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Top 10 Television Shows of 2012

January 3, 2013

I know this is a few days into 2013, but hopefully you will forgive me in my addition to the seemingly endless year-end “best of”s.  I have ranked what I found to be the 10 best television shows of 2012.  This is based only on the episodes that aired in 2012, so for several shows, the first half of their season was not included.  Also, as with any of my rankings, I can’t include shows that I am not currently watching, so for the sake of avoiding the “this should have been included” argument, I will list the shows that I’m not watching that may have earned inclusion, and the shows that I watch that missed the cut.

Shows that didn’t make it because I haven’t watched them: Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, The League, & Dexter.

Shows that didn’t make the cut despite me watching them (listed in no particular order): Happy Endings, The Office, South Park, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Family Guy, The Simpsons, SNL, Eastbound & Down, Girls, Veep, Children’s Hospital, Portlandia, & Mad Men.

Before we proceed, I would like to offer a few quick notes on my exclusions that I watch.

  • Happy Endings and Modern Family where the closest exclusions from comedy shows, which vastly outnumber the dramas that I watch.  While I think that both are often very funny, I just felt that the shows that made the list were a little more consistently funny for me.  Comedy is subjective, of course, so your taste may differ from mine, but I felt that they were just not quite good enough this year to get in.
  • As for the HBO snubbing, I found all three shows (Eastbound & Down, Girls, Veep) to have very good moments this year, but of the two new shows, I never really felt connected to the characters.  Veep and Eastbound are both very vulgar, but on Eastbound, it kind of makes sense for the lead character to be that way.  I watch Veep and fell like they are just cursing because they can because it’s on HBO.  I still don’t know what to make of Girls, because I want the show to be successful, so we can hopefully end the “are women funny” debate, and yet, when I watch it, I feel detached from the characters.  I think that it has potential and it will be interesting to see where it heads next, but as of right now, I haven’t been as impressed with it as some people I know.
  • Now, as for Mad Men: the omission that I’m sure that most of you found to be the most glaring.  I thought this was a good season of Mad Men, but not a great season of Mad Men.  Certain episodes were very good, while others were borderline forgettable.  While we will always remember Fat Betty, and Pete getting punched in the face, great moments do not always equal great seasons.

Now, onto the top 10.

10: Justified

Season 3 of Justified may not have had someone as villainous as Mags Bennett from season 2, but the recurring cast is so good together that you hardly seem to notice.  Plus, the new faces of Robert Quarles & Ellstin Limehouse did their share to make this season outstanding.  Raylan Givens & Boyd Crowder continue to be two of my favorite television characters, and I am eagerly awaiting their return in season 4.  (You may have noticed in my top 10 movies of 2012 that 2 of my top 3 films included Walton Goggins, who plays Boyd Crowder here.  I won’t say he put those movies in the top 3, but I did thoroughly enjoy his scenes in both films).

9: 30 Rock
30 Rock

While 30 Rock may not be quite as sharp as when it first hit the scene, this past year certainly had some outstanding moments that showed why people fell in love with it in the first place.  It’s a shame that the end is drawing near for one of the best comedies of the past 20 years, but I think they were smart to pull the plug after 7 seasons, instead of continuing past its prime (I’m looking at you, The Office.  That said, this season is better than last year, but they should have pulled the plug when Carell left instead of copying Scrubs final season strategy, which was also not good).

8: Archer

Archer continues to be one of the funniest shows on television with one of the best ensemble casts around.  While season 3 had its moments of utter ridiculousness, it is often is these moments that sheer brilliance is found.  Pam continues to be one of television’s hidden gems, and the comedic wordplay is often unparalleled on television today.  Hopefully they continue to get bigger and better.

7: Bob’s Burgers
Bob's Burgers

In my opinion, Bob’s Burgers is the best cartoon airing on television at the moment.  Featuring the same lead actor as Archer, it has a cast that somehow works even better together than Archer.  While it took me a little while to warm up to Linda and Tina, they get funnier every episode, as does the rest of the cast.  The writing and guest voices certainly help this show be as funny as it is, to be sure, but the Belcher family have become the most consistently funny part of Fox’s Animation Domination, and they don’t look to relinquish that title any time soon.

6: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It's Always Sunny

If I were able to include episodes that featured Fat Mac, Always Sunny would have easily cracked the top 3.  Season 7 may have been the best thing that the Gang has ever done.  That said, season 8 was still uproariously funny.  With callbacks upon callbacks, this was a season that heavily rewarded long time fans of the show.  Charlie Kelly is without question one of my favorite television characters of the past decade, and as long as the Gang can produce 3 or 4 classics a season, I can see this show keep running at a high level for years.

5: Game of Thrones

I didn’t start watching Game of Thrones until 2012, but I’m only including season 2 in this countdown.  Season 2, while it didn’t feature Ned Stark or Khal Drogo, two season 1 favorites, still built upon the goodwill from season 1 and expanded to be bigger and bolder in the 2nd season.  The Battle at Blackwater was a fantastic episode, not to mention the special effects, which grew this season with the addition of larger direwolves, dragons, and white walkers.  Of course, Tyrion Lannister is just icing on the cake when you have all that other stuff.

4: Louie

I heavily debated myself on this selection.  On the one hand, it feels too low.  On the other hand, I love the remaining shows on the list as well, so I ended up putting Louie here.  This season saw some changes, as there were two multi-episode arcs, Daddy’s Girlfriend and Late Show, but the one thing that didn’t change was Louie never catching a break.  Louie is taking a sabbatical from the show, which won’t return til 2014, but I have enjoyed pretty much every minute of the show up to this point and will continue to enjoy reruns in the meantime.

3: Community

Unfortunately, we only saw half a season of Community in 2012 due to a hiatus before season 4, and I also can’t use the first half of season 3 in this ranking, so some great episodes, such as the one that the above picture was taken from, were left out.  However, the season ended quite strong, and so it still earned a spot in the top 3.  This show will go down as one of the great “how did no one watch this?” shows, but as long as it’s on the air, the devoted fan base will keep tuning in.

2: Breaking Bad

I think that it’s kind of unfair to judge Breaking Bad this past year as a whole, because it was only a half season.  That said, it ends with one hell of a cliff hanger, and it still featured some all time great moments in the show.  The bar was quite high following an absolutely outstanding season 4, and I think the second half of season 5 will also be great, but this half had to do some tying up of loose ends and some build up for the rest of the season.  I think that when I do my 2013 top 10, there is a lot of potential for this show to get the top spot.

1: Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation - Season 4

Simply put, the election storyline on Parks and Rec this year was possibly the greatest thing the show has ever done.  Leslie’s campaign was hilarious and heartfelt, which is to be expected from the show at this point.  Paul Rudd was perfectly cast as the opposition to the Knope campaign, and there were several classic episodes and moments in this storyline.  Of course, that does not include the beginning of Season 5, which included characters hobnobbing with famous politicians, Ron Swanson (possibly) finding love, a showdown between Ron and Mike Ehrmantraut, and, oh yeah, a proposal between one of the best couples on television right now.  Parks and Rec keeps getting better, and hopefully 2013 will be as kind to it as 2012 was.

I will also be posting my favorite 2012 episodes from all the shows I watch in a few days, so keep an eye out for that.

Hope you liked this post, and I hope you like what else I have to say.

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