Top 10 Things I Hated About Television in 2011
Rachel's TV Top 10 List
Top Ten Things I Hated About Television This Year

10. Charlie Sheen and the return of Two and a Half Men

I think this story really got me because Major League was one of my favorite movies when I was little. Unless you were living in some dark, dank, electricity-deprived cave, you saw the very public meltdown of Charlie Sheen. And all of a sudden, a man with a dwindling career that had otherwise been isolated to CBS was EVERYWHERE. What the hell is tigerblood, anyway? Then came the porn star "goddess" and the very public bounce from Two and a Half Men and all I could think was "this man has children. Also, his dad was the most amazing president pop culture has ever seen. And we're just feeding his delusions." Then CBS pulled in Ashton Kutcher and I became even sadder that Two and a Half Men is the most popular show in America. And thus begins a trend that will become evident throughout this list: America's desperate need to raise its pop-culture standards.

9. Michael Scott's departure from The Office (and his lack of an Emmy. And the show's general suckage since)

Steve Carrell shot to stardom as Michael Scott, the fearless leader of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton office and the sterling cast of characters that worked there. Sure, The Office had its ups and downs during the seasons Carrell spent on the show, but no low plunged as deep as the depths the show has reached now that Michael Scott rode off into the sunset. Sure, his final season may not have actually been his strongest, but Carrell more than deserved an Emmy for his time on The Office, and Rainn Wilson was totally right in saying that the TV world should be ashamed that the man who was Michael Scott never received the honor. This season of The Office has become generally frightening to behold, each episode an exercise in sentimentality that is completely off-base with what once made the show great, and the awkward humor that used to be a draw has become an awful, stagnant experiment in viewer loyalty. Hopefully, NBC stops beating this cash cow to death sometime soon and lets the show, and its viewers, out of its misery humanely. At this rate, eight, surely, is enough.

8. No Bourdain on Top Chef

Ever since Michael Richardson suggested Top Chef be reduced to "Anthony Bourdain and Tom Collicchio getting drunk on gin and verbally harassing the weaker chefs until they cry," I haven't been able to get the idea out of my head, seeing as I would totally watch that show every single day. So I'm sure you can imagine my dismay when the newest season of Top Chef started and Bourdain was nowhere to be found. Hugh Acheson is really just not entertaining enough to fill the large void the absence of that lanky, fiendish, New Jersey native left in my heart. I mean, I get that the last actual judge only appears to further supplement the rotation of celebrity chefs that appear at judges' table every week, but Bourdain was by and large the best, and the last season got my hopes up that he'd become a staple and act as a foil to bring out the full bad-ass-ery of Tom. It doesn't help that this season of Top Chef takes place in one of my least favorite places: Texas. I bet Bourdain jumped ship because he knew an unabashed yankee like himself would get run out of town pretty quickly, but it really doesn't make me any less sad.

7. The axing of Friday Night Lights

I'll admit I was late to jump on the Friday Night Lights bandwagon, but what my dedication lacks in years spanned, it more than adequately makes up for in zeal. Once I'd powered through every.single.episode. of the series, I was highly disappointed that I wouldn't be privy to the inner workings of Dillion, TX football any longer. Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor pulls off one of the most impressive TV performances I have ever witnessed, and it's a shame that more people didn't appreciate him and his spectacular array of supporting characters (special shout out to Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins) while the show was on the air. But hey, I guess you don't know what you got til it's gone, and Friday Night Lights is surely destined for a life of cult adoration somewhat reminiscent of the outpouring of post-cancellation love for Arrested Development.

6. Republican Presidential Debates

Republicans scare me. Especially when they're presidential candidates in an election cycle marred by economic uncertainty and social unrest. The seemingly infinite amount of GOP presidential debates has alternatively provided significant fodder for late-night comedy and a terrifying view into what this bevvy of idiots would attempt to accomplish as leader of the free world. The endless repetition of perfectly honed debate talking points, however, is ultimately a sad commentary on the fact that American politics have become a spectacle fuelling 24-hour cable news networks, rather than a means of constructing policies that will advance our country and our world.

