Favorite TV of the 00’s

For my TV list, I'm going to be a little more straightforward and go with plain old "favorite TV shows" of the aughts.  In order of preference:

  • The Wire.  Best TV show ever.  If you have seen the Wire and deny its brilliance, don't bother discussing TV or movies with me.  
  • The Sopranos.  Could be up and down at times, but generally terrific.  I'm a sucker for moral complexity and the Sopranos excelled at it. 
  • Arrested Development.  2nd funniest TV show I've ever seen (I suspect nothing will ever replace Seinfeld in this opinion of mine).
  • Lost.  Yeah, I know it can be imperfect and hokey at times, but I love the mind-bending premises and the terrific cast.  The pilot was about as good as TV gets. 
  • Curb your Enthusiasm. Well, I don't have Seinfeld anymore, but Larry David's willingness and ability to use himself as the butt of the show's humor is unparalleled.  Some of the episodes had me laughing as hard as anything I've ever seen on TV. 
  • Office (UK Version).  Love the US office, but the British version is incomparable for its dark and subtle humor.  Definitely a more intelligent, realistic, and darker version the the US show.  Plus, I'll never forget "Free love on the freelove freeway." 
  • Eastbound and Down.  6 episodes of perfection about an egomaniacal washed-up major league baseball player who ends up living with his brother and substitute teaching school in rural NC. 
  • Battlestar Galactica.  Much more uneven that I would like, but at its best, it achieved what all great science fiction does and holds a mirror to our own times and humanity better than any "realistic" fiction.  The third season where you realize you are essentially identifying with the analog of the Iraqi insurgents is brilliant.
  • 30 Rock.  Really smartly written and Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are incredible. 

Summary comments: Wow, it really is not just TV, it's HBO.  Without HBO originals, this list would be impoverished.  There's some other really good shows I'm sure I failed to mention, but that book list was already way too long.  On HBO, I also really liked 6 Feet Under, Big Love, Flight of the Conchords, and the much-under-appreciated, the Comeback.  shows I intend to catch on DVD one of these days: The Shield, Mad Men, and Dexter.  Modern Family is only 9 episodes old, but it's as good a first nine as almost any on this list. 

Spank your kids? You probably voted for McCain

One of the more interesting features of modern American politics is the way in which authoritarianism has gone from being an entirely non-partisan personality trait to one overwhelmingly on the Republican side of the partisan ledger.  A couple of political scientists, Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler (Marc is a great guy and super smart, one of the few mistakes OSU made when I was there was not hiring him; I don't know Jonathan), have done some really interesting research on this topic in recent years.  I haven't read their book yet, but I'm got a really smart student turning in a paper on it this week, so that should last me for a while.  Anyway, they discussed some of their findings recently at TPM Cafe.  They start things off with this intriguing graph:

In states with lower percentages of people that endorse spanking and
washing kids' mouths out with soap, which is the case in New England
and much of the Middle Atlantic, Obama did very well.

I cannot say I've been averse to a good swat on the bottom every now and then, but washing kids' mouth out with soap?  People still do that?  Anyway, here's the nice explanation for what's up:

Of course, we don't think that spanking kids causes people to vote
Republican. We do, however, show in the book that those who view the
world in hierarchical terms, a worldview consistent with using physical
means to discipline children, are now much more likely to vote
Republican. In contrast, those who view the world in more horizontal
terms favor Democratic candidates. The psychological terms that match
these colliding worldviews are authoritarianism and
nonauthoritarianism, which we measure by asking people about their
child rearing preferences. Those who favor obedience over self-reliance
and respect for elders over independence score high in
authoritarianism. Those who favor the reverse are the

If you are intrigued, you can listen to the authors here.

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