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The Ten Worst Answers for ‘Best Show on Television’

By / 06.22.11

There’s a never-ending — and problematic — discussion about the “best show on television.” In my mind, the best television show is the one that’s superior to all others in terms of narrative arc, character development, writing, cinematography, acting, originality, and so on. You know: the best. However, a lot of critics seem to think the “best” means “my favorite,” which is the only possible excuse for the egregious, putrid, and moronic claims you’re about to read.

Because there are certain shows that are okay to call the best: “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” certainly. “Friday Night Lights” and “Parks and Recreation,” sure, those aren’t unreasonable opinions. “Community” and “Louie”? Totally defensible. Everyone, of course, is entitled to their opinion—but not if they claim that “Chuck” is better than “Justified.” There’s a line. There are certain shows — some good, some truly awful — that various critics and bloggers have deemed to be the Best Show on Television. On the following pages are ten of the worst selections, with excerpted quotes to damn them.

Kristi Gustafson (Times Union) for “Parenthood”

Subject Title: “The best show on television”

I like my TV. You know that. Thing is, I am not a channel-surfer and do not turn on the tele just to see what’s on. Instead, I have my prime time “must sees,” including “Desperate Housewives,” “90210,” “HIMYM,” “One Tree Hill,” “Private Practice” and “Parenthood.” (I also love “House Hunters”—International and otherwise, “Flip This House,” “Giuliana & Bill,” “The View” and the fourth hour of the “Today Show” with Hoda and Kathie Lee). But, out of that list, my all-time, absolute favorite is “Parenthood.” I love this show. Love it.

Disclosure: I used to intern for the Times Union, located in Albany, NY (I finished 513 out of 551 in their Race for Literacy charity marathon!). Disclosure: I enjoy “Parenthood,” particularly the work of Peter Krause and Lauren Graham. Disclosure: nothing Gustafson wrote in her article about “Parenthood” should be taken seriously after she included “Desperate Housewives” as one of her “must sees.”

Matt Singer (IFC) for “The Bachelor”

Subject Title: “The Bachelor” is the Worst and Best Show On Television

“The Bachelor” is more than just a television show. It is the television show, the show that exemplifies all that is terrible and wonderful about our celebrity-obsessed culture…the show is all contradictions, the best and worst show on television all at once, and all the things that make it a crime against humanity are the same things that make it essential viewing.

I hate the “so bad it’s great” argument. It makes no sense—you wouldn’t say Shane MacGowan is sexy because he’s so ugly…or WOULD YOU? No, you wouldn’t. And the “I better watch the downfall of culture!” line of reasoning is no better. The only thing that pisses me off more than reality shows? People who ironically watch reality shows because they’re so bad.


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