Our Top 10 TV Shows of 2009


Once thought of as “that show about the guy who has sex with three women”, BIG LOVE has moved so beyond its initial constraints as to feel like a completely different series. Despite it’s odd (and, to some, off-putting) pacing, the tale of the Henrickson family has become as complex as the religion at its center, thanks in large part to the unforgettable performance of Chloe Sevigny as Nicki, the immature second wife who is torn between her fundamentalist Mormon values and her childish impulses.  


It’s odd to realize that there is a huge segment of the population of who have seen this HBO series and probably never even heard of it until the much-buzzed about SEINFELD reunion. Those people will probably squirm uncomfortably upon hearing that this season saw Larry David inadvertently pee on a portrait of Jesus, very intentionally grasp a secretary’s love handles in a bid to save his own life, or wound up in a fist fight with Rosie O’Donnell. Those of us who witnessed his antics also squirmed uncomfortably… while simultaneously howling with laughter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


They may not be perfect, but COMMUNITY, PARKS & RECREATION, THE OFFICE and 30 ROCK have come together — flaws and all — to create the best two-hour comedy block since the heyday of Must-See TV. Better, these are not your typical set-up-followed-by-punch-line sitcoms, but rather what we like to think of as comedies for the thinking man in which the unguarded moments “caught” by the camera are every bit as important as the dialogue being spoken. Sometimes even more so. 


Who would have imagined that some of the best social commentary — not to mention concise media criticism and analysis — would be coming from the “World News Headquarters” of Comedy Central? What’s truly amazing about these shows is that they manage to combine politicians, pundits and celebrities into a breathtakingly funny cocktail five nights a week… a feat SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE can’t manage to do once a week.

The TV Addict with a few of Bon Temps’ finest at the 2009 Entertainment Weekly Comic Con Party

Yes, yes, we were a little late to the party. But thanks to HBO on Demand, we’re ready to sing the praises of Bon Temps, the little town where not only can anything happen, but when it does, it’s often in the nude. (Thank you, Cable!) While daughters everywhere were deciding whether to be on Team Edward or Team Jacob, TRUE BLOOD fans knew the real battle is between those who want to bare their necks for Bill and those who’d rather sink their teeth into Eric. That’s what we call a win/win.

Let’s have a show of hands: How many of you were reluctant to even start this season, bored at the notion of America’s favorite serial killer being saddled with a wife, two precocious kids and a new baby? Shame on us for having doubted the writers, who turned our notions of family upside down by giving Dexter a new nemesis who, like him, was both a family man and a serial killer. Unlike last season’s somewhat meandering and, in the end, almost pointless Prado plot, season four’s arc was every bit as twisted as the mind of John Lithgow’s Trinity. Better still (Spoiler Alert!) the shocking finale set the stage for the show to re-invent itself yet again, this time with Dexter as a single dad. It’s a tried-and-true storyline that on any show might quickly become trite, yet thanks to the fact that this year’s conventional set-up yielded what may well have been the best season yet, we can hardly wait.

The TV Addict parties with some of your favorite Gleeks at FOX’s Fall 2009 Launch

After years of COP ROCK punchlines, it looks as if television critics everywhere will need to look for a new scapegoat, because the musical dramedy is officially alive and well thanks to the students and faculty of McKinley High. Like most shows on this list, GLEE is not perfect. But it proves the power (and profit) of thinking outside the box and brings in the kind of demographics that cause happy-shivers to run up and down the spines of network execs.

We come not to bury the sitcom, but to praise it. What many expected to be a typical sitcom quickly proved itself anything but as America met and fell for the extended Dunphey/Pritchett family. What makes this show shine — aside from the wildly talented cast or the exceptionally sharp writing — is the family itself. Gay, straight, young, old, fat and thin, they are, in essence, us. It would be atypical for viewers to relate to any one member of a television family. For us to somehow relate to them all is what makes this FAMILY so dang perfect.

