I didn't actually see this until the last couple of years which is weird since I've had a major crush on Simon Pegg a lot longer than that. All I can say is I'm sad I didn't see this years and years and years ago. All that time I could have had with the hilarity that is Spaced. The collective genius of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost (not to mention the crazy awesome rest of the cast) is given to us for the very first time in 14 fantastic episodes. Seriously some of the funniest characters I've ever seen came from this show. Don't watch the pilot of the American remake. Awful...
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Oh, Buffy. My love affair with this show is eternal. It may be tied for first place in my list of favorite TV shows, but if you took out the comedy category, Buffy would totally win (even though it's really funny still). I was first introduced to Buffy when I was 15 by my sister, Sara. I watched it begrudgingly at first, but I quickly fell in love with the show's wit, charm, and kick-a$$ female characters (I would later call that "feminism"). Also I kind of fell in love with Spike (Angel's lame. His hair sticks straight up and he's bloody stupid).
Anyway, I was a closeted fan for several years until college. However, one day I stepped out of the Buffy closet and it was no longer my guilty pleasure. I wear my love (some would even say "obsession") on my sleeve. I tell my feminist friends who pooh-pooh this show as stereotyping and sexualizing that no, no, Joss Whedon is a self-identified feminist and he writes some of the most amazing female characters I've ever seen. He writes awesome male characters too, but those aren't as hard to come by.
Sure, the first couple of seasons are campy and Angel TOTALLY sucks in this show (thank goodness he's only in 3 of the 7 seasons), but it really is worth watching. Even if you think you won't like it - give it a chance. I did, and almost 10 years later I'm planning a birthday party for my favorite heroine.
Awesome things to come from Buffy: Angel (I like him in his show, just not Buffy's), Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Alyson Hannigan, Tom Lenk, Spike, Andrew, "that'll put marzipan in your pie plate bingo", the whole vampires-are-awesome thing, the first lesbian kiss on network TV, and the coolest female characters on television.
3. Arrested Development
If I was listing these in order, this would be first. Comedy is my favorite genre of TV show and Arrested Development is the funniest and smartest show that has ever been or ever will be on television. I honestly can't imagine a world where there is a show that is better than Arrested Development. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is highly improbable. I will forever hate Fox for killing this after only 2 1/2 seasons. I will forever love Netflix for picking up the 10ish episodes to watch in 2013 and Twitter for allowing Will Arnett to tell me the good news while he peed next to Jason Bateman. I have never known anyone that has seen this and didn't like it and I don't think I ever will know anyone like that. If I do, we weren't meant to be friends anyway.
Everyone's favorite serial killer. I generally don't watch dramas often, and when I do, I rarely stay committed. That makes Dexter extra special. Sure, he's a sociopath who has zero reservations about killing people, but he only kills other bad guys, he's a really good father, a committed brother, and (generally speaking) wants to be a good person. It's that continual effort he makes that keeps me coming back, not to mention the awesome plot lines and crazy twists. I'll be honest, I'm not very interested in the bad guys this season (Colin Hanks really can't act), but I hated Lilah in the second season too and I got through it. And let's face it, a few mediocre (slash CRAZY annoying in Lilah's case) characters don't diminish the awesomeness that is Dexter.
5. The Daily Show
If I could only watch one show for the rest of my life, it would probably be The Daily Show. If I had money to take one trip, it would be to see The Daily Show. If I could be a one-time home wrecker with no repercussions, it would be with Jon Stewart. If I could be famous for one thing, it would be something that got me onto The Daily Show. If I could meet one famous person, it would be Jon Stewart. If I got hit by a car but I somehow got to decide who the driver would be, it would be Jon Stewart. Are you starting to understand my devotion? Not only is this man my biggest celebrity crush, he's also kind of my hero.
6. Parks and Recreation
This got off to a rocky start. The six episodes that are the first season suuuuuuuuck. Leslie Knope was a Michael Scott clone and nothing about the show kept me interested which is why it took me two more seasons to start watching it. I'm oh so glad I did. It's currently the most consistently funny show on TV. Ron Swanson is one of the best characters ever written, and I pretty much always love Adam Scott. Rob Lowe's character is becoming really annoying, which just goes to show you that all good things must end, but it's still a fantastic show.
You better be watching this show. NBC recently benched it and it really does make me just so sad. Parks & Rec may be the most consistently funny, but when Community is on its game, it is hands down the funniest. It may be hit and miss, but generally it's closer to the bulls eye than not. It's very meta and introspective which makes it a super unique show. And that, by the way, is when it's usually dead on as far as perfect hilarity. I just love it so much. All I ask is just a season and a half more. Just get them through college like Dan Harmon planned on in the beginning. That's all they need. NBC, don't fail me.
8. Pushing Daisies
Charming. Charming, charming, charming. Of the three shows Bryan Fuller created (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies), this one is the best (even though Wonderfalls is awesome and Dead like me is also good generally). I really can't describe how wonderful this show is. This was the saddest casualty of the writer's strike of 2007-2008. It never got the ratings back and ABC cancelled it after only 2 seasons. This deserved to go on much, much longer. It's always the very best that die early.
9. Downton Abbey
One of Masterpiece Theater's finest. If you didn't watch the Emmy's this year, go see what show won a billion awards. It was Downton Abbey. It goes into depth with so many characters without being daunting or overwhelming. It's got wit, drama (the good kind), scandals, and Dame Maggie Smith. It bothers me when people are automatically turned off by period pieces. Let me tell you something: period pieces do not equal boring. Lame story equals boring and this is not even close to being a lame story. Season 2 has already come and gone in the UK, but it doesn't start here until January 8th. Can't wait!
10. Avatar: The Last Airbender
My thanks needs to go to several people here: Scott Payne for planting the seed of interest, Mike Robertson for nourishing that seed, and Jacob Ashley for actually exposing me to it. This show is crazy awesome. It's light, it's intense, it's funny, it's exciting, and just plain fun.
11. The IT Crowd
No, this isn't a show about a magic, floating couch. It is, however, the funniest show I've seen come out of the UK (it's been a really long time since I've watch The Office so I may not be objective here). I've heard people complain about the laugh track, but please don't hold that against this show because hilarity ensues in every episode. Mr. Bean had a laugh track, so stop being haters! Whatever you do though, don't watch the American pilot. Joel McHale replaces Chis O'Dowd's character and it just doesn't work (nor does any aspect of this version). O'Dowd plays an IT professional and he has that whole cute geek thing going on (although I totally find that attractive so I may be off on this assessment. Maybe he's just supposed to be a lame nerd). Anyway, Joel McHale cannot pull that off. He acts like he's trying to, but Joel is just too damn sexy. Seriously, he smolders me with his sexiness every time I see him and I just couldn't get past that. Nor could I get past the painful lack of good translation from British to American. Anyway, watch this show. And also anything Joel McHale is in (except maybe Spy Kids 4).
12. Up All Night
Ok, this really doesn't belong on the list. It's fun and I watch it regularly, but compared to everything else, it's not that great. I'm just adding it on here because I would totally marry Will Arnett's character if I could. The stay-at-home-dad is pretty much my ideal situation someday and his character is the perfect amount of awesome, geek, hipster, and intellectual. So if you're ever curious to see my dream guy, watch a few episodes of this. That's not the only reason I watch it though - it really is funny :)