Our Top 10 TV Shows of 2010

While they may not have been the year’s most critically acclaimed or the country’s most popular, each the following shows made this TV Addict’s Top 10 of ’10 for the simple reason that each week, they left us jonesing another fix. You know those people who say “less is more?” Yeah, they’re totally wrong. As the following programs prove, too much is never enough.

You don’t have to have the investigative prowess of Kalinda to figure out THE GOOD WIFE’s recipe for success: Take an astounding array of classically-trained theater vets (Christine Baranski, Josh Charles and Alan Cumming, among others); toss them into a tried-and-true case-of-the-week format; season with more political intrigue than can be found during a combative session of Congress; and have the resulting potboiler simmer under the watchful eyes of husband and wife writing team (Michelle and Robert King) with a knack for tapping into the culture-zeitgeist. Voila! 

To be honest, past seasons of this show haven’t exactly blown us away. In fact, we’ll admit that our reaction bordered on boredom. (And it was an incredibly friendly border, much like the one between the U.S. and Canada.) But this season, we finally “got” what the rest of you have been seeing. As Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce struggled to remain a relevant player in the game — and its employees tried to prevent their personal lives from either imploding or exploding — we were caught up in the misadventures of the most fascinating ad agency since MELROSE PLACE’s D&D.

Even in the embarrassment of riches that is ABC’s Wednesday night comedy line-up, this show stands out, mainly because the Dunphy/Pritchett clan has something many other sitcoms forget to include: heart. It’s not just funny, but relatable. Suffice it to say that when every episode requires a minimum of two viewings to catch the multitude of jokes, heartwarming family moments and hilarious “Quote of the Week” candidates that you may have surely missed, you’ve got yourself a winner. 

Oh, NBC, is there nothing you can’t screw up? Just as this diamond-in-the-rough was shaping up to be a gem of a show, you went and pulled it from the line-up. But the little-show-that-could shook off its reputation as a clone of THE OFFICE thanks not only to Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope becoming less of a Michael Scott knock-off and more of a loveable woman with her own set of ideals and idiosyncrasies, but also to an expansion of the canvas. As a result, we got the charming Andy/April romance, Tom became something more than just “that annoying guy” and we began to see the softer — if only slighter — side of Ron Swanson. 

Hey, now that that other J.J Abrams show — you know, that thing about people stuck on some magic island or whatever — is off the airwaves, why not give this intriguing sci-fi drama a try? In its third season, FRINGE has pretty much shaken off the freak-of-the-week gimmick that it used to lure unsuspecting viewers into its parallel-universes-at-war mythology, resulting in a slick, thought-provoking, action-paced series with more twists than can be found in a bag of pretzels.

We’re not exactly fans of horror, and yet this show quickly became the thinking-man’s zombie series. Our only complaint? What’s with this six-episode crap! Come on, AMC, who do you think you are… Showtime? Now, we either have to suffer through the eternal wait until fall’s new batch of episodes or read the graphic novels. Read? Never fear, AMC, we’ll sit here waiting patiently. Um, semi-patiently.

If all this show brought to the table was the funniest and most likeable adult ensemble since that coffee addicted gang from Central Perk, that’d probably be enough. But throw in the fact that the show fearlessly goes where no sitcom has gone before — from an apocalyptic paintball war to stop-motion animation — and this becomes a game-changer. And just when one thinks it’s all gimmick, they go and break out a stunningly heartfelt episode like the one in which Troy’s 21st birthday saw the classmates downing drinks and losing inhibitions at a local watering hole. Belly up to the bar, kids, ’cause this is a weekly shot of good time.

We’re not sure what executive producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson did before they were writers, but professional circus performers would not surprise us in the least. How else to explain the way in which they manage to juggle countless characters, umpteen plots and ever-evolving relationships? And you don’t know cliffhangers until you’ve sat through of the jaw-dropping ones offered up by this series on a weekly basis. Just like with our beloved BUFFY, this show no doubt is ignored by those who believe that it’s nothing but teen-friendly fluff. Trust us, this is no TWILIGHT-light. This is a supernatural show with — forgive us — bite.

