The best of 2011: The top ten TV shows of 2011
Published: Friday, January 6, 2012 - 9:54pm
2011 has been a busy year for Uni, the United States, and the world. The Gargoyle Staff has collected the most memorable moments, events, and cultural artifacts of the year. Print our list and put it in your time capsule or just read for enjoyment. Happy 2012!
Top Ten TV Shows
10. "The Office"
Centered around the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, "The Office" is a show that has become a very popular comedy series. As of December 8, 2011, 162 episodes of "The Office" have been shown on NBC. All eight seasons of "The Office" have been watched by millions of viewers. While some may argue that since Steve Carell (who plays the beloved Michael Scott) left the show "The Office" is not worth watching, I argue with this opinion, because despite the loss of Carell, there are plenty of other characters who provide a reason to watch the show.
Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson) lacks social skills, but this makes him all the funnier. He has a high dislike for office-mate Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinski) and the tension between the two is often highlighted. Jim's pranks on Dwight are quite funny as well.
There is some romance in "The Office", between Jim and a character named Pam. (If you, at this point, do not know what happens between Jim and Pam at the end of season four, and if you are someone who hates spoilers, please just skip the next paragraph.)
Jim and Pam get married at the very end of season four, which has always been a wish of Jim's. Since the very beginning of the series, Jim has been crushing on Pam, despite her long-standing fiance (Pam and her fiance were engaged for years, it became a running joke in the office, and eventually Pam dumped him and developed a relationship with Jim). The anticipation of Jim and Pam's romance and eventual marriage kept viewers coming in the first four season.
There are other characters that do their part to add to the entertainment that show provides. Kevin Malone (played by Keith Bishop), his jar of M&Ms, and his clueless demeanor show up frequently, as does Stanley Hudson (played by Leslie David Baker), his disgruntled demeanor, and his obvious dislike for Carell's character.
This award winning show, though possibly on a decline since Carell's leave, is a quality show with a realistic documentary-type portrayal of a working office. Seven seasons are available on DVD if you're interested. If you're an avid fan, the eighth season will be out in a month of two, for your enjoyment and entertainment.
9. "How I Met Your Mother"
"How I Met Your Mother" is a show about a man named Ted Mosby (played by Josh Radnor) who lives with his family in the year 2030. Just as the title eludes, the show follows events that led Ted to meet his children's mother. This may seem like a boring concept, but on the contrary, it's a very comical sitcom. It's been through six full seasons with the seventh currently airing on CBS.
This show has a unique aspect: it's all in the past tense. Because of this, there is a need for narration, which is provided by none other than Bob Saget. (If you don't recognize the name Bob Saget, just think of the show Full House. Bob Saget plays Danny Tanner.)
Another well-acclaimed actor involved with the show is Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney Stinson. Barney is a womanizing character who always has elaborate plans in order to sleep with some woman. He's one of those people who never plans to settle down, though he eventually turns away from his womanizing ways (although he has cycles where he goes back and forth, based on how a relationship turned out).
Throughout the existence of the show, there have been plenty of relationships. Each character dates many people, sometimes their best friend's past partner or someone completely new. Some couples tie the knot, but many of the relationships end disastrously. Trying to keep track of who has dated who leads to the forming of a large chaotic web.
All in all the cast is a very funny bunch, making this show successfully comedic. The idea is definitely unique and clever, and the episodes are set up so that the audience will want to keep watching the show. Even all the seasons end with some fashion of a cliffhanger that builds into the next season.
If you watch this show, I hope you stick with it until the end. If you want to start watching this show, the seven completed seasons are out on DVD. Though it will take a long time to watch them all, it's definitely worth it.
"House", or "House, M.D.", is a very popular and award-winning show. It's been through seven full seasons with the eighth currently airing. The show's central character, Dr. Gregory House, is played by Hugh Laurie, who is an acclaimed actor. He's been in many movies, several episodes of "Family Guy", and is actually quite a talented musician.
A majority of the seasons of "House" have been ranked in the top ten TV shows in the United States, and in my opinion, the 2011 episodes of "House" deserve to be high in the ranks. These episodes gained around seven million viewers on average, and they presented strange, new cases, just as in any "House" episode.
Just for clarification, "House" is a medical drama series. In most episodes the audience watches as a patient's illness is discovered, investigated, and, in the end, diagnosed and cured typically by Laurie's character. Though the illnesses are the main priority of the diagnostic team that Laurie's character works with, there are other conflicts that cause them to stray from their path. In the end, they figure it out despite the complicated mess they had to wade through to get there.
You can enjoy "House", even if you don't understand the relationships between people. If you started watching "House" this season, you might find yourself lost in the exchanges between certain members of the diagnostic team, or you won't get the references that are made. Despite that, you can watch as Dr. House unconventionally solves another illness, which is usually a humorous and fascinating task.
