Okay, I know I said that I would be posting here less, but The AV Club has started a month-long feature of the best pop culture of the 00s, and since I’m both a huge geek and a narcissist, it’s inspired me to make and share my own lists. So for the next 4 weeks, I’ll post my own favourite TV, music, book and movies of the past decade. If you want to post or link to your own lists in the comments, that would be cool, too. First up, television, or TV for short.
The 00s are the decade that TV really came into its own — they don’t call it the New Golden Age of Television for nothing. Assuming they call it that, which they probably don’t because it sounds pretty dorky, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that they are cooler than me.
Bragging about not watching TV has gone from making you a pompous wanker to a clueless fool. TV in the 00s is a little like the New Hollywood of the 1970s, when a medium that was dismissed by the cultural elite started to really matter, there was just a massive wave of creative energy and for a while, all these brilliant people were able to do what they wanted, how they wanted, and get away with it. These are my favourite series of the past ten years (counting shows that started in or after 2000). More or less in order, though really, it’s just The Wire in first place and the rest could be moved around without upsetting me.
- The Wire (2002-2008) Just an amazing achievement. Not just the best TV show, I enjoyed this more than any book I read or movie I saw from the past decade, too.
- Deadwood (2004-2006) It’s frustrating that it never got a proper ending, but it still makes it to the #2 slot for its contributions to fine art of profanity as poetry and the character of Al Swearengen.
- Arrested Development (2003-2006) Probably the densest, most quotable sitcom ever.
- The Office (UK version, 2001-2003) The last word in everyday social discomfort and humiliation as comedy.
- Planet Earth (2006) Does for the nature documentary what The Wire does for the police drama.
- Firefly (2002) In just a few well-told stories, managed to create a collection of characters I still miss to this day.
- The Office (US version, 2005-present) Once it stopped trying to duplicate the UK version, it managed to really come into its own as a comedy which even at its wackiest, is rooted in the personalities and shortcomings of its characters.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) There’s no denying that the show made some missteps in later seasons, but when it was good, God, it was epic.
- 30 Rock (2006-present) Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are an incredible comic duo, and when the script and supporting players help them out, it’s the funniest show on TV.
- Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009) Who knew that what the world needed was a quirky musical/sitcom about two kiwi musicians in New York? But it did, and now we have it.
Tentative late addition: I’ve only recently started watching The Venture Brothers, and I am floored by how brilliant it is — an animated action comedy that manages to be a parody of, homage to and deconstruction of superhero comics and cartoons (among other things), with intricate plotting and three-dimensional characters. Oh, and it’s fucking hilarious. I need to see more episodes before I can place it, but it will probably make somewhere onto my top 10 by the time I’m caught up.
The next ten, alphabetically: The Colbert Report, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Extras, Generation Kill, Mythbusters, Peep Show, Project Runway, Summer Heights High, Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job and Trailer Park Boys.
Honourable mention: Da Ali G Show, Dollhouse, First Person, House, John Safran Versus God.
Why this list is invalid: I kind of suck as a TV critic because I don’t actually go out of my way to see most shows until they’ve been on (or even over) for a few years. I need there to be a critical mass of people telling me to see a series, so I don’t end up wasting my time. So as a result, there are still quite a few beloved shows I haven’t got around to seeing yet. Feel free to tell me which are worth seeing/skipping, though. It all goes into my internal scoring system and once the threshold is passed, it is on. These are just some of the beloved series I’ve been meaning to watch one day — some of them I’ve seen a few episodes, but most I’ve never seen: The Shield, 24, Dexter, Lost, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, Undeclared, Metalocalypse, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Rome, Carnivale, Heroes, Pushing Daisies, Burn Notice, Band of Brothers, The Corner, The League of Gentlemen, Black Books, Jam/Jaaaaam, The Mighty Boosh, Frisky Dingo, The Thick Of It, Sons of Anarchy.
Incidentally: 1999 was a pretty awesome year for TV, too. Angel, Futurama, The Sopranos, Spaced, Home Movies, Freaks and Geeks and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart all would have had to find a place on the list if they has started a year later.