Editors' Picks: The TV.com Staff's Top 5 TV Shows of 2011

Looking back on this year, only one thing is for certain: We watched a LOT of TV. And we liked a lot of it, too, which is why limiting our list of favorites to just five shows gave us all panic attacks was really, really hard. Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones topped our collective lists—Breaking Bad for its incredible fourth season, and Game of Thrones not only for its epic first season, but its complete destruction of the stereotype that the fantasy genre can't deliver on mass-appeal. So we made a point to spotlight a few of our other favorites and explain why they made the cut, too. Take a look, then let us know what made your own Best of 2011 list in the comments section, below.


Ilana Diamond, Writer / Snake Charmer

5. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
4. Hell's Kitchen
3. New Girl
2. How to Make it in America
1. Bored to Death


Spotlight: New Girl
Four months ago, I would never have thought I'd include New Girl among my five favorite shows of 2011. When I first heard about Fox's new hipster comedy, my eye rolling could be heard throughout all the land. Frankly, I'd had it up to here (hands motioning way above my head) with the Zooey Deschanel phenomenon. I think it was seeing her in all those cotton commercials that really sent me over the edge. But, I decided not to blame Zooey for all the wrong in the world and watched the first episode with a half-open heart and a boatload of skepticism. It turned out that Jess and her adorable (probably cotton) outfits, not to mention her new roommates, with their idiosyncratic behaviors and quirks, seemed like TV-ready versions of some of my friends. Which is to say they're all lovable despite (or perhaps because of) their neuroses. Oh, and Schmidt's parkour routine when he thought he was going to get with Cece is really what sealed the deal for me.


Seth Abramovitch, Writer / Urban Dandy

5. Louie
4. New Girl
3. Game of Thrones
2. Enlightened
1. Homeland


Spotlight: Enlightened
Enlightened completely caught me off guard. Previews of this show made it look like it was going to be a straight-ahead dark comedy about a screwed-up woman who finds spirituality late in life and shoves it down everybody's throats. And while it began like that, it quickly became clear that creator and actor Mike White had much more in mind for Amy Jellicoe, the antihero at Enlightened's center, so brilliantly inhabited by Laura Dern. This is a show that tackles big, universal subjects like death, loneliness, friendship, addiction, parenting, and social injustice, but does so with a light touch. The humor can be dark, but true to its title, this is a show about light, both literally—most of it unfolds beneath the blinding Southern California sunshine, like a dermatologist's lamp highlighting every minor imperfection in Amy's life—and figuratively. It's about discovering oneself, but one's real self who's never afraid to just take a moment to feel something. One season in, White has already created something completely unique and wonderful. Bravo.


Lily Sparks, Writer / Flabby Tabby Physical Trainer

5. True Blood
4. Breaking Bad
3. Louie
2. Revenge
1. Once Upon a Time


Spotlight: Once Upon a Time
What could have easily been mishandled as a cheesy costume romp instead became the most imaginative and audacious drama series network TV has to offer. Once Upon a Time's adept cast makes the most of their dual roles, and the show's writers aren’t content to merely mine the rich source material of classic fairytales, but have added their own unique twists and dynamics, making each episode an essential clue in unraveling an intricate web of deception in the cozy, small-town setting. While Once Upon a Time aggressively sidesteps happy endings, the cultivated air of mystery and over-the-top drama is just as satisfying.


Walter Morbeck, Producer / Semi-Professional Roadtripper

5. Charlie Rose
4. Bob's Burgers
3. Parks and Recreation
2. Archer
1. Game of Thrones


Spotlight: Bob's Burgers
Once you make it past the typical "mom, dad, and three kids" set-up and dull title, Bob's Burgers is a sweetly written, creatively cast series that totally flew under the radar before its pleasantly surprising renewal by Fox. The three kids—insecurity-laden Tina, rambunctious Gene, and the all-too-clever, bunny-ears-donning Louise—are my favorite new TV characters of the year. And parents Bob and Linda Belcher somehow manage to hold everything together without sacrificing on edgy humor: Bob's admission that “I may or may not have tried crack last night. I don't think I did. But if I did, I really liked it” in the episode called "Sheesh! Cab Bob" is a prime example. Overall, what really sets the Belchers apart from most TV families is that they are distinctively supportive and never mean—even for the sake of humor—despite their own independent quirks. If ever there was a show that blurred the lines between socially admirable and criminally insane, this is it.


