Monday, 23 June 2008

When it comes to popular culture, list-making is as pointless as analysing the same lists to death....and that is rather pointless


American magazine Entertainment Weekly (for those unaquainted with it wikipedia refers to it as "a magazine...whose primary concentration is on entertainment media and critical reviews", that "unlike Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, which are aimed at industry insiders, targets a more general audience" - make of that what you will) has published an all-too predictably ridiculous series of lists that attempts to celebrate "the new classics: the 1000 best movies, TV shows, albums, books, and more of the past 25 years."

If you can put aside the "New classics" concept for a moment (one that is simultaneously moronic and oxymoronic), the actual make-up of the television list is particularly irksome:

1. The Simpsons, Fox, 1989-present
2 The Sopranos, HBO (1999-2007)
3 Seinfeld, NBC (1989-98)
4 The X-Files, Fox (1993-2002)
5 Sex and the City, HBO (1998-2004)
6 Survivor, CBS (2000-present)
7 The Cosby Show, NBC (1984-92)
8 Lost, ABC (2004-present)
9 Friends, NBC (1994-2004)
10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The WB (1997-2001); UPN (2001-03)
11 The Wire, HBO (2002-08)
12 South Park, Comedy Central (1997-present)
13 Freaks and Geeks, NBC (1999-2000)
14 The Daily Show, Comedy Central (1996-present)
15 The Oprah Winfrey Show, Syndicated (1986-present)
16 Arrested Development, Fox (2003-06)
17 The Office (U.K. version), BBC2 (2001-03)
18 American Idol, Fox (2002-present)
19 ER, NBC (1994-present)
20 Beverly Hills, 90210, Fox (1990-2000)
21 Roseanne, ABC (1988-97)
22 The Real World, MTV (1992-present)
23 The West Wing, NBC (1999-2006)
24 Star Trek: The Next Generation, Syndication (1987-94)
25 Miami Vice, NBC (1984-89)
26 Chappelle's Show, Comedy Central (2003-06)
27 Law & Order, NBC (1990-present)
28 The Larry Sanders Show, HBO (1992-98)
29 The Shield, FX (2002-present)
30 Late Show With David Letterman, CBS (1993-present)
31 The Civil War, PBS (1990)
32 Gilmore Girls, The WB (2000-06), The CW (2006-07)
33 My So-Called Life, ABC (1994-95)
34 24, Fox (2001-present)
35 CSI, CBS (2000-present)
36 thirtysomething, ABC (1987-91)
38 Beavis and Butt-head, MTV (1993-97)
39 Six Feet Under, HBO (2001-05)
40 Mr. Show, (HBO, 1995-98)
41 Frasier, NBC (1993-2004)
42 L.A. Law, NBC (1986-94)
43 Late Night With Conan O'Brien, NBC (1993-present)
44 Jeopardy!, Syndicated (1984-present)
45 Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO (2000-present)
46 Homicide: Life on the Street, NBC (1993-99)
47 30 Rock, NBC (2006-present)
48 Ally McBeal, Fox (1997-2002)
49 Twin Peaks, ABC (1990-91)
50 Baywatch, NBC (1989-90), Syndicated (1991-2001)
51. Melrose Place, Fox (1992-99)
52. Felicity, The WB (1998-2002)
53. Will & Grace, NBC (1998-2006)
54. Moonlighting, ABC (1985-89)
55. Pee-wee's Playhouse, CBS (1986-90)
56. Desperate Housewives, ABC (2004-present)
57. The Amazing Race, CBS (2001-present)
58. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, NBC (1992-present)
59. Battlestar Galactica, Sci Fi (2003-2008)
60. Xena: Warrior Princess, Syndicated (1995-2001)
61. The Office (U.S.), NBC (2005-present)
62. House, Fox (2004-present)
63. Mystery Science Theater 3000, Comedy Central (1989-96), Sci Fi (1997-99)
64. The Osbournes, MTV (2002-05)
65. Family Guy, Fox (1999-2002, 2005-present)
66. Grey’s Anatomy, ABC (2005-present)
67. Planet Earth, Discovery Channel (2007)
68. Jackass, MTV (2000-02)
69. The Colbert Report, Comedy Central (2005-present)
70. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS (1996-2005)
71. Friday Night Lights, NBC (2006-present)
72. NewsRadio, NBC (1995-99)
73. Oz, HBO (1997-2003)
74. Wiseguy, CBS (1987-90)
75. Project Runway, Bravo (2004-present)
76. In Living Color, Fox (1990-94)
77. The Golden Girls, NBC (1985-92)
78. I'll Fly Away, NBC (1991-93)
79. The Comeback, HBO (2005)
80. King of the Hill, Fox (1997-present)
81. Murphy Brown, CBS (1988-98)
82. The Hills, MTV (2006-present)
83. Absolutely Fabulous, BBC2 (1992), BBC1 (1994-2004)
84. Northern Exposure, CBS (1990-95)
85. The Kids in the Hall, HBO (1989-92), CBS (1992-95)
86. Prime Suspect, ITV (1991-2006)
87. Deadwood, HBO (2004-06)
88. Malcolm in the Middle, Fox (2000-06)
89. SpongeBob SquarePants, Nickelodeon (1999-present)
90. Dawson's Creek, The WB (1998-2003)
91. Mad Men, AMC (2007-present)
92. The Ben Stiller Show, Fox (1992-93)
93. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Bravo (2003-07)
94. Married...With Children, Fox (1987-97)
95. Designing Women, CBS (1986-93)
96. The Arsenio Hall Show, Syndicated (1989-94)
97. Party of Five, Fox (1994-2000)
98. MacGyver, ABC (1985-92)
99. The Bachelor, ABC (2002-present)
100. Saved by the Bell, NBC (1989-93)


