Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Television Shows of the 2000s

Daniel Fienberg has a great rundown of the 31 Best Television Shows of the Decade at his blog.  As I looked through his list, I noticed how few of his choices would be on my list.  But that is probably because my list would consist of my favorite shows, not the "best" shows of the decade.  I rarely judge a show based upon its production value or the story arches or the set design, as people like Dan Fienberg are paid to do.  Instead, I judge shows based up their ability to keep my interest.   

Here is my list:
  1. The Office -- The greatest comedy writing and acting of the decade.  Every season has improved from the one before it, which is tough for a show to do.  By spending time developing the characters, such as Dwight, Jim, Micheal, Creed, Kevin, Andy, Pam, and Angela, the show didn't always have to have a solid storyline to be hilarious.  And they were able to fight through some "jump the shark" moments (Jim&Pam breakups, Micheal Scott Paper Company, a merger) and come out the other side even stronger.  I just hope they pull a Seinfeld and bow out while I'm still wanting more. 
  2. Generation Kill -- This mini-series is the most compelling drama of the decade.  I would contend that this is the best and most important show HBO has ever produced.
  3. The Ultimate Fighter -- Combining mixed martial arts and competition-based reality-show production?  Count me in.
  4. Scrubs -- I love the different character combos this show has:  JD&Turk, JD&Cox, JD&Janitor, etc.  And with a great supporting cast, the lead characters shine all the brighter.
  5. Saturday Night Live -- With cast members such as Ferrell, Fallon, Fey, Poehler, Morgan, Shannon, Rudolph, Meyers, Kattan, Samberg, Wiig, Hammond, and Thompson, the 2000s ended up being a great decade for SNL.
  6. Psych -- The perfect "buddy" show, Shawn & Gus are hilarious.  I love all of the 80s and 90s pop-culture references that they use in their banter.  And the names Shawn uses when introducing Gus always crack me up, especially when Gus becomes the persona that the name implies.
  7. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia -- The Gang tackles topics that no other sitcom would dare touch in an always funny way.
  8. Top Chef -- Combine my love of cooking and my love of competitive reality shows?  How could I not love this show?
  9. American Idol -- The best of the reality-genre, their combo of train wreck awful and goose-bump-inducing fabulous keeps me tuning in year after year.
  10. Dexter -- An amazing premise that is flawlessly executed.
  11. The Big Bang Theory -- Nerds/dorks/geeks have never been so cool.
  12. Family Guy -- "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty..." or "Mom, mom, mommy, ma, mom, mom, ma, ma, mommy, mommy....hi!" or "Drop it, Patches".  Genius.
  13. 24 -- While I've found it harder and harder to remain committed to the premise of this show as the series has progressed, Seasons 1&2 alone get this show onto this list. 
  14. Six Feet Under -- The way this show makes a funeral home interesting is a feat in and of itself.  And the cast of this show was fabulous (although I could have lived without the Brenda/Billy story line).
  15. Project Runway -- One of my guilty pleasures.  As Time Gunn would say, "Make it work."
  16. Jackass -- Johnny Knoxville is a genius.  One part Evel Knievel and one part Ashton Kutcher, he brought the stupid things guys do to make each other laugh to the mainstream.
  17. House -- One of the greatest leading characters of the decade.
  18. Big Brother -- While no other player will compare to Dr. Will, I still tune into this experiment three times a week during the summer.
  19. Sleeper Cell -- An amazingly bold television show considering the topic (home-grown terrorism) and the fact that it came out only 4 years after 9/11.  A great show that they thankfully ended after two seasons and before they got wacky with the story line. 
  20. Penn & Teller BS -- One of the few television shows coming from a libertarian worldview, magicians Penn & Teller call bullshit on such topics as alternative medicine, environmental hysteria, and the war on drugs. 
  21. King of Queens -- My wife and I love this show because we are so similar to Doug and Carrie Heffernan.
  22. True Blood -- The best of the recent vampire craze.
  23. Mad Men -- Watching this show makes me long for the days when you could (and were encouraged) to smoke and drink whiskey at work.
  24. Prison Break -- I have never been so nervous or anxious while watching a television show as I was while watching Season 1.  The later years were not as compelling, but were still entertaining.
  25. Burn Notice -- I've learned more about being a spy from this show than I'd ever learn in the CIA.
  26. Last Comic Standing -- While the format of the show often annoys me, this show has introduced me to many great comedians, especially John Heffron.
  27. Life -- The best "canceled-too-soon" show of the decade.
  28. South Park -- Even after 10+ seasons, the show still finds a way to remain relevant, topical, and edgy. 
  29. Alias -- The show that proved that an actress could carry an action show to success (leading to Dollhouse and The Sarah Connor Chronicles later in the decade).
  30. The Big Break -- The best (and only) golfing reality show.  I loved all the unique challenges the producers threw in front of the competitors. 
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Malcolm in the Middle, Day Break, My Boys, Bones, The Joe Schmo Show, That 70's Show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Dollhouse, Iceroad Truckers, Dirty Jobs, Myth Busters, Biggest Loser, Undeclared, Parks and Recreations, 30 Rock, Numbers, The Wire, Futurama, Weakest Link, Survivor, Modern Family, Glee, Sex and the City,


  1. Seeing Parks and Recreations in the honorable mention list made me tear up a bit. Definately top 15 worthy. Check into Back to the Barnyard. Top 10 at Tenth Street Tots.

  2. The two episodes I've seen of Back to the Barnyard are enjoyable, I agree.

    As for Parks&Recs (as well as Modern Family, Glee, ), they are too new. I'm certain they'll be in the top 10 of the 2010s decade list, if they continue on the paths they are on. Most of the Honorable Mentions were either too new (above), I saw too few episodes to make them contenders but I still enjoyed them (Dirty Jobs, Dollhouse, The Wire) or too short lived (Day Break, My Boys, Joe Schmo) to warrant a place in the top 30. Also, the list would have been too long.

  3. I agree with you that The Office was once one of the greatest comedy shows on television, however it has now clearly been surpassed. I would argue that The Office has run its course and producers should have called it quits last year while the show was still on a high note. This year, it has disappointed me, a loyal viewer. Nothing better proves that a show should leave while at the top than Sex and the City. Fans are still hungry for the show and have shelled out $420 Million to watch a movie based on their favorite character even five years later. I would bet that an Office movie would not score anywhere near that kind of profit. However, I do agree with the rest of your list. I think you touched on many of the great television shows of the decade. -Rach

  4. Tom Tucker: A bit of breaking news. A local family is forced out of their home by ghosts. Who are they gonna call?

    Diane Simmons (sighs): Ghostbusters, Tom.

    Tom Tucker: No, Diane. Their insurance company. That's just stupid what you said