Shows I’m keeping next season

As promised, here is part deux of my hoe-down/run-down/show-down of shows. To reiterate: I’ve watched a LOT of television over the past two years, and I intend to keep doing so, but with a few cutbacks to my “live TV” quota. Why? It’s simple, really. I WANT TO DO OTHER STUFF SOMETIMES! But the following shows are just too good. I can’t let go. I wish I knew how to quit them, but I can’t.

1. Fringe. Hands down, my favorite drama on TV right now. I usually don’t understand at least half of what’s going on, the science makes no sense to me, the mythology is too complicated to remember, and all of the sci-fi tropes go completely over my head. But you know what? I fucking love it. I love how planned out everything is, I love the acting, I love the twists and turns, and if you know me especially well, then you know I love me some Pacey and Daniels… er, Peter and Broyles… er, Josh Jackson and Lance Reddick. This show is brilliant, and I want the whole world to know it.

2. Saturday Night Live. No matter how unfunny or ridiculous this show gets, I will follow it to the ends of the earth. I think people give it too much crap and forget that, ultimately, it is a television experiment. It’s a LIVE SHOW produced EVERY WEEK. That’s tough shit, and Seth Meyers and company are doing a great job, even if they’re not in a golden age like they were at the beginning of this decade. Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Shaffer have done some particularly spectacular digital shorts this year, and the return of several alums has brought a certain glimmer back to the eyes of some of the performers. Plus, Stefon. No more needs to be said.

3. The League. This show makes me laugh harder than any other sitcom on television, and it’s basically because it describes my life. Most of my friends are dudes, who are obsessed with girls and sports, and who make up their own vocabulary and egg each other on and make me cry from cracking up so much. I am so thankful to FX for making a show like this.

4. Parks and Recreation. I always find it hard to convince people to watch this show, because most have the 1st season stuck in their heads as the lasting impression. Get that shit out, people. This show changed brilliantly from season 1 to 2 by making Amy Poehler’s character smart, and since then, it’s been tearing up Thursday nights. Each character is so lovably weird and consistently portrayed and perfectly written. Try to choose a favorite. I dare you. (After much deliberation, mine is Andy, played by Chris Pratt.)

5. The Office. It’s not as funny as it used to be, but Steve Carell went out on the highest of high notes this season, and that’s an admirable quality in a show. I’m also attached at the hip to each and every one of these characters, especially Andy and Oscar, so I’ll follow them into the Scranton abyss.

6. Mad Men. Can Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce top last season? Maybe, maybe not. As much as it pains me to support Matt Weiner (who is on my shit list along with Ryan Murphy), I love every slow, sexy, mysterious moment of this show. There’s nothing like it on TV, and there never will be. (Same goes for Jon Hamm.)

7. Community. Actually, there’s nothing on TV like Community, either. It’s a show written for TV fans and TV writers alike. It’s weird and self-referential and experimental, and who knows why NBC took a chance on it, but I’m sure as hell glad they did. They reach further for references and homages and ideas than any other show, and 99% of the time, it works. Also, I have a wicked crush on Donald Glover, and Joel McHale takes his shirt off a lot.

8. 30 Rock. Basically the same I-will-hang-on-for-dear-life argument as I made for The Office. If there’s one thing NBC is good at, it’s amassing a loyal following for its comedies, and making them age well. 30 Rock isn’t as funny as it used to be, either, but it’s still brilliant and weird. And Tina Fey is a genius, so I will watch anything she produces.

9. The Walking Dead. No other show has scared me senseless. No other show has zombies. No other show gets viewing parties like this one. God, I love AMC. How much longer ’til Halloween?

10. How I Met Your Mother. I watch for the same reason everyone else does: I want to know who the mother is, goddamnit.

11. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Every year, these new-age Seinfeldians come up with several new inside jokes for me to laugh about with my friends (or to myself), and that is just delightful.

12. Parenthood. Of course, it helps that I should probably be the president of the Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Mae Whitman, and Dax Shepard fan clubs, but actors aside, creator Jason Katims just knows how to draw a viewer in using intense emotions and unpredictably real dialogue. Watch Friday Night Lights if you want the real deal, by the way.

13. Dexter/True Blood/Shameless. I’d love to continue with these indulgently brilliant premium-cable shows, but I don’t have HBO or SHO anymore. I guess I’ll have to wait for the DVDs to be released… though I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold out that long. I must have my Michael C. Hall/Stephen Moyer/Jeremy Alan White fixes soon, or else…

Also! If I can catch up on The Good Wife, I may tack on that one. I know I’m late to the party, but dang! Way to inadvertently pull me into the lawyer show genre, CBS. I was not expecting that.

Which shows are you going to be faithful to next year?