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Hulu’s Second Annual Best in Show Kicks Off

March 1st, 2011 by Ben Collins Editor

With college basketball fans just starting to contemplate their picks for March Madness this year, Hulu is kicking off its own version of bracketology, Best in Show. We’re looking for the best show on television today — and you get to cast your vote. But to help us determine the ultimate champion, we turned to an expert, a TV bracketologist, if you will. We think we found a natural: Iconic TV reviewer and HitFix Senior Editor Alan Sepinwall.

He’s seen all of these shows, written about most of them, and fell in love with a few, too. This year, he’ll provide some expert insight and historical context for Hulu throughout the tournament, and we’re giving him a vote that counts five percent toward the total vote for each matchup. Each set of winners will advance to the next round on Mondays throughout the month of March, with the champion announced April 1.

To kick things off this year, we asked Sepinwall about some possible Cinderella shows and the most agonizing early tournament dilemmas.

Hulu: What were the hardest cuts among those shows that failed to make it off the bubble into the field of 32?

Alan Sepinwall: The good people at Hulu had final say on the list, but most of what I would have pushed for got in. If you leave out shows that have already been canceled like “Terriers” and “Rubicon,” and shows that might be too new to properly rate, like “The Chicago Code” and “Lights Out,” then the show I like the most that’s not on the list is HBO’s “Treme,” the drama about post-Katrina New Orleans from “The Wire” team. It started off slowly, but few shows have ever done a better job a capturing the spirit and pulse of an American city.

Looking at the draw, what are some of the niche shows that have rabid audiences and could surprise us with an upset in round one and go far in the tourney?

AS: I’m going to be very curious to see how that “Parks and Recreation”/”Office” matchup goes. “The Office” is the older, more popular show, but among the people I know who watch both on Thursday nights, the consensus seems to be that “Parks and Rec” is having the much better year. Of course, even if it upsets “The Office,” it’d have to face vampires in round two. As far as an unlikely deep run, then? Maybe “The Walking Dead.” Only six episodes so far, but people love their zombies.

What are some shows whose most recent season has been so much stronger than previous seasons that they’re peaking going into the tourney?

AS: “Grey’s Anatomy” is having its best year in a long time thanks to downplaying some of its sillier aspects. “Fringe” is having its best season yet. And though it aired a while ago now, the most recent season of “Breaking Bad” took the show from the ranks of the very good to knocking on the door of the all-time pantheon.

Which show do you think will do the best job of energizing its fan base to vote?

AS: “Supernatural.” Those fans love that show, they love it hard (and keep making me feel guilty for not watching), and the creative team knows how to work social media for challenges like this.

Looking over this field of 32, do you think TV is in the best shape it’s ever been in terms of breadth and depth of show quality?

AS: My initial impulse would be to say no, that the best ever period was when HBO was airing “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood,” and “The Wire” at the same time and “Lost” was still on ABC. But of course, back then AMC wasn’t making scripted shows on the level of “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” FX’s output wasn’t as big as it is now, TV comedy wasn’t nearly as strong and diverse as it is these days with the NBC and ABC comedies, etc. So the top of the top might not be the strongest ever, but in terms of overall depth, things are pretty darned good these days.

Cast your votes for Best in Show and see which shows made it through the first round on Friday.

Last comment: Mar 13th 2011 26 Comments
  • Maggie says:

    This poll sucks…The critic’s vote is absolutely ridiculous…5%?! That’s a lotttt of votes to make up for the under-rated show…It belittles the fans, their votes and their opinions…Awful idea just awful. And either Hulu polls are totally rigged or a whole lot of Chuck fans are using Vote bots. I personally don’t know which one it is, but in the end the poll is really crappy and you guys need to actually CATCH THE CHEATERS because SPN fans are voting like HELLL AND WE GO DOWN PERCENTS…One more thing whats up with the foreign voters??! Can ppl from outside the US vote or not? If they can’t…well thats just stupid and unfair and ridiculous like the rest of this poll

  • Sam says:

    That 5% is the most pointless and unfair thing I’ve ever seen in a poll. Seriously, I don’t like this at all.

  • Amy says:

    For future polls, can you include “captchas” in order to prevent any possible bot voting? Thanks :)

  • nin says:

    Next year can you guys run polls like ever other poll in let the fans decide , because with help there is no true winner. Just put the shoe on the other foot here The Vampire Diaries just made it out the first round because of your help.
    No harm here but consider next year many people wont vote in these polls no more cause there voice means nothing just yours.

  • Christine says:

    Maybe there should be two types of competitions here. One, where the popular vote by users wins and another by how the critic votes. I’m not sure how such a system would be set up, but personally, I think it’s ridiculous that some of these shows will get by just because of a single critic. It’s an interesting and fair system, yes (5% seems a reasonable amount for that vote), but it’d be nice to see what shows the USERS pick. After all, if I were really interested in what shows the critic would pick, I’d go to his blog.

