Lists, lists and more lists emerging as the year and the decade draw to a close.
There are many opinions about which shows have shaped the last ten years of television.
The Sunday Age on the weekend noted: The Sopranos, The Office, Australian Idol, Big Brother and Lost.
“Big Brother debuted in the Netherlands in 1999. By 2001 we had our own version, and we could not believe our eyes. For the first time we were seeing not just real people on television, but real people like us. Despite furious denial in some quarters, the young folk of the Big Brother house lived in every street in Australia. Traditional audiences – and television executives – liked to pretend they didn’t, but reality television brought the awful, shocking, hilarious, poignant truth home: this is what Australia looked like,” wrote Melinda Houston.
Over in the US, the Dallas-Forth Worth arm of NBC gives its list as:
1. American Idol
3. The Sopranos
4. Sex and the City
6. Family Guy
7. The Office
8. Grey’s Anatomy
9. Desperate Housewives
10. Two and a Half Men
12. Arrested Development
13. Six Feet Under
14. Battlestar Galactica
15. The Daily Show
Variety asked the Television Critics Association to nominate their best. In drama they chose Friday Night Lights, Lost, Mad Men, The Sopranos, The West Wing and The Wire while in Comedy they picked 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Office.
Meanwhile the San Francisco Chronicle promises a list on January 1st but notes that some argue the decade doesn’t actually end on Dec. 31, 2009, but on Dec. 31, 2010.
“Ratings were never a factor in deciding on the Best Series of the Decade. Neither was a show’s social impact – it’s ability to influence the zeitgeist. I think that’s why you’ll see the lack of some very big reality/unscripted series. (As an aside, I have an admitted bias toward scripted series. A reality show can be entertaining, but in my mind it can never be brilliant. A concept – or a contest, for that matter – pales in comparison to writing, to the development of a nuanced character.) What I wanted was very simple: greatness. I found that most often in scripted series,” writes Tim Goodman.
In the UK they’ve packaged together an entire TV special on the subject (think 20 to 1?), The Greatest TV Shows Of The Noughties which airs this week. It promises Doctor Who, The Wire, Planet Earth, The Apprentice, Big Brother, Friends amongst its ranks. Top Gear was named Britain’s favourite television programme of the decade.
And as for me? I’ll narrow it down to most influential Reality: Survivor and most influential scripted series: Lost.
And for what it’s worth, the latter was famously inspired by the success of the former.