2011 in Retrospect: TV I’ve Loved

It’s time again for my year-end retrospects! Last year I wrote about all the TV that I loved. This year I still love TV, even more so, if that’s possible.

There are the old standbys that I still enjoy, like Dexter (which isn’t as good as it used to be but I still like it), Breaking Bad, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and all the shows on my 2010 list. There are shows I used to like but can’t stomach anymore, like Sanctuary, which while incredibly silly was at least entertaining. Now it’s unwatchable. (Unless you’re Buffy, Community, or even Scrubs, please don’t attempt a singing episode.)

There are shows I want to like but am on the fence about. I was into Hell on Wheels at first, but now I find it boring, and I can’t decide if Allan Gregory is really funny or just cruel. And there are shows I had just about given up on but seem to be reviving, like The Simpsons and The Office, resuscitated by the king of smarm, James “Robert California” (best name ever) Spader.

Then there are the shows I just plain loved. Last year I limited myself to 10, but this year I’m listing them all. Enjoy!

Bob’s Burgers. Bob’s Burgers made an appearance in my mid-year update, and I can’t wait for it to come back, which it looks like won’t be till March. GAAAAH!!! Till then I guess I’ll have to made do with clips like this:

Game of Thrones. Another mid-year mention. Since the first season ended, I’ve read the first book of the series and am more than halfway through the second, A Clash of Kings. The show did a really good show translating the books to the small screen, and in some cases, filled in character development a bit more, especially with Daenerys. We’ll have to wait till April for the second season. Here’s the trailer to tease the shit out of us:

Winter is coming.

Parks and Recreation. Yet another mid-year mention. I first tried watching this show a couple of seasons ago, and I didn’t find it funny at all. Now I think it’s freakin’ hilarious. Ron Swanson cookies, anyone?

The Killing. Dreary and disturbing, the show follows a detective as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a teenager’s death. People liken it to Twin Peaks, but it has none of Lynch’s surrealism and camp. Instead it’s gritty reality (or rather, damp and chilly, set in wintery Seattle) as people struggle to keep their lives together.

Being Human. Because it’s on SyFy, I thought Being Human would be dumb, but it’s not. Smart, funny, and sexy, it’s about three roommates – a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost – trying to have normal lives. I remember seeing an episode of the original British version a while back, and till the American version came on, for the life of me couldn’t remember what the show was, and actually thought I had dreamed the whole thing. Weird!

Misfits. Speaking of British shows, Misfits is an awesome one. Imagine Heroes but not sucky, and with sometimes hard to understand British slang and accents. And nudity.

Torchwood. Another British SF show! I watched one episode a few years ago and enjoyed it, but didn’t watch it again. This year we watched the whole series, and really liked it. What’s not to love about an immortal gay time traveler and Welsh accents?

New Girl. I didn’t want to like New Girl. Everyone kept talking about how overly cute Zooey Deschanel was, and I really hate the whole manic pixie dream girl thing. But the show is really funny. Sure Deschanel is super cute but she’s also hilarious. Her delivery, her timing, her expressions. The secondary characters are funny as well, especially Schmidt, king of the douchebags.

Boardwalk Empire. This is a show that pulls no punches. Set during Prohibition times in Atlantic City, it centers on bootlegging gangsters of every type. In every episode something important happens, and these last few of the season have been FUCKED UP (in a good way), reminding me, very bloodily, that Martin Scorcese is an executive producer. Plus it has Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth “Omar” Williams, and this guy, who plays a very weird and repressed character but whom I’m starting to think is hot.

The League. This show is fucked up in other ways. Let’s just say there’s a lot of talk about male genitalia and the ripping open of bodily orifices. And it’s a comedy!

American Horror Story. Fucked up yet again! What’s scarier than deformed baby zombies, dissonant scratchy intro music, and a guy in a rubber suit? Not much, let me tell ya.

Revenge. My friend YP turned me onto Revenge during my NYC visit in October. A young woman returns to the chi-chi Hamptons to enact revenge on all the people who had a hand in wrongly convicting her father of a crime he didn’t commit. Revenge is a quality version of one of those 10 PM soap operas from the ’80s. The only thing I hate is that it’s on at the same time as American Horror Story so I have to wait till it comes on Hulu to watch it (the FX shows, like AHS, seem to take much longer to come to Hulu).

Grimm. Grimm is one of my new favorite shows. Set in modern-day Portland, a police detective discovers that he’s a Grimm, someone who can see fairy tale-like creatures for what they are, even in human form. Traditionally, Grimms hunt down such creatures, but instead this detective enlists the help of creatures like Monroe, a Blutbad, the big bad wolf in human form, to solve mysteries. Grimm also has excellent word play. Blutbad is German for “blood bath.” A mellifer – with meli meaning “honey” in Greek – is a bee-like creature; the queen bee is Melissa, which means “sweet like honey.” Roddy Geiger is a talented violinist, and Geiger in German means, you guessed it, “fiddler, violinist.” The only downside, it’s up against Fringe. Nooooooo!

The Layover. A new show from Anthony Bourdain. Where No Reservations is like a travel essay, giving you the whole experience of traveling, The Layover is the quick and dirty – You have 24 hours in Miami, where do you eat? – as well as hilarious and hunger-inducing. A bowl of assam laksa, stat!

Homeland. MB mentioned this show several times, but I thought it sounded boring. Boy was I wrong. Claire Danes plays a brilliant CIA agent hiding a mental illness, and Damian Lewis (Life) is a returning American POW who may or may not be a terrorist. Throughout the series, you’re never really sure who the enemy is.

Special shout-outs. Because all of this TV isn’t enough, right?

Somehow I was slow on jumping on the bandwagon that is Mad Men. It doesn’t fall into my usual favorite categories. It’s not a sitcom, animated, science fiction, fantasy, or a crime drama. Then MB and I thought we’d try an episode, and we were hooked. For a while we were watching an episode or even two a night (even more when we were hanging out at my parents’ in September) but recently we fell out of the habit. For me, the show became, “Well-dressed people doing bad things.” Not that I’m a prude, but I like to have some contrast. Anyway, I still think it’s a good show and will probably start watching it again.

Finally, when I heard that Community might be canceled, I was really bummed out and pissed. Sure, let’s keep dumb ass shows like Whitney and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, but throw out one of the funniest shows out there. Not just funny, some of its episodes are plain brilliant (the Dungeons & Dragons one especially, and the recent Christmas Glee send-up). Turns out it might not be canceled. I really hope not.

In case you think I haven’t written about TV enough, check out my bi-weekly series for Wordnik, Word Soup, which brings you strange, obscure, unbelievable (and sometimes NSFW) words from talk shows, sitcoms, dramas, and just about anything else on TV.

Next up in my 2011 retrospect series, What I Read.


  1. […] I watch a lot more TV than I read books, but I do read – about a book a month, sometimes less, sometimes more, […]

  2. […] series called Word Soup, in which I round up funny and interesting words from TV (and you know I watch a lot of TV!). I got invited to speak at the BlogHer Writers’ Conference and had a great time. I finished […]