Pictured above: Mad Men.
Yes, I know, it's already 2010. I'm sure by now 2009 is now a distant memory. We'd rather forget the year that cultivated both the recession and MTV's The City.
While it's a bit tough to summarize the best TV in a given year, as most shows run across
years, these five stand above the rest.
[Note: this list emphasizes scripted shows, not reality and talk show. If it did, the Wendy Williams show would be numbers 5 through 2 and Jersey Shore would be #1.]
5. True Blood
At first I was a little disappointed with HBO's smarter-than-Twilight
-but-still-hella-cheesy drama about vampires in the south. However, the second season proved True Blood
to be worthy of Alan Ball's talents. My annoyance with Anna Paquin turned into love for her drawling, fearless Sookie Stackhouse. Out of all the Nosferatu crap out there at the moment, this is the only one that works.
4. Nurse Jackie
You'd think medical shows are over and tired with, but not when Edie Falco is playing a badass NYC emergency-room nurse without the help of a stupid cane or forced-down-your-throat attitude.
Perhaps it's also because Nurse Jackie Peyton, who occasionally trades extramarital sex for Vicodin, is a little ethically unsound and doesn't just give the old “I'm here to save lives” routine. At times Nurse Jackie
pushes the quirk factor a little too heavily, but Falco is so likable and Peter Facinelli (who plays Falco's superior, Dr. Cooper) is so hilarious it doesn't matter.
3. 30 Rock
While the pop-culture jokes and clever cutaways are getting a little more predictable, 30 Rock
and Alec Baldwin still hammer it home every Thursday night. Season 3 was rocky at best, with a mass of celebrity-guest appearances keeping the show from having to come up with, say, plot lines, but this season has had some stand-up episodes with a new TGS cast member (Broadway's Cheyenne Jackson) and a bad Liz Lemon haircut.
2. Modern Family
Easily the best new show of the season, Modern Family
keeps the mockumentary-satire trend going strong with “interviews” and a “behind the scenes” look into the lives of three (one gay, one straight and one multi-cultural) suburban families. It's fresher than 30 Rock
and the novelty characters are reminiscent of those on The Office
back before they became total caricatures. Ed O'Neill's Jay Pritchett is among the funniest, especially in his relationship with his Colombian stepson, Manny.
1. Mad Men
Although the latest season of Matthew Weiner's stylish 1960s drama didn't nearly live up to the first two, Mad Men i
s still the best thing on television. Costumed, directed and written with both precision and wit, it's one of the few shows out there that never gets caught being predictable. New York Times
writer Mike Hale recently noted
that people love Mad Men
because “they feel that [the show] flatter[s] their intelligence, and because they confuse surface realism with some kind of deeper truth.” To Mr. Hale, who put Supernatural
on his top ten, I say: Shut The F Up.
Once we trudged through tedious episodes of Grandpa Gene's old coot shenanigans and Sally's lispy precociousness, the second half of the season delivered some whoppers [SPOILERS],
complete with a JFK assassination and an uncharacteristically upbeat season finale. And how can you beat Lois the secretary running someone's foot over with a lawnmower?
In fact, let's relive that moment right NOW: