Every single television critic has written their "10 Best of 2011" article and it's all, "Oooh, Breaking Bad." "Let's hear it for Community." "Friday Night Lights should never leave!" "Do you love Louie? I love Louie. You should love LOUIE!" Fuck them! All their damn lists are the same year after year. Here are some of the other things that happened on television when the critics were playing Ookie Cookie with each other.
Yes, those shows are great, but other things happened on television this year, guys! Sure, my list of my favorite things on TV this year is going to have plenty of overlap (we all know quality when we see it), but I tried to keep it to things that were actually new this year or things that I found really exciting. Not only are these great, but some are the kind of trash that you're actually going to watch and won't get cancelled because they're too smug and self-congratulatory and don't welcome a new audience (I'm looking at you, Community).
Game of Thrones
Yes, all the critics love Game of Thrones and if they don't, they're fucking idiots. Everyone should not only watch this latest HBO gem, they should love it. If they don't, they should be taken out in front of a crowd and have their head chopped off while their lesbian daughter watches. That is what should happen. This show is like an enormous clock and every gear is working together to move the story forward. You have to pay attention and learn a lot of characters, but with people as colorful as those in Westeros, you'll be happy to meet each one of them. And there are dragons! April can't come soon enough with new episodes.
Just a decade after the sitcom was declared dead, a bunch of new hits came and proved that, like Jean Grey or a soap opera heroine, dead is not forever. And most of it is thanks to women. New Girl, Two Broke Girls, Suburgatory, Happy Endings, Up All Night (at least the parts with Maya Rudolph) are all delightful. And don't even get me started on the Melissa McCarthy episode of Saturday Night Live, the best single episode the show has seen in years. Sure, we're still stuck with Whitney and Last Man Standing and Two and Half Men that diseased cockroach with a laugh track, but for the first time in a long time, there are plenty of great comedies to outweigh the awful ones. Since this is Hollywood though, look for a bunch of schlocky sitcoms to clog up television next fall, yet again killing the sitcom. And the cycle starts again.
24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic
There is not a show on television with a more unwieldy title but the drama couldn't be more concise. Part of HBO's fantastic 24/7 series which takes a close look at both sides for a game or match before it goes down, this one focused on the NHL's Penguins and Capitals as they both faced tough seasons before the annual "Winter Classic," the only hockey game played outdoors. Yes, it is about sports, but it is a reality show about sports, which just proves that I will watch a reality show about anything (especially if there are locker room scenes). I couldn't care a lick about hockey, but the fine people at HBO found the emotional and personal stories inside the game and made it interesting and educational for even someone like me. And I scored major butch points when I could talk about hockey with straight guys. They're airing a similar special now about the Flyers and the Rangers, so check it out and toughen up!
Man, what do you do with a show like Gigolos, Showtime's latest softcore enterprise. It's a reality show that follows around male escorts in Vegas as they do stupid things (make rap videos, get colonics, have drinks in casinos) and, you know, fuck ladies for money. There's no penetration, but plenty of nudity. The guys are hot, the women are usually borderline attractive, and I still have no clue who the intended audience for this thing is? Can't be straight guys or gay guys. Straight women? But do they want porn? Who cares, because the campiness should be appealing to everyone.
This is a show about modern day treasure hunters, except they are sifting through other people's forgotten junk for the very valuable prizes. While pushing some of the dynamics between the different people bidding on abandoned storage units (and Dave Hester's stupid "Yuuuuuuupppp!!!!") can be a bit annoying, this show is addictive if only to see what strange things they'll unearth every week and how much money they can make off them. Don't know if it satisfies the "arts" in A&E, but it sure satisfies the "entertainment."
Dylan McDermott's Ass
There have been a lot of great things about American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's haunted house drama on FX, but there are none finer than Dylan McDermott's ass (except maybe Jessica Lange's delightful scene chewing). It is the opposite of scary. It lures you in with it's beauty and then you realize that he's standing there masturbating and crying and it's a little off-putting but you're still fascinated and then you're just a little bit shocked. The whole show is kind of like that, slowly winning you over before creeping you out. Kudos to Murphy for getting through a whole season of something without fucking it up.
Ever since Melrose Place (the original not the CW abortion from a few years back) I've been waiting for a slightly campy, totally amazing, look-at-rich-beautiful-people-doing-insane-things soap opera and I finally got it. It's like Dynasty for the Occupy Wall Street age, where we get to watch the 1% misbehaving in the Hamptons while watching one sick bitch singlehandedly take down the 1%-ers who did her father wrong. There's been mistaken identity, a coma, hidden cameras, bisexual trysts, gunshots, and a murderous stripper already—amnesia is just a delightful step away. The only thing that could make this show better is if Eric van der Woodsen and his ridiculous accent were lost at sea.
Just as I predicted this is the show that I didn't watch that people keep telling me I have to watch. I watched like the third episode with my roommate and it was good, but Sunday was so crowded, so I still haven't watched it, but it is hot. It is getting the buzz sister. So, yes, I'm finally going to watch it. This week before all the other TV shows start. I promise. Now stop telling me about how great it is.
Hating The Killing
How bad was The Killing? It was bad. AMC really screwed the pooch, left it out in the rain, made it call her kid on a really old cell phone, miss its plane about 17 times, and then didn't find it's killer. Am I right? Man, everyone hated this show, and I agree with you. Of all this year's let downs, this was the let downiest of all. Season two doesn't stand a chance.
When people tell you that this show is on PBS and it's a Gosford Park-esque drama about the residents of a manor house and their servants, you think, "Yeah, that sounds OK, but it's kind of dull." Oh, you thought wrong. There is nothing more fun and strangely compelling than this British import. It's not just upstairs/downstairs, it's highbrow/lowbrow soapy drama at its best.
Wanting Billy on the Street
I was going to tell you about how awesome comedian Billy Eichner's game show where he accosts New Yorkers on the street and forces them to answer trivia questions is. Look at how hilarious the promo is! It just debuted in December. But then, right before it started, Time Warner Cable went and dropped Fuse, the channel showing it. Thanks for ruining 2012, jackass.