The Top Five TV Shows of the Past Decade and One Year

Last year at decade’s end, I compiled a few best of and worst of lists to commemorate the first 10 years of the new millennium. However, when doing this, for some reason I neglected to compile any sort of list for my favorite entertainment medium; television.

And seeing as how I am without question the most reputable voice of opinion on the internet, it doesn’t seem fair to the masses who suckle at my every word not to put something together regarding my opinion on TV. So with that, here are the shows that wielded through the cluttered reality TV mess of the past several years and showed there will always be a place for quality, scripted television.

Honorable Mentions:

The Office (US Version, NBC), Modern Family (ABC) Extras (HBO/BBC), Arrested Development before it became unbearably smug and entirely self-referential (ie, Season One)

5. Flight of the Conchords (HBO)

Sure, this import from New Zealand only ran for two seasons. And sure, only one of them was truly good. But if there was any one season that yielded a spot on this list on its own individual merits, it’s the first season of Flight of the Conchords.

From the quirky songs, hilariously bizarre dialogue and situations and a nearly perfect cast, FOTC was one of the great comedy creations when it hit the airwaves in 2007, and even though it petered out surprisingly quickly, it still left a lasting impression on me and dozens of others.

4. Mad Men (AMC)

Perhaps the most critically acclaimed series of the past few years, it took me a few seasons to truly embrace this series about sexy people and their sexy adventures in the sexy world of 1960’s Madison Avenue Advertising. While I’ve enjoyed it from the get-go, for some reason it just didn’t make an overwhelming impact right away.

However, over the past few years, series creator Matthew Weiner (allegedly pronounced “why-ner.” Yeah, fucking right!) and the rest of the cast and crew have pulled me in with some of the most intricately plotted dramatic television today. And while it did create one of the most shockingly bizarre scenes in recent memory, Mad Men is arguably the least flashy great show of its time, and must be credited for being compelling without feeling as if it needs to constantly dazzle its audience.

3. The Office (UK Version, BBC)

I love the American Office and find that most people who smugly hate it do so blindly, because how dare someone try to touch the original. Having said that, I must give the British version a slight comparative edge. One because it has a more realistic feel to it, but also because it created perhaps the most engagingly pathetic comedic character this side of Homer Simpson.

While I very much enjoy the work of Steve Carell as American boss Michael Scott, there’s just no trumping the work Ricky Gervais did as UK manager David Brent. When you watch Carell, you feel like you are watching someone embarrass themselves, where as with Gervais, you often times feel as if you are actually watching another human being die. It’s not everyone’s variety of comedy, but if you have the stomach for it, it’s pretty remarkable.

Though he deserves all around credit as the co-creator, writer and director for the series (as well as an Executive Producer for the American version, that son-of-a-bitch!) Gervais was effortlessly brilliant as Brent, who could humiliate himself in almost every imaginable fashion, and somehow still hold on to the illusion that he’s “rock and roll through and through.”

2. Breaking Bad (AMC)

I’m fucking sick of writing about this show because no one ever cares what I have to say. Simply put, it’s awesome.

Click here, here, here and here if you wish to read why.

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Strangely enough (to me anyway), in two years of involvement with this dog-and-pony operation, I’ve never once taken the time to gush about Curb Your Enthusiasm which is not only the best show in the depicted time frame, it’s the best show in the depicted time frame by a mile.

While a fantastic run with Seinfeld proved Larry David was more than capable of writing great comedy, it was somewhat surprising to see how adept he was at performing it, in this mostly improvised series, which is an alleged re-telling of the events of his misanthropic life.

David, simply put, is a genius. He now, on two separate occasions, has crafted nearly flawless comedies about the minutia of life. While other shows have attempted to capture a similar magic (see the pathetic yet inexplicably popular It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) David has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt he is the undisputed master of this genre and has been for close to two decades.

Like The Office, Curb isn’t for everyone, but most brilliant shows aren’t. Even after seven full seasons (eight is on the way) it’s still as close to “must-see TV” as it gets and if it had been the only show created over the last decade, it still would have been a good decade for TV.

As a final word, if anyone tries to get into Curb by watching it in syndication on WGN, DON’T! The edits are criminal, by which I mean, if there were any justice in the world, the people who edit the program for broadcast on that network would be in jail. Rent the DVDs and thank me later.

16 thoughts on “The Top Five TV Shows of the Past Decade and One Year

  1. I care what you have to say about Breaking Bad. I will surely miss you when the next season starts in fucking July. Happy Holidays

  2. Nice list. I am on the cusp of starting to watch Mad Men (have been saving it) and the other choices are fantastic (though I would differ on the order), but I want to stake my defense for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

    It’s Always Sunny, to me, is the classic example of a feast or famine show. Allow me to make a sports analogy. It’s Always Sunny is like the Chicago Bears this season. At times they look solid, but there is just the innate ability to lay an egg. You can’t count on it, like you can with The Office, or 30 Rock, or Modern Family, because they have structured the show so that NO main character ever gets the best of a situation. They always look like asses. Still, there are some tremendously brilliant episodes of the show, but there are a handful of nearly unwatchable episodes, and it’s not a show I can recommend to people.

    I do agree that it really wants to capitalize on the situational nature of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the major difference between the two is that It’s Always Sunny isolates you with it’s relatability, Curb embraces you with it. Larry, as a character, is just such a buffoon, but you can at least relate when he starts to look like an ass. Characters on Sunny just dial everything up to 11 , and you can consistently end up thinking all FIVE main characters are complete dicks.

    Nice work, Claytonius. Your posts never disappoint.

  3. I’m sure you’re being sarcastic, but I honestly do really enjoy iCarly. I know. I’m gay…

  4. Actually no. I do watch iCarly a lot. Blame it on my kids but often it is on the tv and they leave and I continue to watch it. It is better than a lot of shows on tv for sure

  5. Nice! Yeah, it’s great. It sucked real hard at first, but it slowly got better. Spencer is a great character, as is Gibby. It’s a really fun show to watch.

  6. @Majors
    My problem with the show isn’t that the characters are unlikeable, my problem is that I’ve watched probably seven episodes and I find that the show never goes anywhere. They think of these wacky ideas and instead of building on them, they all just sit around riffing endlessly about just how zany the situation they’ve gotten themselves in is. And seeing as how the actors are the creators of the show, it just seems really self-congratulatory to me.

    @edjunkie and Pritch
    God help me, I too find myself, probably about four or five times a month, watching iCarly! when nothing else is on. Occassionally, I even stop there without even scoping out all my viewing options. It’s got a weird appeal.

  7. I can’t believe I actually agree with you on your number one, and I can’t believe you got over your anti-British sentiment enough to place the UK Office over the US on your list. Excellent.

  8. Totally valid, and understandable point about It’s Always Sunny, and I would be lying if I said I disagreed. More or less, that is the nuts and bolts of the show. They were always good at two things: creating screwball (yet not completely impossible) scenarios, and crafting sniper-precise, crass dialogue. When they hit both of the them, the show is capable of being great. When they hit one or the other, it’s possible to be good, even if it feels uneven. When they miss on both, it’s horrible. Self-congratulatory is a great way of putting it.

  9. Read this, and watched all three seasons of Breaking Bad in one week. It IS a spectacular show!!
    Also, so is Office UK.

  10. Here is my list not in any perticular order.

    The Mighty Boosh
    Flight Of The Conchords
    It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
    Kyle XY
    My Name Is Earl

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