The Guilty Pleasure Television of 2010

by PopMatters Staff

3 January 2011

As if it wasn't already a lamentable leisure time suck, here are ten more reasons why TV rules our daily routine - perhaps more than it should.

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Pardon the Interruption

Cast: Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Tony Reali



Pardon the Interruption

They’ve been doing it so long that it’s like second nature. Give them a topic and they riff like old school stand-ups, routines and regular catchphrases peppering the always accurate (if occasionally, narrow) insights. Oh, and did we mention these guys are talking about sports? Indeed, for the last nine years, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have gone bald head to head, arguing over such esoteric topics as the post-season baseball “hot stove”, the ever-present pressure of big money in athletics, and perhaps most importantly, the various player personalities that make up America’s many past times. Within their gimmicky set-up (they occasionally take “Five Good Minutes” for an interview, and play games with names like “Word Up” and “Report Card”), the duo delivers that rarity in real TV, passion and personality. Oh, and did we mention they are talking about sports? Bill Gibron



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The Apprentice

Cast: Donald Trump


Review [13.Mar.2006]
Review [22.Sep.2005]
Review [26.Jan.2004]


The Apprentice

There wasn’t much edification in the 10th season of The Apprentice even though iron-eyed winner Brandy Kuentzel gave us something to root for. A season that gasped along on life support was, however, precisely what made the show entertaining. In fact, this season’s ratings nosedive was complemented by a parade of grade-D tantrums, as every boardroom showdown came within a credit-card width of full-blown fisticuffs. And the Donald acted thoroughly pissed off about having to participate—calling the female team “bitches” and yelling, “You couldn’t f*cking read!” at another contestant before shit-canning him to the elevator. The show was a cabwreck from start to finish, with one hopeful, Anand, fired at the beginning of an episode (for cheating, an Apprentice first) and with the morbid fascination of watching David Johnson, the biggest jackass in the show’s history. Steve Leftridge



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The Goldbergs

Cast: Gertrude Berg, Philip Loeb, Harold J. Stone, Robert H. Harris, Eli Mintz, Larry Robinson



The Goldbergs

You don’t have to be Jewish to love The Goldbergs, and you don’t have to be a fanatic for old-time television either. Originally broadcast 1949-1956, The Goldbergs is still enjoyable to watch today. The show’s episodes capture the reality of life in a working-class Jewish family in the Bronx in a way recognizable to strivers everywhere, regardless of ethnicity or geographic location. Family matriarch Molly Goldberg, played by series creator and scriptwriter Gertrude Berg, embodies the distilled essence of a real type of person—the Jewish mother who is the emotional center of her family and the go-to person when anyone has a problem. Molly is a stereotype, but she’s a comforting one, and Berg projects the kind of warmth and sincerity which makes you feel that she could also solve your problems if you gave her a chance. Sarah Boslaugh



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Criminal Minds

Cast: Joe Mantegna, Thomas Gibson, Paget Brewster, Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness


Review [31.Oct.2007]
Review [5.Oct.2005]


Criminal Minds

As far as so-self-serious-they’re-hilarious crime procedurals go, CSI: Miami and the overwrought David Caruso get most of the love, but for my money, Criminal Minds rules the roost. As awful as it can be, I continue to stomach its slick mediocrity for the reliable comedic fixes. I return for the contrived last-minute rescues, the ludicrous interpretive leaps, the pretentious literary quotes, the incorrect weekly assumption that the “unsub” is impotent. And that wonderfully mismatched cast! The washed-up comic-actor leads Thomas Gibson and Joe Mantegna, their line deliveries so monotone they border on Method. Shemar Moore’s aggressive, over-compensatory masculinity. Kirstin Vangsness’ aggressive, over-compensatory quirkiness. And Matthew Gray Gubler’s ambling, nasal-talking personification of geek cred bait. An impending spin-off with Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo threatens to siphon off its vital oxygen, but the original fire will always burn brightest and best (by which I mean corniest and worst). Ross Langager



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Say Yes to the Dress

Cast: Roger Craig Smith



Say Yes to the Dress

Brides-to-be tune into TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, a reality show that takes place at the tony Kleinfeld’s bridal salon in Manhattan, for the sheer thrill of seeing a barrage of thousands-of-dollar dresses paraded across the screen. Mermaid, fit-and-flare, A-line, and ball gown confections float across the screen, and home viewers have the guilty pleasure of critiquing gowns that they might never afford to try on in the first place. “This one is too over-the-top,” you might think. “The first one flattered her figure better.” Yet even after the excitement of seeing new Pnina Tornai and Vera Wang gowns has waned, it’s still mesmerizing to see the way that women sell to other women. Other television shows—The Apprentice, for example—celebrate the hard-hitting, hard-sell approach that men take with each other in business. It’s much more rare to see the approach that female saleswomen take with female clients, and observing those intricate operations is the true guilty pleasure of Say Yes to the Dress. Marisa LaScala


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