7. "Gossip Girl"
"Gossip Girl" is both a name of a TV series, and a name of a book series. The TV series is based off the books, which was written by Cecily von Ziegesar. "Gossip Girl" is a teen drama in every sense of the word, and that's why it is so popular among teens. It showcases plenty of drama and relationships to satisfy the viewing cravings of today's teens.
The show focuses on the lives of several privileged teenagers, who live in Manhattan's Upper East Side in New York City. The main characters are as follows: Serena van der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), and Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley). The two other major characters that appear regularly are Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr) and Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen). The relationships between all these characters produce a complicated net of confusion. Many couples are on-again, off-again couples and love affairs sprout up with many characters, sometimes unexpectedly.
The reason that the show is called "Gossip Girl" is because there is an omniscient narrator, voiced by Kristen Bell, that is a blogger named 'Gossip Girl.' Every episode starts the same way, with "Gossip Girl" saying, "Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite."
The introduction to each episode ends with, "And who am I?! That's a secret I'll never tell. You know you love me.. XO XO Gossip Girl."
The actors of "Gossip Girl" have won many Teen Choice Awards, reinforcing the idea that primarily teens enjoy this show. I'm sure there are older adults that enjoy "Gossip Girl", but I would imagine many people over the age of 25 would find this show too dramatic or trashy. There have been a lot of negative critiques of "Gossip Girl", many that say the show is "highly inappropriate" or "gaudy."
Despite the negative feedback, "Gossip Girl" gets a substantial amount of views per season. Many people like the show, and because of the popularity among teens, Gossip Girl makes the top ten list of 2011.
I have not watched "Bones", but plenty of my friends love this show. They always rave about the latest episode, talking about a character's romantic interest or some shocking twist of events that happened during the most recent episode.
With all this talk of "Bones", I must say I have become interested in the series. Unfortunately, I have no hope of catching up with what’s currently happening in the series, because seven seasons have already passed. The eighth is currently airing on Fox.
The main two characters in the show are Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel), who is a forensic anthropologist, and Seeley Booth (played by David Boreanaz), an FBI special agent. Though Brennan is more of a central character, both are equally important in the show’s main focus: solving possible murder cases by examining human remains.
Though the show focuses on crime cases, it has plenty of humor to counterbalance the serious subject matter. Other crime shows that I’ve watched, like "CSI", have this aspect in many episodes, and it’s appreciated. The murder cases are intriguing, but if murder, blood, dead bodies, and more murder was spewed at viewers, the show would be less attractive. A moving plot line, drama, conflict outside of a murder case, and other things of the like keep the audience coming back for more. And according to my friends, "Bones" exhibits these qualities in every new episode.
Every Tuesday on Fox, a show that has pulled in over ten million viewers (on average) per episode puts out a new episode to the excitement of their many fans. "Glee", just after two full seasons (the third in progress), has become one of the most popular shows in America.
There are tons of people who adore the cast, some who could care less, and many who dislike every aspect of "Glee". Despite opinions of the show, if you mention "Glee" in a conversation, most people involved in your conversation will know at least know what show you're referring to.
"Glee" is a musical and comedy-drama television series that focuses on a high school glee club. The members of the club routinely sing songs during the show, whether in competition or just at random. You can anticipate an abundance of singing per episode, as well as conflicts involving relationships, sexuality, and social issues.
Ryan Murphy, one of the creators of the show, recently held a competition to pull in new talent. The competition, called The Glee Project, ended up announcing two winners: Samuel Larsen and Damian McGinty. McGinty has already appeared in the currently airing season as a foreign exchange student named Rory Flanagan. Larsen has yet to make his debut, though it should be coming up fairly soon.
With talented singers, conflict in straight and gay relationships, as well as problems with social hierarchies, "Glee" provides plenty of opportunity for anyone and everyone to relate to someone or something on the show. Though the events and themes can be critiqued as stereotypical, the overall efforts and themes of the show are supportive and realistic in some sense.
If you want to pick up on a show, and if you don't mind lots and lots of singing, "Glee" would be a good option. But please, if you get annoyed with singing, don't try to watch "Glee". They sing. A lot. There is no doubt about that. But at least they sing well.
4. "Teen Wolf"
"Teen Wolf" is a brand new show. Its first season premiered June 5. It has been renewed for a second season, and it's already a hit in more than just the United States. The show is airing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and Canada. With around three million viewers per episode, "Teen Wolf" is building appeal each week.
The series follows a young social outcast named Scott McCall. One night, Scott is wandering in the woods and he is bitten by a werewolf. After the incident, Scott himself becomes a werewolf and now must face the issues that arise with his transformation. Two people are there to support and help Scott: his best friend, Stiles Stilinski (played by Dylan O'Brien) and a mysterious boy, Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), who also happens to be a werewolf.
