I was born and raised by the boob tube (no, literally. My folks didn’t believe in paying for baby sitters, so they’d post me up in front of the screen and go about their business while I learned life lessons via basic cable). Over the years, I’ve seen some pretty shitty TV shows (Think: Felicity, The Heights, Friends, or Mad TV). On occasion the clouds have parted and something beautiful has shone through, making the hundreds of wasted hours spent in a comatose state staring at the television well worth it. Here’s my picks of the Best of the Best (er, Worst?), in no particular order:
1. Weeds: Showtime’s hit series about a pot-dealing widow with questionable morals and a keen business sense is easily the best drama centered on the distribution of recreational drugs that I’ve ever seen.
2. Absolutely Fabulous: This is my favorite British comedy! The mis-adventures of Edina and Patsy, two chemically addled middle-aged Londonites, are piss-your-pants hilarious.
3. Coupling: Fuck “Friends”! It’s all about the original gang of urban dwelling singles, the BBC’s Coupling! Instead of pansy-ass coffee, these hipsters chill-ax at bars like normal fucking adults! They don’t use euphemisms for sexual activity, unlike their American counterparts on the aforementioned sitcom, and their exploits are actually entertaining, even without the suspense of a Ross-Rachel romance.
4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: If you haven’t watched this gem, you’re seriously missing out. What isn’t amusing about four failures operating a dive bar in Philly without morality or common sense getting in the way?
5. Veronica Mars: It’s a teen drama, I know, but it had a soul that it’s contemporaries didn’t. Ms. Mars navigates the sleazy world of Neptune, California as a part-time private investigator, a high school/college student, and a terminal smart ass. Socio-economic issues and sexism were addressed by Veronica & Co. with maturity that is rarely seen on American TV, especially in teen programming.
6. The Black Donnellys: I love gangster stories and Irish-American men, so this canceled drama stole my heart from episode #1. It tells the tale of four brothers that end up running the streets of their traditionally Irish neighborhood a la Boondock Saints meets The Sopranos.
7. The Daily Show: Politics and comedy are like Captain Crunch and Milk; sure you can enjoy them separately, but why would you want too? Jon Stewart picked up where SNL’s Weekend Update (hosted by Colin Quinn or Norm McDonald! Damn it!) left off.
8. My So Called Life: Who didn’t identify with Angela Chase, the girl that just wanted to break out of her nerdy shell and fuck Jordan Catalano, played by Claire Danes. We all wanted to be Rayanne, but were probably nowhere near as hip. I’m still not that fresh, but I have managed to nail that whole alcoholism thang!
9. Scrubs: I never thought Zach Braff was attractive, until I was ill & stuck in front of my television during a Scrubs marathon. My, oh my! Nerdy, insecure, comedic & philosophical doctors are super hot! Dr. Cox should have gotten a spin off devoted entirely to his insulting rants.
10. That 70’s Show: This is one of those shows that I can watch as re-runs any day of the week. I preferred Donna as a Red Head, Hyde without Jackie, and Eric pre-Africa, but who didn’t?
11. Freeks and Geeks: One of the few shows that had a female lead character that actually resembled a real female (rather than an over-sexualized caricature of one).
12. Chappelle’s Show: I will always be grateful that I watched Chappelle spoof R. Kelly in “Piss on You” and it’s remix. It doesn’t get much better, Bitch.
13. Animaniacs: Quite possibly the best children’s program of all time. The Wheel of Morality? Good Feathers? Slappy the Squirrel? Helllooo Nurse!
14. The Tom Green Show: There isn’t enough ridiculousness in American TV programming. Stupidity, yes, but full-on ridiculousness? Not since Tom Green. He did a Testicular Cancer Special documenting his own tumor removal, for fucks sake!
15. Reno 911: I can’t bring myself to look a Reno cop in the eye anymore. I can’t help but picture Officer Raynesha Williams or Lieutenant Dangle and that makes it terribly hard to take them seriously. Especially when intoxicated (thank god I can hop fences!).
16. X-Files: Call me a moron, but I still have a soft spot for the formulaic plots and recycled “truths” uncovered by Agents Mulder and Scully. Mulder always had some off-the-hook theory that no sane person would ever admit to even thinking up, while Scully always got logical on his ass with science and, y’know, reality. By episode’s close, Mulder would be vindicated & Scully would be his biggest supporter, even if nothing was ever solidly proven by the pair’s super-natural hijinks. Hey, the truth is out there bitches.
17. Trading Spouses: Reality TV is an abomination, but this televised sociological experiment is simply brilliant. Switch one parent from two households (standard two parent ones) and watch the fireworks fly! Few things are more entertaining than other people’s ignorance.
18. Alias: This spy drama had a continually evolving plot and a bad-ass female lead with an endless supply of fab disguises. What more could I ask for?
19. Dragnet: I still love this stupid cop show. Anti-drug crusader Sergeant Joe Friday took down “hop-heads” and “smack fiends” with complete disregard for civil liberties way before the Law & Order crew tried the same shtick.
20. Daria: Sarcasm at it's best! Daria Morgandorffer was (is) my hero, but I've previously modeled my hair style on that of Jane. No kidding.