5. A Year Without Mad Men

The end of summer is typically Mad Men time. My friends and I have gotten very accustomed to getting all dolled up for the premier somewhere around the end of July/middle of August, making old fashioneds that could strip paint, and seeing what kind of trouble Don is getting into these days. This year, however, we were forced to wait and see if Don actually married his horse-toothed secretary and if Joan is having Roger's silver-fox baby, because, for some reason, AMC thought it had some kind of room to demand anything but greatness from the show's creator Matthew Weiner. We were instead forced to subsist on the fact that the entire series was going up on Netflix as we waited for the inevitable news that the show was being picked up again (although, I'm not going to lie, I was worried that something catastrophic would happen. Crazier things have occurred, after all). But even the announcement that the show would return in the first half of 2012, and that Weiner planned three more seasons before the show came to a close, weren't enough to make up for the fact that the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce were closed to the public for a year.

4. Zooey Deschanel

I've made my distaste for Zooey Deschanel known before. And the fact that she now has her own television show hasn't helped alleviate said distaste. While she could (potentially, on some planet"¦) be read as an interesting deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trend, she's more often an annoying waif of a character, one who relies on unrealistic attributes and obnoxious eccentricities that are nowhere close to actually loveable. In New Girl, Deschanel plays into the awful gender stereotype comedy that I'll get into a bit later, and she does it by bastardizing something I hold very dear: having a core group of guy friends. And that I can never forgive her for, even if I can get over her ridiculous bang-to-face ratio.

3. Whitney, "Man" Shows, and hacked gender stereotypes

I don't know what happened this year, but there was a veritable bumper crop of shows that hinged on the idea of "traditional" gender stereotypes, trying to draw humor out of the concept that modern life somewhat erodes these ideas, but that really they are entrenched and must be forcefully maintained. Whitney is perhaps the most egregious example of this, drawing the titular character's main personality traits from the fact that, as a child of divorce, she is terrifyingly unbalanced and completely opposed to marriage, even though she lives in a committed long term relationship with a man who proves much too good for her. She's quirky and gross (like a guy) but at the end of every episode she displays some kind of manufactured sentimentality that is supposed to be innately feminine but is actually just offensive. Add to Whitney the atrocious Last Man Standing, where Buzz Lightyear stars as a disrespectful conservative father to three cardboard cutout daughters, and Man Up!, which I actually refuse to watch because there is legitimately an exclamation point in it. Then there's Suburgatory, which does everything it can to portray suburban girls as mindless idiots, and New Girl, which maintains that boys and girls are just so different so it is soooo hard for them to be friends, which, while generally fine for guys, treat their women pretty poorly. I'm sick of the idea that for men to be men, they have to shoot things and be chauvinists, and for women to be women, they have to be whiney and particular and absolutely insufferable.

2. the Kardashians

This one needs very little explanation. No, E! network, no matter how hard you try, the Kardashians are not the "American equivalent of royalty." Why are these people famous? There are thousands of other people infinitely more talented who fight tooth and nail to make it in Hollywood. These people are totally useless, and not even entertainingly so.

1. The Tepid Response to Pan Am and Community on the bubble; or, American audiences are stupid

Pan Am started as a network darling, with the full force of the ABC promotional machine behind it. Both ABC and NBC had jumped on the 1960s nostalgia bandwagon, with the PlayBoy Club getting the ax pretty damn quickly (which was much deserved, in my opinion). Despite lackluster ratings, ABC has stuck with Pan Am, which I'm glad about, because it is probably my favorite new show this year. Pan Am is smart, well-styled, and moving. I've called it the Forrest Gump of television because of its delicate weaving of history into the plot, without the elements seeming hackneyed or overwrought. Sure, the crew was in Berlin for Kennedy's famous speech, but really, the trip had more to do with the characters than the spectacle. Speaking of the characters, they're well developed, relatable (and beautiful"¦), funny and charming and insecure and damaged in a way that makes them real. So why, America, haven't you fallen in love with this show the way I have? The same question can be applied to Community, which has notoriously been left off of NBC's midseason schedule. If this show gets cancelled I will cry. Seriously. A lot. Community, unlike the plethora of gender-based "comedy" shows mentioned above is (god forbid) ACTUALLY FUNNY. It is, however, also very smart. I don't want to sound elitist, but seriously: are Pan Am and Community honestly just too intelligent for American audiences? I swear, the lukewarm response to both of these shows is indicative of the overall downturn of American culture and society that is running rampant in all sectors. It makes me sad, and I think that, with the New Year rapidly approaching, we should all make a resolution to just be a little smarter, push our tastes a little farther, and actually consume pop culture that challenges and intrigues us, rather than simply the train-wreck shit that seems to be everywhere (I'm lookin' at you, Kardashians).

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