Top 10 TV Shows of 2011

TVTelevision often acts as a little slice of escapism in a hectic world. 2011 was a year of unrest in many ways, and so television, with its little vignettes of un-reality, was perhaps more important to some than ever before. TV is also often an arena for the exploration of hot-button issues and social taboos, and 2011 was no different.  Whether you seek escapist flights of fancy or something a little more stimulating, here’s the best TV 2011 had to offer.

10. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

HBO delivers again with this medieval fantasy series. Fighting for the mythical land of Witheroes, this show, based on the best selling fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, had high expectations placed upon it when it aired in 2011 and has not disappointed since. Picked up for a second season two days after it premiered, the cast of mainly British and Irish actors along with the set and production of the show are key in its success. As you follow the violent struggles among the kingdom’s noble families for control of the Iron Throne, you can’t help but feel you are taken to another world with such a sense of realism. Medieval inspired fantasy shows done right are often hard to come across – but then again it is HBO, right?

– Bridgit Kazor

9. Revenge


Airing for the first time in 2011, this drama starring Emily VanCamp is a surprisingly smart series centered around Emily Thorne’s quest to ensure justice is served regarding the crimes committed for which her father was wrongfully convicted, thus ruining her family. VanCamp plays the scheming and and dark role of Emily Thorne, changing her name and life to integrate herself seamlessly into the community of multi-billionaires she is after. With a strong cast, all of whom are easy on the eyes, it is worth it in 2012 to continue or start watching VanCamp take out a different guilty individual with creative and manipulative tactics each week.

– Bridgit Kazor

8. Modern Family

Modern Family

Modern family does comedy right as it takes a satirical look on different family relations during modern times. With only 3 seasons under its belt, it has established an impressive following as viewers tune in each week for a good laugh. 2011 was no different with loyal viewers eagerly peering into the lives of three separate families all linked to become one large extended family. Whether you’re following Clare and Phil and their three children, Jay and Gloria with her son Manny, or Cam and Mitchell and their daughter Lily, an abdominal workout is sure to follow. The show simply works and owes much of its success to its ability to create humor out of everyday occurrences and relationships evident in families. Its diversity is inclusive to all as Cam and Mitchell are a gay couple, and Gloria and Jay were both previously divorced. Every character is different allowing every viewer to relate in some way. So, if you’re already tuning in to see the characters you love you’re on the right track. If not, you’ll need to hit the gym for some crunches.

– Bridgit Kazor

7. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

You don’t need a periodical table of the elements to follow and understand the drama and entertainment of Breaking Bad. This Emmy award-winning series was a hot topic throughout  2011 as blogs and social media sites couldn’t stop talking about Walter White and the nail-biting thrill of each episode. Now 4 seasons deep, viewers follow a high school chemistry teacher who partners up with a former student and begins making crystal meth, after he is diagnosed with cancer. With a sense of fearlessness due to his medical prognosis, Walter White’s character is complex, dynamic and established as the show explores how he breaks the confinements of everyday life. With each episode this show becomes increasingly addictive as the tension and excitement leave you constantly on edge. Attracting new viewers while maintaining loyal fans throughout the seasons is easy with exceptional cinematography, acting ability, and an extensive plot-line. You don’t need to be a chemistry wiz to figure out that this show has all the elements necessary for long term success as it was signed on for a 5th season in 2012.

– Bridgit Kazor

6. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire follows the trials and tribulations of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), as he both effectively runs Atlantic City as city treasurer and is at the centre of a massive bootlegging operation in Prohibition-era America. Helmed by Sopranos producer Terence Winter and under the watchful eye of the king of gritty gangster flicks himself, Martin Scorcese, the show seemed set up for success since the beginning and did not disappoint during its second season in 2011. Beautifully and convincingly constructed, the world of Boardwalk Empire is populated by endlessly fascinating and often tormented characters. Horribly disfigured ex-soldier Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) is one of TVs most pitiful and compelling figures. The show continuously goes where no other show has dared to before, killing off popular characters left and right and exploring social taboos in a way that is simultaneously audacious in its depiction but nuanced in its effects on the characters. Do yourself a favour and immerse yourself in the cutthroat world of Boardwalk Empire.

– Jordan Pearson

5. Shameless


An American version of the award-winning British show of the same name (currently in its ninth season), Shameless is the story of the dysfunctional Gallagher family as they grow up in Chicago’s South Side, low income, Canaryville neighbourhood. With a mother who ran out on them long ago and an alcoholic father (William H. Macy) who can only be relied upon to show up to collect his illegally obtained disability cheques, the six Gallagher children raise themselves and are reared by their oldest sister, Fiona (Emmy Rossum). The show’s focus on a grave level of poverty separates it from previous working class-centric shows such as My Name is Earl and also brings attention to the reality that this family is not a comedic “white-trash” or “other” type of people living in a trailer park. They could be living a few streets down from you. While the setting may seem bleak, the story remains poignant as well as funny as you watch the six children scheme their way through their lives, take care of one another, and get into some pretty entertaining trouble. If this show follows in the footsteps of the original it will no doubt be a success for years to come.

