The Best of British TV

With all the awards ceremonies that have been going on lately, I have inevitably had the urge to give my two cents about the superlative artistic so-called “achievements” of the past year.

Because I have absolutely no qualifications to make these assessments (rather reminiscent of the panel on women’s health that the US Congress convened a few weeks ago), I decided that I’d bore my blog readers with my personal opinions and pass them off as legitimate by making baseless cultural comparisons that most of you will disagree with and/or find fundamentally confusing, insulting or a combination of the two.

So, without further ado, I give you…

the Best of British TV 2011* (from an American’s perspective, that is.)

*Whether these shows were actually created in 2011 is besides the point, the point is that I first saw them in 2011. 
These are in no particular order. 
Also, sorry for all the caveats.

1. The Inbetweeners: Americans will appreciate this show because of its heavy reliance on what I can only translate as frat boy humor. I therefore would say that this show will be a definite hit for those of us that still find frat boy humor amusing in our mid-20s, women that didn’t have any male friends in high school and “manchildren”, i.e., most of my male friends from the ages of 20-35 (no offense, guys!). Also, plus 10 points for English accents, of course.

2. Skins: The first two seasons of this show are AMAZING. Don’t be put off just because of MTV’s pathetic and failed attempt to produce an American version of the show. Good for re-living teenage moments, realizing how old you are when you think, “This horrible kid’s poor parents!” rather than, “Those horrible parents’ poor kid!” and being amazed at how different the English school system/teenage experience really is, you’ll be hooked immediately. Also, the theme song is really uplifting for some reason.

3. The IT Crowd: This is the only show that has successfully made me laugh to myself on public transportation. I wasn’t watching the show while in transit, I simply had a flashback and couldn’t stop myself before a few mirthful giggles escaped my lips. If you like absolutely ridiculous situational comedies, hate your job and therefore are in need of perspective or saw Chris O’Dowd in Bridesmaids and want more excuses to see him in action, this is the show for you. For those of you with a slightly more sophisticated knowledge of British celebs, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry and Noel Fielding are also in it. What could be better?!

4. The Mighty Boosh: Have you ever taken drugs? No? Well, don’t worry, you can attain all the positive side effects (blissful, cathartic release, non-stop confusion and borderline hysterical hilarity…or so I’ve heard, of course…) simply by watching this show! And the best thing is, it isn’t addictive…well, in the same way, anyway. Be prepared to be a little freaked out at first, because there is absolutely no equivalent to this show in our American repertoire- and I have to say, I’m glad there isn’t, because we’d just ruin it, anyway.

5. EastEnders: If you’re starting to feel depressed about the demise of the American soap opera, look no further than English TV! People here seem to be very into their soap operas and, unlike the sad state of our soaps stateside, this tradition seems deeply entrenched here. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad to me, too, but there’s always the “positive” side: it’s a similar language, you can understand most of the characters’ diction AND the plot lines require that you’ve watched the show for the past 20 years!

6. Made In Chelsea: I’m just going to come out and say it: it’s better than Laguna Beach EVER was. Then again, I feel like it’s the same stories, characters and dialogues transplanted from sunny CA to the rainy UK…so maybe it’s just the accents that are tripping me up.

7. Downton Abbey: I’ve never actually seen this show, but everyone I’ve talked to says I would like it. I have a feeling its one of those things that would suck me in, like the time I told myself I’d only watch the pilot episode of Lost so I could become a bit more culturally savvy and didn’t get up from the couch until I’d watched the entire series. (That was a very, very long and emotionally stressful week.)

8. Strictly Come Dancing: This is on my list because it IS a superlative show- superlatively shit. I knew I wouldn’t like it just from the title, which makes no sense, and I when I saw that they couldn’t even get stars as culturally relevant as Bristol Palin dancing, I decided it wasn’t worth my time.

9. QI: Stephen Fry isn’t just that weird psychiatrist who treats Booth on Bones, he’s a legitimate English celebrity who turns out to be pretty smart. (He went to either Oxford or Cambridge.) Unfortunately, he is aware of how intelligent he is- as are most of his guest panelists. Yes, you learn some interesting facts that you can bring up later at a cocktail party, pretending that you’re just that smart, and you’ll definitely laugh until you have a six pack at some of the things the panelists say on this show, but, I must say, I much prefer Stephen Fry as Gordon Gordon.

10. Top Gear: Even though Jeremy Clarkson is a complete cad, this show makes cars interesting. That’s a feat in and of itself. Also, any show with a character called ‘The Stig’ is obviously going to be amazeballs.