That being said, below I’ve assembled a list (in alphabetical order, because I can’t play favorites!) of 15 shows I consider to be the most watchable on air today and why I love them. Let me know if you agree, think I’ve completely missed the mark or if you want to share your favorites not on this list! Note: almost all of these shows are available to watch on Hulu as well as their regular viewing times.
1. 30 Rock
I don’t think I’ll get much argument about this pick, especially from the critics, as 30 Rock was nominated for a record-breaking 22 Emmy Awards this year. Anyone who’s watched this show can’t help but laugh at it. The cast is perfect, in fact, I can’t think of a single member of its wide array of actors that doesn’t fit in. Bravo, Tina Fey, bravo. 30 Rock airs on NBC on Thursday nights.
2. Arrested Development
I cannot begin to describe how much I LOVE this show. I love it so much, in fact, that I couldn’t bear to keep it off this list, even though it was cancelled in 2006. Arrested Development is without a doubt the most hilarious show I have ever viewed. The show revolves around the most dysfunctional family ever to walk the planet, the Bluths.This show was produced by Ron Howard, and helped to launch the career of Superbad and Juno star Michael Cera, as well as re-launch Jason Bateman’s career. Trust me: do yourself a favor and drive to a Blockbuster right now and rent the first season. Then get ready to purchase them all, because if you watch one episode, you’ll be craving a whole lot more. Luckily, though the show was cancelled, a movie is now in the works and set to be released sometime in 2011.
I only started watching this season, but I’m already loving Bones. The series follows a forensic anthropologist, Dr. Brennan, her team of scientists, and her partner in the FBI, Seely Booth. What I like about this show is that while it still has the gory, CSI-type shock factors, it focuses more on the characters and the relationships between them. It’s also incredibly funny (can you sense a trend here?) and interestingly casts the woman (Dr. Brennan) in the duo as the rational and unemotional one, while Agent Booth is the more sensitive of the two. Bones airs Thursdays on FOX.
I was on the fence about Community after watching the first few episodes of this newcomer, but luckily the show found its stride. Set at a Community college, the show revolves around a study group for a Spanish class. The show is almost always stolen by film and TV enthusiast Abed (Danny Pudi) and his unlikely best friend, football quarterback Troy (Donald Glover, who also wrote for 30 Rock). The only cast member that falls flat is Chevy Chase, who just needs to accept that his glory days are over and retire. Community airs on NBC on Thursday nights.
5. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Many people predicted that with the inauguration of Barack Obama, The Daily Show would cease to exist as we know it. All of those people were wrong. Jon Stewart has been reading fake news for over 10 years, and he’s still as sharp and hilarious as he was the first day on the job. Stewart has actually been identified as the most trusted man in news in some demographics. The Daily Show airs on Comedy Central Mon.-Thurs.
6. Doctor Who
I was recently introduced to this BBC show by a friend and caught up on all 4 seasons of episodes in a little over a week. The series follows a Time Lord (“The Doctor”) from another planet and his adventures travelling through time and space to save the Earth (and the occasional obscure planet.) This show is British humor at its finest. Not only is it hilarious (again, seeing the trend?), but it’s also chock full of aliens and adventure and bad guys, not to mention sonic screwdrivers. Just how good is this show? After watching the episode entitled, “Don’t Blink,” I’m now scared to death of statues. Watch it. You won’t regret it. Doctor Who airs on BBC America on an as-yet-unannounced day.
There is one word that correctly describes this breakout hit: infectious. Once I watched the first episode and started recommending it it spread through my group of friends like mono through a high school (which, coincidentally, also spread through my group of friends.) Glee is the television series that saved musicals. Its over-the-top humor, talent and performances make it the most lovable program I think I’ve ever encountered. The cast is sublime, and superbly talented. And Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, the unstable cheer-leading coach, leads the pack. Glee airs on FOX on Wednesdays, and the songs from its first album are available on iTunes.
