Top TV according to TIME: A surprisingly inoffensive list


I generally avoid TIME magazine in favor of less Time-Warner-owned news outlets, but I generally

gravitate toward “best of” lists because I love to hate them (see here

and here for recent choice examples). So, what to do with TIME‘s list of the

The 100 Best TV Shows“?

Dare I say, agree with it? I feel like Scully acknowledging a paranormal phenomenon as paranormal, but there you have it. Since The X-Files made the cut,

at least I’m in (very) good company.

The list isn’t perfect by a stretch (no Northern Exposure or The Muppet Show), but its author, TIME TV critic James Poniewozik,

gets more things right than wrong, and includes quite a few lesbian favorites, Buffy and Battlestar Galactica among them.

The fact that Poniewozik eschews ranking helps (there’s no No. 82 to argue into the No. 2 spot), as does his

frankness about the

inherent bias of such an endeavor. Imagine that: a list-maker who acknowledges limitations! Novel. He even explains his rules, some logical (only shows that have withstood

more than a year of existence — meaning no Friday Night Lights), some frustrating (only one show per creator or creative team —

meaning no Firefly), and most broken at least once, but nonetheless, they’re actual, on-the-table rules beyond “because X is awesome/cool/hot,”

“because I say so,” or “because every other critic says so.” Again, novel.

Perhaps I wouldn’t be so jovial if he hadn’t included Gilmore Girls or MST3K, but he did, so pass the popcorn, Crow.

There are a few shows that may be critically undeserving, but which I can’t dispute from a cultural standpoint (American Idol, Beavis and Butt-head),

and there are many shows that would be on my own list. A few from the latter group:

The Cosby Show

Some folks say this show hasn’t held up over time, but I disagree. Claire Huxtable is just as fine today as she was back then.

Some folks also say the show skirted issues of race too easily, but again, I disagree, just as I disagree when people talk about Ellen avoiding her

sexuality — the show’s existence was its statement. The fact that Cosby is one of the only programs on this particular list with a predominantly

non-white cast is an indication (as are so many

other things) that we still have a somewhat depressingly long way to go,

but it doesn’t nullify the program’s importance.

Sesame Street

Even before the days of Tina Fey, book pirate,

Sesame was brilliant. I still know

how to count to twelve, find myself singing

“Me and My Llama” on dentist days (catchy poor grammar, that is), and recite “a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter” when I run to the grocery store.

I still dream about Maria, too. (Is that wrong?) Just a few of so many wonderful things, including television’s original gay couple.

My So-Called Life

Angela, Angela. I know I’m not the only MSCL fan around here, and with good reason.

Sure, she was a whiny teenager, but she was our whiny teenager, with a bad-boy crush and a queer best friend (who wants to

make a difference). But when it comes down to it, it’s all about Angela.

Red hair and Chuck Taylors; what’s not to love?

I was also happy but not as surprised to see Oprah, The Daily Show and Six Feet Under make the list, but there are a few besides Northern

Exposure and The Muppet Show that I would have included: Wonderfalls, The Wonder Years and Jeopardy

(yes, I’m a glutton; I can’t stand cocky Alex Trebek and my viewing partner always seems to get more right than I do, but I’m still hooked).

Read the full list again here and then report back. What

omissions do you notice? What are you happy to see on the list? And is there any bigger relief than the fact that it includes Arrested Development?

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