I would love to have the thought process behind placing the execrable reality-show Survivor at number six on the list explained to me. Survivor, a format that lasted just two series in the UK is basically Channel 4's Shipwrecked but with some old and unattractive people. The only thing remarkable about it is just how unremarkable it is. In fact, to put it at number six in the list is a decision so ridiculous I almost admire it. But then again this is a list that places Lost above The Wire, so such nonsense is to be expected. Just to make it clear - Lost is a serial drama that is as random and arbitrary as Deal or No Deal, but half as entertaining. More importantly, Deal or No Deal has spawned an aleatory game tantamount to genius, in its wallet-sapping itbox incarnation that graces public houses across Britain. The only thing Lost has given birth to is rabid fanboys, and the term "pseudo pseudo-intellectualism" (it is a show so thick and unnecessarily pretentious it can only aspire to be pseudo-intellectual, and is therefore pseudo pseudo-intellectual). The Wire on the other hand is by far the finest television drama of the last 25 years, if not ever. This is not hyperbole, in fact it's a pretty common belief amongst anyone that has bothered to watch it, rather than trite, inane nonsense such as Lost, Prison Break and Desperate Housewives.

This Entertainment Weekly project to find these supposed "new classics" is obviously futile. I suppose the real intention is to provoke debate amongst their readers - but unfortunately for us such debate can only, and will only engender further futile list-making. This is exactly the reaction they have got out of me. I feel a great urge to re-write and revise this flawed list. Perhaps I will. I have taken the bait - which on reflection is basically the moral equivalent of caving some bloke's head in because he lightly mocked your shoes. I could spend hours picking apart lists such as these, stripping what little meat clings to its brittle bones - as I imagine could you. But then we would be as bad them wouldn't we?


JAMES MORGAN

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

lol the hills

Anonymous said...

get a life, wasteman.

Paul said...

Whilst I agree with your criticism of Lost I find your apparent dislike of Survivor confusing. To describe it as Shipwrecked but with old and unattractive people strikes me as a remark that may well have been made by someone who has never actually seen the show. Am I safe in placing you under this category? Rather, a more accurate way of describing Survivor would be Shipwrecked with brains. Please try actually watching a show before you make comment.

jm6852 said...

I thought you liked Lost.

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