I have to say, 2011 was one hell of a year for awesome TV. There were soooo many shows that had great seasons and great episodes that it was really hard to choose my top ten. And to think, Mad Men wasn’t even on the air this year. But I did it! I was able to come with a list of what I believe to be the 10 best shows of 2011. You may or may not agree and that is OK. But after careful consideration this is the list that I came up with for the year of 2011!
10. The Vampire Diaries
Over the past two and half seasons, The Vampire Diaries has become one of the best shows on television. I never could have imagined a show that aired on The CW that was about two vampires in love with the same girl could be so rich and compelling. What started out shaky in the beginning of Season one turned out be an amazing fast-paced and complicated story about love and family and how our family shapes who we are today. And thanks to terrific writing from Kevin Williamson, Julie Pelc, Brian Young, and Caroline Dries as well as outstanding performances from their superior young cast The Vampire Diaries has become more than just your average CW soap opera. There hasn’t been a single episode this season that hasn’t been top-notch and I honestly can’t wait for more.
9. The Good Wife
Neither seasons 2 or 3 have been at the level that season 1 was but somehow, the writers of The Good Wife made it work to make the show just as complex and compelling as it was in its first season. This show remains one of the best shows on the broadcast networks and I can only pray that CBS keeps it for the long haul.
I can honestly say that there is not a single show on television that is as experimental as NBC’s comedy, Community. Yes it may not always be successful during their experiments but most of the time what they do is so refreshing and hilarious that you can’t help but adore those wacky characters from Greendale Community College. The fact that this show isn’t being watched by more people saddens me because I honestly believe that it was one of the best shows on television. Come on people let’s give this show, #sixseasonsandamovie!!!
Who could have ever imagined that on a network filled with teen moms and those crazies from the Jersey Shore that there could be a real heroine to root for? Yes, Jenna Hamilton is just a fictional teenage character from MTV’s freshman series Awkward, but she became one of the best characters on TV this year. The show gave us characters to relate to by not censoring (well sort of, they did have to follow FCC/PTC guidelines) or hiding the awkwardness of being in high school. Yes this show sounds totally clichéd but instead Awkward’s creator Laura Iungerich combined the sentimentality of John Hughes with the raunchiness that is now MTV and it resulted in TV gold. I absolutely cannot wait for Season Two! Also kudos to Ashley Rickhards and Molly Tarlov for giving such great performances.
6. Game of Thrones
The second best new drama of the year solely belongs to HBO’s fantasy hit, Game of Thrones. This fantasy epic changed up the classic fantasy storytelling by choosing to not tell a story about good vs. evil and make it a story about complex characters in very complex and desperate situations. Not only were they able to capture the complicated actions of the characters from George R.R. Martin’s novels but they were also able to beautifully bring to life the world of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, completed with beautiful scenic mountain shots, Direwolves, and most importantly: Dragons. It also helped that there were terrific performances by Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, and Masie Williams. I can’t wait for April!!!
By far and away, the best new drama on television in 2011 belongs to Showtime’s freshman hit, Homeland. Damian Lewis and Claire Danes played the lead characters of Nicholas Brody (a captivating Damian Lewis), a war hero who returns home after being held captive in Iraq for 8 years, and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, who completely and wonderfully loses herself in the role) who believes that Brody is the American POW who was turned. What results is not just your typical cat and mouse game but a character study into how these two damaged individuals, and their family and friends (great performances by Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin), deal with these damaged people. This show reexamined the terrorism thriller by exploring that lives of individuals and how the war on terror impacted and changed their lives.
4. Friday Night Lights
Oh goodness I am already tearing up as I type about the end of this amazing series. The fact that this show can do that just proves how special it really was to me. Over five seasons I came to think of the residents of Dillon, TX as my own family; when they cried, I cried and when they celebrated, I celebrated. I actually that’s a lie; I celebrate this series all the time. But you get the point. This series will always have a special place in my heart, I will never forget you residents of Dillon. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.
3. Parks and Recreation
I don’t know how it happened but somewhere along the way, Parks and Recreation became the best comedy on television by being entirely optimistic and happy. There is something so refreshing about a show that can have their characters turn bad situations into something good. Just think about some of their best episodes last season or this season where bad things happened, the budget was cut but they still managed to pull of one hell of a Harvest Festival; Lil’Sebastian died but they pulled off an epic memorial service; or more recently, Leslie and Ben finally told everyone about their relationship and even though Ben had to resign and Leslie’s campaign advisors quit on her, they still managed to find the upside to the situation. Ben still got Leslie while the Parks department stepped up to help Leslie run her campaign. Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye from all that sweetness. Also, I cannot forget the awesomeness that is Ron Swanson. I honestly believe that he may be the best character currently on television.
I thought that in Season 1, Justified was a good show. I didn’t like quite as much as I liked Sons of Anarchy but I knew it had potential. And then they aired Season 2 and the potential that I knew the series had exceeded it way beyond my wildest dreams. The awesomeness that is Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder completely transfixed me this season. This modern day western (I use the term loosely) really showcases just how awesome and complex their story and characters were to their show by allowing their actors to completely embrace the story about family, greed, and regret. But I must say that the best part of Season 2 of Justfied was the terrific and heartbreaking performance by Margo Martindale as Mags Bennetts, who rightfully earned that Emmy for best supporting actress this year.
1. Breaking Bad
Let’s face it; I think until the end of this series, this show will most likely always remain at the top of my list. In season 4 Breaking Bad continued its stellar storyline with great ferocity. Their cast pretty much topped themselves yet again, especially Giancarlo Espositio, who became a TV villain I actually rooted for, and Dean Norris who really stepped up his A-game as Walt’s DEA brother-in-law. But by far the best part of the season was how the series complicated, even further, the complex dependent relationship between Walt and Jesse. All I can say is if you though season 4 was tense, just wait till season 5 when these two finally face off (pun intended.)
Other notable mentions: Cougar Town, Sons of Anarchy, Fringe, Shameless, Boardwalk Empire, Revenge, and Hart of Dixie.