Once again, the storytellers and performers working in television outdid their big-screen, moviemaking counterparts. No longer Hollywood’s bastardized little sibling, TV has evolved into both a breeding ground for immensely talented newcomers and a limitless outlet for A-list film veterans eager to flesh out characters beyond mere two-hour timeframes. The last few years have seen the shift in visual fiction veer in the direction of television screens, courtesy of A-list veterans like Martin Scorsese and Frank Darabont. But in 2011, the change became indisputable.

There were so many exceptional options on TV this year, in fact, that narrowing 12 months’ worth of kick-ass programming into a truncated, ranked list wasn’t easy. Between already great shows exceeding previous levels of quality (Breaking Bad, Parks And Recreation) and a multitude of outstanding first-season debuts (Game Of Thrones, Homeland), DVR memory banks were stretched absurdly thin.

Which programs took top priority over those taped episodes of Kardashian family reality shows, though? Yes, we know you watch those, but as long you can also appreciate The 25 Best TV Shows Of 2011, we’re not mad at you.

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Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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