The Top 15 TV Shows of the 2000s

The 2000s saw a lot of TV. Some bad, some worse. But, there were some exceptional programs. Here are some parameters:

A) No reality shows. While some are good, I'm not going to include them on my best of 2000s list. MTV, the progenitor of the genre, continued to produce the best in this style with shows like True Life, Made, and Rob & Big. Of course, this parameter prevents the inclusion of the incomparable (and deplorable) Man vs. Beast.

B) No variety/comedy/news/talk shows. This was where TV in the 2000s really took off with the continuation of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Soup, and late night shows, particularly Late Night with Conan O'Brien (not The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien) continuing to impress.

C) No shows that only me and a few other people know of because of their limited reach like the Wake Forest University Channel's Sports Night show where someone would inevitably get naked (speed bag!) or the greatest show of all time from Bloomington's Community Access: Lennon Beasley's Drum Show.

D) No shows that were funny to start with and then had probably the worst final episode ever which ended up not actually being its final episode having another network attempt to revive it from the pit of dispair (I'm looking at you Scrubs).

E) Shows must be ones in which I have seen almost every episode, or as many as I could have. I'm not relying on shows I haven't seen but have heard good things about. This leaves out some you might want to put on a list (Wonderfalls, Weeds, How I Met Your Mother, Rome, Dexter, Heroes, 24, Lost, Yo Gabba Gabba, I dunno, whatever it is you kids like).

Enough with the anticipation.

15. Office-UK (BBC2, 2001-2003)
  • Hilarious, yet heart-wrenching mockumentary that maps the trajectory of human relationships in the most quotidian of settings: the workplace.
  • It was understated, realistic, and had the ability to pull the plug when the love theme was losing its pull: all reasons why it is here and the American version is not.
  • Fav clip
14. The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007)
  • HBO's gangster epic about human beings in the midst of a seemingly alternate universe that is actually right under our noses.
  • Fav character
13. Boomtown (NBC, 2002-2003)
  • A cop show that presents the story from various angles of the crime, letting the viewer investigate deeper into the lives that are involved than simply solving the case.
  • A sleeper on this list. What Law & Order should be: better arching narratives that connect a weekly crime caper.
  • Marky Mark's brother is in it, and is really good.
  • What is more vain than vanity? This is. It tackles the big issues (gun control, abortion, religion, international relations, and the Revolutionary War) in the most pointless of contexts (a bar run by five inept individuals)...and it is hilarious.
  • If the rest of the show were to be the worst show ever, it would still make this show for Season 4's concluding rock opera: The Night Man Cometh! Now in theaters near you!
11. Six Feet Under (HBO, 2001-2005)
  • The same emotional and familial prying we love and expect from HBO set in a funeral home and dealing with death to death.
  • Probably ranked higher than The Sopranos because I can relate to it more. And by more I mean very little.
10. Mad Men (AMC, 2007-pres)
  • Men from the early 60s dress in nice suits, womanize, drink, smoke, and make a buck...and are sad while doing it. Women dress in nice dresses, pine, drink, smoke, have babies, drink and smoke while having babies, and attempt to work...and are sad while doing it.
  • One of the smartest, sleekest, and design-iest shows ever. Also, great uses of natural conversational pauses and dead time, in general.
9. Party Down (STARZ, 2009-pres)
  • Aspiring actors (in life disguises as caterers) work a low wage job and make us, but not each other, laugh along the way.
  • A great blend of subtle and over-the-top humor, great dialogue, and better one-liners than 30 Rock.
  • Watch this show if you have not (Netflix watch instantly!).
8. Freaks and Geeks (NBC, 1999-2000)
  • Judd Apatow's great coming-of-age, brilliantly acted high school dramedy from the lineage of The Wonder Years.
  • Probably my personal favorite show of all time, but not the "best."
7. Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006-pres)
  • Sports and relationships in small town America.
  • Acting, acting, and acting.
6. Huff (SHO, 2004-2006)
  • Ensemble cast about a shrink (Hank Azaria) with family probs out the waz.
  • No season 2 on DVD are you kidding me!
5. Arrested Development (FOX, 2003-2006)
  • A mockumentary about the Bluths, a highly dysfunctional family, who attempt to survive corporate fraud by the least effective of means.
  • The smartest pure comedy show ever with meta-jokes for days!
  • One of many fav scenes.
4. Extras (HBO, 2005-2007)
  • Ricky Gervais as a movie extra making moves for his big shot, blundering all the way.
  • Ashley Jensen wins the award for best female in any show ever. The special series finale was one of the most poignant bits of TV ever - itself a commentary on the industry and pop culture.
  • Fav scene
3. Veronica Mars (CW/UPN 2004-2007)
  • A sassy and hilarious Encyclopedia Brown (Kristen Bell) solving capers in the context of meaningful meta-themes: racism, classism, and sexism.
  • I'm not kidding, this is a fantastic show that's everything I like about TV. 1 part escapist entertainment, 1 part slick writing, 1 part good acting, 1 part clever storylines that involve both single-episode and season-long arcs, and a dash of the greatest setting ever for TV: the high school.
  • Trailer that doesn't give away too much (excuse the crappy quality).
2. The Wire (HBO, 2002-2008)
  • A heady look into all aspects of American inner city struggles: crime, morality, politics, education, economics, race (etc., etc., etc.). If that's not ambitious enough, it finds time to create unparalleled character development.
  • Hyperrealistic: except for the framing music, it only uses diegetic music.
  • Undoubtedly, the greatest television program ever. However, I had to make this list interesting and a bit unique. But to be clear: there is no reason in actuality why this would ever be number 2.
1. Skins (E4, 2007-pres)
  • Ensemble cast of British teens struggling with life and love as they end their high school years - what an edgy teen dramedy on HBO might look like: drugs, sex, parties, relationships.
  • Disclaimer: I haven't seen the newest season (with a new generation cast) since I don't live in England.
  • Trailer for the first generation

Just missed the cut: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Summer Heights High, Undeclared, Pushing Daisies
Best news program: CBS Sunday Morning
Guilty pleasure that still doesn't warrant a spot on list: Ghost Whisperer
Shows that you like that don't belong on the list: The Office, 30 Rock, and Sex and the City.


Chad Crawford said...

Whaaat? I just saw on the Wikipedia page that there are Brazilian, French, French-Canadian, and German adaptations of The Office in addition to the American one.

Chad Crawford said...

I'm going to have to refer back to this for Netflixing and Huluing. You're a trusted source for good TV.

Mark said...

Cool post! We watch a lot of British tele and I was having a hard time thinking of 2000s tv to comment on. I would add House to your list (and then go back and watch everything that Hugh Laurie did before House) as well as Black Books, a favorite from across the pond. I'd strike Sopranos, sorry. And Veronica Mars (what is the _deal_? Perhaps I should watch it. No, must...stay...strong. Sandy once talked to me about postmodernism & Lebowski references in VM. I wanted to punch him in the face. I reiterate, I've never seen it...). The Wire is the best American television I've ever seen. The Corner was good too. I've been curious about Skins, I'll likely check it out now, thanks! Other decent 2000s Brit offerings: The IT Crowd, Wire In The Blood, Blue Murder, Second Sight.

Brit favorites not from this decade: Prime Suspect, Sandbaggers, Danger Man, and Red Dwarf. Lesser efforts (but still worth it) are A Touch Of Frost, The Prisoner, Lovejoy, Neverwhere, and Chef! (what can I say, I love cooking), and countless others.

And I really like The Incredible Hulk.

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