Not willing to rest on their laurels, executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse continued to step up their game with the show’s penultimate season. So much so that we’ll forgive them for raising more questions than answers (as usual), killing off major and much beloved characters (Juliet! Sob!)  and introducing the head-scratching notion of time-travel (Please don’t make us do math) because we know deep down inside that like those pesky Cylons before them, they have a plan. Or, um, they damned well better. Just sayin’.

Just how remarkable was FRIDAY LIGHTS this past year? Put it this way: This TV Addict is so desperate to discover if Coach Taylor can turn around the lacklustre East Dillon Panthers that we may have [or for legal reasons, may not have] turned to a life of crime downloading. Fingers crossed the judge is a fan. After all, if anyone will be able to sympathize as we revel in the small screen’s most endearing marriage (that of Eric and Tami Taylor) and the tearful farewell arcs for veteran cast members Zach Gilford and Taylor Kitsch, it’s a fellow Panther. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!

  • Linda B.

    Okay, I disagree w/ Dexter being so far down the list. That season finale alone should have given it the top spot. I cannot think of an episode, or should i say a final minute of tv this season that had me w/ my mouth wide open unable to speak at what i was witnessing on screen. Plus, kept me thinking about the shock of it for days!

  • Ace

    I like a lot of the shows you listed (Big Love, Dexter, Curb, and True Blood), but haven’t seen them yet b/c we have basic cable. Anywho, here’s my list (I know I’m quick on the comments today but it is so the day before vacation):

    1. Lost
    2. Pushing Daisies (*tear*)
    3. Chuck
    4. Modern Family
    5. Fringe
    6. Glee
    7. HIMYM/BBT
    8. The Office/30 Rock
    9. Better Off Ted
    10. Bones

    Honorable mention to my favorite basic cable show Psych and the best guilty pleasure of my week, Vampire Diaries.

  • Kelly

    Bravo on Modern Family and Glee, as well as the Thursday night lineup. I think these comedies are even better because NONE of them use the laugh track…

  • Josh Emerson

    Way to take the easy way out Addict. Grouping together shows that air on the same night instead of choosing them individually. 😛

    I cannot agree with Glee being that high on the list. The show is entertaining, but better than Dexter, NBC’s Thursday, and Stewart/Colbert? No way.

    Also, no Chuck?! The horror!

  • Dave

    Great list. I might have to pick back up on Big Love(I got bored after the first season) and I would agree at putting Dexter higher. FNL I just don’t know about. I don’t know what all the love is for. I would honestly have to put Dexter, Lost and Modern Family in the top three(no particular order) as they were the three shows that had me going crazy waiting for each episode, and none of them ever let me down.

  • Josh C.

    You will not be disappointed by this season of FNL. My only downside is the daughter of the woman riggins is staying with. Annoying lol

  • That you included Big Love at all is worth cheering for. I feel like everybody forgets how great that show is.

  • Those are some great choices. And byw, choices I actually watch. lol Love Big Love, Dexter, Glee, Friday Night Lights, LOST, Modern Family, and 30 Rock. Why aren’t those shows top 10? lol And least but certainly not last, True Blood. Ah, LOVE that show.

  • AJ

    I, too, only have basic cable. it’s always so frustrating that people focus and give awards to shows that I can’t afford to have access to!!! I get that they have bigger budgets, but I think it is like giving an oscar to something that was only released in NYC and LA, but no one else in the country got to see.

    that said, here’s my top 10, in no particular order:
    HIMYM / BBT (if we’re going to clump things together, LOL)
    grey’s anatomy/private practice
    monk (sniff) / psych / white collar
    pushing up daisies (sob)
    modern family
    heroes (I still love it, even though everyone else is over it)
    colbert report / daily show

  • Edward

    come on best shows of 2009

    1, the tudors (without question)
    2. FNL (im sry but lost shouldnt even be on the list )
    3. HIMYM
    4. House (glee is a fracking musical)
    5. Modern Family
    6. Dexter (dont know bout true blood i havent past the 2nd episode)
    7. Weeds
    8. Real time with bill maher (and if u put all thursday comedy agains 1 comedy theyll win in a 1vs1 agains BBT, HIMYM,, THM they lose)
    9. Sons of anarchy (i dont care if people dont like it its the next sopranos)
    10. I havent seen big love so i would say GG, Supernatural, VD, Criminal Minds, even californication (ok maybe not) im an undesided ten

  • paige

    now THAT’s a List! I watch all of those except John Stewert/ Colbert… Id put Ugly Betty though

  • OldDarth

    No ChucK!

