Television

The Best TV Shows of 2010

Running the gamut from the ever-present to the new and novel, PopMatters' TV picks prove that, as a medium, the small screen challenges the big at every entertainment (and aesthetic) level.

TV Show: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Network: FX

Cast: Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, Danny DeVito

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/i/its_always_sunny_in_philadelphia3.jpg

Display as: List

List number: 35

Display Width: 200It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
FX

Though difficult to top the viral sensation known as “Kitten Mittens”, the sixth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia still provided plenty of dark-hearted laughs for devout followers of Dennis, Dee, Mac, and Charlie. Kicking off the year on the right foot, “Mac Fights Gay Marriage” was one of only a few spoof episodes in 2010, a year in which Sunny was mainly character driven. The show has always balanced social satire with the gang’s personal squabbling, but recently the FX program seems to be becoming more and more fascinated with their character’s wild, often offensive, antics. No complaints here. After 58 episodes, the audience knows these characters well enough to follow them anywhere. Whether it’s Sweet Dee’s mystery pregnancy, Mac and Dennis appearing in black face for Lethal Weapon 5, or Charlie cracking under the strain of his rat-bashing job, Sunny proudly retains its title as the best adult program on television. Ben Travers

 

TV Show: Tosh.0

Network: Comedy Central

Cast: Daniel Tosh

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/t/tosh.01.jpg

Display as: List

List number: 34

Display Width: 200Tosh.0
Comedy Central

Cable has been trying to tap into the whole "viral" video phenomenon for a few years now, with everything from VH-1 excellent Web Junk 20 (only when the equally brilliant Patrice O'Neal was host) to the lesser E! sensibilities of G-4's Web Soup. Thankfully, Comedy Central has decided to go more dark and biting, bringing on acerbic host Daniel Tosh to mock everything YouTube generation holds dear. Riffing unrelentingly on the stupidity of those who would risk life and limb for a few moments of Internet fame, he always finds the right combination of ridicule and rationalize to win over the viewer. That Tosh is also laugh out loud funny helps as well. As long as there are adolescent lunkheads injuring their testicles for the joy of others and fame starved no-talents in need of a reality check/"redemption", this show will continue to soar -- and so will it's hilarious host. Bill Gibron

 

TV Show: Sons of Anarchy

Network: FX

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, Mark Boone Junior, Dayton Callie, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/s/sons-of-anarchy.jpg

Display as: List

List number: 33

Display Width: 200Sons of Anarchy
FX

Fully embracing its Shakespearean roots, Sons of Anarchy boldly forced familial secrets and lies to the forefront of Kurt Sutter’s brilliant biker gang drama. Featuring brilliant guest performances by the likes of Hal Holbrook, Paula Malcomson and others, the show’s third season brought most of the cast (including Ron Perlman as the Sons’ pater familias) to Belfast in search of Abel, the abducted son of club Vice President Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam). The series’ unique use of cover songs, most notably series star Katey Sagal’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire”, continued to hammer home the dire straits these characters find themselves in week after violent week. Ryan Hurst, as the second-generation Son Opie, shined brightly, especially in the season finale, finally achieving what fans can only hope is a small amount of peace and personal forgiveness. Sagal, as the blunt matriarch Gemma Teller, continues to give the best performance on television. Kevin Brettauer

 

TV Show: Supernatural

Network: The CW

Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/s/supernatural-season_6.jpg

Display as: List

List number: 32

Display Width: 200Supernatural
The CW

Supernatural successfully swerved away from the X-Files pitfall, concluding its five-year, Apocalypse-themed story arc without unnecessarily stretching it out (along with the show’s credibility). The Season Five finale saw the Winchester brothers staving off the end times at the cost of younger sibling Sam’s life. Season Six picked up with a new show-runner (Sera Gamble in place of still-Executive Producer Eric Kripke) and a new story arc. The once-grizzled Dean has become a harried suburbanite while formerly sweet Sammy has embraced soullessness upon his surprise return from the dead. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki display fine acting chops, retaining five seasons’ worth of characterization, while convincingly adapting the brothers to their new life roles as they unsteadily trying to find their way back to who they used to be and deal with the supernatural fallout of an averted Apocalpyse. Despite the change in storyline dynamics, at its core, Supernatural remains centered around the “for-better-or-worse” relationship of two brothers. The well-researched demons, angels, and occasional “monsters of the week” are just an added benefit to drive this relationship forward. Lana Cooper

 

TV Show: Conan

Network: TBS

Cast: Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, Jimmy Vivino

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/c/conan2.jpg

Display as: List

List number: 31

Display Width: 200Conan
TBS

Yes, for a few weeks there were lots of jokes, self-deprecating with more than a hint of genuine anger, about our man losing The Tonight Show and shuffling over to the basic-cable home of Family Guy reruns and edited broadcasts of American Pie movies. But something happened as compulsive talk-show host Conan O'Brien adjusted to his new TBS show: he only got looser, funnier, and weirder. A scaled-down set, a more involved audience, and the invaluable improvisations of Andy Richter have given the new show a more intimate, comedy-club atmosphere that leaves Jay Leno's needy lameness in the dust. Don't be surprised if the networks start calling back in four or five years -- or if O'Brien stays put in his welcome new home. Jesse Hassenger

 

Next Page

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.