Critics actually like "Teen Wolf". There have many positive critiques of the series, thus far, and with the rising number of viewers, the show is likely to big and even bigger hit next year. There are plenty of aspects to keep audiences interested, such as supernatural creatures, romance, action, comedy, and, the best of all, teen drama.
The series is off to a great start and in years to come it is projected to be an even bigger hit. It'll be another one of those shows that will be watched by a lot of teens, mostly because of the teen relationships and the drama that ensues throughout. I'm not saying that adults won't watch this show, I'm just speculating that teens will most likely be the projected and most interested audience.
3. "True Blood"
"True Blood" is a TV series based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels by Charlaine Harris. The book series focuses on the co-existence of vampires and humans in a fictional town in Louisiana called Bon Temps. The TV series takes place in Bon Temps as well.
In Bon Temps, there are plenty of normal people, but there are also vampires, shape-shifters, telepaths and other supernatural creatures. The main character of the series, Sooke Stackhouse (played by Anna Paquin), is a telepath herself, though the truth of this fact is not revealed until later in the series. She encounters several supernatural creatures throughout the series. Some of the most prominent and influential characters are vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), shape-shifter Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård), and maenad Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes).
I personally like "True Blood" for its exciting and suspenseful plot line. There are so many mysteries and questions that come up in each season, but all of the questions are answered by the end, sometimes in the most shocking ways. So the show isn't predictable. A predictable show gets boring after awhile, but when it comes to "True Blood", there are shocking twists and plenty of exciting events and people to spark and keep your interest.
To reinforce how good this show is, HBO notes that "True Blood" is the most watched show on HBO since "The Sopranos". Also the show gains more viewers each season. Around two million viewers were pulled in for the first season, and the total number of viewers for the fourth season is around five million.
So if you’re the type of person who’s interested in the whole idea of supernatural creatures, "True Blood" would be a good show for you to watch. At this point, though, you would have to catch up on the plot line quite a bit. The fifth season will air during the summer of 2012, but in the meantime, you can buy and watch the first three seasons (as well as buy the fourth season when it comes out on DVD).
2. "Jersey Shore"
Even though many of you may regard this show to be stupid, pointless, or any other adjective of the like, it can't be denied that this show is popular. "Jersey Shore" is MTV's most viewed series ever, and the show is going onto it's fifth season (premiering January 5, 2012). The cast has entertained the nation for several years, and it appears as though they won't be stopping anytime soon.
In each season, there are eight housemates that live together for a couple months as the season is filmed. They are filmed everywhere they go, just like in most reality shows, and the typical episode will involve fighting, drinking, and partying. There is a lot of drama and relationships troubles between various couples, but that's what attracts people to this show. People love to watch other people mess around, fight, get drunk, screw up, etc. Conflict is entertaining to watch, and there is plenty of conflict in Jersey Shore.
The cast has become well known through the show. Currently, the eight housemates are as follows: Deena Cortese, Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, and Vinny Guadagnino.
Deena Cortese joined the show in season three after housemate Angelina Pivarnick left the show twice. She appeared in season one, but refused at one point to work in the T-shirt shop that allowed the cast to have the privilege to live in the shore house. Her lack of work evicted her from the house, but she returned in season two when the show took place in Miami (due to the cold winter in Jersey). After violent encounters with Mike and Snooki, she took leave for the final time. Deena stepped in for season three to take her place.
"Jersey Shore" has made quite an impact on the world. You can find references to the show everywhere - Halloween costumes, t-shirts, hats, jewlery, etc. Popular phrases such as "GTL" (Gym, Tanning, Laundry) can be heard and seen in abundance of places as well. Despite the stupidity and hilarity that ensues in a normal episode, the show has taken the country by storm.
1. "Big Bang Theory"
"Big Bang Theory" centers around three characters who all live in an apartment building in Pasadena, California. Two of the characters, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) are roommates and incredibly geeky. Their neighbor across the hall, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), is incredibly attractive and a social butterfly. Her common sense and great social skills hilariously contrast with Leonard and Sheldon's personalities.
Sheldon and Leonard have a pair of equally geeky friends, named Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). These two add greatly to the hilarity of the show, as well as carry the plot along and create predicaments and adventures for their friends.
There are an abundance of jokes and comedy-riddled situations that evoke almost constant laughter. When I watch the show, I'm laughing for a good three-fourths of the time. I must also admit I feel good about myself when I watch the show, because there are a lot of jokes that not everyone could understand. The jokes are very scientifically based or make references to things that are not common knowledge among the general populous. They’re nerd jokes, essentially, and yes, it makes me feel good on the inside because I understand them.
On top of all the funny characters and good jokes, the show has a great theme song. Barenaked Ladies, the band who composed the song, did a great job with it. It’s catchy, fast-paced, and entertaining to listen to.
For anyone who is interested, "Big Bang Theory" airs on CBS on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. If you’re even slightly interested in this show, I recommend you give it a chance. It’s likely you won’t be disappointed!