The Best TV of the Decade

I love the TV. Have since the parents let me have HBO and 50 some-odd other channels down in my basement bedroom way back in those heady Madisonian suburbian days of my youth. What joy was had with “Rhonda’s ‘UP! All Night'” on USA and all the 1980’s amazing MTV goodness. What amazement was cherished by this young lad with every occasional late-night bare breast on HBO. What memories I have….

And so…the years float by, TV programs come and go (remember “Get a Life“? “Herman’s Head“?)….and we tune the fuck in. We love and hate and waste away the hours staring at a box; living though those flat images as if these characters were better (or worse) versions of ourselves and aspire to make changes to become (or stop ourselves from becoming) them. We close our eyes and see colorful places filled with action and adventure and laugh tracks.

Watching the game.

David Foster Wallace wrote an excellent (and incredibly in-depth) essay on the subject called “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” that was included in his 1997 collection “A Supposed Fun Thin That I’ll Never Do Again“. While the essay’s examples are a bit dated, I still highly recommend it to anyone interested in TV, it’s relationship with the viewer, and it’s impact on contemporary literature.

On to the list….(and yeah, this list is a bit late to really matter. I mean, haven’t we all moved on, past these lists and started already creating NEW lists in our minds? Doesn’t really matter, as I suspect about five people might read this)….

Okay, let me start out by stating that I’ve never seen The Wire nor have I been blessed by the Shield. I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, and I’ve only seen a few episodes of the UK version of the Office. Freaks and Geeks remains unwatched but is right up there on my NetFlix queue, while Undeclared was an absolute joy for me throughout it’s short run. I’ve never gotten into Firefly, Dexter and Buffy, but….well…there’s never enough time in the day. Oh…and I had NO idea how to categorize Band of Brothers, so…while it was AMAZING, I was forced to leave it off both decade’s best lists.

  1. LOST
  2. Sopranos
  3. Six Feet Under
  4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  5. Mad Men
  6. South Park
  7. The West Wing
  8. Arrested Development
  9. Family Guy
  10. Deadwood
  11. The Office (US)
  12. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  13. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  14. Survivor
  15. Eastbound & Down
  16. Weeds
  17. How I Met Your Mother
  18. Flight of the Conchords
  19. Extras
  20. MythBusters
  21. Anthony Bourdain No Reservations
  22. Scrubs
  23. Robot Chicken
  24. Chappelle’s Show
  25. Journeyman

And, of course, no list would be complete without the honorable mentions:

  • Simpsons
  • Entourage
  • Big Love
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force
  • American Dad
  • Andy Richter Controls the Universe
  • Man Vs Food
  • 30 Rock
  • House
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Undeclared
  • The Colbert Report
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • United States of Tara
  • Dateline: To Catch a Predator
  • King of Queens
  • Blind Date
  • Futurama
  • Dirty Jobs
  • Deadliest Catch

So, there you have it. What did I forget? How wrong am I? What were your favorites? Here’s to some great TV in the 2010’s. May those warm boxes be forever turned on, and may we wide-eyed masses be forever tuned in.


  1. Go Phish · January 12, 2010

    Is 1-25 in “order” of what you think is best?

    IMO no way is Lost deserving of #1… I’ve grown tired of the show after season upon season of more questions and no answers. The only reason I watch now is I already have so much time invested in it I feel like I need to see it through… But it’s certainly not a show I look forward to.

    Arrested Development, for me, is the best show… of all time, not just the decade. 😉

    You need to get those Freaks and Geeks disks, pronto.

    • ryanwiz · January 12, 2010

      Yes, to answer your question, they are listed in ascending order from best to worst. Also, as to LOST….”more questions and no answers”!!??? Did you watch Season Five!!???

      • Go Phish · January 12, 2010

        I did… and while it was a lot better than season 4, it was still frustrating. Seasons 3 and 4 were the worst!

        Hopefully the fact that they’re going to have to wrap things up this season means the episodes won’t be disappointing… but really, I really don’t see this ending well considering all the questions they’ve raised. Hopefully they prove me wrong!

        Also, while I LOVE Always Sunny, IMO it’s too high on your list. Seasons 1 and 2 were great but it’s kinda gone downhill, the recent episodes have been very hit or miss.

  2. roncap · January 13, 2010

    I have many of the same favorite shows. Especially Man vs. Food. My 5 year old son and I watch it religously, we even have it Series DVRed. That show cracks me up in so many ways. The milkshake episode was the best.

    Living just outside of Philly after the Philly show we went to both the roast pork place and tony luke’s . He son was so excited to be at a place that Adam was at.

    Ahh to be young again…

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