10. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
This show is so wrong, but oh so right. These characters have no moral compass, yet you still seem to care about them. Plus, it gave us wine-in-a-can.
For those who know me, this may seem like a low placement for Glee. But, be honest. The show is wildly inconsistent. The show recycles more than Al Gore, I frequently suspend my disbelief, and not all of the musical numbers work. That being said, when Glee succeeds it soars. Some of the best moments on TV are on Glee. Hopefully it'll keep working on creating some of the best episodes. It's heading in the right direction.
8. True Blood
Sure, it'll never top Buffy as my favorite vampire-related show, but it's still damn good. It seems to only get better as it goes along, so who knows how great season three will be.
7. Top Chef
Interestingly, of all of the reality shows I watch, this is the one with the least amount of audience participation. With shows like Project Runway, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance, I can watch and critique what I see and hear. With Top Chef, I can't taste the food. No participation. Yet, somehow it still emerges as the best reality show of the year.
6. Parks and Recreation
This fall's most improved show. It got off to a rough start last season, especially with all of the comparisons to The Office. Now, the comedy has its own voice and Amy Poehler has successfully distanced herself from Steve Carell. Definitely worth watching.
5. 30 Rock
Sure, Parks and Recreation had a great year and sure, in my frustration with 30 Rock I would make angry statements like, "PARKS AND REC IS MY FAVORITE NBC THURSDAY SHOW." But it's not. Even in an off season, 30 Rock is still the best part of NBC Thursdays. The two most recent episodes have indicated a strong upturn for the season. Plus, since this is a 2009 list, the end of season 3 (and the unfortunate beginning of Parks' first season) also factor into my ranking.
4. Modern Family
Modern Family is a great example of a traditional sitcom--the family sitcom--being done very well. It's well scripted, well acted, and incredibly enjoyable. It says a lot that my favorite character changes each week.
Joss Whedon. Please stop writing shows that suck me in and then get canceled. Break my heart. Sure, Dollhouse didn't get off to the strongest start. You can blame Fox for that. But now that's had the chance to develop, it's one of the most intriguing shows on tv. It manages to say a lot about human nature and identity without beating the audience over the head.
2. Better Off Ted
Perhaps it's because 30 Rock isn't on its A-game, but this is the most cleverly scripted comedy on tv. The jokes come quickly and usually succeed. Portia de Rossi is outstanding as Veronica, the tightly wound upper-manager. However, that sells the rest of the cast short. They're all great. It's gonna get canceled. Tear.
Although many of my favorite shows were comedies, I don't think anything this year has topped Lost's fifth season. It's as rich, complex, and emotionally satisfying as it has ever been. Special props to Josh Holloway and Elizabeth Mitchell, who were this season's MVPs. Don't even get me started on the finale cliffhanger...
Now that this list is out of the way, I'd like to mention that there are some shows that I don't watch that are critically acclaimed. To get a sense of what could be missing, here are the five shows I want to try and watch in 2010.
5. Big Love
3. Mad Men
1. The Good Wife