The Best Television of 2010 According to a Real Televisionary

Hey squirrelfriends! Autostraddle asked me to say a few words about television in 2010 and considering all of the FEELINGS and OPINIONS that I have on the subject, I had to say yes.

The only caveat I have here is that I’m just one person with one person’s opinions, ergo I am only going to write about the shows I watch. I’m sure you’re all going to have a whole lot of yelling to do in my general direction once you read this, so feel free to sound off in the comments. And I’ll feel free to ignore you!

Let’s start with my 20 favorite shows of 2010, ranked in no particular order and nominated based on overall watchability:

Best of 2010 – Scripted

1. Community
2. Parks and Recreation
3. 30 Rock
4. Weeds
5. Nurse Jackie/US of Tara (tie!)
6. Grey’s Anatomy
7. True Blood
8. Mad Men
9. Modern Family
10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
11. Party Down
12. Gossip Girl

Best of 2010 – Reality

1. RuPaul’s Drag Race
2. The Fabulous Beekman Boys
3. Tabatha’s Salon Takeover
4. Top Chef Just Desserts – I want Yigit to bake things for me all the time! Also: THE RED HOTS WERE FOR MY MOMMY!
5. On the Road with Austin and Santino
6. Jersey Shore
7. Project Runway (even though Gretchen won)
8. Kell on Earth

Best Moment – Russell takes over the news on True Blood (HBO)

I mean, come on. Russell zoomed in, ripped the anchor’s spine out, and then uttered some of the most fantastic lines of dialogue I’ve ever heard: “Why would we seek equal rights? You are not our equals. We will eat you. After we eat your children. Now, time for the weather. Tiffany?” If that didn’t blow your mind then maybe you’re dead too.

Runner-up: the last 5 minutes of the Weeds episode “Boomerang” where everything goes to shit. That’s a really brilliant episode. Stephen Falk is awesome.


Best Comebacks – Gossip Girl (CW) and Weeds (Showtime)

Both of these have had awesome years. Like, really really awesome.

Biggest Disappointments – The Office (NBC), How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

I’m a big fan of both of these shows but they’re starting to show the signs of their old age. I have no idea what will happen when Michael Scott departs Dunder Mifflin at the end of the current season of the Office, and I almost don’t even care who Your Mother is anymore! But Mindy Kaling, girl, you’re still awesome.

Party Down

Worst Cancellation – Party Down (Starz)


Best New Show – NONE OF THEM!

JK I guess. I dunno, 2010 wasn’t a great year for new shows. If I had to choose I guess I’d say Boardwalk Empire and the Walking Dead. Both were big-budget epics with awesome production values but were a little a disappointing. And I really enjoyed Showtime’s The Big C as well.

Best Person on TV – Lizzy Caplan

She should be on every show. EVERY SHOW. Luckily what could wind up being the best show of all time is hopefully coming our way soon.

adventure time

Best Animated Series – Adventure Time! (Cartoon Network)

A brilliantly bizarre series about a boy and a dog who use math and magic to solve puzzles and battle crazy characters in some sort of trippy candy land. I can’t explain it any better than that, you just have to watch it. It’s really unique and fun.

Best Thing About SNL – Stefon

He’s also the only good thing about SNL right now! I also generally love the Digital Shorts and I’m weirdly obsessed with the Miley Cyrus Show. I also liked the ladies of SNL special they did, where all of the amazing SNL alum ladies (and our perennial fave Kristen Wiig, who has been tragically underused lately) had a Real Housewives-style fake reunion hosted by Andy Cohen himself. But all of these special appearances just point out how good the show used to be, which just bums me out. They’ve had a lot of awesome hosts this season and have managed to make a slew of underwhelming episodes. But I’m hopeful for 2011… they’ve got Jim Carrey hosting in January!

Best Show I’m Embarrassed to Watch – Cougar Town (ABC)

They have acknowledged how awful the name is, if that helps. It’s universally praised by critics and is actually really, really funny, albeit a bit cheesy.

Worst Show I’m Embarrassed to Watch – Glee (Fox)

Good lord, where do I even begin? The second season of Glee has been even worse than the first. I’m going to get too ranty if I start listing all the problems with Glee. Anyone wishing to engage in a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of Glee can meet me in the comments!

