Time to make with the listing. Go here to read the introduction of this post for the qualifications for this list and my general thoughts on television this decade, along with some honourable mentions for shows that didn’t fit well with the list. Also, I should add that some of my thesis about this being the best decade in television history was influenced by this great piece by Emily Nussbaum of New York Magazine titled “When TV Became Art”. If you haven’t read it yet, you probably should.
Now that I’ve spent parts of the past two months listing the best albums of the past decade, it’s time to move on to television. I finished off that end of decade list theorizing that “given that it was the decade where I was in my twenties, it’ll probably end up being my favourite decade for music as my tastes begin to calcify”, but in the case of television, I truly believe that this was the decade that television grew up and rose to levels of quality previously unmatched.
You probably wouldn’t know it if you only watched network TV, or focused on all the negatives that rose along with these newfound levels of quality, like the constant stream of reality TV and copycat procedurals. But it’s useless to judge TV by its worst output, or even its average output, because as a viewer you only have so much time to watch it. Say you watch 10 hours of TV (which is a lot less than me, but more than others). You can now fill those 10 hours with greater levels of quality than ever before, and if you choose to fill them with the dregs, that’s on you, not the medium. Me? I could care less about how the other hundreds of hours are filled by all the channels out there, because I can barely find time to watch all of the high quality TV that I want to watch.
Inspired by Maclean’s list of the Top 10 Canadian albums of the decade, I decided to bang out an all-Canuck version of my top 25 albums of the decade. This has been a fantastic decade for Canadian music, which benefited from the fracturing of pop culture that allowed small acts from Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and points in between to gain a foothold in the popular consciousness throughout the world, without having to overcome the traditional barrier in spreading Canadian art: we don’t have a big enough population to warrant attention. This was a problem back when bands had to sell millions of records and dominate the charts to get buzz. Now you just need to get the attention of the proper taste-makers, sell a few units, do the right festivals, and let the internet do the rest. Oh yeah, and have the talent to back it up.
Sure, we still had some artists getting attention the traditional way, like Nickelback and Avril Lavigne, and for that… I apologize. But judging our music by its most popular acts would be just as big a mistake as dismissing American music because of the work of the Black Eyed Peas and American Idol or the UK because of James Blunt and The X Factor. Instead, let’s celebrate the best.
The following is just a short list, with no write-ups, designed to just give an idea of what kind of decade it’s been for the True North Strong and Free (although, if you want to read write-ups for the top 8, see my Best Albums of the Decade list). I didn’t take too much time putting this list together, so don’t get too focused on the order. As always, this list is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be used for wagering of any kind.