    You mean old, grinch! 😉

    Seriously – good list except for the aforementioned omission.

  • Bob

    1) 24

    How easy we forget!

  • Julia

    Solid list, but my number 1 would have to be Sons Of Anarchy. This season was awesome.

  • I would include Big Bang Theory and take off one of yours, but Modern Family is rightfully up near the top.

  • The ”I can’t wait until next week episode” 2009
    10. Modern Family/Ugly Betty (2009 smart comedy/ 2008 funny-crazy comedy)
    9. Chuck/Nurse Jackie (Mr.Nice spy and Mrs.Bad Ass Nurse)
    8.Supernatural/Fringe (mystery)
    7.United States of Tara (One Toni Collete is nice. Four is awsome)
    6.Glee (love the music)
    5.Weeds (Nancy’s f** all the time)
    4.Damages (Patty Hewes x Ellen)
    3.Dexter (c’mon he’s a serial killer/dad now)
    2.True Blood (trash, but addicting)
    1.Grey’s Anatomy (the final season 5 episodes, and season 6)

  • LB

    This is a very good list! I love that FNL is #1, it’s just phenomenal. Lost and Dexter were also especially great this year. I would also include Sons of Anarchy and Chuck.

    And…sorry Edward, but there’s not way House is better than Lost. Just, no.

  • Sheindie

    Dexter, Lost, Heroes (great season 4!) Glee, Castle ( great chemistry) True Blood and Fringe (John Noble should win an award!) + USA has the ‘funnest’ shows w. White Collar and Psych

  • Sheindie

    oh, how could I ever forget Supernatural and Smallville – both going strong!

  • Filmmaker

    Ok so this list had about 3 good picks out of ten, I’m going to have to start doing more drugs to accept Friday Night Lights as number 1 for 2009 i guess though.

    Here are my Picks

    10) The Office
    9) Curb Your Enthusiasm
    8) The League
    7) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
    6) Pushing Daisy’s
    5) Better Off Ted
    4) 30 Rock
    3) Weeds
    2) Nurse Jackie
    1) Californication – absolutely number 1, this show is a brilliant answer to HBO’s Entourage. The season had you by the edge of your seat every episode and left you with quite possibly one of the best season finales ever.

  • TVFan

    Great list, even though you neglected to mention Damages, Sons of Anarchy, Nurse Jackie and Californication!

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  • Josh C.

    I would probably only have replaced true blood with the vampire diaries. it was def the better vamp show this season

  • j

    vd better than tb… if you’re 16. lol. no offense meant. but they going after completely different demos. i def would have replaced lost with pushing daisies, curb with nurse jackie, and big love with united states of tara, but only because i haven’t watched much past the first half of the first season.

  • Jennifer

    What about the talented writing and acting that is Flash Forward?…..I am of course kidding. But no mention of Mad Men is a definite oversight, in my humble opinion.


    Who ever wrote this list must have been high because i’m not seeing 24 anywhere on it. 24 is the most addicting show there is without a doubt.

  • Betty

    THIS LIST IS SERIOUSLY FLAWED- WHERE IS CHUCK, WHERE IS CALIFORNICATION?!?!? the best show ever. i just couldn’t stop watching that show. and i love white collar, and wow, LIE TO ME is INTENSE.


  • Vivek

    1. Prison Break
    2. Lost
    3. Vampires Dairies
    4. House
    5. Bones
    6. Tudors
    7. Crusoe
    8. Dextor
    9. Californication
    10. Chuck
    You cant get a better list than this one,seriousely man!

  • Dragon79

    Fringe is by far the best show on tv