There were some amazing new shows on TV this year, and there were also some great series that kept their steam and even upped the ante. This is our group cap of our favorite returning shows of the year. Enjoy!
Best Returning Drama of 2011
TheNooch: Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston is the only over 40 dude I know that can make cancer look so bad ass. Also, I get my meth education.
Vallegirl: Boardwalk Empire, because JIIIIIIMMMMYYYYYYY! It made me feel so many feelings. And there were so many loving close ups of Richard’s mask. God bless you, Tim Van Patten and your mask fetish.
BlueCanary: Assuming that True Blood counts as a drama, I’m marking a big red X next to it in this category, based solely on the copious amounts of abs, man bush, and nearly nude Alexander Skarsgard that carried the season. Fuck your hifalutin art house bullshit and golden globe contenders–bring me the Swedish ass cheeks, pronto. At least I’m being honest.
Dangerously: Fringe. I wanted to say Castle (<3 Nate Fillion), and I love that show, too, but holy hell Fringe has been lights out this year. The return to the pseudo-episodic format of the first two seasons has been incredibly refreshing, and the cast has been pretty solid.
DearCrabby: The Good Wife. Good storylines, love Christine Baranski, Julianna Margulies never looked better, and hot Indian Archie Panjabi is unbelievably cool…plus, her bisexuality on the show makes me want to date her. And I’m really not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Flipit: Breaking Bad had me rooting for homely drug pushers who don’t manscape. That’s quite a feat. The acting, the writing, the JESSIE! Holy shit he’s great. I listened to their cast and crew podcast after the shows and they knew from the very beginning what they wanted to do and they set about doing it. I am only pointing that out in case Ryan Murphy is reading this and looking for some tips.
Foggywood: The Good Wife. The best acting, storylines, guest stars, scotch and tequila drinking, and bisexual detective on television.
J-Mo: Downton Abbey. What? It’s GONNA return in January, and that’s close enough for me. Call me a nutbag, but I was fascinated by this glimpse into turn-of-the-century class-conscious England… it was so enjoyable to see all the vicious gossip and stuffy social constraints of the upstairs lords and ladies coupled with the twisted politics and bawdy bitchery of the downstairs help… just about everyone on this show has secrets, and for once, they’re actually worth finding out! I can’t wait to see what World War I is going to bring to these people… way to go Masterpiece Theatre.
VirginiaApple: The Vampire Diaries. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. This show is so much more awesome than it has any right to be, and it’s the drama I’m most excited to watch every week. In a few days, this and Jersey Shore will both come back from hiatus to once again make Thursday the most VD-filled day of the week. Suck it, Wartsday.
PottyMouth: Damn. At the beginning of the season I would have sworn I’d be torn between Dexter and The Walking Dead for this one. WRONG. Both had miserable seasons. I guess I’ll go with Criminal Minds because Shemar Moore is hot and I’m shallow that way.
Mrs.Snarklesbee: Breaking Bad. BEST. SHOW. EVER. Giancarlo Esposito deserves an Emmy for that shit.
Chickbomb: White Collar. Makes me want to pull off a caper.
Slumrville: Friday Night Lights: I’m probably cheating on this one, considering the final season mostly aired on DirecTV in 2010, but I don’t care. It was. hands down, my favorite drama of the year, and I don’t say that because I got to recap the final season. I like to think that Coach and Tami are living somewhere in Philadelphia right now, saving inner city youth from the harsh realities of urban existence with their southern family values, Matt and Julie are thriving in Chicago, and Tim Riggins is living the Texas Dream. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can’t Lose!
Nads: Real Housewives of Beverly hills. Let’s face it, Taylor’s drama will never cease. Plus, those bitches can read the phone book and it’ll be dramatic.
PennyDreadful: Boardwalk Empire. So dark, so violent, so emotionally draining, so damned compelling. Remember, it’s not TV – it’s HBO. If that’s the case, I’m going to call up Time Warner Cable and demand they stop charging me for HBO, since they provide cable TV and if HBOisn’t in fact TV . . .
SexyPanda: Intervention, because I’m hooked on people with addictions. Oh, it’s a reality show? That’s a shame.
SunnySideUp: Walking Dead. I mean, sort of. Hear me out on this. The actual best returning drama is probably reruns of The Sopranos on A & E, but that’s not going to fly with y’all, so I’m picking Walking Dead. I know. It’s terrible. The special effects look like the dead coyote you once found your dog literally rolling around in, and the acting is just awful at times. The accents come and go, the continuity is crap, and the situations are implausible. 2,763 zeds coming at him, and Rick lives? No way. But. Everyone talked about this show. Everyone watched it. I suspect it’s because zombies are hot, and maybe I’m only picking it because I have a terrible habit of bandwagoning, and liking things that are trendy. However. There is a classic dynamic in that show, in Rick and Shane. It’s looking at leadership, consensus, survival, rebirth, and what happens when there are very few choices for people who, like us, live lives that are full of limitless options because we’re Americans and therefore lucky, regardless of where we are in the 99%.