Louis Peitzman, Writer / Freelance Neurotic

5. Revenge
4. Parks and Recreation
3. Homeland
2. Game of Thrones
1. Breaking Bad


Spotlight: Homeland
Because it premiered late in the year after plenty of hype from ecstatic critics, it was hard to believe Homeland would be the instant classic it was hailed as. And yet, here we are. The show will be prominently featured on countless Best of 2011 lists because it’s just that good. Like Breaking Bad, Homeland combines nail-biting tension with some of the best character development on television: This is one of those rare series that stuns you with dialogue and complicated relationships, then blows you away with a literal explosion. And with some of the year’s best performances from leads Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, Homeland is a series we’ll be talking about long after the ringing in our ears has subsided.


Price Peterson, Writer / Photo-recap Shut-in

5. So You Think You Can Dance
4. Game of Thrones
3. The Walking Dead
2. Breaking Bad
1. The Vampire Diaries


Spotlight: The Vampire Diaries
Since its inception, The Vampire Diaries has been perhaps the most misunderstood show on television. Initially written off as a poor man's Twilight (and let's be honest, Twilight is affordable to even the most destitute of men), non-viewers probably aren't aware of just how high quality it is. With its whirlwind plotting, breakneck pace, constant cliffhangers, and anyone-can-die high stakes, the series owes more to the old-fashioned swashbuckling serials that inspired Star Wars or Indiana Jones than anything else. As for romance, a so-far incredible Season 3 has essentially uprooted and disassembled all of the show's central relationships in ways that actually enhance the characters rather than frustrate them, and for every two minutes spent discussing the human heart, the body count increases by about four. Admittedly, TVD's labyrinthine backstory requires a road map to follow, but anyone looking to get into TV's most addictive horror adventure would do well to jump in from the beginning, because it's a trip well worth taking.


Killian, Editor / "The Little Things" Aficionado

5. Parks and Recreation
4. The League
3. Bob's Burgers
2. Once Upon a Time
1. Boardwalk Empire


Spotlight: Boardwalk Empire
This season took Boardwalk Empire to another level. Season 1's lengthy set-ups finally paid off in Season 2, as many of the players who took so long to grow on us were painfully taken away. The emotional stakes rose higher than ever before, and much of what came to surface wasn't pretty (coughJimmy'smomcough). Jimmy confronted some serious demons before the finale struck, Margaret's battle with what she gathers to be actual demons is about to royally screw Nucky over, Van Alden's on the run, and Nucky is unknowingly losing his grasp on just about everything he's ever held dear. While I wasn't particularly pleased with the twist at the end of the finale, the overall degradation of each character's sense of control this season, paired with a relentless consistency in impressive acting, made this series a must-watch in 2011.


Tim Surette, Senior Editor / Voted "Least Likely To Succeed" in the TV.com Reader's Poll

5. Community
4. Homeland
3. Justified
2. Game of Thrones
1. Breaking Bad


Spotlight: Justified
Y'all city folk might not realize this, but FX's Justified quietly became one of television's best series in its second season, a vast improvement over Season 1. The Southern-fried drama not only brings to life one of Elmore Leonard's characters, it also brings to life the words of one of America's best authors. The dialogue on the show is fantastic; it not only rolls off the tongue but exposes the hearts of the characters who speak it. The cast, led by Timothy Olyphant as coolest-man-on-television Raylan Givens, know exactly what to do with the words they're given, and that makes it easier for the rest of the crew to do what they do best. It's a situation where every facet of the series works like your grandpappy's reliable old pocket watch. Only a handful of shows can boast this kind of all-around greatness.


Jen Trolio, Managing Editor / The One Who Writes Punny Headlines Just For Clicks

5. Parks and Recreation
4. Homeland
3. Community
2. Game of Thrones
1. Breaking Bad


Spotlight: Parks and Recreation
Remember when Parks and Recreation first debuted, and everyone bashed it for being a lesser clone of The Office? Now in its fourth season, the show has grown into one of the most consistent, enjoyable comedies on TV, with a cast of characters who are as kind and lovable as they are wacky. You simply can't help but root for Leslie and the Pawnee Parks Department gang; Parks and Rec's signature, salgar-y blend of humor and sweetness favors story arcs that are triumphant rather than trivial, and any given episode is just as likely to make you tear up as it is to make you laugh. There's plenty of meanness and bitterness in the world; rather than add to it, Parks and Rec remains as optimistic as Leslie Knope herself, and reminds us that being nice can be hilarious, too.

What were YOUR five favorite shows of 2011?



Psst! Don't forget to vote in TV.com's Best of 2011 polls!

