EDITORS’ CHOICE: Top 10 TV Shows of 2011


TV

By: Jonathan Forani and Taylor Pearce

TV’s been called a vast wasteland, a mind numbing pastime and the bane of modern day society. So why do we still watch it? In 2011, it was because of shows like the ten featured below, which show how, despite J-Shore and reality television’s ratings reign, TV can also mean quality.

10. The Killing (AMC)

The Killing

Sure, the finale pretty much infuriated everyone that tweets (or buys domains), but as Willa Paskin in New York Magazine noted, this could be something that brings about a new wave of content control. If the public cries out in vein, maybe the show runners will listen. Even if it quickly disintegrated into red herrings and broken promises, The Killing was one of the most stylish and exciting debuts of 2011. Count on AMC to step up their game and return one of TV’s best-acted dramas back to its original glory.

– Jonathan Forani

9. CBS News Sunday Morning (CBS)

Charles Osgoode

Nestled in the 9:00am timeslot for the past thirty-three years, CBS Sunday Morning is the greatest newsmagazine show you’ve never heard of. By the name, you’d be quick to assume the show features an evangelical minister preaching to those that couldn’t quite make it to church, but in reality the only thing religious about Sunday Morning is its fervent followers. Do yourself a favour and wake up early one Sunday, or go ahead and watch some segments online. If not for the high quality journalism, than do it for host Charles Osgoode’s bowties.

– Taylor Pearce

8. Game of Thrones (HBO)

Game of Thrones

Count on HBO to make one of the grandest dramas ever to hit TV sets. Based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling fantasy series, this was like Gladiator meets Lord of the Rings and like nothing ever seen in series format ever before. The fantasy aspect was missing through much of this first heart-pounding season, but with its dragon-liscious final scenes, you can bet season two has lots in store.

– Jonathan Forani

7. How to Make it in America (HBO)

How to Make it in America

The Kubler-Ross model defines grief in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Since HBO cancelled How to Make It in America, I’m afraid to say I haven’t moved past step one. In its sophomore season, the show stretched its legs. Best friends Ben and Cam had faced setbacks and finally seen success with their clothing line, Crisp. Luis Guzman was perfect as former-felon Rene who attempted to enter the legitimate business world with his energy drink Rasta Monsta. Not to mention, the series was set to stellar music. With its cancellation, now I and all other loyal fans of the show will always be left to wonder: do Cam and Ben ever make it?

– Taylor Pearce

6. Parenthood (NBC)

Parenthood

You don’t have to break out a pair of mom jeans or that tie your dad got for Father’s Day to sit down and watch NBC’s Parenthood. You don’t even have to be over the age of 50 to enjoy this incredibly well-delivered show that should be applauded more for its refreshingly real portrayal of both the big and small situations families go through everyday. After watching the Bravermans each week, you’ll like some characters, and wish you saw less of others. Just like any normal family.

– Taylor Pearce

5. True Blood (HBO)

True Blood

True Blood is a show people are either turned off or turned on by. Some can’t handle the southern accents, which make main character Sookie seem like a Georgia peach until she shoots fairy magic from her fingertips to launch an enemy across the room. Some find it too gory, with the magnificent amounts of onscreen blood either dripping from a fangbanger’s neck or pooling in the puddle of a staked vamp. For everyone else, this is exactly why they love the show. It’s raw, raunchy and the Bon Temps bayou is the perfect incubator for it all.

– Taylor Pearce

4. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Parks and Recreation

Apparently picking up the slack of NBC’s slowly fizzling 30 Rock, Parks and Rec has become one of TV’s sharpest comedies. This season’s permanent addition of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe’s state auditors only made an already-strong ensemble even stronger. You can literally! feel the funny emitting off the screen.

– Jonathan Forani

3. Downton Abbey (ITV/PBS)

Downton Abbey

ITV may be the commercial alternative to Britain’s exemplary, genre-bending Channel 4, but Downton Abbey is just funny enough, just emotional enough, just pure soap-opera-guilty-pleasure enough to forget about its Christmas Specials and niche marketing. At least it’s hard to incorporate product placement into a period drama set in the 1910s. In the year of Playboy Clubs and Pan Ams Britain seemed to be the only place able to produce worthy Mad Men rivals (BBC’s The Hour being its other success). This addictive costume drama is worthy of a top 3 spot if only for Dame Maggie Smith’s anti-McGonagall sass.

– Jonathan Forani

2. Breaking Bad (AMC)

Breaking Bad

s there a better drama on television? A lot of critics might say Mad Men, but 2011 was a Don Draper-less year and Breaking Bad took the drama crown without much of a fight. This fourth season managed to make a once implausible series premise seem utterly believable. An acting force to be reckoned with, Giancarlo Esposito sizzled more than ever as the fiery Gus Fring; the women of Breaking Bad (Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt) actually got to do things this time around. But even still, the show is all about Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul who once again display why they’re deserving of every accolade they receive, and why the show is robbed of every other one it doesn’t (ahem, Golden Globes).

– Jonathan Forani

1. Community (NBC)

Community

Troy and Abed. Shirley and Pierce.  Annie and Jeff. Jeff and Brita. Chang and Dean. If your eyes aren’t welling up from affection right now then you obviously aren’t a Human Being and should probably change that. In the past three seasons, Community has gone from a small obscure cult TV show to –well, it’s stayed a small obscure cult TV show– but it’s also become the model for how TV shows should be: willing to play around with an old format to create new humour. Community is beloved for its theme episodes that take typical Hollywood genre conventions and applies them to a completely novel situation. A school-wide paintball tournament in the style of a Spaghetti Western? Just another day at Greendale.

– Taylor Pearce

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One thought on “EDITORS’ CHOICE: Top 10 TV Shows of 2011

  1. First of all, here’s a high-five for mentioning that the Golden Globes robbed Breaking Bad.

    *high-five*

    I also really enjoyed the variety of shows you posted here, especially the inclusion of CBS News Sunday Morning. The vast majority of these best-of lists are focused on high-profile dramas and comedies, and it’s easy to forget that there are other shows that people can enjoy.

    I’ll make one negative point (sorry, I can’t help myself). If you didn’t enjoy the ending of The Killing (as I didn’t), I would stay far away from Season 2. The show-runner, Veena Sud, has said in multiple interviews that she will not be listening to the public outcry that occurred after the end of Season 1 and will continue down the path that led to one of the most hated season finales in public memory. I’ll admit that I did really enjoy the beginning of the season, though.

    Thanks for your list!

    http://eatsleeptelevision.wordpress.com/

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