When you think about it, 2010 went by like a blur. I guess time flies by when you're fruitlessly mailing and e-mailing resumes to prospective employers. In all seriousness though, with the exorbitant amount of free time I had during the Summer and Fall of 2010, it doesn't seem like the year is almost over. From a media perspective, it was a year of buzzwords: from Eyjafjallajökull to "refudiate," from vuvuzela to WikiLeaks, it was a solid 12-month span for gibberish and foreign proper names. It was a great year for pop culture --especially TV and music-- and a terrible year for almost everything else. (Forgive me if this blog seems a little slipshod; there's so much to reminisce about and too little time to express it.)
THE BEST TV SHOWS OF 2010
1. "Mad Men," AMC. Jon Hamm was runner-up for EW's Entertainer of the Year, and for good reason. Besides two strong outings on SNL and a dilligent performance in The Town, his portrayal of enigmatic '60s ad exec Don Draper has nearly made him a TV icon for our time. The show itself has also benefitted with Hamm at its center, turning out a somewhat polarizing season of bravura performances and clever writing. Notable Episodes: "The Rejected," "The Suitcase," "The Beautiful Girls."
2. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Comedy Central. As inherently political as TDS might be, the show is first and foremost a parody and skewering of a mass media that can't bother to be objective anymore. People have caught on, too: on any given night, Jon and his "correspondents" are pummeling Leno and Letterman in the ratings. Notable Episodes: TDS doesn't really have episode titles --it's a talk show, mind you-- but there's plenty of clips on Hulu, YouTube et al. that prove my point.
3. "Parks & Recreation," NBC. With "The Office" slowly fading into the sunset, P&R has become Thursday night's best and most underappreciated comedy. Amy Poehler earned a well-deserved Emmy nomination as eager small-town bureaucrat Leslie Knope, but Nick Offerman and Aziz Ansari were snubbed outright. If only more people would catch on... Notable Episodes: "Sweetums," "Telethon," "The Master Plan."
4. "Modern Family," ABC. No show balances laughs with low-key charm quite like the blended Pritchett clan. It's a family sitcom at heart, though not always family-friendly, but honest and grounded enough to keep you tuned in. Few shows have ever captured the complicated dynamic of a strong, lasting marriage quite like Mod-Fam. Notable Episodes: "Airport 2010," "Strangers on a Treadmill," "Halloween."
5. "Community," NBC. Talk about patience and perseverance: I put this show on my best of 2009 list on the heels of two strong episodes following an uneven start. I'm relieved to know that my praise was a sign of things to come, as "Community" has really come into its own in the past calendar year. "Modern Family" notwithstanding, this show has quite possibly the best comedy ensemble on television. Notable Episodes: "Modern Warfare," "The Psychology of Letting Go," "Epidemiology."
Honorable Mentions: "Boardwalk Empire," HBO; "In Treatment," HBO.
Best Show That I Need to Start Watching on a Regular Basis: "Breaking Bad," AMC.
Best Random Guest Appearance: Norman Lloyd on "Modern Family." Forget about Betty White for a moment-- it's a marvel that the 96-year-old thespian still manages to nab steady work. Best known as the last surviving member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater players and as Dr. Auschlander on "St. Elsewhere," Lloyd is a living legend that 90% of the populace knows nothing about. I almost didn't notice him when I saw the "Manny Get Your Gun" episode, which either says something about Lloyd's advanced age or his workman-like ability to disappear into a role.
Worst Random Guest Appearance: Justin Bieber on "CSI." Do I really need to explain this?
Worst Show of 2010: "Bridalplasty," E! Aspiring brides-to-be compete for boob jobs and facelifts in a narcissistic, disturbing, and altogether sad mash-up of "The Swan" and "Say Yes to the Dress." Case evidence of reality television and their obsession with the lowest common denominator.
Runner-Up: "Outsourced," NBC. If this were halfway decent, I would've forgave NBC for handing Park & Rec's time slot to this culture-clash single-camera comedy. Instead, "Outsourced" is more or less the Indian "Amos n' Andy," playing to stereotypes about spicy food, funny accents, and polytheism like a New Dehli minstrel show. Saying this show is an accurate depiction of an Indian workplace is like saying Sbarro is the cutting edge of Italian cuisine.
THE YEAR IN NEWS
My Favorite Political Cartoon of 2010: This.
In Memoriam: Miep Gies, J.D. Salinger, Eric Rohmer, Doug Fieger, T-Bone Wolk, Merlin Olsen, Lynn Redgrave, Dennis Hopper, Sen. Robert Byrd, Lena Horne, Ronnie James Dio, Rue McClanahan, Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel, John Wooden, Gloria Stuart, Greg Giraldo, Robert Schimmel, Tony Curtis, Jill Clayburgh, Barbara Billingsley, Tom Bosley, Leslie Nielsen, Dino DeLaurentiis, Elizabeth Edwards, Ted Sorensen, Maurice Lucas, Pat Burns, George "Sparky" Anderson, Bob Feller, "Dandy Don" Meredith, Roy Neuberger, Richard Holbrooke, Steve Landesberg, Blake Edwards, Teena Marie, Gardner Kissick, and "Still Bill" Johnson.
Finally, because I haven't posted any in awhile, here's a couple of Top 5 lists to wrap up the year.
Five Obscure Monty Python References That Might Work as Names for Bands:
1. Hovercraft of Eels
2. Whicker's World
3. The Machine That Goes Bing
4. Kamikaze Highlander
5. Toad the Wet Sprocket*
Five Tips for Aspiring Grad School Students:
1. You have at least six bodily fluids you can donate to pay for tuition
2. If the school crest has a bottle of trucker pills on it, you're in good hands
3. Don't be afraid to consider moving far away to earn your masters or doctorate, as you will never see your friends and family anyway
4. As impressive as the publication of your epic research paper might be, it won't score you a free Whopper at Burger King
5. There is a growing perception in American culture that baccalaureate degrees are "the new high school diploma" since in the last 25 years, job growth has stagnated for Americans that stopped their education with a bachelor's, so imagine how far that masters will get you in the long run
SEE YOU IN 2011!