Comments (418)
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1). The Walking Dead

2). Hell's Kitchen

3). The Killing

4). Person of Interest

5). Fringe
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1. Entourage

2. Dexter

3. Breaking Bad

4. The Walking Dead

5. How I Met Your Mother
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INTERNATIONAL

1.Doctor Who

2. Breaking Bad

3. Walking Dead

4. Misfits (uk)

5.Game of Thrones



NATIONAL

1.Breaking Bad

2. Walking Dead

3. Game of Thrones

4. The League

5. Parks and Recreation



I really wanted to find space for Community. It's really one of the most refreshing original shows in years. This first half of season 3 really hasn't been on point while The League and Parks are hitting a really nice stride. For that it barely missed my top 5, but I love Community enough to make a mention of it. The show deserves more time to get back on track. It's shown itself to have real potential~!



"And that is the opinion of this humble narrator. As the book says, We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us." ~Magnolia 1999
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1. Supernatural - even though this season is not as good as others, it's still fun to watch ad you never know what to expect, and being a girl I can't help it that Jared and Jensen are such eye candy!!

2. Harry's law

3. An American Horror Story

4. America's next top model (shamless yes, fun oh yeah!)

5. NCIS number one and deserves it.
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1. The Vampire Diaries:

The Vampire Diaries is not just a show about vampires. It is so much more. Every episode is from the beginning to the end extremely enjoyable. I recommend everybody to watch the first season and you will understand how good this show is. Seriously, it's incredible. This show is in my opinion one of the best TV shows ever made. I'm glad when it returns next Thursday - God, the wait is finaly over!



2. White Collar

3. Castle

4. Bones

5. Glee
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1- Community

2- Game of Thrones

3- Breaking Bad

4- Nikita

5- Shameless (US)
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How no one put Fringe in their top 5 is beyond me.



1. Fringe (and it's not close)

2. Homeland

3. The Walking Dead (this can be interchanged with Homeland)

4. Warehouse 13

5. Lost Girl



Spotlight: Lost Girl

The show no one knows about because it only airs in Canada although that is about to change. Syfy picked up the rights to this show and will pair it with Being Human starting Jan. 16th. This show stars Anna Silk as Bo who starts off not knowing what she is which she quickly finds out is a succubus who feeds on a person's Qi. She accidentally killed her first boyfriend while they were doing it and has been on the run ever since. She finally settles down after learning what she is, and that she is a part of a larger community called fae (fae is a term used to describe any supernatural being in this show). She saves a human named Kenzi (who is perhaps the best sidekick ever) who convinces her to open a detective business to try and help people out. There is a love triangle between Bo and a werewolf named Dyson, and a human named Lauren (yes Bo is bi), and it touches on many myths that haven't been touched on on other supernatural shows. This show has already been renewed for season 3 in Canada.
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1. Grey's Anatomy

2. Cougar Town

3. Awkward

4. Game of Thrones

5. Parenthood, Once Upon A Time or Revenge
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1 - Dexter

2 - Breaking Bad

3 - Walking Dead

4 - Boardwalk Empire

5 - Game of Thrones
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1 - Breaking Bad

2 - Homeland

3 - Game of Thrones

4 - Once Upon a Time

5 - Fringe
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1-Breaking bad

2-The killing

3-Justified

4-Boardwalk empire

5-Game of thrones, Parks and Recreation, The good wife, Homeland :)
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5 - Boardwalk Empire

4 - Game of Thrones

3 - New Girl

2 - Community

1 - Breaking Bad
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My top two are TVD and AHS
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sorry but if Breaking Bad isnt even in your TOP FIVE!! u should no longer be an editor.... just sayin.
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1- Walking Dead

2- New Girl

3- Secret Circle

4-Parks and Rec

5- Bones
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1 - Breaking Bad

2 - Justified

3 - Once Upon a Time

4 - Homeland

5 - Bones
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1-suits

2-once upon a time

3-merlin

4-new girl

5-revenge
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5. Game of Thrones

4. Community

3. Boardwalk Empire

2. How To Make It In America (Utter bullshit that it was cancelled)

1. Breaking Bad
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1. Boss

2. Justified

3. Wilfred

4. Sons of Anarchy

5. Game of Thrones
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1. Castle

2. Once Upon a Time

3. Fringe

4. Person of Interest

5. Supernatural
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1. Game of Thrones

2. Breaking Bad

3. American Horror Story

4. Homeland

5. Sons of Anarchy
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5. Walking Dead

4. American Horror Story

3. Supernatural

2. Fringe

1. Game of Thrones
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1-Breaking Bad: absolutely unbeatable nowadays (only, the wire, the Sopranos, Six Feet Under are a little bit superior)

2-Homeland: best new show of the year

3-Boardwalk empire: pure dramatic quality

4-Treme: Most underrated show on television. Just amazing.

5-Game of Thrones: original and compelling, altough there's still room for improvement



Honorable mentions: Fringe, Justified, Parenthood.