Since award shows no longer seem to feel the need to recognize Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s remarkable achievement, we thought why not take it upon ourselves. Don’t scoff! We’re well aware that being included on our Top 10 List isn’t quite akin to an Emmy, but frankly, we’ll stack ourselves up against those nimrods who think “The Tourist” is worthy of a Golden Globe nod. No matter how you felt about the show in general or its much-debated ending, there’s no denying that LOST was the kind of show people will be talking about — and studying — for years to come.

We’re betting that Conan O’Brien didn’t intend to go from the host of a late-night chatfest to the subject of much late-night chatter. But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade… and hand it out to your rivals so they can wash down the crow your return forces them to eat.

  • Yay Conan.

    Agree with them all. Except for Mad Men, which I haven’t caught up to. And I don’t believe I will ‘get’ it anytime soon.

    I would replace it by Dexter and Breaking Bad, and maybe True Blood too, even though it would ruin the ’10’ part of the Top 10.

  • Nick

    TVA: Are these in any particular order, 1-10, 10-1, or just a random list?

    Also, thanks for recognizing LOST, the one show that legions consider the best series in TV history.

    (Funny how those irrelevant awards shows just kept finding ways to nominate The Sopranos, Boston Legal and Monk long after they’d left the airwaves…but this remarkable show [obviously too ingenious for the voters] gets the cold shoulder. May the smoke monster devour them.)

  • Finally, a list I can completely agree with.

  • Alison

    I agree on everything, except for Mad Men because I haven’t watched it yet, but my DVDs are waiting on my shelf. The other 9, however, are my favorite TV shows. I’ve read a lot of lists for Best TV Shows of the Year and thank you for finally recognizing The Vampire Dairies! I didn’t show up on many other lists and it is my favorite drama on TV right now.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know how you could leave Dexter off the list!

  • Good list, however Modern Family has disappointed me this season. And The Walking Dead was good, but not great. I’d have replaced them with the far superior Cougar Town and Breaking Bad.

    My list would probably be:

    1. Mad Men
    2. Parks & Recreation
    3. Breaking Bad
    4. Lost
    5. Cougar Town
    6. Fringe
    7. Community
    8. The Vampire Diaries
    9. Sons of Anarchy
    10. Friday Night Lights

    Honorable mentions: Party Down, Better Off Ted, Parenthood, Weeds, Terriers, The Walking Dead, United States of Tara, The Pacific, Dexter, 30 Rock, Nikita

  • They’re in no particular order! It’s hard enough picking 10 shows, I couldn’t bring myself to rank them. Particularly because they’re on the list for different reasons. Does the Top comedy win out over the top drama?

  • DEXTER was on my first draft, but got the bloody axe upon further reflection!

  • 30 ROCK, DAILY SHOW, FNL were all deserving, but unlike EMMY/GOLDEN GLOBE voters I thought it was time to recognize some fresh blood.

  • Charles Carmichael

    My top 10 as follows:

    1. Lost
    2. Community
    3. Dexter
    4. Fringe
    5. Chuck
    6. Friday Night Lights
    7. The Walking Dead
    8. Supernatural
    9. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
    10.True Blood

  • The wacky, award-winning mockumentary marked laughs of the modern drama of family rules and with its neighbors Wednesday night ABC Cougar Town, The Middle and better with you.

  • Same here, everything except Mad Men.

  • Girish Winchester

    I agree with Modern Family, Lost, Fringe, Community & Vampire Diaries! I tried some episodes of the other shows, but they didn’t spike my interest!

    My Top 10 would be:

    1 – Supernatural.. (This should have been on the list! One of the best shows in television history, now in its 6th season! This is my all-time fav along with Lost!)
    2 – Lost
    3 – Fringe
    4 – The Vampire Diaries
    5 – Dexter
    6 – Smallville
    7 – Doctor Who
    8 – The Mentalist
    9 – Chuck
    10 – House

    The comedies I liked are

    The Big Bang Theory
    Modern Family
    How I Met Your Mother

  • Raisedblunt

    i havnt been able to sit and watch any of these accept for lost.. which in my opinion is number one above everything. The ending might of sucked, but from start to end it strapped me in for the ride the whole way. Thanks for adding it. Giving gold where gold is needed.

  • sid

    exactly….supernatural should be on the top..