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2010 in review: Television

Brandy Cerne | Tuesday, December 7, 2010

‘Jersey Shore’ Phenomenon        

Try as you might, there is no denying the appeal of “Jersey Shore,” so you might as well just embrace it wholeheartedly. After its premiere last December, “Jersey Shore” exploded more than any other reality show in recent years. The somehow lovable cast has fist-pumped, “smushed” and “GTLed into the hearts of America, all while teaching us a new vocabulary full of grenades, T-shirt time and so much more. It must reveal something about American culture that this equal parts hilarious and horrifying peek into “Guido” life has become such a pop culture phenomenon.

The end of ‘Lost’

It was the end of an era. “Lost” may have, for lack of a better word, lost some of its viewers over the years. However, the diehard fans who stuck through to the end were left a finale that may not have had the mind-blowing moments we’ve come to expect over the years, but was certainly emotionally satisfying. No, not all the questions were answered, but how could they have been? And isn’t the mystery the fun of it sometimes? No one really knows what it all meant, but the characters “Lost” fans had come to know and love over its six seasons were together again, leaving a sweet conclusion. The parting shots with Jack that reversed the opening ones of the pilot were a beautiful way to end the densely mythological, compelling series that changed television.

Late night drama

Never has late night television been as discussed as it was in 2010. After a short run, NBC announced it was moving Conan O’Brien and “The Tonight Show” back a half-hour and reinstating Jay Leno at the 11:35 time slot, reserved for “The Tonight Show” for most of its decades-long history. O’Brien didn’t take this news lying down and decided to leave his post. Fans rallied to join “Team Coco” in support. Thanks to his classy departure, hilarious Twitter postings and “The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour,” Conan is more popular than ever before. He won in the long run, now hosting his own late night show “Conan” on TBS.

‘Glee’ takes over

Love it or hate it, “Glee” has become one of the biggest hits on television. After its instant popularity last year, it has only grown in 2010 due to themed episodes like the standout “The Power of Madonna,” the letdown “Britney/Brittany,” and “The Rocky Horror Glee Show.” “Glee” is at its best when exploring its humorous side and making fun of itself, compared to the after-school special feel when it tries to take on sensitive topics like religion or bullying. Here’s hoping it continues to find the right balance and give more screen time to Brittany, Mike Chang and new addition Blaine (Darren Criss).

Cable sets the new standard

Cable television used to be a barren place full of repeats of old classics and movies, but there’s no denying it now produces the highest quality shows on television. AMC is the biggest success story, with its hat trick of critically loved “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and the new zombie hit “The Walking Dead.” Even after a lackluster third season, HBO’s “True Blood” is still the most fun and somewhat disturbing supernatural show on TV. With the premieres of “Treme” and “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO has continued to prove it knows how to produce hyped shows that never disappoint. And, after a huge twist at the end of its last season, Showtime’s “Dexter” still fascinates.

Fall schedule fails to produce hits

For TV lovers, fall doesn’t mean back to school, but rather an excitement of discovering addicting new shows. Unfortunately, this fall failed to produce any real standouts. “Lone Star” received the best reviews of the season, but was quickly canceled. Keri Russell and Will Arnett failed to bring humor to “Running Wilde.” The 20-something drama “My Generation” was a clichéd mess. None of the other shows that have managed to survive cancellation have garnered any real traction. Why was it such a weak season? There’s no real answer here. One can only hope that next year brings twice as many great shows to make up for this year.