Not a big fan of comedies, sorry...
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1-Breaking Bad

2-Game of Thrones

3-Sons of Anarchy

4-Supernatural

5-The Big Bang Theory
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1. Homeland

2. Game of Thrones

3. The walking Dead ( I can't figure out why this show hasn't make the Editor's pick ; a shout out to the editors ? )

4. Happy Ending

5. Supernatural
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1. Breaking Bad

2. Game of Thrones

3. Sons of Anarchy

4. American Horror Story

5. True Blood



Number 5 was a toss up between Walking Dead and True Blood, but I went with True Blood just because Walking Dead didn't really have a full season. Biggest disappointment was Dexter, but hopefully next season will be better.

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1: Breaking bad

2: Game of thrones

3. Homeland

4. Fringe

5. Walking dead
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My top 5 are all Fringe ! Although lots of people are complaining about the 4th season, I still enjoy every episode of it.



The sixth place goes to Alphas. It's ending was just incredible and succeeded in bringing the plot to another level !
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1) Breaking Bad (of course)

2) Game of Thrones

3) Homeland

4) Alphas

5) Walking Dead



(Community came close, but had a less than amazing half a season so far)
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Why the hell did they cancel Bored To Death:S
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1-Game of Thrones - just amazing. Reminds me of "Rome" narration style, but I think its even better. Favorite character: Tyrion Lanister.



2-Homeland - Despite being tired of the "war against terror" argument in movies, I gave it a chance because of all of the positive reviews. In fact, I'm thrilled about the plot, characters and actors. Can't wait for season 2.



3-Boardwalk Empire - great season. Just as beautiful to watch as season 1, with deep dialogs and complex characters, but this season the plot got more dynamic. The last episode was amazing.



4-American Horror Story - all the WTFness made it original and great to watch



5-The Good Wife - not my type of show, but got my attention because of clever dialogs, good characters and specially all the good acting. Quite entertaining season.



Greatest disappointment: Dexter - worst season ever!
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Best new shows:

Prime Suspect

Person of Interest



I don't get HBO or similar channels, so I can't choose the staff picks, since I haven't seen them.
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5. American Horror Story

4. Once Upon a Time

3. Sherlock (UK)

2. The Walking Dead

1. How I Met Your Mother
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I'm so glad Sherlock is in your top five! But it's supposed to be top 5 of 2011 and Sherlock aired in only 2010 and the new episodes don't start until 2012. Other than that, YAY Sherlock!!!
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5-the closer

4-castle

3-rizzoli and isles

2-new girl

1-once upon a time
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I have to respect anybody who would put "The Closer" and "Rizzoli and Isles" on their list (because that's my wife's 2 favorite shows)!

Oh, and yes ... I like them, too!
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yayyyy \º/
And I see your icon... Hello fellow X-Phile!!!
I´m a hardcore X-Files fan :)
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5. Smallville

4. Chuck

3. Homeland

2. Merlin (UK)

1. Once upon a time
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no one picked Fringe?

That doesn't make sense....
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nor any Dexter either...
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New Girl

Revenge

Smallville
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5.The Walking Dead

4. Once Upon A Time

3. How I Met Your Mother

2. True Blood

1. American Horror Story
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5. Glee

4. Community

3. Game of Thrones

2. Homeland

1. The Vampire Diaries



The Borgias was good too! :)
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1. Game of Thrones

2. True Blood

3. SouthLAnd

4. Justified

5. The Big Bang Theory



OMG! Only 5 is impossible.....sorry to all the (about 20) other shows: I love you too!
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Pretty Little Liars deserved a mention
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u guys are joking right? no one thinks that SOA is enough to be on top 5 ?!

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because it's just not up to calibre (story, acting and character development wise) as Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones. The only good person on that show is Katey Sagal.
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Gossip Girl

Desperate Housewives

The Good Wife

Castle

Pan Am



All these tie for Number 1.
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1. Breaking Bad

2. Friday Night Lights

3. Homeland

4. Justified

5. Men of A Certain Age
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1. New Girl

2. Game of Thrones

3. Once Upon A Time

4. Revenge

5. Happy Endings

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1. American Horror Story

2. Homeland

3. Boss

4. Breaking Bad

5. Game of Thrones
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This is hard but I'd say:

5. Awkward.

4. Teen Wolf

3. The Secret Circle

2. Up All Night

1. Happy Endings



If I could have any more they would be: Web Therapy, Private Practice, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Covert Affairs, Fairly Legal, Being Human (US).
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5)Modern Family

4)Community

3)Louie

2)New Girl

1)Parks And Recreation
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5)Walking Dead

4)Bob's Burgers

3)Parks and Recs

2)Raising Hope

1 (and always)) Community
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boy that was hard...
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