Men - It looks amazing and stars the most beautiful people in the known universe.

Lost - Proof network television can produce a terrific, hour long drama.

30 Rock - Liz Lemon is my hero.

Battlestar Galactica - I like sci-fi, but this show redefined the genre and made it cooler and more human than ever before.

Friday Night Lights - Coach and Tami Taylor are the most remarkable couple on TV. They give me hope.

The Office - The evolution of this show has been most entertaining. So different now from it's UK counterpart, Thursday nights wouldn't be the same without Michael Scott and company.

Veronica Mars - Criminally underwatched, Kristen Bell gave one of the best performances of the decade and, as we've mentioned before, inspired the name of our blog.

Gilmore Girls
- This show makes me want to move to small town USA. Even if the last season was less than satisfying, Lorelai and Rory will always be my favorite mother/daughter combo.

Rescue Me
- The first and second seasons were fantastic...the third, not so much...but the most recent season proved this is a series to be admired. Plus, the fact that it deals so much with 9/11 makes it an important show for this decade.

Honorable Mentions: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dexter, Weeds, Breaking Bad, Flight of the Conchords, Alias: Seasons 1 and 2, and John From Cincinnati...just kidding.


Anonymous said...

I agree with most of both you guys' picks, with a few exceptions. "Breaking Bad" would for sure be in my top five and "Arrested Development" for sure would not. I really WANTED to like it. I expected to like it. And yet, I didn't. I was disappointed. I expected it to be funnier. Yet everyone else seems to love it so it must be me. :)

I'd probably put "True Blood" in there too and "Californication".

I am so stoked for the new season of "Lost".

words...words...words... said...

I'll give my favorites with the caveat that I've never seen a good number of the shows you both mentioned. I tend to refrain from lists of this kind because I am not a big sampler.

30 Rock Liz is the kind of cool, smart, pretty yet down to Earth girl that you never meet. And shit gets crazy, yo.

Chuck Nobody watches this show except for me, judging by the ratings. But it's the best example of the one-hour "dramedy" that I can think of. And it has the funnest romance on TV.

House People love to rag on this show for being predictable. While it's predictable that the problem will be solved, it's not predictable how this truly exceptional cast will solve it. It's a procedural, folks. Nobody complains about Law & Order this way.

Six Feet Under My personal favorite of the fantastic HBO shows of the decade. Funny and morbid at the same time, with astounding acting and writing and the single best final episode of any show in TV history.

Curb Your Enthusiasm On pure audaciousness and laughs, best sitcom of the decade.

Arrested Development Excellent but uneven...the best moments were jaw dropping, but overall a cut below 30 Rock and Curb in the sitcom world.

Gilmore Girls I know, I'm a dude. But this was a great show. Lorelei Gilmore can go motormouth on me any day. Probably the closest thing to my ideal woman I've ever seen on TV. And the show created a believable yet unrealistic universe. Which is really, really hard.

BeckEye said...

"...Six Feet Under...the single best final episode of any show in TV history."

See, it's times like these when I realize why I like Fran.

I didn't expect you to give Always Sunny any love, so I won't go into a fit of outrage.

Garney said...

Definitely The Wire, Arrested Development, Lost... all of these are great... here's what's missing (you never said anything about whether or not you were excluding miniseries):
1. Angels in America
2. The Shield
3. The Corner
4. Breaking Bad
5. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
6. Frisky Dingo
7. Generation Kill
8. Pushing Daisies
9. Jericho
10. Rome

Garney said...

crap, forgot Six Feet Under... that would be #3