December 23rd, 2009 by thetvchick
I have been in love with all things TV since I knew what TV was. I grew up in the age of great TV. As any child of the 80s can claim, TV was almost a surrogate parent for me. As I got older, my relationship with TV continued to solidify and increase. In college, my roommate and I would keep the TV on practically from the moment we woke up until the moment we went to sleep. We’d wake up to Maury (don’t judge) and fall asleep to Frasier reruns. TV for me has always been a way to get invested in something that wasn’t my own life. It wasn’t necessarily a form of escapism, but more a way to enter the world of Central Perk or Neptune High.
I wouldn’t be writing about TV so much if I didn’t truly love it. When thinking about my list, I realized how subjective mine would be. There will be shows on there which I am sure everyone agrees with and some I might have left out. I decided that in addition to this list, I will include moments as well. Just naming a show is great, but I want to let everyone into my decade for a bit.
The first show that comes to mind right away is Friends. I realize that the show only had 4 seasons in the decade, but to me they were some of its best. One of my favorite episodes of all time (and there are way too many) is in the 9th season. “The One With Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner” centers around the gang’s arrival to Phoebe’s birthday dinner. Everyone (besides the guest of honor and Joey) are so preoccupied that they show up over an hour late. When the guests finally do arrive, Rachel and Ross brought Ross’ mom to watch Emma (they didn’t want to leave her), and Monica and Chandler are in a fight over cigarettes, ovulating and sex. Finally they all decide they are dedicated to the dinner, and Phoebe gets a call from Mike (boyfriend) and decides to leave to spend time with him. Eventually, everyone else (again besides Joey) leave to get back to their issues at hand. One of the best lines of the show comes at the very end when Joey says “Dinner for 6…for 1? You boys are about to see something very special.” The episode is also filled with many other amazing one-liners:
“Cigarettes in Hawaiian are called leilalalukus.” – Chandler, explaining his extensive knowledge of cigarettes to Phoebe
“Never hit a woman, never hit a woman. Ross bruises like a peach, he bruises like a peach” -Joey, when the gang takes too much time to order food after they finally arrived
Ross: “Kick up your feet, paint the town red!”
Rachel: “You really have to learn some new slang.”
This episode is just one of my many favorites from this show that made the friendship comedy what it is today. I remember re-watching this tape recorded episode, that a friend from college was kind enough to give my roommate and I, (DVR was just becoming sort of popular later in my college years) so many times that it eventually started to skip a little. Without Friends (and arguably others as well), there would be no How I Met Your Mother, or The Office. It was quite revolutionary in that respect. There was no star, no one standout actor. They were all a part of a cast of characters that grew, married, divorced, had babies and each got their moment in the spotlight. And as cheesy as this may sound, I feel like I grew along with them. I sat in my room watching the finale, crying as they gave in their keys–feeling like in a way, I knew this part of my life was over too. So I couldn’t leave this show off my list because it really will remain one of my favorites of all time, and definitely the decade.
The next show I consider to be a “best,” is Veronica Mars. Now I have to admit, in the age of DVDs and Netflix, I did not watch this show live. I don’t think my sole viewership would have saved the show from it’s way-too-short lived run, but I do wish I had seen it from day 1. I had always liked Kristen Bell, and my friend who introduced me to the show told me how amazing it was. We sat on her apartment couch (with her roommate’s crazy cats attacking us) and watched episode after episode. I think one time we watched four episodes of season 1 in a row without moving. I was addicted from the first few minutes. I loved every part of it: the cast, the mysteries, Jason Dohring… Rob Thomas is brilliant in so many respects and this show is his shining glory. One of my favorite episodes from this show was probably the finale of season 1 when everything comes to a head. (The finale of season 2 was amazing too). Veronica figures out Lily’s killer, almost dies, her dad saves her…you know the usual for a teenage sleuth. I wish that it had that 4th season with Veronica in the FBI because even though the 3rd season might not have been as innovative and amazing as the first 2, it was still Kristen Bell at her best, and I will always love it.
Another show which I did basically watch from day 1 (I think I may have picked it up around the 2nd season) is Gilmore Girls. Immediately, I was drawn to this drama centered upon a mother-daughter relationship because there I was growing up with a single mom, wishing that I had my Lorelai, and Friday night dinners. The quick-witted banter between the aforementioned duo was heartwarming, hilarious and lovely all at the same time. I realize that the last season might have gone off the handle a little bit with Luke’s daughter April and Lorelai and Luke separating for a while, but the six seasons prior completely make up for it. I was working on a top 5 list for this show a while back and I started out with a list of about 25 episodes. One that stands out in my mind is the third season finale called “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio.” Rory graduates from Chilton, and asks her grandparents to pay for her college education so her mom can start her own Inn. Another moment I remember so vividly is when Rory sneaks Lane a CD by using Kirk and a whole timed out system. Through town meetings, Inn fires, make-ups and break ups, Gilmore Girls was truly unique, and I could watch reruns of this show for the entire decade to come. And the theme song to this show, “Where You Lead,” sung by Carole King was a part of the show, too. The days of long title sequences is almost long gone, and I would always look forward to singing along with this one. To me, Gilmore Girls epitomizes the rise of the WB (now CW) network. It was one of the first shows that I felt really, truly invested in. It set a high standard in my mind for all future dramas to come.
