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The Top 5 Shows of 2011 (That You Didn’t Watch)

Ah, another year, come and gone… time to batten down the hatches, make resolutions you’ll break in two weeks, and plan where best to nurse your inevitable hangover, while reflecting on the ups and downs the year had to offer.

While worshipping the porcelain throne, I encourage you to consider the following shows. If you’ve seen them, congratulations, you’ve achieved something this year! If not, fire up your torrenting skills Netflix and get ready for a treat! While you’re at it, aim for the bowl, and not the floor this year. Your roommate/mother/significant other thanks you.

1. Wilfred (FX)

Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. That is Frodo being licked by a man in a dog suit. Makes his relationship with Samwise Gamgee look downright chaste.

And I get it. The premise is absurd. But who doesn’t want to watch Frodo squirm as his large, pot smoking, foul mouthed, maniacal companion (who is clearly an Australian man in a dog suit (Gann) as he humps every object around him, while extolling the virtues of eating dead animals and his own excrement?

Still with me? It gets better. The main character, Ryan (Wood), is the only person who can SEE Wilfred in this form. Everyone else sees an adorable, if rapscallion pup.

Absurdity and hilarity ensue, as we watch Wilfred interact with the world around him, taking perverse joy in simply f-----g with Ryan at every turn. Ever seen a grown man in a dog suit motorboat a waitress? How about chase a laser pointer? We gleefully are witness to Ryan’s abject horror and the rest of the worlds oblivion as Wilfred wreaks havoc on the world around him.

And there is no explanation as to why Ryan can see and talk to Wilfred as a man, but the rest of the world can’t, and frankly, we don’t f-----g care. Wilfred is the embodiment of Id – creating wanton destruction for Ryan every episode. He’s the antithesis of Jiminy Cricket. A diabolical devil on the shoulder who drinks, fucks, and smokes with impunity.

And we love him. And underneath all of this madness, there’s a touching story (kind of. well, a story, at least.)

And now I want a puppy. Preferably one who can drink me under the table.

2. Shameless (Showtime)

Remember growing up to the traditional TV family? The Seavers, The Huxtables, hell – even The Munsters? The bumbling Dad, the doting yet dippy Mom, and the bright, charming, and occasionally mischievous children that brought you heartwarming episodic lessons, teaching core family values?

Well, Shameless shits on all of that. Hard.

Dysfunctional does not even being to describe the Gallaghers. Led by their patriarch, played brilliantly by William H. Macy, Frank is a scheming con-man and raging alcoholic who only views his family as a meant to a larger government check to pay his bar tab, while his six (yes, six) children are left to scam, scheme, and connive their way through life in order to survive. Feel good yet?

The heart and soul of the family is the resourceful Fiona, played by a smoking hot and oft scantily clad Emmy Rossum. That alone should be enough to tune in. But throw in porn star neighbors, car stealing boyfriends, affairs, a promiscuous girlfriend with “daddy issues,” and rounding out the circus s--t show, Joan Cusack’s hilarious and endearing portrayal of an agoraphobic housewife with a penchant for dildos, and you have a recipe for a prime time dramedy that is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Oddly, through all the absurdities, the show is heartfelt, the characters engaging, and oddly relate-able. For all of its outlandish, brazen irreverence, Shameless reiterates what countless TV families have before it – You always have your family (whether you like it or not). And you know what? There’s a little bit of Gallagher in all of us.

3. Community (NBC)

Now in its third season, Community is one of those great little gems of comedy that is entirely underpraised. Following the exploits of Jeff Winger (McHale) and his ragtag study group as they traverse the choppy waters of community college, each week poses new challenges and outlandish situations. The characters are well defined, and each personality is a cog in the wheel of a very hilarious sitcom.

Troy and Abed are the “buddies” of the show, pop culture savants and co-dependent man-children. Last year’s “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” is the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages. Don’t believe me? Take a gander:

Abed suffers a mental breakdown, and sees the world around around him as an animated claymation special. You know, like you do.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The whole cast is rich and entertaining as hell – I especially enjoy Ken Jeong as Senor Chang, the crazy Spanish professor. Also, Chevy Chase’s turn as millionaire Pierce Hawthorne is fantastic. Yes, Chevy F-----g Chase.

4. Warehouse 13 (SyFy)

So, in the grand scheme of obscurity, I don’t think there’s any show more under appreciated than this. Renewed for a fourth season, Warehouse 13 is a roller coaster of geeky giddy fun. The premise is that there is are artifacts that have been spread throughout history that have supernatural abilities, some good, and some bad, and its the job of the Agents to collect these artifacts and return them to safe keeping, at a desolate warehouse in South Dakota.

Each artifact has some historical or literal reference – ie: Miles Davis’ first trumpet – with the power to hypnotize large crowds, PT Barnum’s Top – which regenerates and regrows organs and limbs, and even Wonder Woman’s Golden Lasso of Truth.

The writing is fresh and funny, the characters quirky. Plus, there’s Saul Rubinek as Special Agent in Charge of the Warehouse. And he’s just funny as hell to watch.

5. Pawn Stars (History)

If you haven’t been introduced to the joys of watching Rick Harrison, the Old Man, Big Hoss and Chumlee wrangle and haggle prices in Las Vegas, I feel bad for you. History’s Pawn Stars is awesome fun, as people bring in ridiculous and outlandish items (historical and otherwise) to sell to our fearless team. Harrison’s laugh alone is worth watching, but seeing the fantastic array of items people bring in is fascinating. Rick often brings in experts to appraise the items, and validate their authenticity, and in the process, we get a little dose of history.

Each episode offers an amusing tit-for-tat with either The Old Man (the definition of curmudgeon-laden fatherly love) or Chumlee (the resident lackwit and overall goofball), and some pretty interesting items. The inevitable price haggling is often hilarious – people are awful. And god don’t we love pointing and laughing at them! $10,000 for a pair of sneakers? Exactly what drugs are you on, sir, and can we have them?

Now of course there have some other great shows this year – but if you missed HBO’s Game of Thrones, we’re no longer speaking.

On the other hand, there are a few shows that you ARE watching, and you need to stop. NOW. I’m looking at you; Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, Survivor and for F--K’S SAKE – anything featuring the Kardashians. If you’re watching these shows, shame on you. I hope your brain rots from exposure to the utter stupidity.



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