Real L Word

Worst Way To Meet a Bunch of Lesbians – The Real L Word (Showtime)

Whether you loved it, hated it, or loved to hate it (guilty!) this show sure did inspire a bunch of feelings! Unfortunately it was kinda boring and weirdly edited, but once we got to know the ladies of the Real L Word in real life (see what I did there?), it turned out that they were all pretty cool!

Craziest Finale – Mad Men (AMC), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

My first reaction to Don Draper’s proposal was “FAAAAAYYYE!” and my second reaction was “sorry new girl, nobody hit your buzzer.” But now I guess it makes a little more sense. Bonus points to the lovely scene of Peggy and Joan bonding near the end of the episode, which made me SO SO VERY HAPPY. And the Grey’s finale with the shooter on the loose in the hospital wasn’t an original premise by any means but it was executed to near perfection. Welcome back into my good graces, Grey’s!

Best Rewatching – Newsradio

After being robbed of my weekly Maura Tierney experience when ABC canceled The Whole Truth a few months ago, I turned to my collection of Newsradio DVDs and let me tell you, these are still really really funny 15 years later.

Best Television Recappers

If you’re like me, it’s not enough to just watch tv, you have to fully experience it as well. And to that end I am a big proponent of tv recaps. In my humble opinion, the best/funniest recappers around are Rich at fourfour, Richard Lawson at Gawker, Jacob at Television Without Pity and our very own Riese! REEEEAAADDD!

Best 2011 Shows – FROM THE FUTURE!

I’m excited to see Episodes and Shameless on Showtime, and Skins on MTV… but goddamn I am SO EXCITED about Portlandia coming to IFC. Fred Armisen and my own guitar hero Carrie Brownstein take their ThunderAnt shtick from the web to television. And I’ll say I’m cautiously optimistic about The Cape and Mr. Sunshine. As far as midseason premieres, I’m so happy to see Parks and Recreation (NBC) and RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo) return in January. And if you missed it on Sundance, Be Good Johnny Weir is coming to Logo in 2011!

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lots of pizazz.

Carly has written 48 articles for us.


    • Glee is full of obnoxious stereotypes and characters who make everyone want to tear their hair out; the plot is by turns inconsistent, predictable, and unbelievable; the music is autotuned (and often butchered) versions of either overused classics or annoying pop music; gay men are given a ridiculous amount of coverage, while lesbians are relegated to the girl-on-girl fun in the background.
      HOWEVER: Lea Michele, Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer, the occasional AMAZING song, and Brittana.
      Brittana is complicated. Brittana is a little piece of every high school lesbian’s experience. Brittana gets a whole episode revolving around them, but then the writers pretend it never happened.
      Glee is fantastic one day, and insulting and damaging the next. Glee is an abusive relationship.

      • WELL SAID. Glee is infuriating. Brittana is its saving grace. And Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch. Everyone else can bugger off. Terribly written, completely preposterous storylines, uneven everything… ugh.

        • Thank you! I want to like Glee, I really do. I love making fun of teen dramas, I love wit, I love musicals. I should love it. But I don’t.
          I too could write a graduate thesis on everything that’s wrong with the show. Jane Lynch I love, but Sue Sylvester is just TOO over the top. She’s got some terrific one-liners, but the novelty wears off after a while. Her raison d’etre is to enable the writers to get away with saying offensive things that you can’t say on TV without receiving death threats.
          Few of the female characters are likable, and those who are are only stock characters who are not likely to get a tremendous amount of character development. Like Brittany–the dumb blonde caricature. She won’t be able to develop much because her likability comes from her stupid cartoonishness.
          But every other female character I want to punch in the face.
          I like many of the song covers, and I love Mike Chang (I have a thing for Asian dudes), but everything else…I don’t predict that the show will go beyond 4 seasons.

          • It’s so true! (I could watch Mike Chang dance all day). Iit’s like, Glee has somehow managed to succeed with a broad mainstream audience (it is on Fox after all) but has completely alienated it’s at-a-glance core demographic of homos, homopals and theatre lovers. Someone once described it as a “smart show for stupid people” and I think that’s totally spot-on. So I guess that if Glee helps middle America to be ok with gays or whatever, then that’s fine and dandy. But let’s stop nominating it for awards, mmkay?