Another show that makes my list without question is Arrested Development. I started watching this show in college, around the premiere of the 2nd season. If you know anything about this show, you know it’s all about call-backs and honoring their viewers. Once the DVDs came out, my roommate and I sat there watching episode after episode, and powered through the whole season in a matter of a few days. We were hooked. The cast was unbelieveable. Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Alia Shawkat, Michael Cera (before he became that Michael Cera), Portia DeRossi and Jessica Walter round out the show that centers around a dysfunctional family. Liza Minnelli also had a prominent guest role and she was hilarious. The show was critically acclaimed, but the ratings were not there. Fox threatened cancellation prior to the 3rd season and if I remember correctly the 3rd season was cut down in episode numbers. But regardless of the fact that it deserved more seasons and recognition, Arrested Development was one of a kind. It was funny, clever and continually pushed the envelope. One of my favorite parts of this show was the “relationship” between cousins George Michael (Michael Cera) and Maeby (Alia Shawkat). In any other context, this storyline could have been sort of gross. But I really was rooting for them all along. I loved Gob’s (Will Arnett) magic show antics, Jeffrey Tambor playing two different characters (Uncle Oscar and George Bluth, Sr.), Tobias’ status as a never nude and his famous line “I just blue myself,” and everything in between. Jason Bateman’s Michael was the “straight man,” but this show didn’t really have one. I could quote this show (and will) for decades to come. In the third season, the show constantly took subtle digs at Fox, and I really hope that a movie is in the cards. I think that Arrested Development really changed the quintessential definition of a “sitcom” and certainly a single-camera show in a great way. I can’t pinpoint a specific show it paved the way for, but it did make crazy characters a lot more acceptable (Michael Scott, anyone?) Mitch Hurwitz was innovative and brilliant, and I frequently find myself missing this show.
I was in my apartment with a friend, and she wanted to watch the season finale (season 2) of The Office. Sure, I said. I want to see what all this hype is about. Even with that one episode (and no back story) I fell in love with this show. I am a sucker for a good love story, and even though The Office is clearly so much more, I was drawn to that. I got the 1st season DVD shortly after, and as soon as the 2nd season DVD was out, I watched probably 3 episodes a day until I finished, often repeating episodes. I mean, with episodes like Booze Cruise and Casino Night, how could you not? Michael Scott is probably one of the most interesting and hilarious characters on television, and we hadn’t seen a show like this since, well–ever. The show was more about the characters and less about the setting (even if there were many clever workplace moments), and they were one of the first shows to use the mockumentary style of filming successfully. Sex and the City used it but phased it out because it was distracting. The talking heads commentary on The Office adds a lot of humor and gives other cast members the chance to shine. The Jim/Pam now-relationship (John Krasinski/Jenna Fischer) is probably my favorite romantic relationship on television. I think it’s because the show teased it for so long and finally gave us what we wanted. But we had to work for it. I remember sitting with a friend watching the 4th season finale, hoping, longing for that proposal that Jim planned. And when the credits rolled, we looked at each other dumbfounded wondering what just happened. When the 5th season premiere came along, the proposal happened, and it was incredibly perfect…even if it was in the rain at a gas station. It is those subtle ways of making the audience wait for perfection (and is there really perfection?) that makes The Office so great. I don’t know if I can pick my favorite episode, but maybe Casino Night has to be it. It got me hooked on the show, and it was the first Jim and Pam kiss of many. See my favorite Jim and Pam moments in honor of the wedding episode. The Office started in 2005, so it is a mid-decade show, and will still continue on through the next decade. Despite this fact, I still consider it one of the best of the decade and one that had me laughing and crying right along with it. Even during it’s filler episodes, I was amused by each and every character (even Toby) and I think it’s a brilliant show that really knows how to continue to keep it funny and interesting even well into the 6th season.
Honorable Mentions: I wanted to keep my list at 5 (best of the year probably will be 10), otherwise these 2 shows certainly would have made it. Lost is phenomenal television (it will be on my best of the year for sure). It continues to amaze me with its unknown world and new discoveries. I’m very sad that this will be its last season, but I look forward to what’s in store. How I Met Your Mother might be a Friends successor, but there is nothing like it on television. The concept is truly unique and the show is an amazing showcase of its ensemble. Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney Stinson might be my favorite, but everyone on that show is truly wonderful. Now if they could just tell us who the mother is…
I also considered putting on Law and Order: SVU and The Closer, because I love both of those shows but wasn’t sure how procedurals really fit into my list.
Readers Choice: I included this section because I got a lot of great comments from you about your top choices for the decade. Among those mentioned were: Battlestar Gallactica, The Wire, The Shield, West Wing, Alias, Friday Night Lights, Ed, and Rome. I hope all my readers enjoyed TV as much this decade as I did.
So I hope you enjoyed the story of my decade. There are shows and moments I may have forgotten, but to me, these are my standout TV moments of the decade. I look forward to another decade of great shows, as my relationship with TV will continue to grow with the times, and solidify even more than in the Aughts.Tweet