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I’ve never considered myself an avid TV watcher. Sure, there are a few programs I hold near and dear to my heart, but there are few shows for which I’d carve time out of my routine to sit down and watch. In September, my roommate and I decided to save a couple bucks and go without a TV. Hey, times are hard, and I’ll gladly sacrifice SpikeTV for bus money.
Yet, this year I’ve found myself watching more TV shows despite having no immediate access to a wide array of channels right in my living room. Whether it’s been sneaking glimpses of Jersey Shore at an old girlfriend’s place, or mindlessly staring at an episode of 30 Rock at a party, I’ve gotten hooked onto TV like never before. Here are my favorite shows from the year, and how I viewed them:
1. Community on Hulu
Community got off to a bit of an awkward, near-unwatchable start when it debuted last fall. But ever since the show found its rhythm with last year’s Christmas episode, Community has produced an amazing array of episodes filled with razor-sharp comedy and plenty of heart. While some complain about the show’s meme-like referential humor, those little jokes that punctuate episodes don’t feel out of place when watching Community on Hulu. After all, what better place to watch a TV show so involved in and affected by Internet culture than on the Internet.
2. Peep Show on YouTube
Thank goodness for the kind British folk who have been uploading the latest episodes of Peep Show‘s seventh season—or, as the Brits call it, series— to YouTube the day after airing. This twisted, brilliant comedy about a couple polar opposite flatmates in London is composed of point-of-view camera angles that allow viewers to get inside the heads of the show’s main characters. The unusual use of POV cinematography works quite well within the world of YouTube, a place known for plenty of out-of-the-ordinary camera work. Seven seasons in, Peep Show is still going strong thanks to the writing team’s sharp wit and focus on finding humor in ordinary circumstances.
3. Louie on Hulu
Louis C.K.’s latest foray into TV, Louie, has been an unexpected treat this year. The show’s concept is simple enough—the everyday trials and tribulations of a divorced, middle-aged comedian—but Louie‘s success is all in the execution. It’s a simple, low-stakes show that finds humor in the often-absurd events of Louie’s seemingly mundane life. Like the aforementioned Community, Louie managed to balance a great bit of humor and plenty of sincere and sad moments: With its documentary-style cinematography, those moments of crass comedy and the moving portraits of Louie’s life packed a punch and seemed that much more realistic when viewed on a computer screen inches from my face.
4. Sons of Anarchy, a full month late on Hulu
I won’t lie, Henry Rollins absolutely stole the show all last season on Sons of Anarchy. Yes, the show about a bike gang in a fictional California town had its own voice and direction prior to Rollins’ stint on SoA last season, but Rollins hit the mark as a no-nonsense white supremacist. The lack of Rollins and the inconsistent availability of Sons of Anarchy on Hulu made it harder to become emotionally invested in the show this season, but the writers are still churning out plenty of new, terrible situations for nearly every character on the show, and that’s fun to watch. Hal Holbrook‘s brilliant and unfortunately short appearance on Sons this season turned out to be something of a highlight in the show’s short history.
5. The League, a full month late on Hulu
The League, a show that’s more about old friends finding their way in the world as adults rather than the fantasy football league that binds them, showed some promise when it debuted last fall. But, this year The League really found its voice, and the chemistry among the show’s cast is hard to resist. The humor may be a bit crude and often over the top, but The League‘s newfound energy has been enough to keep me checking Hulu each day for when the site will debut another terribly delayed episode.
6. The Walking Dead, at a friend’s apartment
As a fan of zombie films, I was destined to enjoy The Walking Dead. Yet, I found its glacial pacing to be something of a distraction, especially as the show followed many zombie movie conventions that’s akin to a paint-by-numbers portrait. Still, the first episode (“Days Gone By”) had a great emotional bite to it, and it looked absolutely gorgeous on my friend’s big screen TV.