OK, friends. Time for the big one. Which TV shows will we remember many years from now as some of the best of the decade? Which ones truly captured the American public? Here are my humble musings. This is, of course, not the same as my personal list of favorite shows, but unsurprisingly, colored by the shows I like the best.
1) American Idol-I don’t know if anyone really watches American Idol anymore, but chats with some of my family members suggest that they do. I clearly remember the beginning of my college career, though, when it was all anyone talked about. Much like Survivor is to the “extreme reality TV” genre, American Idol is the decade trendsetter of the “reality competition” genre. A mix of drama, talent, and kicking people off of things are the trademarks of this genre, and American Idol started it all with Kelly Clarkson.
2) Survivor-I readily admit to never having actually watched this show (and I call myself a TV blogger), but Survivor kicked off the “extreme reality TV” craze with a bang. And what could be more 2000s than extreme reality TV? (I say extreme because MTV’s the Real World premiered in the early 1990s as what is undoubtedly reality TV, but I think Survivor is a different genre.) Survivor inspired numerous spinoffs (like I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here or the Amazing Race), and I distinctly remember it being the most talked-about show in the beginning of my high school career.
3) CSI-I must have bad taste, because my top three shows of the decade are all shows I never really watch, but CSI in all of its various iterations are constantly at the top of the ratings charts. This is THE crime procedural. Mr. Feeny explains it more eloquently than I can, perhaps because he’s actually watched the show, but people love this stuff. And this is the trendsetter.
4) Lost-Few shows have taken the American public on such a thrill ride as Lost. Moreover, no one I know just casually watches the show. The people that do watch are hooked. And the show is designed so that you can’t watch just one episode. In fact, Lost may be the winner in the contest of ‘shows I picked up on DVD and watched all the seasons in a ridiculously short time.’ You can’t do it otherwise. And though I could whine about how the show has gotten too confusing, and what the heck is the smoke monster anyway, I’m anxiously awaiting the final season to see how the writers will wrap it up.
5) The West Wing-I think people will remember this show. I really do. It was (for the most part) fantastically well done, and a balance of relationships and politics gave it a wider appeal than it otherwise might have. It’s also my favorite show ever. I’ve raved about it other places, so I’ll spare you, loyal readers, here.
6) Desperate Housewives-This is one of the most watched TV shows in the world, according to economist Charles
Kenney. Premiering in 2004 and currently airing season 6, Desperate Housewives was a real crowd pleaser. I remember the race to the TV room on Sunday nights my freshman year of college to watch the first season. Kind of like a modern-day “Feminine Mystique,” shows that explore the secret lives of housewives are now commonplace. Do you think Bravo’s multi-locale and extremely popular The Real Housewives of… would even exist if not for ABC’s Desperate Housewives?
7) The Sopranos-Yah. Never watched this show. But lots of people did. And talked about it a lot. And loved it.
8 ) Sex and the City-I have to admit, this show kind of uncomfortably straddles the decade divide. But I think the SATC movie will help this show be remembered in this decade. What else can we say about SATC other than it made 30 the new 20?
9) The Office-A show that is still going strong and shows no signs of quitting. It has a very loyal fanbase and the dialogue and shot style has taken hold in other shows as well (see The Modern Family).
10) 24-Everyone knows who Jack Bauer is. Even if you never watch the show.
How I Met your Mother
Friday Night Lights