            On paper I should love this show, but the reality is that it’s just a disaster.


          • I totally agree with y’all. I have a few things to add:
            1. One of the biggest problems with Glee is Will. I find him to be consistently creepy, underhanded, and malicious. In the Christmas episode, he TWICE walks in on the kids doing something awesome and sweet and then berates them for it. The show doesn’t seem to acknowledge this at all and continues to present Will as a saintly hunky hero.
            2. There’s something off about the show’s pacing. It’s… bumpy? I can’t quite describe it but watching the show is frustrating in the way walking behind a slow person is. Does that make any sense?
            3. If the school is so poor, why is it so beautiful and shiny and why does the glee club have so many props and sets and rain machines and stuff? WHY?
            4. It frustrates me that the Cheerios are in uniform all the time because Santana is so beautiful when she lets her hair down.
            5. With all this in mind, why can’t I stop watching it?

          • Will is THE WORST and also I never understand how the glee club has all these fancy sets and costumes when they have no money, and they can be constantly singing random songs that have nothing to do with competing in sectionals/regionals/whatever-als.

    • I’m still upset that they pushed back parks and rec for that racist show that took over their time slot.

      • True story: I originally had a section of this post entitled “Worst Decisionmakers: NBC” but eventually deleted it because it was so negative. But: SRSLY.

        • I feel like that is a thing that would require an entire article on its own. I’m not sure that a brief section is adequate enough space to discuss how ridiculous NBC is. However, that is a thing I wish you’d left in.

  1. Yes on Community! The best comedy on TV right now in my opinion. Paintball episode=perfection. Episodes like that, much like the Buffy musical, consistently push the limits of what is put on television and what people can expect from it.

    As far as Glee goes, it is just about unwatchable now. It seems to have become too self-aware and now it constantly changes and adjusts to answer to its critics instead of just doing what it does best.

  2. Man you watch a lot of TV. How do you get the time? Not snarky, I seem to be too disorganised to get in all the great shows. Weeds was epic this year

    • Well I work in TV, and I love TV. So it’s always somewhat higher on my priority list than it probably should be.

      Also, having a DVR helps!

  3. Yes, I was bummed too when my weekly Maura Tierney fix went away. Newsradio is still one of the best comedies ever!!

  4. I read Portialand instead of Portlandia. :DDD –> :'((((
    Also, a big YES to Community and Cougar Town.

  5. I cannot wait for game of thrones. CANNOT WAIT! Sad about caprica… but I wasn’t surprised. I liked The Good Wife and Dexter. Julia Stiles killed it. … har har har.

    sorry bad joke.

  6. I think I just met my televisionary match– get out of my head it’s creepy lol. Also, met Tatianna aka Joey from RDG out in DC– I think I creeped him out a little bit haha. For real though I agree with your choices hands down!

    How do people feel about Parah Sailin’s reality show?

  7. no sarah palin’s alaska? anyone? it’s like my favourite show right now. like an episode of wife swap where nobody swaps.
    oh hi comment above mine.

    • If I get near cable, the only shit I ever watch is outdoorsy reality stuff, so Yes I have Totally Seen It. thanks to xmas vacay. It’s a pretty well made show and it’s fun to watch, mainly because Alaska is so beautiful and Palin’s kids kind of obviously hate her. She seems all right, just kind of dumb, and her endless mugging for the camera/parading her kids around is obviously a bit much, but hell, Alaska looks fucking amazing.

      Also: Dual Survival would be on my nerd list of totally awesome outdoorsy reality shows. ANYONE?

  8. I largely agree with you on stuff! Community is basically my favorite of ever, and Parks and Rec and 30 rock and party down and it’s always sunny are my respective jams.

    Pros of Glee: hot chicks, songs, hot chicks singing songs
    Cons of Glee: incomprehensible, ridiculous, autotuned songs

  9. I think The Big C was the best new show this year. I’m not sure if this is a spoiler alert, but the last episode made me cry for like an hour after it was over.