Greek is a comedy currently in its 3rd season. The show is set at Cyprus Rhodes University, and revolves around siblings Casey and Rusty Cartwright, and the experiences they go through in college and the Greek system. Greek portrays what every student imagines to be the most dramatic and fun college experience. One thing I love about this show is its progressiveness when it comes to gay characters. Calvin, one of the main characters, is gay, but that’s far from the most important part of his personality. The producers and writers of the show do an excellent job of showing an “everyman” quality about all of their characters. This show is in danger of not being renewed, so everyone needs to tune in ASAP! Greek airs Monday nights on ABC Family.
House is another show that I’ve recently discovered. I started watching it on Hulu in November, and by the beginning of December I’d bought all the other seasons and caught up. Besides all the cool medical cases we get to watch House and his team solve, the characters themselves are purely entertaining. Dr. Wilson is the perfect foil for House: someone who is selfless in most regards, yet who won’t take anyone’s crap, especially House’s. House is the perfect example of what a well-balanced medical drama should be comprised of : lots of humor, excellent characterization and situations that actually resonate with the audience. Plus, watching House unload on everyone he encounters helps all of us who bite our tongues live vicariously. House airs on FOX on Monday nights.
10. How I Met Your Mother
HIMYM is another show I just got into recently. It follows architect Ted Mosby on his quest to settle down with the perfect woman, along with his friends, Marshall and Lily (the disgustingly-cute couple,) Robin (a native Canadian living in New York trying to make it as a news anchor) and Barney (a suit-wearing womanizer.) The connection between cast members is clear. It captures the feeling of friendship perfectly, along with the trials and tribulations of trying to find someone to be with. Want an episode to watch the conveys the sheer awesome-ness of this show? Try “Slap Bet.” You won’t be disappointed. Tune in Mondays on CBS.
11. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It’s Always Sunny is almost without a doubt the most offensive show on television. I have a theory that the writers (who also produce and star in the series) sit down and brainstorm topics that would offend the widest number of people, then go from there. The show is unique in that the main characters are almost always in the wrong. Viewers can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with main characters Dennis, Dee, Mac and Frank. The only exception to the rule is Charlie, who is so seemingly naive and child-like that you can’t help but root for him, despite his illiteracy and occasional glue-huffing habit. Start watching: I dare you not to laugh. One side-affect you should be aware of: extended viewing of this show sometimes leads to the yelling of “God damnit Charlie!”, somewhat of a catchphrase for the show, in everyday situations. Watch it on FX Thursdays.
I know, I know, ANOTHER medical show? Except this one is different. I mean, yes, it has the bizarre medical maladies that most feature, and YES, most of the cast are sleeping with one another, but there’s something about this show that makes it all seem fresh again. One of the most notable differences is that main character, Veronica, served two tours in Iraq as an army nurse, so that adds in the PTSD factor. Add in all the love triangles and put most of the focus on the nurses and you’ve got yourself a quality drama. Mercy airs on NBC Wednesdays.
13. The Office
I doubt you need a description of this series. It’s one of the most popular comedies on TV right now. All I’m going to say is that I love this series and that I’d jump at the chance to work in an office like this! The Office airs Thurday nights on NBC.
Psych is a comedy about Shawn Spencer, a man who uses his photographic memory and talent for observation to con his way into a gig as the Santa Barbara PD’s psychic. Sound like The Mentalist? Psych’s writers think so too, they constantly add in jabs at the copy-cat series, which premiered over a year after Psych did.The real magic in this show is the chemistry between Shawn and his best friend/P.I. partner, Gus. Their interactions are laugh-out-loud funny. Psych airs Fridays on USA.
15. The Soup
You might have noticed that there aren’t any reality shows on this list. That’s because I can get my fill just by watching The Soup, hosted by Joel McHale. This clip show provides a recap of all the outrageous entertainment moments of the week, along with hilarious commentary. All the melodrama with none of the guilt. What’s not to love? The Soup airs on E! on Friday nights.
Shows that just missed the cut, but you should check out anyway.
The final episode of Joss Whedon’s short-lived series just aired, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch the re-runs. FOX.
– The Middle
The suburban family in all its glory (glory). ABC Wednesdays.
Hilarious, yet ultimately sweet. ABC Wednesdays.