1. Friday Night Light’s “Leave No One Behind”: I haven’t seen this season’s episodes because I don’t have DirecTV, but my favorite episode from last season that took place earlier in the year was when Matt and Riggins drank their girl troubles away. It led up to an extremely raw scene where the coach tries to chew Matt out for being so irresponsible and Matt inevitably explains his sorrow, telling him that he’s depressed because everyone leaves him: his dad, Julie, Carlotta, and even the coach. Not a dry eye on the couch.
2. Gossip Girl’s “Summer, Kind of Wonderful” and “New Haven Can Wait”: The first showed the long-awaited reunion of the couple everyone loves to watch hate each other, Chuck and Blair. It began what would be a season-long sparring match between the love birds sparked by the absence of three words. No, not “I’m Chuck Bass” silly—“I love you.” These two have the power to make teenage love seem plausible and just as torturous as the mature kind. The second provided a taste of a post-high school Chuck that many fans have been speculating about since the GGers are in their senior year. Viewers wonder if college will be as grueling and time-consuming for them as it is for most. But let’s be honest, future captains-of-industry don’t sweat midterms, they just conquer their future enemies before they can even pick up a weapon.
3. Grey’s Anatomy’s “Freedom” and “Brave New World”: The first is the finale for season 3, where Meredith performs a grand gesture for Derek, declaring her love for him, and Alex falls apart in Izzie’s arms. Every moment is injected with unstable emotion, and watching it makes you feel like you’re bursting at the seams. The second is the episode where Christina finds refuge in the dermatology ward. She literally took off her sneakers, got comfortable on their couch, and watched the Derm residents like they were a soap opera minus the drama. It was as if they were imitating us, as we sit and watch them do their thing.
4. The Office’s “Baby Shower”: Michael throws Jan a baby shower only to learn that she already gave birth. He treats Holly like crap to spare Jan’s feelings and tries to foster a relationship with her new baby girl. But when he holds her, he doesn’t feel any sort of attachment to her. So he goes upstairs, apologizes to Holly with a hug, realizing he feels something (I cringe to know what) and FINALLY asks her out on a date. There was also a hilarious exchange between Michael and Darryl, who was candidly trying to explain to him that he can't be a "baby daddy" if he didn't help make the baby. And, last but not least, Pam and Jim had awkward phone conversations that were out of sync, suffering from the dreaded curse that's befallen every long distance relationship. But at the end, they conduct a conversation with each other's voicemail that’s cut to sound like they are actually talking to each other. So cute.
5. The New Adventures of Old Christine’s “White Like Me”: I just couldn’t stop laughing at how many times she accidentally said “black” when she meant something else. She epitomized the guilt certain races feel towards another and exposed the awkwardness that can occur.
6. Lipstick Jungle’s “Chapter Nine: Help!”: While I do enjoy the chemistry between the ladies, sometimes Victory is at her best when she’s chatting with her assistant Josh. In this episode, his sexuality came into question as it suddenly became unclear as to whether he was straight or gay. I thought there was no question about it, but the more she questioned it, the more I became just as undecided. Josh had been slacking on his duties, which wouldn't be noticeable if he wasn't so damn good at his job. It turns out that his significant other maxed out his credit cards and left him so broke he couldn't afford an apartment. The key words in the last sentence are "significant other." So instead of just asking him whether or not his ex was a girl or a guy, Victory makes a very clever observation that we witness later: "He was seeing someone named Chris, but he's not so big on the pronouns." So when she finally confronted him about his flakiness, we were subjected to two excruciating minutes of coyness. And once he uttered the word "him," I nearly lept from my seat, screaming "FINALLY!!! It was the most audience-participation television has ever pried out of me.
7. True Blood’s “Escape from Dragon House”: Jason spends nearly the entire episode with a hard-on and, as an unintentionally funny drama, the series managed to keep me laughing for a full 55 minutes. If his suffering was the cake, then Tara’s willingness to hold his hand as a doctor drains his penis of blood to relieve the excruciating pain, was the icing.
8. One Tree Hill’s “You’ve Dug Your Own Grave, Now Lie in It”: I’ve been steadily losing interest in this series for a while now and, honestly, if it weren’t for my mother, I’d stop recording it. And even though I never liked the uber creepy stalker scenario involving Jamie, I’m glad I stuck around for Nanny Carrie’s…dismissal. She had masterminded a kidnapping plot that went into full affect in the last ten minutes of the episode. Haylie was easily lured to her country house where a chase through the corn fields culminated in the most high-intensity assault initiated by a grandmother in the history of television. Forget that Dan shot her...twice, Deb was the one who struck the first blow, clocking her in the head with a champagne bottle that shattered against the bridge of her nose and bloodied her face. Who knew a teen soap could be filled with so much suspense?
9. 90210’s “Hollywood Forever”: I was never too keen on this series or even its namesake, so I never really cut it any slack. However, I was surprised when I actually saw a scene that grasped my attention for more than five minutes. In this episode, Adrianna overdoses because she can't bear bursting her mother's financially-secure bubble by telling her that she needed to turn herself in for the drug possession that Naomi took the wrap for and ruin her chances at retaining the movie part she just scored. Slowly dying, she leaves Naomi to take the fall for it and bitterly declare--as Adrianna flatlines--"You're dead to me." That was it—the last line spoken and cut to darkness. So overly dramatic and yet perfectly high school.
10. How I Met Your Mother’s “The Bracket”: Regardless of what happens in the episode, what made it the best was the fact that it ended with an homage to Doogie Howser, as Barney typed out his blog on a bright blue screen with a fat white blinking cursor just like in the olden days.
Honorable Mention: Ugly Betty’s “Jump”: It was the season finale of the second season and Madonna’s album Hard Candy was just released a month before. Someone had the ingenious idea of having the album score the entire episode.