– Stacey Mackenzie

4. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

From frat bros to, well, my parents, it seems It’s Always Sunny’s hilarity escapes few demographics. With the tag line “It’s Seinfeld, on acid,” FX’s anti-sitcom has just finished its seventh season and shows no sign of slowing down. It follows “the gang:” The twins, Dennis and Deandra, along with their friends Mac, Charlie, and their non-biological dad Frank (played by the surprisingly obscene Danny Devito) as they run a dilapidated pub called Paddy’s in South Philly. And they’re some of the most awful and awfully hilarious characters you will ever watch. While the show has gained in popularity, it has still managed to remain shocking, consistently funny, original, and grown to become more self-referential. However, I would not expect the characters to develop much emotionally. While it will not be returning for its eighth season until later on in 2012, have no fear. There are over 70 episodes dealing with racism, welfare, Jersey Shore, the gas crisis, toddler beauty pageants, and so much more just waiting to help you through your next all nighter.

– Stacey Mackenzie

3. Community


This show was put on what will hopefully be a brief hiatus by NBC and wrapped up its third season early after a Glee-spoofing Christmas episode. Following the mishaps of a mismatched study group at  Greendale community college over three seasons, this show has already explored paintball warfare, interpretive dance, the imaginary construct of Dungeons & Dragons, zombies and ABBA, the exploration of chaos theory and alternate realities (expressed, naturally, by who went downstairs to grab delivery pizza), and the importance of Batman, this show was not only hilarious but also brilliant. The cast features Joel McHale (host of E! show “The Soup;” the most/only worthwhile show on E!), Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino and member of Derrick Comedy), Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow of The Hangover series), Alison Brie (Trudy Campbell of Mad Men) and Chevy Chase. While the hiatus was, as Glover’s character Troy would phrase it, “the opposite of Batman,” with such a knockout cast and stellar reviews the show will be back in no time. In the meantime you can catch up on the past three seasons by purchasing it (please!) on iTunes or DVD.

– Stacey Mackenzie

2. Archer


Deep down we all love cartoons, however, as we’ve gotten older sometimes the Spongebob marathon on YTV won’t cut it. Archer is a story-driven cartoon that actually delivers. Brought to us by the FX, Archer is parody of every spy movie you have ever seen and follows the life of the extremely stealthy and extremely self-obsessed Sterling Archer (Codename: Duchess) as he works as an international spy  for an agency located in New York City. The show takes place in an “ill defined” (as creator Adam Reed stated) time setting which features an ambiguous mix of retro clothing, references to the Soviet Union and Castro as the leader of Cuba, as well as modern day technology and phrases. The show follows Sterling as he works for his hypersexual, overbearing, “functional” alcoholic mother (voiced by Arrested Development gem, Jessica Walters) and his relationships with equally complex and hilarious co-workers; a foxy ex-girlfriend and fellow spy, a nerdy yet philandering accountant, and a mad scientist and potential Adolf Hitler clone, to mention a few. Archer is a cartoon definitely meant for adults and is brutally hilarious. It will be returning to its third season on January 19th.

– Stacey Mackenzie

1. The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

This post-apocalyptic zombie television show is brought to us by AMC (home of heavyweights Breaking Bad and Mad Men) and is based on the comic book series of the same name written by Robert Kirkman. The series begins with Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Grimes awaking from a coma only to find a world inhabited by zombies. While this may sound like the start of a cheesy horror movie, director Frank Darabont put as much cinematic care into this show as he did The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Just as Mad Men brought us back to the 1960s, The Walking Dead gives viewers an eerily realistic interpretation of the zombie apocalypse that goes beyond the gore (though there is quite a bit of that) and takes time to unfold masterful plot arcs and examine the questions of religion in a post-apocalyptic world, the morality (if any) of survivalism, and ultimately what makes life worth living. You may come for the zombies but you’ll stay for the characters. As the show is in the midst of a three month break in its second season, you will have plenty of time to catch up before it returns on February 12.

– Stacey Mackenzie

4 thoughts on “Top 10 TV Shows of 2011

  1. Great list! There are some wonderful shows on here and I always love seeing Breaking Bad getting recognition for being so superb.

    Two question:

    Are these shows in order of least favorite to favorite (i.e., was The Walking Dead your top show of the year)?

    And have you ever seen Justified? The second season was incredible, and if you haven’t seen it it’d be a great edition to this list.

    Thanks for the read!

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