    And yes, I am disappointed that some shows like Raising Hope and Castle aren’t on here. I haven’t watched Castle, but I have heard rave reviews from friends of mine and Raising Hope has never failed to entertain me.

  • Dethanos says:

    Great. Another opportunity to marvel at people’s lack of taste. I’m sure the results will be just as disappointing as last year. I already see that most of my favorites are likely first round eliminations.

  • HabitsCreature says:

    The person running the poll gives an automatic 5% vote for their favourite? Why bother even having a poll open to the public? If something runs a tie, then all the votes from the public are kind of pointless.

  • MD says:

    Does the critics vote get added immediately, or after the polls have closed?

  • D.W. says:

    Uh, yeah…why does does the critic’s vote count for anything? He’s just one person, and seriously I don’t think one person’s opinion can be more valid than anyone else’s, especially in a TV contest. Maybe it’s to give the underdog a chance for recognition even with a weak fan base, but there’s just one critic here. What makes his taste in shows so special? In real life, the critic’s voice doesn’t count for much–or else maybe we could have saved “Terriers” and “Firefly”.

  • MD says:

    Is the 5% added on before or after the final vote?

  • Micah says:

    I know it’s hard to fit every good show in, but I agree that several really good ones are missing, especially Castle for me. The other one that really stood out to me as missing, and one of my favorites, is Psych. I love those guys and there were some great “themed” episodes this season. Dueling Spires = greatness! Could the brackets not be expanded to 64? We all know there are enough TV shows to fill it, even if a few 16 seeds are needed to fill it out at the bottom. It’s odd how many of the 32 I haven’t even heard of as well. Maybe I’m getting too old to keep up.

  • Jeph says:

    Louie vs. How I Met your Mother in the first round? Suck. Guess we already know what the best show to lose in the first round is gonna be. Bracketing fail.

  • violue says:

    Can you tell us on the blog; is your 5% added already, or is it after the poll closes??

  • Unfair Bracket says:

    You guys did a great job by reducing the critic’s say down to 5%. Now I think you should listen to the fans again and reconsider the way you make your brackets.

    I get the concept of grouping similar genre’s together, but 30Rock Vs Community?

  • Tara says:

    The same thing is happening with me. Nothing is happening when I click on the page. I’m getting irritated.

  • Cass says:

    Tried voting can’t? PLEASE FIX IMMEDIATELY!

  • Matthew Ward says:

    I’m not sure I like the way the brackets are set up here. I believe the first round should be set up along the same lines as the NCAA b-ball tournament. The most popular shows should be paired with the least popular. The shows with varying degrees of popularity should be paired accordingly (second most popular with second least popular and on down until you pair shows of equal mediocre popularity). For example, I hate to see The Office paired up with Parks and Rec. right out of the gate. Neither of those shows deserves to be eliminated in the first round. Of course, I am basing my measurement of popularity on my own opinion so we should all take that in to account.

  • Alen says:

    In the introduction, whoever wrote this article said: He’s seen all of these shows. And later in the interview AS said he doesn’t watch Supernatural. That’s just not fair because SPN immediately looses his 5% of the vote.

  • anonymous says:

    No CASTLE? Season 3 has arguably been its best yet and it’s one of the wittiest shows on TV for sure. No votes for this poll from me.

  • Jane says:

    Ditto to Shannon and Amy – my two favorite shows, Human Target and Castle, aren’t even on the list! And Shannon, I think the problem is that we do have sophisticated taste in TV – I’m not sure I’d call The Office or HIMYM or some of the others “sophisticated”. Good, yes, but deep and with meaningful drama, not so much.

  • No name says:

    Glad to see the outcries from last year’s “Critic picks best in show while Hulu users pointlessly watch” debacle were taken seriously.

  • Amy says:

    I agree with Shannon. There are some good ones missing! Human Target is the best show I have seen in years. I look forward to every episode of White Collar, and Castle is a great show too. Only 3 of the shows on the list did I even bother to vote for. Chuck, Community, and How I Met Your Mother are the top 3 on this list, for sure.

  • Josh says:

    I’m happy you guys have corrected the mistakes from last year. Especially listing the critic’s choices up front. Last year was a lot of fun for us Community fans up til the end. Last year’s underdog champion has been better and better every episode, so I can’t wait to see how things turn out.

    POP POP!

  • Anonee says:

    Does this mean we’re not going to have a worthless voting bracket like last year where the overall judge had a 50% vote and completely overthrew the will of the people?

  • Francis says:

    Why put 30 Rock up against Community? You’re knocking one of the best shows off right off the bat by putting two of the best head to head.

  • Shannon says:

    Several of my favorites are missing: Castle, The Cape, Raising Hope, Human Target, White Collar… perhaps I just don’t have sophisticated taste in TV?