Sexy Rexy's Greatest TV Shows of 2011

While I do watch a lot of shows I just can't watch TV like Bill Simmons on Alan Seppinwall can. I also haven't seen any HBO or Showtime shows besides Entourage (which we'll get to in a second) so I haven't seen Game Of Thrones, Homeland, or Boardwalk Empire and with an extremely weak year in TV- I probably should have. Plus with Mad Men not airing in 2011 and me not being able to get into Breaking Bad this late in the game, I think this is one of my weakest lists since I've been doing this. (A great ringing endorsement for me and this post I know). But here's my list nonetheless.

However, before we begin, here's a list of shows that I watch that I could not bring myself to put on this list.

- How I Met Your Mother (CBS) Season 6 of HIMYM (which aired in the beginning of 2011) was pretty weak for the show and Season 7 of HIMYM (which just wrapped up) was horrendous. It was by far and away it's worst season and while I ranked the show during my midseason rankings, Season 7 definitively forced me to take it off.

- Entourage (HBO) Speaking of atrocious, Entourage's last season was the worst season it's ever had and that's a feat considering how terrible Season 6 was. The first three seasons of Entourage is, to me, some of the best television you will ever see but the show tailed off and tailed off quickly. The last half of Season 7 was amazing (despite Sasha Grey's acting) and I was hoping Entourage would build off of that for their last season. Boy was I wrong.

- The Office (NBC) Michael Scott's farewell tour was pretty touching and moving and it was great to see him evolve, but I think the show is now dead. The Office has been around for eight seasons and it's extremely hard to keep a sitcom going past that and even harder when the main character leavers (see: That 70's Show). Even Seinfeld only lasted nine seasons and was only funny for the first seven and half. Robert California is great but Michael Scott was the glue that kept everything together and Andy Bernard's not doing anything for me.

- The League (FX) This show is the quintessential example of enjoyable but not good. I LOVE this show and it's third season is its best season yet, but I can never bring myself to rank it because there's no character development. Great shows write an episode and then build upon that last episode to further enhance it. The League has never done that. In fact they'll write personalty points for characters just for a laugh and then never mention or touch on it again. The show is was it is and I wouldn't want anything more out of it, but it's just not a "good" show.

- Archer (FX) My friends are all obsessed with Archer and Sterling Archer is a great character but the show gets into season long ruts which diminishes the overall quality of the show. The first episode with "Countess von Fingerbang" was one of the shows greatest episodes. But then the show continued for an entire season more. Plus, season two never once mentioned "Danger Zone"! What the hell guys!

And now, onto the shows that actually did make my list.

10) 30 Rock (NBC)

While the show took the fall season off so that Tina Fey could have another child and so we could all see what a disappointment Whitney is, the show was still strong during the early months of 2011. And those episodes were good.

There was a huge stretch there where I was only watching the show because it was just second nature to me and not because it was funny. Not anymore. This past season stumbled a bit when Tracy Morgan had kidney surgery thus forcing Tracy Jordan to take a hiatus from TGS but as a whole, 30 Rock had a great season. The show reverted back to what made it good in the first place- Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) being high and mighty, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) having problems in her social life, developing the relationship between Jack and Liz, and having only bit parts for the writers of TGS and Kenneth (Jack McBrayer). The show took a huge step in the right direction as it moved from #15 in 2010 to cracking the top 10 in 2011. The show is still not as funny as it was in Seasons 1-3 which was somewhat disappointing to me because I have such high expectations for this show based on when it first came out, but overall Season 5 of 30 Rock was funny and a success and earned the number ten spot on this list.

9) Suits (USA)

USA is what it is. The shows seem formulaic and they are, but I'm a sucker and I love them. I'm also a sucker for law shows being that I am a 3L in law school.

Suits follows around "the best closer in the law" Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and his recent intern whom he hired Mike Ross (Patrick Adams). The USA catch? Mike Ross never went to law school. He's whip smart, has a photogenic memory and intellectually knows the law, but because he got caught cheating taking other people's tests (in fact he actually passed the New York Bar for someone) he was never allowed to go to law school.

Now as a law student and someone who has had law interning jobs, some of the things Mike Ross does frustrates me. I understand that he's never been to law school and so the show is trying to paint a picture of naivety, but he needs to learn common sense. Like most USA shows it has that edge about it that makes you enjoy it but unlike other USA shows and other USA shows on previous lists, Suits only is at #9 because the writing can get streaky at times. The show tries to make you sympathize with Mike and make you hate Harvey but if you look at the big picture, Harvey is always right. I'd like to see that writing tighten up as the show progresses but overall a very enjoyable program.

8) White Collar (USA)

I enjoy both Suits and White Collar but to me, Suits is just an inferior version of White Collar.

The show follows along white collar expert in the FBI Special Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) and smooth talking Ocean's-11-George-Clooney-esque con man Neil Caffrey (Matt Bomer) as a tag team duo catching a different white collar criminal week to week.

