More often than not, looking back at a TV season just reminds us of all of the ways we were let down, either by disappointing shows or by cancellations of series we enjoyed. But while the 2011-12 season has had its share of setbacks -- like Smash, which had a promising pilot and then immediately went into a downward spiral -- there have also been quite a few unexpected twists that made us happier than we ever imagined.
10. 30 Rock's Live Episode
The show has been decent this season, but the live episode actually reminded us of why we really used to love this sitcom. It gave us hope that after a spell of off episodes and remarkably unfunny storylines, it might return to its consistent former glory.
9. Sharon Needles Wins
We worshiped at whatever altar the bizarre Sharon Needles descended from the minute she graced the RuPaul's Drag Race stage with her demonic eyes and bloody appearance. We didn't think she'd last long as our favorites are almost always axed early on, but she did, and she won the whole damned show. We're so proud that we'd like to buy some gross contacts to celebrate.
8. Big Ang Joins Mob Wives
The first season of this show was mediocre, but this season has been a lot more fun... and all of that credit goes to the addition of Big Ang. She's not technically a mob wife (we're not even technically sure she's a real person), but she's incredible with her impossibly gravelly voice, her leathery skin and her intolerance for bullshit. She's a breath of cigarette-infused air.
7. Work It and Man Up! Didn't Last Long
These two sitcoms were the worst things we saw all year, and we were dreading that America might take a shine to one or both of them and then we'd be stuck with them for the rest of our lives. Turns out that the viewing public hated them as much as we do and they were quickly removed from the airwaves. So we may now continue watching our Bosom Buddies marathon that was previously in progress.
6. Project Runway: All-Stars
No Michael Kors? No Heidi? No Nina? No Tim Gunn? How the hell was this show supposed be watchable? It seemed impossible, and yet Isaac Mizrahi, Georgina Chapman, Joanna Coles and Angela Lindvall made it work. Angela was a poised and charming host, Georgina is stunningly beautiful, Isaac pulled no punches, Joanna critically advised and they all were able to judge the returning contestants without any preconceptions. We actually really enjoyed it and may miss this crew when PR: Original Flavor returns.
5. NeNe Leakes Can Act
We don't give much credence to any of the Real Housewives who claim to have acted at some point in their lives, so when NeNe Leakes showed up on Glee as a rival for Sue Sylvester, we were skeptical about the stunt casting. Thankfully, she's great, and one of the best things about that show right now. Who would ever have imagined that?
4. Every Minute of Homeland
This show really snuck up on us. We thought Claire Danes would get on our nerves (what with the ugliest cry in the world and all), but the series is so tightly written and intricately crafted that we were on the edge of our seats. The show was such an emotional rollercoaster through the minds of a mentally unstable person and a potential terrorist that every week we felt a little nauseous after watching it. And we mean that in the best possible way.
3. New Girl's Schmidt
We thought he was just a vehicle to fill the Douchebag Jar up, but he developed into our favorite character on the show. Sure, he's still got his douchey moments, but he's really a funny three-dimensional person with feelings and fashion sense and... a broken penis.
2. Megan Draper is Actually Awesome
Last season when Don proposed to his secretary on a whim, we were skeptical, as she seemed as exciting as watching paint dry. But then she moved him into a swanky apartment, managed to beautifully manipulate him and sang to us in French. Consider us smitten.
1. Revenge Is a Hit
We loved this show's pilot, but we were worried that audiences wouldn't give it a chance. Or that it would get cancelled before we got to know how screwed up the Graysons really are, especially considering it's a network drama airing at 10 PM -- not exactly a situation where a scripted series can find its footing and grow these days. We're delighted that the show found a following and that we get to see Emily go for the payback she and her father deserve.
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