And the winner is…
Congrats! Now if you can just explain to Kim Richards who Crystal is…
Best Returning Comedy of 2011
VirginiaApple: Parks and Recreation. When you have Ron Effing Swanson and that’s only barely scratching the surface of your awesomeness, you kick some serious ass. Also, Leslie Knope is kind of my hero.
PottyMouth: Modern Family. It makes me laugh out loud every week.
BlueCanary: Bored to Death, in which the cuddly cluster of neuroses that is Jason Schwartzman careens around New York City with a stoned as fuck Ted Danson in tow, doing amateur detective work. This show is zany and intelligent and totally hilarious, and absolutely nobody I know watched it, which is likely why it’s not being renewed next year. Jason Schwartzman, I will miss you. I do love you so. And I know the love is real, because I don’t find you the least bit attractive. Coming from someone with a secret Jake Busey crush, that’s saying something.
Chickbomb: Real Housewives of New Jersey. Short hairy Italian men brawling against a backdrop of crucifix ice sculptures.
Slumrville: Community: Troy and Abed in the Morning! Long Live Levar Burton! I’ll never look at paintball the same way again.
Dangerously: Chuck. Does it count as a comedy? Dramedy? Whatever. I’m putting it here because it’s the last time I’ll get to. I can only hope that Chuck ends up with the same cult nerd following as Firefly did post-mortem. For five seasons, it’s managed to not get stale, the characters have continued to evolve, and yet the show has managed to retain it’s goofy light-heartedness.
DearCrabby: Community – and it’s on “hiatus” for Christ’s sake! Screw you, NBC. Their Apocalypse Now take-off was amazing, but perhaps the references are too obscure for average viewers (versus the brilliant Gasmii viewers – nothing gets by them!).
Flipit: AbFab. I haven’t even seen the special episode that Jennifer Saunders produced for us, and I can tell you already it’s the best thing on TV EVER. I still walk around screaming “I WANT CLEAR SURFACES! Get things off the tables. I don’t want things on places! Clear the old woman! Mummy’s crying too, sweetie! Squish squish!” Wait. That’s technically 2012. OK then Parks and Rec. Cuz I know that answer will make Hypnotoad happy, and that’s all I really want in life.
Foggywood: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Horrible people doing horrible things to each other. Need I say more?
J-Mo: Raising Hope. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a fairly lower-class white-trash family that I relate to this show, or maybe it’s because Martha Plimpton and Cloris Leachman give me full-on belly laughs week after week, or maybe it’s that damned cute baby that’s growing into a damned cute toddler, or maybe it’s the fact that Garret Dillahunt is hot and takes his shirt off a lot and he had a scene where he and a bearded fella ended up in a liplock and one of them said, “We’re just two dudes kissin’ and thinkin’ about girls.”
Mrs.Snarklesbee: Is Arrested Development back yet? No? Okay, then I’ll go with Parks and Recreation. Great cast, solid writing, and the chemistry between Adam Scott and Amy Poehler is so goddamn adorable that it makes me want to vomit.
Nads: 30 Rock. Because no one can beat Liz Lemon and an incoherent Tracy Morgan
PennyDreadful: Community. So far beyond “funny”, into some kind of weird surreal territory that is utterly fun and addicting. Always inventive. Abed rules!
SexyPanda: Big Bang Theory. I love that it aims higher every season with nerd humor, and I love that I get most of the jokes!
SunnySideUp: I can’t pick just one here. There are a couple of shows that really came into their own this season, specifically Louie, and The League. Did you see the Louie CK special that’s online? Pay the $5 and do it. Trust me. You will bust a gut laughing and then you’ll feel terrible for totally getting what Louie’s laying down on ya. Louis CK has found a great note, and he’s holding it well. He isn’t Seinfelding here at all – his show is about a whole lot more than nothing, and it is hella rad. I hope it lasts, because I want to know more about the machinations of show biz, and I want to not be patronized with dumb jokes or a lack of insight (I get enough of that from Teen Mom, after all) but what I love about Louis CK is that he totally knows it probably won’t last, so he’s going for it as smartly and provocatively as he can, and it’s really brilliant. The League also really came into its own this year. The jokes are gross, and the behavior is pushing it ergo I love it. Seriously, period humor on a show targeted to dudes, on a network that ostensibly is also targeted to dudes? And it worked? You go girl. Finally, my heart demands I mention Parks and Recreation, and there’s only one reason: Ron Fucking Swanson. He is the MAN.
TheNooch: Parks and Rec. Just watch the episode entitled “Ron and Tammys” and you will know.
Vallegirl: Louie because Louis C.K. is magic and I still cry at the USO episode.
And the winner is…
Parks and Rec!! Congrats, Hypnotoad!
To check out our individual recaps, just follow the links here: BlueCanary, ChickBomb, Dangerously, DearCrabby, Flipit, Foggywood, J-Mo, MrsSnarklsebee, Nads, PennyDreadful, PottyMouth, SexyPanda, Slumrville, SunnySideUp, TheNooch, Vallegirl, and VirginiaApple.
So how do our picks sit with you guys? Agree? Disagree? Did we miss your faves completely? Sound off!