Like all original USA shows (and unlike FX shows) they are not *that* well written and are very formulaic and always have a happy ending but what I especially enjoyed about Seasons 2 and 3 of White Collar was that it finally wrapped up the series long conflict of what happened to Kate / why everyone was searching for the music box. The show found a way to still keep a season long mystery going in Season 3 (what happened to the art) and in the process took the relationship between Neil and Peter to another level. Deep down Neil Caffrey is a good person, but he's also a thief. He likes and cares for Peter but at the same time he needs to do what he can to save his own ass.

Sometimes you need mindless TV which will always put a smile on your face which is why White Collar earned the eighth best spot on this list.

7) New Girl (FOX)

New Girl is the only new show from the fall 2011 line up to make this list and it was the only show that I gave an "A" rating to during my fall preview. (Also, I don't care what you say Cubsfan, I will never watch Revenge). New Girl's pilot was hilarious. Jess (played by Zooey Deschanel) moves in with three male roommates, one of which was played by Damon Wayans Jr. Wayans also filmed a pilot for a show called "Happy Endings" and since that show was picked up, Wayans was contractually obligated to film that show and leave New Girl. Which was a shame because I loved his character Coach.

Then, FOX being FOX, did something stupid. Instead of refilming the pilot, they just wrote Coach out of the show completely and added a new black roommate- Winston. For a few episodes the show could not figure out how to effectively incorporate Winston into the show which dragged the show down. In fact, this season the show as a whole was trying to figure out what it wanted to. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. However, by season's end, New Girl has figured itself out. Let the hilarity ensue!

The show advertises itself that it's starring Deschanel and uses that as a hook to get people into the show, but the real stars of the show are the roommates- mainly Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Nick (Jake Johnson). This show could work without Deschanel (like a Two and a Half Men situation) but it would have an extremely hard time working without Schmidt and Nick. I've heard a lot of people not like New Girl because Jess is too quirky and too much of a caricature. If you think that then you're focusing on the wrong aspects of the show.

In the end, the show has found its groove and its just funny. I'm excited to see where the show takes us going forward.

6) Lights Out (FX)

FX is probably the best network out there in terms of original programming but it's sadly a station that nobody watches. AMC is the big up and coming station with two great and established shows such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad and even still AMC is having trouble attracting viewers. Needless to say FX is in trouble. Whether it is a sports team or a TV station, the best way to attract people to watch you is by putting out quality products. But as the Tampa Bay Rays as well as FX has learned, that philosophy has not always paid off. The best show of 2010 was an FX show called Terriers which got cancelled due to poor ratings and Lights Out unfortunately fell to the same fate.

Lights Out follows boxer and former heavyweight champion Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) from him scrapping the bottom of the barrel (and lower) to try and regain his glory days back at the top. Even with boxing movies such as Rocky, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, and most recently The Fighter, Lights Out felt original- mainly because nothing could go right for this underdog whereas the underdog always wins in the movies. Even when good things happened to Lights Leary and his family, even worse things would just pile on top and ruin everything again.

I encourage all of you to check out this show so I won't completely ruin the ending for you (which was jaw-dropping and amazing and heart breaking all at the same time) but even though the season ended like it was expecting a second season, it was a perfect series finale and the show was great enough to be the 6th best show of 2011.

5) Parks and Recreation (NBC) Parks and Rec does something special. It creates humor when people are actually doing their job well. Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) is fantastic at her job and in Season 4 she is getting the chance to pursue her dream job of becoming an elected official in the city of Pawnee, Indiana.

Season 4 did a great job of just letting the characters be themselves. Leslie did what she always does- creates amazing programs for the city of Pawnee. Ron Effing Swanson (Nick Offerman) is just Ron Effing Swanson. 'Nuff Said. Season 4 also allowed Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) be his douchebag, hilarious self when he opened up his own entertainment business- Entertainment 720 with the amazingly douchey Jean-Ralphio. And most importantly we got to see the relationship between Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) blossom and evolve. It's difficult not keeping two characters who you know will end up with each other apart. After three seasons The Office had to have Jim and Pam become a couple because if they dragged out that relationship any longer it would just start to upset fans. However, Ben Wyatt was introduced late into the show and I think the show spent the perfect amount of time keeping Leslie and Ben apart.

I loved what Parks and Rec did this season and the show has taken an amazing turnaround since its awful first season.

4) Community (NBC) I actually enjoy shows like Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock more than Community, but there is no other show like Community. It is so daring and bold and beautiful that I had to put it in my top five. The show is truly the comedy version of Mad Men- it's genius, it's great, it's like nothing you've seen on television, it's got amazing character development, yet nobody watches it. And unfortunately for Community (even though every single TV critic loves it) it doesn't get the awards and accolades like Mad Men does. Which unfortunately for Community caused NBC (who is already having ratings problems even though it consistently produces the best quality of television) to force Community on a hiatus when 30 Rock returns in the spring of 2012. I hope NBC comes to their senses and keeps the show on. Plus, if you're going to cancel a Thursday night show, Whitney is right there for the taking.

