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Best Television Series of 2011

These are the top 15 dramas that made TV worth watching

Bryan Cranston continues to deliver an incredible performance as the complex, criminal 'one who knocks' Walt White.Bryan Cranston continues to deliver an incredible performance as the complex, criminal 'one who knocks' Walt White.

There is some great television out there, and the following ten series (and five runner-ups) are proof of that. These programs really pushed the boundaries of the kinds of stories, characters, and human choices and experiences that can and should be depicted on television. Not only that, they are beautifully shot, adding an elevated, almost sublime dimension to their viewings. Many times of much higher quality than what's being produced for the movie theaters, these series provided the emotional tension and satisfaction that helped me get through the year. Here are my favorite drama programs of 2011:

1. Breaking Bad

Why it's number one? The amazing visual of Gus's eye-popping death. Seriously the most physically aching yet gorgeous image on television this year. But everything moved forward beautifully this season, with both lead characters getting serious treatment and supporting roles being given more weight.

2011's Posts:

TV Watch: Breaking Bad's Cornered

TV Watch: Breaking Bad's Shotgun

TV Watch: Breaking Bad's Slow and Chilling Premiere

Emmys and TV Drama

Summer Premieres

2. Mad Men

Didn't start my blog in time to post about this incredible series, which could easily be in Breaking Bad's place but I thought the latter deserved to take the gold this year. The writers of Mad Men delivered some amazing episodes this season, with its stars Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss continuing to give perfect performances. I voted for them in my feature on the 2011 Emmy Awards.

3. Justified

Justified went from being a good show to a great show this season, with guest villain Margo Martindale lighting up the silver screen, adding that extra punch that the series needed. Timothy Olyphant is probably the most charismatic and yet dramatically interesting character on television and Walton Goggins plays the best lovable criminal-protagonist. Great small-town crime and cop story-telling. 

2011's Posts:

Satisfying Television

Week Viewings: Justified

2011 Emmy Awards

4. Game of Thrones

HBO's strongest debut this year, the adaption of the popular book series triumphed as a smart and thrilling series with great suspense and beautifully written monologue, perfectly delivered. As you can see below, I was so taken by the show that I managed to produce several posts devoted to singular episodes. I have no doubt that the second season will be just as amazing.

2011's Posts:

Game of Thrones: Dragons are Born (Finale)

Game of Thrones: Baelor

Game of Thrones: You Win or You Die

Sunday Night Dramas

Sunday Night Dramas

Satisfying Television

Recent Viewings

5. Homeland

This pretty much ties with Game of Thrones, but it's hard to say because of the latter's tremendous visual beauty to accompany its thrills. However, for better character portraits and more dynamic and actual story lines, Homeland is the winner. Claire Danes is outstanding, as is her co-star Damian Lewis, and the writing is spot-on, creating the most well-paced and conceived suspense thriller on television.

2011's Posts:

TV Watch: Homeland

6. Downton Abbey

Following an utterly perfect first season, this season of Downton Abbey delivered more of the same wonderful family and household drama, with the added element of the Great War.

2011's Posts:

Recent Viewings

2011 Fall Premieres

Emmys and TV Drama

2011 Emmy Awards

7. Friday Night Lights

2011's Posts:

2011 Emmy Awards

8. Boardwalk Empire

2011's Posts:

2011 Fall Premieres I

2011 Fall Premieres II  

Fall TV

9. Luther

2011's Posts:

2011 Emmy Awards

10. The Hour 

2011's Posts:

Runners Up:

1. The Walking Dead

2011's Posts:

Fall TV

2. Sons of Anarchy

2011's Posts:

2011 Fall Premieres I

2011 Fall Premieres II

3. The Killing

2011's Posts:

Sunday Night Dramas

Sunday Night Dramas

Satisfying Television

Viewings: The Killing

4. American Horror Story

2011's Posts:

5. Dexter

2011's Posts:

2011 Fall Premieres

Fall TV

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