in Top Ten

I am so tired of lists. It’s god damn February! Here’s a TV list. My only rule was every was show had to have debuted in 2010 or later. I don’t like any of these sloppy “Part of it was in this decade” bullshit. That’s not how I ride. I ride like the wind.

Honorable Mention
None. These are all the best shows that won all the awards.

10. Nirvanna the Band the Show (2017 – ???)

Being a fan of Nirvanna the Band the Show is like claiming to have seen Bigfoot. It’s a thing of beauty but few others have seen it. Some don’t even believe it was ever on. Was it ever actually canceled? What the hell is “Viceland”? Yet few shows made me laugh as much as this off-the-cuff mockumentary about two bandmates perpetually trying to book a show at the Rivoli in Toronto.

A show that blurred the lines between fact and fiction—shooting scenes in public places (without permits) and engaging with random bystanders—you never knew where Matt and Jay were going with their latest scheme. Whether they were trying to put a billboard of themselves up on a building or enter a float in a Santa parade, the show deftly walked the line between exciting and nerve-wracking. And the homages? You show me another show willing enough to commit an opening credit sequence and a whole episode to the movie Hackers.

9. Key & Peele (2012 – 2015)

Watching K&P is my go-to “I need a reminder there is still joy in the world” show. This is a contemporary and hard biting satire of a sketch show that makes SNL look like a dinosaur on life support.

Aside from the obvious comedic talents of Key and Peele, props need to be given to Peter Atencio who with the exception of the final season directed almost every sketch and was crucial in giving the show its cinematic look. It’s like Gogurt to stay.

8. Gravity Falls (2012 – 2016)

My one kids show on the list that I have to argue “isn’t just for kids”. I see Gravity Falls as X-Files for kids. It’s the story of twin preteen siblings Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal) Pines who spend the summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon with their eccentric huckster great-uncle Stan aka “Grunkle Stan” (played by show creator Alex Hirsch). There, Grunkle Stan runs a “reputable” business called “The Mystery Shack”: a tourist trap full of oddities. When Dipper uncovers a mysterious journal in the shop, he soon uncovers the dark secrets of the town.

The show has an overarching story pertaining to the dark journal mixed with “Monster-of-the-Week” episodes facing off against wax statues, gnomes, time travelers, and the Summerween Trickster. It’s a thoughtful and well-animated show with great characters. Particularly Grunkle Stan who’s rudeness and obnoxiousness has solidified him as one of my all-time favorite cartoon characters. “But her aim is getting better!”

7. Veep (2012 – 2019)

Watching this show made me feel smart. Despite the fact, everyone on the show continually made the dumbest decisions. Just like real life! Selina Meyer (a career-best Julia Louis Dreyfus) and her endless quest for power gave this show non-stop momentum and a comedic insight into the cesspool that is American politics. I loved every second of it. RIP Future Tom Hanks.

6. Barry (2018 – present)

What do you get when you fill Breaking Bad with a bunch of desperate Hollywood wannabes? Barry is simultaneously one of the best comedies and thrillers on TV right now. Anchored by the multi-talented Bill Hader Barry really does feel like the heir apparent to Breaking Bad. If Breaking Bad had Shakespeare monologues.

5. Atlanta (2016 – present)

What I love about Atlanta is that it can be whatever it wants any given week. It can be a coming-of-age drama, a horror movie, or a a knee-slappin’ sitcom. It’s a sandbox for actor/writer Donald Glover, director Hiro Mura, and a talented cast and crew to play in. The Teddy Perkins episode scared the hell out of me. The fake FUBU jersey made me cry, and what is there to say about Black Justin Bieber? This show is anything and everything.

4. Rick and Morty (2013 – present)

I have a lot of respect for Dan Harmon’s attention to story. I still catch Family Guy and The Simpsons from time-to-time and they are garbage. The structure is bad the arcs are half-realized but Rick and Morty is different. It dabbles with high concept ideas all while remaining grounded in focused storytelling.

Yet, this show can also be one of the most stupid and violent things I’ve ever seen. I like to believe Justin Roiland is a big part of that. See the above clip to see what I’m talking about. God damn.

3. Nathan for You (2013 – 2017)

What amazes me about this show is how Nathan Fielder’s stunts find themselves seeping into the real world news cycle. Like the pig that rescued the goat or Dumb Starbucks. I actually own a copy of “The Movement” a fake book about getting into shape without going to the gym that Nathan used to promote a moving company. Also, someday I will buy a Summit Ice soft-shell jacket to promote awareness of the Holocaust.

The strategies devised by Fielder and his production team are endlessly creative whether they work or not. There was never a dull episode leading up all the way to the show’s riveting two-hour documentary special “Finding Frances”. When your Comedy Central special is getting shout outs from Errol Morris you know you’ve done something right.

2. Black Mirror (2011 – present)

What’s to say? It’s The Twilight Zone of its time. It’s as poignant as it is disturbing. This show will try anything. They did an entire “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” feature-length episode and I’ve watched it four times. I can’t recall a show disturbing me as much as Black Mirror but also one that made me think so hard.

Another prop I want to give Black Mirror is its efforts towards diverse casting. Like in Series 4 when every episode featured a female protagonist. Strong ones too. This show has given the spotlight to up and coming talents like Kiran Sonia Sawar and Letitia Wright. It introduced a lot of us to Daniel Kaluuya (including Jordan Peele). Black Mirror has been at the forefront often. Even the forefront… or our nightmares!!!

1. Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019)

It’s a fuckin’ tragedy how many “fans” disowned this show because of how it ended. Yeah, the ending sucked but you can’t let that cloud what was for many years the most ambitious show on television. Never have I seen a show that looks as good as GoT. Tuning into this show was like tuning into a blockbuster epic every week. The sets, the effects, the action, that iconic cast of characters. Let’s not forget the blood.

God this was intense. The deaths? The cliffhangers? With the exception of The Walking Dead, it’s hard to think of a show that was this popular and this violent. But it was beautiful too. Scenic vistas and ancient castles. It made me feel things. That “Hold the Door” scene still makes me cry.

I saw this show live in concert. I had a GoT birthday cake once. It was the show I spent the most time talking and theorizing about and I doubt anything will ever match it. But who knows. I’ll report back to you at the end of the next decade.