    The worst show of 2010 (and I think ever, actually) was Better With You. I was SUPERMEGAULTRA disappointed that they squeezed it in between The Middle and Modern Family. It totally ruined my otherwise perfect block of Wednesday night tv that started with Jeopardy and ended with Cougar Town. Now I have to fucking change channels when it comes on because I can’t stand hearing even one word of it. I really, really hope it gets cancelled or at least moved to another night.

    • The Big C was like, so so good. I was a little irritated with Laura Linney (who i always just love as a general rule) from time to time but overall it’s a really quality show. The last couple episodes were emotional disaster zones for me. I just really want her to get her pool…

    • My dad was diagnosed with cancer right after this show aired, so every show either made me unbelievably happy, or left me sobbing for hours.

      That last episode…Jaysus. Too much for my little heart.

  10. heyyy look someone else watched and enjoyed The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Farmer John crying over the goats was…intense.

  11. pretty good list but where’s dexter??? the finale could have been better but a pretty solid season overall.


    gend of
    the seeker

    CARA MASON. omg (see also: Kahlen Amnell/Bridget Reagan. unffffffffffffff)

  13. Reise is terrific at recapping. The best is probably Heather Hogan. Television Without Pity’s recaps were a fail back when they were MightBigTV and I have seen no improvement. Concerning new series, did you not see Louie or Terriers? Both were very good.

  14. Wow. Redic. I agree with you on, no joke, EVERYTHING in this post (even down to the rankings). The whole time I was reading this all I was thinking was “Me too!”, “Word.” and “Oh, I know!”

  15. I did not watch TV in 2010. There was a show on in the 90s with a nun wearing a brown nun outfit, talking to the camera. Is there anything like that on TV presently?

  16. For me:

    Best Scripted: Spartacus Blood and Sand, Vampire Diaries
    Best Reality: Jersey Shore! OH YEA!
    Best Moment: I agree with you
    Biggest Disappointments: True Blood
    Best Comedy: Modern Family/Cougar Town
    Worst Cancellation: Legend of the Seeker. WHY?!?
    Best New Show: Spartacus Blood & Sand
    Show I am embarrassed to say I watch: Degrassi
    Best Finale: Spartacus Blood & Sand (Prob the best finale I have ever seen)

  17. my feelings w/r/t television in general:

    I live in a dorm and my old-ass TV isn’t hooked up to cable, so the only things I watch are VHS tapes I got at the thrift store (two episodes of Arthur and a whole season of X-Men Origins).

    Even while I’m at home I don’t really watch any TV because Glee sucks this season (with the exception of the Britney Spears episode because Britney Spears is my childhood) and I prefer to do other things. I do sometimes look at Logo in the guide and sigh because my parents decided to buy the DirecTV package that includes Showtime but not Logo. Logo was playing a marathon of Daria earlier this month (Daria was likewise my childhood.), and I was very disappointed that I could not partake.

  18. umm.. how did you give jersey shore best reality then go on to say youre Embarrassed to say you watch degrassi. DEGRASSI FTW. i’m watching it right now.

    • I LOVE DEGRASSI SO HARD. I had (and, thanks to Netflix Instant, continue to have) a huge crush on Ellie.

  19. sometimes, i think i watch too much tv.
    you guys make me realize tv is a lesbian staple.
    thanks for making me feel like a better english major/lesbo.

  20. Um, kay. DEXTER. WEEDS <3. US OF TARA needs to come back soon.
    Also, I can't make up my mind how I feel about Glee.

    Other than these, I mostly just re-watched L Word a lot.

  21. I agree with pretty much all of this but mostly… Jane Lynch should’ve stayed with Party Down, either way… cancelled? WTF?! And News Radio. Yes.

  22. here is my list

    Shows I watched in 2010
    1. Intervention
    2. Law & Order until I moved and didn’t have a TV anymore
    3. The Office
    4. Glee
    5. The Real L Word
    6. Almost anything on Current TV
    7. Pretty Little Liars

    You guys I think Intervention was the best show I watched this year

  23. i dont have cable, but my top picks for the year have to be:

    1. Modern Family – the show that brought the family sitcom back. i literally laughed myself to tears during the pilot episode when cam brought lily out to the lion king music.

