Sad fact: Millions of people voluntarily watch TLC's questionably exploitative reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and, yes, will admit to such viewing habits in public. Yet, will anyone who watches the pint-sized beauty pageant contestant and her human thumb of a mother ever call it a "good" show? Or, heaven forbid, one of the year's best? Not unless they're delusional.

When it comes to ranking the television's top programs from the last 12 months, there has to be a distinction between actual quality and shameless, surface-level enjoyment. That's why you're not about to see any Kardashians or Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestants on our list of The 25 Best TV Shows of 2012, even though we're guilty of reserving space for those programs in our DVR queues. The following intelligent dramas and witty sitcoms are more than just "good."

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)