Apparently, Brits like U.S. television. The British newspaper The Times released a list of what its staff has determined to be the 50 best U.S. television shows, and after taking a look at the list I’ve come across more than a few surprises. Of course, a lot of the shows listed are no surprise, including Law & Order, the HBO original series The Sopranos, ER, The Wire, South Park, and The Simpsons, to name a few. Given the extremely influential nature of these shows, their inclusion is dictated by common sense. Some of the other series that made The Times‘ 50 best list, however, may raise an eyebrow or two.
The first surprise is that several of my favorite television series–ones that routinely go unnoticed or are highly underrated–finally receive some much-deserved attention by being included on this list. Coming in at #11, for example, is my favorite television show, Supernatural. According to The Times, Supernatural is “The best thing to hit ITV2 since the last power cut: if you’re not watching this show, you really should be”. Of course, in my (biased) opinion, if you’re not watching Supernaturual then you should be tied to a chair in a windowless room and forced to watch the first three seasons on DVD until you do… but like I said, that’s just my opinion.
Also surprising is the inclusion of the CW series Reaper. Described as “A fine example of slacker comedy with a hint of Ghostbusters and a little bit of Kevin Smith thrown in for good measure,” Reaper sneaks in on The Times’ list at #50. Honestly, I’m surprised this show made the list at all given the fact that its second year was abbreviated to only thirteen episodes and aired as a mid-season release. Highly worth the thirty minutes a week it takes to watch the show, Reaper‘s inclusion on the list is another example of why I was purely delighted the first time I read through The Times‘ 50 favorite U.S. television shows.
Perhaps the most notable surprise, however, is the inclusion of the highly underrated Joss Whedon series Dollhouse, which is currently in its first season as part of Fox’s Friday-night lineup. According to the Brits, Dollhouse is the 35th best U.S. television show, a fact that I think would be good to bring up with the execs over at Fox. Since the show first aired in its “this-will-probably-be-cancelled” Friday-night time slot, the series has been on the chopping block. Despite hundreds of thousands of loyal fans in the U.S. (including those who DVR the show religiously because, well, it’s Friday night and there are movies to go see, man), Fox is probably paying more attention to investors than fans in debating whether Dollhouse merits a second season. I particularly like the description of the show provided on the list, which concludes with a nice little kick in the gut for the network. According to The Times, Dollhouse is “shaping up to be a real hit so long as it can dodge the chop of the all too eager executioners over at Fox.”
Aside from which shows were included, I do feel the need to point out one theme in particular that is present throughout the list. Guess what kinds of shows are not included on The Times‘ 50 best U.S. television shows list? Reality television shows! Do you know why none of these shows were included? They weren’t included because (and I know this is going to be a highly subjective and unpopular statement, so take it with a grain of salt, as they say) reality television shows suck. That’s right, someone finally said it. Reality television sucks.
For those of you out there who have become reality television addicts, I do have one comment: it is extremely telling that the very country that generally is credited with creating the television shows that spawned the type of reality television we see in the U.S. today (such as Pirate Master, The Littlest Groom, Amish in the City, or Temptation Island) didn’t include a single reality television series (not even Survivor) on its list of the top 50 U.S. television shows.
To check out the list for yourself, head over to The Times Web site and take a look. For more information on Supernatural or Reaper, you can visit the official Web site for each on the CW online (Supernatural, Reaper). For more information on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, see the official site over on the Fox Web site.