Some shows are just too hard to watch. Theyíre on channels I donít get, and our laptop doesnít connect to our television. And then there are the shows I missed for three seasons, so Iíd have to find all the old episodes and catch up. For someone who can barely keep up with a pretty pitiful DVR bank, thereís a very slim chance I will ever, EVER watch one of these shows.
For those reasons, Iím going to begin by saying that Louie and Game of Thrones are probably my real favorite shows of the 2010-2011 season, but I did not watch a single episode of either one. And while I am quite capable of bullshitting through most things, I am not inclined to write impassioned endorsements of shows Iíve never seen.
[Thus ends The Annual Apology to the Other Good Shows.]
On the other hand, there are plenty of shows that are easy to watch. Each new episode gets aired 4 times a week, or there are marathons, or the new episode is sandwiched between the other shows youíre already watching, so they just . . . show up in your viewing habits. If thereís a theme to my list this year, itís ďShows I Never Meant to Watch Yet Still Genuinely Enjoyed.Ē
I started watching Chopped after some friends of mine invited me to compete in an informal cooking competition during an anniversary party. It was hilarious and challenging and fun. They had modeled the contest after Chopped, so I began to watch the show. It has become one of the only shows our entire family watches together, and it has inspired my husband to buy fancy knives and prepare gourmet meals. I canít think of many television shows that have brought me so much tangible happiness.
Two guys driving around in a van and digging through junk sounds like a terrible idea for a television show. And its new sister show (literally called Picker Sisters) is proof that the idea alone is sucktastic without the proper execution. But with Mike and Frank providing sports-style commentary about their search for old-timey treasures, I find the show thoroughly engrossing.
Yes, The Office is not as good as it used to be, but I actually found a place in my heart for Michael Scottís final days. If nothing else, James Spaderís interview as the new boss was exactly the right kind of crazy. It will be interesting to see if he can pull off a Diane-to-Rebecca transfer of power.
For reasons I am not allowed to divulge, I finally started watching What Not to Wear this year. I had turned my nose up at the show for ages, assuming it was a typical makeover show with no appeal for a woman who wears Spider-Man pajamas out to a bar. While it does employ some of the transparent tricks of other makeover shows, it also offers something more. The show approaches clothing as an act of communication. It doesnít indulge in body-shaming nonsense, and it is genuinely funny. I dig it.
I was poised to hate this show. Itís pretty formulaically ripping off Friendsóso much so that the first episode has bride Elisha Cuthbert abandoning her fiancť at the altar. Despite the weak premise of six good-looking people who hang out and say witty things, the show is more hit than miss. Itís a far better home for Casey Wilson, who I didnít like AT ALL on Saturday Night Live. The biracial couple and football-loving gay dude are rarely relegated to The Biracial Couple and The Football-Loving Gay Dude. All in all, itís a surprising sitcom with memorable one-liners, including this favorite: ďShe gets crazy horny whenever we use our pizza stone.Ē
It may be slipping a bit, but I still love it. How great is it that they prepared a tribute show for a disaster that hasn't happened yet? And Matt Damonís ability to slip into instant sobbing made Carol one of Liz Lemonís funniest boyfriends.
This was a standout season for me. Having lost my father in early 2010, I was completely bowled over by Marshallís story arc. Instead of packaging death into one Very Special Episode, the show let his grief bleed all over the season, the way it does across daily life. Yet somehow the episodes never stopped being funny. Iím getting really tired of Ted Mosbyís love life, but the writing and characters are strong enough to keep this show near the top of my DVR priorities.
There were plenty of serviceable family sitcoms on TV when I was a kid, but The Cosby Show stood out as something special. It pushed cultural boundaries without being too preachy, it both participated in and shut down stereotypes, and it was so funny and enjoyable that everyone in the whole world watched it. Thatís the space Modern Family occupies.
Community is just freaking brilliant. I could award high marks based solely on the fake clip show, but letís be honest: Iím just happy they brought Josh Holloway (Sawyer from LOST) back to my screen.
If thereís a show that has more stand-alone merits than Parks & Recreation, I havenít seen it. Any one of these items justifies first place:
Most importantly? The show appears on five out of five Poop Reading Top Ten TV Shows lists–proving once and for all that if youíre not watching Parks & Recreation, youíre a stupid jerk.