There were many great moments this decade, but the ones highlighted here tend to oscillate between wildly funny and greatly disturbing, sometimes at the same time. These scenes and descriptions may contain major spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Onion SportsDome – Rape accusation (2/9/2011)
Onion SportsDome was a brilliant evisceration of ESPN, and it lasted for one glorious season. Its finest moment has found its way outside the context of the show, a sadly relevant perversion of the human interest story. Like the best Onion pieces, it hurts to laugh.
2011 NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals – Game 4, aka “The Mother’s Day Massacre” (5/8/2011)
It would be hard to pick just one moment from the Mavs’ incredible run in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, culminating in their first and only championship. Their Game 2 Finals performance, when they came back from 15 down late in the 4th quarter, was a contender, as was Dirk’s tearful exit at the end of regulation of Game 6. But this was crucial for several reasons: 1. Only Charles Barkley predicted the underdogs could topple the reigning champs. 2. The Mavs not only beat them, but swept them, closing out Game 4 in devastating fashion. 3. This was a preview of what the NBA would become: with a major focus on 3-pointers. 4. Phil Jackson retired after this season and the Lakers have not won a playoff series since.
Breaking Bad – The Man Who Laughs (9/25/2011)
Again, it was hard to narrow down an ultimate Breaking Bad moment, but I’m going with the moment Walt was officially off the deep end: After realizing his stash is missing and everything has gone to shit, he has no choice but to lay there and laugh like a maniac.
Rob Ford says, “I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.” (11/14/2013)
One thing we may have forgotten about the pre-Trump era is that nutty press conferences were pretty rare. But Toronto mayor Rob Ford, a walking gaffe, made them a special event. Asked about a sexual harassment scandal, Ford could have said, “No comment” or even offered an “I wouldn’t do that” defense. Instead, he goes for the most insane answer possible. R.I.P.
True Detective – Stash house raid (2/9/2014)
The episode that won Cary Joji Fukunaga a well-deserved Best Director Emmy, this harrowing episode features the most impressive one-take scene of any TV show. With McConaughey’s undercover working with racist bikers to rob a stash house, everything goes awry almost immediately, and whatever delusions Rust entertained about being better than his cohorts evaporates in five minutes.
House of Cards – Frank kills Zoe (2/14/2014)
The murder heard ’round the world. Dropping the second season of House of Cards on Valentine’s Day 2014, Netflix went for the jugular right away, killing off Frank’s main foil in gruesome fashion in the premiere. I’ve never gotten so many “WTF” texts about a show in a single night.
Silicon Valley – The dick joke (6/1/2014)
Apologies for having to see T.J. Miller if you click the link, but the high point for Silicon Valley‘s first season – and for highbrow takes on lowbrow humor – came in its season finale, when an off-handed joke about how impossible it would be to win the competition they’ve entered turns to a scientific exploration of efficient handjobs.