3) It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX) Always Sunny is having one of the best seasons its ever had. I mentioned earlier how it's hard to keep a sitcom going after eight years but Always Sunny is showing no signs of slowing down after its seventh season.

The reason I love this season so much is two fold. The first is that the show has mainly focused off of Frank Reynolds (I love the character as a whole and Danny DeVito does a great job playing the character but...). Frank works perfect as a side character feeding off of the other four and not as a central player (The Alec Baldwin Effect). The second reason is that the show is finally playing off of the insecurities of Dee, (fat) Mac, and especially Dennis. The show is still super dark (the gang tried to convince an IRS agent that Dee's "fictional" kid died by throwing a fake funeral; Frank proposes to a WHore who suddenly dies on him) but it's nice to know that even this messed up gang continues to have normal, human problems.

The show also manages to stay relevant (taking a page out of the South Park playbook) so they don't lose their creative juices. The show went to the Jersey Shore (although there was no semblance of the MTV reality show within the episode) and played off facebook/The Social Network and the underground cult documentary Catfish.

The show was always great from Season One and it continues to keep on getting better and better.

2) Modern Family (ABC)

For the past two years the best comedy has landed in the number two hole. I think it is just hard to rank the best comedy number one ahead of the best drama, as is true here. But make no mistake, the best comedy, here being Modern Family, is just as good in its own right.

Modern Family is just amazing and is far and away the greatest comedy out there.

Modern Family is not On Demand so the fact that I go out of my way to watch this show should give you an indication of just how good and hilarious the show is. Modern Family is one of a few examples on this list to make a great leap from Season One to Season Two. The show has always been funny but now that everybody has a firm grip on their characters (although Modern Family really wasn't one of the many shows to suffer from a lack of voice in its first season) this show is not only more hilarious but has deep heart and you're able to connect with its decently big cast (six adults and four kids spread across three families and generally at least three story lines an episode) along with building relationships between all the characters within the show.

The weird thing about Modern Family is that I can't really quote major lines from the show. Those who personally know me know I love to quote (or at least attempt to quote because I generally get the quote wrong) my favorite things and yet I can't do it with Modern Family. Just trust me though, the show is fucking hilarious and brilliant and is the best comedy of 2011 and the second best show of the year.

1) Justified (FX)

Jumping up four spots from my fifth best show last year to the best show so far this year, Justified's sophomore season has far surpassed its rookie one to rightfully earn the top honor.

Out of my millions of facebook friends (and by millions I mean 172. Don't feel bad, I purposefully delete those who I will never talk to again) only two of them watch Justified- and only one of them I actually continually converse with. So you need to watch Justified for the sole reason so that I have somebody to talk about this show with.

But in all seriousness Justified is amazing and you need to watch it.

The show follows around Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as a bad-ass U.S. Marshall stuck back in his hometown of Harlan County, Kentucky. The season started off slow (although it had a great premiere giving closure to the end of Season 1 while setting up the characters and story lines for Season 2) it picked up about five episodes into the season stepped on the pedal, hit a few babies and old ladies along the way, and never looked back with its last four episodes of the season being some of the best television in awhile. Three out of the last four episodes could have been the season finale for me (although one actually WAS the season finale) and each episode was just better than the last.

Season 2 mainly centered around Olyphany versus Mags Bennett (Margo Martingale) who is a rotund (to put it lightly) 60-ish year old lady who runs the weed business in Harlan County (NOTE: Martindale won the Primetime Emmy for her role as Mags Bennett and I was glad to see her phenomenal performance get recognized) versus Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), the bad guy from Season 1, and the Crowder clan. Mags and Boyd Crowder play some of the best and charismatic bad guys on television, but my favorite was one in Season 2 was one of Mags' son- Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies). They all just pull you into every scene they're in while being some of the ruthless, ill-hearted people around. You still want them to win yet also want Raylan to kick their ass.

I said in my midseason post that it was going to be incredibly hard to knock Justified out of the #1 spot and considering how weak the fall 2011 season was, I was right.

Here is a recap of my list:

10) 30 Rock (NBC)
9) Suits (USA)
8) White Collar (USA)
7) New Girl (FOX)
6) Lights Out (FX)
5) Parks and Recreation (NBC)
4) Community (NBC)
3) It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)
2) Modern Family (ABC)
1) Justified (FX)


Cubsfan4evr said...

Considering I watch almost as much t.v. as you I should do a post on my favorite shows. I will admit my taste in shows is different considering all of the sports I watch. We have some shows in common like Suits, White Collar, and sometimes I watch New Girl, but only in the background when i have time on OnDemand.

I don't like New Girl. I still watch it sometimes when I am bored in the background, but it seems to get worse each week. I can understand watching it, but making your top 10? Now that shouldn't be happening..............

You really should watch Revenge!! It's my favorite new shows and would make my top 5 shows now on T.V. You seem to have time on your hands which all of your blogs so maybe give it a few episodes because you will like it.