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The Best Shows on Television

My favorite TV shows (current):

#1: Friday Night Lights: One of the best shows of all time…that no one watches. This show has actually made me want to visit Texas in search of Tim Riggins. Gritty, real, heart-wrenching… any show that prominently features Applebees has to be high on one’s list. FNL is currently airing its 3rd (and likely last) season on DirecTV, although it will be re-aired on NBC in the spring.

#2: 30 Rock: With the emergence of Tina Palin’s new uber-celebrity, hopefully people will start watching it now. One of my favorite clips below… Coming back Oct. 30 on NBC Thursdays.

#3: Grey’s Anatomy: Our protagonist, Meredith, is whiny, neurotic, and somehow still likable. Add in floods, flesh-eating bacteria, and McDreamy, and this makes it a can’t-miss.

#4: The Office: The show that has made “that’s what she said” into an automatic, kneejerk reaction whenever you hear something like, “It [the test] was pretty hard,” or, “It [the shirt] was a little too long.”

#5: Lost: It’s kind of been out-of-sight, out-of-mind… When it comes back in January, it may catapult up this list.

Honorable Mentions: Gossip Girl (needs a longer track record to make this list), Damages (same as GG; needs a second good year to build off its first amazing season), Heroes (I’ve stopped watching this season… should try to pick it back up again), Project Runway (this cast has been kind of blah though), The Biggest Loser (always fun to watch other people work out while struggling to reach the remote from my place on the couch), So You Think You Can Dance (…dance, dance, dance)

Other shows I enjoy: Bones, Monk, Samantha Who, Jon & Kate Plus 8, The Amazing Race, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Designers Challenge, and most everything on the Food Network

Favorite TV shows (no longer airing):

#5: Dawson’s Creek

#4: Alias

#3: Frasier

#2: Will & Grace

#1: Friends

Honorable Mentions: Saved by the Bell, The Cosby Show, Fresh Price of Bel-Air, Cheers, Golden Girls, Mad About You

Shows I’ve never seen (or only saw a few episodes), but are on the to-watch list:

#5: Flight of the Conchords

#4: Brothers and Sisters

#3: 24

#2: The Wire

#1: Arrested Development (on DVD, I suppose)

Shows that make me sad for America: (ironically, all reality shows)

#5: The Moment of Truth

#4: The Real Housewives of Orange County

#3: A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila

#2: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader

#1: My Super Sweet Sixteen

Honorable Mentions: Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, My Super Sweet Sixteen presents: Exiled, I Survived a Japanese Game Show

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You Just Don’t Mess With Must-See TV

With the return of television’s hottest heartthrobs like McDreamy, McSteamy, and Michael Scott in a fat suit, TV is officially back from its eight-month hiatus. During the next few weeks, network execs are undoubtedly waiting to see if audiences will also come back…especially after enduring a long summer of repeats, Japanese game show knock-offs, and Deal or No Deal.

While some may have enjoyed a continuous helping of Howie Mandel as a placeholder for quality programming, I am slightly skeptical that viewers will come running back with open arms to their favorite old shows. After all, to put it in economic terms, TV is a normal good with plenty of substitutes. When the writers strike halted production earlier this year, viewers naturally altered their behavior. Instead of installing themselves on the couch for 30 Rock every Thursday, people may have gone to the gym, read a magazine, or, God forbid, even had conversations with their families during dinner. Plus, some Americans are probably still ticked off about the strike itself; instead of watching our 401ks plummet, it would have been nice to have a quality show on TV to distract us.

So now, even if viewership returns to their normal levels, is this necessarily a positive development? For everyone who does NOT work at a television network, the answer may be no.

To illustrate this point, I have included a graph which shows how substitutes to television (like reading, exercise, and family time) may have crept into our daily routines… and how such activities may be preferable to Project Runway marathons:

  • Lower TV consumption = High literacy, healthy kids, more time with family = Not so bad?
  • Higher TV consumption = Low literacy, rampant obesity, excessive Paris Hilton exposure, remake of Knight Rider = Armageddon?

Then again, if 30 Rock gets canceled and I never find out what happened to Liz Lemon’s baby quest, someone’s gonna pay… and it might be the woman on the neighboring elliptical at the gym. I’ve got a lot of aggression.

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