Among all the seasonal traditions that December brings, the annual parade of “Best of” entertainment lists is something people greet either with tremendous joy or the brand of piping hot loathing reserved for a gaily gift-wrapped tube socks.
“Best of” lists force viewers to lay their cards on the table for all the world to judge, agree with or dismiss — sometimes with a heaping helping of vitriol. When said viewer happens to watch TV for a living, his or her list’s feedback section can get pretty ugly. After all, the pros are supposed to watch everything and therefore have impeccable filters that enable them to confirm that your idea of what shows are the best on television are, indeed, correct. Or, conversely, the pros confirm what you have known all along, that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Here’s the deal: Year end lists are often subject to the whims of the writer at the time of the list’s creation, as well as said writer’s memory and the amount of time the listmaker has to compile his or her selections. For the most part, they are carefully considered; the best listmakers formulate their annual round-ups throughout the year. A couple of not-to-be missed Best of TV lists include Alan Sepinwall‘s and James Poniewozik‘s; I would also stay tuned for Mo Ryan’s and Jace Lacob‘s.
Above all, it is important to remember that every End of Year List reflects one person’s opinion. Critics, like everyone else, are human beings with individualized experiences that inform which TV shows they’ll gravitate towards.
Given that fact, there are going to be some wonderful series that no amount of placements on Year’s Best lists can persuade people to watch. Case in point: many, many viewers consider the fourth season of “Breaking Bad” to be some of the finest TV drama ever made. But there are just as many (if not more) who would rather have their molars scooped out with a spoon than watch it. Conversely somebody out there considers “Harry’s Law” to be one of 2011 finest TV products, and you could not convince that person otherwise. However, you may be able to steer them towards other series they might enjoy just as much.
That idea brings me to my end of 2011 list: Instead of declaring which shows were at their “Best” during the past calendar year, I’m taking a different route and sharing which shows I most enjoyed watching and recommending, because the concepts are not necessarily one in the same.
Mind you, many of the series on my list of Ten Reasons We Loved Watching TV in 2011 are common to a number of Best of lists. Others, however, probably won’t pop up on lists compiled by most critics. Take “Awkward,” for example. During a season in which half-hour comedies have made a comeback, one of the funniest on TV sneaked onto the air in the middle of July without much fanfare. But because it was on MTV, the network still besmirched by “Jersey Shore,” it had to wait to be discovered by the masses. Finding a gem like “Awkward” and telling people about it is one of the great joys of this job. Hence, Jenna Hamilton and her adventures in creating a so-called social life made the list.
To find out which other series made us love TV in 2011, click through to our list. And if my list moves you to do nothing else, please make your own list on IMDb and share the link in the comments section.