    2. Vampire Diaries – sure damon borders on the ridiculous with all that sneering and stefan is well, boring, but my god is this good. and nina dobrev does an absolutely fantastic job playing two roles. the best show on the WB, hands down.

    Best old show i’ve recently discovered: Greek. ABC family can do no wrong. the only other show besides modern family that makes me laugh out loud.

    Still cant decide if i like: Bones
    – it’s season 6 and suddenly theyre bringing in a new, serious gf for Booth? youve got to be kidding me. this could not get any more depressing. im just waiting for hannah to get antsy and run off to iraq, leaving seely all vulnerable for Bones to step in.

  24. omg freudian slip, i meant the CW.

    but who doesnt remember the good old WB frogger days?? buffy, dawsons, roswell – swoon….

  25. Fuck yes Weeds. Such an incredibly awesome season. It was fun again, FINALLY, and it was just so good.

    I wrote “HOLY SHIT WEEDS” on my friend Josh’s FB wall 3 times this season, after the episodes ‘A Shoe for a Shoe’, ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Fran Tarkenton,’ and I think that is as many times as I’ve written that on his wall the previous 2 seasons combined.

    I re-watched the last scene of the season finale about 6 times. Because HOLY SHIT WEEDS.

    Also, I loved everything about Nurse Jackie. Edie Falco is just perfect.

  26. I suppose Skins isn’t on there because we’re only doing American shows?

    As for Glee, I used to be a huge fan but I’m really starting to sour on this show. It was great in the first half of the first season, but it started to go downhill in the back nine and it’s REALLY jumped the shark this season. If this show stopped caring about big spectacles and stupid stunts and focused on actually developing its characters and creating relationships we care about, it could be great. But it won’t do that. Also, less pop songs I hate, more show tunes and other stuff show choirs actually do! But, again, their main audience is stupid teens and they’d rather cater to them.

    Jettisoning Brittana for Barfie is really what did it for me. Or maybe it was the realization that I couldn’t care less whether Rachel or Finn get back together. But I’m almost ready to give up – it’s only Jane Lynch and the Kurt storyline which keep me coming back. I’m almost thinking of skipping the Valentine’s episode since it’s supposed to be a huge Barfie fest.

    • No, Skins isn’t on here because this list only consists of shows I watch (there is a disclaimer of bias at the beginning).

      I agree, Artie and Brittany bums me out. I hate how he talks to her like she’s a child (I also just hate how he talks in general but that’s neither here nor there) and I want her back with Santana!

  27. Oh my god, Carlytron, you are my TV soul mate. I literally agreed with every word you wrote. That never happens!

    Marry me?

  28. Oh man, I want to like Community and Parks and Rec, but I just can’t. I don’t get it. The acting is meh, the gags are overdone. I don’t think I’ve laughed once in the dozen or so times I’ve Hulu’d them. So disappointing. Glee, while an absolute piece of garbage from a writing standpoint, is at least interesting enough to watch guiltily with the shades drawn. But whatever. I’m still bitter about Arrested Development.

  29. Carlytron and I have spent our New Years so far watching a Party Down marathon which makes me so happy and so sad that there will not be more to watch in the future!!!!

    Fabulous article by a fabulous lady!

  30. my favorite recapper-folk is the autostraddle Real L Word recap. its hilarious! since my break up with the girl included breaking up with showtime (sad) i found the Real L Word recap on auto to be more hilarious (if that was even possible!). cannot wait to read about season 2!

  31. Carly! What do you think of/have you seen MISFITS?

    I cannot wait for Parks and US of T to come back! Also, totally agree about Glee. It was really cute, fun and refreshing when it first started but I just keep losing interest as the storyline and character development dwindle. I know the gays love Kurt, but personally I’m annoyed by the amount of time spent on his coming out story (stories?) this season. Like you mentioned, it’s great that middle America is seeing this, it just feels DONE to me. It has become the season of Kurt and frankly, I don’t like it.

    • Misfits is the best show ever. Simon is the cutest pervert, Nathan is the cutest jerk, Alisha is the cutest hottie. I wish I was in the UK so I could fangirl over them in real life.

      This’ll have to do.

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